Just How Accessible is NWEA’s MAP Test for Screen Readers

It’s Springtime and that can only mean one thing, spring flowers, right?  Not in the school systems.  Springtime in the school systems means standardized testing season.  Since the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) by NWEA was just recently made accessible to screen readers, I had two of my screen reader users take the Language, Reading and Math tests using their screen readers.  This was the first time either student took the MAP test since it was never accessible before.  One student is in 8th grade and the other is in 9th grade, both are in the general education classes at their respective schools and both use a combination of braille and screen readers throughout their school day.  I will preface this by also saying that both students were so done with testing after finishing endless days of state assessments, that they did not put forth their greatest effort for the MAP test.

There are a couple important things to do before testing.  One is to make sure the student is accessing the MAP test through the non-lockdown browser.  You will have to enable pop-ups.  The second is to make sure classroom teacher selects the “Accessible” format of whatever test they are having the students take.  Without doing this, some questions will work fine, but others will not work with the screen reader at all. The login screens are easy to use and get the student started.  Each of my students used different technology when taking the test and neither really worked better than the other.  One student used JAWS and Firefox on a PC and the other student used Chromevox on a Chromebook.  The student should know how to adjust their screen reader settings to either have text features like font style, bold, underline and punctuation read or not read. They need it for some questions in the Language portion of the test.

MAP Reading

The Reading test was quite easy to navigate and my students much preferred listening to the passages to reading such long passages in braille.  They simply used the up and down arrows to move through the passages and the answer choices.  They also used Tab to move between the answer choices and to navigate to the “Next” button at the bottom of the screen and move on.  If they had chosen to do so, they could have navigated back to the passage using their Headings command because the numbered paragraphs were headings.  They could then use Headings again to get back to the questions.  One aspect of the test that I noticed was that underlined words were read as “begin emphasis” and the student needed some clarification on this.  There is nothing in the test that tells the user that the paragraphs are used for multiple questions, but they quickly figure this out and skip the paragraph for subsequent questions.  It would be nice for NWEA to add a note about what questions are used for each paragraph.

MAP Language

The Language portion of the test did not pose any significant issues for my students either.  This time underlined words were read as just “emphasis.”  The student used the right arrow to read how words were spelled for capitalization questions.  The right arrow was also used to read punctuation when necessary.  The ctrl+right or left arrow command did work to read word by word.  My student used this command to locate spelling errors rather than reading letter by letter although letter by letter would probably be a better option to find misspellings.  He was quite tired of testing at this point and skipped anything other than short questions.  If the sentences were short enough, he navigated letter by letter to look for capitalization errors by listening to the change in inflection.

MAP Math

The math MAP accessible test is not terrible, but there were a number of questions that were too complicated when presented with just the screen reader and I had to make a quick model while testing.  One student got through 35 questions and 5 of those needed some form of drawing to have the question make sense.  On all questions that had some sort of diagram, there is a short and long description.  Most of the time the short description was of no use at all.   Here are some examples of types of questions and what was read to the student:

  • Congruent figures--long description is terrible.  Did not give any info about side names or lengths on the shape.  

  • 2 Row dataTable in answers--Did not read any of the table info on the answer choices.

  • Math problem with missing value.  Did read missing number as blank.  

  • Linear subtraction--read fine.  Ex: 53217-6821

  • Multiplication--read fine,  Ex: $36.70*6

  • Superscripts read just fine.

  • 2 Column by 8 row table in the question--Read across the rows and down the table.  Student was unable to navigate down the columns.  

  • Spinner--gave description of “11 equally spaced pieces”.

  • Spinner with colors--said “divided into 5 equal pieces and stated number of each piece there were.

  • It did read if a calculator was available for a question.

  • Rectangle asked to find area--stated it was a rectangle and gave dimensions. Read “squared” as “superscript”.

  • 3D figure--read dimensions.

  • Scatterplot--Gave good description with X and Y info and the trend in what the graph looked like “loosely scattered trending positive.”

  • Read Square Root as “root”.

  • Diagram that was a rectangle with a corner missing said the number of sides and their lengths, but it did not state which side was which.  This did not help in knowing how to figure out the area.  I had to draw the image below and attached quickly with the Draftsman and tell the student the side lengths.

Image of rectangle with corner missing.

  • Graph--full description of X and Y labels but did not state intervals, direction of line and coordinates of points on line.  

  • Tree diagram- good description in the long description of the boxes and lines between boxes.

  • Parabola--long description was thorough with points, but still too many and too fast for student to understand what was shown. I had to plot points on a graph board for student to understand.

  • Scatterplot--X and Y labels given with increments.  Description of line and where points were in relation of line.  Student said it was a good description.

  • Rotation of shape on 4 quad graph.  Not possible to do without making on graphing board.  It asked how long one side would be, but the student had no idea what the sides were since the description just listed the sides are xyzw.

  • Student frustrated with problems that involved a lot of numbers like multiplying 3 or more fractions.  Too much to remember.  Had to write down on notetaker to then read.

  • Distance/Time Graph--Too much info auditorily.  The description was thorough but hard to follow.  It said slope of the line followed by the time intervals for that segment but said “point and then time” but the times were whole numbers. Took many listens to get info.  


Overall, I would say that the Reading and Language MAP tests are fine to use with a student using a screen reader.  They really just need to know how to use tab, arrows, space and to navigate by headings to take the test.  Students will use the same keystrokes on the math test, but I would not recommend students take this one unless a TVI is sitting there next to them ready to make diagrams that are not accessible.  

Editor's Note:  For more information about the accessibility of MAP growth assessments, view these Paths to Technology posts:


Posted by tracylee2681Aug 14, 2019

I have a third grade braille student who may have to take the MAP this year. For the Math portion, when it is read on the refreshable braille, how is the braille code translated and formatted? Is it literary, nemeth or UEB Math? I also heard that some symbols are written out or garbled as you stated. Is it safe to say this is not a test that would be indepdent for a braille student? Thank you.

Posted by Diane BraunerAug 16, 2019

I contacted NWEA accessibility team for an update on the math portion of the MAP Assessment (8/16/19). They responded immediately and stated that ". . . the accessibility in our math tests has not changed and is still in literary braille." They are working on offering Nemeth or UEB.


Posted by mplanskerAug 17, 2019

Hey Tracylee,

I have only worked with middle and high school students the past couple years and when they take the MAP test they are just using their screen reader with the accessible version.  It is pretty good, but there are some diagrams which are not described.  I try to make sure I can be there when they are taking the test to clarify any questions they have, encourage them to use the braille writer to work through problems (they rarely want to do this) and to make any diagrams they feel they would like tactile instead of just hearing the data.  So I would definitely say the test is best taken with the TVI present.  

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