More West Seattle teachers back MAP testing revolt: Now, Schmitz Park Elementary

January 19, 2013 at 6:30 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 30 Comments

Teachers at a second elementary school in our area are voicing their support for others around the district who are declining to give the Measure of Academic Progress (MAP) tests. As with Sanislo Elementary School‘s teachers (see their letter here), Schmitz Park Elementary teachers are sending a letter voicing support without going so far as to say they won’t give the tests. We received this tonight:

Dear Superintendent Banda,

The staff of Schmitz Park, by a nearly unanimous vote, joins in its support of Garfield High and all other schools and individuals around the district that boycott the MAP test. We agree with Garfield’s position about the harmful, ineffective, and wasteful nature of the MAP test and its deleterious impact on instructional time and consequently student achievement. We join SEA in asking you to not discipline our colleagues for standing up and speaking the truth.

We also agree with the Sanislo Elementary letter of support, which points out a deep concern around MAP. Apparently, district officials told Garfield staff the test was “not valid” because the margin of error can exceed the expected growth score. Given this information, it seems unthinkable that these scores would be used to determine the “effectiveness” of teachers. The teacher’s collective bargaining agreement allows the use of low scores to impact the placement of teachers into more comprehensive evaluations, en route to performance improvement plans and termination. The threatening of teachers with invalid data simply is not right.

There is a similar problem brewing in the elementary schools. Not only are our teachers concerned about the time taken away from instruction to administer the test, but the current version of the MAP test is aligned with the old state standards and it is clearly an unsuitable vehicle for evaluating students currently being taught the new required Common Core Standards. So not only are the results of little instructional value, but this discrepancy between what is taught and what is measured will yield falsely low scores making the MAP test invalid for the purpose of measuring student growth/teacher effectiveness.

The idea of using MAP scores as a component of teacher evaluations is disconcerting and needs to be addressed. As such, in response to Superintendent Banda’s e-mail of January 14, we recommend suspending the MAP requirement until the promised review has been completed.

We hope you will interpret the “boycotts” around the district not as disrespect but as a sign of deep concern and needed change.

Sincerely,
Schmitz Park Elementary School Staff

Here again is Superintendent José Banda‘s published message about the MAP revolt from earlier this week, saying the district will review it, but needs right now to proceed with it.

ADDED 11:25 AM MONDAY: The Schmitz Park teachers have revised their letter to add the word “nearly” before “unanimous,” and at their request, we have also added that word (toward the start of the letter) to reflect the change.

30 Comments

  1. IMHO, whenever someone rejects a solution, they need to suggest an alternative solution. We need accountability in schools.

    Comment by Sigh — 6:40 pm January 19, 2013 #

  2. Yay Teachers!

    Comment by K — 6:46 pm January 19, 2013 #

  3. @Sigh – The MAP tests are a completely flawed. I think the whole concept of standardized testing is also flawed. Most private institutions don’t even bother with them. – accountability comes from colleagues, the students and parents. There’s your alternative solution.

    Comment by Wess Cider — 7:48 pm January 19, 2013 #

  4. I’m likely in the minority on this, but I hope that if our elementry school follows suit that they will at least offer a “opt-in” for students and their parents who want them to take the MAP test. While it’s arguably not useful for everyone, it offers some of the few times that many students have to be challenged by out of level work and assessed accordingly. Does that need to be changed? Absolutely. I heard the same arguments with the WASL and yet here we still are again. So while I hope the MAP revolt actually sparks a meaningful change, I also hope the schools will offer the resources for those families who may still want to take the MAP in the meantime.

    Comment by Leave me something — 7:55 pm January 19, 2013 #

  5. there are alternative assessments aligned with common core standards that could replace MAP, that are also better an narrowing down academic concerns for focused intervention. There are two topics here to consider – 1. best practice in evaluating student progress to assess and target areas of concern, and 2. how to evaluate teaching so that we can either improve outcomes or weed out those who are simply not performing up to standard. I think both need to be addressed. We do need to have a way to recognize poor performing teachers so that we can make way for capable ones. Maybe we also need to consider fair pay, considering the amount of schooling and time put into teaching. The public underestimates the hours teacher put in and the intensity of their job. They deserve better pay. It’s a complex issue. Glad the Superintendant is considering the subject at hand.

