MAP Updates


The Superintendent's Special Education Advisory and Advocacy Committee has also released a statement (in the comments section) that they support the MAP boycott.  From their statement:

Evidence of the lack of care and thought in MAP testing is that our children are REGULARLY denied their accommodations for the MAP. How does MAP testing somehow take precedence over the necessary accommodations on the IEP?

In addition, the Superintendent will be holding a media briefing right before the School Board meeting on Wednesday about MAP testing. 
  • Rally for teachers/parents/students against MAP tomorrow, Wednesday, the 23rd, at 4 pm (just before the School Board meeting).  It's billed as "Scrap the MAP; Students are not Test Scores."
Also of note, there was another press conference yesterday at Garfield with some updates from teachers.

- Noted national educators added their support; Diane Ravitch, Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis, Jonathan Kozol and professor Nancy Carlsson-Paige (Matt Damon's mom; he also supports the effort.) and the AFT.  
Others supporting this effort: Noam Comsky, MIT, Anthony Cody of Education Week magazine and Leonie Haimson of Class Size Matters/Huffington Post plus 70 other educators and researchers.

- other schools showing support include Franklin High, Roosevelt High, West Seattle High and Center School.  Center School has an interesting situation where they are able to give MAP without infringing on class time.  They stated that they will not give the MAP if that were to change.  The West Seattle High speaker said that she didn't think they needed to scrap MAP but that they did not support its use to evaluate teachers.

- the Seattle Substitute Association (the union for substitute teachers) also support this effort.

It was noted that while the district promises a review, the SEA had been expressing concerns over the use of MAP for years.

At least 50 ORCA parents have opted out and Garfield students are asking parents to opt them out as well.

The Board has had no official reply and says they need to meet with the Superintendent first.

It was also noted that the Times had it wrong in one of their articles.  The MAP is NOT part of the teachers contract.  The contract only says there has to be two assessments and both do not have to be tests.

The teachers gave a very heartfelt explanation of what they want to do.  They want to give their own assessment at the beginning of the year, others along the way and then an end of the course assessment.  They would create a rubric to track student progress.  This would involve additional professional development time but their assessments would cost a fraction of what MAP does and take up less class time.  They believe they could do this even this year.

Imagine that - teachers assessing your child's abilities at one point in time and then at others and measuring progress.  It sounds like something they might have been hired to do.  It sounds like what they do with AP courses.   Those of us who have had experience with these kinds of rubric or even student portfolios know how valuable this information can be and it can precisely pinpoint weaknesses and strengths. 


SeattleSped said…
SEAAC (Superintendent's Special Education Advisory and Advocacy Committee) and concerned parents stand with the Garfield High School staff in opposing the MAP test for any use in high schools. The test covers materials not routinely taught to general education students. There is no reason for the test, and the results aren't used for any purpose benefitting the students. SEAAC further believes that MAP testing should not be used to evaluate educators. We hope the district moves away from more standards based testing, and away from more standardization. Our students are not standard. Who wants kids to be standard anyway?

SEAAC believes that the MAP testing and the agenda moving schools towards standards-based education is an indignity for students with disabilities and others as well. The whole point of these standardized tests is to create failures; first the students and then the teachers. Being "nonstandard" is not a failure for our students, nor our teachers, nor our schools. Diversity and standardization are incompatible.

If everyone did well on standardized tests or "measured to standard", we would say: "The test is too easy. Everybody passed it." Instead, we create tests that have failures built-in by design. The only question remaining: "Who will those failures be?" The answer is: "Whoever wrote the test will pass the test. Others will fail." Failure is the design of MAP. After all, somebody has to fail them or why have the tests at all?

Especially problematic is the latest fad in education reform: Teacher evaluation based on standardized tests. Students with disabilities already face an uphill battle in every class they attend. If schools really wanted to teach students with disabilities, there would be no need for the law, IDEA, mandating it. Students with disabilities already take tests routinely. They are poked, prodded and measured countless times as is. Standards based tests reflect disability, not ability. More testing confirming disability does not benefit our students with disabilities and it doesn't measure teacher effectiveness.

SeattleSped said…

Teacher evaluation based on MAP sets up a whole system of perverse and discriminatory incentives against students with disabilities. Student ability is pitted against teachers. Teachers are incented to remove students with disabilities from their classrooms to improve their own evaluations. That exacerbates the existing reluctance to educate inclusively. Schools are incented to funnel any poorly performing group into segregated settings, often special education settings, where the impact of the resulting evaluation can most effectively be minimized. One could imagine a school where every poorly performing student was stuck with a single teacher, probably the newest one. That way, only one teacher would have to take the hit for "poor results" and for evaluation. All the other teachers would be stars. Look at most high schools, indeed you will find segregation along those performance lines. Segregation doesn't benefit our students.

