By Kathryn Schiliro, Managing Editor
About 10 parents were in attendance for the county Board of Education’s monthly meeting, held at the high school on Oct. 14, to hear a discussion of the newly implemented Measures of Academic Progress, or MAP, assessments.
MAP assessments are given to students in grades Kindergarten through 10th three times through the school year.
The very first MAP assessment was given at the end of last school year, and, so far this school year, one has already been given to Morgan County students.
The school system spent a total of $49,000-plus on MAP. Superintendent Dr. Ralph Bennett opened the MAP assessment discussion by explaining that the test wasn’t summative, like the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests (CRCTs) or End of Course Test (EOCTs), which are given at the end of the school year to test students on what they’ve learned that year.
The CRCT and EOCT are “of little value to us anymore,” Bennett said. “Teachers can’t help your child with the CRCT because it’s (the school year) over and done with.”
MAP assessments will help students “perform better because teachers can find out where the weaknesses are” and help students in that moment, Bennett said.
Gwinnett County-based Dr. Thomas Van Soelen, a private consultant and MAP trainer who’s also responsible for the implementation of MAP at Decatur City Schools, has been working with the school system, training teachers and administrators on MAP.
Van Soelen explained that MAP, unlike the CRCT and EOCT, is a norm-referenced assessment; evaluation is based on where the student falls compared to the norm – the greatest amount of students will fall in or around the 50th percentile.
Moreover, there is “one scale all the way through” for all students, no matter what the grade level. MAP “is not trying to measure grade level standards, we want to measure growth,” Bennett explained. Because the test is given electronically, it’s adaptive: if the student gets many questions right in a row, the questions get harder; if the student gets one wrong, the questions get easier.
Eventually, the student’s “stable performance” provides the student’s RIT, or MAP, score and Lexile level, a literacy score. Other benefits of MAP, according to Van Soelen: Rapid availability – scores are web-based and are available when the student completes the test – and the ability to compare Georgia’s students to national and global averages, especially since the state just got rid of the PARCC assessment, which was supposed to allow for national comparisons.
MAP also provides teachers with a tool, CompassLearning, which can cater work to the individual student based on MAP results.