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Seattle Teachers Launch Boycott of Standardized Test, Reviving Debate Over Its Efficacy

Teachers at two Seattle Washington High Schools last week refused to administer the standardized, district-required Measure of Academic Progress, or MAP test, claiming that it is unfair to students and a waste of “dwindling school resources.”

Spurred by the district’s decision to use the exam as a way to evaluate instructors, the boycott began as teachers from both schools railed against the test’s rampant methodological failings with a petition on change.org. The Northwest Evaluation Association which is MAP’s parent company is aware of the issues and has warned against using the test to design evaluation policies. According to the company, problems with statistical evaluation become “particularly profound at the high school level.”

As state analyses reveal, the Washington high school curriculum does not always align with content on the MAP test. Teachers are barred from seeing what will be on the test, leaving students inadequately prepared. Adding to the controversy is the fact that the test was introduced by a school superintendent who is also a board member of the MAP test’s parent company.

The test is administered three times a year in school districts across the country, reducing class time for each student by more than five hours. As the test is administered online, computer labs become clogged for weeks with testing, using so much bandwidth that the labs have to limit usage precluding any other academic endeavors.

As standardized testing becomes more prevalent around the US, teachers have been subject to more scrutiny based on their student’s test scores. One of the main points of contention among the teachers who went on strike in Chicago this past September was over standardized scores being used to evaluate teacher performance. The last known instance of teachers boycotting a standardized test was in Chicago over a decade ago when twelve teachers managed to put an end to a district-mandated test.

GUESTS: Monty Neill, Executive Director of the National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest), and Isabel Nuñez, Associate Professor at the Center for Policy Studies and Social Justice at Concordia University Chicago

Visit createchicago.blogspot.com, and www.fairtest.org for more information.

Click here to sign the Seattle teachers’ petition.