National revolt against MAP Standardized Testing takes shape as Hartford expands MAP Standardized testing….

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Earlier this month, teachers at Seattle’s Garfield High School announced that they would be boycotting the (Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) test system.  The also released a letter explaining why.

The teachers wrote, “…MAP test is not good for our students, nor is it an appropriate or useful tool in measuring progress…It produces specious results, and wreaks havoc on limited school resources during the weeks and weeks the test is administered.”

By standing up to this flawed testing program, the Garfield High School teachers have sparked a national movement in opposition to the MAP Test.  The effort has received the support of nationally renowned pro-public education individuals and groups including the American Federation of Teachers, California Federation of Teachers, California Teachers Association, Change the Stakes, Diane Ravitch, FairTest, Matt Damon and Nancy Carlsson-Paige, National Education Association, Parents Across America, Save Our Schools and many more.

Over the same period, but at the other end of the spectrum, education officials in Hartford, along with their corporate education reform allies, have committed even more money, time and effort utilizing the very test that the Seattle teachers and their supporters are condemning.

Sarah Darer Littman, a CTNewsjunkie commentary writer and pro-public education blogger, has done an extraordinary job writing about the latest counterproductive efforts in Hartford.

In two recent commentary pieces, Littman has highlighted the ongoing effort to saddle Hartford’s students and teachers, and Connecticut’s taxpayers, with this MAP testing outrage.

To understand the underhanded, heavy-handed and behind the scenes maneuvering that “education reformers” are engaged in, read Beware of Foundations Bearing Gifts and An Expensive ‘Gift’ for Taxpayers Without Accountability.

The following passages summarize the problem;

“In August, the [Hartford Board of Education] was asked to renew the contract for the Northwest Evaluation Association MAP program for two years at a cost of $592,443, or $11.50 per student. MAP, or Measures of Academic Progress, was piloted with the 9th grade last year, but this year was extended K-12. At the time the school board was asked to renew the contract with the rollout of the program, the source of funding was described as “special funds”, with no mention of the Gates grant.

The full board was only notified of the grant in October. But because the money is being administered through the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, which will receive $50,000 per annum of the three year grant period to manage it, the school board was not given the opportunity to vote on the matter despite the cost implications for Hartford Public Schools and state taxpayers.

One of my major questions regarding the Gates grant and the impact on HPS has to do with technology resources. According to the NWEA technology requirements, each student requires a workstation or client and these must have adequate and stable Internet connectivity for the test to be successfully administered. “NWEA requires a persistent connection to the wireless access point, free of interruptions, to successfully run Test Taker. Any outages in the connection, regardless of how brief, may cause errors during testing or require re-testing particular students.”

Although the Gates grant budgets $592,443 over the three-year period for license fees for NWEA computer adaptive assessments, there is a mere $34,500 budgeted for computers and equipment, and that goes to Achievement First for “Technology for Residency Program for School Leadership.” As far as HPS goes, there is zero in the grant for the implementation of any technology.

According to Ms. Frederick, “HPS has been planning for the MAP testing for three years including extensive training for teachers and administrators in order to ensure all were and are prepared for the administration. In addition we have conducted a technology readiness survey to determine the level of resources available in each school. Our goal is to ensure that all schools are fully resourced to implement the test during the testing period. Purchasing computers for the schools that are the most in need is an ongoing priority in the district. When dealing with technology, issues can and do come up. When that happens, we have a system in place for resolving the issue immediately. To date, we have had very few problems administering the test district-wide.”

Ms. Frederick continued, “In administering the test, schools are very creative in using the resources they have while ensuring there is little disruption for other students. Many students take the test in a dedicated computer lab, others take the test in their classroom using either classroom computers or laptops. Several schools have laptop carts that move from classroom to classroom allowing students to remain in their classroom to take the test. In year one of the test, we have been pleased with the results both in participation and how successful schools have been in administering the test. We continue to evaluate and plan for improvement.”

Something about “creative use of resources” sounded the alarm bells with me, particularly because I’ve been hearing concerns from media and technology specialist friends in wealthy school districts about having adequate resources to implement SBAC, the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium adaptive tests that will replace the CMT/CAPT in 2014-15.

I put out feelers to teachers in the trenches to try and ascertain the picture. Most were not willing to go on the record for fear of retribution. But William Morrison, a social studies teacher at the Academy of Engineering and Green Technology at Hartford Public High School, painted a somewhat less-than-rosy picture in telling me that the testing was problematic because of bandwidth problems.

Another teacher at a Hartford magnet school told me the school’s Wifi is turned off during assessments in order to limit bandwidth to testing computers. This means students and teachers not taking the assessments cannot use tablet devices. Both of the school’s laptop carts are used for testing for 3-4 weeks, making them unavailable for student projects.”

