From the Chicago Teachers Union, which is distributing an anti-testing petition today:
As part of its “Pencils Down” campaign against high-stakes standardized testing, the Chicago Teachers Union will be among teachers, students, parents and education advocates nationwide standing in solidarity with Garfield High School in Seattle and all Seattle public schools refusing to administer the Measures of Academic Progress test. The coalition will petition local schools to limit Chicago Public Schools support for excessive standardized testing of students as part of a national day of action to support the Seattle MAP test boycott.
Organized by the “More Than a Score Coalition,” which includes the Chicago Teachers Union, Parents 4 Teachers, Parents United for Responsible Education and Raise Your Hand for Illinois Public Education, petitions will be circulated today at several CPS elementary schools and high schools asking Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Board of Education to limit standardized testing and provide more transparency about the cost, amount and stakes of the 22 tests now being used in CPS.
The petition was written by parents and other concerned citizens who are frustrated with the scale, expense and consequences of the testing regime in Chicago Public Schools and who do not feel that the Board of Education is addressing their concerns.
“Some kindergarten students are taking up to 14 tests per year,” said Anne Carlson, teacher, Chicago Public Schools parent and co-chair of the Chicago Teachers Union Testing Committee to the Board at its Jan. 23 meeting. “This is criminal.”
The Chicago Teachers Union Testing Committee is organized against the misuse of testing and supports groups of teachers who want to challenge the tests at the school, network, or district level. The committee is developing a “tool kit” of resources and action ideas to be distributed in addition to “More Than a Score’s” advocacy for:
• The elimination of standardized testing for Pre-K to 2nd graders
• The reduction of testing for older grades
• Ending the use of standardized testing to evaluate students, teachers, and schools
•· Full disclosure of the cost, schedule, nature and purpose of all standardized tests
“The culture of testing at our school creates a sense of stress and competition,” said Hannah Nolan-Spohn, a 5th grade language arts and social studies teacher at Deneen Elementary. “There is a lot of comparing scores, gossiping among students about who got what score, and stress around whether or not they grew enough.”
“We no longer teach—we just give assessments,” said kindergarten teacher Nancy Ocampo. “I do want to have my students exit kindergarten reading and with number knowledge, but more importantly, with a love for school and a love of learning.“That is the kind of school all of our kids deserve, not a testing factory.”
And for the other side.
Writing in the Huffington Post, Michael J. Petrilli of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute contends that children are not the main concern of the anti-testing movement among teachers. “This is a skirmish about teacher work protections as our system lurches toward greater accountability. It’s no heroic effort to overcome the forces of evil,” he wrote.
Here is an excerpt of his essay. Please read the full piece.
Shame on the teachers of Garfield High. Shame on them for resisting a modicum of personal responsibility for student learning. Shame on them for obfuscating what their resistance is really about. And double-shame on them for likening their selfish crusade to the noble acts of resistance of the Civil Rights era.
Ostensibly, their protest is about the overuse of tests, the instructional time that those tests devour, and the culture of soulless data-driven instruction that animates today’s brand of school reform.Yet it’s hard to square their complaints with the actual test they decry, for the Measures of Adequate Progress is precisely the type of “good” assessment that many educators claim to favor. It’s instructionally useful; it provides instantaneous feedback to teachers and students alike; and it’s not used for high-stakes decisions on issues pertaining to students and schools.
The real reason the Garfield teachers attack the MAP, one must presume, is because it’s a small part of Seattle’s new teacher-evaluation system. (If students show low growth on the MAP for two years in a row, it triggers a “closer look” at their teacher by the principal — pretty benign by national standards.) That’s a smart move on behalf of district officials; because the test is “computer adaptive,” it can pinpoint precisely where students are on the achievement spectrum and can give teachers full credit for any progress they help their charges achieve over the course of the school year. (If a ninth grader moves from the sixth-grade level to the eighth-grade level, the MAP can detect it, while most state assessments cannot.)
What the teachers are really protesting, it seems to me, is the use of student test scores in educator evaluations.
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog