MAP stands for “Measures of Academic Progress” and is a test that Wyoming school districts use to measure what students have learned in math, reading, writing, and science. Some districts give the MAP twice per year, in the fall and the spring, while other districts may give it three or four times in a school year. The MAP has replaced other standardized tests, such as the TerraNova or IOWA Test of Basic Skills, in most districts.
Many of the school-wide or grade-wide tests given to students are “traditional standardized” tests. This means that every student is given the exact same test, then their results are compared to other students their age. The MAP is different in that not all students see the same questions.
The MAP is a “computerized adaptive test” that can adjust the difficulty of the questions to the level of the student. The test, which has no time limit, will start with a question that matches the student’s grade level. If the student answers the question wrong, the computer will pick an easier question next. The rest of the questions will be determined by the student’s performance on previous questions.
Traditional standardized tests, such as the Proficiency Assessment for Wyoming Students (PAWS), compare how a student performs to a large group of other students his or her age. These tests are helpful for determining whether students have met certain academic standards. However, if a student is performing below grade level, he or she might not be able to understand very many questions, and the test may be very frustrating. The results would show that the student is below grade level, but would give very little information about his or her actual learning needs or progress.
The MAP is different. Because it adapts to the level of the test-taker, it can show parents and teachers the instructional level of a student and identify concepts that the student might be ready to learn. When the student takes the test again later on in the school year, the results will be able to measure the student’s progress and identify new concepts to focus on.
How is the MAP scored?
Since the MAP is taken on a computer, the test score is available as soon as the student finishes it. The score is given as a Rasch Unit (RIT), which is a special type of number scale that measures student achievement. A RIT score will vary from grade to grade as a student grows.
These scores can be used to compare the student’s performance to that of “typical” students his or her age. Using scores this way might help identify students who need some extra help. Parents who are interested in how their student’s score compares to a “typical” student their age can discuss the results with their student’s teacher. It can also be used to gage a student’s expected progress in a school year.
In addition, RIT scores can be used with a curriculum tool to help determine what skills the student might be ready to develop next. For example, a score from 191-200 on the reading portion of the MAP test suggests that a student might be ready to develop the following skills:
On the reading portion of the MAP, scores called “Lexile Measures” are also given. Lexile Measures score the student’s reading ability on a scale from 5 to 2000. Scores are shown with the letter “L” after them (15L, 1050L, etc). By knowing a student’s Lexile Measure, teachers can match the student with a book that is appropriate for his or her level. For example, if a student receives a Lexile Measure of 380L, his teacher might start him with a book that has been rated as having a 380L difficulty level.
The MAP is created by educators for educators through the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA). For more information, click here to go to their website.