Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Want to Challenge MAP?

There seems to be a growing unhappiness around MAP. The Superintendent has indicated some thought to tweaking it - maybe an organized movement would help. I have heard from one parent that their school is thinking of petitioning to not have K-2 students take it (based on complaints from both teachers and parents).

I am happy to link up parents if you want to send me an e-mail at sss.westbrook@gmail.com.

45 comments:

Aunty said...

The MAP test is a crap test.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gTJiXu_5NZs

none1111 said...

So Aunty, which test would you recommend the district to use for assessment purposes?

Do you like the MSP? It certainly has huge problems as well.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...
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none1111 said...

By the way, I'm not being (intentionally) snide. I've spent time researching some of these tests, and I have my own opinions about them. Each have strengths and weaknesses, depending on the goals.

Gotta run, more later...

none1111 said...

Post-overlap, sorry. But Anonymous, you'd better put some kind of identifier on your posts or they're going to disappear.

anon-o-mus said...

I have given the MAP test to third graders. I also called the company that made it so I could find an easy way to interpret the data. The customer service rep I talked to said it is designed to be used as a predicting tool to measure which students would pass the state test. I have not found it helpful as a diagnostic tool yet. The company that made this test is making big bucks. Good teachers can find other ways (district or teacher made pre-tests) to determine what students know and need to work on...

ConcernedSPSParent said...

What bugs me is MAP is now used for
APP enrollment.

anon-o-mus said...

I do think the MSP is a good measurement of what students know. I use the previous year's reults to help guide my teaching. It helps me understand which areas I need to improve upon for next school year and it also helps the next grade level teacher to see what strands (areas of the state standards) they need to focus on with particular students. There is not a perfect test out there, but I think the MSP is pretty good. The MAP test is designed to be given 3 times a year... that is just too much, and it is too time consuming to get specific data from the results.

Anonymous said...

It's the unintended consequences, the frequency, and the misuse of the results that make me dislike the test.

- My child has only visited the library once this year, because the MAP testing was being done in the library. Two more months will be taken away with the Winter and Spring testing. So the library is unavailable for one-third of the school year.

- Add to this the lost instruction time. And if your child does not complete the test, the makeup time will be during class.

- The fear of the test is driving instruction in a bad way. Fun stuff like history seems all but forgotten, while math is being crammed into their little heads until they scream.

Once a year, at the beginning of the year, is how I'd like to see the test administered.

- Disgruntled Parent

mirmac1 said...

Do as I did. Write to the principal and teacher and tell them you do not want your child to take the test. They can't force you. I suspect the principal was happy I did this. I don't think they like it either.

We just need to boycott it. MAP is simply a cog in the District's Performance Management plan. They could give a rat's ass whether individual children are helped.

wseadawg said...

Ditto ConcernedSPSParent! My kids are in APP, and for years we've lobbied for better ways to identify kids who might qualify. Bob Vaughan & Co. have gone to great lengths to increase participation in the program as well as diversify it, and Spectrum as well. Using MAP as a potential identifier is fine. Using it as a qualifier or cutoff point, is absurd, arbitrary, and unfair. It's also counter-productive to the efforts to broaden and diversify the program.

To me, it shows how the standardized testing industry and it's co-conspirators in the tech industry are ruining good programs with their "nothing but data" exclusionary obsessions.

A rich Geek is still a Geek, for crying out loud! Who handed the keys to the Geeks?

mirmac1 said...

Pretty soon they'll be using MAP to plan the lunchroom menus. Wow, what can't it do?

dan dempsey said...

This is just unbelievable.

MAP is not correlated to actual Math standards to be learned at each grade level.

It does not take a mental giant to actually write a test that a teacher can give at their given grade level to get a clue about student competence of grade level standards.

Instead the District prefers to monkey around in the land of MAP "hocus pocus" at huge cost. Math leadership from the Central Administration like lots of other things authored by Central Administration is a complete disaster.

It is time to fire the superintendent with cause.

Today's reason for firing MGJ
#1 and a possible starting point.

