The Seattle Education Association calls to suspend the SBAC

I’ve been asked where the Seattle teachers’ union, the Seattle Education Association (SEA), stands on issues that I write about.

Well, they took a stand on the SBAC.

This resolution was passed on March 9, 2015.



Whereas in order for a standardized test to give meaningful information, it must first be administered to a normed sample group and proven to have reliability and validity; and in 2014-2015 reliability and validity of scores for the Smart Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) test have not yet been established; yet Washington is planning to use the results as a baseline in their state accountability systems; and,

Whereas a statement on the SBAC website in Olympia, WA in November 2014 indicates that the SBAC is designed so that almost 7 in 10 eighth graders, and 6 in 10 third graders, are expected to fail to reach the arbitrary “goal” set by the test-makers; and,

Whereas the 2014 WEA Representative Assembly and the NEA RA passed six action items relating to objections to the use of standardized testing; and,

Whereas Seattle’s Nathan Hale High School Senate, made up of faculty, parents, administration, and students, recently announced that they had decided not to administer the SBAC to their juniors this spring for reasons including: the test will not benefit the juniors, it is not valid assessment strategy, it will produce unreliable outcomes, and it is not required for graduation; and,

Whereas at the Oregon Education Association Representative Assembly (OEA-RA), members of the Oregon Education Association (OEA) passed a resolution in April 2014 calling for a moratorium on the SBAC; and,

Whereas the Portland Teachers Association representative assembly recently passed a resolution calling for their members to speak out about the excessive time they spend on testing and preparing for tests, and to become involved with parent groups to educate the public about opting out; and,

Whereas the Obama Administration awarded PARCC and Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) a combined $360 million to develop the new standardized tests aligned to the CCSS instead of dedicating said funds to provide the much needed support for our most disadvantaged students in the form of smaller class sizes, well-rounded curriculum for all schools, increasing funding to ESL and Special Education programs, hiring social workers, counselors and support staff, funding school libraries and extracurricular programs; and,

Whereas Smarter Balanced tests constitute a mandate upon our professional practice which cannot be implemented without negatively impacting the academic health of our students, forcing teachers to violate best-practice assessment strategies and methods, distorting best-practice teaching and curriculum, and damaging efforts to promote equity and opportunity for all our students; and

Whereas Seattle teachers cannot academically or in good conscience implement the new, unproven Smarter Balanced assessments at this time, but may instead continue to administer the Measures of Student Progress (MSP) and High School Proficiency Exam (HSPE) to meet state and federal accountability measures; and

Whereas the State of Washington has consistently underfunded public education, while more than $200 million from the state’s General Fund (not including the costs to individual school districts) will be spent on implementation this year of a test that will be neither valid nor reliable, and is an expensive experiment to norm SBAC on students without their or their families’ consent.

Therefore be it resolved that the SEA provide information and resources to support its members and parents to hold parent informational sessions about the SBAC and the impact of testing, including sending SEA members an FAQ letter with the WHEREAS’s above; and,

Be it further resolved that the SEA organize and host at least two regional (one on north end, one on south end) “SBAC parent/teacher practice sessions” where parents and staff take the practice SBAC and videotape testimonials about their experiences which will be posted on SEA website; and,

Be it further resolved that the SEA send a letter stating SEA supports Seattle School District School Board draft resolution No. 2014/15-19 that calls for the suspension of the SBAC; stating, the suspension of SBAC, we argue, will give time to allow our members to instead focus on providing equitable, engaging and in-depth educational opportunities for all students, consistent with the mission of the Seattle Education Association, School Board and District; and send a letter to the State Superintendent of Public Instruction requesting he also consider the suspension of the Smarter Balanced assessments at this time, for the reasons stated above.

Dora Taylor

Post Script:

I have been asked why there is not a link to the Resolution. Answer is that the SEA leadership has chosen NOT to post it on their website. This resolution was driven by union members, not the leadership.

The information I received was from teachers who were at the meeting when it was voted on. Ask any teacher who was at the meeting if you need additional confirmation.




11 thoughts on “The Seattle Education Association calls to suspend the SBAC

  1. Seattle Education Association is not a “teacher’s union”. It is a union comprised of office professionals, paraprofessionals and certificated staff. Teachers were not the only union members to participate in voting for this resolution.

  2. ‘I have been asked why there is not a link to the Resolution. Answer is that the SEA leadership has chosen NOT to post it on their website. This resolution was driven by union members, not the leadership.’

    SEA suffers from lack of leadership.

  3. Oh goodness, so typical of SEA leadership not to get involved in or support anything on the local level. At least members can tell their ass(essments) from a hole in the ground!

  4. From Mariner High School (in Everett but part of the Mukilteo School District):


    WHEREAS, the motto of Mariner High School is to “provide an excellent education to every student;” and

    WHEREAS, the Smarter Balanced Assessment is not required for graduation; and

    WHEREAS, this computer based assessment will take approximately eight hours for each 11th grader to complete and its confusing format is unlike anything students will experience outside the testing environment; and

    WHEREAS, there are not enough computers to test the students in a reasonable amount of time and it is unacceptable for computers to be unavailable to non-testing students for such a long period of time; and

    WHEREAS, the failure rate of the assessment is going to be extraordinarily high (possibly 60%) for the general population and even higher for students of color, ELL students, and students on individualized education plans; and

    WHEREAS, student performance on this test will in no way be indicative of their learning and instead this test must be given to meet arbitrary, antiquated and poorly considered state/federal mandates; and

    WHEREAS, graduation and standardized testing requirements in Washington State are in constant shift, confusing, and poorly communicated; and

    WHEREAS, the sheer number of state mandated standardized tests is unacceptable; in addition to other assessments during the last seven weeks of school we must administer two weeks of AP testing, many weeks of 11th grade SBA testing, the 10th grade ELA exit exam, the Biology EOC exam, the Geometry EOC exam, and the Algebra 1 EOC exam; many of these exams are required for graduation or could possibly earn students college credit; moreover, during this time we are also required to teach our students and administer year end finals and projects; and

    WHEREAS, the detrimental impact on the school schedule and more importantly student learning cannot be justified simply to meet a superfluous bureaucratic requirement; now, therefore, be it

    RESOLVED, the members of the Mukilteo Education Association at Mariner High School object to the administration of the 11th grade Smarter Balanced Assessment for spring 2015 as an unacceptable obstruction to providing an excellent education to every student.

    Passed Unanimously 3/6/2015

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