Select freshmen and sophomores now tested
Blair administered the Measures of Academic Progress in Reading (MAP-R) test to freshmen and sophomores in on-level English classes from Sept. 10 to Oct. 5. This computerized test, given to both grades for the first time, will help teachers plan their lessons and determine a student's reading level, according to Karen Kranzer, MAP-R coordinator for Blair.
Last year, Blair tested all freshmen in accordance with Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) policy. But this year, the policy required Blair to test freshmen and sophomores, but allowed the administration to choose select students. Based on last year's MAP-R and the cost of the test, principal Darryl Williams and other staff decided to test on-level English students only, according to Kranzer. "We decided to test the kids whose scores we needed to monitor their progress," she said.
The MAP-R testing policy was changed because teachers and principals felt it was necessary to test both 9th and 10th grade students, according to Kranzer. "Principals wanted data on their students to make sure that the kids were prepared to take their HSAs," she said.
Before the 2006-2007 school year, the MAP-R was only administered to students in grades two to eight. A need for a consistent and accurate test to assess reading levels led to the test being administered in high schools for the first time last year, according to reading resource teacher Amy Bottomley. "People had to push and say, well, there is a need for it in high schools because we still have high school students who aren't reading at grade level," she said.
Based on test results, teachers and counselors will decide if the student needs help in reading. "This is the major test we use to make sure that we have everyone who is in need of a reading intervention," Bottomley said. "If you score below reading level on the MAP-R, you will get put in a reading class."
The 42-question test is self-leveling, meaning it will adjust its difficulty after each question based on how the student is doing. "When a student answers a question correctly, the computer levels up… and continues to challenge the student to find the level at which the students are answering 50 percent of the questions correctly," Kranzer said.
MAP-R will be administered again to the same students from Jan. 23 to Feb. 15 to record the students' progress. From April 26 to May 16, teachers will administer the test for the third time to students whom they feel still need the test.
If a students tests above average in a later session, they no longer need to take a reading class, according to Bottomley. "Reading classes are an intervention. As long you need the help, our job is to push you to reading on grade level but once you're there, you have other classes you need to take," she said.
MCPS buys the MAP-R tests from Northwest Evaluation Association, a non-profit organization based in Oregon. MCPS is one of 2700 school districts across the country to administer the MAP tests in Math, Reading or Language usage.
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