The Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) Test
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The MAP test is an adaptive assessment for children ranging from kindergarten through to 12th grade.
The MAP test varies from the usual format of academic tests where each child answers the same questions. Instead, the MAP test is adapted to each child, featuring questions that are suited to that child’s academic standard.
The MAP test is created and maintained by the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA).
What Is Being Assessed?
The purpose of the MAP test is:
- To assist teachers in identifying a child’s strengths and weaknesses. This points to the academic areas where a child may be challenged and pushed further, and the areas where more work and support is needed.
- To track the child’s academic achievements and developments through their time at school.
- To compare the child’s academic growth with what is expected for a particular school year, for example, is a year one child reading at the level of a year two child?
- To make it possible to predict a child’s academic development, achievement and grades, and investigate where this prediction is not met.
The MAP test assesses reading, language use and mathematics across the entire age range.
For certain age groups, knowledge of general sciences will also be assessed.
What Does ‘Adaptive’ Mean?
The MAP test is ‘adaptive’ in that it adapts to the answers given during the assessment.
If a child answers a question incorrectly, the following question will be at an easier level. If a child answers a question correctly, the following question will be at a more difficult level.
Question Formats and Type
The questions included in the test will be suitable for the child’s age group, as well as their individual academic level.
For example, questions for kindergarten age children will have audio questions for children who might struggle to read and brightly colored image-based answer options; questions for older year groups become more tricky.
The format of the questions will vary and may include drag and drop, multiple-choice and fill in the blank questions.
The MAP test assesses four different areas:
- Language use
- In some cases, general sciences
The purpose of the reading section is to assess the child’s understanding of different written formats, their ability to analyze written passages and whether they can use linked themes, theories and concepts.
For instance, a reading question for a 7th grader may ask for the antonym (or opposite) of a word. This tests the child’s understanding of the term ‘antonym’ as well as the words themselves.
A kindergartener might be asked about different word sounds/phonics, word meanings or to identify rhyming words.
Alternatively, a child may be asked to analyze a passage of writing for the author’s intent or the key ideas of the passage.
- What is the antonym of harmony?
The correct answer is B. In this context, 'harmony' means to be in accord with something. You are looking for the oposite, so should choose B. discord.
A child’s knowledge of grammar, spelling and vocabulary will be tested in the language use questions.
The child will also be asked to write an essay at the end of the exam to further demonstrate their language skills. The length of the essay will vary from a few sentences for the youngest children to longer passages for the oldest.
Children will need to demonstrate a good understanding of how to structure an essay or story and how to present an argument, as well as using good grammar and spelling.
- What is the correct meaning of the word ‘neutral’?
- Which of the following sentences is incorrectly punctuated?
A. Can you help me with my homework, please?
B. The dog was really enjoying it’s bone.
C. He reluctantly said, “I’m sorry!”
D. When we went to the zoo, I saw a lion, a penguin, and a zebra.
The correct answers are:
- C – ‘Neutral’ has a few different meanings but the only meaning that is correct in the list is ‘impartial’.
- B – ‘It’s’ always stands for ‘it is’. Therefore, B is incorrectly punctuated.
Math questions will vary in level from basic to advanced, depending on the age group and the child’s individual academic level.
You will face general arithmetic-type questions, definitions and problem-solving questions (revise your fraction and percentage calculations), as well as geometry (for example, working out the area of a shape), algebra and graphs.
Here is an example of a math question for a 2nd grader:
- Which of the following equations has an even result?
A. 201 + 34 = ?
B. 35 + 98 = ?
C. 351 + 99 = ?
D. 147 + 58 = ?
A grade 7 math question, by comparison, might be:
- James wants to see a movie at the theater. It will take him 35 minutes to travel back by bus from the theater. He has to be home by 10:00 p.m. There are four showings of the movie at various times:
A. 5:30 p.m.
B. 6:00 p.m.
C. 7:30 p.m.
D. 8:00 p.m.
If the movie is 1 hour 40 minutes long, which is the latest movie showing he can see and get home by 10:00 p.m.
Assume the bus is available straight after the movie finishes.
The correct answers are:
- C – 351 + 99 = 450 which is an even number.
- C – If the movie is 1 hour and 40 minutes and James has to travel for 35 minutes to get home, he will need to start watching the movie 2 hours and 15 minutes before 10 p.m. So, the latest showing he can see is at 7:30 p.m.
General science questions are only included in the MAP test for certain school grades.
Science questions will cover areas such as:
- Physical sciences (for example, energy transfer)
- Earth and space sciences (for example, the solar system and plate tectonics)
- Nature of science (for example, scientific theories)
- Life science (for example, ecosystems)
- Scientific inquiry (for example, drawing conclusions from data)
What to Expect When Taking the MAP Test
The MAP test is taken on a computer, rather than paper and pen, and will usually be taken at your childs school.
