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Forum Post: Victory for Seattle Teachers against High Stakes Education Testing

Posted 6 years ago on June 4, 2013, 2:51 p.m. EST by dutchmurphy (0)
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

On Monday, May 13, Seattle Schools Superintendent Jose Banda announced that “High schools may opt out of MAP [Measures of Academic Progress Test] in 2013-14.”

This announcement was greeted with spontaneous celebrations by teachers and students at Garfield High School where the boycott of MAP tests began in January.

Garfield High School’s librarian, Janet Woodward summed up the meaning of the MAP test boycott for Garfield saying, “I feel vindicated by the decision to remove MAP testing from the high schools. Our movement has succeeded in exposing all of the fallacies of using this canned assessment. It is a waste of money and time, turns professionals into proctor clerks and produces results which are not statistically relevant.”

It was the first time a group of teachers have boycotted a standardized test in America. The boycott began on January 9, 2013 when the 19 strong group of teachers at Garfield High voted unanimously to refuse to administer the MAP test. The MAP test purports to evaluates student progress in reading and math in all grades (K-12). This is part of the growing national fight back against the high stakes testing regime that has swept through the US education system.

The teachers' successful boycott of the MAP tests was down to a variety of factors. The unswerving determination of teachers at Garfield and other Seattle schools to continue the test boycott in the face of threats of suspension from Superintendent Banda. The victory over the MAP test would not have been possible without the massive support from local parents, many of whom refused to enter their kids for the MAP tests.

Another hugely important factor in this defeat of standardized testing was the solidarity action of hundreds of Seattle high schools students who held meetings and gave out flyers supporting the teacher test boycott. The independent decision of hundreds of students to refuse to sit the tests was critical to this victory over the MAP test. A break down of the winter MAP testing numbers at Garfield High revealed that only 180 valid tests were delivered out of a planned 810. Hundreds of students had taken solidarity action in support of their teachers by refusing to take the tests.

Besides this, the campaign has won huge support from teachers and trade unions across America. 60 leading academics, researchers and trade unionists signed a statement of support for the MAP test boycott.

Alongside this, is the growing movement against massive cuts to education funding. On 17 May thousands of students in Philadelphia walked out in protest at the planned cuts to education spending. Meanwhile, in Chicago on 22 May there was three days of protests against the mayor's plan to close 54 local schools.

Garfield history teacher and union rep Jesse Hagopian has commented upon the significance of their victory in an interview with Democracy Now TV on 20 May: ''It's a real crisis for for these corporate education reformers …because their whole system of education reform rests on these data points, on reducing teaching and learning to a single score that they can use to close schools like your seeing proposed in Chicago and Philadelphia. That they can use these data points to degrade education and profit from it turning them into charter [schools].''

Jesse Hagopian went on to note the importance of the Seattle teacher's victory against inappropriate forms of school testing: ''This boycott represented a threat to their ability to reduce teaching and learning to a single score. I think that's why Michelle Ree and these corporate reformers are so upset we stood up to their tests and refused to give them. I think that's why so many teachers, parents and students across the nation are celebrating this victory.'' During the test boycott over 20 teachers from around Seattle met to develop an alternative to the MAP test called Teacher Work Group on Assessment Recommendations, Spring 2013 Superintendent Banda's decision to allow schools to opt out of the MAP test was made on the provision that schools will need to develop their own assessments in 2014 to replace the MAP test. The teacher working group recommendations should provide the guidelines to do that. The victory of teacher's in Seattle against high stakes testing should inspire teacher's, parents and students that a fight back against the big business agenda in education is possible. As Garfield Special Education teacher Serena Samar said, “Our actions as a staff have reignited the belief that a group of people can make a difference.''



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[-] 3 points by GirlFriday (17435) 6 years ago

Good. This is a nationwide movement and we have parents that are pulling their kids out of school for the testing days.

[-] 2 points by OTP (-203) from Tampa, FL 6 years ago

Extremely impressive that this group of teachers pulled that off.

See, when people get involved, when they embrace self governance, they rule the day.

[-] 1 points by bensdad (8977) 6 years ago

It seems to me that there is a simple solution to the testing issue

dont test kids to compare them to the country's children
test each child to compare to themselves

for example, at the beginning of each year give a test on the skills that student SHOULD know at the beginning - say reading, writing, math.

and students not where they should be, get extra help

mid year - another test - to compare each student's individual progress
for example a beginnging 5th grader with a starting score of 50 [ where 80 is average ] has moved up to 70 for mid 5th grade performance is doing well a student that started with an 83 and slipped to 75 mid year needs extra help.

