– M E D I A A D V I S O R Y –
Contact: Jesse Hagopian, Teacher, Garfield High School
Another Win for Teachers, Students, and
Parents Who Boycotted the MAP Test
- Seattle School District announces that no teacher who boycotted the winter MAP test will be disciplined
- Reversal of threats shows the strong position of parents, students, and teachers in the movement for quality assessments
- Confused, misleading e-mail from the district sent to all Seattle educators
- MAP test requirements eased for spring testing – yet with clumsy implementation, and without teacher input
- District still silent on every major criticism raised by boycotting teachers, students, and parents.
“This is a clear victory for Seattle’s teachers and for public education,” said Garfield High School reading teacher Mallory Clarke.
Seattle School District Superintendent Joes Banda sent an email to every educator in Seattle on Friday, March 29th saying, “There will be no discipline of any test administrator.” Though the email seemed confused and misinformed in several instances, it nonetheless acknowledges that no educator in Seattle will be disciplined as a result of the MAP-test boycott this winter.
“No doubt this is great news for the teachers who took a risk to do what is right for their students,” said Garfield academic dean and testing coordinator Kris McBride. “The incredible support from parents and students created a united front against the MAP and I am pleased that my colleagues will not face consequences for doing what is right.”
The Seattle School District initially made a threat that teachers could face a ten day suspension without pay. Next, in a closed-door meeting with Dr. Banda, the superintendent told Garfield teachers that while he was not going to follow through with the 10-day suspension, he did say that, “Just as when children break the rules, there will be consequences.”
Superintendent Banda’s decision to not reprimand any teachers who refused to administer the test is welcome news and a significant reversal from his initial threats. Yet he reversed his position in confusing and unhelpful ways. Instead of acknowledging that he had listened to the education community he serves and decided that reprimanding teachers would not be helpful, he inexplicably asserted that no one had boycotted the test, writing, “Those teachers who publicly said they refused to administer the test either did not teach a tested subject, or they were not a test administrator.”
As Orca K-8 teacher Matt Carter said, “Banda’s claim that no one who boycotted the test is a teacher of a tested subject or a test administrator is so nonsensical it’s hard to know how to address it. Almost every boycotting teacher at Orca is both. Dozens of teachers at schools around Seattle not only refused to administer the test, but publicly refused—it’s a matter of public record.” Garfield Language Arts teacher Kit McCormick said, “One thing is for sure, I boycotted the MAP test—and I’m in a tested subject. In fact, at Garfield High School, we all boycotted the test.”
As Garfield History teacher Jesse Hagopian explained, “I think the reason no teachers were reprimanded is because of the overwhelming local, national, and international support for the MAP test boycott. We heard from parents, students, and teachers around the nation who told us that our struggle spoke for them as much as it spoke for education here in Seattle.”
“What remains perplexing,” said Ballard High School teacher Eric Muhs, “is that the superintendent still has not addressed a single one of the points that we teachers raised about why the test is flawed.” Garfield teachers raised nine deeply troubling problems with the MAP test back in January and the Seattle School District has yet to respond to any of these points—not even the charge that the test is statistically invalid at the high school because the margin of error is greater than any expected gains.
The district did, however, announce:
“Based on a preliminary review of MAP by staff, we’ve made the following adjustment to our testing policy: For 9th grade, only students below standard based on the state reading assessment will be required to take the MAP reading test. It will be optional for 9th graders who are at or above standard in reading.”
Teachers around Seattle boycotting the MAP test certainly are glad that the Seattle School District realized now—after massive protest—that fewer students should be taking the test. However, this decision to reduce the number of 9th graders taking the reading MAP test was not made by the Task Force, but rather decreed by the Superintendent. “The District meant well by changing the rule so that students who passed the state reading exam in 8th grade don’t have to take the MAP reading test in 9th. However, the problem this sets up is that students who failed the reading exam in 8th grade will now be stigmatized when their name is called out to take the MAP test and they are identified by their peers as failures.” McCormick continued, “Had the District come to teachers and asked us about how to reduce the impact of the MAP on our schools, we would have had important suggestions about ways to do it so it doesn’t shame or divide students. Teachers will now have to scramble to figure out how to lessen the impact of another careless district decision.”
“Of course, Dr. Banda has delivered great news. But what replaces the MAP? Nothing. Instead, we must search for quality assessments that don’t use a narrow definition of well educated,” said Center School teacher Gerardine Carroll.
Finally, here is a breakdown of MAP testing numbers at Garfield for the winter session:
- For the winter round of MAP testing there were 810 tests originally scheduled. This is NOT the number of students who took the test – keep in mind that some students were to take 1 test and others were scheduled to take 2 tests.
- At the end of the testing window there were 184 completed tests, 124 in reading and 60 in math. Again, this is not necessarily the number of students who completed tests.
- There were 104 invalid tests, 69 in reading and 35 in math. This generally means that the students just clicked random buttons on the computer and finished the test too quickly for the results to be considered valid.
- There were 273 opt out notices. Some of those students who were opted out were scheduled to take 1 test, and some were scheduled to have 2 tests.
- There were 170 incidences of refusal. This means that a student either refused to come to the computer lab for testing or they refused to take the test once they were at the computer. Some students walked out after logging in, for example. Again, the 170 is the number of tests, not students.
- Just to be clear, if you examine the numbers and think that they “don’t add up”, it is because some of the numbers deal with number of TESTS but the opt out information is for the numbers of individual STUDENTS.
As these numbers make clear, the students and parents joined teachers in opposing the MAP test.