Parents Across America, Seattle, fully support and applaud the Garfield High School teaching staff in their refusal to administer the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP®) test to their students.
The teachers at Garfield, one of the district’s most respected high schools, have taken a thoughtful, principled stand against an expensive, time-consuming and inaccurate assessment product mandated by the Seattle Public School District.
National education historian, Diane Ravitch, has also applauded the action of Garfield teachers, sending the teachers a letter of support and dedicating a statement on her blog to their announcement. Writes Ravitch: “For their courage, their integrity, and their intelligence, I add the faculty of Garfield High School to the honor roll as champions of public education.”
At Parents Across America we oppose high-stakes and excessive testing. MAP® is part of a negative national trend of increased high-stakes testing imposed on American public school children – a trend which has been discredited. In Seattle’s public schools, children as young as five years old are administered the MAP® as often as three times a year, plus the state-mandated MSP test once a year starting in third grade, and the EOC exams in middle and high school, and now Common Core tests. This is clearly excessive, unnecessary and costly, both in dollars (MAP® has cost our district as much as $10 million, by some estimates) and lost learning time.
MAP® is also being misused by the Seattle School District. Although initially introduced as a diagnostic tool to help our teachers assess the academic needs of their students, MAP® is now used by the district to evaluate teachers – a purpose for which the test was not designed, the vendor NWEA has stated — and as a screening mechanism for advanced learning opportunities.
The Garfield teachers are also correct that the MAP® test is inaccurate and inconsistent and does not align with our local or state curricula. (In 2012, vendor NWEA retroactively “re-calibrated” Seattle student MAP test scores going back three years, changing some scores by as much as 20 points, underscoring the unreliability of the test.)
Nationwide, a growing number of parents and teachers are rising up and saying “Enough!” Seattle has the opportunity to be a national leader in this healthy movement away from excessive testing and towards a richer, more meaningful learning experience for our children.
Parents Across America Seattle asks the Seattle Public School District to reassess the value of the MAP® and phase it out as soon as possible. There are far more valuable ways for our district to spend its limited funds and our children’s time in school.