A simple question for Directors Kay Smith-Blum and Michael DeBell.

Anonymous said...

Here's a way to push back. Turns out that many schools are using parents as volunteer proctors. Doesn't seem like a good practice, does it? Means inequality in test conditions and thus test results. We can't have such an IMPORTANT multi-million-dollar test, the one that teachers are being ASSESSED on, the one that is being used as a SCREENER for advanced placement, be proctored by cobbled-together parent oversight. Sounds like grounds for a lawsuit somewhere.

Then again, the district does not have money to pay for staff to proctor this in all schools. So what do we need to do? Reduce the frequency of the test and the number of grades taking it so that Trained Professionals will be the proctors.

Insisting that your school board rep come see the test in action with a pack of kindergarteners should also be helpful in pushback.

Quit whining and get smart, people.

"--Been Down This Road Before--"

none1111 said...

anon-o-mus likes the MSP, but there are (at least) a couple big problems with it.

First, the delay is way too long between taking the test and getting the results. And because you get it the following year you don't really know the student or the full context of what was going on the previous year. Both with the individual kids and with their classrooms. Well, maybe a super-duper diligent teacher who has great relationships with all the previous grade teachers, and provided that they are all stable in the same building, maybe they can glean some useful info. But all else equal, having nearly instant results can be powerful. We'll have to see if/how things change as it moves to more students taking the MSP online, but I suspect they'll still keep it toward the end of the year, which makes sense for district/state assessment purposes, but it's not especially helpful to guide teaching adjustments.

Second, it only tests a very tight ability range, specific to "the standards" for a given grade. So it doesn't tell you where your kids are at, it just tells you their ability at one very specific level. This is okay for kids who are very close to average, but not very good for kids who are far behind, and virtually useless for kids who are very far ahead.

none1111 said...

So what about the MAP?

Comments like this are sad: anon-o-mus: "The company that made this test is making big bucks."

So what?! That reeks like jealous comments people make because their physician pulls down a big salary. The issue is not that they're making big bucks. *IF* they are providing a valuable service that's worthwhile to their customers, then they *should* be making big bucks.

On the other hand, you can certainly question whether or not it's worthwhile for our district to spend as much as they are on this test, and I question that myself, but that's not what you said, and what you said shows a pitiful bias.

and: "Good teachers can find other ways (district or teacher made pre-tests) to determine what students know and need to work on..."

Really? Good teachers can make up their own tests that will give consistent results across the district? That's the point of MAP, and for MSP it's all across the entire state. The purpose of the MAP is most definitely not a means to help determine which kids will pass the MSP. It's a measuring stick that can be used (or misused) consistently across the district.

And if you think the district should be making up the tests, think about how expensive that would be! You would need specific staff for each topic, and it would be an ongoing job because they need to be updated every year! And there is no reason to think that you would like the results any better! If you're going to use standardized tests, at least make sure to leverage them over a large number of students. Or better yet, leverage the work of others.

none1111 said...

I got distracted from the MAP discussion, but let's see if I can distill some of my thoughts.

Pros:

1) It's a HUGE improvement for kids who have achievement levels outside the average for a given grade. Especially for high achievers, who previously had absolutely nothing to understand where they were at. Teachers frequently don't pay much attention to kids who are working far above grade standard and it will be harder to ignore those kids now.

2) Results are immediate, and can be used to help guide instruction. Even if the docs aren't great, you can look at strand averages for each classroom/teacher/kid and see where there are holes. It's not rocket science. Especially in math. Yes, there are tests that give better data to the teachers, but to say the MAP doesn't give actionable data is disingenuous. If the teachers can't analyze their own data, then the district should be working to distill that data for them.

3) Could possibly be helpful to find and reward outstanding teachers (but see (5) below)

Cons:

1) Thrice yearly is just too much. Many kids take more than one session for each part of the test. That's a lot of hours not learning in the classroom. Not to mention the MSP as well.

2) In a lot of buildings it virtually closes the library for weeks at a time.

