Superintendent's Press Conference on MAP

 Update:  I reviewed my notes and realized, based on questions about opting out, that I had missed one answer.

I had asked the Superintendent about what would happen to the teachers who boycotted MAP and what would they do with students who opt out (given, for example, that word is that at least 50 Orca students had opted out).

He deflected the teacher question with the "working on solutions" answer but with the students just said that students are able to opt out.  He would not say what any given school would be doing. 

Clearly, he does not want students to opt out or for parents to know they can.  The district probably has given directives to principals in how to handle opt-outs but my experience is that teachers and principals tend to be a little more pragmatic and don't make it in a big deal. 

End of update.

It was interesting to be sure.  The Superintendent was accompanied by Michael Tolley, Interim Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning and Eric Anderson, head of Assessments.  The room was packed with reporters, several of which were student reporters from Hale and Garfield.

Unless otherwise noted, these are Superintendent Banda's answers and not all the questions were mine.

Q- If teachers boycott MAP, what about those suspensions?
A.  He said "We have to focus on solutions but let them (teachers) know potential consequences."

Now what was confusing here is that Communications staff had just passed out the two statements - on to the teachers from HR on outcomes and one about the Assessment Taskforce - and yet the Superintendent seemed reluctant to admit that the district had taken a stand.

Q. Is MAP a flawed exam?
A. It's not perfect, I know that.

Q.  I asked about why the letter to the teacher referenced state law:
A. State law requires that teachers implement a course of study in accordance with District directives.  Administering the MAP to students of tested subjects is a District directive.

(You'll note they don't give the specific RCW and when I asked Jonathan Knapp, head of SEA, he just waved it off.  I have no idea, legally, what is the correct answer.

What I do know is that the State Auditor had had serious issues with how the MAP contract got signed and I pointed out to the Superintendent that it seemed wrong for the District to say there were legal issues and yet ignore legal issues from the other side.)

The Superintendent just kind of shrugged that one off and said he didn't think the State Auditor had said that.

Q.  What about the MAP contact, renewal and costs?
A.  This was a funny one because they all looked at each other before answering.  Mr. Tolley said it was a year-to-year contract and it costs $480,000 per year.

Q. What could replace MAP?
A.  Mr. Tolley said they needed to do the review of the assessment system and think about what will work with the new Common Core standards that are coming in.

Q.  Could this stand-off between teachers and the district hurt the upcoming contract talks?
A.  "I would hope it would not."

Q.  Is there utility for MAP in middle schools?
A.  Not a lot and generally it is more effective for K-5 or K-8 than secondary schools.

Q.  Why do you think MAP was brought in?
A.  (Banda noted he was not here when it was.)  Our district wasn't using data and we didn't have systems in place and it was a push to get something in place.  (This is very interesting because MGJ complained about lack of "systems" in SPS and certainly it was her push to get MAP.)

Q.  Do you think this public disagreement will influence the vote for the levies?
A.  "I don't know that it will and I hope it wouldn't."

Q.  The question again came up about the usefulness of MAP at the secondary level.
A.  Mr. Tolley stated that they have an MSP and MAP scores at the end of 8th grade and if they didn't have MAP in 9th, then the students wouldn't be assessed again until the end of their sophomore year.

Q.  I followed up and said that made sense except that there was clearly a disconnnect in high school.  Students everywhere do not take it seriously and do not make a real effort.  That is clear.  I asked what Mr. Tolley thought was not happening in schools that there was this disconnect.

A.  Mr. Tolley said students have to take ownership of their learning and they like seeing their RTT scores.  He said he could not say what was being said to students at each high school but there is that power of motivation.  (I think that might work for younger kids but not as much at the high school level with many more distractions.)

There was a follow-up from one person who said her child had never been told about any goals for herself for MAP by her teacher.

A.  Mr. Tolley said again that he didn't know what was being said out in the schools (and I would have thought Mr. Anderson would have chimed in here but didn't) but that yes, that should be part of the conversation between teachers and students.

