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Monday, February 04, 2013

Ingraham PTSA Speaks on MAP

January 29, 2013


Dear Superintendent Banda,

The board of the Ingraham High School PTSA respectfully requests that the district suspend all MAP testing at the high school level, effective immediately.

Our PTSA represents the diverse community of parents, teachers, and students at Ingraham. We want our teachers to have the support they need to teach our students and effective tools to measure academic progress. An overwhelming majority of the teachers at our school have expressed a lack of confidence in the MAP as an appropriate assessment for our students. We trust the experience and judgment of our teachers, so we support them in their no--‐confidence stance regarding the MAP test.

We commend you for convening a Joint Task Force on Assessments and Measurements and are pleased to know that body will have recommendations in May. Given what we have heard from teachers about the MAP test, we strongly urge you to suspend its use until the work of the Task Force is complete and the district can demonstrate that the test is an effective use of resources. There are too few hours in the school year, and too few dollars in our budgets, to do otherwise.

Sincerely,


Keiki Kehoe

PTSA President


10 comments:

Po3 said...

I think that Banda's best move at this point is to opt out the 9th graders districtwide, but ask that K-8 testing be conducted.

It's a compromise that will end the standoff and no teachers will lose pay.

mirmac1 said...

Sounds reasonable Po3 (and I'll admit it's hard for me to say that).

I wish our school's PTSA would get out of its hole and THINK about what the heck MAP means, in the grand scheme of things....

Melissa Westbrook said...

Po3, good suggestion.

Anonymous said...

Next, they should do the same for MSP, HSPE, EOC... and the rest of them. These tests were made to create failures - and that is what they have done. They simply justify entitlements that already exist, and do nothing to help students nor anybody else.

-A Failure

Teacher Mom said...

I (as a teacher) find the MSP very valid and useful. It does not just let parents know where their child is at in regards to the state standards but hold teacher's accountable (as they should be) to teaching the core standards. The MAP is, on the other hand, an idiotic test. Why should k-8 teachers be punished by this horrid test if high-school teachers get to opt out? I think Banda's best move is to point out that the MSP is the only test we need at this point. I have no problem having my evaluation tied to it and using it to determine Spectrum testing.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Teacher Mom, thanks for that. Could you please let the Board know this? They need to hear from real teachers (not the union) about personal experience. What you said was echoed by the Garfield teachers who say the MSP is fine and they have no problem with it. (But apparently it will have to be adjusted when Common Core comes in.)

Anonymous said...

All together now!!!!! Supporting GHS all the way!

-MAPless in Seattle

dw (the original, someone else posted recently as dw) said...

Teacher Mom said: I (as a teacher) find the MSP very valid and useful. It does not just let parents know where their child is at in regards to the state standards but hold teacher's accountable (as they should be) to teaching the core standards. The MAP is, on the other hand, an idiotic test. Why should k-8 teachers be punished by this horrid test if high-school teachers get to opt out?

Sigh. Because in high school many (most in some schools) of the kids have already passed beyond the range where the scores are reasonably accurate. There are also problems with the youngest kids (K-2) using MAP, for completely different reasons. But in ~3rd-8th there is reasonably valid data that can be useful to both the district and teachers IF you pay attention to it and IF it's used judiciously. There are several caveats, but to dismiss the MAP as "idiotic" is just a knee-jerk reaction.

Lest you think I'm a test lover, I've already opted my kids out. This test is being misused by the district and many schools do not have adequate resources (taking the library offline for weeks at a time, for example). You should be very happy that there are teachers brave enough to stand up to this misuse, but to call the test itself idiotic is just, well, ignorant.

I think Banda's best move is to point out that the MSP is the only test we need at this point. I have no problem having my evaluation tied to it and using it to determine Spectrum testing.

It's dangerous to have your evaluation directly tied to ANY test. I can only assume that you are at a high achieving school or that you presume the district/state would be smart enough to use incremental MSP growth, rather than absolute levels, and to break down the growth using FRL levels (or similar metrics) down to the individual classrooms. There are many ways that using tests to grade teachers can be abused, and if I were you I would not trust the district/state to use the data "properly", at the very least not until you had the methodology spelled out in great detail and vetted by many people.

But worst of all, you suggest using MSP for Spectrum determination. This shows that you don't even understand the most basic aspects of these tests. The MSP, by design, does not include any material above grade level. It is an absolutely 100% inappropriate test to be used for anything related to advanced learning. Is this really not obvious?

MSP is also useless to help differentiate between kids who are operating one grade below level and those who are far below grade level, because the questions are all aimed precisely at the standards for a given grade. It's a fine test to determine one very narrow result, but that's all.

The MAP, on the other hand, even with its flaws, is by design a good instrument to find outliers, both on the high-achieving side and well as the low-achieving side. There is error to deal with, and it should really never be used by itself as the sole measurement of achievement for AL placement, but it's a good tool to help find kids that deserve a closer look that might otherwise not be found. Whether that's worth the cost(s) is another story, but it is useful data.

It's so sad when those who are teaching our kids don't understand the differences between these tests. Is it really a problem with the central office not explaining well enough? They've certainly tried.

-----------------

Here is a question for the audience at large: Is it unreasonable to expect teachers to understand the tests that they are giving to their students? I don't mean the answers to the individual questions, I mean the methodology/design, accuracy, and how to interpret results.

Maureen said...

dw, for teachers to all really understand the methodology behind all of the exams they have to give, plus how best to use the results, SPS needs to provide effective professional development. That takes money and also time away from other valuable professional development (anti bullying, common core standards, whatever). From what I understand, SPS has cut way back on (eliminated?) PD on the MAP. Not enough resources to do it well, what should we give up to make that happen?

dw said...

Maureen, that's a good question.

I guess my first thought is if they're spending such an inordinate amount of time already, both administering these tests and fighting them, that every teacher should at least have a basic level understanding of what a given test is supposed to measure. I don't think that takes a ton of PD, really, just a page or so of text/email. But they have to actually read it and digest, not pooh-pooh it and stick with their own misconceptions.

Of course it would be great if every teacher was able to get top-notch PD (and for that to happen, you're right, it becomes a matter of priorities), but there's no excuse for not understanding the basics.

One problem I've seen is that many teachers have such a knee-jerk reaction to ANY kind of standardized testing that they lose the ability to address the real issues, instead resorting to hyperbole and ignorant claims. Teacher Mom's comments lead one to believe that she doesn't even understand that the MSP is a grade-level test and the MAP is purposely designed to reach up and down across grade levels to find high achievers and kids who desperately need more help than they're going to get in a standard classroom. It's not that one is better than the other, they are just designed for very different purposes.

Teacher Mom probably never considered how ridiculous it would be to use the MSP for teacher evaluation in an APP classroom, for example. Because it's grade-specific, and the kids are all (in theory) working 2 grade levels ahead, the test will be a cake walk for the kids long before the teacher even learns their names, let alone teaches them anything. What kind of room does that leave for growth? None, really. I guess the teacher will be reprimanded for that. Similarly, using MSP for teacher evaluation in some special ed classes would be equally inappropriate.

I hope Teacher Mom is still reading this thread, and that this encourages her to do a little reading up on what these tests do and how they should be used. There are valid reasons to dislike either (or both) of these tests, but it requires thoughtfulness.