Category Archives: Standardized Testing

Gifted & High Achievers Identification

Why is the Fall MAP test used for gifted identification as well as high achievers magnet qualification?

Knox Phillips is the Director of Research, Assessments, and Grants at the DeKalb County School District who gave us his thoughts on
  How to Qualify for Gifted Services (Sept 2016)
  Opting Out of the Georgia Milestones Tests (Apr 2016)
  Tax Dollars to Pay for AP Exams (Mar 2016)
Knox Phillips tells us about the process for using the Fall MAP test for identifying gifted students and qualifying for high achievers magnet.

Knox Phillips
Knox Phillips

The fall MAP assessment window offered at the start of the second week of school through mid September is the achievement test used for both Gifted student eligibility testing and for high achievers’ magnet qualification. The first assessment of the year is the most optimal time to begin the process of identification of students for both programs for several reasons:
Gifted Evaluations
Gifted formal evaluation and assessment is a multi-step, multi-assessment process. It begins in August with achievement testing through the MAP Assessment and resumes in September with the Renzulli questionnaire assessment completed by teachers. In addition, a cognitive assessment (CogAT) is required to be administered within a two month window in early fall and then a creativity assessment (Torrance Creativity Test) is administered to applicable students in early winter (December/January). The length of time required for complete evaluation of a student to be eligible for gifted services, as stipulated by the Georgia Department of Education, is relatively lengthy; therefore, the need to set the qualification achievement assessment (MAP) in the early fall is critical toward ensuring that parent notification of their child’s gifted eligibility status can occur in early spring.
High Achiever Evaluation Process
Relative to high achievers’ magnet eligibility, the MAP achievement assessment utilized must be offered in the fall to provide a fair platform to all students whose MAP test occurs within the same testing window. After a student’s first MAP Assessment, the second assessment a student completes is normed to their achievement level; therefore, offering a variable sample of assessment items. The fall assessment provides test items that are similarly leveled for all students. In addition, it takes several months to extract the achievement data from the MAP system into the District’s student information system, inclusive of data quality assurance and accuracy processes that must be completed in time for the District’s magnet application and lottery processes. Offering the assessment outside of the fall window would significant delay both the application and lottery process due to the amount of time it takes to flatten and align all the data necessary to determine student eligibility for high achievers’ magnet programs.
MAP Assessment to private-schooled and home-schooled
In collaboration with the Office of Research, Assessment, and Grants, the Office of School Choice typically administers the MAP Assessment to private-schooled and home-schooled students on a different schedule in October (typically after hours and on Saturday) and offers an alternative site for home-schooled and private-schooled students in December/January. This is typically a testing population of fewer than fifty students.

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 (

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