Q.  What about the charge that MAP does not align with curriculum and that students feel discouraged when they see questions either not about the subject matter or about subject matter they have not been taught?
 A.  Mr. Tolley said MAP is to challenge the level of performance and by being "computer adaptive", the computer, based on their answers, challenges them higher based on their previous answers.  He said it wasn't necessarily going to cover everything they learn at school but many kids learn out of school and they want to know WHAT they know (not where they learned it).

I found this one confusing because it's one thing to get more challenging questions, it's another to get questions where you don't know what the heck is being asked.  And, for students, it's very discouraging.

Q. What about the recalibration of scores?
A.  Mr. Anderson said that MAP has grown since the district had started using it and this is part of "cycle metrics" and not anything unusual.  He said the "sample of students had changed, not the norms."

Q.   Mr. Tolley was asked about getting feedback from high school students.
A.  We have not sought that out.

Q.  A student reporter asked if students could be involved on the Taskforce.
A.  The Taskforce is to be comprised of educators and administrators but that they would seek input from parents and students.

Q.  What is the final date for MAP testing?
A.  February 22nd

Q.  What about the issue of downtime for libraries because of MAP testing?
A.  It is a computer test and many schools have computers in the library.

Q.  What about how often it is given?
A.  It initially was 3X a year and now there is the open for just 2X.  For fall this year, 64% of elementaries took it, 13% of high schools and 37% of middle schools.  (These figures are general and not specific; they couldn't remember the exact numbers.)

Q.  What about issues for kindergarteners?
A.  It's part of the discussion.   Mr. Anderson said that they do know that kindergartners need more prep before they take the test because many of never used a computer before.  He also said Common Core tests will be computer adaptive.

Q.  What about using MAP as a gatekeeper for Advanced Learning?
A.  We believe we have found many more students eligible for Advanced Learning via MAP.  (I pointed out you can't get into AL without having taken the MAP and I was told by someone else recently that you can get into AL with an high MAP score and not take another test.  Anyone?)

It was also stated that the review of assessments WOULD include testing for Advanced Learning.

Q. What about teachers and resources to help them use MAP?
A.  It was admitted by Mr. Tolley that they have had a loss of resources and being able to help teachers as much now as they did when it started.

Mr. Banda was cool as a cucumber and said repeatedly that he wanted to find solutions.  I do not think he is gunning for a fight (and I know MGJ would have).

They didn't seem entirely prepared for a press conference on MAP as they stumbled for some data.  I don't know if this wasn't adequate prep or they just didn't want to give specifics.

My vibe is that no one is in love with MAP.  What they want is data on student performance - good, accurate data.  I'm thinking MAP may be on its way out if this is the level of enthusiasm from the district.  Yes, it might costs new money for a new system but if what we have isn't working - for anyone in big numbers - then yes, scrap it and find something that does work.


mirmac1 said…
"What I do know is that the State Auditor had had serious issues with how the MAP contract got signed and I pointed out to the Superintendent that it seemed wrong for the District to say there were legal issues and yet ignore legal issues from the other side.)

The Superintendent just kind of shrugged that one off and said he didn't think the State Auditor had said that."

Well, this is just another doody pile for Banda. He does not know the whole history, and what he knows he got from the Lesley Rogers, Marni Campbell, Phil Brockman set "oh no, everything was totally aboveboard!"

This is what the SAO didn't like, and the district papered the file for their illegal procurement.

Sorry, won't do it again...

SeattleSped said…
We got the same blank stare when we asked whether special education students scores are tossed, as has been reported. Now how the heck would our Director of Sped not know that? Obviously MAP doesn't mean much to that department...
Jon said…
Sounds surprisingly reasonable. Past experience with the district keeps me suspicious but, if they said they know MAP is flawed and will evaluate what could replace over the next few months, that's surprisingly reasonable. Assuming they actually do that, guess we'll see.
Mark Ahlness said…
So discouraging. I hope MAP supporters are happy, knowing that this means every single kindergarten student in Seattle will still have to sit in front of a computer for 8 more hours taking the MAP this year before SPS finally comes to its senses and dumps it. Ugh.
Anonymous said…
Here's my understanding of the norms, and why reported percentiles changed:

The norms are redone every three years and new percentile conversions are calculated based on the sample of students taking the test. The meaning of the RIT score should remain constant, even though the percentile ranks fluctuate. Say more high performing students took the MAP. The RIT score that corresponded to a 99% in the 2008 norms may now only correspond to a 95% in the 2011 norms.

