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Show of Hands

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As we continue to navigate our new normal, I wanted to take a moment to connect with all of you, the very heart of our schools and communities.


I’ve had the opportunity to speak with educators all over the country and one thing is abundantly clear, teachers are rising to this incredible challenge with grace, creativity, and heart. It is truly inspiring and a reminder to all of us of what’s possible when we work together and think big for our students. 

Our priority continues to be the health and well-being of our staff and partners. As we continue to socially distance, our Show of Hands team put together an issue that is relevant to our current reality. You’ll find resources for teacher self-care, an interview with an expert on social emotional learning, and original research exploring the impact COVID-19 school closures may have on student learning.


As we celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week, I’ve never been prouder to work alongside educators like you. From all of us at NWEA, we are with you. Let’s continue to work together in partnership as we chart a path toward re-open. For now, please stay safe and healthy.


Chris Minnich

Like most of our beloved spring traditions, Teacher Appreciation Week will look different this year. Add it to the ever-growing list of small griefs and moments that are lost, without warning. But it didn’t feel right to let this special week fall to the wayside. So, while you can’t celebrate another year of a job well done alongside your colleagues and students, we want to extend our gratitude. 


Thank you for leaving extra room in your heart for our kids. You take on the emotional labor that comes with loving so fiercely and without reservation. You see them, root for them, celebrate them, and fight for them. They are “your kids” too, and it doesn’t go unnoticed.

Thank you for sharing your limitless imaginations with us. You are truly innovators, doing more with less and not letting technical or geographical limitations stop you from keeping your students connected and engaged. From online conversations, to home visits through glass doors, to parades of cars driving through neighborhoods—you are there. You are a constant in a world that is anything but. You are an unstoppable force for good in a scary, worrisome time. Your work makes their day. That makes ours.



While we cheer for doctors, nurses, and medical teams out of our windows each night, know we’re cheering for you too. We ring the bell for our heroes on the home front, who rearranged the entire educational system almost overnight. We honor you as you are still planning, still teaching, still connecting, and still leading during an international crisis. We don’t know how you do it. And you do it all with families and concerns of your own.



We grieve alongside you for a school year unfinished. Goodbyes unsaid. For a safe place indefinitely closed, for kids who may be hungry or on their own during the day. We miss “normal”, whatever it was. But in moments of optimism, we imagine what recovery will look like. We know it will come. We know the world won’t feel “right” until you’re back in your classroom.



This Teacher Appreciation Week won’t look like the others. It may be quiet, or more reflective. It may be celebrated with more emoji than usual, maybe even a meme or two. But one thing it won’t do is go unnoticed. Because the work you do is essential and worthy of celebration. This virus can change a lot of things, but we won’t let it change that.

From all of us at Show of Hands: thank you, thank you, thank you.

During times of drastic change, educators may find themselves engaging in new ways with students, with content, and even with their instructional styles. With great change comes a greater need for self-care.


Educators, give yourself permission to make self-care a priority. We are conduits for the people we serve, and the best way to serve others is to be your best self.


However, the life of a teacher can be so busy that it’s hard to find time for self-care. Here are a few simple techniques you can use to incorporate self-care into your routine in a way that can be mutually beneficial for you and your students.



Shake it out.

Move what’s weighing you down. Taking a one-minute dance break helps to release tension and move pent-up energy. Plato said that music gives “wings to the mind,” and this short exercise can help free up space in the mind so that both you and your students can think more clearly and become more productive.
In the same way that you know when there’s a high level of anxiety among your students, they can also sense when you’re stressed. Take either of these as cues that it’s time to have one minute of movement.

Talk it out.

Allow space to release. You and your students need a safe space to share your thoughts and feelings, particularly about situations that may be stressful. Begin by sharing what you feel. Consider the “Yes, and…” technique when you respond to students, which will allow everyone to have their words either affirmed or reframed, both of which encourage a positive perspective. When someone replies by saying “Yes, and…” followed with a positive reframe (if it was a negative feeling) or added context to affirm what was stated (if it was a positive feeling), powerful things happen. The simple act of saying “Yes, and…” validates the person’s feelings without judgment. I find that this exercise is a great way to transition between activities, or when dealing with something new.


Cut it out.

Carve space for support by assigning roles to everyone. You have the responsibility of helping your entire classroom succeed, which is a lot of work! It’s important to establish structured roles within the classroom community so that the onus of success is on everyone.

Assigning roles to students not only helps with classroom management, but it also instills a sense of confidence and pride. Consider having roles that support everyone’s emotional well-being, such as an Accountability Partner (where a student checks in regularly to assess their progress toward goals) or a Champion Partner (where a student provides encouragement and support). You can model this practice by first assigning roles to people in your life. These roles can work in the virtual classroom too.

The data don’t lie
Each of the techniques I’ve suggested provides an outlet for your stress and anxiety—and your students’ too. Researchers have found that when kids express their thoughts in a healthy manner, their test scores significantly increase, “particularly for students for whom test anxiety had become a habit.” Another research study revealed that “Students with low-stress teachers had the highest test scores and the best behavior.”

The daily process of teaching and learning can be stressful for everyone. Make self-care a priority for yourself and your students. Keep it simple by starting today with what you have: your love for teaching, yourself, and the students you serve.


A former middle school math teacher, instructional coach, workshop facilitator, trainer, and consultant, Fenesha Hubbard is passionate about creating authentic learning experiences and helping others grow. She’s currently a content designer on the Professional Learning Design team at NWEA.

Portions of this article first appeared on Teach. Learn. Grow.. It was edited by the author and used here with permission.

