Portrait in Partnership: Achieving Growth with High-Caliber Assessment Data

Portrait in Partnership: Achieving Growth with High-Caliber Assessment DataCongratulations go out to Advanced Learning Academy in Santa Ana, California! This new school of choice achieved a year and a half of growth in their first academic year with the help of high-caliber assessment data using the Measures of Academic Progress® (MAP®) test.

In April of 2015, Dr. Michelle Rodriguez, assistant superintendent for teaching and learning at Santa Ana Unified School District, and her staff were given a very large and important job. In just four months, they had to open a new dependent charter school focused on personalized learning that would act as a model for the entire district—and prove the concept by achieving one and a half years’ worth of student growth in the first school year. After a lot of planning, iterating, and collaboration, the Advanced Learning Academy (ALA) opened its doors to students—as promised—on September 1, 2015. What happened next was a testament to the dedication and hard work of the educators involved, and proof that quality assessment data is an invaluable tool in helping kids grow.

With the help of a small but mighty staff – including principal Kim Garcia, who helped educators understand how to personalize instruction using data from MAP – ALA surpassed everyone’s expectations by achieving their English Language Arts (ELA) growth goal by April 2016, a full two months ahead of schedule. As Dr. Rodriguez says, it would have been hard to know if they were meeting that goal on time — and truly accelerating student growth — without MAP:

“I don’t think we ever thought about not using MAP. We wanted to develop a coherent system where we could see student growth over an extended period of time with a continuous scale score, which MAP provides. It’s very rare anywhere else.”

Since MAP was already an integral measurement tool for Santa Ana schools, Dr. Rodriguez knew that it could also serve as a common language when replicating unique teaching approaches, like competency-based learning and project-based learning, across the district.

Having MAP as a district-wide assessment also meant that many students started the school year at ALA with a RIT score. Principal Kim Garcia says they “depended on that data heavily” for initial placement and flexible grouping. Having this baseline score enabled teachers to start planning their classes and curriculum for the fall semester.

However, 40% of ALA students came from a school outside the district and did not have a RIT score. This shows that the tremendous growth and achievement at ALA has depended not just on great data, but also on the time and energy all the teachers put into knowing their students, identifying individual student needs, and collaborating to create individualized learning plans that support each student.

For more details on how ALA leveraged MAP data to achieve accelerated growth, please download the case study (PDF).