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Monday, January 21, 2013

More Seattle Schools Join Boycott of MAP Test

Posted by on Mon, Jan 21, 2013 at 12:29 PM

The Garfield High School teacher's strike against ineffective student standardized testing is gaining traction: At a press conference this morning, supporters announced that two Seattle schools have joined the boycott of Measure of Academic Progress (MAP) exams on the grounds that the tests are a stupid gauge of student progress in the subjects of math and reading, and are unfairly used to evaluate teachers.

"We've seen that boycotts are effective in the pursuit of justice," said Garfield teacher and boycott leader Jesse Hagopian while drawing parallels between the teachers' pursuit of a more valuable and equitable testing system and Martin Luther King Jr.'s own celebrated push for equality. "They say we should wait for the process to unfold. That we’re disrupting the process. We’re reminded on MLK day that those seeking justice are always told to slow down, to wait. We’ve come to find the words wait almost always mean never. This is about a city that is in revolt against a test that is harming our children... We want to use the boycott in the struggle against the MAP tests."

Garfield High teachers and other boycott supporters are hosting anti-MAP rally for Wednesday, January 23 at 4:00 p.m. at the John Standford Center (2445 3rd Ave S) to continue their full-court press on the Seattle School District.

The boycott is also gaining national attention: Garfield High staff announced that a slew of prominent national educators, including former US Assistant Secretary of Education Diane Ravitch, education author Jonathan Kozol, and even noted critic and philosopher Noam Chomsky, have signed a letter supporting the boycott of MAP tests.

Calling such testing "overused and overrated," the letter notes that "no student's intellectual process can be reduced to a single number."

Since Garfield teachers announced the boycott on January 10, two Seattle middle schools—Columbia city's Orca K-8 and Ballard's Salmon Bay K-8—have followed suit. (To clarify: A Salmon Bay teacher tells me that the elementary K-5 teachers at the school voted nearly unanimously to support the boycott, while teachers in the 6-8 grades have not yet voted on the issue.)

Several other schools and education groups, among them Franklin High School, Ballard High School, West Seattle High School, the American Federation of Teachers, and the Seattle teacher's union, have voted to support the boycott by urging Seattle school superintendent Jose Banda to stop administering the tests district-wide, and not retaliate against the teachers who've chosen to boycott.

Superintendent Banda only assumed his position as head of Seattle's school district last July. This marks the first serious test of his leadership, and as such, all eyes are on on him to see if he embraces the contentious administration/teacher relationship that defined former Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson's reign (incidentally, Goodloe-Johnson ushered in MAP testing), or if Banda will show he's willing to work with teachers by arranging a meeting and discussing their concerns.

A spokesperson for the public schools wasn't available for comment (Happy MLK Day!), but the signs don't look promising: Banda has urged Seattle principals to force teachers to administer the tests by February 22 and, so far, hasn't returned emails from boycott leaders requesting a meeting.

"I haven't heard from Banda," said Hagopian, while adding that school board members have also been unwilling to meet.

Critics of the MAP tests point out that the tests, which are administered up to three times a year, are not taken seriously by students (they're neither a graduation requirement nor a course requirement). In fact, they're piled on top of three-to-five other standardize tests that high school students must taken in order to graduate. Critics also note that MAP tests' margin of error is often greater than students' expected progress, and that the test has been re-purposed as a tool for evaluating teachers and placing students in select courses, against the tests' original intent and despite years of teacher objections.

And since the tests are basically more useless than male nipples, they can be struck from the curriculum with little fuss. "I don’t think the district is going to be in a bind to not administer the test between now and end of the year," said teacher's union president Jonathan Knapp. "All we have to do is tweak things."

"I teach students how to look at data," explained Ballard High science teacher Noam Gundle. "Some data is more relevant than others. Every single research study done on MAP shows that it is junk science. We’re doing a vast disservice to students to make them take a test that results in data that is completely irrelevant. Students know it’s a joke. They don’t take it seriously."

