Seattle Education

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MAP Test

March 14, 2011

This was written by a Parents Across America Seattle member describing the MAP test.

MAP Background

MAP, for Measures of Academic Progress, is a computerized test our
children have started taking this year.  Students take it three times
a year: fall, winter and spring.  What is this test?

First, MAP is an untimed, adaptive test.  That is, while it starts at
grade-level content, “As a student responds to questions, the test
responds to the student, adjusting up or down in difficulty, ”
according to the NWEA website.  NWEA, or the Northwest Evaluation
Association, produces this and other computerized tests.  This is why
many students have reported encountering many words or concepts they
were unfamiliar with.  Also, students performing at an advanced level
in reading or math may take a longer time to complete the test.

Second, the MAP is diagnostic, or formative, which means “its primary
objective is to inform the teacher of what his or her students know or
do not know,” according to Wikipedia, with the idea that the teacher
can then adjust their teaching to what is needed.  However, some
teachers, including Thornton Creek teachers, find the information
difficult to use, in part because it does not include what questions
the student received, which can be different for every student because
of the adaptive nature of the test.

The MAP is therefore quite different than the MSP, which is a
summative assessment.  Wikipedia characterizes “summative” as
assessment of learning, while formative assessment is assessment for
learning.   In addition, summative assessments tend to have fixed time
and content.  One could also say the MSP (summative) asks “what do you
know?” while the MAP (formative) asks “what don’t you know?”  Of
course, a given test could attempt to answer both questions, but
standardized tests usually address one or the other.

The MAP is also different from the MSP in that it is administered
earlier as well as much more often.  MSP begins in third grade with
reading only, whereas MAP begins in kindergarten with both reading and
math.  There is a special “MAP for Primary Grades”, with audio support
for pre-readers, which Thornton Creek Students took this year.
However, the NWEA website says,  “NWEA is completing the development
of tests for early primary grade students.”

And finally, how does the test work for special needs students?  The
website says only “Because the tests are adaptive and un-timed, they
often are appropriate for special needs students.”

The following is from our archive and was originally posted in 2009:

What the Gates Foundation Is Doing: The MAP Test

The Gates Foundation supports, and pays for, high stakes testing which is tied to merit pay.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has given Seattle Public Schools a total of $9M this year for additional testing. We have not been able to find out the details of this testing yet. We don’t know what the test is, what the test is to determine, who is administering the test and how the results of the tests are to be used.

UPDATE: We have heard that the Gates “gift” is funding the new computerized, standardized “MAP” tests the district is administering this year to all students, from as young as kindergarten to grade 9. MAP stands for “Measures of Academic Progress™” (yes, it is a trademarked product) and will be administered to the kids three times during the school year. The test can take as much as two hours each session, according to the district’s official announcement letter.

A number of questions come to mind: Is this the best use of the students’ school time? Is it appropriate to make children as young as five who can’t read take a standardized test on a computer? Is this the best use of such funds? Or would parents, students and teachers prefer to see money channeled more directly to the classroom, to create smaller class sizes, more enrichment opportunities, or to purchase new textbooks?

A SIDE NOTE: Another interesting connection is that our superintendent, Dr. Goodloe-Johnson, is on the Board of Directors for the company that has created and distributes the MAP test. There is $4.3M in the levy to pay for additional use of this MAP test in Seattle.

UPDATE: March 8, 2010

There is a $4.6M (!) proposal to be considered by the board to pay for IT upgrades so that the MAP can be given to all students.

We could have more teachers and reduce class sizes instead with this money. Why is it that Bill Gates, a non-educator whose children go to elite private schools, is deciding how we should spend our tax dollars?

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