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MAP Spanish offers equitable assessment tools to better understand the next steps in learning for your Spanish-speaking students. Here are answers to the top 10 most frequently asked questions:


1. How much does it cost?

There is no additional charge for MAP Spanish assessments. Starting this fall, Spanish MAP Growth reading and math tests will automatically be included with MAP Growth K-2 and MAP Growth licenses, and MAP Reading Fluency licenses will include Spanish assessment options, as well. You simply select a language preference for the assessments you already have–and that’s it.


2. If a student takes both English and Spanish tests, does that require two licenses?

No. A student can take any tests included with the license for the regular, single license price.


3. What subjects and grades will have Spanish test options?

Spanish assessments will be available for the following subjects and grades starting this fall:

  • MAP Growth Reading K-8
  • MAP Growth Math K-12
  • MAP Reading Fluency K-3


4. What do we need to do to get the Spanish assessments for next fall?

You don’t need to do anything. The Spanish assessments will automatically be included with your MAP Growth and MAP Reading Fluency assessments for the 2019-20 school year at no additional cost.


5. Which students are the Spanish assessments appropriate for?

The Spanish assessments can be used by native Spanish speakers receiving Spanish-only instruction, native Spanish speakers receiving English-only instruction, native Spanish speakers receiving English and Spanish instruction, and any students learning Spanish as part of a dual language immersion or foreign language program. Note that educators should expect that students receiving English-only instruction will likely show lower growth on the Spanish assessments than students also receiving instruction in Spanish.


6. Are these just translated tests, or how do you build the item pool?

The item pool for the Spanish MAP Growth assessments are made up of both items that are trans-adapted from our English item pool, meaning translated and checked for cultural bias, and newly created, authentic Spanish items. All of the Spanish passages and items for MAP Reading Fluency are newly created, authentic Spanish content.


7. What Spanish dialect are the test items written in?

We used a generic, standard variety of Spanish that is not specific to any one dialect. We avoid words or phrases that are dialect specific.


8. Our district has licenses for the Spanish reading screener in MAP Growth—what’s happening to that assessment come fall?

Because MAP Growth for K-8 and MAP Reading Fluency for K-3 offer comprehensive, adaptive reading assessments in Spanish, the K-8 Spanish Reading Screeners will be retired at the end of the current school year (2018-19) and will no longer be available in the fall.


9. Our district has licenses for Spanish math in MAP Growth—what’s happening to that assessment for fall?

The Spanish MAP Growth math assessments will continue as is and will be available to all MAP Growth partners. You will no longer need any additional licenses for the Spanish math tests; they will simply be included with your MAP Growth license at no additional charge.


10. Can schools get started with the Spanish assessments this school year?

Yes, we are actively looking for additional partners to join our pilot programs this school year. There is no cost to join the pilot, and you can get started right away. If you are interested in joining the Spanish MAP Growth Reading or Spanish MAP Reading Fluency pilots for spring 2019, please contact your account manager today.

Ever wonder how someone gets started with MAP Growth – and then becomes an expert? Check out a recent post over at our Teach. Learn. Grow. blog to get a perspective from a MAP-novice-turned-professional-learning-facilitator.

Former teacher Lindsay Stoelting shares how he became the MAP Coordinator at his international school (hint: pretty much by accident!). He shares what he thinks and what’s he learned about how much schools have in common now that he is a Professional Learning Facilitator for NWEA.


And stay tuned – this is the first in a series where we will be talking to former teachers and asking them to share “what they wish they had known” about implementing MAP Growth back when they were just getting started.

It's winter testing season! For many districts, now is the time to give interim assessments, so students and teachers can check in on progress toward growth goals together. If you're new to winter testing, or you're looking for new insights into how to get the most out of winter testing, you're in luck: here's some of the best advice from the NWEA Teach. Learn. Grow. blog. Browse the topics below for some of our most popular winter-testing-related posts, then add your own insights to the conversation below!


Assessment Strategy


Understanding Reports

We're a little more than half-way through NWEA's podcast series, Leading from the Classroom, which features short interviews with the 2018 Teachers of the Year. 