After the 2011 norms were released, SPS reported all percentiles with the newer norms, even those tests taken prior to the new norms. This made some reported percentiles go down, but kept it from looking like a child's performance went down, when it was their rank that had changed.

The issue that applies to 9th graders, that the test error can be greater than expected growth, applies to any student that is nearing the ceiling of the test. For middle school students working well above grade level, the same issue occurs. It's adaptive, but not limitless.

not a MAP fan
Anonymous said…
Melissa asked: "I pointed out you can't get into AL without having taken the MAP and I was told by someone else recently that you can get into AL with an high MAP score and not take another test. Anyone?)"

From what I understand, you can get into "ALO" based on MAP alone. Meeting the needs of all kids (as ALO is supposed to do) should be the norm at all schools and it is confusing that it is considered "AL." I certainly do not know what happens everywhere in the district, but my understanding is that kids without high enough MAP scores will not be scheduled for a Cogat test (Spectrum or APP) under any circumstances. Kid didn't sleep/sick, etc? Too bad.

Also remember that the MAP scores are currently being used as the sole entrance tool used for getting into Alg 1 for 6th graders. I know that the APP-AC has heard complaints about this because there are kids moving into Alg 1 from 5th grade EDM based SOLELY on MAP. Surprisingly, skipping three years of math based on a NON ALGEBRA readiness test ain't going so well. The AL office will not entertain any appeals to this policy by either teachers or parents. So, among all of its other talents, the MAP is also the perfect indicator of 6th graders ready for Alg 1.

-get rid of MAP
Anonymous said…
The entrance requirements for AL are listed pretty specifically on the AL website. If a kid is eligible for Spectrum or APP, they can be served in "ALO" program. Both Spectrum and APP eligibility (and thus, ALO) require BOTH MAP and Cogat. If MAP scores are too low for Cogat, you can appeal with private achievement tests.

Unless they are making exceptions to their published requirements on the sly, no, nobody is getting into AL with just MAP. I do agree that it is confusing that ALO is considered advanced learning because all ALO claims to do is differentiate, which is the goal for ALL students at an ALO school.

One exception is that K students DON'T need MAP scores this year to get into Spectrum. 90% on the Cogat will do it.

--ALO mom
Anonymous said…
Melissa, I'm curious where it says you can't get into AL without a MAP score...

According to the AL website, they do use MAP scores as a first cut to determine who gets CogAT testing, with the pair of tests use for meeting the cognitive, reading and math criteria. However, it also says that if a student does not have the required MAP test (e.g., Spring 2012) they do the CogAT first, then will follow up with the Woodcock-Johnson or ITBS. I can't find anywhere that says you cannot apply or gain entrance if you are an SPS student without the proper MAP scores... Am I missing something? Or is it ambiguous???

Mark Ahlness said…
Getting tired of hearing about the justification for MAP being AL placement. That was clearly not the intent when MAP was implemented - but it came in real handy for the AL program, which has a shockingly tiny budget. Are there better tools to accurately evaluate SPS kids for AL programs? Absolutely. Does SPS have the budget/manpower to use those tools? Absolutely not.

Convenience for an underfunded AL program is not an ethical justification for continued use of the MAP test.
Anonymous said…
Regarding MAP entrance for APP, my daughter was district identified to apply based on her spring 1 st grade MAP percentiles of 99%. She then took the cogat and scored high. We were then told that her Fall 2nd grade scores were needed to qualify. They were 78% and 85%, which according to the letter we received, not acceptable for advanced learning placement. The whole process sucked! And how could my high achieving daughter present with such lower MAP scores without it being a problem with the test?

-parent who now opts out
Anonymous said…
That sounds fishy, parent...was that this year?

