If a student answers a questions incorrectly, questions become easier. Thus, the test can determine what level a child is at, regardless of their age or grade level in school. For example, if a child is in third grade but is reading at a fifth grade level, MAP can tell us that.
Schools may administer any combination of the following sections: Reading, Math, Language Usage, and/or General Science. Within each of these subjects, schools have the option to administer the "full-length test" or a Survey option. The NWEA MAP Survey tests are shorter. While these sections take less time to complete, they also provide teachers, administrators, and parents with less information. Moreover, the Survey tests have a higher margin for error.
How is the NWEA MAP test scored?
The NWEA MAP test provides a RIT score. This score represents student achievement. Students will earn an RIT score for each subject test. Thus, students may have multiple RIT scores. A student's RIT score for math cannot be compared, numerically, to a RIT score in Reading. A score of 215 on the NWEA MAP Reading is not equivalent to a score of 215 on the NWEA MAP Math.
Unlike many standardized tests, a student's RIT score should increase each year. If a student scores a 195 on the NWEA MAP Reading then one should expect the student to earn a higher score during the following term or year. The amount of growth that should be expected varies depending upon each student's performance. For example, the mean growth norm(Reading) for a third grade student is 10.3 "points" from the beginning of the year(Fall) to the end of the year. Since the average third grade student earns a score of 188.3 on the NWEA MAP Reading in the fall, the anticipated, or target, score to earn for Spring is 198.6.
What does this score mean?
RIT scores provide teachers, administrators, and parents with valuable information that should be used to make instructional decisions. If your child is falling short of their target scores from year-to-year, you may want to consider making changes to your child's education plan.
An RIT Reading score can be converted to a Lexile measure. It can, and should be, used to determine appropriate reading material for each individual student.
An RIT Math score is a bit more complicated. In theory, NWEA tells us that a child who earns a score of 240 or higher on the NWEA MAP Math test is ready to learn Algebra. In reality, it doesn't really work that way. The NWEA MAP Math test is approximately 46 multiple choice questions. This leaves a large margin for error. Students with more grit and stronger test taking skills often score far higher on the NWEA MAP Math than they do on a paper-pencil end-of-year exam. While we might see, from the MAP scores, that a child "knows" how to convert fractions to decimals, the student may have only been asked one question on this topic.
One of the chief benefits of administering the NWEA test is its ability to track student progress. One of the most important questions that any educator can ask is, "Is this child learning?" The NWEA MAP test(s) can tell us that.
Does the MAP test have a ceiling effect?
The MAP test works wonderfully for advanced students because it "removes the ceiling." A student can demonstrate above (or below) grade level skills and knowledge. However, it still has its limits. A student can't demonstrate skills beyond a high school level because the test simply doesn't provide college level questions. I opt to stop testing students once they sustain a score greater than 250 on the MAP Math and 240 on the MAP reading for more than one semester. Scores beyond this are often more indicative of strong test taking skills and experience with the test.
The MPG(Map for Primary Grades) is intended for students in grades K - 2. While students can demonstrate skills above a second grade level, scores beyond 190 on the MPG Reading and 200 on the MPG Math indicate that a child may benefit from taking the MAP 2- 5 assessment instead. However, if a student has not been exposed to any content above a second grade level, this may not yield different results.
What should I do with my child's RIT score?
You don't necessarily need to "do" anything with your child's RIT scores. When you receive your child's RIT scores, take some time to assess what they mean. You can view the 2015 Mathematics Student Achievement Percentiles Report here. You can view the 2015 Reading Student Achievement Percentiles Report here. These reports are based on the performance of students across the nation. To use this chart, start by finding the correct semester. If your child took the NWEA MAP Math test in the Fall, find the fall semester. Then, find their grade. Follow the column down until you find your child's score. The first column indicates your child's percentile ranking.
You can use the same chart to determine an approximation for your child's current learning level. Is your child performing average (50th percentile) for one year above grade level? two? three? five? This information can help you decide whether or not it makes sense to explore acceleration options. Remember, this is only an approximation. It's one multiple choice test. Student achievement is often overstated by these types of tests. A student scoring at the 50th percentile for 8th grade math is not necessarily prepared for Pre-Algebra, but it might make sense to conduct further testing.
Use these scores to track your child's progress. The MAP test is designed to be taken over and over again. Schools may administer it one, two, or even three times per year. You should see growth. Your child's scores should increase each time (s)he takes the test. MAP also provides growth metrics. Check to see if your child is meeting his/her growth projections. If your child is not, you might want to investigate why. Was your child distracted? tired? stressed? Is this an indicator of a bigger problem? Is your child learning new skills at school? Use the MAP test to make decisions about further testing and investigations.