We don't put much stock in tests. Especially standardized tests. In my mind, standardized tests are meant to test standardized children... and those children do not exist.
But I like to know where my children are in the scope of things and how they are progressing. And if (God forbid) something should ever happen to me and they would need to go into public school, then I think the test scores are good information to have on hand. So for the last two Springs, I have set up a day to do the MAP test with an online proctor.
Today was the day. They had their water bottles filled with water, I bought fruit bars as snacks, and they were allowed to chew gum. (Whoohooo!) This took out most of the test anxiety they may have and I got Cyan ready to go.
This year she switched from the test being electronically read to her, to reading it herself. I had let her know ahead of time and had prepared her by going over the Dolch words, and reviewing the rules of sounding things out. She was set. We started the test today in high spirits.
That didn't last long.
She got through the first questions with flying colors. They were mostly deductive reasoning and I was shocked at the level of vocabulary they were requiring of my 8 year old... but she was doing ok. I stayed in the room and as I watched her she got all of the first 5 problems correct, even though some seemed quite a bit above her level. Then as I watched I started to get irritated. The questions didn't come back to a 3rd grade level... they kept going higher and higher until she was having to read entire pages worth of work and then they would ask her questions like "now find the false statement on this page". WHAT? Um... She's 8.
I sat with her and watched the next two questions closely. The first one was a page of instructions on how to install a fire alarm in a hallway. It had about 2 paragraphs worth of info, which is heavy for her age level. Ie: hard but do-able. But then, when we got to the multiple choice answers it asked her 'which of these four sentences did not appear in the instructions' and it had four choices... and NONE of them had appeared (word for word) in the (painful for her to read cuz she is 8 years old) instructions.
The next one was worse. It said:
"You are writing a children's book about the dentist. The book is about a child's very first visit to a dentist office. Please choose the words that would keep the focus of your young audience."
A) Oral Hygienist, Calcification, Plaque, Surgical Tray
B) Cavities, Cleaning Tools, Tooth Brush, Dentist's Mask
C) Gums, Bite, Enamel, Aspirator
D) Oral, Tarter, Orthodontist, Cuspid
At this point she started crying cuz she didn't know what ANY of those words meant and I told her she could be done now. I signed off the computer and called the proctor.
I told the proctor what had happened and I told her that in no way was I going to watch my daughter cry through a test. (We were only through the first part of three.) Plus, I was pretty sure that when I left the room she was just pressing buttons anyhow to get through it, so that wasn't going to show us anything. She told me that the first five questions (all of which my daughter got correct, remember?) set the level of the test and that level could be anywhere from 3rd to 12th grade level. I was blown away to say the least. So basically, my daughter was getting 7th to 12th grade questions because she has good deductive reasoning skills?? Apparently, the answer is yes. Gosh that sucks!
Yeah... I told the proctor that we were all done with that, and that we could try another test tomorrow, but my kids will not be taking the MAP test again. But what makes me even more angry is that Cyan spent an hour after her test saying that she was sorry she couldn't do it. Poor thing! In NO WAY should a test EVER make a child feel like that.