The best lesson

10 Feb

Teachers at several schools around Seattle have refused to administer the MAP (Measure of Academic Progress) test in the past few weeks.

The boycott initially began in December, with a few teachers at Garfield High stating that they would not administer the MAP test to their students, for a number of reasons. Two of the biggest reasons – it interferes with student learning and doesn’t give teachers any valuable information about their students. You can read a full petition presented by the Garfield teachers here, at change.org.

The administration has reacted cautiously, especially as teachers from many other schools have joined the boycott. Community support is varied, if one is to believe the comments on online news articles. (Which, to be honest, I usually skip. Too many people think they can hide behind their computers and spew hateful comments.)

But what’s the big deal? Why won’t teachers just sit down and administer this one test?

Because it’s not just this one test. The MAP is one test in a long list of tests that Seattle students must take over the course of the year. Regardless of what information is gleaned from these test scores, the more time students spend in testing, the less time they spend actually learning. The MAP test is conducted on the computer, which takes computer lab time from other students who could be learning things about technology, programming, etc… or even just the simple typing skills that everyone needs today. Many students don’t have access to computers other than at school.

Whether or not you agree with a boycott of the MAP test, it is exciting to see teachers coming together to try to improve the education system that they work in. PTSAs and parents and students are all supporting these teachers. Parents are writing letters to exempt their students from testing. Students are refusing to take the test, and voicing their support of the boycott.

This sentiment against mandatory, unnecessary testing is not unique to Seattle. Chicago teachers were told that the MAP was going to be used as part of their student-achievement based evaluation process. In case you forgot, that didn’t go so well, for any party involved. (Though the testing was just one thing on a list of teacher grievances that led to that strike.)

Teaching is not easy, teaching is not a job for those who “can’t do” – it’s a job for those who do, every day. These teachers are showing their students that they can make a difference, that they can stand up for what they believe in, and that they can be heard.

That’s the best lesson any teacher could hope to teach.

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7 Responses to “The best lesson”

  1. ponderinged February 10, 2013 at 9:33 pm #

    Recently, I learned that Washington state has one of the highest levels of graduation tests in the country. Students in our state are required to take more standardized exams to prove proficiency to graduate than in most other states in the nation. Though I am not a fan of excessive testing and/or standardized testing, it does present an interesting question of are we ensuring that students who graduate in our state are prepared to move forward, or are we preventing them from moving forward by pushing excessive testing?

  2. vacadm75 February 10, 2013 at 9:51 pm #

    Living in such a test-happy time makes me a little sad. It makes me feel as though they don’t trust teachers to accurately assess their students. They don’t even trust their own tests, so they assign more tests. I understand that there is something amiss in our students’ academic achievement, but I don’t think it’s from a lack of assessment. It may be from a lack of meaningful assessment. Maybe they should find the right test, instead of just using the shotgun approach when it comes to gauging student learning.

    • teacherbecoming2013 February 12, 2013 at 11:24 am #

      I agree. More tests doesn’t necessarily mean better information. I think these teachers aren’t protesting this test, as much as they are protesting the fact that testing takes up so much of their instructional time, and the MAP is just another test that uses time which could be better used.

  3. teachingsparkle February 12, 2013 at 9:21 pm #

    I find these teachers who are refusing to administer the MAP test very inspiring. Testing is, in my opinion, only one way to assess students, so unless we are taking other formats to assess student thinking into consideration I don’t think it is fair to look at test scores as the evaluation method on what students are learning. We have had many discussions about why standardized testing isn’t the best way to assess children, and my beliefs about this issue begin to stand stronger everyday as we continue our journey to become certified in the next few months. Thank you for the stats by the way! I was unaware of the testing rates, or drop out rates for Washington State and that is good information to know.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Creating a Collective | ponderinged - March 8, 2013

    […] feeds, I read for information and ideas most often.  One blog I was most interested in was “The Best Lesson”.  This blog helped me gain more information into a key issue in Washington. I furthered the […]

  2. No more theory, put it into practice. | Teacher, Becoming. - March 15, 2013

    […] in Seattle who refused to administer the MAP test have been receiving national attention. I wrote a post about it, which prompted some interesting dialogue in the comments. Additionally, I have greatly enjoyed […]

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