Sunday, January 20, 2013

Schmitz Park Joins the Chorus of Teacher Voices

From the West Seattle Blog:
Dear Superintendent Banda,
The staff of Schmitz Park, by a unanimous vote, joins in its support of Garfield High and all other schools and individuals around the district that boycott the MAP test. We agree with Garfield’s position about the harmful, ineffective, and wasteful nature of the MAP test and its deleterious impact on instructional time and consequently student achievement. We join SEA in asking you to not discipline our colleagues for standing up and speaking the truth.
We also agree with the Sanislo Elementary letter of support, which points out a deep concern around MAP. Apparently, district officials told Garfield staff the test was “not valid” because the margin of error can exceed the expected growth score. Given this information, it seems unthinkable that these scores would be used to determine the “effectiveness” of teachers. The teacher’s collective bargaining agreement allows the use of low scores to impact the placement of teachers into more comprehensive evaluations, en route to performance improvement plans and termination. The threatening of teachers with invalid data simply is not right.
There is a similar problem brewing in the elementary schools. Not only are our teachers concerned about the time taken away from instruction to administer the test, but the current version of the MAP test is aligned with the old state standards and it is clearly an unsuitable vehicle for evaluating students currently being taught the new required Common Core Standards. So not only are the results of little instructional value, but this discrepancy between what is taught and what is measured will yield falsely low scores making the MAP test invalid for the purpose of measuring student growth/teacher effectiveness.
The idea of using MAP scores as a component of teacher evaluations is disconcerting and needs to be addressed. As such, in response to Superintendent Banda’s e-mail of January 14, we recommend suspending the MAP requirement until the promised review has been completed.
We hope you will interpret the “boycotts” around the district not as disrespect but as a sign of deep concern and needed change.
Sincerely,
Schmitz Park Elementary School Staff

17 comments:

Kristin @ Intrepid Murmurings said...

Way to go Schmitz Park!!! Nice to see an elementary school joining the conversation and taking a stand. We love our SPS teachers!

ws said...

yes! very happy to be Schmitz Park parent.

Wrath O'Kahn said...

Well said, Schmitz Park. Garfield teachers appreciate your solidarity and support. As High school teachers, we need our elementary and middle school colleagues to join us so it's not seen as just a high school complaint. We've been told the margin of error on the test is less than the expected improvement at lower grade levels, so therefore it's a valid measure for younger kids and can be used in the eval process. Hearing your prospective boosts our spirits and adds heft to the argument.

Anonymous said...

salmon bay elementary teachers are not giving winter map. they sent a letter home on friday. i don't know about the middle school.
salmon bay parent

n said...

Well, as an elementary teacher, I've been okay with the MAP because I have all the info I need to prep. But, the issues that are becoming apparent - including the over-testing at grades 3-5 - has caused me to shift my opinion. I've never agreed with using it as an evaluation tool for teachers. The snapshot in time can be unreliable to say the least.

I wish we could get the $4M back.

I don't know if this is true but isn't all-day K funding from the State dependent on giving the MAP to K kids? I heard that from another teacher but I sure don't know if it is true.

ws said...

So I'm wondering how many schools have voiced support now? I know Orca, Sanislo, Ballard and I heard WSHS may have as well though i don't see anything online about it.

Anonymous said...

n said:
"The snapshot in time can be unreliable to say the least.

I wish we could get the $4M back."

---------------------
Those in charge of running the system from the top down are increasingly making decisions based on either NO Research or Faulty Research.
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From Sandra Stotsky:
http://www.uaedreform.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Why-Raise-Admin-Bar-for-Ed-School.pdf

"It is time to consider whether policy makers have been trying to climb up the wrong reform tree to get to higher levels of student achievement in K-12."

"We need to begin by addressing the major sources of the mediocrity of our public school system—academically under-qualified teachers, administrators, and education researchers, as well as ill-informed if not willfully ignorant policy makers who bring limited understanding of the evidence from high quality education research as well as little if any successful experience to the task of strengthening the school curriculum and increasing all students’ academic performance."
-----------------------

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

MAP was the final straw for me when I left SPS. It was a deception from the start--the peer trainers assured us that the district would not be using it for evaluating teachers (administration had specifically told questioning trainers that this would not be so).

Shortly thereafter, of course, it surfaced that MAP would be an integral part of the corporate contract that MGJ, the Alliance, LEV and others had been formulating for months (including the widely disseminated Alliance survey that made teachers look like a bunch of lazy asses).

