Everyone knows how it feels to get feedback. Frequently our first reaction—especially if it is positive—is to share it with others. Discourse around feedback can help give us context to derive deeper understandings, yet in the classroom, open sharing of sensitive feedback, like MAP test results, is not appropriate. For one, if students start comparing results, it detracts from the purpose of the tests in the first place: to track and measure progress towards individualized learning goals. Even worse, the discourse can dismantle classroom inclusivity, making a subset of students feel inferior.
So how do you go about preventing students from comparing MAP test results?
In the classroom, it is easy to make rules (“We don’t share our test results with other students”).
Yet, as a teacher, I found that rules were ineffective unless students understood exactly why they were put in place. We must be explicit with students on how we expect them to view their scores, as well as how we manage students’ temptation to talk about their scores with each other. When setting expectations with your students, consider the following guidelines.
Establish MAP test results as feedback.
In his article, 7 Keys to Effective Feedback, Grant Wiggins draws a clear distinction between feedback and advice. Feedback is just information, in the absence of any judgment or value statement. Therefore, the data is really only meaningful to the person it directly reflects (the student) and others that are immediately involved in helping that student along their learning path (teachers and families). Wiggins goes on to establish that the purpose of feedback is to help establish and measure progress towards personal goals. Presented in this context, MAP results are simply personal and not meant to be shared.
Take time during class meetings to develop student empathy. Help students understand how it might feel to be picked last for teams on the playground or be a victim of bullying. Then, translate empathy to test scores. How would it feel to know your scores were lower than your peers’? Would that help or hinder your attitude towards learning?
Emphasize that test results are just one measure.
As insightful as MAP test results can be, they are just one component of capturing the essence of the “whole” student. Continually reinforce that MAP results are one piece of feedback, helping students to be better learners. When MAP results are kept in perspective, it’s clear that there are different, more important pieces of our identity to value… and share!
Instead of sharing test results, celebrate growth! Like so many other posts in recent months emphasized, validate students’ effort by taking moments to celebrate how far they have come.
What protocols have you set up in your classroom to manage student sharing of MAP results? Please add your thoughts to the discussion below.