Where does the district think our children will end up? At the bottom once again. After all, we already know our students need help with comprehension or math. That's why we have IEPs. Without the supports and resources our children need, the MAP RIT scores are just a piece of paper. It would seem the district is failing in providing the necessary supports, because, as a group, special education students' scores continue to trend downward; downward to the point that 8th graders have predicted grade levels five to six grades lower. We have not seen any evidence towards improved outcomes for students with disabilities since the advent of the MAP testing. Where are the results from the expense of the MAP?

Evidence of the lack of care and thought in MAP testing is that our children are REGULARLY denied their accommodations for the MAP. How does MAP testing somehow take precedence over the necessary accommodations on the IEP?

Finally, standardization and standards-based tests and grading are misused to deny our secondary students access to extracurricular activities like sports or clubs. Grades are used as gatekeepers, and our students are often left out, again. Of course, parents in the know, and parents who have the time to advocate for their children can circumvent these roadblocks. Once again, standardization minimizes the educational experience of students with disabilities.

We stand with Garfield High School Teachers in their endeavors to not give a test that promotes failure. As far as students with disabilities are concerned, this test should not be given as it is useless and demoralizing to students with unique learning profiles.
Jan said…
"The teachers gave a very heartfelt explanation of what they want to do. They want to give their own assessment at the beginning of the year, others along the way and then an end of the course assessment. They would create a rubric to track student progress. This would involve additional professional development time but their assessments would cost a fraction of what MAP does and take up less class time. They believe they could do this even this year."

AH! YES! Manna from heaven. This is EXACTLY what should be done. The teachers (who are trained and hired to do this exact thing) should have the power (and the obligation) to devise their own assessments!

Of course, doing this will require that we scrap the ed reform narrative that teachers are a bunch of lazy, stupid, overpaid losers who couldn't get better jobs. It will require that we acknowledge that they (at least most of them) are bright, hardworking, creative professionals who not only know what they teach, but know how to teach it, and how to figure out whether kids are learning it. Are they all doing this, as well as they should? Probably not -- but that is a reason to have principals who understand this stuff and can provide guidance and quality control, master teachers who have taught (and assessed) these subjects before and who have materials and training to help teachers come up with assessments. It is NOT a reason to spend gajillions on a non-aligned, non-correlated test that provides little to no valuable feedback, while sucking up way too much time and money.

If there are teachers out there who really DO love MAP -- do this. Move the entire testing operation down to the Stanford center. Provide that 3 times per year, students who want to take the test (or teachers who want to use THIS test instead of their own assessments) can sign their kids up, bus them down to one room, with computers set up, and have them tested. I will bet you that most teachers will opt for internally generated assessments, and save the hassle. In the meantime, it will cost much less (since we pay on a "per kid" basis) and will not take up any time or computer equipment at the school level. My prediction -- it will die out within a year or two, from disuse.

Jan said…
One thing Mr. Banda could do, at a minimum, is to cancel the test at the 9th grade level. 9th graders already have MSP and EOC tests (at least in math). Surely the Times canard about failing to identify gifted kids cannot be happening at the 9th grade level (and frankly, even if it were -- there is no APP placement at that point anyway, so it is irrelevant). What use (for the kids) is the 9th grade MAP? And how could it possibly offset the harm of a test where the margin of error exceeds the projected improvement (making any gains/losses suspect) -- all at a huge cost to the MAP company?

(We should also get rid of it at the K-2 level, for different reasons, but that is a different post).
Jan said…
Oops. I meant -- all at a huge price paid to the MAP company.
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous, give yourself a name next time. But you asked about "disregard for standardized testing in general."

Show me I haven't said it nor has one single teacher involved in the MAP boycott or support of the boycott. Not a one.

That's because the teachers have said - repeatedly - that it is NOT about testing. Please, ask any of them. They have said it over and over.

It is about a test being used the wrong way AND without results that both students and teachers can use.

Assessments, yes. MAP, no. Go back and read the MAP threads for the answers as to why MAP is wrong.

Here is the district's page on testing.

Anonymous said…
Dear Thanks for Any Help,

What could possibly wrong with the MAP? Well, the expense for one thing. We spend millions on this contract. Which was a no-bid contract with the NWEA - a company on whose board the superintendent sat. Expensive and an unethical purchase.

And, for another thing, the time and resources devoted to administering the test. Library/computer time is limited and scarce. Instructional time is also limited and scarse.

