At Jefferson Elementary School, all the children spend a few minutes each morning with some enthusiastic exercising in their classes.
That could be an especially good thing to get them ready to read a MAP, so to speak.
The Measures for Academic Progress is held three times a year – most recently for grades second through ninth.
During the period of Sept. 2-23, all students will work on math and English tests as a way to assess their capabilities. Each school sets it own schedule during that time frame.
MAP is especially useful because it’s used throughout the U.S. and in some foreign countries, said Charlie Tyler, the Aiken County School District’s MAP coordinator.
While it does provide comparisons of Aiken County students to those within South Carolina and other states, MAP primarily gives a quick view of student performance for each teacher, he said.
MAP will be offered again to the students in early December and then a third time in March – determining how successful or how challenged students are in a given area of standards over those months of instruction.
The format of the battery of tests may surprise parents new to the process.
MAP is computer-based and adaptable. At any time, the software program can adjust to more difficult questions if a student is doing well. For those struggling with a specific standard, the software can maintain that level or lower it to determine where that child is performing.
When the tests are complete, teachers will get the reports as early as the next morning, said John Metts, the Millbrook Elementary School assistant principal. He coordinates the MAP testing schedule.
“The teachers can use the reports for school group instruction and also look at students’ strengths and weaknesses,” Metts said. “It’s all about growth. Teachers can look where their students are starting and then see improvement, helping make their goals.”
Margie Hamman, a Millbrook Elementary third-grade teacher, acknowledged the tests can be stressful for the children at times.
She assures them to do the best they can; the computer will take them as far as they can go.
The test results might indicate that five children are having trouble with algebraic equations. Hamman can bring them together in a small group setting to bring them up to speed.
When her students take MAP in December, she expects to see some growth.
On the children’s third try in March, “Woo, we better see some growth, or I haven’t done my job,” Hamman said on Wednesday.
Yet MAP is only one component of the assessment process, she said.
“I’m more interested in how they’re doing with me every single, solitary day,” Hamman said. “This (MAP) is a guide to help me find out who is lacking in some skills.”
Later that afternoon, every Aiken County school held a training session for teachers – a yearlong process introducing them to a new assessment process they can use on a daily basis within their classrooms.
“They’re doing a very good job with the training,” Hamman said.