September 10, 2015
JACKSON, Miss. – Teachers and administrators can now see blueprints of the new statewide assessments for the 2015-16 school year. The Office of Student Assessment in the Mississippi Department of Education has released the test blueprints for the new Mississippi Assessment Program (MAP), the statewide exams for students in grades 3-8 and end-of-course assessments.
The tests will be administered through Questar Assessment Inc., which won the competitive bid process to administer the assessments that are aligned to the Mississippi College and Career-Ready Standards (MCCRS) for English language arts (ELA) and Mathematics. It will replace the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC). Mississippi is no longer a member of the multi-state consortium.
“MDE’s primary goal with respect to test design was ensuring that the assessments measure student mastery of the Mississippi standards that have guided our teachers’ instruction over the past few years, and I am pleased that we have accomplished that goal,” said Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education.
The blueprints are used by test developers to create and select test questions and construct test forms for each administration of the assessment. A companion guide provides an explanation of the blueprints and illustrates the alignment to the Mississippi College and Career-Ready Standards.
Dozens of Mississippi teachers participated in the development of the blueprint. Jennifer Wilson, mathematics teacher at Northwest Rankin High School, said she welcomed the opportunity to collaborate with fellow teachers from around the state.
“Working with other teachers across the state to develop the Mississippi test blueprint made me realize how much work our teachers have done to improve the teaching and learning of mathematics over the past few years of implementing our new standards. Each member of the committee kept the best interests of the students and teachers in mind - constantly thinking about how to assess the standards so that students can both show what they have learned and that they are college- and career-ready,” she said.
The MAP assessments are computer-based tests administered through Questar’s Nextera online delivery platform. The writing portion of the English language arts assessment is the only paper-and-pencil component of the new assessment system.
The MAP administration will be a single end-of-year exam. The assessments will include a variety of item types, including multiple choice, constructed response, writing, technology enhanced, and performance tasks.
Deia Sanders, content specialist in the Simpson County School District, said it was very important for Mississippi educators to play a role in building the assessments for Mississippi students.
“We were able to use the diversity of the teachers and districts in Mississippi to begin building a test to high standards that represented the diversity of our students, rather than being handed one that was built or representative of other places. It's truly our state test,” she said.
Beginning in the 2016-2017 school year, the 3rd Grade ELA assessment will be used for promotion/retention decisions as required by current state law. The 3rd Grade Reading Summative Assessment that was used in the 2014-2015 school year will be used again in the 2015-2016 school year to make promotion/retention decisions.
Mississippi’s Literacy-Based Promotion Act requires that a student scoring at the lowest achievement level on the 3rd Grade Reading Summative Assessment be retained in 3rd grade, unless the student meets the good cause exemptions specified in the law. Wright said she will recommend to the Mississippi Legislature in the 2016 session that the law be amended to make student proficiency the goal.
“If the goal is to ensure that our students are successful in 4th grade and beyond, we need to set high expectations for them to be proficient readers. The current law doesn’t say that students need to be proficient in reading to move to the next grade level. The students who met the minimum passing score last year will still need instructional support this school year,” she said.
To find out more information about the statewide assessment design, view the MAP Blueprint Interpretive Guide and monitor the Monthly Updates produced by MDE.
Patrice Guilfoyle, APR
Director of Communications
Jean Cook, APR