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The Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) Information


The Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) assessment is designed to measure a student’s academic achievement and growth over time in reading and mathematics. Together with other classroom-based information, MAP results can help teachers make instructional decisions that match the needs of each child.

MAP is a computer adaptive assessment. In a computer adaptive assessment, as a student responds to questions, the test responds to the student, adjusting up or down the difficulty of the questions presented to the student. This creates a personalized assessment for every student.

Currently, MAP is being used in all elementary and middle schools in HCPSS. In order to monitor growth across the school year, students in grades 1 through 8 take MAP two or three times a year: in the beginning (fall), in the middle (winter), and at the end of the school year (spring), with students in grades 3 through 8 only participating in fall and winter.

Learn more about how to understand the MAP student report →

MAP assessment items are designed to align to objectives in the Maryland College and Career Ready Standards, which are now being taught throughout the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS).

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HCPSS students spend less time taking assessments than students in any other Maryland school system by relying on a limited number of carefully chosen assessments that deliver high value in tailoring instruction, improving the instructional program and identifying students ready for more challenging instruction.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is MAP?

Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) assessments are computer adaptive achievement tests in Mathematics and Reading.

What are computer adaptive tests?

The computer adjusts the difficulty of the questions so that each student takes a unique test, personalized for their individual achievement and skill level. The difficulty of each question is based on how the student answered previous questions.

What is the purpose of the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) assessment?

The MAP assessment is designed to measure a student’s academic achievement and growth over time in reading and mathematics. MAP assessment items are designed to align to objectives in the Maryland College and Career-Ready Standards, which are now being taught throughout the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS). Together with other classroom-based information, information from MAP can help teachers make instructional decisions that match the needs of each child.

Which schools in HCPSS are using MAP?

HCPSS is using the MAP assessment in every elementary and middle school.

What MAP tests are available?

Students are assigned to take MAP based on grade level, K-2, 2-5, or MAP 6+.

How is K-2 unique?

K-2 meets the unique needs of early learners by utilizing advanced technology to display interactive visuals and audio for beginning readers. For example, the computer automatically plays audio instructions to the student, eliminating the challenges of early learners who are not yet fluent readers.

When are the MAP testing windows?

Fall, Winter and Spring. Specific dates can be found on the testing schedule page.

How long is does it take to complete MAP?

Although the tests are not timed, the typical length of time for the MAP test is 50 minutes per content area.

How did my student do on the MAP assessment?

After each time a student takes MAP, the parent/guardian will receive a copy of his or her Student Progress Report, with the scores and other information related to their child’s MAP performance. On the Student Progress Report, look at the student’s percentile range (explanation below) to see how the student scored in comparison with other students in the same grade across the country who took the MAP assessment. Next, look at the graph to see if the student’s score has increased each time he or she has taken the MAP assessment. The Mathematics and Reading Goal Performance (at the bottom of each graph) give more detailed information regarding how the student performed in the areas assessed on MAP.

It is important to remember that MAP is one piece of information and should always be used and understood together with other information about student performance, such as classroom-based observations, tests, quizzes, classwork, homework, etc.

What is the percentile range?

The percentile range includes the student’s percentile rank. The percentile rank tells you where the student scored in comparison with other students in the same grade across the country. For example, if a student’s percentile rank was 40, that means the student scored at least as well as 40 percent of other students in the same grade across the country. The student’s percentile rank is bolded.

What is a RIT score?

The MAP results are reported using the Rasch Units (RIT) score, which is an achievement scale that measures growth over time, not mastery of skills. To understand the RIT score, look at the percentile range (see above).

What is a RIT scale?

The RIT scale is a scale that uses individual item difficulty values to estimate student achievement and growth. An advantage of the RIT scale is that it can relate the numbers on the scale directly to the difficulty of items on the tests. In addition, the RIT scale is an equal interval scale. Equal interval means that the distance between scores is the same regardless of whether a student is at the top, bottom, or middle of the RIT scale, and it has the same meaning regardless of grade level.

How is progress measured?

MAP assessments are used to measure a student’s growth in mathematics and reading over time. The fall assessment gives you information about where the student started the school year. The winter assessment measures progress thus far, from fall to winter. The spring assessment measures the students’ growth to that point.

The scale used to measure a student’s progress is called the RIT scale, short for Rasch Unit (Rasch unIT). The RIT scale is an equal-interval scale much like inches on a yardstick. It is used to measure a student’s academic growth from administration to administration. The RIT is not a measure of mastery and does not correspond to a grade, rather it provides information about what a student is ready to learn.

What can the parent/family do to support their child?

Remind your child that there is no time limit to the MAP assessment and to take his/her time.

Discuss the MAP scores with your child. Talk with your child in a hopeful way and make sure to point out what the child did well. Ask the child what he/she is proud of in the scores and where to improve next time.

Help your child select books at his/her reading level. The Lexile® Range for your child can be found at the bottom left of the reading graph (Student Progress Report). The Lexile® Range provides the readability of text based on the length of the words and sentences. is an online resource you can use to find books at your child’s reading level based on their Lexile level.

However, remember that the ranges should not be the only determining factor in selecting reading materials for your child. Not all books have these designations, and it is important to choose topics and formats that are age appropriate and interesting to your child.

How will teachers use this information?

Teachers use a variety of tools including formative assessments, state and local assessments, and MAP data to monitor students’ progress and link students to appropriate interventions and enrichment. The MAP reports provide teachers with additional pieces of information regarding student’s instructional strengths and needs. Teachers will use this information to help guide instruction in the classroom and create flexible groupings to better differentiate lessons based on content. Teachers can also engage in goal setting with students using MAP information and other performance information available in the classroom.

How does MAP fit with other pieces of information?

MAP is one piece of information and should always be used and understood together with the other pieces of information collected on the student, such as classroom-based observations, tests, quizzes, classwork, homework, etc.

MAP is a multiple choice assessment and does not include a writing component. To have a full picture of your child’s academic skills, it is important to look at all components of a student’s progress and skills.

How does MAP relate to student placement into gifted and talented (G/T) classes?

According to the Annotated Code of Maryland, testing used for student placement into gifted and talented classes must include an ability measure. Therefore, the HCPSS uses a different assessment to measure ability, since MAP is a measure of student achievement. Ability measures are different than achievement measures because they identify students who may have potential that may not have been demonstrated through achievement. While MAP cannot be used as a sole determinant for G/T placement, the data from the MAP assessment may be included as part of the placement review process along with other data points, such as student work samples and other assessment data.

Will MAP be used to identify students who need intervention services?

While a low RIT score and/or lack of growth between administrations may suggest the need for academic intervention, HCPSS does not use a single test to identify students for academic intervention. If you are concerned that the overall pattern of your child’s performance suggests that she or he may need academic intervention, please contact your child’s teacher to discuss your concerns.

How are accommodations used during the MAP assessments?

The adaptive nature of the MAP assessment makes it appropriate for students with a wide range of skills and needs. All tests are untimed and additional selected accommodations are permissible.

How accurately does the MAP assess student performance?

Because of many factors, MAP, like all assessments, might not accurately capture a student’s true performance during a single administration. To reflect the influence of variables that might impact a student’s performance on a single administration (e.g., illness, lack of sleep, distractions in the testing environment), MAP provides a “RIT Range.” If the student took the test again reasonably soon after the administration, one would expect his or her score to fall within the RIT Range at least 68% of the time. The RIT Range therefore provides a good approximation of where a student’s true performance falls, in the absence of testing inaccuracies.

My student’s current RIT score is lower than his/her previous score. Should I be concerned?

MAP data should always be used in conjunction with other academic data to develop a comprehensive picture of student achievement.

There are several possible reasons why a student’s MAP score may be lower than what you might expect. All tests have a margin of testing error and no single administration can, with complete certainty, capture a student’s true performance. For that reason, MAP is designed to be given several times a year, to minimize the effects of testing error and to provide a better picture of a student’s performance by examining the trend of his or her performance over several administrations. The student’s RIT score is also provided in a RIT range, again, to take into account error that might be associated with the test administration.

An additional consideration for students who are new to taking MAP is their unfamiliarity with the computer-based adaptive test format. For example, students who take the K-2 version use headphones, much of the test is read to them, and the items are more “primary level” in nature. Whereas, when students take the MAP 2-5, they do not use the headphones and the items are geared more for the age appropriate level. These changes in format may impact some students. Additionally, some students may have had test anxiety and/or may not have taken MAP as seriously as more familiar tests, such as classroom assessments.

The MAP items are written to be aligned with the Maryland College and Career-Ready State Standards and the HCPSS curriculum. However, items that students see on MAP may be different from what they are currently learning in the classroom, due to a variety of factors. Students who are studying content that is covered at a different point in the year than when it is assessed by MAP may not see improvement. This does not mean that they are not making growth. The MAP assessment may simply not be testing what they have been taught in the classroom at that point in the year.