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Student Engagement in MAP Assessments and Student Goal-setting: Creating a Success Connection
By Eric Newton
“Success connections” are often the stuff from which great school years are created when teachers and their students intentionally link together activities which reinforce each other and increase the opportunity that students will experience success in their learning efforts. Two activities that demonstrate the creation of a success connection during the first few weeks of the school year are both related to a student’s participation in MAP assessments: student engagement in the assessment process and student goal-setting related to growth in RIT scores between Fall and Spring assessments.
The “Elephant in the Room” - Student Engagement
The topic of the degree of student engagement in MAP assessments is often the “elephant in the room” in many of the schools using MAP. While most of us know the importance of high levels of student engagement when the MAP questions appear on computer screens across the United States and around the globe, many of us have just crossed our fingers and hoped for the best, relying on our teacher-led discussions of the importance of MAP assessments to influence our students to take these assessments seriously and try their hardest for the full length of the assessment experience. However, research conducted by Dr. Steve Wise at NWEA and among our longer term users finds that this is not a topic to be left to chance. Without strong internal motivators as work, student’s levels of engagement in MAP assessments may vary widely across a group of students and a school, within a season of testing and across the school year. Lower levels of student engagement typically produce lower scores and bonafide questions about the validity of a student’s score. One way to tap into a student’s internal motivation is to fully engage in a goal-setting process with students.
Growth Goals as a Motivator
The Fall testing season is an ideal time to discuss the benefit to students and teachers flowing from valid MAP scores and profiles of areas of strength and concern. Inviting students to fully share their knowledge and skills in order that subsequent instruction can reflect each student’s needs demonstrates the potential positive impact to students and their teachers. Once determined, the Fall RIT scores then serve as a benchmark from which to establish growth goals for the school year, often set for Spring testing with Winter testing planned as a checkpoint for progress being made toward those Spring growth targets. Establishment of growth goals provides teachers with a ready-made, goal-driven motivator for subsequent assessments, particularly if teachers invite students to “show me how much you have learned” when the student begins a Winter or Spring assessment.
Success for Teachers and Students
Creating a link between scores on MAP assessments and success in school provides most students the feedback they crave that indicates they are making progress in their learning. This success connection will help create more valid MAP scores and more accurate descriptions of what students know and are ready to learn…a success connection for both teachers and their students.
Eric Newton is a Professional Development Consultant at NWEA