BERNARDS TWP. – Early into the summer break, Bernards Township parents will receive the “map” to their child’s path to learning. Recently, school administrators explained to the school board how the assessment is built.

Measure of Academic Progress (MAP) data helps the school measure what an elementary student knows, regardless of their grade level, and where a student is ready to learn and what skills still need to be developed.

It also gives an indication in what areas a student is ready to advance. Parents will see scores for the winter and spring assessments, projected growth, actual growth and national percentiles.  Results of older assessments allow parents to view growth over time.

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MAP gives timely, flexible feedback on student strengths and weaknesses, said Brian Heineman, director of curriculum and instruction.

About 248 school districts in New Jersey use the assessment, Heineman said.

Heineman and Kristin Fox, supervisor of social studies department, described the program to the Bernards Township Board of Education at its April 9 meeting.

MAP tests are given to grades 2 to 8 in English language arts and in various math measurements.

MAP also familiarizes students with using computers to take learning assessments and helps the school make placement decisions, when appropriate. Parents can ask about the results when they meet with teachers, and MAP can possibly help form gifted and talented groups of students.

MAP is an untimed test in which student answer questions. If he or she gets one right, the computer next asks a slightly more difficult one, until the student misses. If the student answers the initial question in error, the next question would be slightly easier.

The intention is to see about half the answers correct, and half wrong, Heineman said.

The measurement not only plots where the student falls in comparison to state and national results but also shows the student’s growth over time.

Importantly, results are nearly immediate and can give feedback to teachers and administrators within two days. That helps them adapt their lessons quickly to each class. Teachers can change reading materials, create small groups within the class in many fashions, or to develop tiered activities. They can use the report in teacher team meetings to discuss what works and what doesn’t. 

That makes MAP one of teachers’ favorite reports, said Fox.

Students can take as long as they wish, but usually a 50-question test is about 50 minutes long. The amount of time spent on each question is recorded, and can be helpful to educators.

The session from the meeting is available on the Board of Education’s website as a “presentation” and also as part of the taped entire meeting.