An acquaintance emailed me about her experience with her son taking the NWEA MAP test. I have only edited it to keep it anonymous. I appreciate that she took the time to write up this story.
My son is a dead-average reader. He's in second grade, and every single
report card has had him right at the reading level that is the benchmark
for that report period. If the goal is level I, he's at I -- not J, not
[Editor's Note: This is how the Ann Arbor schools report on young readers on the report cards. . . as a Level A, B, C, etc. reader.]
When he entered 1st grade, he took the MAP test and scored in
the 40th percentile. Fine. At the end of 1st grade, he scored in the
54th percentile. While the test wasn't sharing new information, it was
confirming what we already knew. (His math scores, by the way, are quite high,
but again, that's not info from the test, that's the test confirming
So, we get his first report card in November (And whose
brilliant idea is it to test kids in September and tell parents how they
did in November? Is it some kind of secret?)
[Editor's Note: Not only that, but the NWEA MAP reporting to parents is entirely useless. If the whole "strength" of the MAP test is in its detailed information, that does not come through in the reporting, which provides no detail at all.]
His reading percentile was
6. This was surprising -- not at all in line with what we were seeing
in real life, and not at all aligned with his report card, which
continued to show him reading right at grade level. So I took a closer
Not only was his score (not percentile, but the actual
score) quite low for his grade (and remember, one of the "great" things
about MAP is that the scale stays the same year to year, so you should
be able to see growth from year to year), but it was lower than it was
at the beginning of 1st grade. According to this test, he had lost
reading ability in the last year -- and actually a significant amount.
so I know, his teacher knows, the principal knows that that's bad data. I don't
know what happened the day he took the test, but his score didn't
reflect what he could do.
But consider that his teacher and the
school will still be judged by a score that is obviously wrong. His last
year's teacher will still have a kid from whom she allegedly removed
the ability to read. On the flip side, his teacher this year will look
like a miracle worker, because next time he takes the test he'll
probably score in the average range -- what growth!!
And this is
one of the big problems with using test scores to measure kids, teachers
There's no opportunity to do a reality check.
reminds me of once when I brought my son to the doctor and they measured
him and said he had shrunk by about an inch. I could not convince the
PA to remeasure him, that that could not be right. The data is never
wrong. It must be me. Or him. Even when the facts and common sense
[Editor's Note: How about sending the entire Board of Education your concerns or a story about the NWEA MAP test? Email them at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, sign our petition.]