Testing – Assessments & Magnet – Gifted – Identification

Stan Jester
DeKalb County
Board of Education

Across the United States, the public’s demand for raising the educational achievement of all students has led to a significant increase in high-stakes assessments for students as well as the emergence of comprehensive school accountability systems that hold schools, teachers, and students responsible for learning. The consequences associated with high-stakes assessment results are also increasing. Most states now rely on the results of high-stakes assessments to determine a wide range of critical events, including whether or not to award recognition to a school, impose consequences upon a school, or promote/graduate students.
The state of Georgia requires the assessment of all students enrolled in its K–12 public schools. However, aside from their accountability features, assessments also provide volumes of information regarding the progress of students and schools. Educators can gain large amounts of data for analysis and use it in planning, and parents can benchmark the academic growth of their student. The mission of Georgia’s assessment program is to measure student achievement relative to the state mandated curriculum, to identify students failing to achieve mastery of content, to provide teachers with diagnostic information, and to assist school systems in identifying strengths and weaknesses in order to establish priorities in planning educational programs.
Feel free to email me or comment here with any questions, Stan Jester (stanjester@gmail.com).

The 2016 – 2017 DeKalb County School District Testing Calendar gives the testing dates for all DeKalb Schools elementary, middle and high school students. During the year, elementary and middle school students can expect to take

  • MAP (Measures of Academic Progress)
  • CogAT (Cognitive Abilities Test)
  • ACCESS For ELLs (Assessing Comprehension and Communication in English State-to-State for English Language Learners)
  • GAM (Georgia Milestones)

Heads Up

Gifted Identification – Gifted identification used to be done in the grades 1,3,5. Gifted identification is now done every other year starting this past August. So, gifted identification was this past August and nobody will be tested for gifted next school year.
Magnet Qualification – Students will qualify for high achievers magnet programs based on their August assessments.
Testing Kindergarteners – If a kindergartner goes to school in a gifted identification year, one of the first things they do will be MAP testing. I’m suspicious of the effectiveness of standardized testing young elementary school children for gifted identification. For many, this is their first time on a computer and sitting still for an hour to focus on a test. I imagine their results are a reflection of maturity and patience more than anything else.
When will we know? – My understanding is that there are some technical difficulties and delays in notifying parents whether or not their students qualified for gifted or high achievers magnet. I’m seeking clarity on this issue and will update this article over the next few days.

Starting this school year, DeKalb Schools replaced replaced Iowa Tests of Basic Skills (ITBS) with (MAP) assessments for standardized testing as well as magnet and gifted identification.
You can prepare and practice for the MAP test at MAP Test Warm-up
• ASSESSMENT TYPE: Computer adaptive interim assessment
• RECOMMENDED USE: 3 times/year (fall, winter, spring)
• TEST TIME: Untimed, but typical student completes in under 60 minutes/subject area

MAP Grades K-2 MAP Grades 3-5
Math Math
Reading Reading   
Language Usage
Science Grades 3-8

MAP, Achievement, & Common Core
• Norms based on a nationally representative sample
• Percentile scores provides ranking and comparison to national norm group
• Compares the performance of the students and school/district relative to Common Core State Standards
• Provides clear picture of K–12 students’ achievement and growth
• Supplies information about every student’s learning needs and student progress
Value of MAP Data
Student Level Decision Making
• Screener for Response to Intervention / Gifted Identification
• Differentiated Instruction/Flexible Grouping
• Predicts results on state tests
Instructional Level Decision Making
• Lesson Planning
• Lexile Levels for Reading Selection
Administrative Level Decision Making
• Program Evaluations
• Resource Allocation
• Proficiency Projections

The DeKalb County School District’s gifted identification process begins with the achievement category using the Northwest Evaluation Association Measures of Academic Progress (MAP). The student must earn > 90% Reading and/or > 90% Math to be considered for further evaluation in the areas of mental ability, creativity and motivation.
To be eligible for gifted services, students must qualify in three of the following four areas:
Achievement – Minimum score of 90th percentile (or higher) on the total reading, total math, or complete composite
Mental Ability – Minimum score of 96th percentile (or higher) in at least one sub-test area
Creativity – Minimum score of 90th percentile (or higher) on an assessment for creativity
Motivation – Minimum of 90th percentile (or higher) on an assessment for motivation (Grades K-12)
Grade point average of at least 3.5 on a 4.0 scale, using an average of core grades over the previous two school years in English, math, science, social studies, and foreign language if applicable (Grades 9-12)
If a student qualifies for the gifted program, parents will be notified.

