How MAP Reading Fluency Supports Effective Reading Assessment at My School

How MAP Reading Fluency Supports Effective Reading Assessment at My School - TLG-IMG-03122019

Last week, I blogged here about essential early reading skills and what the research suggests we evaluate in young readers. After working in education for the past 16 years, few experiences top the joy of watching students get excited about reading. Although many educators would echo this sentiment, they would also likely agree that few tasks are more challenging and time-consuming than teaching these young learners how to read.

Utilizing practical evaluation tools becomes a critical factor in developing successful readers. Effective reading assessments will accurately reflect student skills, preserve precious class time, and support teachers in creating individualized instruction that meets the unique needs of each student. Recently, Christian Life School began to evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of our own assessment methods.

Do traditional assessment methods represent effective reading assessment?

When it comes to reading in the early elementary grades, effective reading assessment can be complex and time-consuming. Although several traditional testing methods are popular among elementary teachers, many of them share inefficient and ineffective qualities. Some of the disadvantages listed here can disrupt the flow of reading instruction:

  • Fixed reading selections: Student abilities within early elementary classrooms can vary greatly. Therefore, a fixed level of reading expectation is unrealistic and irrelevant in an assessment. Some students may find a given passage much too complicated and struggle to progress through the evaluation. Others may find it too easy and get bored. Therefore, an effective reading assessment must be dynamic and have the flexibility to adapt to unique student abilities.
  • Time-consuming data collection: Most reading programs recommend that students spend 80-90 minutes each day on literacy instruction in the early elementary grades. It can be challenging to fit phonics, reading, writing, spelling, and English language arts into this time. However, the essential nature of literacy skills makes it worth the investment. Many traditional assessments require one-on-one time with the teacher collecting data by hand. An efficient and effective reading assessment will preserve this precious instructional time.
How MAP Reading Fluency Supports Effective Reading Assessment at My School - table-1

[A sample running record assessment (notice how time-consuming this might be for a reading instructor).]

  • Mixed data sources: Often, more than one assessment is necessary to reveal information on the five essential reading skills mentioned in my earlier post (phonological awareness, decoding ability, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension). These additional tests not only consume more class time, but also generate additional scores to consider. An effective reading assessment should display data so that a complete understanding of achievement easily emerges.

Teachers need a practical way to collect data and construct an accurate analysis of student capabilities. Results should facilitate a profound understanding of unique strengths and weaknesses, so teachers can make data-driven decisions. This wisdom then allows educators to effectively differentiate their reading instruction for the individual needs of each child.

MAP Reading Fluency supports efficient & effective reading assessment at Christian Life School

Although many traditional methods of reading assessment support the analysis of individual skills, a new option has emerged for educators. Providing cutting-edge technology, MAP Reading Fluency consolidates several effective reading assessments into one package.

  • Unveils the latest in speech recognition technology: As part of the NWEA suite of testing, MAP Reading Fluency represents the latest advancements in speech recognition. The program enhances the technology in smartphones and voice-controlled speakers and recognizes the unique speech patterns of 4—8-year-old children. It even accounts for early reading behaviors, like self-corrections and line skipping. The ground-breaking nature of this technology earned MAP Reading Fluency the 2018 CODiE Award for Best Student Assessment Solution.
  • Minimizes time investments: While other assessments require significant time and staffing investments, students complete MAP Reading Fluency in approximately 20 minutes. Plus, an entire classroom of students only requires a single teacher to administer the test.
  • Engages students with a lively interface: To begin, students log in to their MAP Reading Fluency account while wearing noise-canceling headsets with a boom microphone. A brightly colored bookworm keeps the interest of these young learners and gives oral directions throughout the test. Our students thoroughly enjoy interacting with the game-like nature of the program. In fact, the assessment feels less like a test and more like a fun activity that draws out the student’s literacy skills.

Adaptability: Where other assessments fail to support the unique needs of individual students, MAP Reading Fluency accommodates every reader. Test items adjust in real time by changing the reading passages and questions based on the way the student responds. If a student’s success on a given question or passage is too low, or too high, the next item adjusts accordingly. This versatility allows each student to maintain a focus on the optimal instructional level for their individual needs. Personal adaptations support our goal of finding instructional material that challenges our students without producing frustration or negative attitudes towards reading.