The entire series is fantastic--every 5-minute episode is different, and each teacher shares their most powerful teaching memories. You can listen and subscribe to Leading from the Classroom here, and in the meantime, here are a few direct links to some of our favorite episodes so far. 



New episodes will be released throughout January--so be sure to subscribe to be certain you can hear them all!

Hello again!


Just wanted to let everyone know that season 3 of the NWEA / CCSSO Podcast, Leading from the Classroom, has started, and the first three episodes are ready to stream!


This year, Leading from the Classroom features the 2018 Teachers of the Year as they share their stories: stories of students who inspired them, stories of the most meaningful moments of their careers, and stories about how each recipient is using the platform to improve education for kids. 


Listen now at, and check back for new episodes every Monday and Wednesday from now through the end of January 2019!

As told by 2018 State Teachers of the Year


In this blog, the third in the series featuring conversations with 2018 State Teachers of the Year, we discussed whether teaching life skills had a place in the classroom. Teachers of the Year were asked to respond to this question:


Do you believe preparing students to be “life ready” is part of your teaching practice or responsibility?
100% of the teachers fervently said, "YES!"


Then we challenged with a second question, to think about what that looked like for today’s students:

Beyond academic subjects, what other skills will students need to be ready for life? And what needs to shift in K-12 to better prepare students for being life ready?

These info-graphics capture their thoughts.


Download info-graphic: Life-Readiness is More Than Academics 


Download info-graphic: Prepare Students for Being Life Ready 


What do you think is fundamentally key for our kids to be life ready in today’s world? And how does the school system, and you, the teacher, fit in to that? We would love to hear from you in the comments section!

Over the years, many teachers have asked questions like, “Which MAP Growth report should I start with?”, or “Which MAP Growth report is the most effective?” or even, “What order should I review reports in?”, and like all good questions, the correct answers to each of these questions is that it depends.


The best place to start with MAP Growth reports will depend on multiple factors, ranging from the time of the school year to the unique characteristics of the students themselves. So from this perspective, the question to start with is less about which report to review first, and more about what questions you’re using the data to answer. To help you navigate the different MAP Growth reports we’ve put together a list of five steps to discovering and using MAP Growth reports effectively.


  1. Verify that your account works and your students are rostered accurately. While this may sound like a basic first step, it’s one that’s crucial to get right—before you start looking for the right report, you need to be certain your account has access to the right data. Start by logging in with your credentials and making sure you see all of the students you expect to. (If you need a refresher on how to login, there’s a good one here.) If anything doesn’t look right to you, or if you need help getting access, contact your local MAP Growth Administrator.

  2. Determine which reports are most useful based on the time of year. Finding the “right” MAP Growth report will have a lot to do with the time of the school year. For example, many teachers use MAP Growth assessments in September to help each student set individual growth goals, and in those cases, the Student Goal Setting Worksheet is a great place to start. Conversely, after spring assessments, many teachers use the Class Breakdown by Projected Proficiency to see how their students have progressed as readers. For more information about how and when to use different MAP Growth reports, consult How NOT to get Overwhelmed by Data: Teacher Reports to use Throughout the Year, a year-round guide to MAP Growth reports from the 2016 Virginia State Teacher of the Year Natalie DiFusco-Funk.

  3. Get to know the 10 most popular MAP Growth teacher reports. Once you’ve spent some time determining which reports are most appropriate for your goals and the time of year, then consult our list of the Top 10 MAP Growth Reports for teachers. Where step two was about using data to answer your existing questions, this step is about exploring the other ways MAP Growth reports can help inform and augment your teaching in the classroom.

  4. Consult the NWEA Reports Finder to locate additional reports that may be helpful. Once you’re comfortable with the reports you’ve found so far, move on to the MAP Growth Reports Finder to review the complete list of MAP Growth reports—it even indicates whether a report shows data at the classroom level, the school level, or the district level. (Keep in mind that the reports you can see with your MAP Growth login are defined by your role and your students.)

