Skip navigation
All Places > Welcome New Members > Show of Hands > Blog > 2020 > February

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.