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