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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

March 7, 2013 at 4:00 PM

MAP boycott aims to remove test scores from teacher evaluations

Stop blaming teachers

Garfield High teachers hold a "day of action" rally to protest MAP testing outside the school. James Bible, center, President of Seattle, King County NAACP spoke out against the test, saying "Tabel the MAP test now!" (GREG GILBERT/THE SEATTLE TIMES)

Garfield High teachers hold a “day of action” rally to protest MAP testing outside the school. James Bible, center, President of Seattle, King County NAACP spoke out against the test, saying “Table the MAP test now!” (GREG GILBERT/THE SEATTLE TIMES)

The next time Michelle Rhee has an opinion about an issue in Seattle schools she should do her homework [“MAP boycott is about keeping test scores out of teacher evaluations,” Opinion, March 6].

Teachers in Seattle agree that student assessments can be useful. Boycott leaders were very clear — they don’t like the MAP because it doesn’t give them meaningful feedback to guide student learning. They are concerned about how giving it affects other kids by locking up the library and computer labs. A nonideological review of a news clip or scan of a story would show that these educators don’t oppose accountability and they are very concerned about their students.

Parents, teachers and administrators working together to improve student learning is what the boycotting teachers want. For years, district officials ignored their repeated requests to meet and discuss their MAP concerns. It took the boycott to generate enough attention for new Superintendent José Banda to finally convene an assessment task force. Conversations are now under way between teachers, parents and administrators to identify the qualities of useful assessment.

Though teachers in the classroom don’t see eye-to-eye with Rhee on most points, we do agree on one. We would like a constructive dialogue on how to improve education. Let’s start with this: Stop blaming teachers.

–Jonathan Knapp, president, Seattle Education Association

Measure teachers another way

I was dismayed to see yet another attack on education by Michelle Rhee.

I am a retired teacher and former test-taking student from the 20th century, so I have no “dog in this fight.” Rhee set up her own well-funded, anti-union “nonprofit,” so I suggest anyone tempted to believe her rant check her financial sources.

As a teacher, I evaluated my students and tweaked my lesson plan every 55 minutes. I was amused by teachers who obeyed orders from higher up to trade in textbooks that worked for the latest gimmick some “education corporation” had sold to a school board.

Standardized tests come from corporations seeking the same results: profits for the company; better or worse outcome for kids, depending on your criteria.

Evaluating students, teachers, schools and districts is a messy, subjective business. I still don’t know if I was a “great” or “low-performing” teacher compared with the other members of my department; I’m just glad some genius didn’t sell my bosses a test and a computer program to “measure” us before I retired.

Want to measure your kids’ teachers? Visit their classrooms, talk to their teachers and then decide for yourself what to do next.

–Jon Shaughnessy, Bellingham

Comments | More in Education, Seattle, Teachers | Topics: MAP test, Michelle Rhee, teachers

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