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January 27, 2013


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Some of my friends are those teachers boycotting the MAP.

I'm glad you wrote the post on this issue, because it was a little close to home for me.

I support them and their decision because I know that in my district, you have to make a lot of noise to get the central office to hear you. I admire that Garfield was unanimous, that they are united in this decision.

My staff had a conversation about what we were going to do, but before we voted we agreed that we would not boycott unless we were unanimous. We weren't. We had too many questions about how MAP scores were used, what would happen to students on testing day if the teacher boycotted, and whether it would limit a child's opportunities for advanced classes if he didn't have a MAP score.

Would I be happy if my daughters had a sub for ten days? No. Would I be supportive of their teachers? Yes.

It's a complicated issue.

The MAP test is useless to me as a secondary teacher, and it's useless to me as a parent. My daughters get a certain score, then months later that score changes as the testing company finds the mean, or whatever they do. I've walked behind my students and seen the most ridiculous questions - it's not at all an assessment that measures what I teach. It's not even an assessment that measures what is on our state or common core standards.

I think the Garfield teachers have forced the district to reconsider whether or not this assessment is worth the time, resources, and money. I think the district will realize it's not, and for that I'm really grateful they've chosen to hold the hill at all costs.

The Seattle Substitute Association has also voted in favor of a MAP boycott.

Points well taken. I don't disagree with anything the teachers say against the MAP; it's clearly not best practice. I just don't see this issue as rising to the level of something worth a boycott.

Remember, two weeks unpaid suspension means two weeks with a sub.

I'm going to agree with Mark in that I don't think the administration has "clearly listened" on this issue. Threatening a two week unpaid suspension does not sound like listening to me. That so many teachers from different schools all around Seattle are willing to take this stand indicates to me the seriousness of this issue. Not only is the MAP test not well aligned to standards or curriculum, which makes it a very poor use of instructional time, but it also costs the district money to proctor and administer it. Computer labs are unavailable for classroom activities during all this testing time. The MAP test is also used for teacher evaluation in a very questionable manner. All these resources currently used for the MAP could be better spent for activities that would actually improve teaching and learning, and these teachers are willing to stand up and say so.

So yes, these teachers have chosen this "hill" to stand on. If I taught in Seattle, I would go stand up there on that hill with them.

Would I take a $3000 pay cut for this? No. I'm doing my taxes right now and that number is too close to what I ended up taking home last year.

However, whether the district is getting the teachers' point as you hope... I don't know. What I do know is this: when student growth is part of our evaluation under the new law, part of how we are evaluated is based on the quality of the assessments we choose for gathering that data about our students and how convincingly that data illustrates meaningful growth toward a goal or standard. Even including MAP testing in that conversation seems like it might be a waste of time. I use an assessment similar to MAP that kicks out a lexile score for kids--I've used that to track data for years--but it doesn't show growth toward a standard, and it doesn't inform my choices about student learning other than helping me identify students who struggle, which, of course, is something I could already see from my more authentic classroom based assessments.

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