THE few Seattle Public Schools teachers refusing to administer the Measures of Academic Progress test have chosen the wrong topic and timing to make a point about teacher evaluations.
Those teachers have every right to question whether MAP accurately measures student progress or fairly judges teacher performance.
Many Seattle teachers view the MAP as a valuable, if imperfect, assessment tool. Schools have until Feb. 22 to administer the test; 87 schools out of 95 have already begun.
The MAP boycott is puzzling, coming as the district, and presumably teachers, are hoping voters agree to raise their taxes to provide a total of $1.2 billion in levies for Seattle schools in the Feb. 12 election.
Moreover, the Seattle Education Association agreed in the current teachers contract to use assessments, which could include the MAP, as one factor in evaluating teacher performance. If the union has changed its mind, a ripe opportunity to raise the issue is spring contract negotiations.
All of this may be just union flexing. One union official encouraged teachers to support the boycott to show district leadership the union is united and ready to be a powerful force in the upcoming contract negotiations.
Fine. But the spirit of solidarity has its limitations. Using students to advance workplace issues is dishonest.
An objective measure of student and teacher performance is critical. Student portfolios and peer reviews plus student-parent surveys are among the many ways to assess teachers. All of those ideas should be examined by the new assessment task force and the district’s own review of its assessment tools.
Superintendent José Banda hopes by May to have a sense of the district’s assessment needs and where MAP fits.
It is worth remembering that the idea of a local test to measure Seattle students came from one of Seattle’s most beloved education figures, former Superintendent John Stanford. Stanford did not choose the MAP, but he eloquently argued for a local assessment. Teachers should work with the district in keeping one.