My Taxi service is employed every morning – I give two of my grandchildren a ride to school. This morning my third grade granddaughter told me she was wearing her lucky shoes because they were to take the MAP test today. She said, “I am scared to take this test.” I asked her why she was afraid and she said, “My teacher said the MAP test is to prove that we actually teach something.” Whew – how does that propaganda help anyone?
Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) yields rich data that can be used to individualize instruction and analyze programs. Based on over 30 years of research, MAP is a key tool for measuring growth and predicting proficiency over time…
Of course, I did not know this perspective – at least in these precise words – before I gave that little angel a ride to school. I will call her Angel for the purposes of this post. When she expressed her fear and her reasoning I felt a stab of anger or frustration with the school system and the teacher. Do the teachers think the MAP tests are all about the teachers?
I attempted in my feeble way to re-frame the MAP test for my granddaughter. My response was something like, “Well, don’t be afraid. No one scores a perfect score. And the test is not about your school, it is about you. The test results will give you information about yourself. For instance,” I went on, “the test will tell you if you are better at one subject than another. Some children are better at math, some better at reading. The test can tell you where you might want to work harder – but it can also tell you what direction you might want to go in the future. If you score well in reading and writing you might want to work as a journalist – writing stories for a newspaper or magazine. If you score well in math then you might want to become a rocket scientist.”
I was amazed at the change of expression on Angel’s face. My feeble efforts paid a dividend. Angel realized the test was not about the teacher or the school – it was about her. Angel is a curious person. She has a great imagination. Her energy for learning radiates from sparkling eyes. I felt sad that the teacher had made the issue of learning a teacher centered idea rather than a child centered idea.
With all of that said, I understand the frustration of the teacher. School Administrations across this country have focused energy on MAP testing because the tests are tied to school performance and teacher performance. Results of MAP testing have direct financial consequences for school districts and for individual schools. That message filters down to the children. “You have to score well so I will look good” was the actual message of the teacher to the student.
I am no authority on education. I am not an authority on complex education funding formulas used by the State and Federal governments. I am not an authority on children or proper methods of teaching. But I am certain that when the focus of education is on the administration and the teachers rather than the children then we have failed in our duty to the children.