Teachers should end boycott of MAP assessment test

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.

Winter Break Cartooning Day Camp Hours Announced!

This year Unified Outreach launched its first summer day camp series with a focus on Animating Cartoons using the Adobe Flash animation program.  During the Seattle Public Schools 2012 Winter Break, Unified Outreach will again offer week-long day camp hours for parents who are interested in seeing their child attain a stronger grasp of todays Cartoon Animation technology.

An average afternoon of Winter Break Day-Camp will again include educational exercises embedded in fun games designed to encourage personal growth, positive self esteem and team building skills. Each day also includes physical activities and outdoor lunch time (as weather allows).  But the highlight of each day will be working on the creation of a personal cartoon-animation using the kids ideas, stories, drawings and voices.

NO EXPERIENCE NECESSARY! Most students come in with no previous traditional or contemporary cartooning experience.  Each student is coached by multiple instructors who work with the kids each step of the way; from story development, to character design, digital imaging, cartoon animation, and voice-overs using industry-level production software including Adobe Photoshop, Flash, Soundbooth, and other software programs that were donated by Adobe Systems, Inc and King County 4Culture.

Doors open each day at 8:30am and close at 5:30pm – Parents have the flexability of dropping off and picking up their child at anytime during operational hours.  Class will also be offered on both Christmas Day and on New Years Day.

Each week is a stand-alone unit.  Students attending 2 weeks will have the opportunity to build on the skills they learned during the first week of class.

Unified Outreach is a 501C3 Youth Arts Charity which has been Active in Seattle for over 10 years.  Visit www.UnifiedOutreach.com for more details.