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Posted on behalf of Danielle Kerns

Winter testing in MAP Growth is an important check-in to ensure that students are on track to meet their end-of-year growth goals in spring. The goal strands in a MAP Growth assessment can help identify areas of strength or concern for a student, and whether they should be supported or challenged with differentiated instruction in a particular area. The information teachers receive from a mid-year MAP Growth test can help guide whole-classroom instruction by measuring the effectiveness of their curriculum and aid in determining if each student’s needs are being met.


Overall growth between fall and winter can also give students confidence by showing them that they are succeeding—and it can also prepare them for end-of-year assessments that are just around the corner.



MAP Growth reports are your go-to resource to dive deep into the data and easily analyze the information that is most important to you. So which reports do we recommend? Let’s start with some of the most important questions to ask.


How can I see how all of my students performed on their winter test and what specific areas we should be focusing on?
The Class Breakdown report by RIT or Goal breaks out your class performance by student, and places them into 10-point RIT bands in specific goal areas. If you view the report by Goal, it will connect you with the learning continuum and provide meaningful learning statements that can be used in the classroom.



How can I support each student individually and customize their learning paths to success?
The Student Profile report reflects individual student progress and helps you set custom growth goals outside of what is typical for average growth. Setting custom goals in this report will not impact projected growth met in other reports. This report is ideal for sharing with students and parents, so they can see how the student has grown over time and how best to reinforce learning at home.



Are my students on track to meet their growth goals? How are they performing compared to their peers?
The Achievement Status and Growth report reflects your entire class and highlights their performance between two terms, while projecting and tracking RIT growth between assessments. If you used this report in fall to see what the expected growth was for spring, make sure to re-order this report after winter testing to see what their new growth goal for spring should be.



How can I effectively teach concepts to every student based on individual performance?
The learning continuum is a key tool for connecting MAP Growth results with the specific content a student is ready to learn. It can be used to help teachers tailor classroom instruction by connecting learning statements with specific goal areas and corresponding RIT ranges. The learning continuum is an excellent resource to see what your students have mastered, what they’re currently ready to develop, and what concepts they should be introduced to next.

Posted on behalf of Lauren Wells

When I was an administrator and a coach, the opportunity to review the data from MAP Growth assessments was always enlightening and provided tremendous insight for instruction, especially in the winter. The winter testing window is a perfect opportunity to share and celebrate growth with students at the midpoint of the school year—when there’s still time to take action. As an administrator and a coach, I found that winter results were my “secret sauce” in supporting my teachers and, in turn, the students. Our winter reports showed me students’ instructional levels, and gave me insights about their individual learning preferences and learning styles, and when teachers used them in conjunction with the learning continuum, they were able to make lesson planning more effective for the remainder of the year.

I’m sure that as educators, we’ve all been there: we create what we think might be the greatest lesson ever, only to later discover that it missed the mark. Maybe it went over some kids’ heads. Perhaps they were missing underlying skills they needed in order to engage. For me, that was always disheartening but, more importantly, it created new work: I then had to go back and revisit topics or skills to bring everyone up to speed. Winter testing with MAP Growth, along with the learning continuum, solved that problem for my teachers.


Once students had tested, my work with teachers began. I started with the Class Breakdown by Goal report. That was my favorite place to start because it put my teachers in the right mindset: we all have areas of strength and areas where we can improve. Working with my teachers, we would begin by comparing their students’ winter scores with how they performed in the fall, so we could see who was on track to meet their growth goals for the year, which students were ready for new challenges, and who might need a little extra help. That gave my teachers a foundation for using the learning continuum—looking at the students’ winter scores and aligning them with specific skills and concepts—so they could create targeted lesson plans and instructional groups built around their needs.


Winter test results were also used to check in on students’ progress toward state proficiency goals and to get an idea of how they might perform on the ACT or SAT exams. For that, my teachers used the Class Breakdown by Projected Proficiency report, which quickly highlighted whether or not they were on track to proficiency in different subjects, as well as their projected ACT/SAT scores. But the important part, to me, was that we could work with students to do better by using the learning continuum to see what they’re ready to learn next.


My students weren’t always thrilled about taking tests, but they definitely appreciated being able to see their own progress, and they loved the opportunity to make adjustments. Winter testing helped me and my teachers make sure our lesson plans were always relevant, and it helped them see that the future isn’t set in stone—with the right data, they could meet any goal we set together.


Lauren Wells is a professional learning consultant for NWEA. She is an experienced instructional coach who has worked in K–12 education, assessment, and educational technology since 2001. Lauren has worked with educators throughout her career, including as assistant principal and later principal for South Lake Schools in St. Claire Shores, Michigan. She received her EdS and PhD focused on educational leadership from Oakland University in 2018.

