“Who wants to go to a conference on MAP training?” This was the title of the email that landed in my inbox. The message that would set off a series of events, taking me from a novice MAP user, to a MAP Coordinator, and eventually to the role I reside in today as an enlightened MAP Professional Development facilitator.
Like most educators who are new to international schools, I hit the ground running. International schools are institutions of constant change due to the transient nature of their staff and students. There are always more new initiatives that one can keep track of – with what seem like more pots in need of cooking than there are burners for. Amid this commotion, it is easy to see how initiatives don’t always get a proper launch, and from my experience, the way some international schools go about creating a solid foundation for MAP Growth is a perfect example.
“MAP Growth is something ‘we do’ three times a year for accreditation” is what I was told. As to how we used data, it was a brief check-in on how our students were doing compared to the US norms. MAP Growth came and went three times a year, having little impact on teaching. I am sure that the administrators who brought MAP Growth to our school had grander visions of how it would be utilized, but unfortunately, those folks were all gone with no records left to guide the path forward.
In what was a weakly-disguised plot to get a free trip home to Portland, Oregon, I volunteered to attend a Fusion conference at NWEA. From beginning to end, the sessions were outstanding. What impressed me the most was the fact that NWEA was a not-for-profit organization with a mission “to help all kids learn” – which resonated with every NWEA employee I met. This experience illuminated for me how completely narrow my understanding of MAP Growth was. It was as if my school had bought a fancy table saw capable of performing skilled carpentry – but we were using it for building a simple birdhouse that required only a few nails and a hammer.
MAP Growth could provide a multitude of data – both to inform instructional practices and offer growth insights at the individual, class, and school levels. How could we have not have known its potential? Perhaps, like the table saw, you either must take the time to read the manual or see it in action. I left the Fusion conference motivated to return to school and share how this “power tool” worked.
In international schools, educators wear many hats – sometimes ones that you don’t think even fit. Upon returning in the fall, I was notified that I was the new MAP Coordinator for the school. The thinking was that since I had attended one conference, that made me the most qualified person on staff to lead our MAP Growth testing. As a first action, I knew I would need help, so I assembled a MAP team made up of various staff members who were willing to lend a hand. We determined that we needed a MAP “reboot.”
Because of little administrative guidance on how to get the most from MAP Growth, misconceptions had been allowed to breed among each of our stakeholders (teachers, students, and parents). The biggest one was that “MAP must not be very important as no one is talking about it.”
For each of these groups, we needed to answer the following questions before any forward motion could be made:
- What is MAP’s purpose?
- Why do we need it?
- How will the data be used to improve student learning?
Our reboot began with a communications campaign that showed students why they should care, informed parents what MAP Growth meant to our school, and most importantly, modeled to staff that MAP Growth is more than something we “just do.” We found places to embed MAP Growth data into the fabric of our decision-making processes for various school programs. For example, we started using MAP Growth data to determine which students should be placed in accelerated classes, when students were ready to exit ESL programs, whom should be considered for learning support, and which classes were most in need of additional support staffing.
When stakeholders were able to see how MAP Growth was utilized, it gave them a reason to care that had been missing. Once embedded into our processes, the possibilities for how to use MAP Growth data became more organic with usages sprouting up all over. Teachers started using Class Breakdown Reports to determine how they would make reading groups, while some were more ambitious by using Grade Reports to create instructional math grouping shared amongst multiple grade levels.
My transition to consultant role did not come all at once. First, I was asked to work with other internationals schools in my region, while still actively teaching. It was through these experiences that I realized that transient teaching and student populations had resulted in other international schools struggling to get the most out of their MAP Growth experience, as well.
And I doubt the highly transient nature of schools is limited just to international schools. If you think your school needs a MAP “reboot” and would like help, NWEA is here for you. Your outstanding account managers are more than happy to get you started. They can recommend workshops, online courses, or point you to some helpful resources available on our user community. Or, you can do what I did (almost by accident!) and consider attending the NWEA Fusion conference. Stay tuned to the blog to hear how my conversion from MAP novice to MAP facilitator will come full circle when I present a session at Fusion this June!