    Bonus pro tip about the MAP Growth Reports Finder: if you copy and paste the table into Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets, you can sort and filter the reports, which can be helpful for seeing similar ones grouped together.

  5. Share your best practices with other teachers. Part of your MAP Growth reports journey will be finding the reports that are most relevant for your students and the specific needs of your school, so it’s important to share your insights with your colleagues to help them get as much out of MAP Growth as you do. Whether you’ve found a particularly relevant report, or you want to start a discussion with other educators about how you might apply specific report data, it’s important to have those conversations—building a data-driven culture requires collaboration!

No matter where you are in the school year, you can use this five-step process as a divining rod to ensure you’re getting the most relevant, practical data from all of the available reports. Try it with your next set of MAP Growth reports—and if you ever want to discuss your data with an NWEA expert, you can schedule a Professional Learning workshop.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one: I’m filling out my son’s next Ages & Stages Questionnaire (ASQ) that’s due when he turns three, and I’m freaking out, convinced that the responses I add today will tragically cripple the rest of his academic life and chances at future success. Naturally, I’m picturing his high school graduation speech, where he’ll go into great detail about all of the ways my parenting choices held him back, and he’ll pontificate on his own achievements, proud that he overcame all the setbacks my decisions created for him.


So I call the pediatrician’s office and ask about how to best help him prepare for the ASQ; after all, I want him to do well on it. And I can sense some hesitation from the nurse as she calmly explains to me that the ASQ isn’t something you prepare for, and that the purpose of a good growth measure is to help kids get the help they need, and not to help them pass, so it needs to be an accurate reflection of their abilities. She goes on to say that we’ll continue to use the ASQ as a growth measure to compare results, and eventually he’ll transition to a growth measure for older kids.


“Ideally,” she goes on, “You could use one measurement for all of his years in school, so you’d always be able to support specific needs over time, but we’re not quite there yet.”


I can’t help but smile, because I’ve been connected to NWEA and MAP Growth in various ways since 2005—and during my time working with partner school districts, I had similar conversations, trying to help others see that you can’t really study for a MAP Growth assessment. I laugh because when she wistfully said, ‘We’re not quite there yet,’ I wanted to correct her—”MAP Growth has an equal-interval scale, and there are assessments from K-12!” I wanted to tell her—but more to the point, I’m relieved.


Relieved, because up until that moment, I hadn’t really realized how grateful I am for MAP Growth and the educators who use it. Grateful for the people who live in the world of standardized milestones like 3rd-grade reading proficiency, and remain dedicated to not just teaching kids the same things year after year, but helping each of them where they need it. “Whatever happens,” I remind myself, “We’ll make sure to get him connected to MAP Growth, so I can help him with whatever he needs, regardless of grade level. Doesn’t matter if he struggles, or he’s a genius; the approach will be the same.”


I take a deep breath, and start answering the questions again. Is he able to put a shirt on by himself? Are you kidding me? He insists on doing it himself, and gets upset if we try to help him. Is he able to use safety scissors to cut construction paper? No, because we’re not monsters who give toddlers scissors to play with. Can he point to a picture of himself and say his own name? He’s a millennial; of course his selfie game is on point. Can he kick a ball? I wouldn’t know, because in our family, we realize that most sports are silly. Can he string beads? We’ve seen videos from daycare, so we know he can do it—but if either of us asks him to, he pretends like he’s never seen a bead before in his life.


I filled out the bubbles honestly.


That’s a big deal for me, because I’m no longer worried about what will happen as a result of my answers. He’s a kid, so that means he’s going to be ahead in some areas, behind in others, and my wife and I are going to help him grow at the pace he’s going to grow—because the timetable was never up to us in the first place.


That doesn’t mean that we’re not going to sweat the milestones, though. We’ll track all of the benchmarks, from 3rd-grade reading proficiency through the ACT or SAT (or whatever test kids are taking on SnapChat to get into college in the future). Standardized measures and benchmarks have their place, and they can be truly useful—and at the same time, the mindset has changed for both my wife and I. We’ll use the standardized measurements as signposts—but not finish lines.


