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Posted on Tue, Oct 4, 2011 : 5:55 a.m.

Ann Arbor schools students taking new MAP test to measure academic growth

By Janet Miller

With new back-to-school shoes barely broken in, students already are back in test-taking mode.

For 8,100 elementary and some middle school students in the Ann Arbor School District, that means a new, computer-based test that, ultimately, will be used to help measure teacher performance.

Students began taking the new Measures of Academic Progress test, developed by the Northwest Evaluation Association, on Sept. 14. The testing period wraps up today.

While the test isn’t timed, it generally takes two hours to complete and is given in 30-minute periods for K-1 and 60-minute intervals for older students.

Elementary students are taking the MAP in two areas, math and reading. Middle school students at Ann Arbor Open at Mack and in the Mitchell/Scarlett partnership also will be given the MAP test.

A new state mandate requires districts to measure student growth as part of teacher evaluation, said Anne Reader, director of instructional technology for the district. While the district already administers the Scholastic Reading Inventory test, it only measures reading.

The state mandate requires districts measure student growth as part of teacher evaluations beginning in the 2012-13 school year, but Ann Arbor schools wanted to work the kinks out of the MAP test before it became required, Reader said. The new teacher evaluation method will include many components, with student growth measured through local, state and national assessments counting for 20 percent, Reader said. The MAP covers the national test while the Michigan MEAP will be used as the state test. Local measures include student report cards.

“While there are new state mandates, we as a district were moving toward more meaningful teacher evaluation,” Reader said.

But MAP test results will be useful beyond measuring teacher performance, Reader said. It will help teachers assess exactly where each student needs help and will assist in placing students in learning groups for targeted instruction. “Instead of just getting a number, teachers will get a more detailed breakdown of the results,” she said. Teachers will be given a report on each student and on their classroom as a whole.

“Teachers will be able to see ranges on a graph of their classrooms,” Reader said. Students will take the MAP three times a year.

While teachers were usually able to access learning levels for their classrooms, the MAP will speed up the process, Reader said.

The test cost $95,000 and requires using each school’s laptop computers, pulling them out of service for other uses during the testing window.

The MAP uses adaptive technology, Reader said, where each student takes a different test. While the first question may be the same, the next question hinges on whether the student answered the first question correctly. A right answer yields a more difficult next question while an easier question will follow a wrong answer until each student finds his or her level.



Wed, Oct 5, 2011 : 12:08 a.m.

My daughter, who is a 5th grader, took these test and said they were tough at times, but easy in other places as well. What struck me though was that she also told me that the lab tops and computer lab were not usable for the last three weeks of school. I think as a parent that angers me the most. Basically my kid can't use the resources for three weeks in September, three weeks in January, and three weeks in May/June. Is this the best use of our resources? 9 weeks out of the school year, our kids have zero ability to use the resource of a computer lab and lab tops. Wait, doesn't the district want money for technology! Why would I vote for that if my kid isn't able to use it for 9 weeks out of the year. I understand the need for test, I guess, but I put a little more faith in the fact that teachers know there students, that a test shouldn't be needed to assess a kids ability. I don't remember all these test when WE were younger!


Tue, Oct 4, 2011 : 11:38 p.m.

This is troublesome: "The test cost $95,000 and requires using each school's laptop computers, pulling them out of service for other uses during the testing window." Computers out of commission for four weeks, three times per year? That's about a third of the school year that technology is unavailable to students.


Tue, Oct 4, 2011 : 6:49 p.m.

Not to mention that the kids not having computers at home is a bit irrelevant. They most certainly will be using them at school and everywhere else in the future (I'm pretty sure this "computer trend" isn't going away) so introducing it to them early is not a bad idea at all. As I said earlier my son just started Kindergarten and they already have them taking this test (at least in his school, not sure if all of them have it yet.) I asked him about it in fact... he said it wasn't hard for him to do. Granted we do have computers at home and he's used them to play games and such but even if he hadn't it would still be a good thing for him to get used to them as soon as possible no?


Tue, Oct 4, 2011 : 5:37 p.m.

BTW The NWEA's web page is: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>

A Voice of Reason

Tue, Oct 4, 2011 : 5:35 p.m.

Finally! Good teachers need and want information on their students so they can know what works and what does not. I commend the AAPS for offering SRI test--even though it would be great to have some type of reading test quarterly. SRI gives each child a Lexile score which helps teachers understand what level of books they can read and understand. College books are around 1350 and up. Middle School you need around a 800-1000. Around 70% on Barnes and have Lexile scores attached, so it helps parents pair books with children's abilities. Remember, good teachers want to know how their students are performing, so the more information and technology they have at their disposal, the better. It is shameful that our kids do not have better access to computers or iPads because the online learning supplemental materials are invaluable. We also needs smart boards for the classrooms so teachers can have direct access to the web.


Tue, Oct 4, 2011 : 5:29 p.m.

The original idea of this test system is to find where an individual student's knowledge/skill level is at a point in time. The computer enables the test to be individualized, as noted in the article. Plus the results are available in just few days not 6 months later. With the test results the teacher can develop an individual program to help each student improve. Then after a period of time each student is tested again to see how they have progressed. The feedback of the second test is just one valuable tool in measuring a students progress and the process continues. Monitor and adjust. If a student is with the same teacher all day then many skills of the teacher are also on display. If the student sees other staff members during a day the their education skills need to be added. Remember educators see students for set time during the day. Parents and others need to be included in any evaluation progress of students. This is how testing should be used.

