If you've got kids in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, get ready for more tests and a new acronym: MAP.
Measures of Academic Progress, a computerized testing system created by the nonprofit Northwest Evaluation Association, will be a cornerstone of the district's efforts to make sure all students are on track to graduate high school and succeed in college or careers, Superintendent Heath Morrison and Chief Accountability Officer Frank Barnes told the school board this week (see the presentation here).
MAP reading and math tests will be given to students in grades 3-8 in fall, winter and spring, Morrison said. Some schools used the system last year, with others starting in 2013-14. By 2014-15, Morrison and Barnes said, all elementary and middle schools will be using MAP, with results used to report on whether students are on track to graduate.
"More tests" is not a phrase that's likely to generate applause among teachers and parents. Board members and Morrison were quick to say they're concerned about overtesting and have urged the state to ease up on mandatory end-of-year exams (which will be given in addition to the MAPs).
But Morrison said MAP is the right kind of testing: It provides timely information about what kids know and what they need help with, in a format that students and parents can understand. "Most parents ask a simple question: Is my child reading on grade level?" Morrison told the board. He said MAP lexile scores make it easy to see whether students are at, above or below grade level, and what each student needs to do to improve. And the tests are designed to provide consistent year-to-year tracking, something that's a challenge with ever-changing state exams.
"Teaching is a complex task with numerous factors involved, and teachers deserve to be treated with respect rather than threatened with public retribution based on test results that almost certainly do not present a comprehensive view of how a teacher is performing," Chapman writes (read the full post here). "The national fixation on testing, especially standardized accountability testing, is unfortunate and can hurt student learning."
Of course, the most meaningful reviews come from those who have seen any system in action. So if you've experienced MAP already, please weigh in and let the rest of us know what to expect.