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.