On Sept. 1, seven days before Dallas ISD students began remote learning, the district announced that students would need to return to their schools in person for three hours during the month of September to take the MAP test.

Why did Dallas ISD ask my children to take a test at school when schools are closed because of the pandemic?

“To help Dallas ISD teachers better understand where each student is academically this year, a beginning-of-the-year-assessment will be administered. The test helps inform us exactly where students are to best tailor the supports they’ll need.” Dallas ISD press release

“MAP, or the Measure of Academic Progress, is a computerized adaptive test which helps teachers, parents, and administrators improve learning for all students and make informed decisions to promote a child’s academic growth.” William Lipscomb Elementary School

“As students have been out of school for an extended period, it is very important that your student’s teachers have a baseline from which they are able to track your student’s academic progress throughout the year. The tests will require in-person proctoring and monitoring. For this reason, these tests will be administered on campus.” W.E. Greiner Middle School

How does the MAP test work?

“As you get questions right, the test will get harder. As you get questions wrong, the test will get easier.” Dallas ISD MAP testing at home flier

How do assessment experts view NWEA’s MAP test, used by more than 400 Texas school districts?

“‘Growth’ can be evaluated relative to achievement — how much students have learned. Or ‘growth’ can be evaluated on a scale similar to measurements of height. Just as children get taller with age, they also get generally better at certain kinds of problem-solving tasks.

“The first kind of growth — in achievement — is the only kind for which schools can be held accountable. But current assessment methodologies give results that behave like measures of biological growth. Such results are of little use to teachers [and] tests intended to address inequalities in our educational system end up having the opposite effect: keeping groups of students in the same relative position year after year.” Houston Chronicle letter to the editor from Anthony Petrosino, associate dean for research and outreach in Southern Methodist University’s Simmons School, and Walter Stroup, chair of the department of STEM education and teacher development and an associate professor at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth

“If I’ve got a good math teacher and she teaches fractions well, [MAP] is not going to be able to show it.” Dallas Free Press interview with Anthony Petrosino and Walter Stroup

How is Dallas ISD using the map test?

“The score shows how you compare to your peers. This score will not be used for a grade, so just do your best and show us what you are ready to learn today!” Dallas ISD MAP testing at home flier

The MAP test “is used to inform teacher instruction, class placement, and enrichment opportunities throughout the year.” Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing Arts

“Due to the COVID 19 pandemic, all STAAR test administrations scheduled for April, May and June 2020 have been canceled. Instead of using STAAR scores as eligibility criteria for admission, MAP assessments will be used as proxies for eligibility for magnet schools.” DISD Magnets and Special Programs web page (translated from the Spanish version; the English version is no longer available)

“To provide a valid prior assessment for use [in] growth statistics for Local Accountability and Excellence Initiatives, the district will be conducting MAP assessments in Reading and Math for grades K-11 early in the 2020-21 school year.” COVID FAQ on Dallas ISD’s website for the Teacher Excellence Initiative (TEI), used to evaluate and compensate teachers

Why isn’t Dallas ISD communicating with families about how MAP tests will be used in their children’s magnet applications and in their teachers’ evaluations and salaries?

Emails to DISD spokeswoman Robyn Harris went unanswered.

This story was produced by the Dallas Free Press, a news nonprofit focused on community journalism in South Dallas and West Dallas. Learn more at dallasfreepress.com.