Answers to the Top 6 Questions Parents Ask About the MAP Test

Answers to the Top 6 Questions Parents Ask About the MAP TestAt NWEA, we work with over 7,800 schools and districts across the country and in 140 countries around the world, reaching more than 8 million students, so there’s a pretty good chance that students will take a MAP growth assessment some time in their school career. So it’s natural that parents would have questions about MAP – what it is, how it works, and why their son or daughter should participate.

So, to help you familiarize parents with MAP, we’ve gathered the top questions parents ask us regarding MAP.

  1. What is MAP and what does it measure? You may be familiar with paper and pencil tests where all students are asked the same questions and spend a fixed amount of time taking the test. MAP is different. MAP is a computer adaptive test, which means every student gets a unique set of test questions based on responses to previous questions. As the student answers correctly, questions get harder. If the student answers incorrectly, the questions get easier. By the end of the test, most students will answer about half the questions correctly.MAP can follow students wherever they are starting from, regardless of the grade they are in. For instance, if a third grader is actually reading like a fifth grader, MAP will be able to identify that. Or, if a fifth grader is doing math like a third grader, MAP will identify that. Both things are incredibly important for a teacher to know, so that they can plan instruction efficiently. MAP covers reading, language usage, and math. Some schools also use the MAP Science test to measure student achievement and growth in science.
  2. What is a RIT score? When students finish, they receive a score – a number – called a RIT score. This score represents a student’s achievement level at a given moment in the school year, when the test is given. Taken over time, the scores can compute a student’s academic growth. Think of this like marking height on a growth chart. You can tell how tall your child is at various points in time and how much they have grown between one time and another.The RIT (Rasch Unit) scale is a stable, equal-interval scale, like feet and inches. Equal-interval means that a change of 10 RIT points indicates the same thing regardless of whether a student is at the top, bottom, or middle of the scale, and a RIT score has the same meaning regardless of grade level or age of the student. Scores over time can be compared to tell how much growth a student has made, similar to measuring height with a ruler. You can find out more about the RIT scale here.
  3. How often will my child take the MAP test? Most schools give MAP tests to students at the beginning, middle, and end of the school year. Some schools may include a summer testing session as well.
  4. How long is the MAP test? Most students take less than an hour to complete a MAP test. However, MAP is not timed, and students may take as much time as they need to complete them.
  5. Is MAP a standardized test? How is it different from ‘high-stakes’ or state tests? When we talk about high-stakes tests, usually we’re talking about a state test. These are designed to measure what students already know, based on what is expected at their grade level, as a way to measure grade-level proficiency. MAP is designed to measure student achievement in the moment, and growth over time, regardless of grade level, so it is quite different. Another difference is the timeliness of the results. While state test usually return information in the fall after the test is taken, MAP gives quick feedback to teachers, administrators, students and parents. Teachers receive immediate results with MAP that show what students know and what they are ready to learn. The results can be used to help personalize lessons at the appropriate level for the students.One similarity is that MAP aligns to the same standards in a given state as the state tests, so both measure similar content.
  6. What information will I receive from my child’s school? Most schools will provide a child’s Student Progress Report. This report contains information and scores from a student’s most recent and past MAP tests. It’s a good idea to encourage parents to discuss results with teachers for a full understanding of how the information can be used. Also, parents will want to know about they can use their child’s reading and math scores to identify resources that can support home learning.

Learn more with our Family Toolkit.