    Comment by laura — 8:10 pm January 19, 2013 #

  6. Can we put the kids ahead of the union please?

    Comment by Mark — 8:27 pm January 19, 2013 #

  7. Many, if not the majority, of teachers in SPS agree the MAP is a joke. Parents and the media do not hear about this because teachers live in fear of the consequences of speaking about it – even to parents. It is even harder to come out together as an entire school against district policy. Kudos to the schools who have gone public. Their statements are courageous. They are doing it for their kids, not themselves, as some have suggested.

    Comment by Mark Ahlness — 8:40 pm January 19, 2013 #

  8. How can we assess teachers by testing students? Schools with higher percentages of Black/Hispanic students will score low and schools with more White/Asian students will score higher. How could you possibly compare results from Ballard to results from Franklin?

    Comment by marty — 8:48 pm January 19, 2013 #

  9. Absolutely true, Wess Cider! Well said!

    Comment by Kim — 9:29 pm January 19, 2013 #

  10. Right On Schmitz! I agree with Wess. The whole concept is flawed. And in the end the teachers end up paying for it. I personally believe they deserve better.

    Comment by QQman — 10:08 pm January 19, 2013 #

  11. Mark,

    Ditching the MAP *is* putting students before the union.

    Comment by Sophocles — 10:54 pm January 19, 2013 #

  12. The tests are flawed, but we still need a better system in place to validate teaching methods and which teachers actually perform well. The best teacher I had growing up came from the Seattle School District. Fantastic math teacher, put the rest of the Northshore School District math teachers to shame. Teachers with true skills in educating kids are amazing, I just wish all my teachers had the same drive as Mr. Dwyer. I had the pleasure of being in his first class he taught at Northshore Jr. High. I hope all teachers aspire to be like him. Standardized tests or not, we need teachers like him. http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=19940404&slug=1903831

    Comment by Mike — 11:48 pm January 19, 2013 #

  13. I am with the teachers. I would hate for my own job performance in an entirely different field be judged on something as arbitrary as the MAP scores.

    Comment by Evergreen — 1:11 am January 20, 2013 #

  14. As a Schmitz Park parent, I’m extremely happy to hear this.

    Comment by ws — 6:59 am January 20, 2013 #

  15. Mark: its obvious that you have no idea what you are talking about.

    Comment by teachergreg — 7:19 am January 20, 2013 #

  16. Marty and the rest,

    The Washington state board of education has been working on a system that considers low income and minority students. In other words it recognizes the population that a school serves and provides a rating based on MSP scores. If you go to the website you can look up any school in the state, it ‘s called the Achievement Index. Based on the achievement index Schmitz Park is rated as Fair with a score of 3.53 on a scale of 7! In 08-09 they were rated exemplary with a score of 5.93, I don’t think we can blame this on the Maps Test people, or the kids.

    Comment by Jeff B. — 8:32 am January 20, 2013 #

  17. Good Op-Ed piece from a Garfield teacher:
    http://seattletimes.com/html/opinion/2020158085_jessehagopianopedxml.html

    Comment by Mark R — 9:06 am January 20, 2013 #

  18. Hagopian clearly enjoys being in the limelight, but the goal of an education is not to turn out partisan activists, but thinkers.

    Comment by G — 12:35 pm January 20, 2013 #

  19. Jeff- what your data does NOT show is the very notable CHANGE in demographics from ’08-’09 to present day….. Since then, boundaries have been tweaked, NCLB has provided that kids in low performing schools (which are often linked to low economic neighborhoods – face it…..) are given preference to go to a high performing school….. So while those kids are hoping for a better performing school, the reality is that with them come lower test scores… At least for a while. The truth of the matter is that until there is something done about poverty and economic disparity, there will continue to be disparity in test scores…… They are undeniably linked.