Jaime Vazquez

Webinar: RIT 101

Posted by Jaime Vazquez Feb 17, 2020

Discover the scale behind MAP Growth: what it means, how it works, and how it provides consistent, reliable measures of student growth.


Watch our latest Best of Fusion Webinar: RIT 101

We sat down with Dr. Nate Jensen, Director of the Center for School and Student Progress, for a few questions about this popular webinar—and the importance of winter testing.

Q. Tell us about why the RIT scale is key to MAP Growth, and why it’s important to understand.


A. Well, you’ll have to watch the whole webinar for the complete answer but, to me, the goal of MAP Growth is to provide educators with the most precise, accurate data possible. With data that accurately measures each student, they can take appropriate action, they can measure and track growth over time and, just as importantly, they can see their students in context, that is, how their students are performing when compared to other, similar students. Those actions are really important, and they’re only as effective as the data they’re based upon, so getting precise, accurate data is really the foundation of a good assessment.

I go into more detail about this in the webinar, and I encourage educators to watch it so they can get a better sense of how the RIT scale works, and how we build, test, and continue to test our own test items around it.

Q. What are some examples of things teachers might keep in mind while watching the webinar, specifically when they’re thinking about this time of year and setting goals for spring?

A. To me, winter testing is probably the most important testing term: it allows teachers to look at their students’ progress in lots of different ways and make adjustments as needed.

As we discuss in the webinar, there are many different ways to evaluate a student’s performance: compared to other students (relative to our national norms), compared to a state’s proficiency standards (using our linking study information), compared to college readiness benchmarks (using our ACT/SAT studies), and so on. If students have fallen off track with these, or any other goals that have been set for them, educators can ask questions about what additional supports or interventions can be given to the student to make sure they are successful at meeting short- and long-term goals.

When you have student data that are accurate and precise, you can use that information in so many different ways that will benefit students this year and in years beyond.

Q. How can the RIT scale be used to readjust goals that teachers and students set in the fall? For example, if a student or class shows higher growth than expected based on winter testing results, how can they reasonably and realistically adjust their expectations accordingly?

A. For me, I think it’s important to always have short- and long-term goals in mind—not only where we want students to be by the end of the year, but two years from now, three years from now, and beyond. That way, if a student’s winter testing results show that they are making tremendous progress toward an end-of-year goal (using normative data from NWEA), then the next step, from my perspective, is thinking about how we can continue to help really push this student along.

Say a student has a growth goal of 10 points by the end of the year, and they’ve already shown 8 points of growth by the winter test. Great! Could we shoot for 12 points by the end of the year instead? If so, what additional resources do we need to bring to bear to help this student meet their new goal? Those are the kinds of impactful conversations a teacher can have to help students (and families) see the bigger picture of what having accurate and precise data can tell us about a student. And while attaining 12 points of growth may not have a huge impact on the student in the short term, it certainly sets the student up to feel like they can be successful in the long term.

Of course, it’s equally important, if not more so, to use these data for those students who in winter appear to be falling short of their goals. What needs to change to make sure this student is successful? Does the goal need to be adjusted in any way? Are there additional instructional resources that can be leveraged to help the student accelerate in an area in which they are struggling? Again, having accurate and precise data at multiple points throughout the year enables adjustments to be made to help set students up to be as successful as they can be.

As director of the Center for School and Student Progress, Dr. Jensen engages directly with school systems to influence educational practices and policies that promote student success and he conducts rigorous research that is directly relevant to educators’ work with their students. He has provided consultation and support to teachers, administrators, and policymakers across the country to help establish best practices around the uses of student achievement and growth data.

We know that nearly 80% of English learners in the US speak Spanish—and as a teacher, if you have Spanish-speaking students in your classroom, you’ve probably asked yourself, How can I see the difference between what my students know in Spanish and what they can demonstrate in English?


That’s the question we started with when we built MAP Spanish: a new set of Spanish assessments for MAP Growth and MAP Reading Fluency that cover Reading and Math and are available now completely free of charge. 

We designed MAP Spanish to help you support your Spanish-speaking population, no matter what your program goals are—with the same reliable data that you’ve come to expect from MAP Growth.


Let’s talk about how you can put it to use in your classroom. For this post, we’ll focus on examples with MAP Growth Spanish Reading.


In transitional bilingual programs

If you’re teaching in a dual-language program, MAP Growth Spanish Reading is your opportunity to test your Spanish-speaking kids in their native language, and see their results on the same reports and in the same context as your English-speaking students. No more separate testing for your Spanish-speakers, and no comparison of data from multiple applications.


How you can use it in the classroom: Before you give your students their next MAP Growth Reading test, consider which kids might be better served by taking the assessment in Spanish. Once your class has completed testing, start with the Class Report to see your class’s distribution. See if you notice any trends in the data—how did your Spanish-speaking students do when compared to prior assessments? Do the data suggest that they know things they haven’t been able to express in English?