"I have opted my two kids out of this test," said parent and Orca teacher Matt Carter. "We’ve let parents know it’s their right to opt out of any test that the district gives. Now parents are uniting with the best interests of their students."


Comments (18) RSS

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It's great to see Seattle teachers and parents taking a stand against misguided testing. Meanwhile, some legislators, The Seattle Times and other non-educators keep demanding more "reform." Instead of more testing and more "reform," we need to adequately fund our public schools as the state Constitution mandates. Read more.
Posted by Rich Wood on January 21, 2013 at 12:43 PM · Report this
Reverse Polarity 3
Yay Garfield teachers. Go, go, go!
Posted by Reverse Polarity on January 21, 2013 at 1:04 PM · Report this

do you volunteer? no matter your work schedule, income, or number of children; no one has any right to bitch unless they are part of the solution, not the problem-parents more so. it isn't a baby sitting service. take the hour that you spend surfing on the net and volunteer at your local school. just making photocopies helps a teacher spend another hour helping one student that needs that one on one time.
Yeah garfield teachers!! garfield has some of the most remarkable programsin the nation. I sincerely hope they don't loose their federal funding for these programs. that, unfortunately, is a backlash of W's no child let ahead garbage.
Posted by pussnboots on January 21, 2013 at 2:04 PM · Report this
Goodloe-Johnson didn't just usher in MAP testing. She did so while serving on the board of directors of the for-profit corporation that markets the test (a clear ethical lapse). And the school district is using the test in a way that even that corporation finds unproductive.
Posted by gnossos on January 21, 2013 at 3:03 PM · Report this
melanies 9
It's been a little confusing for Salmon Bay parents. first, a letter was emailed in support of the MAP testing, and that we could "opt out" if we like, then a few days later an email from my son's third grade teacher informing us that he was opting out of giving his students this test, and that we could "opt in" if we like. I support Salmon Bay teachers in their stance on MAP testing, and I trust their judgement in knowing that one single test cannot determine the capabilities and knowledge of our students. Standardized, cookie cutter education, expectations and subsequent labeling of student's capabilities based on a test is a poor system that must be challenged.
Posted by melanies on January 21, 2013 at 3:03 PM · Report this
I swear Nick H (in @8) and I are not the same person. That was uncanny!
Posted by gnossos on January 21, 2013 at 3:05 PM · Report this

I agree. There were only two of us that volunteered regularly. neither of us were on the PTA. none of the pta members actually volunteered except for events. both sets of our children are grown and in high school now. I still volunteer when they call and ask. last time they almost cancelled a field tripsure to lack of chaperones.
It still must upset you when you hear other parents complain about the schools, knowing they never even show up for open house.
What the garfield teachers are doing is awesome. They are more then stepping up. we should as well. no matter if we have children or they are grown.
Posted by pussnboots on January 21, 2013 at 3:10 PM · Report this
The MAP test is pointless at Garfield. This is Mr. Banda's opportunity to show whether he bases his leadership on authoritarianism or on academics.