And for the last reason - nobody ever uses the MAP for anything at all. What's the point of all those costs if they don't inform instruction? No teacher has ever told me once - a single thing they noticed from my kids' MAPs, nor what they mean in terms of instruction, nor a single thing they ever did as a result of having run the MAP.

Anonymous said…
I haven't heard NWEA weigh in on any of this. Melissa? Have you?

I know the WEA supports this action but I have not seen a statement. The NEA has not weighed in but the AFT has and supports the boycott.
mirmac1 said…
I am disgusted with the machinations that went on behind the scenes to make MAP out to be a "superior" product and truly effective at what it professes. It has been made quite obvious that its shortcomings have been withheld from the board (who, admittedly, really didn't care to probe).

If our district, that shortsells PROVEN methods to improve outcome, in order to get the Alliance and their buds whatever they want, keeps pushing this crap - then I'll keep fighting it.
Anonymous said…
Uninformed discussion continues:

Anonymous said…
Melissa, I was actually wondering what you have heard, if anything, from NWEA (Northwest Eval Assoc) who makes the MAP test. The boycot is drawing national coverage in educational pockets... I was thinking it was odd to hear nothing from them.

Well, maybe it's not odd. I don't know.

mirmac1 said…
When it comes to MAP..."Accommodations, what are those?"

Remember this KUOW report from November, where the Alliance/district/reform growth snapshot somehow "takes into account "students' poverty levels, learning disabilities and English language proficiencies."

Seattle Public Schools Releases Snapshot Of Teachers' Student Growth Ratings

I must say, I sleep better at night knowing that an investment of $10M led to 26 teachers receiving low ratings on this crap measure and therefore will be drummed out of the profession.... Except that next year they will probably receive high ratings. Oh well, we didn't need that money.
Gomamago said…
I don't support the use of this type of assessment, particularly in the k-2 rage and outside of that it is either inappropriate (early childhood Ed) or redundant with other measures of student learning.

When I shared dissatisfaction with the emphasis on Computer based assessments for our kindergartners other parents said - school is about tests, it will help them learn to take tests, help them be better prepared for the SATs, "I like seeing how my kid is doing" (as if any number would be meaningful, that some teachers saw it as helpful for instruction. This is for 5-6 year olds, in their first 6 weeks of school and most of them can't read yet and many do not know how to use a computer mouse. Total exasperation on my part.

Anonymous said…
how do we know that MAP is inferior to other tests in identifying kids for AL testing and math placement? What would work better? These are uses I like as well as for me to see how my kids are doing. Grades are not always showing that much about performance, ability and aptitude -all things I want to know.

stop accentuating the negative
suep. said…
@Kate -- According to a recent KUOW report, John Cronin of NWEA laughed at the protest.

Seattle Superintendent And Testing Company Defend Standardized Test

But this same fellow wrote a letter to the Charleston School District advising them that MAP should not be used for teacher evaluations. Yet SPS is using it that way, effectively making it a high-stakes test.

Also see: MAP test manufacturer warns: MAP test should NOT be used to evaluate teachers. — So why is Seattle Public Schools doing just that?

I contacted Mr. Cronin about this back in 2011. Here's what he said:


Thank you for contacting us and expressing your concerns.

As you noted, we did comment on a particular board policy that was proposed for the Charleston School District. In this case, the district asked us for our comments on the proposed policy, which we offered. We do stand by those comments, with the caveat they were intended to address the policy as it was proposed to be implemented in Charleston. However, NWEA’s policy is not to comment on specific school system policies and practices in regard to the use of our assessment unless the school system requests it, so I can’t offer a comment on the Seattle situation.

As you know, many states and school systems are considering adapting policies that would use assessments, most commonly the state assessment, but sometimes others including ours, in the professional evaluation of teachers. We understand the controversy around the issue of using tests in teacher evaluation, and we are in the process of drafting an official position statement in regard to these practices. When the statement is released, we would be happy to forward it to you. Just let me know if you would like a copy.

I appreciate your concern for the teachers and principals who are trying their best to serve Seattle’s children and hope there will be an opportunity for everyone to move forward.

John Cronin
Director - The Kingsbury Center at NWEA
suep. said…
(And here's the letter I initially wrote to NWEA's J. Cronin:


John Cronin,
Kingsbury Center
Northwest Evaluation Association
5885 SW Meadows Road Suite 200
Lake Oswego, OR 97035

Dear John,

I am a Seattle Public Schools parent with serious concerns about how the MAP® test is being used in Seattle. I want to bring to your attention the fact that our school district is misusing NWEA's product and this is causing a growing resentment toward it.

In short, SPS is using the MAP test to evaluate its teachers.

