Dearborn Park Elementary School Solidarity Letter

January 30, 2013

Jose Banda
Office of the Superintendent
MS: 32-150
P.O. Box 34165
Seattle, WA 98124-1165

Dear Superintendent Banda:

We, the undersigned teachers and staff at Dearborn Park Elementary School, are writing to voice our concerns about the Seattle School District’s use of the MAP assessment. The teachers at Garfield High School did us all an important service when they announced that they were boycotting the test this winter. The MAP assessment takes valuable resources of teaching time, computer lab access, and district money away from where it is most needed. The MAP test provides little to teachers in the way of guidance on the needs of students, and it does not reflect or assess what students are actually learning on a day-to-day basis in class. In addition, the MAP assessment is being used as part of the teacher evaluation system, which runs contrary to the intention and design of the test.

While we have chosen to administer the MAP test to our students at Dearborn Park this winter, we do not want you or others to assume that this means that we support the use of this test or, more importantly, the ways in which it is being utilized to evaluate students and their teachers. Additionally, we stand in opposition to any measures to punish or retaliate against the teachers at Garfield, Orca K-8, or any of the other schools that have joined the boycott. As you well know, teachers have many responsibilities in their jobs, but none higher than the duty to speak out and advocate for their students. The Garfield teachers took a brave and important step when they decided to call attention to the ways in which standardized testing has come to damage our students’ education. Instead of punishing teachers who speak up, you should be working with them to restore some sanity to our educational system.

Sincerely,

17 teachers and staff members
Dearborn Park Elementary School

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Solidarity letter from the California Federation of Teachers (CFT)

January 28, 2013

Kay Smith-Blum, District Director and President
Board of Directors for Seattle Public Schools
Mail Station 11-010
Post Office Box 34165
Seattle, Washington 98124-1165

Dear Kay:

The California Federation of Teachers expresses its solidarity with the Seattle Education Association (SEA) and the Garfield High School teachers who have made a courageous decision to stand with their students against the pedagogically unsound MAP test.

Over the last couple of years, the SEA has communicated to the Seattle School District administration serious concerns over the validity of the MAP test.  These issues include:

  • The test does not line up with district curriculum.
  • The test takes valuable time away from student learning.
  • Many students do not take the test seriously.
  • The testing timeframe takes valuable time away from students in the school being able to access computer labs and libraries for other projects.
  • The data obtained is of minimal use to teachers in planning lessons and meeting individual student needs.

Despite the serious issues raised by Seattle teachers and their union, the MAP test continues to be administered by the district.  With the District refusing to act, the teachers at Garfield High School have stepped forward as advocates for their students.

The valiant decision of the Garfield teachers has begun to resonate with educators across the country.  We urge the district to work collaboratively with its teachers to find meaningful alternatives to the MAP test.

Perhaps Seattle can be the district that begins a national dialogue on the testing mania that has victimized students and the women and men who work with them.

Sincerely,

Joshua Pechthalt
President, California Federation of Teachers

cc: Jonathan Knapp, President, Seattle Education Association
Sandra S. Shroeder, President, AFT Washington
Randi Weingarten, President, AFT

Letter of support from Castro Valley Teachers Association

January 30, 2013

To: Jose Banda, Superintendent, Seattle Public Schools
From: John Green, President, Castro Valley Teachers Association
Re: MAP Boycott

We have watched with great interest the refusal of our fellow teachers at Seattle’s Garfield High School – and elsewhere – to administer the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) standardized test. They are courageously bringing attention to the detrimental effects of over-testing our children.

Through their boycott we have learned that Seattle’s ninth- and 10th-grade students already take five state-required standardized tests; that the MAP test’s margin of error is greater than expected gains; that the tests are not aligned to state-standards; that administering the MAP monopolizes campus computer labs for weeks at a time; and that high-needs students are especially harmed by losing five hours of valuable instructional time during this district-mandated test.

Most shockingly, this test was brought to the Seattle Public Schools at a cost of $4 million dollars by former Superintendent Goodloe-Johnson, who did not disclose her financial interest in the private company that sells the MAP.

We are disheartened by your response to our colleagues. You have ignored their concerns and instead threatened them with 10 day, unpaid suspensions.

We want you to know that in the event of any suspensions, the Castro Valley Teachers Association will happily make a contribution to the teachers’ hardship fund.

Sincerely,

John Green

CC: Jonathan Knapp, President, Seattle Education Association

Letter from Seattle School Librarians to Superintendent Banda

January 18, 2013

Dear Superintendent Banda and Members of the School Board,

Since MAP testing was imposed in Seattle Schools in 2009, Seattle school librarians have continually expressed concern about the loss of library resources for students. School libraries are a proven tool to improve student learning. With the onset of MAP testing, however, the libraries in many schools have been closed for weeks at a time while the space is devoted to testing. Librarians, whose role is to teach information skills and support reading instruction, have been required in many schools to spend weeks and weeks as testing clerks. In many schools the first time a student visits the library is not to check out a book or research a topic, but to take a test—a test that is not aligned to curriculum and covers material that they have not learned.

Scarce computer resources in schools are devoted to testing, and are unavailable for teaching and learning. Scarce technical support—the Department of Technology Services has been cut in recent years—is devoted to shoring up the MAP test, while student and teacher computers sit “Out of Order” for months because no one is available to fix them. These issues and many others were raised by librarians and teachers to district administrators over the years, but no major changes have been made.

On January 11 the teachers of Garfield High School announced that they will no longer administer the MAP test because of its negative impact on students. We, librarians in Seattle Public Schools, agree that MAP wastes resources in our schools without benefiting our students. We ask Seattle Public Schools to discontinue MAP and focus on assessments that truly support student learning and which are chosen in consultation with educators who work directly with students every day.

