Garfield High School teachers boycott MAP assessment test |
January 10, 2013
This may well be the first in the nation--an entire school refusing to give a required test. And right in Bill Gates' backyard.
May this moral action spread like wildfire across the nation.
Let's hope this is a practice run for refusing to administer the Common Core assessments.
Here are the names of teachers whose names have appeared in the news. Write and thank them.
Kit McCormick (English teacher)
Jesse Hagopian (History teacher)
Mario Shaunette (Math teacher)
Garfield High School
400 23rd Ave.
Seattle, WA 98122
Go forth and do likewise.
Monty Neill call for support
Support Seattle Teachers' Boycott
Show your support for the teachers' boycott of the MAP tests.
The teachers have set up a petition, which you can sign here.
Please circulate it widely!
The teachers wrote me:
"We would love for people to write letters to our superintendent and school board showing their support: Email addresses are:
Already many groups are passing resolutions in support of the teachers: get your local union, education, parent, student or community group to pass one and send it to the super and the board.
There is also a Facebook page here. Please like and share it."
All this is important. This is the first schoolwide boycott since Chicago more than a decade ago. That one was the final part of a push that forced the city to drop its awful tests. Alfie Kohn reported that a boycott in Japan compelled that government to drop a set of national tests. And a boycott in Britain caused the government to overhaul though not end its testing, but the battle did not end there. Since then teachers and parents have won a reduction in testing in England and Wales completely opted out of the tests (Scotland had never adopted them).
So, yes, boycotts can be powerful.
We need such actions to roll back the testing juggernaut. When the Seattle teachers win, that will help us all. I expect those who want test-driven schools will also be pushing hard for the district to stand firm and defeat the teachers.
Our voices will be very important, perhaps not as important as parent and community people in Seattle (where the union has voted support for the boycott), but still an important, perhaps critical piece of the battle.
So send your letter to the super and board, sign the petition, like the Facebook page, and spread the word.
M E D I A A D V I S O R Y
T H U R S D A Y, J A N U A R Y 1 0, 2 0 1 3
Teachers at Garfield High Say MAP Test is Counterproductive, Say They'll Refuse to Waste Students' Time, School's Resources
--PRESS CONFERENCE TODAY--
What: Press conference to announce Garfield High School's opposition to the MAP test
When: Thursday, January 10, 3:00 p.m.
Where: Garfield High School (400 23rd Avenue Seattle, WA 98122) in Room 206
For more information:
Jesse Hagopian, Teacher Garfield HS, 206-962-1685, email@example.com
SEATTLE -- In perhaps the first instance anywhere in the nation, teachers at Seattle's Garfield High School will announce this afternoon their refusal to administer a standardized test that students in other high schools across the district are scheduled to take in the first part of January. Known as the MAP test, it purports to evaluate student progress and skill in reading and math. The teachers contend that it wastes time, money, and precious school resources.
"Our teachers have come together and agree that the MAP test is not good for our students, nor is it an appropriate or useful tool in measuring progress," says Kris McBride, who serves as Academic Dean and Testing Coordinator at Garfield. "Additionally, students don't take it seriously. It produces specious results, and wreaks havoc on limited school resources during the weeks and weeks the test is administered."
McBride explained that the MAP test, which stands for Measure of Academic Progress, is administered two to three times each year to 9th grade students as well as those receiving extra support services. The students are told the test will have no impact on their grades or class standing, and, because of this, students tend to give it little thought to the test and hurry through it. In addition, there seems to be little overlap between what teachers are expected to teach (state and district standards) and what is measured on the test.
Despite this flaw, McBride states, results of the MAP tests will be used by district officials to help evaluate the effectiveness of instructors who give the test. "Our teachers feel strongly that this type of evaluative tool is unfair based on the abundance of problems with the exam, the content, and the statistical insignificance of the students' scores," she says.
Refusing to administer a district-mandated test is not a decision the school's teachers made casually, or without serious internal discussion.
"Those of us who give this test have talked about it for several years," explained Mallory Clarke, Garfield's Reading Specialist. "When we heard that district representatives themselves reported that the margin of error for this test is greater than an individual student's expected score increase, we were appalled!"
After the affected faculty decided unanimously to make a stand against the MAP test, they told the rest of Garfield's faculty of their decision. In a December 19 vote, the rest of the school's teachers voted overwhelmingly to support their colleagues' refusal to administer the test. Not a single teacher voted against the action. Four abstained from voting. the rest voted to support it.
"We really think our teachers are making the right decision," said student body president Obadiah Stephens-Terry."I know when I took the test, it didn't seem relevant to what we were studying in class-- and we have great classes here at Garfield. I know students who just go through the motions when taking the test, did it as quickly as possible so that they could do something more useful with their time." History teacher Jesse Hagopian said, "What frustrates me about the MAP test is that the computer labs are monopolized for weeks by the MAP test, making research projects very difficult to assign." Hagopian added "This especially hurts students who don't have a computer at home."
The $4 million MAP test was purchased by Seattle Public Schools during the tenure of former Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson, who left her position in 2011 and sadly passed away in 2012. Goodloe-Johnson sat on the board of directors of Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA), the company that markets the MAP test. At the time, some pointed out this potential conflict of interest for Goodloe-Johnson, but the district went ahead with the purchase nonetheless. NWEA itself warns that districts should not use the map test to evaluate teachers. We teachers of Garfield High School believe that the NWEA is right--this test should not be used to evaluate teachers. For secondary teachers the test cannot provide useful information about students' skills and progress. Still worse, this test should not rob students of precious class time away from instruction. "We believe the negative aspects of the MAP test so outweigh the positive ones that we are willing to take this step," said Language Arts teacher Adam Gish.
Garfield High School Teachers
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