Movement Grows To Boycott Seattle School District Standardized Tests

Garfield High School got the ball rolling last week, and now teachers throughout the Seattle School District are rising up in defiance, saying that district-required standardized tests known as the MAP is a waste of time and money -- and they're refusing to administer the exam.

On Monday night, members of the Seattle Education Association reinforced the teacher union's support of last week's teacher boycott of the MAP standardized test, arguing that the time it takes is detrimental to student learning. The SEA also demanded that Seattle Public Schools take no disciplinary action against teachers who don't give the test.

A rally in support of the test-boycotting teachers is scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 23, at 4 p.m. at the John Stanford Center, the district's main offices.

"We've been saying the test is not a useful tool for years," SEA President Jonathan Knapp told The Daily Weekly yesterday. "The test is not aligned with the curriculum that teachers teach, and so it doesn't give anyone any useful information [about student academic progress.]"

The Seattle Times has reported that 11 teachers at ORCA alternative school in Seattle have hopped on the bandwagon. Also, nearly 50 teachers at Ballard High School have signed a letter in supporting Garfield's efforts to dodge the exams, which are given two or three times a year, covering mostly reading and math.

School Superintendent José Banda said the test "provides assessment data that is useful for screening and analyzing student achievement to inform instruction and measure growth over time."

In a statement issued yesterday, Banda added, "I recognize there are concerns about MAP testing, but many educators in our district use MAP results, along with other data, in order to make informed instructional decisions during the year.

"Before the issue was raised by our teachers at Garfield High School, the School Board had already asked for a thorough review of our how we assess student learning, including MAP testing. During an annual report to the Board on Nov. 28, it was agreed that the District would review the effectiveness of MAP testing.

"We plan to report back to the Board this spring....In the meantime, MAP remains a required element of our overall student testing process. We expect school staff to fulfill their responsibilities and obligations to administer this test in a timely manner. "

SEA's Knapp said Garfield's arguments are sound: "It uses up district resources, and the kids don't take it seriously because they know it has no meaning -- unlike the SAT."

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