Wednesday/January 23, 2012
This We Believe:
Teachers, parents, students, school board members and the administration of Seattle Public Schools owe Garfield High School teachers their gratitude and thanks for speaking the truth.
We believe that any reprimand or negative consequences imposed by Seattle Public Schools, the superintendent or administration on the truth-telling teachers of Garfield High School would be unjust. Garfield High School teachers should be given public commendations for rightly raising their professional concerns and specific critique of our district’s choice and misuse of the Measures of Academic Progress® [MAP] testing.
An unspoken truth is that most Seattle Public School stakeholders already knew that the MAP test was expensive and of little practical use in supporting our students’ learning, or in evaluating their classroom teachers before the Garfield High School teachers spoke up publicly.
We believe that effective teaching and learning must utilize meaningful tests, authentic assessments, and multiple-measures to evaluative what a student knows and can do. These measures are also critical to improve teaching practice, reflect on curriculum, and to evaluate school and district-wide policies. We want students who are struggling and those who have mastered skills and content to be identified and to be offered meaningful support to succeed and excel. We want teachers who are struggling in the classroom to be identified, offered useful critique and professional support. We believe that after due process, if these teachers are unable to meet the high standards we hold ourselves to as educators these individuals should be removed from their teaching positions. We wish to continue to improve our schools which are already rated as one of the best K-12 public school districts in the state and nation. To quote Garfield High School teachers, “The MAP test is not the way to do any of these things.”
We support an expedient dismissal of the MAP exam because it has not proven to be useful or reliable in its given tasks. We ask Superintendent Banda to reconsider his call to wait for a general evaluation of all Seattle Public Schools assessments as that report is not due out until the end of the school year. If MAP testing is already paid for this school year shouldn’t we finish out the school year with the planned MAP testing days? Budgets are in some ways both complex and simple. Seattle Public Schools annual “operating budget” for this year is around $566 million; delivering 180 days of school to our students. Rounding down the cost is still over $3 million-a-day to operate our schools. If we end MAP testing now, millions of dollars of this year’s district’s operating budget would be spent on school days of teaching and learning instead of on ineffective MAP-testing.
We believe that process employed by Seattle Public Schools administration, school board, and (initially) by our professional association (SEA) in accepting this testing regime was flawed. We request an administrative and public review of the procedures related to these kinds of important adoptions needs to be established that engages all stakeholders to help prevent unworthy, expensive, MAP-like mistakes in the future.
The Undersigned Teachers of Roosevelt High School.