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Seattle Teacher Explains Test Protest

In an op-ed published last week, Jesse Hagopian, a teacher at Garfield High School in Seattle, explains why he and his colleagues are refusing to administer the Measures of Academic Progress benchmarking exam:

Seattle's ninth- and 10th-grade students already take five state-required standardized tests, with 11th- and 12th-graders taking three. Seattle Public Schools staff admitted to a Garfield teacher the MAP test is not valid at the high-school level, because the margin of error is greater than expected gains. ...
This test especially hurts students receiving extra academic support—English-language learners and those enrolled in special education. These are the kids who lose the most each time they waste five hours on the test. Our computer labs are commandeered for weeks when the MAP is on, so students working on research projects can't get near them. The students without home computers are hurt the most.

Hagopian also notes that Garfield has a long tradition of cultivating skills that tests cannot measure, such as "lyrical innovation." That emphasis is perhaps best exemplified by the fact that the school's prominent graduates include the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Quincy Jones. (Not too shabby ...)

While agreeing to re-evaluate its testing policies, meanwhile, the district has maintained that the MAP exam, in combination with other assessments, provides critical data to help teachers evaluate student progress and to determine where students need additional support.

For more, including the possibility of repercussions in other districts, see this excellent round-up on the District Dossier blog by Education Week reporter Jackie Zubrzycki.

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