Late last year we blogged about our partner, El Dorado Middle School in Kansas, and their pilot of MAP® Skills™ (formerly known as Skills Navigator®) to differentiate instruction for their middle school students. We are excited that they will be presenting at this year’s FUSION Conference in Indianapolis next week, and we sat down with the principal and three eighth grade teachers to discuss how the program is going, what they learned, and what they plan to share with other schools at the conference. Here are some take-aways from that discussion.
We first asked about how the students responded to MAP Skills. The El Dorado educators felt that with MAP Skills, the students were really engaged. They could better monitor their own learning, giving them a chance to see where they have been, where they are, and what they learned. In fact, when their students saw the results of their Skills Locator test, they were sometimes shocked at where they were – with many kids estimating that they were farther along in their mastery of certain skills than they really were. As Linette Liby, 8th grade math and language arts teacher, says:
I think one of the best things about MAP Skills is the instant feedback. MAP Skills made a difference this year because students and teachers could see where the students were, what they had learned and where they are trying to go. And I think the kids want to know.
After the eighth-grade teachers piloted MAP Skills last year, they worked as a team to get the sixth and seventh grade teachers on board and trained. It started with a small group of teachers championing it and helping bring along the others – which they recommend to other schools.
Kirstie Towner, 8th grade language arts teacher, explains another MAP Skills benefit for teachers:
Here’s what we loved about it – there is no wondering what to teach because you know the skills gaps for each student. It makes intervention time much easier and more productive.
While MAP Skills has made helping those El Dorado students who need remediation easier, the program also has helped differentiate instruction for gifted students. It identified deficit areas for all students – not just those at the top or the bottom – so it works for all learners.
With MAP Skills now firmly in place at El Dorado Middle School, the results are coming in. Some kids have seen three to four years in skill growth already, and more than 70 percent of all students showed improvement from fall to winter test scores – with 55 percent of those students increasing more than 5 RIT points.
For more information and details on how El Dorado educators successfully implemented MAP Skills and now see their students realizing the benefits, be sure to attend their session at the FUSION Conference in Indianapolis. Hope to see you there!