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Seattle School District forced to evade Garfield teachers in their attempt to implement MAP test.

Quality Assessment Remains out of Reach

Teachers Maintain Boycott

District forced to back down: Suspension Threat Verbally Rescinded

Because of Garfield High School teachers’ boycott of the MAP test, Seattle School District is attempting to implement MAP testing at Garfield without teacher involvement. The administration, by order of the district office, today began to pull students out of classes to take the test that teachers maintain does not support instruction and is statistically invalid. The teachers don’t place any blame on the school’s administrators who face pressure from the SSD to implement the test. We place the blame squarely on a district that issued threats rather than listened to the professional judgment of teachers. “This move by the district won’t break our resolve to fight for quality assessment,” said Mallory Clarke, a boycotting teacher.

Libraries and computer labs will be unavailable for three weeks due to testing. Students will be denied access to computers, research materials and printers. The lack of resources particularly burdens low-income students who do not have these resources at home. Teachers are frustrated and disappointed by the loss of instructional time and are still resolved to reject the MAP test.

Because of the strong stances the Garfield PTSA and Garfield ASB have taken against the MAP test and in support of the teacher boycott, it is unclear if the district’s effort will be successful. Indications early this morning are that there is wide-spread “opting out” of the test by students. For the first hour, only nine students are in the testing center. Sixty students were signed up to use the library but were displaced. Typically 90 students use the library before school and at lunch. These students are not allow access during testing. Janet Woodward, Garfield’s librarian, said, “I’m sorry about all the students who are being displaced. It makes me sad.”

In negotiations, the district has failed to respond, point by point, to the list of criticisms levied at the MAP test. Teachers claim the test is not useful because it is not aligned with state and district standards, is supported by “junk science” and wastes time and resources. Parents have joined teachers in raising concerns regarding the impact of this test on English Language Learners, students of color, and Special Education students. The district has not responded to these concerns. During negotiations, Superintendent Banda was forced to backtrack on his earlier threat of suspension without pay but stated there will be “consequences” for teachers. Garfield staff vows, regardless of consequences, whole-heatedly to continue the fight against the MAP test and for quality assessment.

Jesse Hagopian said, I am disheartened that the District would try to go around the backs of the PTSA, the students, and the teachers at Garfield High School and implement a test that all of the representatives of those bodies have voted unanimously against. With so many parents opting their students out, it is unlikely to have much effect other than growing the movement against the MAP test and for quality assessment.

Here are the teachers’ original points explaining why we cannot give the MAP test:

§ 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 support.

§ 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.