The High Achievers Magnet Program offers a unique educational experience to students who possess the intellectual potential, aptitude, and functional ability to achieve in a rigorous academic environment. The magnet program is designed to enable students to be creative, independent in action, critical in thoughts, and effective in communication. There is an instrumental music component in the curriculum, and students are scheduled into art and music classes weekly.

  • 3.0 Grade Point Average (GPA) or higher in all four core subject areas on the 2016-2017 Fall report card;
  • MAP Total Reading score of 75th percentile (or higher);
  • MAP Total Math score of 75th percentile (or higher) in the first M.A.P assessment taken by the student during 2016-2017 school year

Students who score > 90% RT (Reading Total) or > 90% MT (Math Total) on the nationally norm-referenced assessment (MAP) will take additional gifted formal evaluations, CogAT (Cognitive Abilities Test).
• Grade K – 2: Paper-Pencil Test
• Grades 3- 5: Computer-Based Test
• Each section timed
• Uses national age and grade norms to calculate scores and compare students of the same age or grade.
Measures 3 different cognitive abilities
• Verbal: Verbal Classification, Sentence Complétion, & Verbal Analogies
• Measures ability to understand English words and to make inferences and judgments about them.
• Quantitative: Quantitative Relations, Number Series, & Equation Building
      • Measures understanding of basic quantitative concepts and relationships
• Non-Verbal Section: Figure Classification, Figure Analogies, & Figure Analyses
      • Measures reasoning using pictures and geometric shapes
      • Reduces the impact of language on the student’s score
• The composite score is a total score for all three tests
• Scores are reported in percentiles
• Minimum of 96% in at least one sub-test areas to be considered for further gifted testing:
      • Verbal
      • Quantitative
      • Non-verbal
      • Complete Composite

Measures how well students have acquired the knowledge and skills outlined in the state standards.
• Criterion-Referenced and Norm-Referenced
• Provide criterion-referenced performance information in the form of four performance levels (Beginning, Developing, Proficient, and Distinguished), depicting students’ mastery of state standards
• Norm-referenced performance information in the form of national percentiles, depicting how students’ achievement compares to peers nationally

6 responses to “Testing – Assessments & Magnet – Gifted – Identification

  1. The implementation of the MAP testing was worst at best! We do not have a computer lab at our school. As a result the Media Center and Science lab have been “shut down” since returning to school this January. If MAP testing is to be used every school utilizing this process should have a computer lab.
    These poor decisions that directly impact our students learning is what makes DeKalb such a low performing system. They didn’t even have all the gifted or Magnet program qualifications laid out before testing began in August. Not to mention children KNOWING HOW to take a test online! Way to go DeKalb!

  2. Bill Armstrong

    Anonymous – for once we agree – MAP is a mess to put it politely. It is close to what POTUS would call a disaster.

  3. Retired DEKALB teacher

    Each school needs at least a para with computer skills capable of the upkeep of computers in the classroom, but then too each school definitely should have a computer lab.

  4. This is an important factoid that too many don’t realize – you can be gifted and NOT be selected for the high achievers magnet program. You can also qualify and be selected for the high achievers magnet program but NOT be gifted. Many students fall into both of these buckets. There are gifted students that do not get the experience of the magnet program and remain at their resident schools because they simply were not lucky enough to get their names drawn from the lottery. There are quite a few students that score higher on these tests than the students who have been selected for the magnet program with all its many benefits (smaller class sizes, more individualized attention, innovative educational experiences, etc.)
    On what planet is this right or fair? It’s so Dekalb county….

  5. Retired Employee

    @Anonymous you probably don’t have a computer lab because you dismantled it and put them in the back of every classroom. As a parent I know that to be the case at a lot of schools.

  6. Retired Employee: yes, there are computers in classrooms but 2-3. Students must take test as a class as it is administered by the teacher. There is no taking few at a time like with STAR . This causes a problem. It has shut down a huge part of our learning environment not to mention on going testing thru January AND February. They should finish just in time to start Spring testing. I too am an educator,this was a disaster from the start. Someone needs to be held accountable. However,we all know this will never happen