Our mindset is now just to focus on helping him achieve his goals, whatever they may be. In the meantime, we’re just going to thank our stars that we live in an era where we can do that. And we’re going to thank our stars for the teachers who will use all the data they get—and I know, it’s a lot—to help our son grow.

We've worked with partner school districts from across the country with strong Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) initiativesand some are even using MAP Growth Science to track growth across their programs. 


Whether you're using MAP Growth Science or MAP Growth Science for use with Next  Generation Science Standards, we want to hear about it!


What student population are you working with, and what have been the most powerful gains they've made?


How have MAP Growth Science reports helped inform your approach to your STEM? 

Nothing is more fundamental than reading—and when it comes to early learners, helping them learn to read is especially critical to their long-term academic success. Research in the field of early literacy is still evolving, but it’s consistently clear about one thing: in order to thrive and become strong readers, early learners need a support system that includes multiple sources. In other words, no single approach is good enough on its own, and the most effective young readers work toward their goals both at school and at home.


MAP Reading Fluency is designed to be one of the key data points that teachers use to help their early learners thrive; it’s built as a tool to support instructional decisions without eating up classroom time. With an objective, research-driven tool like MAP Reading Fluency, you can lead powerful conversations during parent-teacher conferences as you work together to build each child’s support system. Here’s how.


1. Administer MAP Reading Fluency to your early learners.

Everything starts with using a MAP Reading Fluency assessment; your student results will be one of the key data points you’ll provide to parents, and both the student’s responses and their audio recordings will help inform the choices you make for each individual child.


While giving a computer assessment to your youngest learners may sound daunting, we’ve built MAP Reading Fluency to be as streamlined as possible—so you can focus on maximizing classroom time. With MAP Reading Fluency, you can test the entire class at once, and get objective results with actionable data in about 20 minutes. The entire process is simple enough that you can periodically assess the students to track their progress. We generally recommend having students take MAP Reading Fluency assessments once at the beginning of the school-year, once before mid-year break, and once at the end of the school-year.


2. Share the audio review page and the Student Progress Report.

There are two main MAP Reading Fluency resources to rely on for parent-teacher conferences: the audio review page and the Student Progress Report. The audio review page has the actual audio recordings of each individual student’s responses, and the Student Progress Report breaks down how the student performed in individual areas like word recognition, listening comprehension, and even sentence reading fluency.


The Student Progress Report is ideal for leading a discussion around trends in the data—the student’s overall strength and challenges—and the audio recordings can be used as examples to support those trends. For example, if a child is struggling with initial sounds, you can show parents the score, alongside actual examples of the student’s responses that lead to the data.


3. Present assessment data alongside other data points.

While MAP Reading Fluency results are reliable and useful, they shouldn’t be used alone as the sole source of information about each student’s abilities. Instead, they should function as one star in a constellation of data points about each student.


Be sure to bring information to parent-teacher conferences that includes additional insights about their child—many teachers go so far as to create “conferring notes binders,” which help them catalog data points about each student like classroom observations, grades, or unique strengths and challenges.


4. Have a strengths-based conversation and discuss next steps with parents based on the data.

With all of your data in hand, including both MAP Reading Fluency results and your own insights and observations, it’s important to develop a narrative that identifies what each student knows currently and what they’re ready to learn next.

This is often referred to as a “strengths-based conversation,” because you’re framing the information in a way that both highlights and celebrates the student’s current achievements while also being clear about what challenges they’re ready to face. Ultimately, your work in this step will be to share your analysis of the student’s performance and potential in a way that is supported by data and easily understood.


During this step, it’s important to collaborate, and get parental input on the student’s narrative—they may be able to share their own experiences which can further inform your perspective.


5. Provide resources to help parents get involved with student goals at home.

The most effective parent-teacher conferences are the ones where parents and teachers develop partnerships to create a consistent support system for the student. As you’re preparing for conferences, consider adding supplemental materials to help them work with their child on the goals they’ve set at school. For example, many teachers include flash cards, reading lists, or specific tablet apps that target each student’s specific needs.