Teachers should be evaluated on the total INCREASE in scores
the above two students would give a teacher a "score":
of (+20) + (-8) = +12 or +6 per student

[-] 2 points by GirlFriday (17435) 6 years ago

I don't think so. How about we stop giving millions of dollars to high stakes testing which has been oh-so-wrong in multiple areas and are created by text book creators that do not pay taxes due to being categorized under education?

This is destroying critical thinking skills and placing profit above children. Teachers, not text book creators,are in the prime position to determine where a kid is failing.

[-] 1 points by bensdad (8977) 6 years ago

I still think we need some metric, but testing must be, whenever possible, based on thinking & reasoning rather than memorization. In stead of asking who the first president was, ask what would you do if you were the first president.

Testing co are tax exempt? That would end if corps could not give $ to pols

[-] 1 points by GirlFriday (17435) 6 years ago

No, asking who the first president is a great question. In fact, it's imperative. You should spend some time researching this issue.

Great lesson plans that kids at all stages of learning can accomplish are kicked to the side and teaching to the test occurs.

It would be better if you spent some small amount of time researching this issue.

[-] 1 points by bensdad (8977) 6 years ago

who was the first American president?
No - it was not GW. When America was formed, he was a general - not president.

[-] 0 points by launchingpad (-8) 6 years ago

Where kids fail can be seen in where adults fail. In America it's quite obvious, generally people don't have the necessary critical skills to separate reality from delusions. This is why religion, conspiracy theories, pseudo-sciences, new age mysticism, and all this other nonsense is so popular.

Give kids the power to weigh evidence. Give them the power to think critically, to separate facts from fiction, to build plausible theories to explain facts, to identify logical fallacies, etc... Then you'll be in business.

There should be a course of what is science, and what is a proper debate before the end of high-school. People should learn to identify between a well formed argument and a logical fallacy.

[-] 2 points by shoozTroll (17632) 6 years ago

It shows quite the failure of education, when an adult feels the need to employ the logical fallacy of multiple IDs to get a failed message across.

That "adult" must not have been paying attention in school. I was taught how to think in high school.

[-] 0 points by launchingpad (-8) 6 years ago

Well, we went to different schools. Glad to hear yours was better than mine. Luckily, I kept going and got a PhD. University was all about critical thinking.

I'm not sure how having multiple IDs is a logical fallacy. It has no bearing on the arguments I made here about schooling. It's related to the proposer, not the arguments.

If freedom of speech was respected here and bans were removed and replaced by the possibility for every user to ignore those he or she wishes, then there would be no need for multiple IDs.

I would submit that bringing up multiple IDs when I was discussing the topic of this posting which is schooling is the logical fallacy here. It's called a red herring; change of subject, and is a bad attempt at ad hominem; trying to discredit the proposer instead of going after the arguments.

I'll be more than happy to discuss schooling with you, but I'm not interested in going off topic. It would not be respectful to dutchmurphy who started this posting about schooling.

If you wish to discuss multiple IDs, then start a posting on that topic. If I find the arguments interesting, then I'll go discuss the issue over there.

I think it's important to keep postings on target.

[-] 2 points by shoozTroll (17632) 6 years ago

So your so called PhD taught you to use logical fallacies, by negating the arguments of other through use of the term?

No wonder you can be so confusing.

I explained how the use of multiple IDs showed a failure of your education. How it's a logical fallacy.

You can deny it all you want, it will still very much be a logical fallacy and pertinent to this conversation.

It's got NOTHING to do with "freedom of speech", except that it's a mockery thereof.

If you want to be serious about education. You should be talking about attacks on teachers and their unions, and the lies employed against them.

Start here.


You know, base your arguments on reality.

[-] -2 points by launchingpad (-8) 6 years ago

So your so called PhD taught you to use logical fallacies, by negating the arguments of other through use of the term?

I addressed the arguments you made quite clearly, then stated that if you wanted to change the subject to the use of multiple IDs I would be glad to talk about it in another posting since this one is about schooling. Each topic in its place.

I explained how the use of multiple IDs showed a failure of your education.

I addressed this already. Reread my above comment.

I'll be glad to talk about all aspects of schooling. One comment at a time. I only wrote a few comments here which were in reply to angles previously discussed. I didn't have time to touch upon all aspects. Then you came in and tried to veer the subject towards multiple IDs. Stay on topic and we can have a serious discussion about schooling. No need for attacks. Be polite and I'll be glad to discuss schooling issues with you.

[-] 2 points by shoozTroll (17632) 6 years ago

Multiple IDs are still a logical fallacy.

A VERY BIG one at that.

Indeed, you offered not a single comment on the information offered.

Preferring to use the subject of multiple IDs and employ logical fallacies of your own to avoid the subject entirely.

Indeed, your whole argument has become a pointless redundancy, that avoids all reality.

