• Lori Kirkpatrick

The New MAP of High-Stakes Testing

The district is offering MAP testing with school lunch.


Wait...what?


It’s not in the best interest of public health to have in person learning, but seems to be a perfect time for an in person standardized test.


MAP stands for Measures of Academic Progress. The assessment is typically given three times over the course of a school year and is in addition to STAAR.


Parents are being told students need to come in person and that MAP is being used to assess students' academic gaps and allow teachers to adapt instruction to meet those needs.


Fair enough, assess gaps and adapt instruction. Sounds like what teachers are trained to do without a standardized test to me. In fact, some of my daughter's teachers have done this already in the first week.


The reality is that MAP is the tool the district will use this year to pay its teachers under the merit pay system, the Teacher Excellence Initiative (TEI). Or as I like to remind folks, pay its teachers for standardized test scores.


DISD campus staff are just doing their jobs. The district administration set this plan in motion, and I'm sure the pressure is on for each campus to make it happen. But like most standardized tests it’s unnecessary, and potentially dangerous during a pandemic.


You can take it online.

You can not take it.

Your student's teacher is well trained to assess knowledge gaps without MAP.


Here are the big takeaways that I hope you will consider.


First, MAP is not measuring what you would think it's measuring, achievement growth. Instead it's measuring natural knowledge maturation growth - akin to height growth charts. Explained by education professors Drs. Stroup and Petrosino this way, "Just as children get taller with age, they also get generally better at certain kinds of problem-solving tasks."

NWEA's MAP growth curve

Unfortunately, both MAP and STAAR are designed using this maturational growth method.


Second, MAP and STAAR tests aren't sensitive to the teacher's quality of instruction, with a teacher's impact on test scores being only somewhere between 1-14%.


Let me say this again, a teacher delivering quality educational instruction will only impact a student's standardized test score by 1-14%. If you're deducing that test prep must then be a big factor that impacts standardized test scores, you are correct. And test prep is not quality instruction.


I have no problem with assessing my daughter's knowledge gaps. I am however opposed to fostering an inept system paying our teachers based on standardized test results while deceptively decreasing quality of instruction.


We've never taken STAAR for these reasons and we won't be taking MAP.