As you’re working together, make sure you’re making connections between what the data reflects and the strategies you’re recommending. For example, if a student is struggling in the area of Blending & Segmenting, you could share a word list with parents that includes specific vocabulary, and help them understand how using the word list can help their child improve in the specific area of Blending & Segmenting.


6. Set a follow-up date to check in on each student’s progress.

Because parent-teacher conferences are periodic, it can sometimes be a challenge to stay in sync as a team with parents. But if you’re planning on coordinating with them to make sure they’re working with their kids toward the same goals they set in the classroom, regular check-ins are essential.


Once you’ve reviewed all of the results together and agreed upon a strategy for helping the student improve, set a date where you’ll speak again and discuss any new developments or needed changes. At a minimum, that should be at the mid-year point of the school-year, but it’s also important to give the student enough time to make changes. Many parents opt to check in over email or through a phone call—check-ins don’t have to be formal, so long as you’re discussing what’s working, what can be done differently, and any new developments in the student’s life.



No matter what literacy challenges an early learner faces, supporting them effectively means making sure they have the opportunities to growth both in the classroom and at home. By using these steps, you’re creating a support system that’s backed by objective research—and also takes into account insights from parents and the classroom.


Special thanks to Amy Schmidt for her contributions to this  blog post.

In this post, we’re celebrating five Hispanic men who have changed history. If you’re looking for a fun way to engage students with Hispanic Heritage Month, consider exploring each of our honorees’ stories together. As a class, discuss how their achievements have changed our lives, and for each historical figure, have students consider questions like:

  • What do you admire most about each individual?
  • What challenges do you think she had to face in her career?
  • What issues or topics was each person most passionate about?


You can even add more names to the list if you want the exercise to last longer. Just don’t forget to come back and tell us how it went! Be sure to share your successes, challenges, and best practices.


Juan Felipe Herrera

Juan Felipe Herrera is an artist best known for his poetry—in fact, in 2015, he was named U.S. Poet Laureate. Herrera is often compared to the Beat Poets, due to his energetic, fluid style and his ability to cross artistic mediums: as a writer, poet, performance artist, and playwright, he’s given voice to the Hispanic community through his words. Most recently, Mr. Herrera has written a series of poems, each in response to a specific shooting or terrorist attack in the United States.


Octaviano Larrazolo

Octaviano Larrazolo became the first Mexican-American United States Senator in 1928. After starting a career as a teacher, he later became a principal, where he fought for civil rights and equality for Spanish-speaking students in education. He followed that passion for his entire career, eventually getting involved with politics: prior to becoming a Senator, he served as the Governor of New Mexico from 1919-1921. Throughout his career, he successfully advocated for Latinx rights on matters ranging from getting the New Mexico state government to recognize the Spanish language in public business to supporting the constitutional amendment for women’s suffrage.


Lin-Manuel Miranda

Lin-Manuel Miranda is a Latino composer and playwright famous for creating the Broadway musical Hamilton, and co-writing the songs featured in the Disney movie Moana. A native New Yorker born to Puerto Rican parents, Miranda has delighted audiences with compelling social messages and music that takes influence from a wide range of influences including hip-hop, Latin music, and musical theater. Most recently, he has been an active supporter of restoring Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.


Mario Molina

Mario Molina is a Mexican chemist who received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1995 for his central role in identifying the ozone hole in the Antarctic, as well as humanity’s role in the threat of global warming. His contribution was so significant in shaping the conversation around climate change that he’s received countless other awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2013. He currently works with teams around the world to investigate air quality issues, working to take our understanding of the environment even further.


Gabriel García Márquez

Gabriel García Marquez was an author and journalist, best known for his books Cien Años de Soledad (One Hundred Years of Solitude) and El Amor en Los Tiempos del Cólera (Love in the Time of Cholera). His books helped create the genre of books known as “magical realism,” where traditional stories are infused with elements of fantasy and magic. His work was so influential that in 1982, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.