In response to Superintendent Banda’s email of January 14, we recommend suspending the MAP requirement until the promised review has been completed.

Signed by these Seattle Schools Librarians,

Laurie Amster-Burton, Seattle World School
Janet Woodward, Garfield High School
Jeff Treistman, Denny International Middle School
Winifred Unterschute, Library Assistant, Roosevelt High School
Nancy Howard, Van Asselt Elementary School
Amy Young, View Ridge Elementary School
Katie Hubert, Chief Sealth International High School
Kathy Egawa, Pathfinder K-8
Merilee Hudson, Thurgood Marshall Elementary School
Chris Gustafson, Whitman Middle School
Nancy Fisher-Allison, Schmitz Park Elementary School
Ginny Allemann, Thornton Creek School
Stephen McIntyre, Sacajawea Elementary School
Ruthanne Rankin, Viewlands and Greenwood Elementary Schools
Steve Kovnat, Coe Elementary School
Susan Jenkins, Pinehurst K-8
Pat Bliquez, Roxhill Elementary School
Elaine Harger, Washington Middle School
Steve Marsh, John Muir Elementary School
Craig Seasholes, Sanislo Elementary School
Kristine McLane, North Beach Elementary School
Betty Brennan, Ingraham High School
Linda Illman, Salmon Bay K-8
Ann Brooke, Jane Addams K-8
Carolyn Burns, Northgate Elementary School
Danae Powers, McGilvra Elementary School
Mary E. Bannister, Whittier Elementary School
Tom Brown, Laurelhurst Elementary
Suzanne Babayan, Franklin High School
Deborah Gallaher, Nathan Hale High School
Katharine Donnelly, B.F. Day Elementary School

Added after January 18:
David Nelson, Aki Kurose Middle School
John Brockhaus, Orca K-8
Anne Aliverti, Bryant Elementary School
Anne Miller, Wedgwood Elementary School

*School names are provided for identification purposes only. This letter represents the views of those who signed, not any school’s staff or all Seattle Public Schools librarians.

As reported at SLOG.

National Call-In Day Today!!

Call the Superintendent and Wear Red Today!

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TODAY is a national call/phone/fax day to tell Seattle Public Schools that you, your organization and your union stand with the teachers in the MAP test boycott. Send your message to Seattle Schools Superintendent José Banda:

Phone: (206) 252-0180
Fax: (206) 252-0209
Email: superintendent@seattleschools.org

If you send an email, share it with us here in the comments!  Seattle teachers are also asking that all wear red for public ed every Wednesday in support of the MAP boycott until the test is taken off the table.

Next week, WEDNESDAY, February 6 will be a National Day in Solidarity with the Seattle Test Boycott. This can be an opportunity to gather petitions, pass resolutions and take solidarity photos that, again, can sent to https://scrapthemap.wordpress.com/.  Other possible solidarity activities could include a press release or press conference outside your local school district office with parent/teacher/community groups. If you are near the offices of one of the corporate education “reform” groups or education profiteers like test publishers, you can have a press conference or picket line.

Email us at scrapthemap@yahoo.com or use the “Contact Us” link to tell us about your plans!

Resolution of Support from the Prince George’s County Educators Association

The Prince George’s County Educators Association (in Maryland) passed the following resolution on 01/28/2013:

RESOLUTION IN SUPPORT OF SEATTLE TEACHERS

WHEREAS: THE USE OF STANDARDIZED TESTS IS SPREADING. In response to the demands of the Race to the Top program, and to the trend toward greater “accountability” in education, states are developing even more tests for more subjects. Standardized tests, once used to assess student learning, have now become the main instrument for evaluating teachers, administrators, and even entire schools and school systems.

WHEREAS: TESTS CONSUME A GREAT DEAL OF TIME AND MONEY. Standardized testing is consuming an-ever growing proportion of education budgets nationwide. The total price tag is nearly two billion dollars.

WHEREAS: TESTING HURTS STUDENTS. In the name of “raising standards” the growth of high stakes testing has effectively lowered them. As the stakes for tests are raised higher and higher, schools have been forced to spend less time on arts and sciences, and more time on tested subjects.

WHEREAS: RESEARCH DOES NOT SUPPORT USING TESTS TO EVALUATE TEACHERS.   Research shows that nearly 90% of variability in standardized test results are attributable to factors OTHER than the teacher. So-called “value-added” models for teacher evaluation have a larger margin of error, and are not reliable measures of teacher performance.

WHEREAS: The Measure of Academic Progress (MAP) test was adopted by a former Seattle Public Schools superintendent who also served on the board of the company that made the test.  She was later dismissed by the school board for this action, which the state auditor termed an “ethics violation.”

WHEREAS: The MAP is a major component of teacher evaluation, yet the test taking company has stated that the test is not designed for that purpose.  Furthermore, the margin of error for the test is greater than the required student progress on the test.

WHEREAS: Teachers at Garfield and other Seattle Public Schools have been told by the Superintendent that they will be suspended for 10 days without pay if they refuse to administer the MAP.

WHEREAS: Seattle teachers have received support from their local PTSA, their local union, AFT President Randi Weingarted and NEA President Dennis Van Roekel, with Van Roekel calling the test boycott “A defining moment within the education profession.

RESOLVED: the Prince George’s County Educators’ Association support the staff at Garfield High school in Seattle who voted unanimously to refuse to administer the state’s Measure of Academic Progress (MAP) test. Taking this action, the educators at Garfield High School have struck a blow against the overuse of standardized tests, and deserve support of all advocates of public education.

FURTHER RESOLVED:  We pledge $200 to the solidarity fund.