Common Questions Families

Family Toolkit

Common Questions for Families

Understanding MAP Growth

Computer adaptive tests adjust to each student’s learning level, providing a unique set of test questions based on their responses to previous questions. If a student gets a question wrong, the next question will be easier. If a student gets a question right, the next question will be harder. To pinpoint where students are in their learning, the goal is to answer 50 percent of the questions correctly.

MAP Growth measures what your student knows and how they are growing academically, allowing you to track your student’s progress throughout the school year and across multiple years. MAP Growth also provides teachers and families with the ability to understand how the student’s performance compares to their peers.

After each MAP Growth test, results are delivered in the form of a RIT score that reflects the student’s academic knowledge, skills, and abilities. Think of this score 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 stage and another.

The RIT (Rasch Unit) scale is a stable, equal-interval scale. 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. A RIT score has the same meaning regardless of grade level or age of the student. You can compare scores over time to tell how much growth a student has made.

Teachers can use MAP Growth scores to monitor the growth of individual students and develop classroom-level strategies for equitable instruction that help maximize every student’s learning potential. Principals and administrators can use the scores to see the performance and progress of a grade level, school, or the entire district.

MAP Growth scores are just one data point that teachers use to determine how a child is performing. MAP Growth measures if a student is performing similar to their peers. Please discuss any questions that you have about your student’s performance with their teacher.

MAP Growth – English:

  • Reading: Grades K–12
  • Language Usage: Grades 2–12
  • Math: Grades K–12
  • Science: Grades 2–12

MAP Growth Spanish:

  • Math: Grades K–12
  • Reading: Grades K–8

Note: The reading and math tests for grades K–2 are referred to as MAP Growth K–2. These child-friendly tests for young learners offer students the ability to wear headphones, since many questions include audio to assist students still learning to read.

MAP Growth is administered periodically during the school year. Instead of asking all students the same questions, as standardized tests do, it adjusts to each child’s performance—giving a more accurate measure of what they know.

We do not recommend using MAP Growth for grade-level advancement or accountability purposes.

Most schools give MAP Growth tests to students at the beginning, middle, and end of the school year (in the fall, winter, and spring). Some schools choose to administer tests only twice a year.

MAP Growth tests include multiple choice, drag-and-drop, and other types of questions. You can view our practice test to get an idea of what the questions look like.  See our Student Resources in the Family Toolkit.

Yes, NWEA is committed to making our tests accessible for all students. Visit our Accommodations and Accessibility page for more details.

Most schools will provide your student’s Family Report, which contains information and scores from your student’s most recent and past MAP Growth tests. We encourage you to visit the Supporting Your Learner section of our Family Toolkit and talk to your teacher about how they are using MAP Growth.

Ask your student’s school or teacher about test results and what more you can do to help your student achieve their academic goals.

Due to privacy laws regarding student information (specifically stemming from the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act [FERPA]), NWEA is unable to discuss any student information, test results, or school assessment programs directly with parents, guardians, or other family members.

For information on NWEA’s privacy practices please see our NWEA Privacy Policy – Assessment System. For information on NWEA’s security practices please see our MAP Growth Security Whitepaper.

Summative: Summative assessments are typically designed to measure if a student has mastered all of their grade-level content. A good example would be a state-required test taken at the end of a school year.

Formative: These are best described as quick “check in” tests that help educators understand if a child is learning a concept that is currently being taught to them. There are a wide variety of formative tests, but a good example is a daily in-class quiz that lets a teacher know which students are comprehending the topic being taught, and which ones need a little bit more help.

Interim: These kinds of tests are given at various intervals throughout the year and are designed to help educators get a detailed snapshot of how students are growing during a given school year. They are much more in-depth than formative assessments, and help educators set a baseline for what a student knows and how they are growing academically. A great example of an interim test is MAP Growth.

Diagnostic: A diagnostic test is given to students before instruction to identify where they may have skill gaps. Formative assessments are often administered after instruction to identify if students learned the content.

Most students finish their test in about 45–55 minutes when they take them in school. When students take tests remotely (e.g., at home), it typically takes a little bit longer.

Ask your school or teacher for information related to your child’s test data. They will be your best resource to answer questions.

One of the things that we are passionate about at NWEA is making sure that tests are equitable for all students. One of the key components to ensuring equity in testing is making sure that our test questions (also called “test items”) are not seen by students before their test and are only seen by any student once. Because of how we measure a student’s achievement using adaptive items, they are considered secure test content, and as a result, we do not share the questions that were seen on any given test.

Always talk to your child’s teacher about any questions you have. They will have the most accurate, up-to-date information about your student’s progress, and they can further direct you to other instructional staff or administrators if you need additional support.

Remote Testing Questions (MAP Growth)

You will need to provide the following things for your child for a successful test-taking session:

  • A device to take the test on (a computer or iPad)

NOTE: Some districts/schools will provide devices to your child. If you have questions about which device to use, please speak to your child’s teacher or proctor.

  • A quiet test-taking environment, with limited or no distractions to help students remain engaged
  • Any assistive technology that your student may need (this should be provided by the district or school

The best advice we have is to create a test-taking atmosphere that is conducive to focus and engagement. We suggest removing any toys or additional electronics from the test-taking area and reducing the amount of activity that might be around the student while testing (e.g., siblings watching TV in the same room). It can also be helpful to reduce loud noises or conversations that may occur in or around the student’s space. It is also a good idea to make sure that the student has eaten before the test, to remove any interruptions that hunger may cause.

An environment with limited distractions helps students stay engaged and focused on their assessment. When students are focused, they are better suited to do their best, ensuring reliable, accurate insights for their teacher.

Before your child begins, ensure the device they’re planning to use is working and ready for a successful test session. This usually means following the instructions provided by the school on how to set up a device and/or NWEA’s interactive device readiness check to confirm your device is compatible.

Prior to the assessment, provide emotional support and remind your child that this is a special kind of test designed to figure out what they know and is not tied to their grades. Students may not be accustomed to tests that have such a wide range of questions and may need support if they become frustrated. For younger students, watching one of the videos from a student’s perspective in the Understanding the MAP Suite section of the Family Toolkit may be helpful (Michael’s Story or Lyla’s Story).

Your child’s teacher or proctor should walk their students through a device check before the test, but you can also check your own equipment ahead of time by using our interactive device readiness check. If you receive a “This machine has passed the check” result, your device is ready to test. If you receive a “This machine has failed the check” result, we suggest talking to the teacher or proctor about how to overcome any technical issues.

The primary purpose of MAP Growth is to figure out what students know so teachers can provide the most appropriate content to help them grow. Helping your child answer questions compromises test data and makes it harder for teachers to understand if your child is growing academically or not.

We recommend that you encourage your child to do their absolute best, but that you don’t provide any hints or assist them in answering questions. It’s also great to remind them that unlike some tests they have taken, every student who takes the MAP Growth test gets some answers right and some answers wrong because the test is adapting to the student and providing harder or easier questions based on their answers.

Your child will answer around 43 questions, which come in a variety of formats (e.g., multiple choice, drag-and-drop, etc.). They will only be answering questions about a single subject in a single test session (e.g., math). Videos are available in the Understanding the MAP Suite section of our Family Toolkit, and we encourage you to watch with your student.

The test will notify your child that the test is complete and, depending on the district policy, might receive their RIT score on the final screen.  (to understand what a RIT score is, see “What is a RIT Score” in our Common Questions or watch the What is MAP Growth? video in the “Understanding the MAP Suite” section of the Family Toolkit.

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