Seattle Public Schools to review MAP testing

In early 2013, teachers at Garfield High School boycotted Seattle Public Schools use of MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) standardized testing based on the grounds that it does not accurately assess student progress and is used to evaluate instructors, even though they are not allowed to see sample questions of what might be on the test to properly prepare their students.

SPS now says they will perform a thorough statistical review of MAP testing (which wraps up on Feb. 28) to help decide on its future.

Back to the controversy's inception, it quickly became clear Garfield was not alone in their displeasure, as teachers across the city joined in writing letters to SPS Superintendent Jose Banda asking him to end the standardized testing that was implemented in 2009. Several faculty members from West Seattle schools joined the fight against MAP.

As Garfield teacher Jesse Hagopian explained in a Jan. 17 Seattle Times opinion piece, “Garfield’s teachers are preparing students for the real-life tests they will face, and reject the computer multiple-choice rituals that fail to measure grade-level content – not to mention character, commitment, courage and talent.”

Superintendent Banda, in a letter to staff on Jan. 14, backed MAP in saying “the test provides assessment data that is useful for screening and analyzing student achievement to inform instruction and measure growth over time. 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.”

MAP is not state-required testing, so the results do not affect students’ grades or graduation status.

Amidst the uproar, SPS formed a task force to assess MAP testing. In a press release on Feb. 27, SPS wrote, “We will conclude our MAP testing at all schools on Thursday, Feb. 28. Because there has been significant interest in this topic, we will be working in the next week to gather statistics on this latest round of testing, including the number of students who took the test across the District as well as the number who chose to opt out. We will also collect the number of students who took the test by school. In addition, we will count the number of teachers and other staff who chose not to administer the test – both across the District and by school.”

SPS plans to make the results of their statistical analysis available to the public.

“Finally, in addition to this data we will also provide information on any disciplinary action that might be administered for those teachers and staff who did not give the test as required,” SPS wrote, possibly as a warning shot to educators who refused to administer MAP testing during the boycott.

“Meanwhile, we want to update you on Superintendent José Banda’s newly formed Task Force on Assessment and Measuring Progress, which includes principal, teacher, student, family and community representatives. The task force, which has held two meetings so far, is charged with reviewing District assessment programs, including MAP, and making recommendations for next year and beyond. The group will also hear from subject-matter experts on key topics, such as Common Core standards, aligned assessments and the new statewide evaluation system for teachers. The task force is expected to make a recommendation to the Superintendent on assessments in May.”

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