Garfield High School teachers in revolt over MAP test

Jan 10, 2013

The staff of a prominent Seattle high school is in full revolt over a district-mandated standardized test. Teachers at Garfield High School say the Measure of Academic Progress, or MAP test, is nothing short of a waste of time. They say it’s not aligned with state standards, it sucks up classroom time and resources, and gives shaky results. So, they voted almost unanimously to refuse to administer the test.

“This emphasis on testing just for testing’s sake, with an inadequate and inaccurate instrument, has to stop,” said math teacher, Mario Shaunette.

The MAP tests are really just progress reports that don’t count toward students’ grades or graduation requirements. Student body president Obadiah Terry said his peers know that. So many students, already waist-deep in an alphabet soup of high-stakes test, just blow this one off.

“I’ve taken the WASL, I’ve taken HSPE, I’ve taken SAT, I’m on my way to college. This test means nothing,” Terry said.

That calls into question how reliable the results are. But the scores still do impact assessments of the teachers. The Garfield Associated Student Body voted to back the teachers’ action. The school’s principal didn’t return a phone call seeking comment.

The district responds

Seattle Public Schools released a written statement saying they expect teachers to administer all required tests. It did not say whether administrators would pursue disciplinary actions against the Garfield teachers, though the district did suspend a teacher in 2008 for refusing to give a state-required test. Every student from kindergarten through ninth grade and some older students are supposed to take the MAP test two-to-three times a year. The district said it's reviewing the effectiveness of the MAP tests.

Teachers also pointed out that Seattle Public Schools brought in the MAP test under the leadership of former superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson, who was sitting on the testing company’s board at the time. She was subsequently reprimanded by the state auditor for failing to disclose a potential conflict of interest.

Part of a movement?

Teachers and advocates say they believe it’s the first time nationwide an entire school has boycotted a required test. Teachers emphasized that they don’t oppose all testing – just this test – and resisted suggestions that they are part of a broader backlash against standardized testing. That hasn’t stopped some activists from praising the Garfield action as part of a wider testing revolt.