We are opting our first grade son out of the MAP test—here’s our letter explaining why

MyTeacherIsMyCompass

The infamous MAP test is set to be administered in my son’s school this week. The MAP is a computerized test meant to measure students in math and reading. Seattle Public Schools initially required MAP kindergarten through high school, with multiple testing periods per year. In 2013, Garfield High School launched a boycott of the MAP test and numerous schools joined in refusing to administer the test. By the end of the year the district announced that it would  no longer be requiring the MAP test at the high school level. Since then, the increasing pressure of the opt out movement and scrutiny on the role of high stakes testing in our education system have continued to reduce the use of the MAP test in the Seattle Public Schools.

mapTest_LibraryThe opt out movement has pointed out that the MAP test consumes too much class time, monopolizes computers and shuts down school libraries, is not linguistically or culturally appropriate for English language learners, and has a questionable validity (consider this research from https://scrapthemap.wordpress.com: PowerPoint: The MAP test).

Most recently, the district reduced the number of times per year that kindergarten through 2nd grades are required to administer MAP from 2-3 times per year to only once a year. However, there continue to be high stakes attached to MAP that can make it difficult for schools to reduce the number of times it is administered.

For example, schools that receive desperately needed extra levy funds from the city can lose funding if their test scores are not high enough. This is an egregious misuse of standardized test scores. Money for vital programs serving children in high poverty schools should never be cut based on a test that was not designed to be used for high stakes decisions.

Given all the specific problems with the MAP test, and the larger issue of misuse of standardized testing in general, my wife and I wrote this letter to our school’s principal opting our son out of the test this week:

Dear Principal,

Happy New Year! We hope you had a restful break.

We are writing to opt our first grade son out of all MAP testing for this 2015-2016 school year.

We are opting him out of standardized testing because we have seen the way an over-emphasis on scores has distorted what matters most in elementary education–such as creativity, being a good friend, communicating emotions, and problem solving. Ranking students based on test scores in the early grades can damage the self-esteem of late bloomers, and can distort the higher scoring students’ perceptions of themselves in relationship to their peers–these were our experiences growing up and we don’t want these scores to interfere with our son’s development. One of the most exciting aspects of our son’s education is the Spanish immersion program that has cultivated his love for language and laid the foundation for him to communicate with many more people across cultures and around the world – and yet none of this will be measured by the MAP test.

Opting out is a difficult decision this year, because of the way the scores can be used for high-stakes decisions around funding. It deeply saddens us that policy makers would deny funding to a school for any reason, but particularly one so narrow and tangential to real learning. Our son has excellent teachers and we think there is no substitute for their assessment of his progress.

We are deeply committed to our school community and look forward to working with you on these issues in years to come.

Thanks!

 

5 responses

  1. Reblogged this on The Most Revolutionary Act and commented:
    *
    *
    Very important information for all parents and grandparents of school-age children.

    Like

  2. I would think schools with lower test scores would benefit from additional resources, for both educational and moral, and therefor the funds should be awarded accordingly – better yet – split it evenly per child.

    Like

  3. Ann Marie Banfield | Reply

    Problems With MAP Assessments and Consequences
    R. James Milgram

    http://math.stanford.edu/~milgram/problems-with-MAP-assessments-and-their-consequences.pdf

    Like

  4. Tillie McDermott | Reply

    You seem like a well-intentioned guy. I wish you knew something about assessment before writing blog entries about it. I don’t know WA state’s system but I suspect that you are totally wrong about schools losing money if their MAP scores are not high enough. Can you show documentation of that?

    Like

  5. […] Source: We are opting our first grade son out of the MAP test—here’s our letter explaining why […]

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: