As teachers, we understand the importance of assessments. They give us valuable insight into what students know and guide decision-making about the next instructional steps. Unfortunately, assessments, however well-intentioned, cause anxiety for too many students.
Not only can anxiety cause students to underperform on assessments, when students misguidedly equate their “grades” with their self-worth, assessments can have detrimental effects on how students envision themselves as learners and as people.
By helping students “read” their MAP assessment results, we can reduce test-taking anxiety and motivate students to take ownership over their own data and learning paths.
Establish the purpose...
The first step to reducing anxiety is to reinforce the purpose of MAP assessments. NWEA professional development consultant Fenesha Hubbard recently empathized with students by taking the MAP assessment herself. The experience reawakened many of her own test-taking anxieties. Hubbard writes:
“I had to remind myself that this wasn’t a test of what I know, but rather what I was ready to learn. I had to remember that the intention was for me and someone else (like my teacher) to use my results to help me grow. MAP differs from many of the tests students take. Most tests are designed to assess what skills they have mastered. MAP assesses what you are ready to learn.”
Students are empowered when they understand that assessments aren’t about results, but about showing teachers where to go next.
Share RIT scores...
Sharing test results with students is important step in cementing the rationale behind taking MAP interim assessments.
Introduce RIT scores as a way to measure their growth. The RIT scale is equal interval, meaning that like a ruler or a thermometer, “there is the same distance between points on the scale.” So a 10 point gain from 180 to 190 is equivalent to the amount of growth from 220 to 230.
Students may want to compare their results with others, but reinforce that RIT scores are for personal use. Teach students that growth—from one MAP result to the next—is more important than any one result.
Go beyond the RIT score...
While RIT scores are useful in quantifying growth, they are nowhere near as informative as specific learning goals from the Learning Continuum. Help students equate their RIT scores with learning targets in different instructional areas. If the amount of information is overwhelming, help students identify a subset of goals to work on. Break down the skills with students and point to resources and activities that will help students progress towards their personal targets.
The purpose of sharing MAP results isn’t to “judge” what students know; it is to give students and teachers actionable data to guide their future learning. By helping students “read” their results in an intentional and age-appropriate manner, we can not only help reduce testing anxieties, but also encourage students to take ownership over their data and their learning.
How do you introduce MAP results to students? What information do you find most useful to share? Share your thoughts in the discussion below.