West Seattle schools: Sanislo support for MAP test revolt

January 17, 2013 at 11:57 am | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 23 Comments

You might have seen citywide media coverage – including this story from our partners at The Seattle Times – about Garfield High School teachers revolting against the district testing known as MAP (Measures of Academic Progress). A source has sent word of the first organized West Seattle concern about the test, saying Sanislo Elementary teachers are sending this letter to district Superintendent José Banda – note, however, it does NOT say that Sanislo teachers will boycott the test, only that they support the Garfield teachers’ decision:

We the staff at Sanislo Elementary, by a unanimous vote, write to express our support for Garfield High School’s decision to not administer the MAP test. We share many of their same concerns, including the impact on a struggling student’s esteem and the lack of usability of the results when given the current text adoptions. We similarly decry the loss of instructional time, the loss of computer lab access and the loss of instructional assistants who are used as test proctors, in addition to the financial costs of the subscription itself and the tech support for implementing it.

Garfield and all high school teachers find themselves in a Kafkaesque situation in which their employment (including career ladder and termination) will be determined by a test which district officials told them is invalid, since the margin of error can exceed the expected growth score. The collective bargaining agreement allows teachers to be put on ‘improvement plans’ if their test scores are low on two different tests. However, if one test is faulty, then in all fairness, this portion of the contract cannot be implemented.

Elementary teachers are approaching a similar situation, where the MAP test is not correlated with the standards we are required to teach. Common core standards are now taught in the classrooms so how reliable are this year’s MAP results and how useful will they be to elementary teachers since the test questions are not aligned with these new standards? Further, this misalignment will result in a false reading of student growth and those lower test scores will put elementary teachers in a Garfield-type predicament where a solid teacher could feel threatened due to faulty test results.

For these reasons, we urge you to recognize the Garfield teachers’ stance as an opportunity to correct an injustice initiated under a former administration and to publicly announce that no teacher will be put on plans of improvement as the result of test scores until such time as a statistically-reliable (and more humane) second measure of student growth is in place.

With Respect,

The Sanislo Elementary School Staff

In a response to the Garfield boycott, the superintendent said the district is reviewing MAP but expects the tests to be administered this winter as planned.

23 Comments

  1. I am so proud of the teachers at Sanislo, Garfield and Ballard for taking the stand on the MAP tests. It is time for the school administrations, school boards and politicians to listen to the people whom know their students and what is best for a quality education for these students. BRAVO !!

    Comment by Kris — 1:23 pm January 17, 2013 #

  2. Orca K-8 is also supporting Garfield’s teachers and may also be boycotting. And, SEA is supporting them as well. As a parent, I’m 100% behind them.

    Comment by Demian — 1:51 pm January 17, 2013 #

  3. I appreciate their stand but would even more appreciate a counter proposal that addresses the real need for teacher evaluation. If not the MAP, then what?

    Comment by MyEye — 1:54 pm January 17, 2013 #

  4. Let’s hope Schmitz Park Elementary joins the boycott!

    Comment by KH — 2:08 pm January 17, 2013 #

  5. There are quite a few other tests out there like the ITBS, etc. MAP is not the be all and end all. And the company that brings us MAP did not mean it to be used in the ways that SPS is using it. It’s not so much the test as how it is being used.

    But its high costs – both to buy and to administer – and less than useful results to teachers (and this is supposed to inform their teaching) and high school students who laugh it off (because it means nothing to them), would lead us to believe we can do better.

    Comment by Melissa Westbrook — 2:40 pm January 17, 2013 #

  6. I commend the teachers. A certain northern west seattle school almost makes the MAP testing a part of their curriculum.

    Comment by wsea — 3:00 pm January 17, 2013 #

  7. I forgot to include a link which provides some informaiton on why the testing is faulty. Believe what you will from it.

    http://seattleducation2010.wordpress.com/2011/03/15/15-reasons-why-the-seattle-school-district-should-shelve-the-map%C2%AE-test%E2%80%94asap/

    Comment by wsea — 3:21 pm January 17, 2013 #

  8. Lafayette?

    Comment by ls — 4:37 pm January 17, 2013 #

  9. Nice work Sanislo teachers! I’m an elementary teacher as well, and I agree with you. We need to use a test that monitors progress on the common core since that is what we are teaching.

    Comment by Georgia — 6:00 pm January 17, 2013 #

  10. As a former SSD teacher – lower elementary my biggest complaint was never being to actually see the questions the students missed. How can I help guide each student if the information is so vague? A lower score in math operations give no valuable feedback to a teacher and how differentiate instruction. The test is also set up to increase the difficulty until a student misses a problem and then decreases in difficulty until answers are correct and then increases again. Because of this kids often guess and through chance they can increase their scores light years. The teacher is then chastised for the child’s progress regressing the rest of the year.

    It’s a sad story. Hopefully the new Superintendent will grow some and really make some changes that benefit the kids, families, teachers and stop bowing down to the political powers that be.