That is not what the test was designed for nor how the Seattle schools community was told it would be used when SPS purchased it. We were told it would help teachers understand our children's learning needs. Instead, it is being used by district administrators as a tool to assess, reward or punish teachers and principals. This is an unfair and inaccurate way to measure teachers and it is affecting what is taught in our schools -- not for the better.

Thus the Seattle Public School District is effectively misusing the MAP as a high-stakes test.

I recently came across your letter to the Charleston School District ( which warned against using NWEA's MAP test to evaluate teachers. Would you consider writing a similar letter to our new interim school superintendent and school board with the advice you gave the Charleston school district?

Also, the circumstances under which the MAP test was purchased by SPS has resulted in suspicion, leading many of us to doubt whether MAP was truly the best product available, or chosen for some other reason. As you may know, the Seattle Public School District purchased a subscription to the MAP in 2009. At that time, our superintendent was Maria Goodloe-Johnson. She was a member of the board of directors of NWEA when the purchase took place, and failed to disclose this fact. In 2010, the state auditor cited this as an ethics violation/conflict of interest and Goodloe-Johnson was forced to step down from the NWEA board.

This appearance of impropriety has potentially undermined any legitimate value the product may have.

suep. said…
(cont'd from above)

The result of all this is the MAP test is developing a negative reputation and connotation in Seattle. I thought you should know this. Surely this was not NWEA’s intent. I would assume that this is not how NWEA wants a major school district to feel about its product -- or to sour on the MAP entirely. Unfortunately, that is where the sentiment is headed. Those of us with blogs will continue to report this accordingly. (15 Reasons Why the Seattle School District Should Shelve the MAP® Test—ASAP.)

I believe the way the MAP test was introduced and is being used by SPS has been handled in a less than optimal and upfront manner. The district recently fired the superintendent who was associated with NWEA. We are aiming to turn a new page in this district. Don’t you agree that it would be better for everyone if MAP were not part of a lingering resentment associated with our previous superintendent?

Perhaps the MAP can be used at the beginning of the year in the way it was intended – as a tool designed to help teachers know where their incoming students are academically. I do not believe it needs to be administered three times a year to all students. That is proving to be excessive and costly in many ways.

If a better arrangement cannot be reached and this misuse of the test continues, we the parents of SPS will likely advocate for the elimination of MAP altogether.

Thank you in advance for your consideration of my thoughts and concerns. I look forward to your reply.

p.s. As a journalist, I also appreciated your comments about the L.A. Times' teacher rankings ( and share your sentiments (My (unanswered) letter to the L.A. Times about its teacher-ranking witch hunt: “Have you no decency?” — Also: New Univ. of Colorado report says the Times’ research was seriously flawed).

Seattle Public Schools parent
Co-editor, Seattle Education 2010
Founding member, Parents Across America
Education blogger, the Huffington Post
suep. said…
@Gomamago -- Your comments about the inappropriateness of MAP for K-2 are spot on. In fact, even the MAP administrators for SPS said the same thing about the limitations of the test for such young kids. A group of parents, including myself, met with Brad Bernatek and Jessica DeBarros in early 2010 to discuss MAP. They told us that because of these challenges that younger children face (limited reading and computer skills), the test is unreliable for these ages, and consequently some districts don't use MAP for K-2.

They also told us that advanced learners tend to hit the ceiling on the MAP, making the test of limited use for them too.

(Here's an exchange between NWEA and Bob Vaughan in which NWEA discusses the limitations of MAP for identifying and testing gifted students:

Add to that the obvious limited usefulness of the test for English Language Learners, and the MAP's margin of error problem for high schoolers (which SPS revealed to some Garfield teachers), and last year's recalibration fiasco in which NWEA changed SPS student MAP scores retroactively for the past three years, and it leaves one asking, Well what exactly is the MAP good or reliable for?

mom of could-be-APP said…
I can speak directly to the question of how is MAP not useful at identifying kids for APP: My second grade child had gotten 99-percentile on all of her MAP tests. The year she was in kindergarten, her test scores were not released until well after the application deadline for testing into APP. That's precisely the kind of kid who is supposed to be identified by MAP for the child to test for APP, and yet the system failed.

Could this have been a problem caused by the school? Very possible (I don't know if other families from other schools got their MAP scores late in fall 2010). My point, however, is that if highly gifted kids were supposed to be identified the old-fashioned way (by teacher observation and assessment), rather than trusting that the big computer that generates MAP scores will appropriately flag all the right kids, then fewer kids will fall through the cracks.

as it is, my family's experience is a perfect counter example to the claim that MAP helps identify gifted kids.
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