On Jan. 10 the staff of Garfield High School voted unanimously to refuse to administer the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) test to their ninth-grade students.
As the boycott has become national news, it has attracted support around the country. A letter in solidarity with the Garfield teachers has been signed by close to 5,000 educators, authors and activists, including ….
Quoting from Kristen Butler:
Districts around the country are protesting tests more frequently. Portland, Oregon, students launched a boycott in February over state-required exams, and in Providence, Rhode Island, high school students splattered themselves with fake blood and pretended to be zombies to protest state education officials. More than 900 school boards in Texas have passed resolutions demanding a reduced focus on standardized tests.
The problem is not that the tests are "standardized". The problem arises from the standardization of asinine tests.
The MAP test was acquired at a cost of $4 million by former Seattle schools superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson while she was on the board of the company that sells it.
Sandy Kress, former advisor to Bush on No Child Left Behind and lobbyist for Pearson, a company that publishes academic tests, said: "If it's all back to just grades… a lot of people will have an easy time for about 10 years, (but later) our kids will suffer dramatically."
That's crazy. Please let's stop pretending that we face a Manichaean choice between asinine tests and no tests at all.
California Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tom Torlakson, says he believes "we should have fewer tests, and I think the pendulum may be swinging in that direction."
I think Torlakson is trying to do some good things, but that remark was not his finest moment.
The issue is not more testing versus less testing, or more assessment versus less assessment. A good teacher is constantly assessing the situation, sometimes on a minute-by-minute basis. Every teacher I know would be delighted to have a greater supply of good assessment tools and materials.
Let's be clear: Teachers and students are quite rightly revolting against asinine assessment, against tests that are worse than useless because they almost entirely measure the wrong things.