"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

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Thursday, March 31, 2011

MAP Testing: "It's the Most Terrible Time of the Year"...(with Apologies to Andy Williams)

HO! HO! HO! It's MAP testing time in Missouri. From what I've learned by reading and listening to those involved with testing, it is a dreaded time of the year for school districts due to the high stakes of students not performing well. The stakes won't affect the students in their school records but results can make a huge difference in districts in terms of funding. To highlight some of the problems with this type of testing, I took a bit of liberty with the lyrics from "It's the Most Wonderful time of the Year". Here is Andy Williams singing the song on youtube. Play it while following along with our version about the dreaded MAP testing every spring:

It's the most terrible time of the year
With the kids all stressed out
And the teachers burned out
There's no one in good cheer
It's the most terrible time of the year

It's the most-most stressful season of all
With those bubbles to fill
With your pencil so near
Anxiety calls!
It's the most-most stressful season of all

There are instructions imparted
And students imploding
And tears all around the class
There are scary test questions
And stories to study
And answers the kids might not know

It's the most terrible time of the year
There are test preparations
All hearts will be pounding
When testing comes near
It's the most terrible time of the year

The results from the testing
Based on subset groupings
Determines the funding for schools
If the kids don't perform
The school flunks, it's a pity
It's AYP regs, don't you know?

It's the most terrible time of the year
There is much consternation
From districts awaiting
Results of the tests
It's the most terrible time
It's the most terrible time
It's the most terrible time....of the year

Opting out of MAP testing in various states is a hot topic in Education on the internet. We'll be talking about MAP testing requirements in Missouri the next several days. We'll try to determine if in fact your child is legally required to take the test.

Do you know the purpose of the test? The MAP test is used to determine how the school is performing. Results of the test will not determine if your child advances the next grade or not. Results of the test will not determine any additional services you child may or may not receive. Results of the tests are broken down into subgroup testing to determine how subgroups (Asian/Pacific Islands, Black, Hispanic, American Indian, White, Other/Non Response, Free/Reduced Lunch, IEP, LEP) score. If one subgroup in a school fails, the whole school fails. And what does failure mean? If a school does not show improvement over a specified period of time, the school can become unaccredited and lose funding.

The MAP testing creates stress for students, teachers and administrators. Why do schools have to undergo such an ordeal? MAP scores allegedly determine how students are performing and money can be withheld based on results. I am receiving conflicting information if your child is legally required to take the MAP testing in Missouri. It is clearer in other states if students are required to show up or are allowed to opt out, and students in other states are not showing up for MAP testing this year.

Can you keep your child home this year so he/she won't have to undergo testing that makes no difference for your child individually but harms the collective group because of federal mandates in "No Child Left Behind"? Call DESE at 573.751.4212 and ask the department these questions:
  • Do "No Child Left Behind" mandates legally require students to take MAP tests?
  • If such a mandate exists, can DESE produce the specific clause?
  • Is there a specific clause that does not allow parents to opt out?
  • If such a clause denying opt out exists, can DESE produce the clause?
If DESE cannot produce the requested information and you do not feel the necessity to make your child take these tests which have no impact on his/her report card, you need to decide on your next course of action. Parents in Missouri and other states are beginning to question whether the MAP testing has become more of a bullying tactic to make AYP goals for a school to satisfy the Department of Education rules based on no legislation to back up this tactic.

Tomorrow we'll be writing about a Missouri school district that has filed to exempt itself from MAP testing. Apparently it's had enough of experiencing "the most terrible time of the year".


  1. I am the data and assessment coordinator for my district which makes me my own worst enemy. I get really stressed because if I lose a test or I dunno, sneeze wrong I could breach security and get in major trouble. And I want my students to do well, esp. because it is related to funding and our school is broke! But I'm morally opposed to the exams. Then to top it ff the teachers hate the exams (for good reason) but they take it all out on me as if I'm the one making them do the stupid test and it is the state/nclb not me.
    I liked your song and might gave to ask permission to share it with my staff- once testing is over, as if I sent it now they might say, if I'm against testing, then let's throw in the towel. Due to major budget cuts we have to be a slave to the testing system.

  2. I'm glad you liked the song and please feel free to share! I sympathize for all the parties involved in this testing: the kids, the parents, the teachers, the administrators. We are all being held hostage by mandates created by bureaucrats.

    NOBODY likes these tests and I wonder if they really serve the purpose for which they were created...I believe the system protects the system and the individuals are needed in this instance for the collective outcome and are insignificant for their own personal achievement. Maybe that's what everyone's feeling in this ritual of standardized testing?
    And you are correct, we are finding ourselves enslaved for money for systems that aren't working very well.

  3. What's the matter with testing students to see how they're doing? Test results are used to determine scholarship grants, college admissions and course placement. We use test results to determine GPA and which nations are performing in better fields than others. Teachers use tests every week to determine how students are learning and if material is being retained. Of course it's not perfect, but aside from personal interviews, maybe oral examination or other types of analyzing methods which aren't feasible at the size of the public school level, testing is what we're left with until someone is motivated to come up with something better.

  4. Students are not rewarded for meeting state goals and are not punished for failing to meet goals. What is the incentive to do well? I've had students make Christmas tree design in their test booklets and complete an assessment in less that 2 minutes. Yet, I am not allowed to talk to them and tell them to rework the problem, try harder, or you need to talk to a principal. Kids know this and know that only the teacher is punished for their MAP behavior.

  5. I know this post was from a while ago. But, I disagree with you. In the school system in my area students are rewarded for meeting state goals, therefore punishing the ones who don't meet those goals by not letting them participate in the activity.


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