As you are no doubt aware, increasingly powerful corporate interests are attempting to reduce teaching and learning to what’s on a standardized test. We have all seen these tests be used to punish students, discipline teachers, withhold funds from our schools, and even close schools down. However, a movement of parents, students, and teachers has been growing around the country that has been pushing back against these tests and calling for education and assessment that is relevant to students and empowers our youth.
In Seattle, teachers at the school where I teach, Garfield High School, announced in January, 2013 that they would refuse to give the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) test, calling it a waste of time and resources. The boycott soon spread to other schools around the city. Our boycott was very successful during the winter testing period.
However, now the Seattle School District is asking us to give the MAP test again for the spring testing session. In response, we are calling for an international day of action in the struggle against flawed tests and in support of the MPA test boycotting teachers on May Day, Wednesday, May 1. We encourage you to participate in the day of action in any way you and your fellow educators feel is appropriate. Please read the call to action below and send us your statements of solidarity.
In struggle for educational justice,
Teacher, Garfield High School
Editorial Associate, Rethinking Schools
Educational Justice Has No Borders
Join the May Day International Day of Solidarity with the Seattle MAP Test Boycott
Seattle’s boycotting teachers need your support for their “educators’ spring” uprising against the MAP test.
Dear educators, parents, and students around the world:
On January 9, 2013, teachers at Garfield High School in Seattle announced a unanimous vote to boycott the district mandated Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) test, which they said was not aligned to their curriculum, was a waste of their students’ time and resources, and unfairly targeted the most vulnerable populations. Specifically, Garfield’s teachers expressed their opposition to the fact that English Language Learner students are required to take the MAP test most often, causing them to miss out on vital instructional time in the classroom. In this way, the boycott of the MAP test should be viewed as part of the movement for the rights of immigrants and people from all cultures, nationalities, and linguistic backgrounds to have access to a high quality public education. Garfield High School’s Parent Teacher Student Association and the Associated Student Body Government both voted unanimously to support the teachers’ boycott of the MAP test.
Soon afterwards, several other Seattle schools joined the boycott—Orca, Chief Sealth, Ballard, and Center School. Teachers at those schools were originally threatened with a 10 day suspension without pay, but because of the overwhelming solidarity from parents, teachers, and students from across the country, the Seattle School District backed down and declined to discipline any of the boycotting educators. Since then, several other schools have joined the boycott, a survey of Seattle teachers was conducted that shows overwhelming opposition to the MAP test at every grade level, and the movement for quality assessment has spread throughout the nation.
Now the Seattle teachers need your support again.
The spring offering of the MAP test produces the scores that are supposed to be used in Seattle’s teacher evaluations. For this reason the Seattle School District could take a harsher stance against boycotting teachers this time around.
May Day is traditionally a day of international workers solidarity. What better time to show your support for the teachers who have risked their livelihoods to advocate for quality assessment and for our resources to be used to support learning rather than endless testing?
We, the Seattle MAP test boycotting teachers, pledge our solidarity to teachers around the world who are struggling for an education system that supports and empowers our students with curriculum and assessments that are relevant to their lives. In turn, we ask for your support as we struggle for these very goals.
Possible solidarity actions include:
- taking a photo with a message of solidarity and emailing it to us (firstname.lastname@example.org),
- calling the Seattle superintendent and asking him to cancel the contract with the NWEA for the MAP test,
- having a speaker at your May Day rally address the MAP boycott and the abuses of standardized testing
- boycotting a flawed test in your region.
Furthermore, we, the MAP test boycotting teachers, would very much appreciate being informed about struggles teachers are engaged in around the world. Please let us know if there are any ways we can support your efforts for educational justice.
Seattle MAP Test Boycott Committee