UPDATE: The Seattle Times reports this morning that the MAP test will be given today at Garfield High School by administrators, while non-administrative staff continues to boycott the test.
The Seattle King County NAACP announced yesterday that it's entering the fray of the ongoing MAP testing protest raging in Seattle Public Schools. In a statement (and subsequent press conference) Monday proclaiming support for Seattle teachers fighting MAP testing, the Seattle King County NAACP said standardized MAP testing "does not reflect what students have learned over the course of a current school year," and that the test questions "do not reflect the core curriculum that teachers within the district are encouraged or required to follow."
"A student that has done particularly well during the year in relation to the course work that is actually taught may do poorly on the MAP test due to no fault of his or her own. This creates an environment in which students that are putting their best foot forward may experience a potentially devastating self-esteem setback that could damage their future educational goals," said the Seattle King County NAACP in the released statement. "It seems that success in the MAP test may be more reflective of the educational and/or economic successes of the child's parents."
In addition to broad concerns over what results of the MAP test actually reflect, the local branch of the NAACP has specific concerns regarding the Seattle School District using the computerized test to determine which students are placed in advance courses - a practice the NAACP says can lead to an "inequitable result" for children of color and those living in poverty.
In an interview with Seattle Weekly Seattle King County NAACP President James Bible says that if it's determined that such a practice creates an inequity for students a complaint to the US Department of Education is possible.
"We have to evaluate whether or not this test leads to inequity," says Bible. "This is an important issue, and our kids are in the balance."
While Seattle Public Schools Spokesperson Teresa Wippel acknowledges that MAP testing is one of a number of ways that students in the district are identified as candidates for the Accelerated Progress Program (APP), she says, in reality, the practice has actually helped Seattle Schools identify more children of color or challenged economic background as APP qualified - not less. She calls the NAACP's argument in this regard "kind of an interesting statement."
In its critique of MAP testing, the Seattle King County NAACP also argues that tying up school computer labs for weeks at a time administering the tests can have a detrimental effect on poorer students who don't have the luxury of computer access at home. The organization contends that "this level of academic interruption is unacceptable."
Speaking for the District, Wippel acknowledges that MAP testing isn't perfect; she says no test is. Instead, she says testing is just one important part of the academic environment, while arguing that we owe it to our children to be able to measure and track where they're at and how they're progressing. Wippel points out that prior to this school year the District had already made the decision to evaluate MAP testing once the year concluded, with Superintendent Jose Banda having called for a task force to look into the matter. As far as the 2012-13 school year is concerned, Wippel says the District has already committed to seeing MAP testing carried out.
Bible, however, isn't soothed.
"As far as we're concerned, the focus group has spoken," says Bible. "The focus group is teachers."
With over 100 teachers at four schools now participating in the MAP boycott, Banda has yet to decide what the repercussions will be if the protesting teachers don't allow their students to take the MAP tests by a deadline of Feb.22. Suspensions and loss of pay are reportedly a possibility.
Bible says it was teachers willing to risk these hardships for the sake of their students that spurred the Seattle King County NAACP to action. He says, in addition to publically voicing concerns, the NAACP is prepared to fundraise - in the form of bake sales and carwashes, for example - for any teacher who ends up facing discipline - to "help them make ends meet."
But Bible says he and the NAACP hope it doesn't come to that.
"We want to make sure the [MAP] test is suspended, and not the teachers," says Bible.