A Voice of Reason

Tue, Oct 4, 2011 : 5:35 p.m.

This is great. I think we were both writing the same thing at the same time.


Tue, Oct 4, 2011 : 4:55 p.m.

If they want to assess teacher performance, why not have a supervisor sit in the room for a week or two every year or so and evaluate how they teach? They can see if the teacher is engaging the students, how they are covering their material and making it interesting, and how they help students who are falling behind. Teachers shouldn't need a standardized test to see where their students are at periodically throughout the year - they see that with every assignment and activity they do at school. Standardized tests assess how good a person is at test-taking, and doesn't always accurately reflect a student's abilities, or the teacher's.


Tue, Oct 4, 2011 : 4:37 p.m.

As the parent of a kindergartener who just took this test I am a bit puzzled by the opposition to it. The test is designed to see where they are right now, and the teacher has the results in about 48 hours. The MEAP also told teachers where students needed help, but the difference is that the results wouldn't come back until the end of the semester, meaning they lost several weeks where they could have been working with individual students on problem areas. Now they'll know almost instantly which areas each student needs help in, that can be passed along to the parents so both the teacher and parent can work together to help the student in those areas. I see it as a way to better tailor each child's education. Will it work for everyone? Well, no... but nothing works for everyone. It's a step in the right direction and is a tool that can help most children improve so it's well worth the time, cost and effort IMHO.


Tue, Oct 4, 2011 : 8:56 p.m.

Most teachers can evaluate a child's strengths and weaknesses without a standardized test.


Tue, Oct 4, 2011 : 3:50 p.m.

This test is wrong for so many reasons! AAPS spent $95,000 on this and at the same time my 3rd grader is in a class with 28 wiggling bodies, nor can the district provide neighborhood bus stops for high schoolers? Where are our priorities? Having my child take this test takes away from valuable instruction time - time that is already precious. Someone recently suggested that all the parents that object to this test should write a note excusing their child from taking the test - they could read a book or study math facts instead. Ha! I'd be all for it, except that I would hate to have a teacher evaluated poorly as a result.

Alan Benard

Tue, Oct 4, 2011 : 3:02 p.m.

So much student time is wasted both in the preparation for and taking of standardized tests which should be put into genuine self-directed research and inquiry, and interactions between the teacher and students. To waste precious time in school gathering data simply to misuse it as a weapons against professional teachers is criminal.


Tue, Oct 4, 2011 : 1:43 p.m.

No, not the tools that are being selected by people who do not know how they work, or *if* they work. A test on a computer for Kindergarteners and 1st graders? Many are just learning fine muscle skills. Many (surprise) do not have computers. Basing a teacher's evaluation on *this*? To be blunt, that is stupid. What ever happened to observations? Go into the classroom and watch and listen.


Tue, Oct 4, 2011 : 12:45 p.m.

I think measuring student growth from year to year is a good idea as long the test is a reliable test. Student attendance also needs to be part of the formula because if the student is absent often it's hard for the teacher to make progress with that student.


Tue, Oct 4, 2011 : 11:59 a.m.

I don't want my children's time wasted taking a test that evaluates teachers when they could be using that time learning that will benefit the students.


Wed, Oct 5, 2011 : 12:03 a.m.

KLK - The MAP test at the beginning of the school year is to find out what each student knows, so that the teacher can tailor some of his or her presentation to the needs of the specific class. This is supposed to increase the learning each student achieves. Then, in January, the kids take the test again to measure what they've learned since early October, and one more time in May. The average difference in specific subject scores from now until May will be used to help measure teacher effectiveness. The May results for a given student (who returns to school in the district) can be compared to that students' scores the next September to measure summer learning loss, (or gain).

A Voice of Reason

Tue, Oct 4, 2011 : 5:38 p.m.

The Race to the Top dollars were awarded to school districts that test students and improve performance throughout the school year. How do you know how well your student is performing? I think both Democrats and Republicans agree that we need ongoing assessment of students. Teacher's need to know if they are effective.


Tue, Oct 4, 2011 : 1:45 p.m.

absolutely! This test actually undermines the teaching/learning process.


Tue, Oct 4, 2011 : 11:53 a.m.

MAP tests test students test taking ability more than their knowledge. This orientation to tests does nothing to encourage a love of learning in students which can take them further than the ability to regurgitate information for tests.


Tue, Oct 4, 2011 : 1:44 p.m.


Charlie Brown's Ghost

Tue, Oct 4, 2011 : 11:27 a.m.

It says the test period is &quot;September, January and May.&quot; I got news for you - this isn't September, January or May.


Tue, Oct 4, 2011 : 11:33 a.m.

The article mentions that they started on September 14.


Tue, Oct 4, 2011 : 10:29 a.m.

Is there a web-link to past test scores? It seems one always hears about testing, but it is difficult to find test results.


Tue, Oct 4, 2011 : 11:58 p.m.

The MAP test is brand-new to Ann Arbor, so we have no history. For past MEAP scores, consult the state of Michigan Department of Education web site.