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April 29, 2013 at 6:47 PM

More Seattle schools join MAP protest

Teachers at two more Seattle schools have joined the boycott of the exams known as the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP),  a protest that started this winter at Garfield High and resumed last week with the beginning of the spring testing period.

At a news conference Monday afternoon, the protesting teachers announced that some of their colleagues at Ingraham High and Thornton Creek Elementary also will be boycotting the MAP this spring.  At Thornton Creek, all the teachers are participating in the boycott.  At Ingraham, the exact number was unclear Monday, but representatives from that school said it would include at least all of the school’s language arts teachers.

In the winter testing period, nearly all the teaching staff at Garfield refused to give the exams, and so did a majority of the staff at Sealth High and ORCA K-8.  Half the teachers at Ballard High and many at Center School also joined the winter protest, but only after those schools’ ninth-graders had finished or had nearly finished taking the exams.

Many other teachers, although they haven’t joined the boycott per se, have sent letters of support.  The protest also has gained support across the nation, and the world.

Jesse Hagopian, one of the protesting teachers at Garfield, also said that Franklin High teachers will boycott next year if the district renews the contract with the organization that produces the MAP.

“This test hasn’t changed,” Hagopian said. “This is the same flawed test.”

Teachers who refused to give the tests this winter were told they could face discipline, but thus far no teacher has been punished.  For the winter tests, Superintendent José Banda said that was because none of the protesting teachers were responsible for giving the MAP.   In many cases, that’s because administrators or parents were found to proctor the tests for them or they taught subjects that aren’t covered by MAP exams.

Students and parents joined the protest as well, by using their right to opt students out of taking the test.  In the winter period, the district reported that nearly 600 students who were supposed to take the MAP exams did not do so.  At the news conference, teachers said they expected at least that many this spring, based on what they are hearing from parents.

“We have to get the MAP test behind us, and find a test that everybody can get behind,” said Phil Sherburne, president of Garfield’s PTSA.

The protesting teachers would like the district to stop using the MAP exams, which the district started giving about five years ago as a way to monitor student progress more frequently than the state tests allow.  Students from kindergarten through grade nine have been taking the MAP reading and math exams two to three times a year, along with state tests that students also take each spring.  The protesting teachers say they value assessments, but want exams that they feel are useful to students, parents and teachers, which they say the MAP is not.

In the wake of the protest,  Banda appointed a task force of teachers, principals, parents and other community members to recommend whether the district should continue to give the MAP next year. That task force is scheduled to meet for its final time on Thursday.  The district also scaled back the number of ninth-graders who must take the tests.

Comments | More in Education | Topics: Garfield High, Measures of Academic Progress, Seattle Public Schools


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