Monday, January 14, 2013

ORCA K-8 Joins the MAP Boycott

So says the Times

Eleven teachers and instructional assistants at ORCA K-8 have decided that they, too, will boycott district-required tests known as the MAP, according to ORCA teacher Matt Carter.

In the letter to district administrators, the Garfield staff members listed nine reasons why they oppose the test, which range from how few students take it seriously to how much time it takes away from class instruction and whether it measures what teachers are supposed to be teaching. 

The middle school teachers at ORCA will not refuse to give the tests because they hope to get a grant from the city that requires that they give them, Carter said.  But 11 of the 16 teachers and instructional assistants in kindergarten through grade 5 have decided to do so, Carter said.  

The principal apparently will find others to proctor the tests and give them anyway.  (I have heard about issues using non-staff proctors so it's not as easy as it sounds.)

That grant from the City is likely one from the Families and Ed levy that requires documented results. 

The SEA weighs in:

The representative assembly of the Seattle Education Association is scheduled to discuss the issue at a meeting Monday evening, and consider a motion that calls for the union to support any teacher who refuses to give the MAP. The motion also asks the district not to discipline teachers who refuse to give the exams, and asks that the district stop using the MAP tests as soon as possible.

So that makes three schools where large numbers of staff have openly come out against MAP: Garfield, Ballard and ORCA K-8.

Clearly, a review of MAP can't come soon enough.  If more schools and parents joined it, this boycott would be unstoppable.

Consider opting your child out in support of this effort.

28 comments:

Eric M said...

Minimal but important news from the SEA Representative Assembly tonight:

We voted nearly unanimously at our rep assembly tonight to support Garfield, Orca and Ballard teachers in their boycott of the test and to encourage every school to have meetings to organize on this issue.
Rally next week."

Kate said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Please don't make my job as an elementary teacher any harder by not supporting my efforts to assess students in a variety of ways. I use this immediately-available data three times a year to see how students rank, if they are growing academically, and so I can confirm who needs specialized attention in key areas identified by the test (which are useful at my grade level). This is in comparison to a once-a-year, high-stakes MSP test where data is available only in September after the kids are long gone.

As an adaptive test, this data is also useful to see just how high some students are operating so I can address their needs too. This is just one piece of data that is figured in with other assessments we run in each subject area. All of which can inform instruction if used correctly.

Do we need a new test? Maybe. But calling for a boycott of this test before a proper data review and open meetings are held is irresponsible and will be confusing to parents. Then defiant teachers become the issue rather than the suitability of the test.

Upper Elementary Teacher

Anonymous said...

How did you assess students before MAP, Upper Elementary Teacher? And do you use just MAP, or do you use arange of assessments? I ask, because at my child's school there are other measures with immediate feedback that are used regularly to assess students. They do not really use MAP results because they find them to be unreliable.

-Curious

Melissa Westbrook said...

Upper, who are you directing this to?

Anonymous said...

I'm a parent at Orca, and I swear, I'm most disturbed that the Seattle Times keeps referring to Orca in all caps - it's a word, not an acronym!

Other than that, I support my kids' school, teachers, and administration, and respect the school's history of activism, so will proudly back this effort. I am aware of and concerned by the limitations of MAP, how it's misused, and the resources it saps up. But I have to admit, I also like to see my kids' lives at school quantified in some way. I just do. I'm involved in both of my kids' classrooms, but a lot of what happens there is a black box. I get a certain level of comfort in the metrics. Again, though, I will support the professionals at our school who have fully earned my trust. But it's not without mixed feelings.

--southpaw

Anonymous said...

I don't believe for a minute that Upper is a current teacher. Sounds more like a District apologist for MAP who has never actually witnessed how students interact with this ridiculous test nor actually tried to apply the strand data to making instructional decisions (there almost never exists any rhyme nor reason to kids' scores or their high/low strands). Worthless test, but now so many district and city initiatives are dependent on it that it will be hard to extricate.

Emile

Anonymous said...

Melissa: comments in this blog post and Eric M point towards boycott and organizing to boycott as the way to go. I'm putting out the opposite perspective that reviewing the test in a orderly way so we all are confident in the decision is a better strategy.

Curious: like all tests, use in moderation! I haven't found huge discrepancies in the data from MAP with other tests we use, only on occasion. Since we use multiple measures, that data is then verified with other assessments we use to create a more complete picture on how the child is growing academically. Never rely on only one measure.

I'm open to other tests, just not throwing out the one we have until we have a solid discussion, backed by data and research, that says why and what our next course of action should be.

Upper Elementary Teacher

Anonymous said...

Emile: I will respond as I would to my kids...I'm sorry you don't find my contribution useful but I can only speak from my experience. If you have something useful that moves this conversation forward about the boycott issues, please feel free to post. Otherwise I will ask that you refrain from demeaning comments.

