MAP Growth assessment data can help teachers determine where students are at in their learning. It can answer an all-important question like, “Is my student performing below, at, or above grade level?” It can also determine where they are in their learning in terms of percentiles or overall achievement compared to students across the country.
Recently, we received a question in our user community, NWEA Connection, that we thought was particularly interesting and perhaps helpful to others. That was, “How does the MAP Growth assessment show growth for students already at 99 percent?” Explaining this to parents of high-achieving and/or academically gifted students can be challenging. One may assume they can’t grow because they are already at the 99th percentile or it might appear that there is little or no growth when they are already scoring so high.
Here’s what I said in answer to the question:
Here are six things to consider as we enter the high-achieving student growth conversation with parents. Put another way, this is what students, parents, and teachers should understand and be ready to act upon prior to the growth conversation.
- An awareness that other students like them are making learning growth.
- The growth projection is reasonable because the growth is based on students like them, or students who started with high RIT/achievement made that growth.
- When students meet their growth projection, they maintain their achievement status.
- Sometimes, small increments of growth (a growth projection of 2 points) are good growth.
- Students don’t have to alwaysmeet growth projections to grow over time.
- What they are ready to learn next can be found on multiple reports for teachers.
The next question should be, “Have students been brought into the conversation about growth?” When a student is finding the current content easy and they are getting “everything” right, if we don’t engage them, we may implicitly be sending a message to the students that they are “fine” because they find current content and learning easy.
It is important, in my work as a professional learning consultant, to ask teachers to reflect on how often they provide learning experiences that are aligned with students’ “high achievement.” (Are we designing learning for their readiness?) This does not mean that we must add a program or immediately develop a personalized learning plan. One way to think about this is through the lens of formative instructional practice. Once a student shows they are secure on current content, do we look carefully at the depth of knowledge opportunities on grade level prior to shifting to new content? Providing these opportunities at the right time, in the right measure, gives the high-performing student some of the challenge to learn that many of their peers’ experience. This is essential to their future learning because, at some point, they will be challenged by a concept or skill.
Once the learning team, student, parent, and teacher understand that they can grow both on, and potentially beyond, grade level, and that together they can identify some specific concepts and skills to work on both in class and through other modalities, the conversation becomes relatively easy and actionable. We have seen in different “high achieving” demographics that students who are provided the opportunity to have a goal-setting conversation—with specific learning outcomes connected to their readiness—regularly get growth results that maintain their achievement level over time.
When students are blessed with academic gifts, and or an intrinsic desire to work hard and learn, we should attend to the assessments we are using at each grade level and the resources we use to help them continue to make growth. School districts and philosophies may differ, but offering high-performing students the support and instruction they need to grow takes commitment from the entire learning community.
For more on this topic, check out the full discussion on our community.