There is no specific time limit placed on the test so children can take the time they need to answer (and should be encouraged not to rush), but it generally takes no more than one hour to finish.
Children will generally sit the MAP test at the start, during and at the end of each school year.
The test begins with a question that matches the individual child’s academic level. The difficulty of the questions progresses from that point depending on whether the child answers correctly or not.
The MAP test includes around 52 questions in each section (reading, language use, math and, for some grades, general sciences), although this may vary depending on the individual child.
The result is available as soon as the MAP test is completed.
How the Test Is Scored
The MAP test is scored using the RIT scale. In this instance, RIT stands for Rash unIT.
The RIT scale is a stable measure of a child’s academic progress and does not consider their school grade or age. Instead, the child’s progress is mapped according to their past and current MAP test scores.
The RIT score of each child reflects the level of academic difficulty at which that child would be expected to correctly answer half of the MAP test questions.
Once a child has completed the MAP test, they are awarded a RIT score for each area tested (reading, language usage, math, science). This RIT score points to the child’s academic level.
The RIT scale compares a child’s MAP test score with previous scores, providing the teacher with a continuous assessment of the child’s academic level throughout their school education.
Generally, a parent will be provided with a report of their child’s progress, including their past and current MAP test scores.
How to Do Well on the MAP Test
We recommend following the three steps below to give your child the best chance of doing well on the MAP test:
‘Prepare’ means developing a regular habit of revisiting what a child has already learned and opening them up to new learning too.
When it comes to reading and language use, one of the best ways to prepare for the MAP test is to become an active reader of a variety of materials:
- Storybooks in a range of genres
- Non-fiction books on topics of interest
- Poetry and anthologies
- Magazines and comics
The wider the variety of a child’s reading material is, the more they will be introduced to a larger vocabulary and usage of grammar, punctuation, etc.
The flip side to reading is writing. The MAP test includes an essay question so time should be taken to improve the child’s writing too.
The test will decide the subject of the essay but a child’s confidence in writing can be built through writing about what they enjoy and are enthusiastic about. This is an excellent way to apply all they have learned about:
- Punctuation (for example, commas and dashes)
- Definitions (for example, nouns and adjectives)
- How to apply capitalization
- Planning, drafting and editing
- Structure (for example, paragraphs and headings)
- Themes and settings
Preparing for the math section of the MAP test means regularly revisiting what the child has learned and applying that to real life.
Useful areas to revisit include graphs, shapes, calculations and definitions, but this will depend on the individual child and their academic level.
Applying math in real-life situations can also help. Why not try:
- Adding up the cost of a shopping list
- Measuring ingredients to bake a cake at home
- Calculating how long a journey to the park will take by foot or bicycle
Using math to find solutions in real life can improve a child’s mathematical problem solving and make it easier for them to tackle unfamiliar MAP test questions.
Finally, it is always a good idea for any child taking a MAP test to make sure they have had a good night’s sleep, a healthy breakfast and that they are well hydrated.
All of these things will improve the child’s brain function on the day of the test.
‘Practice’ is all about knowing what to expect from the MAP test. This will improve a child’s confidence and help them to process the test questions more efficiently.
Practicing sample MAP test questions can help in several ways:
- Familiarising the child with the way MAP test questions are laid out and worded
- Understanding the different formats of questions (for example, multiple-choice or drop-down)
- Pinpointing areas where the child’s knowledge is lacking
All of these can improve a child’s confidence when taking the MAP test.
'Check' is about a child improving their chances of doing well in the MAP test on the day.
The MAP test is not timed, but once a child has provided the answer to a question, they cannot go back and change their mind.
It is, therefore, important that they carefully read the questions to find all the points they need to address in their answer, and that they check their answer before submitting it.
Time should be taken to thoroughly read the question so that mistakes are not made.
The child should read all the instructions in the question first, and stick to those instructions when answering the question.
Does the question have one point that should be covered in the answer, or are there several points? Has the child covered all points in their answer?
Can the answer to a math question be arrived at by using several calculations, rather than just one? Has the child been asked to show how they arrived at their answer?
Grammar, spelling and vocabulary should always be checked before submitting an answer. It is easy to forget to capitalize a name or miss a comma.
Remember, the MAP test is not timed so the child can take as long as they like to answer all the questions fully and carefully.
The MAP test is a valuable tool in any teacher’s toolkit. It helps to identify each child’s progress throughout their school education based on their individual academic abilities.
Children often learn at different speeds to their peers. The MAP test allows each child to be academically challenged or supported in the way that best suits them.