Stephanie Bishop

How I set goals in the fall, and how it’s impacted my classroom culture

Blog Post created by Stephanie Bishop on Oct 25, 2019

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.