If he presses this, he will show himself to be a martinet rather than an educator.
Posted by Charlie Mas on January 21, 2013 at 4:54 PM · Report this
I am glad we are on the same page now. I didn't mean to insult you. My oldest is in Aviation high, it is one of two PUBLIC charter schools ran in Washington state. They focus mostly on math and science. No sports teams are permitted (they are bussed to the local high schools for sports) they need the focus on the robotics and olympiad teams.
Garfield is a magnet for artists; paint, jazz, drama, and mostly writing. All of these are important.
As a taxpayer watching SPS swindle so much money... grit teeth. This is defenitley a stand that is worth taking. I wonder if Garfield should think about repositioning themselves as a PUBLIC charter. They of course need a charter stating there intentions. But I am worried that it would eliminate the AP program. In fact, possibly the jazz program. Does anyone know more about this?
Posted by pussnboots on January 21, 2013 at 10:41 PM · Report this
I am concerned about the lack of comments. This is not a dead horse. Both my children scored extremely high on the maps for the last two years running. My nephew did not. This is a kid that just rebuilt his skateboard by his own hand; platform and everything. He also took apart his moms toaster and made it more effective, He used two transformers, but still... Maps are not well accountable for each student. They take them three times a year. Imagine the time spent teachers would have to teach students.
My current school district does not allow children to flunk in elementary. They call in CPS for attendance; but they still don't flunk them. How can maps mean anything with these policies?
Think of it as a teacher issue. What the SPS wastes in this issue matters nothing. What matters is the time teachers spend with thier students. It isn't just pathetic, it is wrong..
Thank you Garfield teachers.
Posted by pussnboots on January 22, 2013 at 12:35 AM · Report this
Those most in favor of the tests are those most distant from the classroom: politicians, publishing houses, business leaders. These tests provide huge profits for the publishers and political cover for the politicians, but nothing of value for the students. Those who see the harm done by these tests and who have been forced to administer them year after year have finally said enough, that they will do no harm.
Teachers are not against assessment; we assess every moment of every day. And when it comes to accountability, where is the accountability from our public and private leaders who have steered the richest nation in the history of the world in such a way that nearly half of us live in poverty or near poverty, without health care, food security, or job security.
Thank you, Garfield teachers, for standing up for all of us. Hopefully your actions will inspire teachers around the country to stand up.

Doug Selwyn
Plattsburgh NY
Posted by Doug Selwyn on January 22, 2013 at 2:47 AM · Report this
reposting for unregistered comment:

SEAAC (Superintendent's Special Education Advisory and Advocacy Committee) and concerned parents stand with the Garfield High School staff in opposing the MAP test for any use in high schools. The test covers materials not routinely taught to general education students. There is no reason for the test, and the results aren't used for any purpose benefitting the students. SEAAC further believes that MAP testing should not be used to evaluate educators. We hope the district moves away from more standards based testing, and away from more standardization. Our students are not standard. Who wants kids to be standard anyway?

SEAAC believes that the MAP testing and the agenda moving schools towards standards-based education is an indignity for students with disabilities and others as well. The whole point of these standardized tests is to create failures; first the students and then the teachers. Being "nonstandard" is not a failure for our students, nor our teachers, nor our schools. Diversity and standardization are incompatible.

If everyone did well on standardized tests or "measured to standard", we would say: "The test is too easy. Everybody passed it." Instead, we create tests that have failures built-in by design. The only question remaining: "Who will those failures be?" The answer is: "Whoever wrote the test will pass the test. Others will fail." Failure is the design of MAP. After all, somebody has to fail them or why have the tests at all?

Especially problematic is the latest fad in education reform: Teacher evaluation based on standardized tests. Students with disabilities already face an uphill battle in every class they attend. If schools really wanted to teach students with disabilities, there would be no need for the law, IDEA, mandating it. Students with disabilities already take tests routinely. They are poked, prodded and measured countless times as is. Standards based tests reflect disability, not ability. More testing confirming disability does not benefit our students with disabilities and it doesn't measure teacher effectiveness.

Teacher evaluation based on MAP sets up a whole system of perverse and discriminatory incentives against students with disabilities. Student ability is pitted against teachers. Teachers are incented to remove students with disabilities from their classrooms to improve their own evaluations. That exacerbates the existing reluctance to educate inclusively. Schools are incented to funnel any poorly performing group into segregated settings, often special education settings, where the impact of the resulting evaluation can most effectively be minimized. One could imagine a school where every poorly performing student was stuck with a single teacher, probably the newest one. That way, only one teacher would have to take the hit for "poor results" and for evaluation. All the other teachers would be stars. Look at most high schools, indeed you will find segregation along those performance lines. Segregation doesn't benefit our students.

Where does the district think our children will end up? At the bottom once again. After all, we already know our students need help with comprehension or math. That's why we have IEPs. Without the supports and resources our children need, the MAP RIT scores are just a piece of paper. It would seem the district is failing in providing the necessary supports, because, as a group, special education students' scores continue to trend downward; downward to the point that 8th graders have predicted grade levels five to six grades lower. We have not seen any evidence towards improved outcomes for students with disabilities since the advent of the MAP testing. Where are the results from the expense of the MAP?

