Monday, January 14, 2013

What Should Garfield's Teachers Do?

Superintendent Banda has come out with the district's response to the Garfield teachers' ringing rejection of giving the MAP test.   Basically, it's "we're going to talk about issue this spring; you must continue giving the test now." 

Before the issue was raised by our teachers at Garfield High School, the School Board had already asked for a thorough review of our how we assess student learning, including MAP testing.  During an annual report to the Board on Nov. 28, it was agreed that the District would review the effectiveness of MAP testing. We plan to report back to the Board this spring. 

Starting in February, I will invite principals and teachers to be part of a formal process to review the MAP test and make recommendations for assessing student learning in Seattle Public Schools. This is the appropriate venue to share concerns and to have an in-depth discussion about the test. We will work together to find the best way to move forward.

In the meantime, MAP remains a required element of our overall student testing process. We expect school staff to fulfill their responsibilities and obligations to administer this test in a timely manner. Principals, I am asking for your leadership in ensuring the required MAP tests are completed by Feb. 22 in accordance with current district practice.

If they give him a chance to do what he says he will do, they look reasonable.  If they don't, they either look principled or stubborn (take your pick). 

I would trust the Superintendent.  If he and the Board don't have a thorough review (that includes teachers and principals), then the teachers can say the review was a farce.   Then, they can boycott the test.  

So what do you think the teachers should do? 

44 comments:

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

Model to the kids and follow the process. If they don't, teachers risk being criticized since there is already a process in place to assess the MAP test. Isn't this what they want? If the outcome of the assessment doesn't go their way, they should be adult enough to accept it. My understanding is that there are many Seattle teachers and principals and neighboring districts and across the nation who support the MAP test

A friend

Eric B said...

I think the teachers need to decide how much they want this. I don't think Banda has any particularly great leverage over the teachers. If the teachers hang together and refuse the test, what can he do? Fire an entire school's worth of teachers? Not going to happen. Worst case, they put a reprimand in the personnel file. Whether that is enough to seriously impact a longtime teacher, I don't know. I believe it would be enough to fire a teacher that is relatively new to the District/school. Again, I don't know how many of those there are at Garfield.

That said, I think the teachers keep the moral high ground by giving the test now in anticipation of a review of MAP later in the year. If they play their cards right, they can probably have some input into the review process. However, that level of compromise is unlikely to happen if the teachers stay at the barricades. Making sure that the review committee has to directly address their concerns would be a big win.

If the review doesn't happen, or does not address their concerns, then they would be much more justified in going back on "MAP strike" under a Broken Promises banner. I would expect that they would have much more public/Board support in that case as well.

Anonymous said...

Parents should support the teachers at Garfield and elsewhere by not having their kids tested. If there is no true value to the test, and if there is no real penalty for our kids not taking it, the best way we can support teachers is by asking that our kids be excluded. I can't ask teachers to put their jobs on the line without this level of personal support.

- MAPLess in Seattle

Po3 said...

I think that the students at GHS should all opt out of the test. Then all the teachers can do is shrug their shoulders.

Po3 said...

And every GHS parent should CC Banda on their opt out email so he's got the paper trail!

Anonymous said...

Seeing as how the De Barros "Independent Review" was a farce, why would we expect central staff to do any different?...

Doubting Thomas

Anonymous said...

MAP does nothing that other tests cannot already provide. Since kids can, and do, play with the process of the test-taking (i.e. middle schoolers), how can any of the results be used to evaluate teachers?

One and half years to go

Anonymous said...

I would opt out, but I'm an elementary parent & my student's grade-level team explicitly said they CHOSE to do the 3x/yr testing (adding the fall test). Why would 1st gr teachers do this? I can only think that it's the kids' only chance to do above-grade level math, and so in that limited case, it is useful for IDing advanced students. Maybe.

Still unsure

Anonymous said...

Can someone tell me why I should have faith that this upcoming MAP review process is the real thing when I have seen so many other SPS processes, reviews, etc fall short in the last few years. I do want to give Banda a chance and I will. But this is not about him. The statement from SPS will likely keep any other schools from following in the footsteps of Garfield. But regardless, we should support the Garfield teachers 100% for sticking their necks out on a limb for our kids, for doing what they think is right, and what many of us also believe to be right.

-FedMomof2

Anonymous said...

Are you kidding? High ground? There is no high ground here. Backing down, saying, "Oh darn. He said we have to, so we will." That's the low ground. The teachers and school knew it was policy to run the MAP when they decided to go against that policy. So, now is NOT the time to back down. Do they have a backbone or not?

As for Banda, he did what he had to do. He has a policy. He has to reitterate it. He did. Big deal. Will he ever have an opinion on anything? Mr. Go-With-The-Flow. That's what we hired, that's what we've got. He doesn't dissappoint. But that doesn't mean anything for the teachers who already made their bed. If they back down now... I will have no respect for them.

