Is the MAP test “really about the children?”

Confirmation from Seattle Times that parents are in solidarity with teachers and students:

On Tuesday, only 97 of the roughly 400 ninth-graders who were supposed to take the MAP reading test did so, said Garfield Principal Ted Howard. The other 300, he said, had their parents’ permission to be excused.

Something else from this article bears serious consideration.

Banda said many teachers and parents have told him the MAP is a useful tool.

“Regardless of whether we think testing is good or bad, it’s really about the children and making sure we are able to identify any potential gaps in their learning,” he said.

Superintendent Banda didn’t mean to, but he got at the heart of the problem with the MAP test. It is a useful tool for some, that’s true. But is it “really about the children”?

For some, yes. But for policy-makers, no. On a district-wide and state-wide level, it’s being misused:

  • Test scores are being used as part of teacher evaluations – in some states, it makes up as much as half the teacher’s evaluation. This despite there is no evidence that student standardized test scores measure a teacher’s performance and plenty of evidence that such use is arbitrary.
  • Test scores are being used to classify students into “normal learners,” “advanced learners,” and “kids who need special services.” It could be a useful tool if a human being had authority over how to interpret and use the results, but policies are in place that withhold that authority.
  • Test scores are being used to bar students from graduation.
  • Test scores are being used to grade schools with letter grades, as if such a thing made any sense.
  • And test scores are being collected and stored in a national database, along with various other information about the students – race, ethnicity, income level, dental records, you name it. It’s being kept for long-term use. Can you give me a guarantee that when my kids reach the workforce, that data won’t be in the hands of prospective employers? Hmm???

It’s not about the children. It’s about top-down control of our schools, teachers, and students.

Make the test about the children, Mr. Banda, and I’ll let you give it to my kids.

Till then, I’m opting out.

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