A beautiful thing happened today. Teachers at Maria Saucedo Scholastic Academy voted unanimously to refuse to administer the Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT).
Since teachers at Garfield High School—and then several other schools in Seattle—voted to boycott the MAP test last year, there has been an explosion of activism against high-stakes, standardized tests. And yet outside of Seattle, there had not yet been another school where the entire staff collectively raised their voice and boycotted a test—that is until now.
The brave teachers at Saucedo Elementary are taking up the struggle and using the power of collective action to refuse to waste students’ valuable class time with another destructive test. As the teachers have pointed out, getting rid of the ISAT would leave the students with still a plethora of standardized tests, including the MAP tests, new Interim Benchmark Tests, REACH Performance Tasks, ACCESS tests, NAEP tests, pilot Common Core tests and more. Already, hundreds of parents at Saucedo have pledged to opt their child out of the ISAT.
With the Parents and teachers united in this struggle, Saucedo is now on the front lines in the battle for authentic assessment. They will need our support. Please take a minuet and sign the petition in the defense of the Saucedo educators—then send it on to everyone you know who believes that education should be about critical thinking, imagination, joy, and collaboration—not about rote memorization and eliminating wrong answer choices.
From my experience in helping to organize the MAP boycott in Seattle, here is the advice I have for the Saucedo teachers:
Corporate education reformers will use their wealth to publicize the idea that you teachers are selfish and your refusal to give the test will damage students. They will complain that teachers don’t want to be held accountable and that high-stakes standardized is the key to improving education. Don’t listen to them. They are pushing these tests because it is a multibillion dollar industry and because reducing the intellectual process of teaching and learning to a single score is the centerpiece of their plan to label the public schools as failing and then push their privatizing agenda. Instead, listen to the many thousands of parents, students, and teachers around the nation that are supporting you in this struggle to assert that our children and educators are more than a test score.
The corporate education reformers, and the politicians they have bought, will issue threats of discipline for your audacity in refusing to hand the schools over to testing companies. They threatened us in Seattle when we refused to give the MAP test, but we showed that the power of solidarity can overcome the powerful. Not a single teacher was disciplined and the MAP test was made optional through our struggle.
We scrapped the MAP. You can Ice the ISAT!