MAP® Skills™ is an online classroom assessment system that quickly measures student skills in math, reading comprehension, vocabulary, and language usage. MAP Skills is designed to give a “power boost” to your teaching, helping to:
- Identify specific student skill gaps
- Collect evidence of skills mastery
- Support personalized instruction
For schools like CICS West Belden, a charter school in the Distinctive Schools Network, and Millard Public Schools in Omaha, Nebraska, MAP Skills plays an important role in structuring learning paths and creating competency-based progression, which is paramount for truly personalized learning. To make a meaningful impact, a successful implementation of MAP Skills is key. Here’s what the teachers and administrators from these two school districts recommend to other schools planning an implementation:
- Understand the product. Before implementing a unique tool like MAP Skills, it’s important to understand what it is, what it isn’t, and how to use it effectively. In the case of Millard Public Schools, they held an all-district webinar to introduce the product and provide guidance on how to start working with MAP Skills. Teachers also learned how to give the initial Skills Locator test. This gave them real student data to work with before their professional learning workshop.
- Find champions. One project champion can set the vision and cultivate more champions in each building. Consider instructional coaches who can be introduced to the tool first. At CICS West Belden, they started with teachers who were willing to give it a try, had a solid understanding of data, and whose classrooms were technologically ready.
- Start with a pilot.
- Balance flexibility with some parameters. The pilot team can narrow the options in MAP Skills by choosing the subject areas and identifying the specific skill areas or strands. (CICS West Belden leaders started with Math and Number Sense, for example, but they gave teachers flexibility on how to use MAP Skills in their classroom.)
- Manage expectations. Be realistic with expectations from teachers. Ensure that there is operational alignment and the resources needed to succeed – time, talent, and technology.
- Create a process. Millard, for example, created guidelines, but empowered schools and teachers to make their own professional decisions. Every school created a small team of leaders that selected the grade, skill strand, and specific group of students for the pilot. The district also advised schools to start with one subject—math. And they recommended using MAP Skills for two groups: those who were performing below grade level, to identify skill gaps, and those who were performing above grade level, to provide enrichment.
- Connect to Curriculum. To help teachers understand which Skills Locator tests to assign, the team at Millard spent time understanding the skills framework of MAP Skills. Being able to see the specific skills in each grade level and strand has helped teachers understand where to start and how to proceed.
- Look ahead. Once the teachers have data, plan for the curriculum they will need to address the skill gaps. CICS West Belden students, for example, use Khan Academy and IXL to practice their skills.
- Collect feedback. The pilot team should constantly gather feedback from teachers – and work closely in partnership with their NWEA team throughout the implementation.
- Build on success. Grow from your pilot experience, expand the coalition, and drive the initiative forward. CICS West Belden, for instance, started with Math in grades 2-5, and now uses MAP Skills with all students in Math for grades 2-8, for Vocabulary in grades 3-8, and is expanding into Reading Comprehension.
Introducing a new approach to teaching and learning can help create bonds between the students, teachers, staff, and leaders around a common goal – bringing students up to grade level and beyond. And a successful new product implementation is the first step to smooth sailing.