-parent

Po3 said...

If GHS all opt out the district will know that it is only matter of time (spring) when other high school students follow suit.

These students hold a lot of power right now, their teachers and the PTA have all signaled that the test should not be taken. It's up to them to opt out and take this across the finish line!

Personally, I have opted my students out, but this has no impact. As my school is not getting the media coverage GHS is currently!

Anonymous said...

would opt out, but I'm an elementary parent & my student's grade-level team explicitly said they CHOSE to do the 3x/yr testing (adding the fall test). Why would 1st gr teachers do this?

Well duh. Of course they said they CHOSE to. If you opt out, you're going against policy and the school. Why would teachers want to waste time 3X per year? They DON'T! If they wanted to, they always could run any test they wanted to, and they wouldn't need to have a policy about it.

No, it isn't your once in a lifetime opportunity for advanced math. Either your kid will shine and do well in math, or not. MAP won't help you with this one. Do they even look at it at all? Not in my experience. Not at all.

-parent

Anonymous said...

Even if MAP was removed, wouldn't we want to test the kids? If so, I wonder how much that would cost to get a new assessment tool up and running.

A friend

Anonymous said...

I support whatever the teachers at GHS do either way. If forced to give the MAP, I would love parents to opt out (I don't have a student at GHS but I would opt my kids out if I did.)

I think it says more about ability to seek compromise and reach a long term solution (get rid of MAP) to administer the test by 2/22 and seek to sit on the February review committee w/ a caveat that they (we!) expect it to be resolved by spring testing.

Of course, it's only 1/14. That gives a month before the 2/22 d/l so why can't GHS teachers lobby to move the meeting up? The committee meets sooner, we get rid of MAP (I can hope !!) and there is no show-down.

-go GHS !

Anonymous said...

I read on this blog that some schools are "piloting" some kind of common core standards test.

Is this our likely new direction and what are these assessments like?

Hopefully nothing like the worthless MAP test?

--Done with MAP but wondering what the next "best" thing will be

Anonymous said...

I don't know what the *teachers* should do, but the parents and students can support the teachers by opting out of the test immediately. Just send a letter or email to Ted Howard and opt out.

In fact, any parent who thinks the MAP is a waste of time should strongly consider opting their child out this week. There is no downside - the test counts for nothing. You child can still take the MSP, HPSE, or other standardized tests, even if you opt out of the MAP.

If enough parents opt out of just the MAP, that will send a strong message to Banda, and give weight to the Garfield teachers' position. There are too many tests happening right now, and the expensive, useless one should be summarily dropped.

- Stop The Pointless Testing

Anonymous said...

"Well duh. Of course they said they CHOSE to. If you opt out, you're going against policy and the school."

Not necessarily. Our school has a few grades that do the fall test while others don't.

And our teacher did use the data to make math groups.

-Thanks Anyway.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure if you opted out of the MAP test, your teacher would have to use some other measure to figure out which math group to place your kid in. Maybe, he/she could actually use his brain, and I would think that would be preferable. One real point is that the "data" is unreliable. So unreliable, as to not even be meaningful. The other point is, of course, the expense and overhead of the testings.

-parent

mirmac1 said...

I opted out my child 2 1/2 years ago. During our suit against the renewal of MAP in 2009 (which was dismissed as moot because the contract was already executed), my co-plaintiff researched other assessments that were cheaper and/or more reliable than the NWEA product. There's a reason NWEA always used the backdoor to get their product selected; because it was inferior when scrutinized in a competitive procurement process. Since then, our district has been too damn lazy to study what's out there. Every year they take the easy route and re-up their subscription to MAP. Time for a bonafide RFP and real analysis of options.

Mark Ahlness said...

From The Chalk Face: Tepid response from Seattle public schools super

Anonymous said...

Mirmac1 - just the person I wanted insight from. I just posted this on Friday's blog post but will re-ask here.

What kind of push back did you get from your kid's school when you opted them out? My daughter is a 9th grader at Franklin and they are right in the middle of it. She took reading last week and I sent a letter today...which was too late, as she just texted me a bit ago saying they pulled her out of class to take the math part. She was aware of my wished on opting her out so she tried to ask the proctor who gave her serious attitude. So I'm wondering what your situation was like.

Also - any other parents who've successfully opted their kids out - please let me know how successful that was.

CWright, Franklin Parent

Eric B said...

@parent: This is just my opinion, of course, but I think that the Garfield teachers would have the moral high ground if they put out a statement that said something like:

"We took this action to draw attention to the deeply flawed MAP test and how it fails our students. We had hoped that we could effect a change of policy through this action. As it stands now, we are faced with a choice between the lesser of two evils: giving our students this test or risking [some number] of our colleagues losing their jobs due to not following this policy.

Because Superintendent Banda is conducting a review of the MAP test by [some date this school year], and he has committed to directly addressing the issues we have raised, we have concluded that the least bad course is to administer the test to our students. We do not consider the matter closed, and will continue to hold the District to its commitments in the review. If necessary, we will stand together again to oppose the MAP test."

They could also throw in some words about following rules and laws that you don't agree with, as part of living in a civilized society. Of course, all of this only works if they have the commitments from Banda ahead of time. On the flip side, if Banda makes promises and then doesn't follow through, it's another round of bad press for the District at the Spring or Fall MAP test time.

Then the teachers get up and say that the District made promises, failed to keep them, and now the teachers are not going to back down. The teachers will have built public and civic goodwill by trying to come to an agreement, and will be in an even stronger place in public opinion.

Anonymous said...

So I'm confused. Are all teachers/schools against MAP? Are there teachers/schools who uses it?

Anyone?

A friend

Anonymous said...

I don't know what the *teachers* should do, but the parents and students can support the teachers by opting out of the test immediately. Just send a letter or email to Ted Howard and opt out.

Isn't there any parent organization that could help the teachers out and support easy withdrawal of students from MAP? That would indeed be the ticket. Surely there are Garfield parent readers who could facilitate.

Reader

Melissa Westbrook said...

Franklin parent, yes, you need to send a letter sooner rather than later. Make sure your child has a copy of it (especially a middle or high school student) and tell him/her to say, "These are the wishes of my parents."

If your child tells you they have received pressure from any teacher or proctor or administrator, you will need to speak to that person.

If they have a problem, it should be with you and not with a child.

I opted my children out of the WASL for years and never got any pushback. They weren't really happy with my child being in the library but he read, did activities in a workbook and helped shelve books.

Anonymous said...

Oh please Eric B. The fact is, the district should never have agreed to administering the MAP test. And, the only reason they did it was because the superintendent was on the testing company's board. The test was a product of that company, and it was purchased without a competitive bid. That's as low as it get, and a huge conflict of interest. If you can't force people to take a test, and you can't, then you should never enter into an agreement saying that you will. There's no high road here. There's only a bunch of low roads. Let's go for the one that gets movement going towards NO MORE EXPENSIVE STUPID TESTS. Let's head in that direction for a change. Do you really think Banda's going to get rid of MAP? Think of all those LEVites and Alliance for ED types who are salivating over giving more stupid tests. He will simply bend over for them. Again.

-parent

Eric B said...

@parent: I absolutely agree that MAP was a stupid decision at best, and more likely corrupt. And I believe that every single person who supported MAP at the beginning is gone. So there's nobody who has to stand up and say that they screwed up themselves. Everyone can blame an empty chair.

Maybe I'm a crazy optimist, but I'm not sure the A4E and LEV folks really have that much influence on Banda. Weren't they the ones sending around the emails about how he needed to be brought into line?

Regardless of what the Garfield teachers do, there will be a review of MAP. Wouldn't it be better in the long run if the skeptics negotiated themselves a seat at the table rather than just holding signs outside?

Anonymous said...

Even better would be if a significant number of parents opted out, making the whole exercise moot.

If you are not supportive of the MAP, please consider writing a brief letter to you child's school and opting them out, at least for the Winter test. Send in the letter soon, tomorrow preferably, as testing is starting now in many schools.

Show your support for the teachers, and give Banda a way out of this mess at the same time.

Stop Needless Testing

Anonymous said...

They don't need to fire the whole staff. I think only give Garfield teachers administer the test. The district would just put them on paid leave and make a sub do it, or the principal or v. principal just walks into the room and says, "Kids, let's go." The Garfield solidarity, stance, and the world-wide support is the real payoff.
Bands didn't choose this test. He should order an immediate study and provide families and teachers with something more reliable, useful, and aligned.

Teacher

Not a MAP fan said...

Burgess sold the F&E Levy because there would be "measurable" results. MAP is tied into Level 1 and Level 2 schools. Reformers want "measurable" results. You can absolutely bet LEV, Alliance and the usual politicians are keeping an eye on Banda over this one. What would they say if he backed down? Lost control of his teachers?

Is MAP tied into the Race to The Top funding that the district recently acquired?

Jonathan Knapp needs to have a very large presence. The teachers have already stood up. What would it be like for them to backdown?

More teachers need to join in. It would create an unmanageable situation; it would provide support to the Garfield teachers.

I suspect we'll see MAP discontinued and another test employed.



Anonymous said...

