On July 19, NWEA released new capabilities to help students try their best on MAP® assessments and reveal when they don’t. When students disengage from assessments, they often exhibit rapid-guessing behavior—answering in a shorter than average time, too briefly to have read the question and respond thoughtfully. This usually indicates a lack of effort, not a lack of knowledge.
Now MAP® Growth™ tests will auto-pause when students begin to rapid guess so a proctor can check in and help a student reengage. To learn more about this feature, I had a chat with Chief Re-Engagement Officer and NWEA VIP (Very Important Pauser), Slow Down Sloth. This interview was edited for content and clarity.
Thank you for taking time out of your day to chat.
Of course. Don’t mention it. Things are pretty slow today… That’s a little sloth humor.
Gotcha. You started your career with NWEA in July, right?
Correct, I joined the NWEA family on July 19 as part of the rollout of some great new capabilities in MAP Growth.
You have a very important job at NWEA. Can you tell me a bit about what you do?
As part of MAP Growth, I’m here to help all students show their teachers what they know and what they’re ready to learn next. Before students begin the MAP Growth assessment, we remind them to take their time and do their best. But sometimes slowing down and staying engaged is easier said than done.
How do you help students reengage with the assessment?
When I see rapid-guessing behavior, I pause the assessment and remind the student, through text on their screen, that there’s no need to rush. At the same time, the proctor receives a notification on their console that the student is answering too quickly. The proctor can then intervene to reengage the student, ask why they’re rushing, and encourage them to think of the best answer. Only the proctor can resume the test and allow the student to continue on to the next question.
If the student is unable to do their best in that moment, the proctor can make the decision to suspend the test so they can continue or restart later.
So you and the proctor can help students while the assessment is in progress?
Yes. The innovative capability in MAP Growth allows me to identify when students are rapid guessing, so I can stop them in the moment and the proctor can determine what might be happening.
What happens if a student continues rapid guessing after you auto-pause the test?
Depending on the assessment, I can auto-pause two or three times during the test session. The final auto-pause only occurs if a student has rapid guessed on 30 percent or more of the assessment. The proctor may resume the test and the student will receive a score, but NWEA recommends that students who reach this excessive rapid-guessing threshold be retested.
Is auto-pause unique to NWEA? Do other organizations or companies use your services?
Yes, auto-pause is unique to NWEA. Some assessment systems can tell the proctor if a student disengaged or rapid guessed, but none of them pause the test to ensure a proctor has time to intervene. We want to make sure MAP Growth provides the most accurate scores that reflect students’ understanding. Since educators use data from assessments to narrow achievement gaps and make critical decisions, reliable, valid data is paramount.
Has NWEA done any research in this area?
Yes! In “The impact of proctor notification when students disengage,” researchers explain how they looked at data from over a quarter million MAP Growth test events and found that notification increased engagement, performance, and even the validity of results. That’s why auto-pause is such an important feature for educators and students! I don’t want to toot my own horn, but toot toot.
Where can educators learn more about the work you do to keep students engaged?
I’m ready and waiting for fall testing, so everyone involved in administering MAP Growth should make sure they understand who I am and what I do.
Educators can also save a spot for the “What’s new in MAP Suite?” webinar on August 28 at 10 a.m. PT. They’ll hear all about student test engagement, new reporting, and more.