Dear Garfield and Seattle Teachers
Stay strong! As this boycott continues to grow (And I believe it will) advocating for “portfolio and authentic assessment” is absolutely essential. The reality is that any high stakes standardized test is ALWAYS going to be an invalid indicator of student learning.
Start using the language of learning over terms such as “achievement” and “growth.” These terms are embedded in high stakes standardized testing. The reform narrative exploits terms such as “achievement” and “growth” purposely to avoid talking about what really matters—learning. While some of you say that you are not necessarily in favor of abandoning high stakes standardized tests if you had “a better test.” The reality is that “better” standardized achievement tests don’t exist if you are focused on demonstrating “learning.” Therefore “portfolio and authentic” assessment under the direction of professional teachers are the only types of assessment that can truly demonstrate learning.
This is so key in the larger fight against the reform movement. The reform narrative is all about “achievement” scores and rankings and presents a false narrative of failing public schools. This narrative rests on scores from standardized achievement tests and purposely distorts reality so that the public believes achievement and learning are synonymous. What you and your colleagues have done is finally opened the door to allow for a new narrative to compete and hopefully replace the failing schools narrative—a narrative that is supported on the foundation of standardized test scores.
The real issue is the Civil Rights violation that has occurred during the reform movement’s reign of testing. Yes there is a “gap.” However, we know the last 15 years has done nothing to improve that gap. In fact the “real” gap has actually increased—for all kids—but poor and minority kids have been damaged to an even larger extent. They have been denied a fully funded public school experience. A rich experience in the arts, music, physical education, history and other content areas has been cut because they are not tested.
This is the message to take forward. The Garfield boycott/Opt Out is truly a movement in support of restoring and in a lot of cases finally providing a fully funded and supportive public education to children that have for decades been excluded from this fundamental right due to the fact that they live in poverty. Once we change the narrative and reveal the reform movement for what it truly is—a massive civil rights violation that has denied a generation of children a powerful education, the public will continue to support you and all teachers because they will finally understand that this is not a fight about testing. This is a fight to provide 90% of the children of this country a solid and powerful education that will allow them to learn to think critically and imagine new possibilities.
This is advocating for the ultimate freedoms—the freedom to think, the freedom to imagine, the freedom to create, and the freedom to dream.
No more false labels of “failing, below basic, inadequate, needs improvement.” This is the language imposed on us by standardized tests as pushed by the reform movement to destroy powerful public schooling and relegate most children to menial jobs in a dead end economy that only creates wealth for those that already possess wealth. No more! My children and your children deserve the same type of educational experience that the wealthy demand for their children.
Your boycott of the MAP is really a strike at the entire reform movement that wants to create a multi-tiered system of unequal educational opportunity and siphon away the tax dollars that should be used to support ALL public schools. This is truly the Civil Rights fight for our generation!
@ the Chalk Face Team