Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Bittersweet Adieu

When I uploaded our Measure of Academic Progress (MAP) test scores to the Northwest Evaluation Associates (NWEA) after school today it marked my last official act as MAP Test Coordinator. This means the end of days stressing over computers working in one of our labs. Making sure teachers get their classes to the correct lab to take the correct test. Chasing down the seemingly endless list of students who need to makeup their test before the window closes. Trying to explain to our Instructional Science Coach who feels slighted as I explain Science just is not considered a top priority and may not get tested because we don't have enough time in the window. Teachers hounding me on why they can't have computer lab time or why they can't see test scores on Test View. Having our School Secretary quickly tell me all the test proctors have been pulled for sub duty in classrooms then duck under her desk for fear she may have done this one too many times and I will snap. Finally, trying to hunt down that one computer in our building still running Test Taker and preventing me from uploading the day's scores keeping me from going home at the end of a long day.

It will be great because it will give me more time to get into classrooms to work with teachers and students on integrating technology into learning which is what I get paid to do. Also, one might think I would be elated over the end of a duty that would make my doctor put me on industrial strength blood pressure medicine if he took if he checked it on a good day and put me on industrial strength anti psychotics during a bad one. However, I had a little bit of sadness one gets as one chapter of their life closes as another begins. The reason for this feeling is that I understand the importance of MAP testing in the educational process.

MAP testing is an adaptive test which means as a student correctly answers questions it will get progressively harder until the student misses one. Then the questioning will take a different tact. At the end of the a test the student, and teacher, receives a score. However, the real value of the test is going into NWEA's reports website to see exactly where a student is strong and where he or she is weak. This information is valuable in predicting how he/she will do on South Carolina's PASS test at the end of the year. Teachers can then tailor instruction to help students improve. Even better, this data can be accessed within a day or two of the student taking the test.

While I would gripe and complain about the problems that always came each MAP testing window, I would say I put up with it because I understood this importance of the test. MAP is probably the only type of standardized testing I actually like. However, General George S. Patton said "The moment you become so indispensable is the moment I fire you." With this in mind, it probably was time to move on. Our district placed greater importance for Instructional Technology Coaches to get into classrooms which meant MAP had to go. As I move on though I can look back with pride about be involved in a process to help our students and look forward to the sympathy I will show to the one unlucky enough to take on this vital but tough duty. MAP testing, adieu.