(Photo by Tim Jaynes, Staff)
"I was scared. I had never given the test before," said Williams, who teaches for the Sikeston R-6 district.
The MAP testing program expanded significantly this year with the introduction of grade level tests in reading and math for grades three through eight. In previous years, Missouri students were tested in reading for grades three, seven and 11; and math for grades four, eight and 10.
So when the opportunity arose to score eighth grade math MAP tests for a few days this summer, Williams jumped at the chance, she said.
"What better way to get an insight into the test," Williams said. "I thought I could find out what they look for (in answers) and what makes a question worth three points or two points."
For the sixth consecutive summer, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education in cooperation with the test publisher, CTB/McGraw-Hill arranged for Missouri teachers to help grade part of the MAP tests at sites throughout the state.
Scoring was conducted June 6-9 and again from Monday through Thursday at the Sikeston Career and Technology Center, where teachers, who were mostly from Southeast Missouri, scored tests electronically through a secure Internet connection to a computer lab.
"I didn't have a clue what we would be doing," Williams said. "We even had to take tests to see if we gave the correct number of points for answers to the items."
The teachers spent two days in training before they began evaluating students' responses. Following training, teachers had to prove their judgment was accurate by taking a test of their own. If they passed, then they can move on to scoring for the remaining session.
Every MAP exam contains multiple-choice items, which are machine-scored by the testing contractor. About one-tenth of each exam consists of short-
answer constructed-response questions and "performance events" that must be hand-scored.
More than 500 Missouri teachers signed up to help score a portion of the thousands of Missouri Assessment Program tests public school students took in the spring. About 50 teachers, mostly from Southeast Missouri scored tests over the past two weeks at the Sikeston site.
Teachers at the Sikeston site scored eighth grade math tests while other teachers at various are scoring sites around the state scored from different grade level in either math or communication arts.
The purpose of the in-state scoring project is to help Missouri teachers become more familiar with the structure of the MAP tests and the hand-
scoring procedures used with parts of the MAP exams.
Michael Muenks, director of assessment for DESE, said he's found scoring MAP tests radically changes how teacheres look at the test.
"Our main goal for this is to be professional development for the teachers," Muenks said. "It's not about how many MAP tests we can score. It's taking that information into the classroom."
Sikeston has been a scoring site for several years, said Dr. Marisa Bowen, Sikeston R-6 assistant superintendent of curriculum and middle grades. The district was pleased to be one of the only two eighth grade math MAP scoring sites in the state this summer, she said.
"I have spoken with many Sikeston teachers who have been scorers and the experience of scoring seems to give them a whole new outlook on the MAP," Bowen said. "After scoring, teachers appear to become more confident in the strategies they are using to teach and with the types of assessments they are giving throughout the year."
Another very important advantage of being able to participate in the scoring process is the knowledge that teachers come away with is shared with other staff members in their home districts, Bowen said.
Teachers must apply to participate in the in-state scoring project, and each teacher must have at least two years of experience in the subject area for which they score the MAP tests. Each teacher earns a $100-per day stipend during the test-scoring project.
Williams said she found the experience to be helpful. And knowing she was grading an actual student's test answers made Williams feel a sense of responsibility, she said.
"It was very informational, and I encourage all teachers -- if they can -- to take it and see what it's all about," Williams said.