Do you remember taking state tests in school, filling in bubbles to multiple choice questions? Were you ever frustrated that some questions covered material you hadn’t learned yet? Did you ever wonder what the point of the test was, since you didn’t get your test results until many months later?
Fast forward to today: Enter the computer adaptive assessment test. Essentially, it’s a test that dynamically generates questions based on an individual student’s answers. No two students take the same test, because each student is answering questions at different speeds, getting some right and some wrong. If a student demonstrates mastery of a skill, the computer will offer a harder question, even venture into advanced territory regardless of the student’s age or grade-level. At the end of the test, a student profile report is immediately generated for teachers to pinpoint individual student needs.
This year, St. Andrew’s will deploy this test - the NWEA’s MAP Growth and MAP Reading Fluency tests - to first, fourth, and sixth grades. Next year, the second, fifth, and seventh grades will be added, followed by the third and eighth grades the third year.
This month, Lower School Head Kama Bruce described how incorporating this test aligns perfectly with “our drive for continual improvement as an institution.” He said, “Every child deserves to be pushed and coached. We do a disservice to the kid doing well if we are not challenging them to reach their full potential. That’s part of our mission.”
“We pride ourselves on knowing each student. Kids aren’t just a number. This type of test tells a story - each testing session generates a 29-page report for each student. This data remains in the system throughout their education here. Imagine the rich insights a teacher can get from years of testing data for each student.”
That’s hundreds of pages of student data for teachers to review. Thankfully, they have the help of St. Andrew's faculty members, Lower School Director of Curriculum & Instruction, Dr. Johnny Chu, and Grades 5-8 Learning Specialist Perrin Shelton, who are synthesizing action plans for each child and identifying opportunities for intervention if needed. Kama smiled, saying, “I’m very excited to onboard this tool, and I’m so thankful for the help from [Director of Technology] Matt Lipstein, Johnny Chu and Perrin Shelton.”
The test is not a traditional multiple choice test either. Sometimes, students may be asked to “pick the two best answers” or “pick the two that don’t belong.” Kama said, “This pushes kids into territory where they may get half wrong, and they need to learn how to be persistent and problem-solve if the answers are not obvious to them.”
Ultimately, MAP tests are designed to focus on a student’s growth over time. “This test is not about getting 100 percent correct. It’s about continually setting higher goals for students in a meaningful, precise matter. And it gives students the language they need to talk about their learning in their student-led conferences. They can say ‘I need to work on my phonemes’ rather than simply ‘I need to get better at reading.’”
NWEA® is a research-based, not-for-profit organization that supports students and educators worldwide by creating assessment solutions that precisely measure growth and proficiency—and provide insights to help tailor instruction. For 40 years, NWEA has developed Pre-K–12 assessments and professional learning offerings to help advance all students along their optimal learning paths. Our tools are trusted by educators in 145 countries and more than half the schools in the US.
Located in Austin, Texas, St. Andrew’s Episcopal School is a private co-ed elementary, middle and high school for grades K-12. Students benefit from dedicated faculty, a challenging academic program, fine and performing arts, competitive athletics, and a wide selection of extracurricular activities.