If you’re working toward English proficiency and literacy in a bilingual classroom, it’s crucial to know how students are performing both in English and in Spanish. That’s why it’s handy to have MAP tests in both languages available; you can start in Spanish, and then transition the student to eventually taking the test in English. You’ll still be able to track their growth as you would with MAP Growth or MAP Reading Fluency.


How you can use it in the classroom: As you’re preparing to give your next set of MAP tests, think about which students would benefit from taking them in Spanish. Once they’ve completed their first assessment in Spanish, review the Class Report and your Student Reports to consider which students may be ready to start taking the test in English; for students who aren’t ready, you can continue to provide the test in Spanish to accurately determine what they know.


In bilingual-biliteracy programs

If you teach in a dual-language program that focuses on both bilingualism and biliteracy (often referred to as two-way immersion), it’s important to have information about how your kids are reading in both languages. Whether you’re looking to gauge the success of your efforts so far, or you want to see precisely where you can target instruction, you can use MAP Spanish to track growth in English or in Spanish.


How you can use it in the classroom: After you’ve given an assessment in both English and Spanish, review reports like the Class Report to see how your English speakers are performing compared to your Spanish speakers. Are they trending together? Where do you see indications that students are growing together in both languages? Where do you see indications that you may have literacy needs in one particular language?


Addressing equity through assessment

MAP Spanish is designed to support the work you do, and to equip you with critical, reliable information about how to support your Spanish-speaking students. It’s also designed to help create more equity in the classroom—so your English language learners can fully participate in the growth tracking process, and you can include all of your students in your plans, without having to manage exceptions.


MAP Spanish can also be a game-changer when it comes to the testing experience for Spanish-speaking students. By having kids take the MAP assessments in their native language, with their English-speaking peers, the test isn’t just accommodating them—it’s meeting them where they are.


We’re excited to see how you put MAP Spanish to work in your classroom. Get started by making MAP Spanish part of your assessment program. Learn more about which tests are available in Spanish here.

Crystal Miller

Meet the Family Report

Posted by Crystal Miller Oct 25, 2019

We know how important conferences with families are—so we set out to make sharing MAP Growth data with them easier. And we couldn’t have done it without your help.


When we sat down with teachers like you to learn more about their conference challenges, they spoke loud and clear: They needed a report that made it easier to share MAP Growth data. They wanted to share more information about what it is, and why they use it, but quickly, because they have a lot to cover at conferences and not a lot of time.


I’m excited to share that you can now access an all-new report for conferences: the Family Report. It’s included with the rest of your MAP Growth reports and designed to both share student-specific data with families and put it in context for them.


To help you get started with the report, here’s a quick list of common questions from families that you can begin to answer with the Family Report.


What is MAP Growth? Why are you assessing our child with this tool?

Whether you’re meeting with families who have been tracking MAP scores for years, or families who are new to MAP assessments, it’s important to have easy, quick-reference information handy. Every Family Report starts with the basics: what MAP Growth is, what the report reflects, and how the student was measured.


Where is our child growing the most? How do our child’s scores compare to other students’?

The Family Report focuses on a few easy-to-understand graphs and diagrams so it’s easy to spot growth trends. It shows each student’s growth trajectory, plotted alongside the national grade-level average for reference. Parents get easy access to a snapshot of their student’s growth data alongside a few key summary statements.


What can the data tell us about our child’s academic future?

Depending on your state, as well as which assessment the student took, the Family Report can provide performance projections. For example, it can predict how the student is likely to perform on the ACT or SAT in the same subject and, in some states, it will project how the student is likely to do on the state test. This data creates the opportunity for course correction, so you can share with families that you’ll be using it to provide targeted instruction, which could help their child exceed projections.


How are you using the data?

The Family Report is a great jumping off point for talking to parents about how you use MAP Growth data in your

classroom. Share how you use instructional grouping to support their child’s specific learning needs, or consider discussing how you’ll use the Learning Continuum or the student’s Lexile data to determine what they’re ready to learn next.


If you have a high performer, use the Family Report as an opportunity to celebrate their success and learn more about how to continue to keep them engaged. If you’re working with a student who faces academic challenges, discuss how you’re taking action on the issues identified by the data. For every student, take the opportunity to celebrate both achievement and growth!


How can we use the data at home?

All students can grow, no matter where they are at academically. Discuss how you’ll give family members regular updates on their child’s data. Help them see how they can use Lexile data, if available, to support their child’s reading goals. And if they want to learn more, point them to our Family Toolkit.


We appreciate all the teachers who gave us critical feedback as we developed the MAP Growth Family Report and everyone who continues to share their feedback and stories. Once you’ve had a chance to try out the Family Report, let us know how it went in the comments below!

