In advance of a media briefing next hour about Seattle Public Schools‘ response to concerns about the testing known as MAP (Measures of Academic Progress), and a rally by MAP opponents after that, Superintendent José Banda has just announced a testing task force. Read on for his open letter (and, ADDED 4:30 PM, another administration letter saying test-boycotting teachers face suspension):
There has been much public debate about the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) assessment in the last few weeks. Today I am announcing details of a Joint Task Force on Assessments and Measuring Progress. This task force will be a productive way for educators and our community to come together to discuss concerns and find solutions that best meet the needs of all our students.
I want to take a moment to emphasize the importance of data in our work as educators. Across Seattle Public Schools, we use multiple forms of data to help guide classroom instruction and measure progress. For many of our teachers and principals, the MAP assessment provides critical data to help screen the most vulnerable students for additional academic support and more personalized attention and to measure their growth and improvement over time.
At Seattle Public Schools, we must champion equity, access and opportunities for all students. I want to listen and better understand assessment concerns, and work with staff on a solution moving forward. But in the meantime, I am asking as your Superintendent that teachers follow our policies and procedures and administer this assessment for our students. This is especially important for our students who are the most at-risk academically. I am hopeful we will continue to work together in support of our students.
The new task force will have the opportunity to explore and review the strengths and limitations of the MAP assessment, and will consider potential alternatives to future district testing programs. The task force will be formed in partnership with the Seattle Education Association (SEA) and Principals Association of Seattle Schools (PASS), and will include teacher representatives and school leaders. The input of additional stakeholders, including families, students and community members, will also be solicited to provide multiple perspectives. The task force will be formed immediately and meet at least twice a month from February through May. Final recommendations should be provided to me in May.
I am hopeful the task force will develop strong recommendations for making future improvements to district assessment processes. I look forward to a productive conversation.
Thank you for the work you do every day on behalf of our students.
Seattle Public Schools
ADDED 4:30 PM: This afternoon’s media briefing also included a district administration letter, provided to principals, outlining among other things suspension penalties for teachers who don’t give the test:
I am writing today to help provide support and guidance around the recent issue of certain teachers refusing to administer the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) assessment to our students.
We ask that each principal by the end of the school day provide a clear directive to all administrative and teaching staff that the MAP assessment must be administered to students of tested subjects on the timeline established by you, their building administrator. State law requires that teachers implement a course of study in accordance with District directives. Administering the MAP to students of tested subjects is a District directive.
If a teacher refuses to administer the MAP assessment after a clear direction by you, such conduct is considered insubordination. When a staff member engages in insubordination, such action will lead to appropriate disciplinary action as outlined in School Board Policy 5281 Staff Disciplinary Action and Discharge. Previously, the discipline imposed by the District when a teacher refused to administer a required assessment was a 10-day, unpaid suspension.
If you have staff who have either not administered the test on the date required by you or have given you clear notice that they do not intend to administer the test, you are required to give that staff person this communication, preferably in a letter or email that you send and hand to them:
State law requires that teachers implement a course of study in accordance with District directives. As you are aware, the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) is a District assessment that teachers are required to administer. You are receiving this communication because you are required to administer this assessment. Based on information that I possess, I believe you have either refused to or have declined to administer the MAP assessment.
For staff who disagree with MAP assessment, I acknowledge that you are certainly entitled to your opinion. Your disagreement with the appropriateness of the MAP assessment, however, does not excuse your obligation as a certificated employee to provide this assessment consistent with District directives.
Thus, I am specifically requiring that you administer the MAP assessment by the Feb. 22, 2013 deadline, notwithstanding your apparent disagreement with the District’s decision to require this assessment. Your refusal to administer the assessment consistent with District requirements and this directive will lead to discipline. Discipline that has been imposed for such insubordination in the past has included a 10-day, unpaid suspension. Please contact me immediately if you have concerns over getting this assessment done by Feb. 22, 2013.
Principal, School Name
We understand there are concerns around MAP assessments, and Superintendent Banda will soon announce details about a Joint Task Force on Assessments & Measuring Academic Progress. This task force, which will include principals, teachers and central office staff, will report recommendations to the Superintendent before the end of the school year. This is a productive way to work together on this issue. In the meantime, many of our principals and teachers find the MAP assessment to be very helpful. We want to be consistent across the district in administering this to all required students.
As a reminder, all MAP assessments should be administered by Feb. 22. If for logistical reasons your staff are unable to administer the MAP assessment by that deadline, an extension may be granted by your Executive Director.
If you have questions, please work with your Executive Directors of Schools. If you need additional support, please contact me at (206) 510-6697.
Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources