Thursday, February 07, 2013

MAP Boycott Support/Action Rolls On

From the Huffington Post and NEA President Dennis Van Roekel:

If we really want systems that help all students reach their full potential, we must allow educators, parents, students and communities to be a part of the process and have a stronger voice in the conversations around high-quality assessments that really do support student learning. 

Educators are fed up with flawed accountability measures, and the new face of teacher unionism has its eyes fixed on changing the current culture of standardized testing mania. In a dramatic way, Seattle teachers and others are driving the national conversation on professional issues and school reform. Colleagues in classrooms across the country recognize the importance of this action and stand ready to support these educators in any way that we can. Solidarity.

In Chicago:

Demanding fewer standardized tests in their children's schools, and more test transparency from the district, parents of children in 37 Chicago public schools gathered signatures before and after school today on a new petition created by the parent, teacher, student and community coalition, “More Than a Score.”

The More Than a Score petition has three demands:
  • Eliminate standardized testing for children from preschool to 2nd grade and greatly reduce it for 3rd grade and above.
  • End the use of standardized testing data to evaluate students and educators and to close schools.
  • Fully disclose the cost, schedule, nature, and purpose of all standardized tests.
Rachel Lessem, whose child attends Pritzker elementary school, passed petitions after school today. “Something has to be done,” she said. “CPS says they have to close schools and disrupt communities to save money, yet they are spending untold millions of dollars on standardized testing instead of small class sizes and other important improvements that might actually help struggling schools.”

I think that point of wanting to see districts fully disclose the costs of all testing IS very important.  If the district believes this important to their work, then tell us the costs and how you use the data.  In detail.

This one is interesting because it is parent-driven.

From the Seattle Weekly:

In addition to broad concerns over what results of the MAP test actually reflect, the local branch of the NAACP has specific concerns regarding the Seattle School District using the computerized test to determine which students are placed in advance courses - a practice the NAACP says can lead to an "inequitable result" for children of color and those living in poverty.

In an interview with Seattle Weekly Seattle King County NAACP President James Bible says that if it's determined that such a practice creates an inequity for students a complaint to the US Department of Education is possible.

"We have to evaluate whether or not this test leads to inequity," says Bible. "This is an important issue, and our kids are in the balance."

Now the district says (and the evidence is there), that they are finding more students of color qualified for advanced learning programs, not fewer.

In its critique of MAP testing, the Seattle King County NAACP also argues that tying up school computer labs for weeks at a time administering the tests can have a detrimental effect on poorer students who don't have the luxury of computer access at home. The organization contends that "this level of academic interruption is unacceptable."

Speaking for the District, Wippel acknowledges that MAP testing isn't perfect; she says no test is. Instead, she says testing is just one important part of the academic environment, while arguing that we owe it to our children to be able to measure and track where they're at and how they're progressing.
One Daily commenter:

DEAD GIVE AWAY, "Speaking for the District, Wippel acknowledges that MAP testing isn't perfect; she says no test is." This is the false narrative that corporate reformers have been painting teachers and parents and all who oppose them with, that they all want something that's "perfect". No teacher, parent or union leader has ever said that. Corporate reformers such as Rhee-ject were the first to claim this. This is the lie being told to divert attention from the fact based reasons testing and particularly test based teacher evaluations are opposed. Don't fall for it, slam them on the misrepresentation of the truth.

This person is right.  "nothing is perfect", "a tool in the toolbox", etc. - all narratives to ed reform.  

I am really pleased that this is about teachers, staff and parents standing up for what they are seeing in their schools and is not about the union at all.   Frankly, the union is late to this party and while I'm sure they are delighted at the attention, it's the on-the-ground teachers we should listen to on this subject.

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

Though the fact is that no test is perfect, it is interesting that this buzz phrase gets a bad rap. It doesn't change the fact that no test is perfect. Or perhaps both sides are guilty of over using this phrase. I don't know enough about MAP, the actual facts in Garfield or the national debate; however, I for one, believe that although no test is perfect, testing makes sense to inform and to guide what one can do next.

A friend

CT said...

The WEA is very defensive when asked about supporting teachers in the fight against Ed deform.

SpsSchools Exposed said...

The Seattle National Association for the Advancement of Colored People what a joke the paper tiger of civil rights !!

SpsSchools Exposed said...

WEA The Union That's Afraid to Fight

Not a subject of human experimentation said...

A friend,

My high school student just finished one full week of finals. The tests were rigorous and comprehensive. My student was mentally exhausted. MAP was to be administered the week after finals.

Due to my concerns of mental fatigue and test fatigue, I opted my child out.

Just curious..what are your thoughts?

Dora said...

Not a subject...

I think that anything else would be considered child abuse.

mirmac1 said...

If you look at the District Profile, issued Dec 2012, there are pages and pages of demographic and outcome data. All MSP and SAT. Not ONE word on MAP or growth....

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

"Why don't you ask the Substitutes who were there how they were treated and what transpired."

Anonymous, give yourself a name next time.

I would be interested especially given that a rep from the sub union was at one of the press conferences and said they supported the boycott.

joanna said...

While I believe that the MAP test is not generally a good investment for any grade, especially in upper grades. I also believe that it was adopted under very questionable circumstances. However, I am not totally against testing and/or evaluations. How to identify those evaluations is often problematic. We want them to be effective, and fairly easy and quick to administer with timely results. Also it is important to track over time, as one day and one test often will not reflect a student's level of achievement. And, no we don't want to see K-3 students' time used to test them often and in a high stakes testing. However, I believe that some type of measures are helpful in the early grades. Those are the ages where appropriate intervention can be most effective. It is also a time where some students whose families may not think to have them tested for highly capable can benefit from some type of evaluations. If there is some area of high achievement or one in which a student seems to be lagging behind during a year then teachers and parents can be alerted to meeting the student's needs. Testing should be about meeting student needs and how to serve them.

By the time high school rolls around there are many other tests and applications for students to complete, and many of these achievement type tests is probably a waste of everyone's time. Really counselors and teachers in high school should be ensuring that each student is preparing for the SATs or ACTS, and all the other placement type tests or portfolios that are required by the various institutions. And, students who seem to have no plan after graduation to enter another institution should be required to select a test to take that would ensure them an option to further their education.

dan dempsey said...

NY Times article on testing and how kids are effected by the pressure =>

Why Can Some Kids Handle Pressure While Others Fall Apart?

Noah Muthler took his first state standardized test in third grade at the Spring Cove Elementary School in Roaring Spring, Pa. It was a miserable experience, said his mother, Kathleen Muthler. He was a good student in a program for gifted children. But, Muthler said, “he was crying in my arms the night before the test, saying: ‘I’m not ready, Mom. They didn’t teach us everything that will be on the test.’ ” In fourth grade, he was upset the whole week before the exam. “He manifests it physically,” his mother said. “He got headaches and stomachaches. He would ask not to go to school.” Not a good sleeper anyway, Noah would slip downstairs after an hour tossing in bed and ask his mom to lie down with him until he fell asleep. In fifth grade, the anxiety lasted a solid month before the test. “Even after the test, he couldn’t let it go. He would wonder about questions he feared he misunderstood,” Muthler said.

So this year, Muthler is opting Noah out of the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment, using a broad religious and ethical exemption. Just knowing he won’t be taking the tests in March has put Noah in a better frame of mind about school. “The pressure is off his shoulders now,” his mother said. When he doesn’t grasp a concept immediately, he can talk it through without any panic. “He looks forward to science class and math class again,” Muthler said. “He wants to be a chemical or nuclear engineer.”

----

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

Anonymous at 1:35 said:

I will not give myself a name and cannot. I have to feed myself sorry but there were Substitutes there working. How were they 'treated' by Administration, Staff and Students? Do you know?

Sheesh, Anonymous. Work with us here. No one is asking for the name that would allow the District to track you down and retaliate. "Mickey Mouse" would do nicely. All the blog wants is something OTHER than anonymous so that people can keep track of which blogger is "speaking" at any given time!~

Jan said...

A friend -- Ah yes. The devil is always in the detail. The "nuances" are always what is hard. No test is perfect. So does that mean don't ever test? No (unless you are an unschooler). Does it mean -- oh well, use whatever, then, because they are all flawed in some way? No to that as well, unless you are Rhee or MGJ and her Gates friends.

The problem here is that the process that brought the test was so dishonest. The district was less than honest about why they wanted the test, what it would be used for, how valid it was, whether it aligned with course requirements, etc.

Generally, whatever you build on a dishonest base fails of its essential purpose, and that is what we see here. What they really wanted this test for is to evaluate teachers. Pure and simple. But since the test states that it is not valid for this purpose (and any fool could have figured that out anyway, given that it was not aligned to Washington's curriculum), they couldn't tell the truth. So they sort of made a bunch of stuff up, and got the test darlings on board to shill for it. And then they discovered they could also foist it off on the advanced learning folks as a gatekeeper to advanced placement assessment. Invalid for that purpose too, as far as I can see. But nevermind. Score another round, because it helps them keep it here for its REAL purpose (teacher culling), as the blinders start to fall off in other areas.

The test is a dishonest, expensive waste of time. It is made worse by the fact that it is being used to discipline and fire teachers when it is not valid for that purpose (sort of like buying a bad, expensive drug for one disease, and then making things worse by giving it to a patient who has something else entirely -- because it was "on hand.")

If we want to develop a formal system that uses assessments of student gains to evaluate teachers (I don't, but I know some do), let's clear the decks of this travesty, sit down with teachers, administrators, and parents (and some high schoolers), and figure out how to build our OWN plan to make that happen. Let's make it a pilot (so the teachers can stop being ed reform guinea pigs) -- meaning let's try some stuff, and then evaluate whether the assessments are useful, valid, and informative, and where their boundaries are.

Frankly, teachers in upper grades in classes like math and language arts have known for YEARS who the effective teachers are --because they get the kids each fall who do, or don't, know the stuff they were supposed to learn. They also know the tolerances of such a system. My kids' 8th grade teachers are WMS were incredibly focused on getting those kids ready for GHS courses. They KNEW (because they talked to the 9th grade teachers -- ha! what a concept) what skills those kids needed to do well in 9th grade. This is not rocket science-- it is hard work, common sense, and good will.

Anonymous said...

the devil is in the details. I suggest someone find the substitutes who were there and ask them about it. Not if they supported the boycott but what it was like to work there.

Bitch on a Stick

My kid isn't a subject for human experiementation. said...

You bet Dan and Dora. I just had the opportunity to speak with many high school students. They were all spent from final exams. Piling MAP on top of final exams is over the top.

I should add that eight year old children are expected to take MSP the week after MAP.

seattle citizen said...

In today's Times, Lynne Varner weighs in on the MAP boycott, and, on a related note, State Senator Steve Litzow earns his Stand On Children (and other Reform financiers') campaign dollars by advancing HIS reformist propaganda:

The high cost of wasted educational opportunity — now that’s worth a teacher protest
Boycotting a Seattle Schools standardized test is small potatoes. But don’t worry. There’s plenty in education to get riled up over.



Op-ed: School funding should be tied to improvement in student learning, by State Senator Steve Litzow

Melissa Westbrook said...

Another dopey editorial from Lynne Varner. She takes an unneeded and uncalled for swipe at Principal Martin Floe. And, of course, offers no real solutions herself.

Anonymous said...

I'm not a sub for Seattle, but I am for another district and...why in the world would they treat the subs poorly? Treat subs bad and you don't get subs!

As to why subs would take the job even with the SSA supporting the boycott, it's possible that those subs didn't know that they were taking a "test admin" job. The job listing was probably for something like a "supplemental" position, which in my district is used when teachers are having meetings. Or, they make take the job because they need the money. Plus, it'll get them in with the office staff, which means they may get onto a request list, which is a very nice place to be for a sub as it increases the likelihood of future jobs.

OtherSub

Anonymous said...

They were told on the Subfinder "MAP Testing" that was all. If you are not connected, into the whole gossip, etc who would know what they were walking into. People need money. Again ask how the subs how they were treated by the office staff, by admin. From what I hear not good, so much for getting on "lists". Ask them. Find them and ask them. Don't presume you know.

Bitch on a Stick

Lucilyn labajo said...


Ensure Yourself Success By Using Printable GED Practice Tests
ged books 2011

Confused parent said...

I really don't know much about MAP testing content and why it is or isn't useful. I know that the test scores I see on the results seem very reflective of my own kid's abilities (not a false positive at all and certainly no false negatives) so with a single data point, I don't feel confident to know what the population level issues are. I remember as a kid taking the ITBS test and thinking it was idiotically easy. It sort of represented in my young mind a safety net test to ensure that the bottom performing kids could be identified but in no way tested my upper limits. Similarly I have heard that MAP is not a good assessment of super gifted kids--it doesn't differentiate the different levels among those who score in the 99% level.

But my question is: where is the proactive (and not reactive) vision for what role assessment should and could be? What problems are we trying to solve for with it? What should it be used for, and what should it not be used for? Is it a security net to identify weak spots in the system? Is it a comprehensive useful test to help identify the full range of abilities at a system level? Teacher level? Student level?

I do not think that we should have NO assessments, there should be something. But I'm NOT in line with the algorithmic ed reform thinking either that seems to want to place the entire onus on the teacher. At a minimum I think that these tests, if used in this ed reform way, should be then a referendum on district leadership, policy decisions, textbook and curriculum decisions, hiring practices, training practices and the entire set of variables that impact students' performances. The problem becomes isolating which of those variables really has the greatest impact. I do want an objective assessment of my kids' growth on the basics like reading and math. I want to know the trade offs we are making based on current investment and opportunity cost. Class size reduction vs. more testing? Teacher training vs. testing? Better textbooks vs. training? There is always a cost to decisions!

But all I see in this debate is reaction and not a proactive vision. So if there is a great book or paper that outlines an alternative comprehensive vision, I'd love to know about it.

Really interested in this debate but feeling like a tennis ball being lobbed back and forth with out being able to compare competing visions that try to solve the problems>..