Your last post inspired me to speak out. I tend to keep my name unassociated from political discussions. Occasionally, on Facebook, I might support a cause or concern but in general I don’t feel my opinion, when it comes to politics and education, is well heard. I believe in a balanced approach, especially when we are being proactive about education, but I am not a joiner.

Karma police arrest this man

The other day though I learned something and it coincided with my thinking about standardized testing. Recently, in Seattle, Washington teachers at Garfield High School refused to administer the Measure of Academic Progress test to their students. Their reasons include a lack of validity at the high school level and that the MAP was adopted while the former superintendent of Seattle Public Schools sat on the board of Northwest Evaluation Association, the company that has created the test as a tool to be used in conjunction with Common Core implementation across the nation but, not in my state, Virginia.

He talks in maths

I hadn’t heard of the MAP, at least I thought I hadn’t, until the other day. According to teachers whose opinions I strongly respect and support, the assessment is not valuable because it is being used as a measure of teacher effectiveness. I decided I would join this time. Then I posted the Radiohead video above with the following status.

will wear red tomorrow to support Garfield High in Washington State whose teachers refuse to administer an inadequate measure of student success. It is time

My friend replied to my thread that her kids, who attend the same school system as mine, take the MAP and it was aligned with what her kids were being taught.

WHAT!?! My daughter just started in _____ (our local school system) this year so it was new to me. She had to take the same test as a qualifying assessment for her middle school placement. She took it before she entered the school system last spring.

Now here is where it gets tricky. Our local school system is using the MAP but, Virginia has not adopted the Common Core. What is it being used for? My friend wrote this in reply to my post:

Interesting stuff, and I can see how the test may be highly inappropriate for at-risk and non-English speaking 9th graders. But ______ administers the MAP to elementary and middle school students. My kids report that they seem to test the same objectives taught in the classes and take only one school period to administer. The results (from my sample of 2) seem to be very accurate. Most importantly, ______ does not use these tests as an assessment of teacher effectiveness, as they are not designed for this purpose. They are considered along with several other factors for placement, and are used by teachers to see class-wide trends and guide instruction accordingly. To me, it is not the test that is at fault, but Seattle’s misuse of the test and the results.

Hmm. That seemed strange to me.

He buzzes like a fridge

Why would a school system administer an assessment that did not test the state mandated objectives. Why is that I asked Google? Then I found it, it is being used as part of a Teacher Incentive Fund Grant.

Teachers will use baseline data from three valid and reliable assessments: the Virginia Standards of Student Learning (SOLs), Phonemic Awareness Literacy Screening (PALS), and NWEA’s Measure of Academic Progress (MAP). Data analyses conducted by ______ and CTAC (our external partner and evaluator) will be used this summer to assist teachers to define student growth for the 2011-2012 program year with annual student learning contracts continuing in the remaining four years of the program.

Then I dropped the link to the info on the thread.

He’s like a detuned radio.

Here is how my friend replied,

John, am I reading that correctly? Does that mean that ______ (our school system) is in the process of basing teacher evaluations on test scores? If so, I humbly recant my endorsement of _____’s use of the MAP scores. If you will excuse me, I have to go change into something red.

The power of knowledge. It is like tuning a radio. Before my friend supported the test, then she learned what it was being used for and didn’t.

After reading through the technical manual it seems that this test is being sold, by the NWEA as a reliable assessment to be used to measure academic growth regardless of grade level based on the Common Core.

MAP survey-with-goals test scores are valid for measuring the achievement level and growth of students. They are also validly used for course placement, parent conferences, district-wide testing, and for identifying the appropriate instructional level for students and for screening students for special programs.

The technical manual does not claim the MAP is a valid assessment of teacher effectiveness.

I do believe that student assessment data could be used to help professionalize teaching but, not unless those assessments are valid, reliable, and designed for that purpose. Student growth scores would need to include at least three years of data and need to consider the influence of school and community culture on achievement. I also don’t believe we need an add-on test to do this. We already have lots of data in our schools, it is just not valid as a measure of teacher effectiveness. Our current state assessment system is based on a grade level approach to standards. If we were to move beyond that perspective to a growth oriented approach but also be much more cautious in how we define effectiveness we could definitely get closer to the schools students deserve.

For a minute there, I lost myself, I lost myself

The major problem I have with the application of the MAP to performance based pay, as it is currently defined, is that it does not acknowledge that teachers don’t enter teaching because of the money. They do it to make a difference. It is based on a thought system that values the goal setting paradigm of Latham and Locke (SMART Goals) This perspective has been valued for more than forty years but, it doesn’t acknowledge the humanist perspective of most educators. Ordóñez, Schweitzer, Galinsky, and Bazerman, have found this theory to negatively affect organizations and its participants. In all areas of life this approach has led to a gaming of the system with the loser being those purportedly served by this system. They offer the following medical analogy in their paper.

In this article, we argue that the beneficial effects of goalsetting have been overstated and that systematic harm caused by goal setting has been largely ignored. We identify specific side effects associated with goal setting, including a narrow focus that neglects non-goal areas, a rise in unethical behavior, distorted risk preferences, corrosion of organizational culture, and reduced intrinsic motivation. Rather than dispensing goal setting as a benign, over-the-counter treatment for motivation, managers and scholars need to conceptualize goal setting as a prescription-strength medication that requires careful dosing, consideration of harmful side effects, and close supervision. We offer a warning label to accompany the practice of setting goals.

I think we need to go deeper. Our students deserve more. We can do better. Until then, I leave you with the quote below:

Karma Police
I’ve given all I can
It’s not enough
I’ve given all I can
But we’re still on the payroll

This is what you get
This is what you get
This is what you get when you mess with us

And for a minute there, I lost myself, I lost myself
And for a minute there, I lost myself, I lost myself

So I posted this on Facebook.

Share this post: