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MAP Test 101 - What Parents Should Know

The pandemic has changed the way school operates in the past nine months. Teachers, students, and parents had to adapt to constant changes. Participation in classes varies a lot based on various reasons, such as access to electronic devices and internet connection. Therefore, traditional quizzes and tests on specific topics may not be a true reflection of a child's ability. How can teachers measure your child's performance effectively at this time? What do you need to know about MAP Testing?

For many districts, the MAP test is their answer for measuring growth.

What is the MAP Test?

MAP, or the Measure of Academic Progress, is an adaptive assessment taken on the computer for measuring your child's growth in a specific subject. The test is created by the NWEA (Northwest Evaluation Association), a research-based not-for-profit organization.

Instead of giving every child the same test, adaptive assessments tailor the questions based on their performance. The questions get progressively harder if the child answers all previous questions correctly, and vice versa. MAP Tests are available for reading and math in both English and Spanish and language and science in English only. Most schools conduct MAP tests several times a year to get a snapshot of your child's progress.

Since the test adapts to your child's performance, it is important to remind your child to try their best at every test, or else the results would not be an accurate representation of the growth and ability.

How is the MAP Test conducted?

The MAP test is a computerized test. That's why students can still take the test at home during the pandemic. To take the test, your child will need a passcode provided by the teacher. After entering the passcode verifying their information on the screen, the child will need to wait for the teacher's approval to start the test. When the teacher approves, the "Start" button will show up on the screen, and the child may begin. Unless the teacher sets a time limit for the test; otherwise, there is no time limit for taking the MAP test.

From my teaching experience, the biggest challenge of conducting MAP test was often the logistics. The test platform locks the entire screen for the duration of the test. If the child gets kicked out of the assessment platform for whatever reason, the teacher would need to suspend and resume the child's test on the teacher's portal before the child could continue testing. If your child is kicked out of the test, the best thing to do is notify the teacher and stay patient.

How are the scores calculated?

NWEA uses the RIT scale to calculate MAP scores. RIT scale measures students' performances by comparing their current scores with their previous test scores to generate a benchmark, the RIT score, of what students can do in a given period. We can interpret the RIT scale as the student's academic path across all grade levels, and the RIT score is where he or she is on the path.

Since the MAP test is a computerized test, the scores are immediately available after your child has completed the test. Student Progress Reports will also be available on the Teacher Portal about 24-48 hours (from my personal experience) after the test.

To learn more about the RIT scale, check out this article from NWEA.

What can you do with the scores?

After taking the test, your child will receive a three-digit RIT score for each subject. There are multiple ways to interpret the score. Here are some suggestions on using the scores:

  1. Compare your child's current RIT score with the previous one. If your child's current RIT score is lower than the previous one, it could be a sign of regression or an indication of poor test-taking. Speak with your child to determine if their test performance was affected by other factors such as classroom distraction, technical difficulties, lack of effort, or sickness. If your child has already put in their best effort, then the lowered score indicates that your child needs help. Speak with the teacher about your observations and concerns to collaborate on your child's next steps at school and home. If your child's current RIT score is higher than the previous one, CELEBRATE! This is a sign that they have grown. After that, don't forget to look into the growth rate. NWEA provides a projected growth rate for every child every year. In my teaching experience, 5th graders tend to have an expected growth rate of 12 to 13 points from the beginning of the school year to the end. There are multiple factors that determine the project growth rate. Please check with your child's teacher for the exact number. If the increase in the score matches or exceeds the growth rate projected, then CELEBRATE AGAIN! Your child has grown at the rate that they should. Encourage your child to keep up with their work and make sure that the school material has enough rigor for your child. If your child feels bored at school, speak with the teacher about your observations to collaborate on enhancement for your child. If the increase did not meet the expected growth rate provided by the teacher/NWEA, speak with your child to determine if their test performance was affected by other factors such as classroom distraction, technical difficulties, lack of effort, or sickness. If your child has already put in their best effort, then this is an opportunity to identify areas for improvement. Speak with the teacher about your observations and concerns to collaborate on your child's next steps at school and home.

  2. Check your child's score against MAP Testing Research Although NWEA does not publish an official conversion table for MAP scores to grade-level, some researchers study MAP data and other academic metrics such as standardized test scores to identify the correlation between MAP scores and student performance. Comparing your child's scores to the research outcome can give you more insights into your child's ability. If you are interested in using MAP research to learn more about your child's ability, Check out our next post! We will review two reports and guide you through your way to use the data.

How can I help my child to prepare for the MAP test?

MAP is a test for measuring growth that measures the student's overall ability in a specific subject. Therefore, it shouldn't be treated like a unit test where students need to cramp specific topics into their brains before the test. Instead, all you need to do is to encourage your child to try their best on the test. Given that the test is adaptive, the questions would get progressively easier if they answer multiple questions incorrectly. If a child got distracted or purposely underperformed on the test, the scores would not accurately represent their ability. Since many teachers use MAP data to make instructional decisions, the inaccurate result would undermine the teacher's effort to give your child the best education.

I gave my students this sticker after MAP testing if they met the project growth rate. Students loved it and it incentivizes everyone to work harder next time. We want good data from the MAP test to make informed decisions, so always encourage your child to put in their 100%!


I hope this blog helps you to understand the MAP tests better. When I was teaching, I used MAP data and other school assessment data to analyze my students' performance periodically. My analysis helped me make data-driven decisions in my lesson plan, resulting in a 90% growth in state standardized testing.

My goal is to empower you to support your child, and I believe that a better understanding of the MAP scores will help you. If you have any questions about the scores and reports, feel free to leave me a comment. :)

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