At last night's rally in support of Garfield teachers, there was a voice I hadn't heard so far during this debate: school librarians. They're furious that their libraries are taken over during testing, for weeks at a time, and that the precious tech resources the district has are devoted to testing instead of making sure the technology that students and teachers use in the classroom and the library is functional and up-to-date. Laurie Amster-Burton, who spoke on behalf of librarians, says she actually switched schools in part because of how invasive MAP testing had become in regard to library time and space. The district has told educators that it thanks them for their concern but it needs time to work out a solution, but Amster-Burton says that these problems have existed for years, and educators have been bringing them up with the district the whole time. She brought with her a letter to Superintendent Banda, signed by 35 Seattle school librarians, in support of the Garfield teachers and in opposition to the MAP test.

Full letter after the jump.

January 18, 2013

Dear Superintendent Banda and Members of the School Board,

Since MAP testing was imposed in Seattle Schools in 2009, Seattle school librarians have continually expressed concern about the loss of library resources for students. School libraries are a proven tool to improve student learning. With the onset of MAP testing, however, the libraries in many schools have been closed for weeks at a time while the space is devoted to testing. Librarians, whose role is to teach information skills and support reading instruction, have been required in many schools to spend weeks and weeks as testing clerks. In many schools the first time a student visits the library is not to check out a book or research a topic, but to take a test—a test that is not aligned to curriculum and covers material that they have not learned.

Scarce computer resources in schools are devoted to testing, and are unavailable for teaching and learning. Scarce technical support—the Department of Technology Services has been cut in recent years—is devoted to shoring up the MAP test, while student and teacher computers sit “Out of Order” for months because no one is available to fix them. These issues and many others were raised by librarians and teachers to district administrators over the years, but no major changes have been made.

On January 11 the teachers of Garfield High School announced that they will no longer administer the MAP test because of its negative impact on students. We, librarians in Seattle Public Schools, agree that MAP wastes resources in our schools without benefiting our students. We ask Seattle Public Schools to discontinue MAP and focus on assessments that truly support student learning and which are chosen in consultation with educators who work directly with students every day.

In response to Superintendent Banda’s email of January 14, we recommend suspending the MAP requirement until the promised review has been completed.

Signed by these Seattle Schools Librarians,

Laurie Amster-Burton, Seattle World School
Janet Woodward, Garfield High School
Jeff Treistman, Denny International Middle School
Winifred Unterschute, Library Assistant, Roosevelt High School
Nancy Howard, Van Asselt Elementary School
Amy Young, View Ridge Elementary School
Katie Hubert, Chief Sealth International High School
Kathy Egawa, Pathfinder K-8
Merilee Hudson, Thurgood Marshall Elementary School
Chris Gustafson, Whitman Middle School
Nancy Fisher-Allison, Schmitz Park Elementary School
Ginny Allemann, Thornton Creek School
Stephen McIntyre, Sacajawea Elementary School
Ruthanne Rankin, Viewlands and Greenwood Elementary Schools
Steve Kovnat, Coe Elementary School
Susan Jenkins, Pinehurst K-8
Pat Bliquez, Roxhill Elementary School
Elaine Harger, Washington Middle School
Steve Marsh, John Muir Elementary School
Craig Seasholes, Sanislo Elementary School
Kristine McLane, North Beach Elementary School
Betty Brennan, Ingraham High School
Linda Illman, Salmon Bay K-8
Ann Brooke, Jane Addams K-8
Carolyn Burns, Northgate Elementary School
Danae Powers, McGilvra Elementary School
Mary E. Bannister, Whittier Elementary School
Tom Brown, Laurelhurst Elementary
Suzanne Babayan, Franklin High School
Deborah Gallaher, Nathan Hale High School
Katharine Donnelly, B.F. Day Elementary School

School names are provided for identification purposes only. This letter represents the views of those who signed, not any school’s staff or all Seattle Public Schools librarians.

Added after January 18:
David Nelson, Aki Kurose Middle School
John Brockhaus, Orca K-8
Anne Aliverti, Bryant Elementary School
Anne Miller, Wedgwood Elementary School