I attended the forum on standardized testing on Monday night at Thornton Creek Elementary. There were about 40 people there including parents and teachers. I sure wish more people had attended as it was a great discussion. I wish someone from the district could have been there to see that this is how you have a public discussion. Kudos and thanks to Chris Stewart for putting this on (and her speakers as well).
First up was Marian Wagner, a teacher from Salmon Bay, who spoke about some of the difficulties with MAP both from a logistic perspective and a teacher perspective. She said that at one point there had been a useful bubblesheet math test from Edu-Soft that the district math coaches had given out and she had found that useful but that has gone away.
She did point out that high achieving students don't get a lot out of MAP because their scores show no growth when, in fact, if she hasn't accelerated her teaching in class but MAP accelerates the questions but the kids don't know the material, then they can't keep up. This was how she phrased it and I heard it as she isn't differentiating her teaching but if she could/did then the high achieving students could push the MAP test farther (and have the ability to do so).
She also said that middle school students have realized that some of the answers can be intuitively figured out rather than basing their answer on what they know.
She said that it was explained to teachers how to talk with students about their scores and to make a goals sheet, trying to build on each time they take the test.
She also got a laugh when she said that some kindergarteners, when instructed to put the mouse on their name (and the meaning was put your cursor on your name), picked up the mouse and held it to the screen.
When she took questions, one teacher spoke up and said it is a wide test but not a deep test and she felt that made for variable results and some confusion on the part of teachers as to how MAP should guide their teaching (if at all).
Several people asked why Dr. Enfield wants to keep MAP and some teachers seemed to think because it was easy to use. Eric Muhs said at Ballard very few teachers, in his discussions with peers, seem to find it useful.
Sue Peters, co-editor at Seattle Education 2010, spoke next. She went through her thread about the 15 reasons why SPS should drop MAP. She pointed out that Jessica de Barros knew that what some of the issues about MAP were before it was implemented (and probably came out during the pilot period). Ms. de Barros knew that 40% of the libraries would have to be used for MAP testing (and the associated problems with that). Sue pointed out that her kindergartener's first school library experience was with MAP which is a bit sad.
She said that MAP was not really good for K-2 (the younger age group which struggles with the mechanics), the high achieving students and that NWEA wants a 3xtimes a year testing because they want the data for their uses. I'm not sure that should be what drives how often SPS uses any test and if that is a detail in the contract, maybe we shouldn't be signing the contract.
There was also a parent, Rick Burke, who does like MAP. He had a good Powerpoint explaining his position. He said he felt the value of it offsets the questionable things about it. He said that when kids know their scores (and they do with MAP), they want to do better.
He gave an example of how his daughter seemed to be doing well in 7th grade math but her MAP scores during the year flat-lined. He said it gave him and his wife a notice about her math abilities that they wouldn't have received from her grades alone.
We didn't discuss the HSPE much and I suspect that is because (1) MAP kind of dominates the discussion as it dominates the school time and(2) it is still evolving and I think parents are (rightly) confused about it.
I did point out to one dad who asked about opting out that you could opt out of both the MAP and the HSPE. I said I had opted my sons out of the WASL at different points with no ill effects. They both took it to get their diploma but the younger one had the opportunity to take it in 9th grade and had done so. I don't know if that is still the case today. Helen S. pointed out in another thread that you don't need a diploma to go to college (true) so you could opt your child out of the high school one as well. (Although I suspect the district wouldn't allow a student to attend graduation if they didn't take it.)
The final straw for me was when the older took the WASL in 7th grade. He did well in math but poorly in reading and writing. At that time, because he was in Spectrum, he got to take the SAT. He did very well across the board. So I told the counselor that with his WASL scores he couldn't graduate SPS but with his SAT scores he could get into UW. He shrugged and said, just ignore that WASL score.
I missed the last segment of the evening so if anyone else was in attendance, please let us know what was said.
At some point the issues around MAP will have to be addressed. The district is spending millions on IT issues but that doesn't solve all the problems. I believe the MAP contract is only for 3 years (help me out here, someone) so it definitely needs to be revisited.