K-8 Overview

K-8 Academics

At Phoenix Christian School PreK-8, our students engage in a rigorous, academically-excellent educational program emphasizing foundational skills as well as a full range of music, drama, and athletics. Our students are provided with many opportunities for mental, spiritual, physical and emotional growth in a nurturing atmosphere led by committed Christian teachers who are also professionally trained educators with degrees in education from primarily Christian colleges and universities.

Bible Instruction

  • Our daily Bible classes follow the Bible curriculum from Christian Schools International.
  • All classes are taught from a Christian worldview.
  • Our students are challenged to think deeper about their faith. Our curriculum helps to foster a more personal faith, moving their beliefs from their heads to their hearts.
  • All classes open their school day with devotions and all school chapels are held twice monthly.


  • The math curriculum builds each year in the areas of numbers and operations, algebra, geometry, measurement, data analysis and probability, problem solving and reasoning.
  • Starting in 5th grade, students have the opportunity to test into high level math. Some students have been able to complete high school level geometry during their 8th grade year.

Social Studies

  • Various textbooks and trade books are incorporated into our course of study to ensure a thorough coverage of all of the essential elements of social studies, particularly geography, history, and civic responsibility.


  • Starting in 5th grade, students are involved in a number of STEM units that complement our curriculum.
  • Students at every grade level are challenged to think and act as scientists.

Language Arts & Phonics

  • Grades K-6 have specific handwriting workbooks for students and grades 7-8 continue to emphasize proper handwriting.
  • Cursive lettering instruction begins in 3rd grade.
  • The curriculum encompasses the reading and literature programs, writing skills, grammar studies, as well as spelling and language usage.
  • The upper level classes study speech and drama.
  • Starting in Kindergarten, our students receive phonics instruction to encourage reading success. 

Standardized Testing

In the spring of 2019, PCS PreK-8 switched from the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS) to Measures of Academic Progress (MAP).  MAP is a computer based test which adapts in real time to the level of each student.  MAP is used by many schools, both public and private, around the US and around the world.

What are Your Test Results?

The vast majority of PCS PreK-8 students score above the 50th percentile when taking the MAP test. This means a large majority of our students at PCS PreK-8 are above average for their current grade level. As you can see in the pie charts below, the majority of PCS PreK-8 students score in the High Average to High range when compared to other students who take the MAP assessment. 

Pie Chart Key

  Lo (< 20th Percentile)   Lo Avg. (20th-40th Percentile)   Avg. (40th-60th Percentile)   Hi Avg. (60th-80th Percentile) ∇  High (> 80th Percentile)

Which grade levels are tested?

All students in grades 1-8 will take the MAP assessment.

Which academic areas are tested?

Assessment areas include:

  • Math (1st through 8th grade)
  • Reading (1st through 8th grade)
  • Language Usage (2nd through 8th grade)
  • What is MAP and what does it measure? You may be familiar with paper and pencil tests where all students are asked the same questions and spend a fixed amount of time taking the test. MAP is different. MAP is a computer adaptive test, which means every student gets a unique set of test questions based on responses to previous questions. As the student answers correctly, questions get harder. If the student answers incorrectly, the questions get easier. By the end of the test, most students will answer about half the questions correctly. MAP can follow students wherever they are starting from, regardless of the grade they are in. For instance, if a third grader is actually reading like a fifth grader, MAP will be able to identify that. Or, if a fifth grader is doing math like a third grader, MAP will identify that. Both things are incredibly important for a teacher to know, so that they can plan instruction efficiently. MAP covers reading, language usage, and math.
  • What is a RIT score? When students finish, they receive a score – a number – called a RIT score. This score represents a student’s achievement level at a given moment in the school year, when the test is given. Taken over time, the scores can compute a student’s academic growth. Think of this like marking height on a growth chart. You can tell how tall your child is at various points in time and how much they have grown between one time and another. The RIT (Rasch Unit) scale is a stable, equal-interval scale, like feet and inches. Equal-interval means that a change of 10 RIT points indicates the same thing regardless of whether a student is at the top, bottom, or middle of the scale, and a RIT score has the same meaning regardless of grade level or age of the student. Scores over time can be compared to tell how much growth a student has made, similar to measuring height with a ruler. You can find out more about the RIT scale here.
  • How often will my child take the MAP test? At PCS PreK-8 we give MAP tests to students at the beginning and end of the school year. We sometimes test students in the middle of the school year, as well.
  • How long is the MAP test? Most students take less than an hour to complete a MAP test (math, reading, or language usage). However, MAP is not timed, and students may take as much time as they need to complete them.
  • Is MAP a standardized test? How is it different from ‘high-stakes’ or state tests? When we talk about high-stakes tests, usually we’re talking about a state test. These are designed to measure what students already know, based on what is expected at their grade level, as a way to measure grade-level proficiency. MAP is designed to measure student achievement in the moment, and growth over time, regardless of grade level, so it is quite different. Another difference is the timeliness of the results. While state test usually return information in the fall after the test is taken, MAP gives quick feedback to teachers, administrators, students and parents. Teachers receive immediate results with MAP that show what students know and what they are ready to learn. The results can be used to help personalize lessons at the appropriate level for the students. One similarity is that MAP aligns to the same standards in a given state as the state tests, so both measure similar content.
  • What information will I receive from PCS PreK-8 after testing? We will provide scores and results to parents after each test session. The report will contain information and scores from a student’s most recent and past MAP tests. We encourage parents to discuss results with teachers for a full understanding of how the information can be used. Also, parents will want to know that they can use their child’s reading and math scores to identify resources that can support home learning.

The content above was adapted from the following page of the NWEA website (the publisher of MAP testing): https://www.nwea.org/blog/2016/answers-to-the-top-6-questions-parents-ask-about-the-map-test/