Evidence of the lack of care and thought in MAP testing is that our children are REGULARLY denied their accommodations for the MAP. How does MAP testing somehow take precedence over the necessary accommodations on the IEP?

Finally, standardization and standards-based tests and grading are misused to deny our secondary students access to extracurricular activities like sports or clubs. Grades are used as gatekeepers, and our students are often left out, again. Of course, parents in the know, and parents who have the time to advocate for their children can circumvent these roadblocks. Once again, standardization minimizes the educational experience of students with disabilities.

We stand with Garfield High School Teachers in their endeavors to not give a test that promotes failure. As far as students with disabilities are concerned, this test should not be given as it is useless and demoralizing to students with unique learning profiles.
Posted by burb on January 22, 2013 at 3:59 PM · Report this
SporLin 22
This is the first step of protest, the next step should bring public awareness to the policy no one is talking about....and legislators are flying under the radar...Class of 2013....16,000 students on track to graduate, have their credits, will have completed their senior project, but these students will be denied their HS diploma if they do not pass the state math exam!! No consideration of the students other gifts and abilities....they wii be thrown out as dropouts. Wake-up Seattle, thousands of these kids are in every one of your high schools. These students have the ability to be successful and contributing members of society. They will enter career paths that are not dependent upon Algebra or Geometry. OSPI and Olympia do not want you be aware of this punitive policy. This critical issue needs to be addressed before thousands of very capable students....who just happen to struggle in math, we not get their HS diploma and turned into dropouts. Think about it, thousands of kids that will move forward in life and be contributors to our tax revenue or thousands are rejected and become dependent upon on the taxpayer. One dropout costs the taxpayer $292,000 over their life time. Our legislators who are elected to be good stewards of our tax dollars.....are going to create a tax burden we will not be able to sustain. Every parent, teacher, and principal should be in the streets screaming to stop the train before it crashes in June.
Posted by SporLin on January 23, 2013 at 7:58 PM · Report this
"We need to adequately fund our schools". Get serious! If all it took was money, every student in a USA classroom would be an Einstein. Teachers always say we need more money, more funds, more taxpayers dollars to flush down the toliet. Of course the teachers don't want the students to be evaluated; then we as parents would know that certain teachers should never step foot in a classroom. So many, if not all schools play the lemon dance which in turns make the good teachers look like bafoons. Some teachers are only in the "teaching" field because if they had to get a real job they would be evaluated, then terminated!!!!
Posted by HotnAZ on January 29, 2013 at 7:22 PM · Report this
Teachers only want to get rid of the standardized testing because it reflects how well students are/aren't being taught. Teachers don't want to be held acountable for their enept teaching skills or knowledge on the subject they are supposed to be teaching. Of course the testing of students are a reflection of what they have learned and an evaluaton on the teachers. Duh!!
Everyone I know of who work in the private sectors always have an evaluation at least once a year. If teachers were to be evaluated like the private sector, they would indeed be TERMINATED as they should be. If more money were the answer to better learning all of our students would be graduating as Einsteins, and not scratching their heads trying to read second grade material in the 12th grade. The biggest and most important step is to get rid of the the teachers union!!!! Getting paid for not doing your job, retirement benefits, medical benefits and a vacation package, and a union that helps all that, no wonder those who can't teach are teachers. What a heck of a gig!!
Posted by HotnAZ on January 29, 2013 at 7:41 PM · Report this
No more comments yet!
Posted by HotnAZ on January 29, 2013 at 8:31 PM · Report this
How do I get involved helping support these boycotts and protests?
Posted by BillSpiderman on March 16, 2013 at 3:29 PM · Report this
I would like to learn more about Garfield's chaperoning challenges. Is anyone willing to comment?
Posted by Highschoolparent on May 13, 2013 at 11:20 AM · Report this

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