By Faith Hoyt
After over 50 years of using IOWA Assessments to measure academic progress, students are trading No. 2 pencils for a computer mouse to take a new assessment—the MAP test.
“Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) is a computerized adaptive test,” shared Martha Havens, associate director for elementary education in the Pacific Union Conference. “It provides educators with information to improve teaching and learning.”
Havens identified a few of the key differences between MAP and IOWA tests, explaining that with MAP, the difficulty of each question is based on how well a student answers the previous questions. “The results, when shared with the students, help them to improve and move on to take more responsibility for their learning,” she said.
Teryl Loeffler, associate director for secondary education in the Pacific Union, adds that MAP, which is used three times a school year, measures true academic progress because it is a way to determine where students are at individually.
The Office of Education partnered with 28 schools across six conferences in the union to pilot the new tests in 2017 in preparation for the transition to MAP testing. In their first quarter of 2021, all schools in the Pacific Union Conference utilized the testing.
“We have made a good transition,” said Berit von Pohle, Director of Education for the Pacific Union Conference. “Especially considering we weren’t face-to-face last spring.”
Hawaiian Mission Academy Ka Lama Iki started MAP testing in 2018 as a pilot school. Their most recent MAP testing took place in early February; their tests were conducted by class level and by each teacher over a period of 10 days.
“With MAP, students do not miss the stress of ‘time’s up, pencils down, you have to be done finished or not,’” said Sarah Traczyk, principal of Hawaiian Mission Academy Ka Lama Iki. “IOWA testing was timed, overwhelming, and results wouldn’t get back to us for about four to six weeks. Students can now take as long as they need, have the tests with accommodations when necessary, and we can break up testing time.”
Traczyk noted MAP’s updated, culturally appropriate passages and questions for a diverse range of learners. Furthermore, teachers can get all finished test results within 24 hours—data which then rolls into user-friendly charts.
“All around, it’s very helpful and has almost instant feedback,” Traczyk added.
Napa Christian Campus of Education, another school that piloted MAP, used their class iPads to administer MAP tests at the start of the calendar year. While implementation improved, their staff noted the learning curve that MAP posed in the beginning.
“When we first started, there was a long learning process for both the teachers and students on how to proctor and take the test properly,” said Martin Reid, director of Instrumental Studies and registrar for Napa Christian. “For the younger kids we used to use computers, but the combination of using a mouse and keyboard was difficult, and so with iPads it’s much more friendly.”
At Vegas Valley Adventist Academy, students have the option of in-person classes or online instruction. MAP tests for remote students meant testing at home or coming to campus during hours when other students weren’t there.
Teachers at Vegas Valley noted that while there are some frustrations with technology issues for the MAP testing when computers glitch or internet fails, having three tests during the year allows for teachers to see progress or decline, giving feedback that helps direct teaching.
According to the NWEA, the research-based, not-for-profit organization that developed MAP testing, their reports transform raw data into insights that help educators take action. Teachers use them to differentiate instruction and pinpoint individual student needs. Additionally, higher-level reports give administrators the context to drive improvement across entire schools and systems.