Assessment

Almaden Country Day School uses many methods of measuring academic achievement, from projects, writings, quizzes and tests our teachers assign, to the innovative Mission Skills Assessment, to the standardized Measure of Academic Progress (MAP) test given twice yearly in grades 5-8.

Parents in these grades receive MAP results for their children, and we've prepared FAQs to help address common questions about the MAP assessment.

More about Mission Skills Assessment

 

MAP Test Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the MAP test?

A: The Measure of Academic Progress (MAP) is a standardized achievement test given to about 10% of America's public school children and in hundreds of private schools as well. MAP tests language usage, mathematics, and reading; it is adaptive, meaning the difficulty of the questions change based on how well the child is performing on the test. The MAP test is nationally normed and administered twice at ACDS, with the goal of measuring student growth between the fall and spring testing sessions.

Q: Does the MAP test fit with the school's developmental philosophy?

A: Standardized testing does not align with our developmental philosophy, and in fact there are independent schools that refuse to administer standardized tests at all. However, we believe the MAP testing and its focusing on measuring growth provides useful data that inform our instructional practice.

Q: What is the value of MAP testing at ACDS?

A: We find the MAP valuable because it gives us data that help us track and evaluate aspects of our instructional program over time. Also, its focus on student skill growth rather than content knowledge gives us another data point to help us identify and address a specific child's learning challenge.

Our students take the MAP eight times while at ACDS, which gives them experience and confidence for the standardized tests they will encounter throughout their school years. Occasionally, the MAP results can help us identify and address a specific child’s learning challenge.

Q: Why does ACDS give the MAP test to grades 5-8 only?

A: 5th grade is the completion of the Elementary program and the 5th grade MAP provides a baseline for the Middle School testing to follow. Beyond the data provided to teachers and parents, practicing the MAP in grades 6-8 helps our students prepare for the standardized testing they'll encounter as they enter high school. 7th grade standardized test results are required for application to many private high schools.

Q: How important are the MAP test results?

A: In looking at individual student growth, each MAP administration is a one-dimensional snapshot of a single point in your child’s school year, given twice annually to monitor growth. ACDS puts much more emphasis on report card measures than on the MAP. The report card is a combination of the student’s progress over time and reflects the teacher’s knowledge of the student, including multiple types of assessments (projects, oral participation, homework, writing assignments, Mission Skills acquisition in Middle School, etc.) in subjects beyond just those tested by the MAP. Many factors affect students’ performance on a standardized test, and we view it as a limited measure of student achievement. Private high schools consider 7th grade MAP results among a number of considerations in making their admission decisions, and our experience has shown that standardized test scores neither guarantee nor eliminate ACS students from admission because other criteria are also important to the high school admission committees.

Q: What do you do to prepare the children to take the MAP test?

A: While we know that test preparation can improve student scores, ACDS teachers do not devote instructional time teaching to the test. Our MAP preparation involves making sure students know how to complete the online test using practice tests and an instructional video, and encouraging them to come to school well-rested and nourished on test day.

 

Q: How should parents read and interpret MAP test scores?

A: The results for the MAP are provided digitally to each family as a PDF. A guide to understanding the results is included. You can also view this screencast for a more detailed description and explanation of the MAP results and what they mean.

Q: What if my child’s score is below grade level in a certain category?

A: This could be due to numerous factors that may or may not have to do with a child's actual ability level; and any response to this question is highly individualized according to a specific child's learning profile. Remember that children only experience an assessment of this type at ACDS twice a year -- it is a solitary, silent test; for example, teachers are not allowed to assist or intervene when they see children who know the correct answers making careless mistakes. And the testing periods are stressful and exhausting for some. If you have concerns about your child's MAP results, please contact your child's teacher and set a time to meet. Together with the school administrators, you can discuss the scores and as needed, develop an action plan for your child.

If you have any other questions about MAP testing at Almaden Country Day School, please contact Mrs. Cecilia Robb or Mr. Gary DeMoss.

“If you want people to be creative and entreprenuerial, forget the test scores. It’s character that makes success.” — Diane Ravitch
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