    Comment by Dano — 3:59 pm January 20, 2013 #

  20. Dano: Economic disparity? More like single-parent households. Kids need two parents. It helps economically too when you have two people who can earn a wage.

    Comment by marty — 8:51 pm January 20, 2013 #

  21. Have the kids evauluate the teacher…

    Comment by Mostinterestingman — 8:59 pm January 20, 2013 #

  22. Mark – Try stepping out of your mindset and start understanding the problem. Your personal “union” issue does nothing to fix the problems in education. BTW, I’m a teacher

    Comment by Mike — 11:45 pm January 20, 2013 #

  23. Marty – Is this one of those wink-wink disguised phrase comments? Be careful so your agenda isn’t revealed.

    Comment by Mike — 11:48 pm January 20, 2013 #

  24. Marty – kids need people who care greatly about them….. They need love, and protection, and time….. All of which can come from two parents….. Or three….. Or four…… And yes, even ONE. I am the lucky, educated, happy….. And most of all, GRATEFUL child of a single parent.

    Comment by Dano — 11:58 pm January 20, 2013 #

  25. I never said that there are no single parent success stories, I have seen many. The fact is that children from single parent families have far less success on the average. Spend a few minutes looking at the attached link and you will see what I mean. The information comes from the Seattle School District. It also shows the huge gap between White/Asian students and Black/Hispanic students. It couldn’t help but notice that strength of family and student success are strongly related.

    http://www.seattleschools.org/modules/groups/homepagefiles/cms/1583136/File/Departmental%20Content/siso/disprof/2011/Prfl11all.pdf

    Comment by marty — 12:53 am January 21, 2013 #

  26. Unfortunately my child attends a West Seattle school that is still taking the MAP test. Tomorrow he will go to school with a letter to his teacher, his principal, and cced to the superintendent that specifies, as a parent, I DO NOT GRANT PERMISSION TO THE SEATTLE SCHOOL DISTRICT TO TEST my child with a high stakes test. And they can’t do a damn thing about it. My kid will not take it! His teacher knows much more about his progress then a computer screen, and a test that even the district says is bad.

    I didn’t even get a letter home telling me that the kids were taking the MAP test at this time!

    Comment by Morrigan — 7:23 pm January 21, 2013 #

  27. Morrigan- I am a teacher at an elementary school here in West Seattle. I commend you for your decision….. Because you are acting on information that YOU have reflected on, and weighed… You are illustrating what is important…. Talking with your child’s teacher about his PROGRESS…. Thank you for being involved, and for treating the teacher as a professional who cares about, and is invested in your child’s education! ;)

    Comment by Dano — 8:07 pm January 21, 2013 #

  28. Dano,

    You are correct in your assumption on an earlier post that student can transfer from a low performing school to a higher performing school under NCLB. In 2008-09 Schmitz Park had 11.2% poverty (37 students k-5), 2011-2012 14.5% (67 students). That’s 5 additional students of poverty per grade level. Not that significant when you see a school with almost 90% poverty, 60% E.L.L., 35 languages, 25% refugees and they are getting a 6.14 on the achievement index and their Hispanic and Black students are out performing the White and the Asian students. You as an educator actually believes:” with them come lower test scores” Who’s freaking fault is that, the students, the families? No, it’s the result of low expectations on the part of our educational system and the inability of schools to get kids to standard, which they get paid to do.

    Comment by Jeff B. — 8:59 pm January 21, 2013 #

  29. Sorry, Jeff…… We will have to agree to disagree on this.

    Comment by Dano — 10:01 pm January 21, 2013 #

  30. Why are’t the parents more upset about the government profiling your children with this form of test?? If one were to look at it scientifically thats what they(government) are doing. Thank you Lyric

    Comment by lyric — 6:05 pm January 23, 2013 #

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