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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Seattle Teachers Vow to Boycott a New Standardized Test

Posted by on Thu, Feb 27, 2014 at 10:50 AM

People are completely fighting back,” says influential blogger Melissa Westbrook.
  • Kelly O
  • "People are completely fighting back,” says influential blogger Melissa Westbrook.

Seattle-area high-school teachers made national headlines when they launched a boycott last year of standardized testing—refusing to administer the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) test. Teachers argued the exam wasted classroom time because it didn't affect student grades and wasn't aligned to what they were teaching.

As if punishing truant pupils, Seattle Public Schools superintendent José Banda threatened the teachers with a 10-day suspension. But when several schools joined the boycott, Banda backed off and killed a requirement that high schools administer the test. The teachers, after a tense standoff, had won their first fight against testing.

Now the teachers are emboldened.

Next school year, the district looks likely to battle teachers again over standardized tests—this time with even higher stakes. Common Core, a set of new education standards backed by the Obama administration, is being rolled out in 45 states. In several of them, including Washington, it's coming packaged with tests called Smarter Balanced Assessments that will hit Seattle classrooms next fall.

In interviews with The Stranger, two public-school teachers who led the MAP test boycott said they plan to boycott Smarter Balanced tests with the same tenacity. They both requested that we not name them to avoid retribution from the district.

"It seems to me like the same wolf in different sheep's clothing. How could we not boycott that?" says one longtime high-school teacher.

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