And the list of problems associated with even taking the tests goes on and on, not to mention the fact that the test results themselves are of little use.

If parents and taxpayers want to know the truth about this MAP testing program, they should start by reading up on the Scrap the MAP effort that is sweeping the nation.  Begin by checking out the Scrap the MAP Blog.

And then ask your state and local elected officials why Hartford and Connecticut are moving in exactly the wrong direction on this vital education issue.

  • Linda174

    Creativity, Not Control
    Learning for Life, Not Labor

    Human beings are naturally creative. Instead of adapting to our surroundings, we have adapted to changing surroundings. Our brains developed to learn and create in a state of almost constant motion and change. We have the capacity to create, together, in ways that grow and transform nature, our minds, and our bodies, instead of destroying them. We are constantly learning by acting; for us, learning and creation are part of the same process.

    However, it is easy to forget all of this when you are trapped inside a classroom doing boring lessons preparing to take standardized tests in which you compete with the person next to you. Everything is controlled. Instead of creating knowledge together, the teacher is handed a chunk of knowledge which she is expected to deposit in her students minds, so they can regurgitate it on a future test. Those who regurgitate most efficiently rise to the top.

    Meanwhile, the infrastructure we use to collectively create – from music and art programs to labs and texts and computers – are deteriorating due to austerity budget cuts, especially in working class schools and majority non-white schools.

    http://creativitynotcontrol.wordpress.com/about-2/

  • Linda174
    • Apartheid First

      These flyers are great.
      Time to start an opt-out campaign.
      Maybe at the various “budget forums” that some districts organize in an attempt to garner support for Ed budgets, etc.–we should show up and say, yes, we support education, but not these lousy, costly tests. And then present the flyers and petitions.
      Whatever happened to PAA’s resolution against high-stakes tests?

      • Linda174

        Another form of protest is to just bubble in c…for creativity.

        It will invalidate their test results if ALL kids bubble in c.

        As your kid walks out the door, hand him or her their lunch and whisper, “I love you; bubble in c sweet pea.”

        :):):):):):)

      • msavage

        So far PAA seems like a lot of bark and not much bite. That was my impression from the very first–when the first thing I was told was that they were going to wait until the summer was over to hold a meeting. Wait until the summer was over, when reformers were moving full-steam-ahead and continue to do so. Sometimes it feels like organizations that do very little do more harm than good–make people feel good, feel like something is being “done,” when not much really is. That’s my impression re PAA at the moment. Lots of flapping of the lips, not much else.

  • Larry

    Don’t know the in’s and out’s of Bridgeport’s IT issues, but for several/many/all schools their Benchmark testing is on hold. Wonder what that cost city taxpayers?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rich-White/100000066062155 Rich White

    What the opponents of school reform fail to do is establish the evils of assessing students upon entering a class, at the mid point, and upon leaving.

    I’ve seen the time that MAP should take for implementation and for student testing and the technology requirements and fail to understand the dilemma in a well-run school system. I am referring to the test itself not the rest of the baggage that is now involved with teacher evaluations and MAP.

    Ann Arbor Michigan implemented MAP for a fraction of the costs mentioned in CT. Obvious answer: fire CT administrators and teachers acting as technology bottlenecks and lure teachers and administrators from Ann Arbor.

    The money was discussed here for a district that would be the 6th largest in CT:

    http://tinyurl.com/d83qjsa

    The none too persuasive blow back from the unions here:
    http://tinyurl.com/bqx86bd

    • Linda174

      Teachers are professionals and we can assess our students without tests and save even more money. It happens all the time: portfolio based assessment, performance assessments, proficiency standards, exhibitions of student work, parent conferences and input, school report cards/narrative summaries, and school quality review teams.

      We don’t need to LURE; we need to let teachers teach.

      Politicians and lawyer posing as commissioners may not know what they are talking about. Anybody can memorize and repeat reformy slogans written by Gates, Rhee and ALEC..even a trained parrot.

      We are going on thirteen years of testing, imposed upon us by the US/GatesDOE, not the unions, and that is the STATUS QUO.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rich-White/100000066062155 Rich White

        Please save me that nonsense. The reason testing started in CT was because the 9th graders were dropping out like crazy in urban districts and 1/2 were showing up without the skills to perform at the 9th grade level. Not even close. The so-called professionals down stream in the transition schools knew they could just pass the kids along without any accountability. Social Promotion was the norm. Accountability Acts were introduced twice in the 90s to further tighten up the rules against social promotion and its still a problem which is why the deficient professionals do not want testing of any kind.