In my classroom, my kids know that I love data—and I’ve gotten them to love it, too. They know we’ll use it to set individual goals, track progress, and even to set stretch goals. And as I’ve shared their MAP data with them, I’ve also seen it influence my kids and how they support one another. So I’d like to share the process I use in the fall, as well as some of the classroom culture changes I’ve seen as a result.

Before fall testing with MAP Growth

Before we do any testing with MAP Growth in the fall, I give all of my students a big pep talk about how important and valuable the assessment is. Framing it for them can have a big impact on how much they engage with the data later on, so we talk about how it’s our opportunity to see where they are academically and better understand what they’re ready to learn.


Because the national norm actually decreases from spring to fall, I also set a goal for the class of staying within a few points of where each student was in the spring.


After fall testing

After the fall test, I have a class discussion about the national norm, our district norm, and what the different color bands mean on the Student Profile Report. It’s a chance to help my students see the big picture and track their own growth.


During this class discussion, we also talk about stretch goals. In some cases, we start by talking about improving their individual percentiles, and what it would take to move to a higher place in their current color band (or move to a new color band). It’s a chance for each one of my kids to see that in order for better-than-average growth to happen, they’ll have to put in better-than-average effort.


I let them know that I’ll be sitting down one-on-one with each of them to set individual goals, and I ask them to consider where they’d like to try to go based on the data. In a lot of cases, just asking them to do that gets them involved, and it can be enough to keep them excited enough to continue working toward their goals.


Tracking progress

For the remainder of the term, we work during two class periods a week on progress toward their goals. For math, we use Khan Academy, so my students work on skills from each goal strand.


I love getting to see my students push themselves. There will always be peaks and valleys, and we use the past data to set realistic goals—and time and again, I’ve seen kids get inspired to push themselves further than the projected goal NWEA sets, because they’ve got a clear idea of what their goal is.


The difference goal setting makes in the classroom

Goal setting has huge benefits in the classroom! It provides students with something to strive for. When they have that focus on where they’d like to be, they’re more motivated to work to get there. Once a student meets a goal they’ve set, their sense of accomplishment and personal satisfaction is infectious. It creates even more motivation within themselves to strive for even more growth.


We make a point to celebrate when a student meets their goals, and when we meet our goals as a class. And celebrating isn’t just about marking milestones; it helps us build a culture of celebrating one another’s accomplishments and sparks students to push themselves to feel that sense of accomplishment. Just having the right mindset and attitudes changes everything for the better. My classroom culture has become one of encouragement as they all strive to reach their own personal goals and work to become better versions of themselves.


And even knowing all this, my students still surprise me all the time. One day last year, I happened to mention to my 5th graders that we’d seen how accurate the ACT score predictions were from MAP Growth when we compared them with our actual data from our high school students. This sparked a ton of excitement! They immediately started to use their own projections from MAP, comparing their predicted ACT scores with the average ACT scores of their dream schools. All of a sudden, I was talking to my 5th-grade class about college, and they were seeing the connection between their work in my class and their schools of choice.


I’m so happy that now my students love data as much as I do.

Welcome to our first issue of Show of Hands, a new quarterly newsletter from NWEA designed to support you and other teachers who use MAP.


Our goal is simple: support educators who use MAP data. Show of Hands is part of our commitment to bringing you timely, relevant ideas, tips, and strategies―as well as opportunities to connect with other educators.

Here’s what you can expect in each issue:

  • A feature exploring student growth. Each issue, we’ll explore growth from a different perspective. We’ll focus on the classroom and start discussions you can join at any time.

  • Insights from other teachers. You’ll find articles written by teachers like you about strategies they’re using to support their students. For our inaugural issue, check out Stephanie Bishop’s article, “How I set goals in the fall, and how it’s impacted my classroom culture.” When you’re ready, share your own ideas and apply to be a contributor!

  • Timely report advice. There are a lot of MAP Growth reports, and many of them are most useful at specific times of year. Each issue, we’ll explore the timeliest options, whether you’re using assessments for screening, goal-setting, instructional support, or tracking growth. If you’re brand-new to the MAP Suite or you need quick insights about which reports to consider first, you’ll find advice you can put to work. Because this is a community-focused effort, you’ll be able to share your own ideas and questions, too!

  • Product and research highlights. Each issue, we’ll also include updates about the latest developments in the MAP Suite and advice on how you can start using them right away. For example, in this issue you can find out more about the Family Report and how you can use it in family-teacher conferences.

We know your time is precious, and we look forward to bringing you quick, instantly applicable insights with each issue of Show of Hands. If you’ve got an idea or a topic you’d like to share with us, let us know.


Like what you see? You can share Show of Hands with your colleagues by forwarding the email, and encouraging them to subscribe here.