The Network of Teacher Activist Groups (TAG), a national coalition of grassroots teacher organizing groups, stands with the teachers of Garfield High School (Seattle, WA) in their collective refusal to administer the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) test to their students. Their decision is admirable and inspiring because it sends the powerful message that educators will not sit idly as their students are forced to take a barrage of tests that are a deeply flawed tool for assessing student development, and take away from already limited time and resources for teaching and learning.
To TAG, education is essential to the preservation of civil and human rights and is a tool of human liberation. For us, testing, and more precisely, the reliance on standardized tests as the single measure of student, teacher, and school progress and performance (high stakes testing), is a cornerstone of a national corporate school reform agenda that emphasizes punitive accountability practices at the expense of fostering critical thinking and creativity amongst all students and communities. High stakes testing only further entrenches preexisting racial and economic inequalities and forces educators to comply. High stakes testing is also a key profit making tool that benefits testing companies and other private interests rather than enriching the quality of education all students deserve. The courage of Garfield teachers is so important because it is a direct challenge to the very troubling direction that this corporate model of schooling is taking our schools and our society.
Instead of the tyranny of high stakes testing, TAG stands behind the idea that curricula and pedagogy must be culturally relevant and promote creative, critical and challenging education. We call for ending the reliance on standardized tests as the single measure of student and school progress and performance. Instead, we call for the creation of assessments that identify school and student needs in order to strengthen, not punish, schools. Comprehensive assessment should include work sampling and performance-based assessment and should be an outgrowth of student-centered curriculum and instruction.
We invite supporters of the boycott to stay informed about what is happening at Garfield and to try to help in whatever capacities they can. Two things we can do are: join theSolidarity with Garfield HS facebook page and sign the online petition in support of the boycott.
As Professor of Education, and Garfield High School Alum, Wayne Au noted, “[h]aving all of the teachers at a school decide to support a boycott of a high-stakes, standardized test is a rare and beautiful thing.” Garfield has lit a flame that we must all carry with us in our respective communities.
Teacher Activist Groups
Association of Raza Educators: San Diego/Oakland
Education for Liberation Network: National
Educators’ Network for Social Justice (ENSJ): Milwaukee
Metro Atlantans for Public Schools (MAPS)
New York Collective of Radical Educators (NYCoRE)
Rethinking Schools (RS)
Teacher Action Group (TAG): Philadelphia
Teacher Activist Group (TAG): Boston
Teachers for Social Justice (TSJ): Chicago
Teachers for Social Justice (T4SJ): San Francisco