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District Says Teachers Who Boycotted Test Won’t Be Punished

The superintendent of Seattle Public Schools said no teachers will be disciplined for refusing to give students the district-wide Measures of Academic Progress test. The district got international attention after dozens of teachers at several schools boycotted the test this winter, calling it a waste of time and money.

Students in Seattle Schools take the MAP test in reading and math two or three times a year, from kindergarten through ninth grade or beyond. In January, dozens of teachers said they wouldn’t give the test winter quarter because it ate up class time without producing useful data.

In response, the district threatened teachers with two weeks of unpaid suspension if they didn’t administer the test. But in a letter to district employees today, Superintendent Jose Banda said it turns out the teachers who refused to give the MAP test didn’t break any rules after all.

"In talking to the administrators, they didn’t find, or we didn’t find, that any of the teachers did not perform their duties as was expected with regards to the MAP testing," Banda said.

According to Banda, that’s because none of the boycotting teachers were actually responsible for administering the test. For instance, at Garfield High School, hundreds of students joined the protest by opting out of the test. Banda said teachers had to stay in the classroom with those students while other staff members administered the test in another room.

Garfield history teacher Jesse Hagopian called the superintendent’s decision a huge victory for protesters. "Teachers at Garfield are celebrating today. You would see a lot of smiles down here in the doghouse," Hagopian said.

But Hagopian said the superintendent’s letter makes it sound like the boycott never happened. He said the real reason teachers aren’t being disciplined is the attention the protest received.

"Students, parents and teachers all over the nation called, and e-mailed, and wrote letters, and protested, and rallied, and made their voices heard for an alternative to the MAP test. They couldn’t be ignored," Hagopian said.

The district recently changed the MAP testing policy so fewer students will have to take the exam. But Superintendent Banda said he still expects teachers to give the test spring quarter.

Hagopian said he expects even more teachers will now boycott the MAP test.

Year started with KUOW: 2008