## ACS Curriculum Site for Parents

### Measure of Academic Progress (MAP)

Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) is a not-for-profit organization committed to helping school districts throughout the nation improve learning for all students. NWEA partners with more than 3,000 school districts representing more than three million students. As a result of NWEA tests, educators can make informed decisions to promote your child’s academic growth.

What are the different NWEA assessments?

Measures of Academic Progress™ (MAP) Tests are computerized tests that are multiple choice, adaptive, and are offered in Reading, Language Usage, and Mathematics. When taking a MAP™ test, the difficulty of each question is based on how well a student answers all the previous questions. As the student answers correctly, questions become more difficult. If the student answers incorrectly, the questions become easier. In an optimal test, a student answers approximately half the items correctly and half incorrectly. The final score is an estimate of the student’s achievement level.

How long does it take to complete a test?

Although the tests are not timed, it usually takes students about one hour to complete each MAP test.

When will my student be tested and how often?

ACS tests students at the beginning of the school year in fall, during the winter, and at the end of the school year in spring.

Do all students in the same grade take the same test?

No. NWEA assessments are designed to target a student’s academic performance in mathematics, reading, and language usage. These tests are tailored to an individual’s current achievement level. This gives each student a fair opportunity to show what he or she knows and can do. If a school uses MAP assessments, the computer adjusts the difficulty of the questions so that each student takes a unique test.

What are NWEA assessments used for?

NWEA assessments are used to measure your student’s progress or growth in school. You may have a chart in your home on which you mark your child’s height at certain times, such as on his or her birthday. This is a growth chart. It shows how much he or she has grown from one year to the next. NWEA assessments do the same sort of thing, except they measure your student’s growth in mathematics, reading, language usage, and science skills. The scale used to measure your child’s progress is called the RIT scale (Rasch unIT). The RIT scale is an equal-interval scale much like feet and inches on a yardstick. It is used to chart your child’s academic growth from year to year.

How do teachers use the test scores?

NWEA tests are important to teachers because they keep track of progress and growth in basic skills. They let teachers know where a student’s strengths are and if help is needed in any specific areas. Teachers use this information, along with classroom data, to help them guide instruction in the classroom.

Can parents discuss assessment data directly with NWEA?

Unfortunately, due to privacy laws regarding student information (specifically stemming from the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act, FERPA), we are unable to discuss any student information, test results, or district assessment programs directly with parents.

# Commonly Used Terms

Here are some terms you will hear and use as you are talking with teachers and your children about MAP scores and reports.

District Average – The average RIT score for all students in the school district in the same grade who were tested at the same time as this student.

Norm Group Average – The average score observed for students in the norm group.

Percentile Range – Percentiles are used to compare one student’s performance to that of the norm group. Percentile means the student scores as well as or better than that percent of students taking the test in his/her grade. There is about a 68% chance that a student’s percentile ranking would fall within this range if the student tested again relatively soon.

Percentile Rank – The percentile rank is a normative statistics that indicates how well a student performed in comparison to the students in the norm group. The most recent norm sample was a group of over 2.8 million students from across the United States. A student’s percentile rank indicates that the student scored as well as, or better than, the percent of students in the norm group. In other words, a student with a percentile rank of 72 scored as well as or better than 72% of the students in the norm group.

RIT – Tests developed by NWEA use a scale called RIT to measure student achievement and growth. RIT stands for Rasch UnIT, which is a measurement scale developed to simplify the interpretation of test scores. The RIT score relates directly to the curriculum scale in each subject area. It is an equal-interval scale, like feet and inches, so scores can be added together to calculate accurate class or school averages. RIT scores range from about 100 to 280. Students typically start at the 180 to 200 level in the third grade and progress to the 220 to 260 level by high school. RIT scores make it possible to follow a student’s educational growth from year to year.

Standards – Standards are statements, developed by states or districts, of what students should know and be able to do, related to specific academic areas.

RIT SCALE

The RIT Scale is a curriculum scale that uses individual item difficulty values to estimate student achievement. An advantage of the RIT scale is that it can relate the numbers on the scale directly to the difficulty of items on the tests. In addition, the RIT scale is an equal interval scale. Equal interval means that the difference between scores is the same regardless of whether a student is at the top, bottom, or middle of the RIT scale, and it has the same meaning regardless of grade level.

RIT scales, like scales underlying most educational tests, are built from data about the performance of individual examinees on individual items. The theory governing scale construction is called Item Response Theory (IRT). NWEA uses a specific IRT model conceived by Danish mathematician, George Rasch, (1901-1980). Rasch is best known for his contributions to psychometrics, and his model is used extensively in assessment in education, particularly for skill attainment and cognitive assessments.

Characteristics of the RIT Scale include:

* It is an achievement scale.

* It is an accurate scale.

* It is an equal interval scale.

* It helps to measure growth over time.

* It has the same meaning regardless of grade or age of the student.

Scale Variance by Subject

Why do RIT scales vary from subject to subject (e.g. the mathematics RIT scale goes higher than other subject areas)? A ceiling effect exists when an assessment does not have sufficient range to accurately measure students at the highest performance levels. It has nothing to do with the actual numbers attached to the scale and everything to do with the position of students on it. For example, in reading, the RIT scale measures with relative accuracy up to about 245. This represents the 93rd percentile at grade 10, and the 95th percentile at grade 8. If a student scores above we know that student performed high but may not be able to accurately assess how high they performed. Relative to other tests, therefore, there is very little true ceiling effect in this assessment. Even most high performing 10th graders receive a technically accurate measure of their skill.

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May 29, 2010, 4:43 AM