An Open letter to the Seattle Educational Community:
Teachers, parents, students, school board members and the administration of Seattle Public Schools owe Garfield High School teachers their gratitude for first speaking the truth about the MAP test. Any reprimand of or negative consequences imposed by Seattle Public Schools on the truth-telling teachers of Garfield, and the teachers at many other sites who have joined them, would be unjust. These teachers should be given public commendations for rightly raising their professional concerns and specific critique of our district’s choice and misuse of the Measures of Academic Progress® [MAP] testing.
An unspoken truth is that most all Seattle Public School stakeholders already knew that the MAP test was expensive and of little practical use in supporting our students’ learning, or in evaluating their classroom teachers, before the Garfield High School teachers spoke up publicly. This view is supported by research elsewhere, and we are disappointed that those who continue to uphold using the MAP test discount this research in favor of anecdotal evidence of its efficacy.
Effective teaching and learning must utilize multiple, meaningful measures to evaluate what a student knows and can do. These measures are also critical to improve teaching practice, reflect on curriculum, and evaluate school and district-wide policies. Students who are struggling and those who have mastered skills and content should be identified and offered meaningful support to succeed and excel. But the advent of the expensive MAP test precisely coincided with a shrinking of actual classroom resources to help address whatever deficits the MAP might have helped identify. Our classroom teachers need resources (instructional assistants, special education help, supply budgets) more than they need this test.
Teachers who are struggling in the classroom should be offered useful critique and professional support. If, after due process, these teachers are unable to meet the high standards to which we hold ourselves as educators, these individuals should be removed from their teaching positions. We wish to continue to improve our district, which is already rated as one of the best in the state and nation, in its ability to serve our students. To quote Garfield High School teachers, “The MAP test is not the way to do any of these things.”
Some might argue that if MAP testing for this school year is already paid for, we should finish the year’s planned MAP testing days. Since the MAP has not proven to be useful or reliable in its given tasks, we ask Superintendent Banda to reconsider his call to wait until the end of the year for a general evaluation of all Seattle Public Schools assessments. Seattle Public Schools’ annual “operating budget” for delivering 180 days of instruction to our students this year is around $566 million; it costs over $3 million per day to operate our schools. If we end MAP testing now, millions of dollars of this year’s operating budget will be spent on school days of teaching and learning instead of on days of ineffective MAP testing.
We also believe that the process employed by Seattle Public Schools administration in accepting this testing regime was flawed. An administrative and public review of the procedures related to these kinds of important adoptions needs to be established that engages all stakeholders to help prevent unworthy, expensive, MAP-like mistakes in the future.
Seattle Public Schools National Board Certified Teachers
Sooz Stahl, Ballard High School
Eric Muhs, Ballard High School
Janet Woodward, Garfield High School
Heather Snookal, Garfield High School
Mark Lovre, Garfield High School
Gerardine Carroll, Center School
Kit McCormick, Garfield High School
Taryn Coe, Ballard High School
Paul Franklin-Bihary, Ingraham High School
Alison Bishop, Sacajawea Elementary
Washington State National Board Certified Teachers
Jacob Crouch, Bothell High School, Bothell, WA
Peggy McNabb, Evergreen High School, Vancouver,WA
Diane Ball, Deer Park School District, Washington
Patricia J Smith, Chimacum School District, Washington
Judi Goldman, Everett School District, Everett, WA
National Board Certified Teachers from other states
Kathy M Xiong, Milwaukee Public Schools
Kelly Sul, NBCT-Literacy, Delano Elementary, Chicago Public Schools, Chicago, IL
Jacqueline Smith, Family School 32 – Yonkers Public Schools, Yonkers, NY
Kathy McCullen, Parkwood Elementary, Durham Public Schools, Durham, NC
Theo Bullock, Genesee Valley Central School, Belmont, NY
April Stockley, West Ouachita High School, West Monroe, LA
John Minnick, Staley High School, Kansas City, Missouri
Judy Bjorke, Minneapolis Public Schools, Minneapolis, MN
John Phillips, Tarkington School, Chicago Public Schools
Nonie Kouneski, Minneapolis Public Schools, Mpls. Mn
Jocelyn Alexander Shaw, Dr. King College Preparatory, District 299, Chicago, IL
Sarada Weber, King College Prep, Chicago, IL
Amy Hirsbrunner, NBCT-Reading and Language Arts, United Arab Emirates
David Strom, Chicago Public Schools, Chicago, IL
*If you would like to add your name to this letter, please email your name, school and location to firstname.lastname@example.org.