Category Archives: Evaluations

DeKalb's New Assessment Tests

standardized testing

Starting tomorrow (Aug 15), the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) assessments will replace Iowa Tests of Basic Skills (ITBS), components of the the Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT), Renaissance’s STAR Early Literacy, STAR Reading and STAR Math.

Tracey Crenshaw DeKalb Vanderlyn Principal

Tracey Crenshaw
Principal, Vanderlyn Elementary School

The DeKalb County School District (DCSD) will utilize the Northwest Evaluation Association Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) as the initial assessment towards gifted identification beginning the 2016-2017 school year for students in grades K-10. 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. Although the MAP assessment is administered three times per year, the gifted eligibility window is August-September for currently enrolled students. Specifically, students will be assessed August 15 – September 13, 2016.
If you have any other questions me, Stan Jester (

Parent’s Guide to MAP
1. What is MAP?
You may be familiar with paper and pencil tests where all students are asked the same questions and spend a fixed amount of time taking the test. Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) is different. MAP is a computer adaptive test, which means every student gets a unique set of test questions based on responses to previous questions. As the student answers correctly, questions get harder. If the student answers incorrectly, the questions get easier. By the end of the test, most students will answer about half the questions correctly.
2. What does MAP measure?
MAP results are provided as a numerical RIT score. This score is used to measure a student’s achievement level at different times of the school year and compute growth. Think of this like marking height on a growth chart. You can tell how tall your child is at various points in time and how much they have grown between one time and another.
3. What is a RIT score?
After each MAP test, students receive a RIT score. Think of the score as a student’s height. The score reflects the student’s academic knowledge, skills, and abilities like inches reflect height.
The RIT (Rasch Unit) scale is a stable, equal-interval scale, like feet and inches. Equal-interval means that a change of 10 RIT points indicates the same thing regardless of whether a student is at the top, bottom, or middle of the scale, and a RIT score has the same meaning regardless of grade level or age of the student. Scores over time can be compared to tell how much growth a student has made, similar to measuring height with a ruler.
4. How do schools and teachers use MAP scores?
NWEA provides many different reports to help schools and teachers use MAP information. Schools, grade levels, and classes can be monitored to see how students are growing.
Teachers can see the progress of individual students and of their class as a whole. Students with similar MAP scores are generally ready for instruction in similar skills and topics. MAP also provides data around the typical growth for students who are in the same grade, subject, and have the same starting achievement level. This data is often used to help students set goals and understand what they need to learn to achieve their goals.
5. Can MAP tell me if my child is working at grade level?
Just as a doctor has a chart showing the most common heights of people at certain ages, NWEA has put together charts showing the median RIT scores for students at various grade levels. NWEA researchers examined the scores of millions of students to find the average scores for students in various grades. You can see a chart of these scores in the Comparative Data to Inform Instructional Decisions PDF. Please note that MAP scores are just one data point that teachers use to determine how a student is performing. Please discuss any questions that you have about your child’s performance with your child’s teacher.
6. What subjects are available with MAP?
There are MAP tests for grades 2 – 12 in reading, language usage, mathematics, and science. There are also Primary Grades tests for grades K – 2 in reading and mathematics. With these child-friendly tests for young learners, students wear headphones since many questions include audio to assist those who are still learning to read. The tests for grades K – 2 may also be referred to as MAP for Primary Grades (MPG).
7. How long is a MAP test?
Tests are not timed, and students may take as much time as they need to complete them. Most students take less than an hour to complete a MAP test. MPG tests typically last a shorter time.
8. How often will my child take MAP tests?
Most schools give MAP tests to students at the beginning, middle, and end of the school year. Some schools have students take MAP tests at other times throughout the year.
9. Is MAP a standardized test? How is it different from “highstakes” or state tests?
Most state or high-stakes tests are called summative tests. They measure what students already know, based on what is expected at their grade level, and are typically given at the end of the school year as a way to measure grade-level proficiency.
MAP tests are interim tests. This means they may be given periodically during the year. MAP is based on the same standards as the summative tests so they measure similar content. Teachers receive immediate results with MAP that show what students know and what they are ready to learn. The results can be used to help personalize lessons at the appropriate level for the students.
10. What type of questions are on MAP tests? Are there sample tests?
The MAP tests include multiple choice, drag and drop, and other types of questions. You can access some short sample tests to get an idea of what MAP questions look like.
11. Are MAP tests accessible?
Yes, download the Accessibility and Accommodations FAQ for more details.
12. What information will I receive from my child’s school?
Most schools will provide your child’s Student Progress Report. This report contains information and scores from your child’s most recent and past MAP tests. A simplified sample report with definitions and explanations is included in this document to help you better understand the report. Please contact your child’s school or teacher directly for any additional information.
13. How do I learn more about my child’s test results?
Contact your child’s school or teacher with any specific questions you may have about your child’s test results. Due to privacy laws regarding student information (specifically stemming from the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act, FERPA), NWEA is unable to discuss any student information, test results, or school assessment programs directly with parents, guardians, or other family members.

14. How can I help my child prepare for MAP tests?

Your child’s teacher will help with any pre-test instructions to explain the test to the students. Just like any school day, make sure your child is well-rested and fed with a well-rounded diet. Encourage them to do their best.

Superintendent Green’s Goals And Self Evaluation

Dr. Stephen Green’s first day as Superintendent of DeKalb Schools was in July 2015. He established the following goals for the ensuing 2015-16 school year:

  1. Develop and implement a board-approved academic curriculum.
  2. Continue to develop policies, processes, and programs that will sustain and further progress in the effort to regain full accreditation.
  3. Work collaboratively with internal and external stakeholders to gain support for the E-SPLOST V campaign.
  4. Engage with the broader DCSD community as a means of gathering data to better meet the educational needs of students in the district.
  5. Devise and deploy an action plan to relieve overcrowded schools in the Region I cluster.

Based on a mid-year self-evaluation, in January Dr. Green reported the following level of attainment of the stated goals:

  1. Curriculum—CIA (squared) team: Curriculum, Instruction, Assessment, and Accountability—created a rigor-meter and found that while most teachers are using the available framework, much of the teaching and learning does not reach the synthesis and application level. Given that, a vendor has been selected to conduct a curriculum audit to determine next steps.
  2. Accreditation—Submitted a document for full accreditation on December 18, 2015. As such, full changes in staff appointments will take place on January 11, 2016. A decentralized structure is being implemented to push decision-making to the local and regional levels. According to Dr. Green, this should decrease turnaround time in decision-making.
  3. E-SPLOST V—The E-SPLOST vote will take place either in March or May 2016. This means that there will be a compressed schedule of engaging the community. SPLOST monies will assist in relieving overcrowding in the Cross Keys cluster.
  4. Engaging the community—specific focus on the Cross Keys cluster—The superintendent developed immediate, short-term, and long-term goals to relieve overcrowding. He also regained trust and credibility in the area, and developed a relationship with MALDEF.
  5. Overcrowded schools—addressed above

The next steps of the evaluation process are to engage the school board and agree on conditions of the evaluation, including refinement of the timeline, goals, evidence (data), and documentation necessary to demonstrate the superintendent’s proficiency or lack thereof. All steps of the evaluation process must be completed by June 30, 2016.