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School Beat: Straight from Seattle--The Local and National Movement to Reimagine Testing and Public Education

Lisa Schiff byline‚ Feb. 21‚ 2013

Last night, local and national leaders and almost 500 concerned individuals joined together for a “Tele Town Hall” to discuss recent actions concerning standardized testing in our nation’s public schools. Jumping off from the dramatic and ongoing boycott of a particular assessment by teachers at Seattle’s Garfield High School, Wednesday’s call, which was hosted by FairTest, brought into conversation Garfield teacher Jesse Hagopian, San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) first-grade teacher Darcie Chan Blackburn, and Dr. Monty Neill, Executive Director of FairTest. I had the honor of moderating this discussion, which raised critical issues for all communities to be aware of and ended with a series of important actions that we can all take in order to push past the limits of these tests.

For those not following the Garfield High School story, in January the entire teaching staff of Garfield High School, supported by the school’s PTSA and by the Seattle Education Association, refused to administer a test called the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP), based on serious flaws with the test that have been a longstanding source of concern by teachers and parents. MAP is a commercial testing product available for purchase by districts across the country, similar to the Common Learning Assessment (CLA) test used in San Francisco.