Related blog postCelebrating Hispanic Heritage Month: 5 Latina Women Who Inspire Us 

October is National Literacy Awareness Month, and educators all over the country will be celebrating how critical reading is—especially in the information age. We’re eager to hear how you’ll be observing the month, so please share your experiences!


Literacy development takes many different forms. Sometimes it means guiding older students into a new novel where fascinating characters evolve, and plots thicken. For other kids, such as newbie kindergarteners, it means participating in their first “picture walk” activity with the book Zoom by Istvan Banyai. However, not all students engage with text in the same way. For some, engaging is more of a tactile and sound-based experience, where for others it may need to be a more visual and animated experience.


National Literacy Awareness Month is a good opportunity to make sure you’re empowering all your students in their literacy journeys. Just like engaging students with various forms of text, many districts will be implementing MAP Growth in various ways to support each of their students. MAP Growth was developed with accessibility in mind. That means various forms of engagement are possible: the assessments are aligned to the rigorous WCAG 2.1 standards, which give students the ability use their own tools such as screen readers, refreshable braille, and magnification. NWEA also follows standards and guidelines such as the CCSSO Accessibility Manual to ensure that students with various needs are not only getting the same experience as their counterparts—they’re getting a growth measure that adapts to both their abilities and their needs.


We’re passionate about creating engagement without barriers, and we love how Dr. Sarah McManus puts it: “For our students, equity really means that they can access information just as easily as sighted students. It doesn’t mean they are doing it the exact same way, but it means it’s just as easy…They don’t have to struggle with the technology side of it, they just have to focus on the questions themselves.”


We’re also excited to share that in November, we’ll be hosting the 2018 Accessibility Leadership Summit in Phoenix, Arizona: an all-day, interactive event with educators and industry leaders to discuss our collective future with accessibility, data literacy, and research. We encourage you to register today—and there’s still time to influence the agenda!


And don’t forget to share your success stories, lesson learned, and best ideas from your Literacy Awareness Month activities—we’re excited to see all of the ways you’re working to engage your students’ literacy needs!

Person A: “I’m worried about a student of mine.”


Person B: “Yeah? What’s the issue?”


Person A: “He’s smart: like, really smart, but he just isn’t following through. He seems…distracted. He always seems to be alone. I’ve tried to get him into games with the other kids, but it never seems to work.”


Person B: “I’ve got a student with a similar issue. She always has to be right. And, of course, this makes it hard for her to work with the other kids…”


So many different students. So many different backgrounds. So many different learning styles. But the same goal: academic and personal success.


Social and emotional learning (SEL) is a way of helping children navigate their lives by giving them the tools they need to manage emotions, establish positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.


SEL consists of five principal competencies: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making (Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL)). Together, these competencies have been known to improve academic achievement and make a positive impact on students that can last a lifetime.


Not surprisingly, SEL skills are vital to the formative assessment process as well. But it’s not that formative assessment—such as quizzes, exit slips and KWL charts—merely imply SEL skills. The formative assessment process actually helps to develop these principle SEL skills.


Process Makes Perfect


In terms of self-awareness, formative assessment requires students to evaluate their work, their strengths, and their weaknesses. In short: themselves. For example, a teacher can ask a student to highlight a section of their work that they are most pleased with and explain why. The teacher could also provide some prompts to get students thinking about their learning and identify opportunities for improvement.


Similarly, formative assessment requires a great deal of self-management to push students past merely doing what a teacher tells them to. In this way, they can not only lay out their own goals, but also meet them.

Then there’s social awareness—respecting their peers—which is crucial to setting the stage for student-to-student feedback, as well as relationship skills that help build a culture of collaborative learning in the classroom.

Lastly, there’s the competency of decision-making. Obviously, it’s important for students to make the best choices for their academic progress, and these choices are key to the formative assessment process as they contribute to the positive momentum of learning. For example, let students propose different ways of demonstrating what they’ve learned through presentations and multimedia, as opposed to the traditional essay. Or work with students to come up with relevant activities that better connect lessons with their unique goals and interests.