HIMS, I'll check but I believe that if your child has been in SPS, they have to have a MAP score to take the COGAT. If they came from out of district or from a private school, then they probably don't have to have a MAP score.
Anonymous said…
I'm really scratching my head on this whole thing.

Aside from the fact that the test sucks at what is supposed to do, aside from the fact that the VAM liars pushing these tests are just liars, what is the end game?

SB 5895 was approved by Democrats last March, Democrats who were NOT punished for the betrayal. That piece of Gate$ Garbage pushed by VAM liars ties school and educator evaluations to VAM lies.

We get rid of the MAP and ... get WRAP? FRAPPE? CRAPPE?

WEA NEA SEA 'leaders' have done a GREAT job of jumping in front of the parade, banging on pots and pans and waving petitions and grabbing cameras and hogging microphones -

WHAT is the end game? For Seattle teachers, the end game will be another 150 page contract dumped in our laps at the last minute on the last Wed. of August, with a vote on Thursday whether we screw up the beginning of the school year over arcane contract clauses no one has had time to analyse, debate the meaning of, and advocate for or against.

Watching said…

Garfield makes the Wall Street Journal!
Watching said…

Seattle Community College supports Garfield. Is anyone keeping track?
Eric M said…
There is a new website keeping track of all the news, press releases, events, statements, etc

A Roosevelt teacher went to DeBell's meeting on Saturday and read the Roosevelt statement.
Jan said…
"Mr. Tolley said MAP is to challenge the level of performance and by being "computer adaptive", the computer, based on their answers, challenges them higher based on their previous answers. He said it wasn't necessarily going to cover everything they learn at school but many kids learn out of school and they want to know WHAT they know (not where they learned it)."

I too found this discouraging. I also think it totally undercuts the idea of using the test (which he is conceding tests stuff that kids haven't been expected to learn in class) to evaluate teachers. It is great that kids learn things outside of school. It is not great that teachers' pay and retention is based, in part, on whether they are lucky enough to land, in their classes, those who have acquired out-of-school knowledge, versus those who didn't. And, if you have a kid in class who learned a bunch of above grade level stuff "out of school" -- and who then fails to show tons of progress on those precise points of knowledge (because some of the material is, for them, a repeat) -- the teacher is dinged?

The use of this test for AL is deeply flawed and should be abandoned (except perhaps as a "preliminary screening device" to identify ADDITIONAL kids who might benefit from further testing with COGAT and Woodcock.

The use of this test to evaluaate teachers is deeply flawed and should be abandoned. When the test error variability exceeds the expected growth, the test tells you little or nothing. It tells you even less about teaching when it tests on, or for, skills that are not part of the aligned curriculum. Not only is it wrong and unfair to teachers to subject them to such arbitrary and flawed assessment, it also (IF you believe in assessing teacher performances based on tests -- which I dont) wrongs the kids by failing to actually assess which teachers ARE performing well enough that a valid test would validate their performance. So even if you LOVE the (stupid) idea of basing teacher retention on test scores, wouldn't you want a test that validly does that (and the MAP does not)? Why aren't the test-happy folks screaming bloody murder about this as well?

Jan said…
MAP is invalid as a way to measure teacher performance.

MAP is invalid as a way to accurately assess giftedness (though it could be used in conjunction with other indicia as a gateway assessment).

MAP does not accurately reflect whether teachers have taught, or students have learned, the districts curricula, because it does not align with it -- and different kids get different questions in any case, based on which questions they answer accurately.

The one thing that the test might be useful for (to inform teachers about specific student skill levels in specific areas) is rendered impossible by the fact that it is only given 2 times per year -- and one of those is in the spring, when time runs out for teachers to change their method or content (at least for that group of kids).

I keep coming back to the idea that the ONLY reasons we have MAP -- the ONLY reasons -- are
(1) that MGJ liked the idea of "sticking in some data generating test" -- regardless of whether it generated anything useful -- so she could start using it against teachers, AND
(2) she sat on the board of the company that makes the MAP -- so she threw the contract their way, and then was done with it!

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