The Weekly Update: Seattle teachers stand firm, testing push back around the country, a parent offers ideas for those opt-out days and Yong Zhao on testing and standardization

The Weekly Update for the news and views you might have missed.


It’s been quite a week in our fair city. Many of us here in Seattle have watched the destruction of the teaching profession, schools and communities around the country based on the use of standardized test scores to further an agenda of corporate reform and privatization using the scorched earth approach to education and we do not want to see that happen in Seattle or anywhere else for that matter. Our teachers have placed themselves on the front line of defense here and I commend them for it and back them 100% as countless others do.

There has been an outpouring of support from students, teachers , parents and concerned community members around the country and the teachers in Seattle are standing strong.

We’ll start with a rally of teachers and parents that was held on Wednesday at the Seattle Public Schools administrative building.


One of the many reasons that I and others object to the MAP test is that it is being used as a way to evaluate teachers and yet is was not designed for that purpose. It is also expensive and a complete waste of time because the questions many times do not align with what is being taught in the classroom. The MAP test in Seattle is given 3 times each school year which means that teachers, librarians and resources such as computers and libraries are tied up with testing and not with teaching.

We have precious few resources as it is. We cannot afford to waste what we have.

As Sue Peters, co-editor of Seattle Education, pointed out two years ago in her post:

MAP test manufacturer warns: MAP test should NOT be used to evaluate teachers. — So why is Seattle Public Schools doing just that?

The manufacturer of the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP®) student assessment test, the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA),  sent a memo to the Charleston County School Board in Oct. 2010, warning that  it should NOT use the test to evaluate its teachers.

To read Sue’s post in full, go to Seattle Education, March, 2011.

I can’t help but be reminded as I read Sue’s article about our past Broad-trained superintendent who brought the MAP test with her from Charleston to Seattle. There was no reason for the MAP test then and there is no reason for it now.

Now on to Chicago, where teachers are expressing the same views regarding the MAP test:

Drummond Elementary School teacher Anne Carlson told the Board about the amount of overtesting, saying she was “reporting child abuse.” Carlson and other speakers at the end of the line had to wait until nearly 2:00 p.m. to speak at the January 23 Board meetings, because the Board placed two hours of reports before any of the public was allowed to begin “public presentation.” Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.


BOARDWATCH: Teacher exposes Board’s ridiculous testing policy, notes MAP has been panned by Arne Duncan and Dept. of Education

[Editor’s Note: The following is the text that Drummond Elementary (Montessori) School teacher Anne Carlson read to the January 23, 2013 meeting of the Chicago Board of Education…]

Good afternoon! My name is Anne Carlson. I am a parent of three children, two of whom attend a CPS school. I am a teacher at Drummond Montessori School where I teach 4th, 5th and 6th graders in a self-contained classroom. I have 31 students.

I am also a mandated reporter and today I want to report the child abuse that is occurring in our schools. It is called excessive, high-stakes standardized testing.

Why am I calling this abuse? Here’s why.

1. Some kindergarten students are taking up to 14 tests per year. This is criminal. At this age, children should be listening to read-alouds of books like Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats, not sitting in front of a computer screen.

2. K-2 teachers have cut guided reading groups from their schedules because there simply isn’t enough time to instruct with all of the assessments. At these grades, most tests are given one to one with the teacher, which amounts to a lot of lost instructional time.

3. The Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) test is administered on computers. During the testing window, other students are not able to visit the lab to complete research projects. There is a wide range of how long students take this test because it is computer-adaptive. One of my students took 225 minutes to complete the initial test. Yes, 225 minutes to complete it over several days. Think about all of the instructional time lost.

To read Ms. Carlson’s testimony in full, go to Substance News.


In Texas where they thought all of that testing would be good for the kids, well, they’ve changed their minds.

As Valerie Strauss reports in the Washington Post:

Texas House eliminates funding for standardized testing

The revolt against standardized testing in Texas has taken a new twist: The Texas House has put forth a draft 2014-15 budget that zeroes out all funding for statewide standardized assessment. By way of explanation, Speaker Joe Straus said, “To parents and educators concerned about excessive testing, the Texas House has heard you.”

The Dallas Morning News said that the draft budget is not likely to stand, given that the Senate’s preliminary budget has about $94 million allocated for the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, the standardized test known as STAAR. The two budgets will have to be reconciled and it is hard to believe the state will get rid of the testing altogether. Besides, federal law requires standardized testing under the No Child Left Behind law.

But the House move underscores growing discontent with high-stakes testing in the state where it was born when George W. Bush, as governor, implemented the precursor to No Child Left Behind, which he took national when he became president.

To read the article in full, go to The Answer Sheet.

And while state legislators, mayors with their appointed school boards and education advocates are battling it out, parents are opting their children out of these high stakes test knowing that they are of no value and simply add stress to a child’s school day. So what do you do with your children during those opt out times? You can request that your student have an opportunity to read or do homework in a student study area or you can take the day off and do any number of activities that provide your child with additional opportunities to learn.

One parent has some ideas:

opting out

Where can kids go on #Optout of #StandardizedTests days?

More and more parents are speaking out and standing up for their parental rights by opting their children out of standardized tests. In a recent discussion, in the Opt Out New York group, members discussed that they were told that if their child attended school, but did not take the test they would have to sit at their desks and do nothing. They would not even be allowed to read but rather sentenced to sit and stare into space.

Rather than waste children’s time, one parent asked, “Wouldn’t it be amazing if there was an educational opportunity available in communities during testing days for those students who were opting out?”

Yes. Of course it would.

Why not use testing days as community learning days? It really wouldn’t be that hard. Here are some ideas to get started.

To read this article in full, go to The Innovative Educator

I will leave you this week with Yong Zhao on standardized testing, No Child Left Behind, standardization and global competitiveness.


Dora Taylor

Posted on by Dora Taylor Posted in High stakes testing, Opting Out, Weekly Update

One Response to The Weekly Update: Seattle teachers stand firm, testing push back around the country, a parent offers ideas for those opt-out days and Yong Zhao on testing and standardization

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