Defiant Garfield teachers and students rally against mandatory MAP testing

Chanting “Scrap the MAP,” Garfield High students and faculty gathered on the steps of the school to rally in defiance of district-mandated MAP testing.

In the month since the faculty unanimously voted to boycott administration of the test, the protest has spread to schools around the district and attracted national attention and support.

Seattle School District Superintendent Jose Banda backed off his original threat of suspending faculty who refused to give the test, but school administrators started giving the test Tuesday without the support of the faculty.

Faculty, led by Garfield History teacher Jesse Hagopian, have said the test is a poor tool for measuring student progress in class because it often has little to do with materials taught in class. The computer-administered test also takes up valuable classroom time and hogs the computer labs, which disproportionately hurts students without a computer and Internet access at home, faculty say.

The District defended the test as one way that they monitor progress in the classroom, but have also planned a review of the test’s use in the spring.

The tests are also used for teacher evaluation, a prospect hat worries teachers who know many students don’t take the MAP seriously since it does not affect their GPA.

With all the negative attention focused on the MAP, the Northwest Evaluation Association, the organization behind the test, created a fact sheet defending it against many of the concerns raised.

But the fact sheet did little to dampen the energy on the steps of Garfield Wednesday.

One young, shy student standing next to me watched the boisterous and chanting crowd intently as speakers continued to voice opposition to the tests. As the crowd began to leave and the chanting died down, he muttered to nobody in particular, “How cool. History in the making.”