3) Expensive. Although this would be less of an issue if (or when?) we see any significant benefit.

4) Purchased under highly questionable circumstances. The thing that bothers me is that people are using this as a proxy for the value of the test. Yes, MGJ should never have done this, and she should have some serious reprimand (wishful thinking), but this has absolutely ZERO relationship to the quality and merit of the test itself. It's just a knee-jerk response, so stop already!

5) High potential for misuse regarding teacher retention. I have no problems trying to help teachers be more accountable for helping their students learn. And I'm positive that the MAP (or other similar tests) could provide valuable data OVER TIME in that endeavor. But the administration has proven itself to be untrustworthy in recent years, so there is no reason to trust that they will not misuse this data. That's unfortunate.

6) As wseadawg said regarding Advanced Learning programs: "Using MAP as a potential identifier is fine. Using it as a qualifier or cutoff point, is absurd, arbitrary, and unfair. It's also counter-productive to the efforts to broaden and diversify the program. "

If this was used to bring a few more kids into the testing process it would be great, but used as a barrier, especially with kindies, that's terribly unfair.

Changes I'd like to see:

- Reduce from 3 times/year to 2 times/year. Early fall and maybe February. Enough to get a baseline and again to look for progress, with enough time left in the year to react if there are obvious problems.

- Use something else entirely for kindies. They're just not ready for this kind of test on a computer. Too many stories of crying kids, and that's not cool. Advanced Learning needs to find a different test for the littlest kids, as this will absolutely have a negative bias toward families of less means.

Probably more, but I've already written too much for now.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Been Down, good advice, good action plan.

None, great points. If anyone has issues over how the MAP test got purchased, that's a management issue and not a quality issue.

ArchStanton said...

Pretty soon they'll be using MAP to plan the lunchroom menus. Wow, what can't it do?

When it replaces the VAX as a convenient scapegoat, we will have truly arrived.

Anonymous said...

i've not made up my mind about the MAP, but one thing I like about it is that teachers get results while the kids are still in their classes. I can't see how a test at the end of the year helps the teachers adjust....those kids are gone and it's time to start with a new bunch.

With the MAP, they will know how they compare with other, 3rd grades say, in the middle of the year. I can see this concentrating the teachers' minds a bit, no matter how good the teacher: it's feedback.

I had an ex-military guy working for me back when I was in the corporate world. He'd say "What's not inspected, gets neglected." Just human nature.

Mom to 2 SPS kids

Anonymous said...

"1) It's a HUGE improvement for kids who have achievement levels outside the average for a given grade."

This is another thing I like. I have a 1st grader who is bored out of her mind, doing easy K work. The teacher has been at the school for a very long time. People tell me, Oh well, she'll come out of there learning to read! But she went IN reading at the 2nd grade level.

This teacher does NOT differentiate. A MAP test will look at how all kids progress, not just the bulge in the middle. They can't ignore the low kids and just pass them on, knowing they did their job with MOST of the kids. Same with the high kids.

This teacher has been a problem for high kids for years, and no amount of complaining has changed things. Now there will be some objective data to hold her feet to the fire.

Mom of 2 SPS kids

mirmac1 said...

Pooh-poohing the fact MAP makes buttloads of money is like saying it was perfectly alright for Goldman Sachs and Enron to make obscene profits off hapless homeowners and grannies. NWEA are pushing a product (very aggressively I might add) that has not been shown in a qualitative analysis to do all the wonderful things SPS admin would have you think. NWEA is used to getting their customers through backdoor means, having gone through an actual competitive procurement only once (and lost BTW). They have $$$ in their eyes thanks to taxpayer stimilus, levy and grant monies.

So, yes, as parents we have every right to question whether the use of this product is truly to benefit our children, and is the best use of our limited education funds.

Patrick said...

I wonder if it would be possible to give the MAP in the cafeteria, using a cart full of laptops. Would probably need some power strips, but it would leave the library free.

Chris said...

