Back in October, we learned about an expensive test that the ASD will administer to its students three times per year. It's called the Measuring Academic Progress, and based on the results from the first adminstration, the ASD was feeling some disappointment with their students' academic progress.
This is on top of the actual standardized test that counts, the TCAP. But when it comes to the educational reform complex, no expensive test is too expensive. Turns out this is also on top of whatever other standardized tests that the ASD's charter management organizations may also choose to administer. What's a little more lost instructional time among friends?
In Seattle, the MAP test is used for "high stakes" purposes - to measure teaching effectiveness, to be used for student placement - things for which the test was not designed.
Teachers at Seattle's Garfield High School voted with four recusals not to administer the district-required test. According to the Seattle Times, though only 9th grade teachers administer the test, the rest of the faculty supports them. Now comes word that the teachers at Seattle's Ballard High School also voted not to administer the MAP test - in solidarity with their colleagues at Garfield.
The Washington Post reports that "[t]he boycotts are part of a
growing grass-roots revolt against the excessive use of standardized tests
to evaluate students, teachers, schools, districts and states. The high-stakes
testing era began a decade under No Child Left Behind, and critics say that the
exams are being inappropriately used and don’t measure a big part of what
students learn. Parents have started to opt out of having their children take the exams;
school boards have approved resolutions calling for an end to test-based
accountability systems; thousands of people have signed a national
resolution protesting high-stakes tests; superintendents have spoken out,
and so have teachers. It has been building momentum in the last year, since
Robert Scott, then the commissioner of education in Texas, said publicly that
the mentality that standardized testing is the 'end-all, be-all' is a
'perversion' of what a quality education should be."
If you are so moved, please take a look at (and sign) the petition supporting the Seattle teachers who refuse to administer the test. As with any change.org petition, beware of education petitions as you might inadvertently sign yourself up for Michelle Rhee's StudentsFirst organization.
Here's the statement from the Garfield High School teachers (my ASD teacher readers may find it particularly instructive):
We, the Garfield teachers, respectfully decline to give the MAP test to any
of our students. We have had different levels of experiences with MAP in our
varied careers, have read about it, and discussed it with our colleagues. After
this thorough review, we have all come to the conclusion that we cannot in good
conscience subject our students to this test again. This letter is an objection
to the MAP test specifically and particularly to its negative impact on our
students. Here are our reasons:
*Seattle Public School staff has notified us that the test is not a valid
test at the high school level. For these students, the margin of error is
greater than the expected gain. We object to spending time, money, and staffing
on an assessment even SPS agrees is not valid.
*We are not allowed to see the contents of the test, but an analysis of the
alignment between the Common Core and MAP shows little overlap. We object to our
students being tested on content we are not expected to teach.
*Ninth graders and students receiving extra support (ELL, SPED, and students
in math support) are targets of the MAP test. These students are in desperate
need of MORE instructional time. Instead, the MAP test subtracts many hours of
class time from students’ schedules each year. If we were to participate this
year, we would take 805 students out of class during 112 class periods. The
amount of lost instructional time is astounding. On average students would EACH
lose 320 minutes of instructional time. This is over 5 hours of CORE class time
(language arts and math) that students are losing. We object to participating in
stealing instructional time from the neediest students.
*In an appeal of the Board’s 2010 decision to renew the MAP contract, a
parent group raised concerns about the negative impact of this test “on
non-English speakers, Special Education students, and minority and low income
children.” These concerns were never addressed nor were the claims refuted.
Imagine a native Somali student with limited English skills, sitting in front of
a computer taking an evaluative reading test that will no doubt be confusing and
overwhelming to the student. The test is supposed to determine the student’s
reading level, but without taking into account the student’s language challenge
or the student’s limited time in the United States, which makes it almost
impossible to understand the context of some passages. For these students and
our students with IEPs, the test does actual harm. The students feel stupid yet
are being forced to take a test that has NO benefit to them or their educational
goals. We object to a test that may violate the rights of groups of students for
whom schooling already constitutes an uphill battle.
*In addition to students losing class time to take the test, our computer
labs are clogged for weeks with test taking and cannot be used for other
educational purposes. For example, students who have a research project no
longer have access to the computers they need to further their exploration into
their research topic. This especially hurts students without computers at home.
We object to our educational resources being monopolized by a test we cannot
*We see that our students do not take the test seriously as they know that it
will not directly impact their class grade or graduation status. They approach
it less and less seriously the more times they take it. Therefore, we see
achievement scores go down after instruction. We object to spending scarce
resources on a test that is peripheral to our students’ education.
*The MAP test was originally introduced by then superintendent Maria
Goodloe-Johnson while she was a board member of the Northwest Evaluation
Association, the company that sells the MAP. When Dr. Goodloe-Johnson was fired,
the MAP somehow survived the housecleaning. We object to having to give a test
whose existence in our district is the result of scandal.
*Even the NWEA itself, the parent company to MAP, has advised districts to
carefully restrict the use of the test and its results. NWEA also cautions to
ensure 100% random selection of students enrolled in any course if the test is
used for evaluation and to take into consideration statistical error in
designing evaluation policies. NWEA says that problems become “particularly
profound at the high school level.” None of these or other criteria urged by
NWEA has been met. We object to being evaluated by a test whose author suggests
extreme caution in its use and warns against valid legal action if the test is
used in personnel decisions.
*The Seattle Education Association passed a resolution condemning the MAP
test that reads, “Whereas testing is not the primary purpose of
education…Whereas the MAP was brought into Seattle Schools under suspicious
circumstances and conflicts of interest…Whereas the SEA has always had the
position of calling for funding to go to classroom and student needs first…Be it
Resolved that…the MAP test should be scrapped and/or phased out and the
resources saved be returned to the classroom.” We object to having to give it
after such an opinion from our collective voice has been registered.
We are not troublemakers nor do we want to impede the high functioning of our
school. We are professionals who care deeply about our students and cannot
continue to participate in a practice that harms our school and our students. We
want to be able to identify student growth and determine if our practice
supports student learning. We wish to be evaluated in a way so that we can
continue to improve our practice, and we wish for our colleagues who are
struggling to be identified and either be supported or removed. The MAP test is
not the way to do any of these things. We feel strongly that we must decline to
give the MAP test even one more time."