Meaningful Assessment Data Shows the Power of Personalized Learning

Blog Post created by on Nov 11, 2016

As you read, consider the following question:

  • How are you using assessment data to personalize and differentiate learning for your students?

After you read through the blog, continue the conversation in the comments section below.

Blog originally posted on Teach. Learn. Grow. on December 15, 2015

By Jean Fleming


Personalized instruction, the practice of tailoring learning to meet each student’s strengths, needs, and interests, helps to create an environment that engages and accelerates learning for all students. I saw this first hand when I visited a Teach to One school in Brooklyn some time ago; a personalized approach to math broke down literal and figurative walls, resulting in a truly responsive educational experience.


Earlier this year, I authored a guest post at Getting Smart titled – The Future of Personalized Learning is Now – in which I highlighted how meaningful assessment data from the computer adaptive MAP test can be used to personalize and differentiate learning. So I was delighted to see a recent blog at Education Elements – On Storytelling with Data and the Power of Personalized Learning – where Nikki Mitchell dove deep into MAP assessment data to support my claim.


In fact, Nikki highlighted some findings from research Education Elements conducted over the 2014-2015 school year and created a compelling report – The Positive Power of Personalized Learning. Using NWEA Norms from the MAP assessment results, they provided some powerful insights:


Personalized learning impacts student achievement on nationally normed tests (MAP): students in personalized learning classrooms showed 135 percent growth in their reading exam and 119 percent growth in math.


As Nikki put it in her post:


Students’ growth over the course of the school year, compared to national norms, was the same level of progress you would expect if they received an extra third of a year of instruction in reading, and an extra fifth of a year of instruction in math.


These are some powerful arguments for introducing personalized learning and the meaningful assessment in MAP helps make that case. MAP data helps to define individual student learning paths and is directly actionable in a few important ways, and at no added cost:


  • Identify what a student needs help with, or is ready to be challenged on, using the recently enhanced interactive Learning Continuum.
  • Use an individual student’s RIT score in math from MAP to identify standards-aligned instructional resources from Khan Academy.
  • Access the RIT to Resource portal, which is powered by Gooru and enables teachers and parents to find a wealth of standards-aligned Open Educational Resources (OERs).


No matter where your students are performing, assessment information can be a critical tool in pinpointing students’ unique needs, tailoring instruction – and thereby expanding the achievement possibilities for all your students.


About the Author


41.thumbnail.jpgJean Fleming brings over 25 years of experience in education to her role at NWEA. She began as a middle school reading teacher in the Berkeley, California public schools. There, she developed a curriculum focused on engaging students in career explorations to foster a love of reading. She served as lead instructional designer for an online reading curriculum, held senior editorial positions with Technology & Learning magazine and, and managed global communications for the Intel Foundation’s professional development program.