If a fair bidding process is followed, the public can assume that a quality product was selected. That's the point of a fair and transparent process. So no we can't conclude the MAP is CRAP (in a relative sense) but we know for sure no one every looked very hard at it.

I don't think this district GETS that doing things the right way in the first place might save load of money and headaches. They are too caught up in the power of doing whatever they want, regardless of the consequences.

Bird said...
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Bird said...
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Bird said...

It's a HUGE improvement for kids who have achievement levels outside the average for a given grade.

I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, it is good to have some measure in parents' hands that goes beyond the "at standard" results of the old WASL.

On the other hand, I'm not sure if I'd want the MAP forcing the teacher to seek ever higher MAP scores for my kid.

Sometimes that's not the right choice.

For instance, my kid did very well on the math portion of the MAP, getting a score that is far above the expectation for the grade.

I noticed, however, that my kid spent a looooong time on the math portion of the MAP test (minutes spent on the test was included in the data we received). My kid understands a lot of concepts involved in basic arithmetic and has the tool kit to work things out correctly, but very, very slooowly.

As far as I'm concerned, the kid needs to get much, much more proficient and speedy in math. I'd like to see my kid offered something intellectually stimulating, but I'm also perfectly happy to see my kid work through a lot of the sort of problems that they already "passed" on the MAP. I don't want my kid to be skipped over a bunch of material. There is value in practice to obtain fluency.

Isn't this the point of the advanced learning programs? Just because a kid is advanced along one dimension of the academic continuum doesn't mean that the best next step is to treat them like a kid two or three years older.

I'm not sure the MAP paradigm for growth really reflects what my kid needs right now.

none1111 said...

Great conversation. No time to elaborate at the moment, but just wanted to compliment the thoughtful posts.

Kathy said...

For me, we're talking about cost: benefit.

Here is the dollar breakdown:
$4M computers for MAP
$400K per year for MAP x2
$12.5M infrastruture to tie
in teacher effectiveness/
student advancement in 34
schools. Remember,
this is highly
controversial
Unknown millions to add infra
structure to remaining 58
schools.

To me, benefit doesn't add up. Particularily when core positions aren't filled.

We have the results, our school has 300 students not meeting math standards and 250 below reading. No tutors, no resource people...nada. District blabbers about state cuts, blah, blah, blah.

Another school of about 1400 students continually fund raise for basics. Not to mention, they run out of paper.

Huge issues around funding for sp. ed.

Remember, we're loosing milllions in state funds, district is setting up non-sustainable ed. reform initiatives. We WILL be loosing more dollars out of kids classrooms.

Don't think it is worth it...other ways to deal with issues.

mirmac1 said...

Wow Kathy. In a nutshell, yes!

Sahila said...

standardised testing - what are we doing to our children and their teachers? Opt out!

Parents & Kids Against Standardised Testing

preserving the public in public education

Sahila said...

parents threaten to boycott test and leave district

Sahila said...

Interesting point:
Prof says most of us don't need much math anyway

wseadawg said...

Kathy, you nailed it precisely. How can we be spending money on all this unproven, controversial, cumbersome testing when basic needs are so stark and unmet. The only way this happens is when we put the foxes in charge of the hen-houses.

It's time for civil protests. This just can't go on any longer in this district. It's absurd, but what is much, much worse, is this: It's hurting kids and hurting families.

I'm ready to take a sledgehammer to the MAP computers and drag the tech department out of JSCEE one at a time, by the ears. All this monkeying around with millions of dollars in tech-based solutions isn't teaching one kid a damn thing. It's such a boondoggle that I'm tired of even hearing about it.

Where-Oh-where are the smart people in JSCEE?

mirmac1 said...

wseadawg, the smart people are running scared, keeping their heads down. The Orcs are in charge, starting with the Foundation bosses down to MGJ and her minions.

Seattle, this is us in a few months...
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/10/27/as-boston-schools-close-s_n_774796.html

dan dempsey said...

Kathy,

Speaking of expensive crap that does not meet the needs of students.....

The debacle of the MAP purchase is right there with the New Tech Network Contract.

