MAP field test: High school student's fingers are on a Braille Focus paired to an iPad displaying a math graphing question.

Accessibility of MAP Assessments Series #1: Introduction

What does your student do when his/her peers are taking an on-line assessment? Here is an accessible mainstream assessment available to students with VIB!

In this series, we will be discussing the accessibility of on-line MAP growth assessment.

As our classrooms transition to digital textbooks and on-line assessments, students with visual impairments and blindness are facing a unique set of accessibility challenges.  Most states have either embraced computer-based assessments or are transitioning to computer-based assessments.  High-stake assessments that are part of a consortia, such as PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) and SBAC (Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium), are required to move from paper-based tests to electronic dissemination, or electronic with site-produced hard-copy braille for math and tactile graphics.  Many computer-based assessments are adaptive, meaning that the next question is pulled from a bank of questions based on how the student answered the previous question.  

On-Line Assessment History for Braille Students

With classic assessments, braille students simply received hard-copy (paper) braille test at the beginning of the assessment.  With adaptive assessments, initially, the braille students were either exempted from taking the assessments or the ‘accessibility accommodation’ for taking the adaptive tests in braille was on-site braille production where the braille was produced question by question to accommodate the adaptive test format.  The student would answer a question and the next question pulled from the question bank would be brailled as the student waited. Producing paper braille on-the-fly is time consuming, especially when tactile graphics are required for charts, graphs and math problems.  For most braille students, the sheer amount of time required to take an adaptive test in this manner was overwhelming! 

With an accessible assessment, braille students have the option of using a refreshable braille display paired with their preferred device to access the assessment if the assessment is fully accessible with a screen reader.  Images, charts, graphs and maps are given alternative text descriptions to help make these visual images accessible to students who are visually impaired.

In June 2016, the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) announced the release of their accessible version of the MAP growth assessments. 

Accommodtions and Accessibility

The accessible version of the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) growth assessment enables the student to use his/her device to instantly access the assessment.  Students can use the device’s built-in accessibility which the student is already familiar with and is comfortable using.  Students can also use their preferred third-party screen reader or magnification applications such as JAWS or Zoomtext.  Students who favor reading and answering in braille, can use their braille display paired with their device.  Images, charts and graphs include alternative text descriptions; graphics that cannot be described appropriately for students who are visually impaired are removed from the accessible test data bank.  Educators and proctors are encouraged to provide feedback about concerning questions.

MAP Growth Assessments Overview

Established in 1977, NWEA pioneered new methods to measure individual student academic growth throughout the year and from year-to-year.  NWEA assessments provide educators data that they can use to guide student instruction.  In 2000, the not-for-profit introduced the computer-adaptive MAP growth assessment.  NWEA products and services are used in over 8,500 schools, districts and educational agencies worldwide, with more than nine million students.  MAP creates a personalized assessment experience by adapting to each student’s learning level – precisely measuring student progress and growth for each student.  Using the detailed information MAP provides for each student, educators can formulate individual intervention or enrichment plans as needed.

MAP growth assessments cover:

For more details, go to NWEA’s Quick Facts page.

Personal Experiences with MAP Accessibility

Students attending the Governor Morehead School for the Blind in Raleigh, NC participated in the MAP field testing and have been using the accessible version of the MAP growth assessments during the 2016-2017 school year.  Dr. Sarah McManus, Director of Digital Learning for the NC Schools for the Deaf and Blind, shares their experience:

“GMS has been using the MAP assessments to test students in reading, language, and mathematics. The students use braille displays with iPads with or without voice or Jaws on a PC/laptop.  I do not think anyone is using NVDA.  Because of how Voiceover interacts with the MAP login page, it will not allow a student to choose their name from a drop down menu and we assisted students with getting signed into the test. We just choose the name for iPad users and then they are off and running.  The students are able to take the test independently without assistance from an administrator.  Occasionally, there is an item that does not have alt text or something hangs but they are few and far between.    Our students enlarged the text on the screen using Ctrl + and it worked fine without requiring ZoomText or anything else.  Note: The screen text has to be ‘regular size’ prior to going to the login site or you may get an error. It checks for the resolution.  However, once the login page is reached successfully, enlarging is not a problem. They did not seem to have any trouble with the math.  For version 1 of the accessible MAP, we are extremely pleased and the teachers have met on several occasions to discuss the data and how to move students forward in their learning.”

When asked about any modifications used for the math portion, Dr. McManus stated that some students used the following modifications:

 “One student used a slate and stylus while others asked for a Perkins to do some calculations.  When appropriate, they used a talking calculator.”

Watch the following MAP accessibility video to learn more about what educators and students have to say about MAP growth assessments!

Accessibility and MAP Growth Assessments from NWEA on Vimeo.

MAP Accessibility Overview

The NWEA’s website has a section dedicated to accessibility of the MAP assessments.

NWEA FAQ: Accessibility and Accommodations

NWEA provides a list of which devices and applications have been fully tested and work seamlessly with MAPS. 

Editor’s Note: The iPad is currently NOT listed as a recommended device when using VoiceOver, even though Governor Morehead students did use the iPad.  Currently, the two issues when using the iPad running VoiceOver is that you must turn VoiceOver off when accessing the login menu at the beginning of the assessment and that VoiceOver repeats the alternative text descriptions twice.  The Governor Morehead students stated that they listened to the first alternative text description and then swiped past the second description.

Want to try the Accessible MAP assessment? Practice tests are available through the warmup link on the student login page.  You can also access the warmup questions on the Sample Test for Accommodations page.

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