Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Stop taking MAP tests?

Lifting a good topic for discussion from the comments, Charlie Mas advocates for APP and Spectrum no longer taking standardized tests:
I have advocated test boycotts to the advanced learning community a few times before.

Seven years ago my threat of a WASL boycott by Spectrum students drove then-superintendent Raj Manhas to make six specific promises to the Spectrum community. The boycott was broken, but so were all of the promises.

About five years ago I proposed opting out of the WASL as a tactic for Spectrum and APP families to evade proposed re-qualification requirements. The District pushed back by threatening to exit any student who didn't test. It got ugly for a little while, but the District blinked first and the re-qualification requirement was dropped.

Two years ago I recommended a WASL boycott to APP families that would end only when the District fulfilled the promises they made when splitting the program. The APP Advisory Committee didn't want to take or endorse any direct action and the result has been that the District hasn't done anything to fulfill their promises to APP students and families.

Now we see the beginning of the end. One Spectrum program, Lawton, has been killed. Another, Wedgwood, is climbing the steps to the guillotine. There are dead programs littering the field already: North Beach and Wing Luke to name just two. APP has been cut in half and it doesn't take the Amazing Kreskin to figure out that the District is going to split it again. There will be two north-end elementary locations.

The time has come for the advanced learning community to step up and take some action to save itself. There is only one action that we can take: boycott the standardized tests. Opt your children out of the MSP and opt them out of the MAP. The kids should not intentionally fail the tests, they just shouldn't take the tests at all.

You are entirely within your rights to preclude the testing of your children. It does your child no harm. It does their teacher no harm. It does their school no harm. The only people who are hurt by it are the District administrators who get hit in their pride. These people live on test scores. It is all they care about. It is their currency.

And we control it.

It is time for us to exercise our power. It is time for us to demand that they fulfill their commitments.

Spectrum families at Lawton and Wedgwood should opt their children out of the MAP and the MSP to protest the changes in their programs to to compel the District to fulfill their commitments to the Lawton and Wedgwood communities.

All other Spectrum families should opt their children out of the MAP and MSP in solidarity with the Lawton and Wedgwood communities and to compel the District to fulfill their commitments to other Spectrum communities.

APP families should opt their children out of the MAP and MSP in solidarity with the Spectrum communities, to save their own program, and to compel the District to fulfill their commitments to the APP community.

ALO families should opt their children out of the MAP and MSP in solidarity with the Spectrum communities and to save their own programs and to compel the District to fulfill their commitments to ALO communities.

All families should opt their children out of the MAP and MSP in solidarity with the Spectrum communities and to compel the District to fulfill their commitments to all communities.

Stop taking the tests. This is your path to recognition and power.
Thoughts? What would APP parents and kids gain from a boycott? What would they risk?

Update: Charlie also started a thread on this over at the Save Seattle Schools blog.

2 comments :

Charlie Mas said...

Let me be clear about this.

The District has never kept their promises to the Advanced Learning community.

They make changes that damage our programs and balkanize our community. We raise our concerns. They promise to take steps to address our concerns and mitigate the damage of their decisions, and we end our opposition to their action. Then, after they have moved forward with the action they neglect to fulfill their promises.

Examples abound. The most recent ones revolve around the elementary APP split. The community warned the District about a number of negative consequences that were likely outcomes of the split. The District responded with promises:

The Thurgood Marshall program and the Lowell program will be of comparable size and quality.

The District will implement an aligned, written, taught and tested curriculum concurrent with the split.

The District will take steps to prevent the overcrowding of Lowell.

The District will take steps to make sure that there will be room for neighborhood students at each school.

The District will take steps to create a positive integration of the APP and general education populations at each school.

There were other promises. None of them were kept.

What leverage does the community have to compel the District to keep its commitments? How can the community hold the District accountable? There is only one way. There is only one tool.

We must keep our children from taking the District's tests until the District fulfills its commitments.

And not just commitments to APP families. Think of how the District is destroying Spectrum. Think of how the District is putting the ALO label on anything or nothing and then walking away. Think of how the District has made no effort to assure families of the quality or efficacy of any advanced learning programs anywhere.

We need to exercise some kind of power. Sure, we can vote the current Board out of office, but once every four years is too long between opportunities for accountability.

suep. said...

Here are some reasons to opt out of MAP:

15 Reasons Why the Seattle School District Should Shelve the MAP® Test—ASAP

MAP test manufacturer warns: MAP test should NOT be used to evaluate teachers. — So why is Seattle Public Schools doing just that?

Race and The (mis)Measures of Academic Progress

How to opt out of the MAP® test