Teacher Rebellion: Refusal to Administer Standardized Testing Spreads in Washington

New pressure on a hot-button issue.

The teachers are rising up again—and this time, they’re going after standardized tests. In Seattle, a boycott against the national Measure of Academic Progress (MAP) tests is spreading across high schools. 

At Garfield High School, where the boycott began, 19 teachers called a press conference to announce that they would refuse to give the tests because they are a waste of time and resources for the students.

The test scores do not affect the students’ grades or ability to graduate, and the test’s material itself has nothing to do with the students’ classes or curriculum—meaning that students rarely take the tests seriously.


As the Garfield student body president told Common Dreams:

“I know when I took the test, it didn’t seem relevant to what we were studying in class – and we have great classes here at Garfield. I know students who just go through the motions when taking the test, just did it as quickly as possible so they could do something more useful with their time.”

Despite this irrelevance, however, teachers in the Seattle school district learned that this year, the MAP test scores would be used to measure their teacher evaluations—spurring frustration and anger.

"To use this (MAP) as a tool to evaluate our teaching makes no sense," Jesse Hagopian, a history teacher at Garfield High, told Reuters. "They're setting us up for failure.”

The boycott quickly spread to a second Seattle public school, Ballard High School.

Teacher evaluations and standardized testing have been hot-button issues for a decade, with education workers across the nation increasingly willing to take direct action to push back against the policy. In Chicago, the city’s teacher’s union went on strike this fall in the first mass refusal in a quarter century.

Meanwhile, teachers and parents across the country are taking note of the Seattle boycott. A petition supporting the teachers has collected more than 3,000 signatures in less than a week, and a Facebook page boastshundreds of supportive comments.

As Nancy Carlsson-Page in Massachusetts wrote in support of the petition:

“I hope the Seattle teachers' courage spreads across the country and ends this national obsession with testing.”

Meanwhile, back at Garfield, the boycott appears to be a move valuable teaching opportunity than the MAP tests could ever be.

As Alice Mar-Abe wrote online:

I am a student at Garfield HS and I'm so proud of our teachers for standing up for reforms that desperately need to be made.




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Laura Gottesdiener is a freelance journalist and the author of "A Dream Foreclosed: Black America and the Fight for a Place to Call Home," forthcoming from Zuccotti Park Press.