NWEA MAP vs PARCC (relevance for school choice)

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    • #9711 Reply

      It appears that CPS rates elementary schools based on CPS’s NWEA MAP scores.

      On the other hand, GreatSchools and Niche rate schools based on Illinois’ PARCC.

      Some schools score well on NWEA but not so well for PARCC, and conversely for other schools.

      Is one rating more informative than the other? As a prospective parent choosing between schools, should I put more weight on the NWEA MAP rating or the PARCC rating?



    • #9841 Reply

      Hi MeasurementsDad,

      I just noticed this and wanted to chime in, since it is something I have looked at for the last several years.

      PARCC (now being replaced by an Illinois-specific IAR) is a standardized criterion-referenced assessment aligned with Common Core standards.

      NWEA MAP is a standardized norm-referenced assessment designed to allow evaluation across time, including across age and grade levels.

      PARCC measures results relative to the standards.  Some frustrations with the test include a high percentage of students not meeting the criteria regardless of district and the message that sends, and the extensive amount of time the test takes.  Another difficulty with any criterion-reference test is that it is easier to “teach to the test” to juice the results.

      NWEA MAP measures results relative to the population taking the test.  NWEA publishes their national norms and uses usually last year’s version of these statistics to arrive at the results for this year’s exam.  MAP uses computer adaptive testing to scale the difficulty level up and down as a student is taking the test to determine where on the RIT scale their attainment lies.  The smooth nature of the RIT scale allows for growth to be more easily measured across administrations of the test.

      I personally look at the MAP growth metrics most strongly, MAP attainment metrics next, and PARCC last if I am going to evaluate testing performance — each has its own pros and cons though.

      I want to emphasize, though, that testing performance is a small subset of how you might want to evaluate a school.  As a “MeasurementsDad” you might want to also look at the 5Essentials metrics, class sizes, demographic diversity, how the school performs relative to demographic norms, etc…

      Further, the most important aspects of a school’s quality are difficult to measure, and like all measurements involving people are subject to Goodhart’s Law.

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