Some teachers (Jesse Hagopian and Eric Muhs, for example) were onto the ruse from the beginning. It took others a couple of years to either wake up or jump on the bandwagon. I find it quite ironic, amusing and sad that Kristin Fogarty-Bailey is so dismissive of MAP, yet has been an such an integral part of the entire process that brought it here in the first place. Apparently, telling other teachers how inadequate they perform their jobs doesn't feel good when the chickens come home to roost (I have a sneaking suspicion that KBF's MAP scores aren't as stellar as she predicted they would be).

Hopefully, the unionized educators' complacency that coronated Jonathon Knapp is finally coming to an end.
If so, it is coinciding with the end of MGJ, Enfield, Dusseault and the rest of the dangerous ladder climbers' almost-takeover of the better natures and minds of this district's excellent teaching corp.

--enough already

mirmac1 said...

enough already,

I hope you are correct about their demise. However, I do not think for one minute that the Morris/Korsmo/Burgess/Milller etc cabal will let go of Banda's shorthairs very readily.

BTW, shit's hitting the fan in Highline already:

Highline district denies superintendent has made recommendation to disarm security guards


Update: Union agent reacts to Enfield meeting with police chiefs on security plan

Anonymous said...

Staff sets a bad example by boycotting the test. Their union, whom they control, voted democratically to accept teacher evals using the test. Act like adults, responsible citizens and the role models you are, and work through appropriate channels. This is like throwing the board on the ground when you are losing the game. Like a brat.

signed
No Sympathy for adults who act like babies.

Anonymous said...

No sympathy-

Wow, that's harsh.

I am glad we weren't relying on you in times of social change. I am extremely glad that civil rights activists, gay rights activists, suffragists, etc. did not follow your advice. BTW, I understand that boycotting the MAP test is not in the same league as my examples, but the lesson remains the same.

I am extremely proud that some teachers are standing up for what they believe in. The MAP test has not proven to do what the district said it would, and I am thrilled to see what some teachers are doing. I am telling my kids about it and using it as a lesson for them.

-happy that the adults are acting like "babies"

Eric M said...

No sympathy:

The MAP test by name is NOT specifically in the teachers' contract.

So, wrong.

And I wish teachers controlled the union. Other way around, in reality. Teachers voted overwhelmingly 2 years ago to can the MAP test. The SEA leadership didn't lift a finger in the interim. They're embarrassed about this now. Look at SEA's website - they don't even mention this action.

But nice work on the name calling.

Melissa Westbrook said...

No Sympathy, you obviously read (and believed) what the Times wrote.

To set the record straight, the teachers did NOT agree to use MAP. MAP was purchased and put into place before the contract but was not part of it. The teachers only agreed to two assessments and MAP does NOT have to be one of them.

While you may disagree with their actions, they are not acting like babies. They are standing up for what they believe is right. The company itself says MAP is NOT for teacher evaluation and teachers say it does not help their teaching of students.

That's not childish behavior.

n said...

I respect your signing honestly your posts, Kristin. However, I agree with enough already. Change comes from within. Nobody wins when some of us think we are better than others and when we push reform from the outside. It seems that when the sh** hits the fan, we are in fact all one.

To No Sympathy: no organization is perfect. I was a very strong supporter of Muhs for president. Under Olga, much was given up. We were weak because we lacked an intellectual leader. She was not able to bring to the table true advocacy skills that were intellectually forceful. Thus, we are in a pickle today.

One last thing: teachers are not as smart or literate as they used to be. My biggest complaint is that teachers need to be smarter and culturally literate. Perhaps because of pay or perhaps because of low prestige, we are not attracting the smartest graduates. There was a time when teachers were among the cream of the crop of literate people. Not any more. The writing skills and verbal skills I see in my interns are sometimes woefully inadequate. You get what you pay for, I guess. But blaming unions or adopting an attitude of elitism and forming a new club isn't the answer. We must work from within to bring change.

Sounds good, huh? Now, how do we do it? The biggest problem in the teaching corps is apathy. We are a microcosm of our larger society: not enough people care yet.

Well, that's my story and I'm stickin' to it! :)

Anonymous said...

If teachers don't like their union they need to change it. They should also work with their employer to fix this test issue, not refuse to administer it. The district is responding with a review, that seems reasonable. Am I missing something?

laker

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jan said...

Anonymous (whose post will probably be deleted for failure to pick a moniker) said...
"I support the boycott of the testing, because it is not good for the students. I notice the boycott is more driven for the benefit of the teachers though, and that bothers me. Why do they not boycott things based on good or bad for students alone. The education system isn't for the benefit of the adults."

This has troubled me a little too. I think that if it were GOOD for the kids, but bad for teachers, maybe there would be a real quibble -- but even then, if it is unfair, it is unfair and that issue needs to be dealt with directly.

Here, it is unfair to teachers AND BAD/useless for kids. But I do with that both points would be made more clearly in all cases.