Beginning in January, Jamestown Public Schools fifth- through eighth-grade students will take the Measures of Academic Progress, or MAP, to determine their math instructional level and to measure their growth throughout the school year, and year to year.
"A complaint that we have heard is that the Common Core Learning Standards are adding new tests for our students," said Denise Pusateri, JPS math coordinator. "I want to assure middle school parents that the only new assessment we will add this year is MAP, a math screening test, because as a district we should have had a math diagnostic screener all along, like we have in ELA. However, MAP is not related to the implementation of the CCLS. MAP is assessing students' skills, not the standards. They are also a survey for teachers to help determine what students know in math and what they are ready to learn."
A panel of JPS teachers and administrators helped make the decision to implement MAP, which is from the Northwest Evaluation Association which has more than 30 years experience developing assessments, professional development and educational research. Students will take MAP three times a year in the fall, winter and spring. MAP is computer-based and taken in the classroom with the teacher.
MAP is unique because it adapts for the individual student's level of learning. The difficulty of each question is based on how well a student answers all the previous questions. As a student answers correctly, each question becomes more difficult. If the student answers incorrectly, the questions become easier. This gives each student the same opportunity to succeed and maintain a positive attitude towards assessments. It gives each student a fair opportunity to show what he or she knows.
"A good way to understand MAP, as it relates to your child,is that a parent might keep a growth chart showing how much their child's height changes from one year to the next," Pusateri said. "MAP does the same thing except it's measuring growth in math understanding and skill. MAP is also important to teachers as it tells them where a student's strengths are and where they need more help in a specific area and throughout the school year."
MAP gives teachers a detailed report for each student including a breakdown of the student's math skills such as: number sense, geometry and fractions.
"It is important for parents to understand that because the test adapts to your child's skill level they will generally get only 50 percent of the question correct," Pusateri said. "For example, if a fifth-grader takes MAP and he answers many of the questions correctly, MAP will adjust and increase the level of difficulty of the questions. An advanced student might end up answering eighth-grade math questions. Parents should understand that their child will answer questions incorrectly but it's telling teachers exactly what skill level the student is in math, whether that is advanced, or challenged and needing more help."