Are you smarter than a first grader?

In October I gave the MAP test to my first graders. I did not want to give the test. In fact, I had made a Facebook post stating that “I am not refusing to administer, yet.” That post led to this email response from my administrator.

Nikki,

I saw your Facebook post about testing.  Many of your stances I am in full agreement with, however we are paid to do a job that has nonnegotiables tied to it.  One of them is the MAP data.  This can,in fact,  be a good tool to help instruct us on what skills students are missing.  Literacy First assessments can do the same. I know that you are fully capable of assessing your students in ways that are developmentally appropriate, however, we are required to assess our students with MAP and iRead.  I am sure you will find a way to use the data from these assessments along with your data to drive your instruction.

 If TPS is where you want to work and serve, these nonnegotiables will not change.

Well, I guess I can say that TPS warned me.  After receiving that e-mail, a series of e-mails ensued and I refused to give the testing the next month. Now, my administrator outwardly appears to whole-heartedly back the MAP testing.  I’ve since received a memo stating that I can no longer utilize any other assessments in my classroom.  I am expected to ONLY utilize the MAP and iRead data for instruction, small grouping, etc.  This is nonsensical and can easily be placed into the file of “all the things we are doing to get rid of this insubordinate teacher”.

In an attempt to rid my students of this overbearing and inappropriate testing, I now spend hours each day researching the test and reaching out. I’ve spent countless meetings with administration trying to better understand the history of the testing in my district. I’ve met with head of research in order to hear her stance.  I’ve served on testing committees to attempt an open-minded approach at reviewing the test. I’ve searched high and low… real low… for some answers.

I am DESPERATE for someone who backs the MAP test to explain their stance. DESPERATE.

I have yet to find anyone that backs the testing because they actually support the test.  So, I’ve decided to stop wasting my breath working with the sheeple of the district administration and focus on the parents. Let’s face it, with the new superintendent coming in, the testing is not going to decrease. Just look at her recent post on the nationally despised PARCC test. Looking forward to working with Gist.

New focus: Teachers and Parents

Teachers

This is a tricky group. I LOVE teachers. True story. Teachers are world changers. Teachers are what shapes the future. Teachers inspire. Teachers shape and mold. Teachers care. Teachers, as a whole,  are also subordinate. Dammit… I didn’t seem to get that trait.

Teachers are so used to dealing with terrible mandates that they have an innate ability to magically make it all come together despite the inequity of it all. Teachers rise to the occasion. However, the occasion is bigger than us right now. There is no way to work around the destruction of the MAP test other than to not administer. (And, when I speak of MAP testing, I speak of PARCC and STARR and whatever High Stakes Testing that your district administers. The testing all carries the same agenda.) The point is that the testing has risen above and beyond the magical traits of teachers.

What do teachers do?  What can they actually do about this?

1.)  They can do what they do best and make the most of a negative. Think about it. They do it all the time.

OR

2.) They can refuse.

The list of teachers refusing to administer is growing and I hope that teachers can see there is safety in publicly refusing. You don’t have to fight this battle alone. And, you don’t have to continue the teeter totter of kids/administration. It doesn’t have to be that way and YOU hold that power.

Parents

This is also a tricky group.  Parents, for the most part, are trusting of schools. They drop their most prized possessions off each day with a group pf adults that they feel have the best interest of their child. Parents are told that these tests hold teachers more accountable. The testing is in place to make sure their child is getting the best education possible. The testing is what shows the data to ensure readiness of college and career. The testing is good. The testing is good. The testing is good.

There is now a fear factor built into the test. The fear factor is so strong that it has surpassed all logic. I’ve had pre-k parents in the past show up to parent-teacher conferences asking if they should be concerned that their child is not yet reading. Their child is a year out of diapers and still needing assistance getting their pants up and down. This… this is not an example of a crazy parent. This is the example of a parent living under the umbrella of achievement lies that have been pushed onto them for years. This is an example of the fear. Parents fear that their child will not be successful.

What do parents do? What can they actually do?

1.) Some parents push for their child to be successful on the test.

2.) Some parents do nothing.

3.) Some parents refuse the test.

The list of parents that are refusing is also growing. Other states are ahead of us in opt-out numbers, but I have faith that we will pull through for children in Oklahoma as well.

Where do we go from here?

1.) We educate ourselves and we offer transparency and exposure. As teachers, we tell parents what is REALLY happening in the classroom. As parents, we step back, do the research, and come at testing with a logical stance.

2.) One way to further your education is to attend the Test-In scheduled for the 28th at the Brookside Library in Tulsa. I am working with others to service OKC on the same day with the exact same Test-In.

3.) We call on legislators, school board members, administrators, educators, philanthropists, and parents to take the test. How can you enforce a test on first grade children that you are unwilling to take yourself?

4.) We ask that those backing the test put their results up on a data wall. Of course, we won’t make you. I mean, children are forced into data walls. But, as a liberated adult, I would NEVER force anyone to put themselves out there like that. However, if you put up data walls or support them; then, take part. Put up or shut up. Oh… sorry… was that offensive?

5.) We make educated decisions on the next step.

So… whats it gonna be?  Are you smarter than a First Grader?  Can you take 55 questions like this? This was taken right from the NWEA testing site under sample MAP questions.

Read the story.
I can always count on seeing a lineup of sparrows on the
telephone line outside my window. They are there night
and day. The sparrows have become my friends through the
summer — I have fed them and they have sung me songs.
Which title tells the main idea of this story?
1.My Friends the Sparrows
2.Sparrows Are Fun
3.What Sparrows Do
4.Sparrows on the Line
Can you handle the test if I create the same situations that a first grader endures?  What if I asked you the same question in Spanish?  What if I asked you the same question with increased levels of vocabulary?  What if I created a way for your fine motor to be limited?  What if I just asked you the question in the EXACT same way a 6-year-old gets the question?  Could you even get it right then?
Take the test. Rise to the occasion. Give an hour of your time. Educate yourself before taking your stance.

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