Just back from the well-attended press conference. To note, educator Diane Ravitch has already blogged about this action and added her support.
First up, the district response (partial):
Public Schools expects our teachers to administer all required tests,
pursuant to our policies and procedures. Last fall, during an
annual report to the Board on Nov. 28, it was agreed that the
District would review the effectiveness of MAP testing. We look forward
to hearing from our principals and teachers as part of that process. A
report back to the Board is expected to be presented
in the spring.
This response seems to indicate the district wants the teachers to
continue giving the test BUT that MAP is going to be reviewed with a
report to the Board by spring. Good news. We are now in the 5th year of MAP and it would seem a review would be in order.
The press conference was held with at least 25 Garfield teachers and staff in attendance as well as several students representing the ASB including ASB President Obadiah Terry. The Garfield ASB listened to the teachers/staff earlier in the day, considered the issue on their own and voted to support the teachers/staff stance.
What was striking about the press conference is the lack of anger or frustration. What you got was a roomful of teachers worried about their students. Their two main issues:
- MAP does not appear to align with the curriculum they are required to teach. Students expressed frustration over questions that are not part of what they are learning (i.e. geometry questions in an algebra test) or questions on topics not covered in class.
The teachers cannot see the test or even a sample question so they only have knowledge of questions based on what students tell them. One 9th student asked his teacher about "poetic enjambment." The teacher, Kit McCormick, said she was really surprised as this is a term that she rarely teaches and only to advanced 12th graders. She said she could not understand it being on any test for a 9th grader.
The teachers expressed real concern over students' frustration over not being able to do well and feeling stupid (even if it was not material they had not yet learned).
- loss of instructional time. The students taking the test in high school - and this differs from school to school - are generally 9th graders, algebra students, ELL and Special Ed students. Many of these are students who NEED that instructional time and the time would be better spent in the classroom than on testing.
The teachers did not know what the principal or the SEA thought of their action. They did point out that the SEA had, a couple of years back, made a statement against the use of MAP.
ALL the teachers said they supported testing. They all said they are fine (more or less) with the HSPE and end-of-course tests but that the MAP was a flawed instrument.
When asked how the results of the MAP are used by them, the teachers laughed. Apparently, it is of little use to them and they have received little guidance in using test scores.
As for what will happen if they refuse to give the test, they shrugged. They could be suspended (as was a teacher in years past for refusing to give the WASL).
They pointed out that the MAP will be used, starting next year, for their evaluations and that is also a concern. Again, it wasn't the testing and they said they would be fine with the HSPE being used for that part of their evaluation.
The takeaway lesson from them - "We care about our students and will stand up for them."