On behalf of the 41,000 members of the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation, I am writing to express our solidarity with Seattle teachers who have taken a historic stand for their students by refusing to administer the MAP test.
In Canada and the US, teachers welcome all students in public schools. We believe that every student needs support and encouragement. As professionals, we know that learning is a complex process and that students learn in different ways and at different rates. We understand that children and youth need time to create, experience, learn, and grow.
It’s easy for politicians and bureaucrats to focus on results from standardized tests in order to deflect from the resources they should be providing to schools. However, teachers understand the importance of quality teaching and learning conditions. As professionals, we are accountable to our students and for speaking out on their behalf.
Teachers rely on assessment—authentic assessment—to support student learning. We are knowledgeable and trained to know the purpose and appropriate uses of tests. Teachers know that no single test or assessment strategy is completely reliable; therefore, teachers use a wide variety of assessment tools and strategies such as projects, presentations, goal setting, quizzes, classroom tests, writing samples, and much more.
At the same time, we know that standardized tests are often overused, misused, and not useful for student learning. We believe the proliferation of testing moves education backwards while doing nothing to help our students learn.
We also object to the unconscionable practice of using student tests to evaluate teachers, which is neither grounded in research nor ethically sound. Such a deliberate misuse of tests undermines authentic student-centered pedagogy, and reduces children and learning to simple, superficial, shallow, and ultimately destructive metrics.
Thank you to the teachers of Seattle for your courage.
Susan Lambert, President
British Columbia Teachers’ Federation
100–500 West 6th Avenue
Vancouver, BC V5Z 4P2