CURRENT Upper Elementary Teacher

Anonymous said...

Which assessments do you use in conjunction with MAP, Upper Elementary Teacher, and what does MAP provide that they do not?

- Curious

Eric M said...

Upper:
1) The SEA Rep Assembly voted 2 years ago that the MAP test was junk and ought to be replaced. I was there, that vote involved about 250 teachers from all the sites in this district. It wasn't even close. That was the considered opinion of most teachers then, and it hasn't changed.
2) NWEA, the maker of the MAP test, acknowledges that measurement error within the test, across students, across time periods, etc, etc. is greater than expected student growth.
Younger kids haven't all figured this out, but older students routinely blow off the test, because it doesn't matter to them. Their results are particularly suspect.
3) I absolutely support your efforts to assess students in a variety of ways. You put that well. That's the key to assessment, as any professional teacher knows. Portfolios, presentations, pamphlets, speeches, writing, tests, homework, etc. etc. That philosophy is antithetical to the MAP. It is precisely the reductive nature of the MAP test, boiling down the complexity of student growth into a couple of hours in front of a computer which spits out a number, that so many of us object to.
4) Not to mention the absurd use of finances and library & computer resources. As I've said elsewhere, my roof leaks, right in the center of my classroom.

Eric Muhs
27 years in teaching
National Board Certified Teacher

Anonymous said...

as a lower elementary teacher I can say that the data I get from the MAP is completely useless. In some ways it is actually detrimental to my students and families. For instance, families of students who score high enough get a letter that encourages them to be tested for AP. Most of those students don't qualify and on the occasion that a few do, if they test into spectrum there is not a seat in a spectrum class for them. This leaves them disenfranchised with public school, unhappy at the school they get left at and in many cases completely sure that their child's teacher is unwilling/unable to "challenge" their child. Before summer school was booted because of funding, the MAP was used to qualify students for a spot. Of the five children who qualified four of them bombed the test because of lack of computer skills and three of my students who needed summer school didn't get a spot. Despite how people feel about the information the MAP test gives them, the bottom line is that our dis
Abby G

Anonymous said...
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mirmac1 said...

The first "review" of MAP and other assessments was a travesty. A group of central admin and teacher reps were led by the nose by Brad Bernatek and test expert (NOT) Jessica De Barros. One teacher emailed and said she couldn't offer an opinion on the alternatives because a) they'd only seen detailed info on MAP; b) they'd only just talked about MAP; and c) the limited info on the other tests was off their websites.

Anonymous said...

Yup, great example for the kids! Let the circus continue.....

A friend

Patrick said...

Reposting because the poster forgot to sign, this is anonymous at 8:00 AM. I'm guessing this is from Upper Elementary Teacher?

Curious: We use most Seattle schools use: Teachers College, EDM assessments, Science Kit assessments, MSP, Words Their Way, individual projects and portfolios, individual conferring, self assessments, peer assessments, etc. All of them have issues unfortunately but together, they give us an idea to help inform instruction. In elementary, grading is more about identifying ways to differentiate and inform instruction so having more is helpful.

Eric: I appreciate your position. I don't know anything about the data and info used by the SEA when they made that decision so I'll look into that as this discussion moves forward. I completely agree about the computer resources and time but every computerized assessment is going to put us in this bind...our computer resources are lousy also.

Eric B said...

@mirmac: Are Bernatek and De Barros still at the District? Do we know who is leading the review this time?

Not trying to attack, just trying to get info.

Patrick said...

I have mixed feelings. The MAP test results don't seem useful to me as a way of informing instruction. They're too vague to tell me what needs to be worked on. Also, the test is expensive and uses expensive resources. So based on that I'd lean toward opting my child out. It's certainly wildly inappropriate to be basing teacher evaluations, even in part, on such a deeply flawed test, that's not linked to the curriculum the teacher is required to teach during the year.

On the other hand, my child usually scores well on the MAP. Her good scores may help her teacher look good and may help her option school look good so we can continue to attract more students. So, while I'd just as soon the District did away with the MAP altogether, as long as they have it maybe my child should continue to take it.

ConcernedSPSParent said...

Brad "17%" Bernatek is long gone.

Anonymous said...

Some Seattle teachers just say no

-Go Garfield

Another Upper Elem. Teacher said...

I have a colleague who teaches entirely to the MAP to the detriment of his students. He was the only one not to sign our school's petition against the MAP. This teacher loves to crunch numbers/data and loves to give his students lessons that are not only well above their head but innapropriate for third graders to learn. Should second graders be learning long division before they even fully understand the concept of division? When they come to my class, they are hopelessly lost in math. What supports his poor decisions to teach well above state/core standards is the MAP test where second graders do get assessed well above their grade. But he is not enriching them--he is totally confusing them! Make the core standards and tests that assess the core standards our focus for the sake of our childre.

