Can a computerized assessment, such as MAP, measure expressive language skills? This is an important question, since the ability to express ideas is one of the major indicators for College and Career readiness. Many times, I am asked this question in workshops. Participants inquire about expressive language skills because they are associating expressive language with oral vocalizations. To analyze this question, we must first define expressive communication and its components.
Receptive and expressive communication occur in both oral and written forms.
Communication can be divided into two major categories: receptive (the elements that we understand) and expressive (the elements that we use to let others know our thoughts). Receptive and expressive communication occurs in, both, oral and written language. In MAP, expressive communication is measured by analyzing writing and making “writerly” choices. Within MAP, students outwardly demonstrate their ability to utilize written forms of communication to express their thoughts and ideas based on the choices they make.
Elements of storytelling provide the foundation for application of skills and creation of novel ideas.
Discourse is an element of expressive language that is assessed within MAP test questions. Discourse, also known as storytelling and conversation, is extremely important for College and Career readiness indicators. They are the foundation for expressing ideas and works of creativity. Elements of discourse include: knowledge of setting, characters, conflict and resolution, emotions and communication partners, all of which are embedded within a specific sequence of events. Within the MAP assessment, students are asked to arrange story events in sequential order and they are asked to draw conclusions regarding story characters, setting, conflict and resolution. They are also asked to identify character emotions and to make inferences regarding the author’s intent or the character’s intent. Each of these types of questions require students to not only understand each of these discourse elements, it requires them to actively express their abilities by applying this knowledge to the content they are presented with. When students can sequence a story, make inferences regarding intent and draw conclusions, they are applying their knowledge of diverse perspectives and purpose. Each of these are elements that express their ability to construct and engage in constructive discourse. Engaging in constructive discourse stimulates novel connections and ideas, all of which are aligned to College and Career Readiness indicators.
As you move forward into the year with a focus on preparing students for the demands of the College and Career Ready indices, taking a second look at the elements of the Learning Continuum that address the components of discourse, grammatical word forms, and sentence structure can provide a foundation for classroom instruction in these important areas. You may also consider using Skills Navigator Locator Tests to pinpoint these skills more directly. Adaptive, computerized assessments such as MAP can indeed provide assessment indicators for expressive language abilities.
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