Tuesday, April 30, 2013

MAP Testing Syndrome

By:  Tim Roby

For the past couple of weeks many students, from the elementary level to the second year secondary students have been taking part in MAP testing. The purpose of these MAP tests are for teachers and administration to be able to see how well the particular student is doing throughout the course of the year, and to see what progress they have been able to make from the beginning of the year when they first took these tests, and  compare them on a standardized scale.  Depending on the grade level, there are usually three different tests taken both at the beginning of the year, as well as now, at the end of the year. These three tests include a math test, which varies depending on the grade and or level at which the student is currently at. Then there is a literature test which tests the student’s ability to read and understand the reading.  At higher levels this also includes analyzing and being able to pull information from the reading. Lastly, the language arts section, which includes tasks such as word comprehension and grammar. The tests all start off at the same level for each student in the grade level. Depending how successful each
individual is at answering the questions, the questions will then become either easier if the student was unsuccessful at answering the previous question correctly, or harder if they were able to answer correctly.

The question at hand, like with many other standardized tests, how accurate can the results of these MAP tests actually be?  For the most part, middle school and secondary students understand the meaning, purpose and overall importance of taking these MAP tests. MAP testing not only gives the teachers and administration at this school understanding of the overall level the student is at, but since these are standardized tests, other schools can use these results to see where the students are at as well, and were to place them if they were to move.

However,  younger students do not have a strong grasp of the what these tests mean, only that they seem to be important. Even at the middle school and secondary level, some do not take the testing serious. Some students feel rushed to finish at the same time as their peers or do not care enough to give their full focus. The students who do “give it their all” expressed how hard it was to stay focused through the end of the test. Many students described MAPS as “long and tedious".

The main criticism was the length of the tests and some commented that maybe it would be better if the tests were  shorter or split up among more days, and maybe if students were separated so that they wouldn’t feel pressure from the other students finishing at different times.

Yet, some see MAP testing in a positive light,  
saying that it’s a good way for them to see their level and where they are at, as well as being able to be challenged by some of the harder questions, and see what might be taught later. Most students are just excited  to get out of their regular classes. Many students overall did not mind the testing and understood the importance.