Second through sixth graders in Mahwah will start taking a new exam this fall that administrators say will help teachers gauge student progress, and will help the district gauge student readiness for upcoming state exams that will test the newly implemented Common Core learning standards.
Elementary school students in Mahwah will likely start taking the MAP, or “Measures of Academic Progress,” assessment this October or November, District Curriculum Director Christine Zimmermann announced at a Board of Education meeting Wednesday night.
The test is administered fully online, and will test students in reading, language arts, and mathematics, she said. Each subject test will be about an hour long, and will be given to students three times each school year, she said – once in the fall, once in the winter, and one in the spring. The exam can also be given during summer school.
Sixth graders will take just the reading portion of the test three times a year, officials said.
According to Zimmermann, the district decided to “take on another assessment” because officials felt it needed a diagnostic tool.
“We needed something computer-based, and something that will tell us how ready we are for the PARCC exam,” she said.
The PARCC, which will go into full effect in the district next year, is the new state assessment that will replace the NJ ASK and HSPA exams students currently take. The PARCC exam is in line with the Common Core Standards, educational standards that have been adopted by 45 states, including New Jersey. Mahwah has spent several years revamping its curriculum to be in line with Common Core Standards.
The MAP can also be graded very quickly, Zimmermann said.
“Teachers can get the data in real time, and can use it to inform instruction,” she said.
The results of the MAP exam would not count toward students’ overall grades, and unlike the PARCC, do not need to be reported to the state, district officials said.
“We [want the MAP to be] a common language we can use in the district in terms of testing,” Zimmermann said.
According to her report, some teachers in the district have already started training on implementing the MAP assessment.
The yearly cost of implementing the test, including staff training, is $21,000, she said.
Mahwah Superintendent Dr. Lauren Schoen said she felt the MAP, “will so help us prepare for the PARCC, which will be in full swing next year.”
Schoen said the district will be sending out a communication to parents fully detailing the MAP exam and its impact on students before it is implemented.