Somerdale Park School District in New Jersey wanted to strengthen their teachers’ capacity to track student growth and progress. To do this, Superintendent Dennis Vespe knew they had to enhance their ability to precisely assess and accurately drive instruction. Vespe also knew that one key component in bringing on board new tools and assessments to accomplish these tasks is teacher engagement. Vespe found that by giving teachers ownership of this initiative, he quickly earned teacher buy-in.
Armed with this buy-in, teachers piloted six different assessments to find the best and most reliable measure of student growth and data that would help inform instructional decisions. They chose MAP® Growth™. As teacher Mandy Seligman states:
We wanted a valid way to track progress. MAP Growth data plays a key role in levelling students appropriately, so the data really drives our instruction. For me, MAP Growth data has been a huge help in identifying kids that need help, as well as kids that are doing extremely well.
Part of delivering improved instructional decisions comes with better understanding and acting on the data that MAP Growth delivers. The ongoing MAP Growth support fits in nicely with their district’s commitment to teacher professional development and professional learning community time. Somerdale teachers get 240 minutes of time each month for teacher collaboration, which has proven crucial for advancing their capabilities with MAP Growth data.
At the end of the day Somerdale teachers realize that student growth is the priority. This goal correlates well with MAP Growth, as teachers and students have intentional conversations about RIT scores at the beginning of the school year and set goals for their projected scores. These conversations also help students take ownership of their own learning.
Student growth is a key metric for the Somerdale district as a whole. Vespe notes that one of the most important ways that the district measures its performance is by using RIT scores to track the number of students who are meeting their goals. These data also give teachers and administrators evidence as to which instructional approaches are working and which ones need to be revised—offering additional opportunities for educators to grow and learn themselves.
As Seligman concludes:
Before MAP Growth, it was difficult to make sure we weren’t letting anyone slip through the cracks. With MAP Growth, it’s so easy to identify the kids that you need to make sure you are reaching. It’s been a huge help.