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Seattle Public Schools will let high schools scrap the MAP

Gabriel Spitzer

Seattle public high schools will be able to opt out of the controversial Measures of Academic Progress, or MAP tests, starting next year.

The policy change comes after teachers at Seattle’s Garfield High School staged a boycott of the MAP tests in January, blasting the tests for giving unreliable data and for sucking up classroom resources. A half-dozen more Seattle schools have since signed on, and the protest has drawn national and international attention.  

Now the district has announced in a letter that the MAP tests will be optional for high schools starting next year, as long as they have another way of monitoring students falling behind. The tests will still be mandatory for students in kindergarten through 8th grade.

Seattle Public Schools’ Clover Codd said MAP is still a useful screening tool to find kids who need extra help, "but less so at the high school level."

"By the time you get into the upper-8th and beginning of 9th grade, students start to top out of the test and it no longer provides as much useful information as we would like,” Codd said.

Codd said the district heard “loud and clear” from teachers who said they don’t find the MAP tests helpful for assessing or planning their teaching. The tests are still set to play a role in teacher evaluations.

Garfield history teacher Jesse Hagopian said his co-workers, who backed the protest almost unanimously, will be celebrating.

“It’s an incredible feeling to know Garfield teachers stuck together and the district has to listen to what we the professionals and the educators have to say about what is quality assessment,” Hagopian said.

But Hagopian, one of the boycott’s ringleaders, called the tests flawed even for the younger grades and promised to keep agitating against them. The school district said it will consider using different tests starting after next year. 

Gabriel Spitzer is a former KNKX reporter, producer and host who covered science and health and worked on the show Sound Effect.