Garfield High School has a legacy of paving the way for change in Seattle Public Schools. Last year, over 500 students walked out of school to protest funding cuts to education.
This year, teachers are protesting the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) test by refusing to administer it.
I agree with them.
Tests have their place in the classroom. They, along with other assessments, can help teachers measure their students’ progress and help them become more effective teachers.
However, the MAP test isn’t effective. The MAP doesn’t test on what students are learning in the classroom and teachers don’t know what’s on the test, so it can’t accurately measure progress.
The Northwest Evaluation Association, the group that created the MAP test, admits that at the high school level, problems can become “particularly profound.”
Furthermore, students have no incentive to take the test seriously. There’s no state-wide graduation requirement for passing the MAP. While Superintendent Banda relies on an “intrinsic motivation” to make sure the test’s results are accurate, that philosophy doesn’t seem to extend to students themselves.
The test wastes valuable class time, pulling 805 students out of class for 320 minutes each, according to statistics compiled by Garfield teachers. It also wastes $480,000 every year, money that could be put to far better use in the classroom for textbooks, lab supplies, and general class materials.
The MAP test monopolizes the entire library for testing days. Students aren’t allowed in the area, which includes two computer labs and study space where students meet for clubs, print homework, and do research.
Superintendent Banda has said he will penalize teachers who don’t administer the test by February 22nd with a 10-day unpaid suspension. However, while teachers may be forced to give the MAP, students don’t have to take it.
The MAP test is flawed. Students — and their parents — need to join in the boycott of the test if any real change is to be achieved. Not taking the test won’t affect students in the long run, but it will prove to the district that the MAP needs to go.
It’s time for us to take charge of our education. Don’t take the test.
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