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Pinewood Christian Academy pilots a 21st-century test

Students will take the NWEA MAP Growth test, gaining popularity among private, Christian, and charter schools across Florida.

By Jason Borko April 2018

Our first priority at Pinewood Christian Academy is to foster in our students a relationship with Jesus Christ and a Biblical world view. Our second, almost equal, priority is to facilitate their academic development through a rigorous yet supportive instructional program. How do we know if we are succeeding in this? One tool we use to evaluate our students’ progress and the school’s effectiveness is a nationally normed standardized test.

Nationally Normed Standardized Tests — designed and administered in a consistent manner to large student populations of the same age or grade level — measure how well test-takers perform compared to others across the entire United States. For many years, Pinewood Christian Academy has relied on the SAT10 for our annual assessment. This year our K–2nd-grade students will pilot the NWEA MAP Growth test, which is gaining popularity among private, Christian, and charter schools across Florida and is approved by the state as a valid and reliable measure of student achievement.

We like this test because it is:

  • Computer-based: In contrast to the traditional No. 2 pencil bubble test, scores can be viewed within 24 hours of testing. Audio support provides students with help and directions whenever they request it.
  • Adaptive: Tests begin with questions appropriate for students’ grade levels, then adapt to each student based on their responses. This dynamic approach challenges top performers without overwhelming others.
  • Untimed: Because the test adapts to students’ responses, the number of questions can be reduced; most test sections require only 30–45 minutes.
  • Ongoing: Students can be evaluated up to three times each year so we can track their growth from September through May.

Rest assured that PCA is not adopting a “testing culture”; we are, in fact, doing the opposite! Because the test requires less time to complete, teachers and students are not “losing” an entire week in April to testing; instead, each class can complete the test in half a day. And by using MAP two or three times each year we are eliminating the stress of the “high stakes” test at the end of the year.

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