High school teachers in Seattle have achieved a victory in their fight against standardized testing - Superintendent Jose Banda has announced that secondary schools will be able to decide whether or not they want to continue to deliver the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) test after this spring. A boycott of the MAP tests began in December with the participation of almost the entire staff at Garfield High School, and ultimately spread to hundreds of teachers across six schools in the city. The tests will continue at the elementary school level.
Recent months have seen a growing backlash against high-stakes standardized testing across the United States. In February, a group of students in Portland, Oregon organized a boycott of the state's standardized benchmark tests. Parents in Texas, one of the most heavily tested states in the US, have formed the influential Texas Advocating for Meaningful Student Assessments to protest the standardized test regime there. And, as the Common Core State Standards move forward, AFT President Randi Weingarten has called for a moratorium on all high-stakes tests associated with that reform.
Finally, this article by Pasi Sahlberg slams the accountability agenda that is so characteristic of US education reform today:
". . . the toxic use of accountability for schools should be abandoned. Current practices in many countries that judge the quality of teachers by counting their students’ measured achievement only is in many ways inaccurate and unfair. It is inaccurate because most schools’ goals are broader than good performance in a few academic subjects. It is unfair because most of the variation of student achievement in standardized tests can be explained by out-of-school factors. Most teachers understand that what students learn in school is because the whole school has made an effort, not just some individual teachers. In the education systems that are high in international rankings, teachers feel that they are empowered by their leaders and their fellow teachers. In Finland, half of surveyed teachers responded that they would consider leaving their job if their performance would be determined by their student’s standardized test results."
More on the testing backlash:
Nate Blakeslee, "Crash Test
," Texas Monthly
, May 2013