How MAP Reading Fluency Supports Effective Reading Assessment at My School - table-2

[Detailed individual student results (notice the increase in passage difficulty as the student demonstrates high levels of success. Check out 5 Things to Know About MAP Reading Fluency for more information.).]

Promoting data-driven instructional decisions

NWEA aligns this effective reading assessment to the volumes of reading research available. When viewing both the question styles and data results, all five essential reading skills are apparent. MAP Reading Fluency also displays data with an attention to detail that enables an in-depth diagnostic review of each student.

Individual student data efficiently compiles and displays on a color-coded grid within minutes of finishing the 20-minute test session. Some of the most notable and valuable results that illuminate individual student performance include:

  • Foundational skills for pre-readers: For a pre-reader, like many Kindergartners, picture-based questions test skills like listening comprehension and vocabulary. As the child progresses, questions require the identification of letters and sounds to assess phonological awareness. The difficulty level rises with continued success. Consequently, test items begin to require the substitution of letters in a given word to create a new word. Further decoding abilities are put on display as students answer questions requiring them to create, spell, and read single syllable words.
  • Fluency: If a student demonstrates the ability to read larger passages of text, they will read aloud into the boom microphone. The program will adjust the difficulty level of these passages according to the reader’s abilities. Results include a recording of the reading session that teachers can access anytime with the ability to override and hand-score an assessment if needed. Teachers also see fluency scores on words correct per minute and decoding accuracy.
  • Comprehension: A comprehension quiz appears at the end of each passage and serves to determine how well the student interprets the reading. The program then considers the totality of test scores to determine an instructional reading level and reports the data as a Lexile score.

To support teachers in identifying student needs, a color-coded chart shows which students are below, approaching, meeting, or exceeding grade-level expectations in all assessment categories. The data is easy to read and produces an efficient picture of who needs additional attention and in which skills. Less time is spent collecting and organizing data, giving teachers the opportunity to form a deep understanding of each student’s instructional needs.

How MAP Reading Fluency Supports Effective Reading Assessment at My School - table-3

[Sample results for a classroom of students in MAP Reading Fluency (notice the color-coding to simplify the display of expansive data. Blue = exceeding grade level expectations, Green = meets expectations, Yellow = approaching, and Red = below.).]

Mapping growth for students, teachers, and parents

Although MAP Reading Fluency offers an effective reading assessment for students, an additional feature puts this program over the top. Not only do the results give detailed descriptions of each reader’s current capabilities, but teachers have access to tips and extensive resources from NWEA and the Florida Center for Reading that are explicitly designed for the individual needs of the student.

Tweet: How MAP Reading Fluency Supports Effective Reading Assessment at My School @CarrieLynWright #edchat #education #teaching #MAPReadingFluency

While viewing any student’s data record, a link offers instructional strategies and activities. These resources align to the strengths and weaknesses of the individual student. Teachers can easily print these valuable practice materials that reinforce the next reading skills necessary to advance. The strategies support teachers in individualizing instruction for the unique needs of every child. Additionally, teachers can use these exercises to partner with parents. Sharing these printable activities gives parents the resources they need to continue supporting their child’s reading education at home.

Finally, the growth opportunities continue as teachers gather together for professional development. The research collected by the National Reading Panel and the U.S. Department of Education highlights the importance of collaboration. In a recent article on the essential characteristics of the best schools, our educators agree that teacher conversations surrounding student data and instructional practices must be a priority. These teacher partnerships support the effective use of MAP Reading Fluency assessment data for the benefit of our students.

MAP Reading Fluency does not replace the countless hours our teachers spend working one-on-one with individual students. Instead, the technology supports individualized instruction. With the time saved, teachers and students can focus on the specific skills that will promote optimal growth for each young reader. As assessment results continue to compile and follow our students year after year, students, teachers, and parents can celebrate the accomplishments of our kids as they grow in literacy skills. With these strategies and the support of MAP Reading Fluency’s effective reading assessment, we will continually improve the landscape of reading instruction at Christian Life School.

To learn more about MAP Reading Fluency, join the NWEA webinar on Thursday, March 14.

Carrie Wright is the Curriculum and Instruction Director at Christian Life School in Kenosha, Wisconsin. She is a guest blogger for a two-part series on effective reading assessment from the perspective of a current educator. This article originally appeared on their blog. For more information on the essential characteristics of the best schools, download a free eBook to help you make well-informed decisions for your student.

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