MAP Testing in International Schools

All three schools that I have worked at (US, China, Russia) utilize NWEA’s MAP Assessment to monitor students’ growth throughout their academic career. This tool is particularly important in international school settings since it is the only external examination that most school use to track students’ achievement in Math, Reading and Language Usage, particularly in the years before students take TOEFL, SAT, IB exams, etc.

I find the MAP assessment useful and informative in understanding students’ strengths and areas to improve (in terms of strands and standards in CCSS). I also appreciate having an external assessments to validate and document students’ growth. While I understand that NWEA is an American company, it still makes me cringe when I casually spotted some culturally unfamiliar items on my students’ screen in International School. Here are a few examples:

  1. US-based currency
    1. I took me some time to understand nickle, dime, and quarters while I lived in the US. Reading these words for the first time while having to make sense of the problem is hard, especially for most of my ELs who have no experience using U.S. currency.
    2. It might be more difficult for students to make sense of their answers such as “$10 for a meal” when it cost them 200-400₽ for a meal in Russia.
  2.  Customary Units
    1. Same as point #1 above. My students know that inches, feet, yards and miles are units of measurements, but how are they supposed to know the conversions between them? The most experience my students have is getting a foot-long sandwich in Subway, or getting a 5.5-inch iPhone X.
  3. Unfamiliar items:
    1. My Chinese and Russian students do not know what a bagel is. In fact, most of the world don’t. I can’t think of any other at this moment, I’ll add to the list in the future.

I believe that NWEA can easily modify their test by taking away customary units and US coins on their assessments since students in 145 other countries are taking the test as well. I’m not too concerned about the other unfamiliar items since the world is getting more globalized each day, and it is difficult to determine what is available in each country.

In spite of all that, I still believe that MAP is a good tool, and I do see a lot of improvements made over the last few years. I hope that external assessments, in general, can do a better job at making the test questions accessible to non-US population, especially when students in over 100 countries are using them.

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