Center for Educational Assessment scores high grades for new test

The Massachusetts Adult Proficiency Test for Math and Reading (MAPT), developed by the College of Education’s Center for Educational Assessment in cooperation with state education officials, has earned a top score from the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE).

The federal Office of Vocational and Adult Education has given the test a seven-year approval for use in the National Reporting System for Adult Education (NRS) – an outcome-based reporting system for state-administered, federally funded adult education programs.

“Think of the MAPT as the MCAS for adult education,” said Stephen G. Sireci, professor of Educational Policy, Research and Administration, who led the project.

Massachusetts, he said, is the only state in the country to have created an assessment tool for adult learners from the ground up, in consultation with teachers in the field. Other states either built on existing models or rely on commercial “off-the-shelf” tests. The approval, which was the result of rigorous independent review, confirms the extent to which MAPT is leading the way as a high quality assessment program, said Sireci.

“Massachusetts is doing everything right, and the USDOE also got it right by approving this state-of-the-art assessment system,” he said.

Part of what makes the MAPT test so effective, he added, is that the difficulty of the test is adjusted in real time as the student responds to test questions through the use of computerized adaptive technology. This “tailored testing” means that students rarely take items that are too easy or too difficult for them. The tests are also administered over the Internet (via the UMassOnline Web-based Learning system), making them the only Internet-based, computerized-adaptive test in adult education.

The center’s work on MAPT got under way in 2003 under a contract with the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, and in collaboration with the department’s Office of Adult and Community Learning Services (ACLS).