NTN non-competitive bid without seeking exemptions from competitive bidding. The Superintendent and four Board members do not care about State Laws or Board policies.

The lack of competitive bidding on MAP may be at issue as well. Although a "sole source justification form" was completed and signed by appropriate parties .. does the product do what was claimed? ... Did MGJ have a conflict of interest.

For rational the SSJ form says see the School Board Action Report.

I do not believe the MAP product is useful for analyzing mastery of grade level skills and that is what is needed for determining who needs effective interventions. The teachers I've spoken with are not receiving useful information from this test. So why are we spending so much time testing?

dan dempsey said...

Dear Mirmac1,

You said:
"Seattle, this is us in a few months...
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/10/27/as-boston-schools-close-s_n_774796.html"


But maybe NOT ... in a few months .. we may finally see some positive results from legal actions involving District leaders and Board members.

Hope springs eternal.

mirmac1 said...

Dan,

The positive result is seeing MGJ's and her Executive Management Team's backsides as they go out the door.

In Boston, parents are hitting the streets in protest. I like that!

BTW, Whoever is going to the Seattle Rally for a Return to Sanity should bring signs supporting Schools and anti-RTTT

Chris said...

Looking at Sahila's middle link & comments... Apparently in Colorado, all the TESTING in public schools is driving families to charter schools. There's something perversely circular about this I can't quite put my finger on...This is the kind of thing that would only make sense if there were a conspiracy to kill public education. Can someone rebut?

seattle citizen said...

On another thread, Chris, people wonder if the closure of schools is a preliminary to reopening them as charters.

There IS a drive to make education cheaper, and maybe even profitable. Addressing the needs of individuals is expensive; processing widgets through a standardized system is cheaper, particularly if you can break the union and lower the wage of employees who, with a scripted curriculum needn't address such things as the the individual needs of students.

There is certainly a large movement, un-noticed and certainly not publicized, to put into place the necessary things to break public education as we know it into the "free market shopping mall" of education, charters, vouchers, merit pay...all of these things are incrementally being enacted (except for vouchers, so far: still to radical, perhaps, for the free-marketeers to sell to a public that still believes in public schools)

Yes, charters are almost here. Bit by bit, the changes are happening that will allow them. Some people think this is great: They believe charters will replace what we used to have (until it was dismantled): choice in public schools. It has been pointed out here, by many and for years, that it's strange that the district isn't supportive of alts in particular, and option schools generally - can't have good options available in public schools if you want to put into place charters, now can we? Some argue that charters can be what alts and options once were - innovative, adaptive, able to meet the needs of a variety of students...of course, this could all be done in a publkic framework, but it's not because charters are coming and public options would be not only competitive with charters, but would point out how un-necessary charters are.

Of course, for now we will still have publics - Garfield, Franklin, Roosevelt...try to turn those into a charter and all hell would break lose. But with standardized tests come the illusion that "schools fail" and schools in poor communities will be charterized because the parents and guardians in those communities are anxious for a leg up, standardization is seen as that the leg up, seen as an equalizer, and teachers in those schools have been made scapegoats, have been told theyre racist ("achievement gap? Teachers' fault. If achievement gap is race-based, teachers in this schools are either racist or culturally inept, because THEY caused the achievement gap, right?" So those schools are targeted for charterization. What's weird is to expect the teachers in some new charters to somehow be "better": THEY wouldn't be racist or culturally inept (if that is the pronouncement being used to dis public teachers) now would they?
Yes, 6696, Tim Burgess, Reuven Carlyle...many movers and shakers have drunk the kool-aide, made concessions, made deals with various players, and so charters are coming, merit pay is coming, the free market and competition will displace caring public servants and true choices...

ach.

Sandy Blight said...

Bradley Bernatek did not have enough information about existing testing data and he ignored District systems; MGJ was doing a favor to an old friend when she put District money for MAP. There were some soft benefits to MGJ.
We are still trying to verify with the State Auditor the exact amount of money spent - approximately $500,000 excluding cost of contractors and meetings with Principals who are not happy about MAP.

