The Measures of Academic Progress test, commonly known as the MAP, has been the center of a clash between administration and educators in Seattle School District. Across the sound in Central Kitsap School District, however, the test has met with more optimism.
More than 100, and possibly as many as 200, of the 295 districts in Washington use the MAP test. While the Bremerton School District does not administer the MAP, Central Kitsap does.
The controversy in Seattle began in January when teachers at Garfield High School announced they refused to administer the test to students. The teachers listed a number of reasons they say led to their refusal to give the test, but representatives at Central Kitsap School District said they haven’t come up against such concerns here.
“The feedback we’ve gotten has been very positive,” said Chris Wyatt, Central Kitsap’s director of student services.
The MAP test is a computer-based assessment test used for reading and math. The test starts by giving students questions based on their grade-level standards. So all students in a second grade class would begin with the same level of questioning.
After that, the test begins to recalibrate its questioning based on the answers given by each student. If a student is answering most questions correctly, the test will respond by asking more advanced questions. If a student isn’t doing very well, the test will adjust to less advanced questions.
The purpose, Wyatt said, is to gauge each student’s level of understanding and progress. Teachers could theoretically then use those results to inform and tailor their instruction for each pupil.
Central Kitsap began field testing the MAP during the 2010-11 academic year after receiving a grant from the Department of Defense Education Association. The first year only 12 teachers administered the test, one at each elementary school.
After receiving positive feedback from that core group of teachers, Wyatt said, the district essentially doubled the number of teachers using the test for the 2011-12 school year.
This is the third year of implementation for the MAP at Central Kitsap and more than 100 teachers are using the test to guide instruction. All Central Kitsap students in second, third and sixth grade should be taking the test this year.
Kitsy Lee-Wick, a sixth grade teacher at Cottonwood Elementary, is administering the test to her students for the second year. Lee-Wick said she’s happy with the test and glad the district started using it.
“We do not have a lot of reading assessment, so this is a reading assessment that is fairly easy to administer,” she said. “You can give it to your whole class and get the results in 24 hours.”
While the district reported there hasn’t been concern in Central Kitsap, the complaints of teachers at Garfield High School in Seattle show a different view toward the test.
Garfield teachers listed a number of concerns about the MAP in their press conference in January, including tying up of the computer lab with testing and taking lagging students away from much-needed class time.
Rich Wood at the Washington Education Association, the largest teachers union in the state, said they support the Garfield teachers in their boycott.
“With that specific test it’s an issue in Seattle of how that test is being used there at those schools,” Wood said. “What’s going on in Seattle is specific to Seattle.”
According to Wood, Washington Education Association’s biggest problem with tests like the MAP is the amount of money spent and time taken away from the classroom for already stretched budgets and lagging students.
Lee-Wick said she hasn’t had any of those concerns with the MAP. She said compared to tests she has used in the past, MAP is quick in both testing and turn-around with of results.
Both the education association and the school district pointed out that the situation in Seattle, and at Garfield High School, should not be used entirely as a barometer for every other district or school.
Wyatt said during its field testing, Central Kitsap tried implementing the test in high school classrooms and found the result wasn’t effective enough to continue using the MAP test in high schools.
“I think you might get a different story from elementary teachers than you would from secondary teachers,” Lee-Wick said. “I think for elementary instruction it’s a really good assessment for the amount of time you put into it.”
Administrators at Central Kitsap said that at the moment the MAP isn’t used to evaluate teacher effectiveness. It is used to guide instruction and for professional development, but not in teacher performance evaluations.
That professional development aspect, Wyatt stressed is the real benefit of the MAP. The MAP, fittingly for its name, acts as a sort of guide for teachers to see which students might be benefitting from recent teaching and which might not be.
“We were very intentional about the professional development,” said David Beil, the district’s community development director.
Central Kitsap administrators said they didn’t want to comment on Seattle’s situation.
Wyatt did say, however, to any district not tying professional development into the administering of a test like the MAP, “You’re throwing away your money.”
MAP is just one of the methods the district uses to judge student progress, to “inform and recalibrate instruction,” according to Wyatt.
“It’s important to not use just one assessment,” she said.
The school district and teachers union are just starting negotiations for the upcoming school year, according to Jeanne Beckon, executive director of human resources at the school district.
The state has told districts they need to begin implementing a data component into teacher evaluation in the next couple years to meet national Common Core standards.
The data component portion of that assessment may be the MAP or it may be a different test, Wyatt said. But, she added, it will likely be an adaptive test similar to the MAP.
So even if the district stops using the MAP in the next few years, teachers are gaining an understanding of what things will be like when they come in line with state mandates in the coming years.