Eric B, have you ever been at a LEV event with Banda? I have. The pandering is blatant. In fact, I would say he has no business going to their lunches, their meetings, their anything. Yet, there he is. Pandering. Applauding them on. Yes, we're doing it. Yes, it's working. Acutally, it's sickening. They are doing nothing at all. Most of their kids are in private schools. Last event I attended they congratulated themselves on teacher raises for test scores, and how much it had already improved schools. Hello? It hasn't happened yet, dufusses! I'm an invited guest. They think I support them. I don't. But, I still observe.

-parent

mirmac1 said...

CWright,

Oh, I got attitude from her elementary along the lines of "well, she'll sit in the office while everyone else takes the test!" Naturally I said Hell No, she will be engaged in a productive learning task, along the lines of teacher's aide or helping younger students - there was no reason in hell that she should be made to feel that she was somehow doing something WRONG! They complied.

After that, I found that you could not tell enough staff at the building what's what. If the principal knew, then the AP didn't. If the AP knew, the math teacher or librarian didn't etc etc. Know that district/board policy does NOT require that a student be subjected to MAP testing.

It definitely requires strong proactive expression of your position.

mirmac1 said...

I agree with parent. The Alliance had Banda by the short hairs the day after he was voted in.

However, I have seen him since then steadily build a distance between him and the Beast. They tried to bribe him with $200K. He said thanks for the money, but I have yet to see him kiss their heinies (sp?)

These twits are all about using our kids data to push their agenda. Ryan's CCER says the district oughta hand over FRL data, well, just because if you read FERPA just right, it's ok. Burgess, City DOE and Levy/WPC think that spending our millions is okay if they can insist it can be measured (there's alot of very important things that cannot). Is that any reason to hand your kid's test results and subsequent self-judgment over to these clowns?! Not my kid.

Anonymous said...

If you're going to opt out I don't think it fair to expect the school to plan some activity for your child. If the child is old enough to sit quietly in the office reading or drawing - what's the big deal?

-don't be a PITA parent

Teacher said...

I do not know a single teacher who uses MAP or finds it a valid test. All 30 of the teachers at my school find MAP to be a rather expensive joke. (To answer a question posted on here...)

mirmac1 said...

don't be a PITA parent,

Your child must not suffer from anxiety. Congrats. The only time my child's been in the office is when she was punished exhibiting behaviors due to her disability like anxiety and emotional meltdowns. Frankly, ignorant or disproportionate punishment is a pain in my *ss, so I'll be a pain in theirs.

Eric M said...

News from tonight's SEA Representative Assembly:

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.

Anonymous said...

Have opted our child out of MAP at Hamilton each year. No problems.
--HIMSparent

Anonymous said...

PITA,
There are plenty of things the schools can offer a child when a parent opts out of any school activity; be it testing, a field trip, or whatever. Sending them to the office is punitive and a waste of their time (and resented by already busy office staff). Being a reading buddy, teacher helper to younger students, or spending time in some other learning activity is not too much to expect.

School staffer

Eric M said...

My son got sent to a chair in the office 2 years ago when I opted him out at Whitman. He got so bored, he aksed to take the test!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your opt out experiences. I was too late this round (my daughter finished up with math today) but plan to keep a close eye on this story as it develops. If it's still administered in the spring, I plan to be a pain the rear and make sure that she doesn't take it then.

Incidentally, I did receive a 'thanks for your letter' response from her grade level counselor. Literally, that's all it said. Might be wishful thinking but perhaps the Franklin teachers are discussing action amongst themselves? Hopeful that is the case.

To all parents who haven't sent an opt out letter yet - as suggested, send it NOW and make sure your kid has a copy on their person (if they are old enough to help)and send one to every one of their teachers, the principle, counselor, etc. It may not be too late to opt out before they start at your school. Even so - sending the letter anyway makes your wishes clear and lots of parent response might push some schools/teachers over the edge and make them feel supported enough to join the boycott.

I really love this blog. It's a great place to get information and ask questions. Thanks Charlie and Mel - you guys kind of rock!

CWright, Franklin Parent

Charlie Mas said...

The District promises to review the test in the Spring. Great. Continue to refuse to administer the test until they have completed their review.

Anyone who compromises their position because the District has promised to take some action in the future is a gullible fool. That's what the District does - they promise action and then fail to take it. The District's promises are worthless and meaningless. They have no credit. NEVER concede your position because the District has promised you something; wait until they deliver. If you don't wait, they won't deliver.

Anonymous said...

Is this some kind of emotional argument? If it isn't, where is some rational for a position one way or the other? And who speaks for who, the administration or teachers or students or test producers? Why not use the test to show what not to do if it is so bad? Critical thinking has a place in the discussion. Learn to think and put emotion where it belongs-elsewhere.