The superintendent of Seattle Schools says he wants to work through issues teachers have with a performance test students are required to take at least twice a year. At the same time, he expects teachers to administer the test by the end of February.
School officials sent a letter Wednesday asking principals to inform all their teachers by day’s end that they will be disciplined if they refuse to give district-required Measures of Academic Progress (MAP).
Students spend about 45 minutes completing each test for reading and math. They do this at least twice, possibly three times a school year.
The online test adapts to the student’s responses. Answer a question correctly and the test presents a more challenging question. Miss a question, the next question will be easier.
MAP does not count toward students’ grades. They don’t need to pass it in order to move to the next grade level, or graduate.
For some kids, it’s nothing more than computer mouse practice.
“Students are motivated by a variety of things. If they feel like something is not useful to them, they tend not to engage,” says Jonathan Knapp, President of the Seattle Education Association.
While the test doesn’t mean much for students, the district uses it as part of the teacher evaluation process.
“Low growth triggers additional evaluation of the teacher,” says Teresa Whipple with Seattle Public Schools. Higher scores lead to “career ladder opportunities.”
Teachers rallied at district headquarters late Wednesday. Educators at Garfield High School, and a few others in the district, refuse to give the test.
Superintendent Jose Banda has formed a task force to find solutions to their concerns about MAP.
The task force will be formed immediately and meet at least twice a month from February through May. Final recommendations will go to the superintendent in May.
“But in the meantime, I am asking as your Superintendent that teachers follow our policies and procedures and administer this assessment for our students,” he says. “This is especially important for our students who are the most at-risk academically. I am hopeful we will continue to work together in support of our students.”
He expects principals to make sure their teachers administer the test this year. In the past teachers who have refused to give tests have been suspended for 10 days without pay.
By LINDA THOMAS