A teacher in Chicago

The following letter was sent to Seattle Schools’ superintendent Jose Banda from the teachers at Sanislo Elementary School in Seattle.

January 17, 2013

Dear Superintendent Banda:

We the staff at Sanislo Elementary, by a unanimous vote, write to express our support for Garfield High School’s decision to not administer the MAP test. We share many of their same concerns, including the impact on a struggling student’s esteem and the lack of usability of the results when given the current text adoptions. We similarly decry the loss of instructional time, the loss of computer lab access and the loss of instructional assistants who are used as test proctors, in addition to the financial costs of the subscription itself and the tech support for implementing it.

Garfield and all high school teachers find themselves in a Kafkaesque situation in which their employment (including career ladder and termination) will be determined by a test which district officials told them is invalid, since the margin of error can exceed the expected growth score. The collective bargaining agreement allows teachers to be put on ‘improvement plans’ if their test scores are low on two different tests. However, if one test is faulty, then in all fairness, this portion of the contract cannot be implemented.

Elementary teachers are approaching a similar situation, where the MAP test is not correlated with the standards we are required to teach. Common core standards are now taught in the classrooms so how reliable are this year’s MAP results and how useful will they be to elementary teachers since the test questions are not aligned with these new standards? Further, this misalignment will result in a false reading of student growth and those lower test scores will put elementary teachers in a Garfield-type predicament where a solid teacher could feel threatened due to faulty test results.

For these reasons, we urge you to recognize the Garfield teachers’ stance as an opportunity to correct an injustice initiated under a former administration and to publicly announce that no teacher will be put on plans of improvement as the result of test scores until such time as a statistically reliable (and more humane) second measure of student growth is in place.

With Respect,

The Sanislo Elementary School Staff