        • Linda174

          If you think social promotion is gone, you are seriously out of touch. That’s what they now call credit recovery. Under Adamowksi in Hartford, students were given 55 whether showed up or not. You only had to pull off one marking period of 75% to pass for the year. Save me your tired old lines…you got nothing as usual. You are clueless about what professionals want nor are you able to learn or process new information.

          • msavage

            Far be it from me to ever defend anything that goat boy says, but it seems to me that he was saying that social promotion is still very much a problem?

          • Linda174

            Which he believes is pushed by the teachers and it isn’t not..which he thinks will be solved with testing which it will not. Districts are cheating. It has been reported and no one cares. His posts drip with disdain for the union thug teacher and he is ignorant of what we do and what pressures are placed upon us. I don’t need more tests to evaluate my students. We are professionals, something he knows nothing about. He comes here to insult our profession. That is his sole purpose.

          • msavage

            “His posts drip with disdain for the union thug teacher and he is ignorant of what we do and what pressures are placed upon us.” Goat boy shares the right-wing disdain for ANY unions, which is a position he has dutifully taken up for the corporate /bankster masters who have taken over the Republican (and to a lesser degree the Democratic) party. Good, dutiful little goat boy. Keep pushing that “unions are evil” message that you’ve been asked to push. It’s all part of the plan–manipulate the market to allow U.S. corporate giants to take advantage of cheap labor in China and other countries overseas. Eliminate unions to further weaken the position and clout of workers in the U.S. so that those jobs that remain in this country can also be exploited as much as possible. It’s all part of the race to the bottom that has one aim–make those banksters and corporate CEO’s more money. Unless goat boy is a corporate CEO or a multinational bankster, he is just another duped American proletariat serving as a useful mouthpiece for those who would be only too happy to stomp him into the ground if it meant more money for their bank accounts.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1847161789 Callie Burns

          Without social promotion we would have 30 year old kids in sixth grade with your 11 year old daughter–don’t think you would like that–

        • AM

          What’s wrong with dropping out? Of course it’s not good for society or an individual, but three kids in my small high school dropped out of school as soon as they were of age. They worked a crappy job (or no job) for a while, then they were back in school. Why is it such a bad thing for people to learn to appreciate their education rather than letting them disrupt other students and tie up resources.

          • Apartheid First

            Adamowski and other fraudulent for-profit reformers love to exaggerate the drop-out rate. This complements their hyperbole when test scores sky-rocket soon after they implement their reforms, drive teachers out, and put TFA in place.
            Dropping out is usually not the best option, but some of the numbers mask students who moved, students who joined the military (again, not the best option…), and other forms of transcience that don’t exist in wealthy, stable, stay-in-school-or-I’ll-take-your-car-away ‘burbs.
            Anyway, if they really wanted to lower drop-out rates, they could change the age at which it is legal to do so.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1847161789 Callie Burns

      Michigan is the biggest joke for what the politicians want to do to public education–The Biggest—its a shame-Tom

  • Charlie Puffers

    When teachers are treated so poorly and are blamed for the social ills that contribute to poor student performance for so many years like they have been in Hartford they give up hope. Unfortunately hopeless people will most likely not join forces and vote to boycott the MAP test. I’ve never really understood what causes the hatred directed at people trying their best to do a very difficult job. For clueless people with no life it’s very easy to sit in judgement about something they have no experience of and would be lost if ever placed in a room with 25 five year olds or fourteen year olds for 5 or 6 hours a day. I think it would be easy for me to go on a blog for another profession and ridicule and judge but I’d never waste my time doing something so foolish. Yet some idiots think they can teach. I dare you Mr. white to substitute teach for a week at Wish School or Clark School or Burr School. Maybe then you’ll stop blowing smoke out your ass and get a life.

    • Linda174

      Somebody please free the goats. Charlie, you crack me up!

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rich-White/100000066062155 Rich White

        I’ve taught urban and I left it. The question is whether the union really wants to address the underlying issues or simply preserve its dues structure and a one size fits all method of education under the theory “If it works in Avon then its good for Hartford”.
        Good teachers don’t need the union’s monopoly on delivering services. Good teachers like competition and change and innovation. Unfortunately the old guard beats motivated young teachers down and turns them into union slugs. Uncreative. Pretending that MAP tests stifle their creativity.
        Good teachers can grab any two week module that will be followed by a standardized test and make that material like lightening in a bottle for the kids. Toadies can’t do that. They can’t learn and master the material quick enough to stand and deliver excellence

        • Charlie Puffers

          Sounds like those kids are lucky you left.

        • http://www.facebook.com/melanie.savage.1610 Melanie Savage

          What a complete and utter load of horse shit! “Good teachers don’t need the union’s monopoly on delivering services.” So what do you propose? Eliminate unions? Do you think teachers would function better if they were constantly forced to wonder whether they would still have a job from one month to the next? Maybe lowering their salaries to subsistence levels would make them more creative? How about decimating their health care? Would that make them more creative? “Good teachers can grab any two week module that will be followed by a standardized test and make that material like lightening in a bottle for the kids.” Really? Where do you even come up with this crap?!

        • JMC

          I can agree with you that a good teacher can teach an effective unit. The problem is that consultants and other “professional development” experts, most of whom couldn’t hack teaching and so decided to make a buck hanging on teachers like ticks on deer or fleas on dogs, will determine how that unit is taught, if they can. Or if not that unit, the entire curriculum. Often the different methodologies which they require teachers to use are contradictory and self-defeating. These consultants and their retainers finally grew so influential that they morphed into the privatization movement. The teacher not only has to teach to the test now, he/she has to teach to the consultant. As for the “old guard”, yes, there are/were some, some good teachers, some not. A lot of them teach the way their own teachers taught them when they in school. Many of them happen to be among the best educated graduates in American history. I had the honor of teaching with them for 25 years, and I shared their horror at the destruction of education in Ameerican schools and the introduction and toleration of mediocrity.

          • JMC

            Insert “were” to read “when they were in school” above.

  • msavage

    I don’t know how to say this so as not to offend teachers, but I feel like it needs to be said–it might be helpful if you stopped looking at this as a localized issue affecting only you and your professions and instead see it for what it is–a world-wide war between the 1% and the rest of us. You are under attack primarily because your profession represents one of the last strongholds of unions in this country. The 1% (for lack of a better term–I don’t really like that term), who have primarily gotten to where they are because of a willingness to utilize unfair loopholes, laws and trends (most of which have been outright bought by the 1% in the first place), want to destroy unions because they represent power for the working stiffs of the country. They provide a barrier between the greedy sociopaths of the world and their ability to exploit all American workers as much as they would like to. For these greedmongers, no amount of money can ever be enough, and unions, in their eyes, are nothing more than a barrier standing in the way of sucking even more wealth from the American working/middle class. I think many of you get this already, but I sometimes feel like there is a certain tuning out when anything other than teaching, education or schools are discussed.

    I feel like some of the teachers I’ve been talking to (certainly not all, but some) are so wrapped up in their own private pain that they cannot see the larger issues. This is a problem, because I believe that part of the strategy is to divide, distract, and conquer. If a large group of the intelligent, compassionate folks in this country are distracted by their own private sufferings and therefore not looking at the overall issues, we lose the solidarity that we so desperately need to affect change. After getting further into “Greedy Bastards,” I’m more thoroughly convinced that everyone would benefit from reading it. “Greedy Bastards” by Dylan Ratigan–TV host and journalist. It puts the issues we face into a global perspective that is fairly easy to understand even for someone like me, who doesn’t exactly have a mind for economics and finance. It explains how we got here, with the greedy bastards running the show and attempting to suck America dry. It explains the relationship between America and China, and it even gives suggestions for how to affect change. And so far, several chapters into the book, Ratigan seems to be making a serious effort to frame his argument in a non-partisan manner. Again, pick it up for $3.99 at Ocean State Job Lot or download it to your Kindle for slightly more.

    But back to my point–I think it’s critical that the brightest, most compassionate folks in the country (and I would count many, many teachers among this group) are able to view the issues from a macro perspective and somehow find the energy to fight this war from a larger perspective. Not easy, I know. Believe me, I know ALL about being kept so busy that you barely have the time/energy to focus on ONE MORE issue. I would argue that this is part of the overall plan as well–keep middle class Americans so busy trying to survive that there’s no time to look around and realize what’s happening. But I think it’s essential, at this point in our history, for people to recognize exactly what is going on, on a world level, so that we can mobilize, join hands as a collaborative force, and demand change.

    • Charlie Puffers

      MSavage,
      You are absolutely right. The issue is much bigger than what is happening in the schools. I personally am passionate about my chosen career and have noticed how peoples eyes glaze over when I get going on an issue. I am mindful when in mixed company to talk about other things besides school. Family members who are not educators will leave the room during a get together while the teachers rant on and on. They always let us know why they are leaving too.
      I will look for the book. Thanks for recommending it and reminding us of the big picture.

  • LutherW

    Watching Achievement First school in Bridgeport highlighted on Newshour tonight. According to segment they have a miracle teacher evaluation system.

    They say the key is paying teachers more for better evaluations. This is supposed to help Charter Schools fix their problems with high turnover. Aspen Institute claims this works because teachers buy into this system with the (benefit) of termination at the end of any year. Also says would be hard to do elsewhere because of the $6,000,000 grant to do the evaluations.