[-] -2 points by launchingpad (-8) 6 years ago

Multiple IDs are still a logical fallacy.

When used as a red herring to completely change the subject of a posting on schooling, yes, it is.

Indeed, you offered not a single comment on the information offered.

Preferring to use the subject of multiple IDs and employ logical fallacies of your own to avoid the subject entirely.

Please reread the beginning of this thread. I was discussing schooling with GirlFriday. You came in like a jack in the box and changed the subject to multiple IDs.


OK. I'm done discussing the issue with you. It seems you want to remain off topic and I don't think this is fair to ducthmurphy's post on schooling. I also think it's a waste of time and extremely unproductive to attack users like you do, and for those users to defend themselves against your nonsense. I come here for serious debates, not childish kindergarten fights.

Take care.

[-] 2 points by GirlFriday (17435) 6 years ago

You had no intention of discussing high stakes testing. You demonstrated this by relying on your own subjective reasoning. Educate yourself to the issues prior to reiterating the same argument.

[-] 0 points by shoozTroll (17632) 6 years ago

Red herring, red schmerring.

You're a green flounder.

Much of the problem we have with education is DIRECTLY related to the corporate push to privatize the system.

It's the BIG subject relating to education that you have avoided EVERY time.

That push is from the "right" wing.

I offered you a reality in progress, you have yet to comment on it, instead preferring to defend your own usage of logical fallacy.

This why "debate" with you is such a frustrating mess.

YOU are a logical fallacy personified.

[-] -1 points by launchingpad (-8) 6 years ago

I offered you a reality in progress, you have yet to comment on it,

I'm not interested in discussing issues with someone who is more interested in attacking others on a personal level than in debating properly.

I'll search the forum for users interested in debating intelligently and in proper fashion. Your attacks bore me to death. I find them childish and an utter waste of time for you and I.

Take care.

[-] 1 points by shoozTroll (17632) 6 years ago

Let's try this again.


I'm not going to say a word here, you go ahead and read it and offer a comment, based on reality.

[-] 2 points by GirlFriday (17435) 6 years ago

They begin this process about the fourth grade. It would be better if you smacked the bejeezes out of those people that are paid to spend a quantity of time spreading disinformation. Grow up. You don't get any cleaner with a new ID.

[-] 0 points by launchingpad (-8) 6 years ago

In my experience, we didn't learn critical thinking in school, not even in high school. Perhaps things have changed. We learned to assimilate facts, but I can't recall a class where we learned proper argumentation techniques, logical and critical thinking, identifying logical fallacies, etc...

The amount of IDs someone uses here is irrelevant. Only proper argumentation and ideas matter. The real problem is logical fallacies like name calling and cussing.

[-] 1 points by GirlFriday (17435) 6 years ago

Then perhaps you should spend more time looking at the facts of what is actually taught. This would prevent you from having to rely on your own subjective experience.

The real problem is your multiple IDs.

[-] -1 points by launchingpad (-8) 6 years ago

I agree. It would be much better for me to learn exactly what is being thought instead of relying on what was taught in my time. Like I said, perhaps things have changed and kids in America learn very different things nowadays. We'll see when they grow up. Hopefully, they are learning critical thinking and that will have a powerful impact on lowering the massive popularity of pseudosciences in today's America.

We can agree to disagree on multiple IDs, especially since you know who I am anyways. It doesn't really make a difference. If you are bothered about multiple IDs you could ask the site to stop censoring users, or to update the code to be more secure in that respect. Certainly, name calling and cussing are a major problem here. Soiling the site with profanity is extremely bad for our reputation because it makes us look like childish anti-intellectuals. It's important to always debate properly with well formed arguments, or to ignore debating altogether when one cannot control his or her emotions in an adult fashion.

[-] 1 points by GirlFriday (17435) 6 years ago

No, we cannot agree to disagree here. Not now, not ever. There is no justification for it. You are a right wing shill. You do not get to set the rules for debate. Not now, not ever. As always, you are desperate to shift the conversation to all about you.

[-] -1 points by launchingpad (-8) 6 years ago

You shifted the conversation about me, not I. You brought up multiple IDs which were completely unrelated to what we were discussing, Now you use name calling, choosing the term "right wing" which is anti-Occupy since Occupy is about bringing the right and left wings together over common ground, not about widening the gap between left and right.

Thanks for the discussion on schooling. I'm not interested in going deeper if you can't keep the discussion on track and serious. I find name calling a waste of time.

You should bring up the problem of multiple IDs with the moderators. Perhaps you can find a solution to your problem. I don't see the point of discussing this issue since it doesn't bother me at all. There is a reason for it, and that's to escape censorship. It's about freedom of speech, which I think is important.