When we were kids assessment was the weekly spelling test or the end of course final. For students in school ten years ago, assessment became “high stakes” and included proficiency testing and then Ohio Achievement and Graduation testing. These were all summative assessments. We liken summative assessments to an autopsy. They tell us what happened but by the time we have the results it is too late to make changes.
Today we are asking our teachers to use formative assessments. In this way teachers use the results of student assessments like, the Developmental Reading Assessment or Measures of Academic Progress, to determine what each individual student needs to learn. The teacher, teaches. They do a short assessment to determine what the student has learned, and then they adjust their instruction to the areas that students still need to learn.
One of the tools we use in Worthington is MAP. MAP is a product created by the Northwest Evaluation Association in Northwest Ohio. Each child learns differently. So NWEA created computerized adaptive assessments that test differently, allowing teachers to see their students as individuals – each with their own base of knowledge. NWEA Measures of Academic Progress® (MAP®) tests present students with engaging, age-appropriate content. As a student responds to questions, the test responds to the student, adjusting up or down in difficulty. The result should be a positive experience for the student, and a wealth of detailed information for teachers, parents and administrators.
MAP assessments provide detailed, actionable data about where each child is on their unique learning path. Because student engagement is essential to any testing experience, NWEA worked with educators to create test items that interest children and help to capture detail about what they know and what they’re ready to learn. It’s information teachers can use in the classroom to help every child, every day.
Once student test results are in, teachers put them to work. Teachers will use the results to:
- Define flexible groups for instruction
- Personalize instruction
- Link test results to skills and concepts aligned with state standards
- Facilitate goal-setting and student learning plans
When you meet with your child’s teacher at parent-teacher conferences this week, make certain you see your child’s MAP scores. Discuss with the teacher and your child, what the scores mean, and set goals together for improvement. Wherever our children are at, they can improve. MAP gives us real data to use as a starting point for that improvement.