Anonymous said...

We had a similar situation in which a teacher was possibly under a PIP and the week(s) before MAP became a jumble of random math worksheets on previously untaught topics. Was there pressure to show improved MAP scores? I'll never know, but the timing makes me think there was.

On the one hand, tested subjects get taught. The state standards should be the primary focus, however, and not the substrands of MAP.

The previous teacher's post is Exhibit A on how standardized testing can degrade learning in the classroom. When teacher evaluations are tied to a test, this is where it takes us.

-opt out

A Teacher said...

Our building union-rep. seems to think that the MAP contract will not be renewed in Spring because MAP is not tied to the core standards. I think she is being overly optimistic. Someone needs to write an editorial to the Times to make it clear it is not standardized tests teachers are protesting but this test.

Unknown said...

De Barros is also gone from SPS.

-public school parent

Anonymous said...

As a teacher, I don't mind MAP at all. I think it can be really informative, especially in cases of kids who don't seem to be "getting it" in class but are able for one reason or another, to show more skill on the MAP. However, I think it is expensive and corrupt in our district and an atrocious thought that it would be tied to teacher evaluations. So I am happy to let it go!!! One thing that I think needs to happen is people have to take "it uses up too much computer time" out of the equation. What ever test we have to give - and don't think they will say "Okay, no more tests"- the test will be online. It is 2013. We need better computer access no matter what.

Elem Teacher

Anonymous said...

Why don't these teachers get involved in their union if they don't like MAP for evaluation?
Teacher evals are here to stay so what do teachers want?
Can't teach to the test because they can't see it? God forbid they teach kids general critical thinking skills.
I just want to know what these teachers want.
Frustrated

Anonymous said...

Frustrated,

I agree that, despite my experience with MAP being mostly negative, the comment about "not seeing the test" was one I don't get. Granted, to the extent the test doesn't match the standards I kind of see the point and would hope you would recognize that the mis-alignment with standards is the real issue - it doesn't align to the standards the students are evaluated on that we're preparing them for all year. I'm more worried about EOC prep (graduation requirement) than MAP prep (no graduation standards correlation).

High schools are in the middle of giving the EOC makeup exams and while proctoring we're under pretty strict professional standards NOT to look at it. Obviously we see a couple questions via proctoring, but professionally we know we'd better not study it and/or take notes (incidental views while proctoring is not going to make or break the next year's instruction).

Once I was in an uncomfortable situation in which a peer was reviewing it (against the rules) and it took multiple "put it down" comments. The response was along the same lines of how to give a test not knowing what was in it.

That's what the standards are for - right now, though, the standards have been in massive flux for several years and yet to make matters worse the MAP doesn't even connect with either WASL/EOC-HSPE/Common Core standards and in math it taps out at geometry so it's pretty darn close to useless at the High School level.

The teacher comment also gives a glimpse into what we are starting to see with too much testing - teaching to the exact test. It's my hope that with most states going to Common Core standards we will have less moving-target standards and thus the software developers can focus their targets for testing so future tests are more aligned to the "standards" and we don't have to feel like we haven't "seen the test".

Coming from industry I'm more pro-tests than most teachers... most are ok with some testing (seriously, we give tests all the time), but MAP was forced for reasons already well documented (Goodloe-Johnson's undisclosed Board role, Bernatek reported to MGJ, etc.). This test just isn't good and I think the district is owed a refund - spend it on a truly standards-based test but get rid of this (at least at the HS level).

As an aside, if testing is moving towards computer-based (and every indication is that it is) the already behind-the-times and too-few computer labs in Seattle need some serious help. I'm ok with computer based testing but we will need more computer labs if we're spending several weeks per year in testing.

Another Teacher Perspective

Teacher Mom said...

I don't understand why teachers at the high-school level were told they could not see the MAP. AT the elementary level, we were not only told we could look at the MAP, take notes on the questions, but I had a district testing co-ordinator tell us (as a staff) to look at MAP and make note of any discrepancies so she could report them to NWEA. And, believe me, if you had a chance to look at the MAP at the elementary level, you would be apalled at what an incredibly weird test it is. It is like the Jim Crow tests given in the south to keep people from voting. I'm serious, it is really a bad test. And I am a teacher who is also a parent who wants teacher evaluations to be tied to a test. I want teachers to be held accountable for teaching to the state and common core standards. Why shouldn't they--I want to know my own kids are being taught a specific curriculum each year that builds to mastery of each subject. When I taught in a district many years ago, many miles away, there was a teacher who never taught math and another who never taught writing. Not acceptable and a standards based test tied to their evaluations would keep them accountable. But we have that--the MSP!