Be the Change


Modeling inclusivity is a great place to start when merging SEL skills with formative assessment. When you show that you honor everyone’s background and viewpoint enough to make these perspectives part of the learning experience, students observe the SEL principal competencies at work. This could be a simple as framing questions in a way where there are no right or wrong answers. For example, try not asking “what” and “when” so much as “why” and “what if?” Have students think about their answers before sharing them to instill more confidence and ownership in their responses. Or ask students to draw parallels to other events, literary selections, or—better yet— their own lives. 


Recording student responses without judgment is another useful strategy, as a teacher’s initial reactions to these responses can have a powerful impact on a student. When receiving an incorrect response, it can be hard to be patient, but try asking a follow up question or encouraging a student to try again. When you meet students where they are, it shows a dedication to equity that can draw out students who typically are either too shy or frustrated to participate. It’s the simple things that can really change the tone of a classroom, things like:


  • Building on the background of your students;


  • Asking questions that relate to learning targets and take the time after asking questions to allow for more student interaction;


  • Having students elaborate on their responses to deepen the discussion;


  • Systematically sampling these responses to further increase participation, and;


  • Recording student responses and share how students with different needs approach learning.


A Cycle of Success


Social-emotional learning can be a powerful tool for creating a culture of success in the classroom, and formative assessment only increases its strength. Together, they create a self-perpetuating cycle of critical thinking, conflict-resolution, and collaboration: skills that often can’t be conventionally measured but which are vital to a student’s education and emotional well-being.


And sure: it can’t be achieved in a day. But simply having the intention of supporting your students to develop social and emotional resilience will help them to forge better relationships with other students as well as with themselves.


Have you tried merging social and emotional learning with formative assessment in your class or school? If so, how? What techniques did you use (if any)?


Join the conversation and comment below. 

Each spring, many district administrators out there are tasked with reporting metrics to others in their communities – from parents to school boards – that answer the question, “How are the schools in our community doing?”


Analyzing and interpreting student data can be a time-consuming process, and it's hard to know what conclusions to draw. Researchers at NWEA recognized the need to make this annual data gathering and reporting easier. About two years ago, they created the Insights Report, a 15-page analysis of district data to offer insights into students’ academic achievement and growth. Dr. Andy Hegedus was one of the innovative NWEA researchers who created the report; we talked to him about what kind of value it provides to MAP Growth partners. Below, you can learn more about the Insights Report in our video overview, or read more of our interview with Dr. Andy Hegedus on Teach Learn Grow.


What 2-3 areas of the report do you typically emphasize when introducing it to a superintendent or an administrator?


1) The simple, straight-forward language and graphics that anyone can understand.

2) The one-page executive summary, which hits three key points – How are our kids doing? How are we doing on proficiency and college-readiness? How are we doing over time?

3) The report progresses from high-level all the way to an in-depth analysis of growth and achievement by gender and race. Superintendents told us they wanted help with the analysis of their data since we have the data expertise to do it and they typically don’t. Now we have a way to do that at scale.


How are current MAP Growth partners using the Insights Report?


They are providing the Insights Report to the school board – and to their teams – using the PowerPoint we provide as a starting point. (The report comes with a PowerPoint presentation, pdf, and an hour of consulting from NWEA.) By providing a written report in plain language, and a PowerPoint presentation, we intentionally made reporting district performance easier on administrators: We do the analysis for them. It saves them tons of time, and they can have faith in the numbers we provide. The Insights Report also provides third-party independence around the metrics. That’s important to some administrators and boards.


What was the most interesting question you got from an administrator about the data?

The most interesting question I had was from a high-performing, international school that questioned our analysis on college readiness benchmarks. Our data said that around 70% of their students were meeting college readiness benchmarks – but 100% of their graduating students attend college.