    Comment by harry — 6:24 pm January 17, 2013 #

  11. Way to go, Sanislo teachers! Thank you for being vocal about this.

    As an educator, I agree with you. Too much testing sets our kids up for a lack of critical thinking skills. Testing also diminishes their motivation to learn for the love of learning…which does them a disservice when/if they get to HS and college.

    Comment by sanisloparent — 8:37 pm January 17, 2013 #

  12. And…instead of slapping the hands of teachers because of test scores, why not offer consistent, substantial, on-going professional development opportunities for teachers? The money now used for testing would be better spent on teachers who were hired for their skills and talents in the first place.

    Comment by sanisloparent — 8:44 pm January 17, 2013 #

  13. AMEN!!! MAP is a crock! It is not an accurate measure and student scores are all over the place. My son scored a 27 in math one quarter and then an 82 the next. These are percentiles. How believable that he seemingly went from below average to above average in the space of one test session.
    I hate the MAP and how it limits teacher ability to differentiate. My son in unchallenged in math yet because he did not score 85 or above, he cannot have access to supplemental math. BS!!!!

    Comment by AH parent — 6:31 am January 18, 2013 #

  14. Kudos to Sanislo, Garfield and all teachers brave enough to speak out about flawed standardized testing like MAP and previously WASL. As a retired teacher, another frustration was that these scores were used for punitive measures against schools in lower socio-economic areas. Children are not “standard” and a blanket stem requirement will not show a child’s growth or how much effort a teacher has put into their instruction. Standardized testing is big business…Seattle should rethink a more meaningful assessment…involve your teachers in the process!

    Comment by Cid — 11:22 am January 18, 2013 #

  15. I stand behind these teachers. Let’s measure what is actually being taught and for once correlate curricula to test, and vice-versa! Money always seems to trump this.

    Comment by robin — 12:52 pm January 18, 2013 #

  16. It is a huge waste of time and money, especially in the K/1 classes. Kids click on the most interesting picture on the screen instead of the right answer (what little kid wouldn’t click on the pink cupcake or the cute kitty just because?. Others rush through the test randomly clicking just to get done quickly. Others come home exhausted and stressed (and that is in kindergarten for goodness sakes!!!) Last year my kid had to take the test 3x because she was at a school that administered it in the fall. She spent a significant amount of time practicing and then actually taking the test each quarter. Honestly, I would’ve preferred more recess for my 6 year old child than this crap. I can understand the desire to want to assess kids and teachers, but this is not the way to do it. Maybe give teachers an assistant for a few days so they can spend one on one time with each child to individually assess how kids are learning. That is a much more effective strategy for most children than a test like this.

    Comment by kayo — 1:16 pm January 18, 2013 #

  17. As a parent of two children who attend Sanislo, I say, “BRAVO,” to the teachers who are standing up for our kids and looking out for their best interests. I think the MAP test pigeonholes our children’s intelligence and doesn’t give a realistic view of what our children know or don’t know. Especially at the K-1 level. These tests only create stress for the parents, create work for the teachers and label children early on in their education. Time would be better spent in the classroom enriching our children’s minds, not implementing tests that create questions about their abilities or intelligence. I would like to see a Superintendent who can start being proactive and empower our teachers by listening to what they have to say…..and let them do their job…TEACH.

    Comment by Juju — 9:06 pm January 19, 2013 #

  18. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE our Sanislo teachers…way to go for being so vocal expressive about this test and showing support for Garfields decision.

    Comment by jeunglady — 9:56 pm January 19, 2013 #

  19. I hope that this revolt is the spark that ignites a real revolution in education in this country. A revolution one that will leave NCLB behind, in the dustbin of history, a place where it richly deserves to be. A revolution that will permit greater autonomy in our schools and and encourage creativity in our classrooms!

    Comment by JTS — 12:07 pm January 20, 2013 #

  20. Since the district uses MAP scores to place students in advanced learning – how will boycotting affect that? My student’s scores have been consistent throughout his 3 yrs of taking the test. So I am confused how you can get 20s then 80s — he’s told me some kids just sit there and do the old “check check check – done!” and not actually take it. And these are 1st graders!

    Comment by SPS MOM — 7:35 am January 21, 2013 #

  21. SPS MOM, I wouldn’t be surprised if your son is an unusual case. Most parents I’ve surveyed (unofficially) have had similar experiences to what AH parent describes above.

    Comment by K. — 1:40 pm January 21, 2013 #

  22. 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 RC — 7:25 pm January 21, 2013 #

  23. @ K – I am sure not. If that were true there wouldn’t be Spectrum & AP programs – no one would be testing into them.
    ____

    @ RC – the map tests are given the same time every year roughly, and the kids know. Your child didn’t tell you? Also, IF the tests were loved by all, then I’d bet you wouldn’t care when they’d be given, correct? My point being – I doubt SPS thought “oh, everyone will boycott these tests in Jan but NOT back in the fall, lets not tell them when they will be given (evil laughing)”

    Comment by SPS MOM — 8:19 am January 22, 2013 #

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