TestSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Cristina Pacione-Zayas (D-Chicago) advanced a measure to ensure Illinois’ youngest students are not subject to developmentally inappropriate standardized tests. The legislation passed the Senate on Thursday.  

“Young children are developing at rapid and different rates. Standardized tests aren’t able to accurately measure where a student may be based on the set parameters,” Pacione-Zayas said. “By allowing teachers to focus on how children play and interact, educators will be able to gauge student development better than a standardized test will.”

Senate Bill 3986, or the Too Young to Test Act, would ensure the Illinois State Board of Education does not develop or administer standardized tests for students Pre-K through second grade, except for the case of diagnostic and screening tests including determining eligibility for special education services, bilingual services, dyslexia interventions, observational tools like the Kindergarten Individual Development Survey, and the federally mandated English Learner assessments.

Currently, the federal government only mandates standardized tests from third grade and on, although ISBE is currently considering allowing optional standardized tests for younger students.

"Standardized testing used for annual accountability purposes in older grades is not valid and reliable for children under age 8. It's not required by federal law, and it's not wanted by the majority of parents and educators who know that standardized testing isn't developmentally appropriate in early childhood,” said Cassie Creswell, director of Illinois Families for Public Schools. “We need to protect those years from further encroachment by high-stakes tests."

SB 3986 passed the Senate Thursday and moves to the House for further consideration.

Category: Press Releases

021622CM0860SPRINGFIELD – To offer students more options following graduation from high school, State Senator Cristina Pacione-Zayas (D-Chicago) advanced two measures out of the Senate Wednesday.

“Many students are pushed toward college from a young age, but it’s important for them to know that there are other options if that’s not what they want to do,” Pacione-Zayas said. “From furthering education in the trades or going straight into a career, these young adults deserve to know what else is out there.”

Senate Bill 3990 requires school counseling services to include Career and Technical Education to help students consider secondary education plans following high school. Notably, provisions in Illinois’ Clean and Equitable Job Act will create new opportunities for technical jobs in the clean energy sector.

Additionally, Senate Bill 3988 passed the Senate, which lowers the age for paraprofessionals in Pre-K through eighth grade classrooms to 18 years old, rather than 19. There are currently 1,242 unfilled paraprofessional positions in school districts across the state, and this legislation would open the door to filling those positions with additional qualified candidates.

“Addressing the teacher and teacher aid shortage is crucial to getting students the individualized support they need,” Pacione-Zayas said. “Aside from giving recent graduates additional options for careers right out of school, this measure will help get more educators into classrooms.”

SB 3990 and SB 3988 passed the Senate Wednesday and moves to the House for further consideration.

Category: Press Releases

04292021CM0488SPRINGFIELD – To increase accessibility for higher education, State Senator Cristina Pacione-Zayas (D-Chicago) has advanced a measure to allow the state treasurer’s office to make payments to Children’s Savings Accounts specifically for students from financially insecure households.

“Historically, Black and Latine families have faced systemic barriers to higher education including affordability, and we need to make sure the programs we have in place to help children are as equitable as possible,” Pacione-Zayas said. “Children’s Savings Accounts are a great mechanism for helping students afford education expenses, but we need to make sure families who need help get assistance.”

The Illinois Children’s Savings Account program will go into effect in 2023. Under the current program, applicable families will receive a seed deposit of $50. Senate Bill 3991 allows the state treasurer’s office to supplement CSA’s for financially insecure households with additional funds.

“As a parent of three children, I have spent years advocating for a statewide children’s savings account program. I didn’t go to college, but my son was lucky enough to receive a scholarship,” said Liliana Olayo, Co-President POWER-PAC IL and member of the Steering Committee of Financial Inclusion for All Illinois. “With a statewide CSA program that promotes equity, more families like mine will have hope for the future and an investment in their children’s potential early on.”

Additionally, the legislation also requires the treasurer’s office to collect more data on program participants to keep track of the community’s social and geographic makeup. This will help further ensure equitable roll out of the program.

“When kids know that their state and their parents are investing in a Children’s Savings Account, they are more likely to believe in themselves and their future. Through Illinois’ CSA program, we can restore students’ hope that has waned over the last two years,” said Amy Eisenstein, Coalition Manager for Financial Inclusion for All Illinois. “Now is the time to fund and implement Illinois’ CSA program with the equity measures included in SB3991, which we are thrilled has passed the Senate.” 

SB 3991 passed the Senate Wednesday and goes to the House for further consideration.

Category: Press Releases


CHICAGO – State Senator Cristina Pacione-Zayas (D-Chicago) will be hosting multiple COVID-19 vaccine clinics throughout February and March to help ensure residents of the 20th district have regular access to vaccines and booster shots.

FabVax3“We’ve already had great success with getting people to come out and get vaccinated in our community,” Pacione-Zayas said. “By hosting pop-up clinics on a nearly weekly basis, I’m hoping folks will see how quick and easy it is to get vaccinated to protect themselves and the community.”

The most recent pop-up clinic at the 20th district office occurred on Feb. 4 and provided 70 vaccines to community members, with most recipients being children and teens.

Future clinics will take place most Tuesdays through February and March from noon to 5 p.m. at Pacione-Zayas’ district office, located at 3140 W. Montrose Ave. No appointment or insurance is necessary. For those receiving a second dose or booster, a vaccine card with proof of first dose is recommended.

“Vaccine clinics are critical to bringing much-needed vaccines and booster shots to our community, especially younger residents who are back in school,” said Susana González, the vaccine navigator for the 20th district and nurse educator with ASI Home Care. “I encourage everyone to take some time in the next couple months to come out and get vaccinated at the remaining clinics, and spread the word to make sure everyone who wants one, gets one.”FabVax

Sen. Pacione-Zayas’ office is also collecting child-sized N95 or KN95 masks to distribute to students who are back in school. These masks are the most effective against the highly-contagious omicron variant. Residents can make donations to the 20th district office from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesdays or 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursdays.

The next vaccine and booster clinic is Tuesday, Feb. 15 from noon to 5 p.m.

Category: Press Releases

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Office Information

Springfield Office:
M120 Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-8191
District Office:
3140 W. Montrose
Chicago, IL 60618
(773) 278-2020