In that case, I showed the administrators their achievement percentiles by grade, and they had a bunch of early learners in the 20-30th percentiles in achievement. Now, every year, their achievement got higher, and in 10th grade, they were at the 80th percentile in achievement. So their students grew better than average, and their achievement percentile increased every year – and they left the school ready for college. But if you identified a student that would best represent the entire school, he or she would be a student somewhere in between – a student on the journey to be college ready; they weren’t all at the top, and they weren’t all at the bottom. We discussed that growth is what you keep your eye on. Growth is your leading indicator. If you keep growing students a lot, your achievement will improve over time. It’s through growth that all of the kids will become college and career ready. If growth drops for some, they might not make it.


Take a look: 


NWEA recently introduced some new metrics into our MAP Growth Reports that identify to what extent students rapidly guessed when they took their test, and the effect that rapid guessing had on their RIT scores. I described these metrics in some detail in this blog post, which also includes a link to some broader guidance we wrote about how to make use of these metrics when interpreting your students’ test scores.


While we tried to cover most of the questions around these metrics, there is one question we are getting from our partners that is causing a lot of confusion – “What does it mean when the estimated impact of disengagement on a student’s RIT score is….POSITIVE?”


Let me explain why you may occasionally see a positive impact by talking about a response to a single item. On that item, there are generally four response options – one correct answer, and three incorrect answers (or “distractors”). If a student provides a rapid guess to the item, what is the probability that the student is going to answer the item incorrectly? Given that three of the four response options are incorrect, if a student guesses on the item, there is about a 75% chance (3/4) that the student will get the item wrong, and conversely, about a 25% chance (1/4) that the student will answer the item correctly. So, when students rapidly guess, they have a higher likelihood of getting the item wrong, and when that occurs, there can be a subsequent negative impact on their score.


But what if the student randomly gets the item…correct? If a student guesses and gets the answer right, the test score can still be biased – however, in this case, the student’s score can be positively biased. That is, the estimated impact of disengagement on the student’s RIT score can result in the student’s score being higher than if the student had actually tried on the item.


Let’s expand this even further. Let’s say that a student rapidly guessed on 10% of items on a reading test – so 4 out of the 40 reading items were rapidly guessed. If we apply those some probabilities from before, we might expect the student to get 3 of those 4 rapidly guessed items wrong, and 1 of the 4 rapidly guessed items correct. In this situation, there would likely be a negative impact on the student’s RIT score (the score would be negative biased, and the impact would be a negative value, such as -1).


But what if this student was incredibly lucky, and managed to guess correctly on 3 of those 4 items? In that case, the student’s score would be improved because of guessing, not negatively affected by it (the score would be positively biased, and the impact would be a positive value, such as +1). And while this isn’t common (given the low probability of guessing correctly), that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. And across millions of test events, there are some students who get luckier than others – they guess correctly at a rate higher than we would expect.


So, what should you do when you see positive values? In this case, our guidance still applies – you should consider what percentage of items were rapidly guessed, and in turn, what the subsequent impact was on the student’s RIT score. If less than 10% of items were rapidly guessed, there likely won’t be a huge impact – positive or negative – on a student’s score. And, if the percentage exceeds 30%, that is a clear indicator that a student’s test score isn’t valid and the student should be considered for retesting – even if the impact of the student’s RIT score is positive!


The goal of this metric is to inform you when you should or should not have confidence that student RIT scores are true reflections of their achievement level. So, whether you see a -3 or a +3 on the impact of disengagement metric, those are both telling you the same thing – the student’s rapid guessing had an impact on his or her score, and consideration should be given around if that score should be used (or the student should be retested), and how to make sure the student stays engaged during future testing sessions.


About the Author

Dr. Nate Jensen

Nate Jensen is a Research Scientist at NWEA, where he specializes in the use of student testing data for accountability purposes. He has provided consultation and support to teachers, administrators, and policymakers across the country to help establish best practices around using student achievement and growth data in accountability systems. Nate holds a Ph.D. in Counselor Education from the University of Arkansas, an M.A. in Counseling Psychology from Framingham State University, and a B.S. in Psychology from South Dakota State University.