Dear Parents:

Enclosed you will find your child’s Measures of Academic Progress® (MAP®) test results. As you know, the MAP® assessment is an integral part of Goochland County Public Schools’ Balanced Assessment Project1 and over time will measure individual academic growth.

It’s important to note the difference between a growth measure (MAP®) and a traditional achievement measure like Virginia’s SOL (Standards of Learning) tests. A great way to think about this difference is through the following analogy:

Achievement Tests (i.e. Virginia’s SOL tests) — Think of an SOL test as a 100 lb. weight. The state issues a common group of students (i.e. third graders or all students completing Algebra I) the same 100 lb. weight. Every student attempts to lift the weight. Those who lift it “pass;” those who do not “fail.”

Growth Assessments (i.e. the MAP® test) — The same common group of students is issued a 100 lb. weight. Those who can’t lift it are given a 95 lb. weight to lift. Those who can’t lift the 95 lb. weight are given a 90 lb. weight … and so on. Those students who lifted the original 100 lb. weight are given a 105 lb. weight; if successful, they’re issued a 110 lb. weight to attempt … and so on. The assessment ends when it has successfully identified the precise range for each individual student, one in which the weight has just started to become too heavy.

This month we administered the assessment to all students in grades 2-8 in the areas of reading and mathematics. Students will be reassessed this winter and again in the spring. Over time these assessments will measure individual academic growth throughout the school year, as well as from year to year.

MAP® tests are unique in that they are adaptive tests your child takes on a computer. That means that the test becomes more difficult the more questions your child answers correctly. When your child incorrectly answers a question, the test becomes easier (see “weight analogy” above). Therefore, your child takes a test specifically created for his or her learning level.

Your child’s MAP® results are reported in RIT scores. This is a different type of score than a typical test that provides a percentage correct. It is also different from many tests that provide results based on your child’s score compared to others in his or her grade. Instead, the RIT score is an equal-interval scale, like feet and inches, that is independent of grade level. As a result, we can easily measure growth in learning. This type of score increases the value of the tests as a tool to improve student learning because it enables teachers to recognize where to focus attention for your child’s learning.

MAP® testing is a powerful tool for monitoring student growth over time. Attached to this letter is a document called Normative Data. This document provides an overview of MAP’s® 2011 norms including the scope of the study, the methodology used, the ways norms can be used by educators to review their student data, and the status norms of RIT scores in reading and mathematics.

Your child’s fall MAP scores should be viewed as an initial benchmark. Whether below, above, or right in line with the reported means, your child’s scores will support our teachers in identifying strengths and weaknesses, subsequently adjusting instruction accordingly. Additionally, the MAP® assessment is designed to identify growth over time. It will take multiple MAP® administrations (3+) to really zero in on your child’s performance with high validity.

I hope you find the enclosed reports informative. If you have questions, please contact your child’s teacher, school counselor, principal, or me. For more information on resources for parents, download NWEA’s MAP® Parent Toolkit at www.nwea.org.

We are thrilled to begin a new era in assessment, one that focuses on every child’s individual growth and achievement. As always, we appreciate your partnership in your child’s education and are always here to help.

Best regards,