As COVID-19 redefines “normal” across the country, students, teachers, and families do their best to make progress at home, in whatever form it may take. With distance learning efforts underway with the help of video chats, apps, and paper packets, one component of student learning is often left out of the conversation—social emotional learning (SEL). SEL is often described by what it’s not: anything related to traditional academics. It’s the skills, attitudes, and behaviors that help kids be successful in and out of the classroom.

To learn more about SEL, I interviewed Dr. Karyn Lewis, senior research scientist in the Center for School and Student Progress at NWEA. Karyn has a background in social psychology, with an emphasis on SEL, school climate, and students’ sense of belonging. We set out to learn more about how SEL will be impacted by COVID-19 closures, and what teachers and families can do now, or when schools reopen to support students through this shared trauma. Karyn’s responses were edited for length and clarity.


As I understand it, SEL are those non-academic skills or behaviors that help people build relationships. Is it essentially, how to be a human? What kind of skills are we talking about? 

I think you could ask ten different people and get ten different answers. Things like managing their emotions, controlling their behavior, connecting proactively and productively with peers, making good decisions. It really runs the gamut. And I think schools have, and should, define what it means for their population specifically, to honor the unique types of kids that they're serving.


For early learners, some of these SEL skills and behaviors are embedded in their standards. Does that continue as they get older?

You're right that it is really well represented in what we expect of preschoolers. But we've had this interesting trend of kind of just letting that drop off after kindergarten. And I think in the last five years or so, schools have started to recognize that this is something to be purposefully developing in older students. And we're seeing more and more states and districts develop standards around social-emotional learning.


What do you think are some of the hold-ups to making this more widely accepted?

We know that social and emotional development is really different from academic development. It's not a linear trajectory over time, like we expect with math skills, where at every increasing age we expect new and linear trends in development. It peaks and valleys, depending on kids' experiences in the classroom and outside the classroom. So that is a challenge that prevents us from having a really accurate picture of what we should expect at each developmental milestone.


Let’s talk about SEL in the context of COVID-19. Researchers at NWEA used data on summer learning loss to develop possible scenarios for how school closures will impact student learning. Can something similar be done for SEL?

We know that trauma and chronic stress can be really impactful on the kinds of skills we put in this bucket—things like the ability to pay attention, regulate our emotion, regulate our behavior. Research shows a really strong link between experiencing [trauma] and having a hard time with those kinds of capacities. So it is very much based in relationships and kids' experiences.



So depending on what that looks like for some students in this pause, I think we very much can expect that we're going to see some real challenges and struggles when kids get back in the classroom.


Will these challenges look different for older students?

This isn't just something that's going to pertain to younger kids. I think we should expect it for students of all ages. I think we should expect it in adults as well. We are all able to fall victim to the impact of trauma and chronic stress.

I know for me, when I am feeling anxious, it comes out as irritability. And I think, "Oh my goodness. What are the words coming out of my mouth right now?" But it's human nature to have this kind of behavior when we're under really, really stressful and trying times.


Is there anything that teachers can do to help students now, or is it something that can wait until they’re back in the classroom?

I think what's really powerful is that the best thing we can do is really focus on relationships, connecting teachers and students, connecting students to one another. Because the most healing way to combat trauma is to focus on well-being and relationships.


I've seen a couple of articles that ask questions like, "How can you continue your SEL instruction remotely?" And I think at this point what is best is to think less about developing individual social-emotional competencies like goal setting and adopting a growth mindset, and instead change the conversation to be about how can we support students and teachers' social-emotional well-being. The number one way to do that is to make sure we're connecting with one another, and just checking in, and focusing on well-being, in contrast with any kind of skill development.


Some schools or districts are unable to do virtual distance learning, and some students may not be able to keep up with it at home due to age, learning needs, etc., so maintaining those relationships is difficult. When students return to school, what can teachers do to make up for lost time, so to speak?

I think it's going to be really useful to reframe our narrative when we return to school in the fall. Let’s not think about how we can hit the ground running. Let's pause and allow the time and space that adults and children are going to need to recover from this. And I think that really involves being gentle with ourselves and our students, and just letting this unfold. I think there's some research-based ways to support things like emotion processing and connection that we can pay attention to, but it's going to be really important to just give time and space to grieve what was lost and come back together and start rebuilding those relationships.


Can you talk about some strategies that may be helpful when we’re back together again?

I think as adults, it will go a long way to provide those kind of emotional and psychological scaffolds to process this experience that are going to be really important. So that will be things like just giving time and space to talk about emotions. Writing assignments and journaling can even be incorporated now into distance learning, to help kids write about what this experience has been like for them and what's challenging.



But overall, it’s critical that we’re sure that the focus of what we're doing when we come back together is reconnecting, and ensuring kids are feeling connected to their teachers and one another. And I think that emphasis on connection means that we need to spend time thinking about our school and our classroom climate first and foremost, as opposed to panicking about all the instruction that's been lost and getting kids caught up to where we wish they were. We need to meet kids where they're at, make our priority their well-being, and figure out how we can connect with them to support them in that space.

And what about teachers and staff? How will COVID-19 closures impact adults in schools and classrooms?

We know that student trauma is going to work its way up and impact teachers, and they're going to have a really heavy emotional burden now and in the future coping with this. I just hope we can encourage teachers to give space to that. Having a peer network of other teachers that are going through the same thing to debrief with, to process with, to support one another is going to be really critical.


If you want to learn more about SEL, visit CASEL [The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning] online. For ideas on self-care for teachers, read our article from Fenesha Hubbard in Show of Hands.

Erin Ryan joined NWEA as senior writer in 2018. A former teacher and student of education policy, she enjoys using her word-**** status to support student learning.

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.