At 4:00 p.m. today, Garfield High School teachers and others who support teachers' boycott of the Measure of Academic Progress (MAP) exams are hosting a rally at the John Standford Center (2445 3rd Ave S) to continue their public campaign to get MAP testing removed from the Seattle School District.
The biggest question in my mind is, will parents show up? Following nearly two weeks of boycotts, just how much do parents know about the MAP exams and teachers' objections? Because in a fight against the district, well-informed, pissed-off parents could be a boycott's greatest ally. Kick-ass education blogger Melissa Westbrook touched on the issue of parental participation at a press conference on Monday, when she asked the president of Garfield High School's black student union, who was stating his objections to the MAP tests, if he believed students should write letters to their parents explaining their opposition. He looked stunned and responded something to the effect of, "That's a good idea. We should do that."
Yes, they should! Because parents from at least one public school, Salmon Bay K-8, are getting mind-fuckingly awful mixed messages about the boycott. One mother from Salmon K-8 sent me this anecdote:
I received an email from the school stating why the school supported MAP testing, and that if we wanted our 1st-5th grade student to opt out we would have to write a letter stating our opt out. The same week I received an email from my son's teacher saying they were not going to be giving the MAP test and that if we wanted to opt in we must write a letter stating so. Fast forward one week, and my son brought home two letters, one from the school and one from the teacher. Both apologized for the conflicting info and the possible confusion it may have created, and then both went on to say EXACTLY THE SAME THING as the first round of emails. I've always thought that standardized testing was heavily biased based on circumstance and opportunity so I am all for opting out. But these guys need to get on the same page even if it's opposing sides of it.
Parents could be teachers' greatest ally in getting MAP testing killed, but first these boycotting teachers and their allies need to focus their ground-game on getting parents up to speed.
The 45-minute, computer-based MAP exams are currently administered to all students in the district (except those whose parents opt out) twice and sometimes three times a year. Garfield teachers launched a boycott of the tests on January 10. They argue that the tests are a stupid gauge of academic progress as the margin of error on the tests is often greater than the recorded progress, that they eat away valuable classroom learning time, and that the tests are being unfairly—and improperly—used to evaluate teachers. Teachers at several other schools have joined the boycott since then, while faculty at other schools have taken a slightly more toothless approach: voting to stand in support and solidarity with the boycotters (but nevertheless not committing to not administer the tests).
I've reached out to the school district for comment but they've not yet returned my calls.