Anonymous said...

I just noticed that MAP results are posted on The Source

anon-o-mus said...

None1111 said:anon-o-mus likes the MSP {vs the MAP}, but there are (at least) a couple big problems with it.

First, the delay is way too long between taking the test and getting the results. And because you get it the following year you don't really know the student or the full context of what was going on the previous year. Both with the individual kids and with their classrooms. Well, maybe a super-duper diligent teacher who has great relationships with all the previous grade teachers, and provided that they are all stable in the same building, maybe they can glean some useful info.

~I work in a smaller district than seattle SD, but my kids will go to seattle SD... yes, in a smaller district, a teacher can be diligent and connect the MSP data to specific students. I have specifc plan time to meet with staff in the grade level above and below my own. There is also a lot of dialogue between grade level teachers (we call it vertical teaming) outside of the spcified plan times. Frankly, I want to work in SSD so I can be closer to home, but from what I hear/read about the district troubles, I am very discouraged.

There are some problems with any standardized test... I favor the MSP because it gives the teachers data about students abilities that are directly related to our state standards (which I am held accountable to). Teachers in my district have been left in the dark as far as how to access data and interpret data produced from the MAP. When I took the initiative to find out how to access data that may be useful by calling the website support number the MAP website rep. had indicated that it was a tool to use to predict which students would pass the state test at the end of the year. I want a diagnostic tool, not a predicting tool. The test is much like the STAR reading test, in that it jumps around using questions from all grade level standards in math. So one student may have to go through many questions/skills that they are completely unfamiliar with before the test "finds" the skill level that they can complete. I want to know how my students are doing with the standards that I teach, and I don't want my students discouraged by having to struggle through questions on concepts they are completely unfamiliar with. Yes, you are right, it may give a picture of what students may be capable of if they can achieve above grade level expectations and are advanced/gifted. I'm not sold on the MAP test though and I agree with many of you that it is given too often, takes up too many resources (money and staff), and it is being sold as the best new thing~everyone is doing it!

anon-o-mus said...

None1111 said:anon-o-mus likes the MSP {vs the MAP}, but there are (at least) a couple big problems with it.

First, the delay is way too long between taking the test and getting the results. And because you get it the following year you don't really know the student or the full context of what was going on the previous year. Both with the individual kids and with their classrooms. Well, maybe a super-duper diligent teacher who has great relationships with all the previous grade teachers, and provided that they are all stable in the same building, maybe they can glean some useful info.

~I work in a smaller district than seattle SD, but my kids will go to seattle SD... yes, in a smaller district, a teacher can be diligent and connect the MSP data to specific students. I have specifc plan time to meet with staff in the grade level above and below my own. There is also a lot of dialogue between grade level teachers (we call it vertical teaming) outside of the spcified plan times. Frankly, I want to work in SSD so I can be closer to home, but from what I hear/read about the district troubles, I am very discouraged.

There are some problems with any standardized test... I favor the MSP because it gives the teachers data about students abilities that are directly related to our state standards (which I am held accountable to). Teachers in my district have been left in the dark as far as how to access data and interpret data produced from the MAP. When I took the initiative to find out how to access data that may be useful by calling the website support number the MAP website rep. had indicated that it was a tool to use to predict which students would pass the state test at the end of the year. I want a diagnostic tool, not a predicting tool. The test is much like the STAR reading test, in that it jumps around using questions from all grade level standards in math. So one student may have to go through many questions/skills that they are completely unfamiliar with before the test "finds" the skill level that they can complete. I want to know how my students are doing with the standards that I teach, and I don't want my students discouraged by having to struggle through questions on concepts they are completely unfamiliar with. Yes, you are right, it may give a picture of what students may be capable of if they can achieve above grade level expectations and are advanced/gifted. I'm not sold on the MAP test though and I agree with many of you that it is given too often, takes up too many resources (money and staff), and it is being sold as the best new thing~everyone is doing it!