Well-connected Melissa Westbrook breaks the story that teachers at Garfield High School in Seattle have unanimously refused to comply with the Seattle School District’s mandate to administer the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) test.

Kris McBride, The Academic Dean and Testing Coordinator at Garfield, explains:

“Our teachers have come together and agree that the MAP test is not good for our students, nor is it an appropriate or useful tool in measuring progress. Additionally, students don’t take it seriously. It produces specious results, and wreaks havoc on limited school resources during the weeks the test is administered.”

In addition, results of the MAP tests will be used by district officials to help evaluate the effectiveness of teachers who give the test. “Our teachers feel strongly that this type of evaluative tool is unfair based on the abundance of problems with the exam, the content, and the statistical insignificance of the students’ scores,” said Ms. McBride.

Garfield’s reading specialist, Mallory Clarke, said teachers made this decision only after intensive internal discussions and years of experience with the MAP test.

The MAP Test is part of the District’s top-down plan called “Excellence for All” developed by McKinsey and Company Associates  in 2008. The November 2012 District Scorecard shows Seattle is not on target to meet even one of the 23 goals established in “Excellence for All.” Read more about it here.

Mandating the MAP test shows why top-down dictates don’t work in education. Central office mandates don’t respect teachers as professionals who know how to do their jobs and who care deeply about children. Every child is different. Only the teacher in the classroom and the principal, who know the students by their first names, know what each child needs to succeed.

That is why principals should be allowed to be real community education leaders, with control over the school’s budget, hiring and firing, over which tests to use, and over the school schedule and educational program. Principals should be allowed to give bonuses to reward the best teachers and motivate others to improve. This is why teachers should be freed from central district mandates so they can actually teach their students. Only then can principals and teachers be fairly held accountable to parents and the public for improving results.

Go Garfield teachers!


[Reprinted with permission from the Washington Policy Center blog]