BROKEN BOW – There’s no better way to work out the trusty idea muscle after a season of rest than by dragging it into the scholastic gym and throwing around some cranial iron: it’s MAPS testing week once again.
The standardized tests, an acronym for “Measures of Academic Progress,” are taken three times a year; students in kindergarten through 11th grade run the week long gauntlet. Covering math, reading, language arts, and science, the MAPS Test is unlike the pencil-and-bubble books of old; it is dynamic, almost alive.
Broken Bow School District Superintendent Darren Tobey explains.
“It starts you at the level you’re at, for example, if you’re a kindergartener, it’ll give you kindergarten-level questions, and depending on if you answer those correctly or incorrectly, that will determine the path the test takes you on. It’ll keep bumping you up grade levels as long as you keep getting questions right. It’s built around the kids’ correct and incorrect answers as they go forward.”
While they may sound overly intense, particularly when planted right at the beginning of a new academic year, Broken Bow Public School District Superintendent Darren Tobey assures those concerned that the tests provide an important metric for the school district and the students.
“As with any test, there’s a benchmark number for each grade level and each subject that we’re looking at, and that’s basically the start of where we think our kids are at. We use that data to drive decisions when it comes to different areas of focus, or things we need to focus on more than others, as we move forward with our curriculum throughout the year.”
The testing periods occur three times a year for Broken Bow students: once this week in the fall, once before the holiday break, and finally, in the spring before the school year ends.
While the testing calendars occur in conjunction, Tobey’s vision for the testing practices and results is much wider.
“As a school district, we really hang our hat on ‘spring-to-spring’ growth. For example, our third graders did really well when they were graduating last year. When they get ready to graduate fourth grade, what kind of growth did they make over that entire school year?”
The testing goes from Monday through Thursday and does not disrupt valuable class time. During test week, Tobey says, the school gets a late start, though the snooze-button virtuosos and eyelid stargazers shouldn’t hold their breath.
“Middle school, high school, we do a 10 a.m. late start. We’re not actually starting at that time, the kids still come in at the regular time, but from that 8:15 start to 10 we’re testing, then at 10 o’clock, the 10 o’clock schedule kicks in.”
The testing and its results are fluid, Tobey says, and are not meant to be misconstrued as an ultimate, definitive measure of any student’s potential.
“It’s a process, we feel like this is a great way to see where our kids are at. By no means does this tell you if this kid’s going to be an All-American, or this one’s not going to make it to the college level, it just gives us an understanding of where we’re at and where we need to go.”
Those curious about the testing process can take a small practice exam here.