Looking at MAP Growth and MAP Reading Fluency results together: How to triangulate reading assessment data

Learning to read is messy. We don’t simply learn to read by mastering sequential, discrete skills in a neat and tidy way. The complex neurological process of learning to read is quite the opposite of simple!

Assessment data can help you keep your finger on the pulse of emerging and developing readers. MAP® Growth™ and MAP® Reading Fluency™ assessments are different in many ways, but layering (or triangulating) the data they provide can give you unique and valuable insight into student growth and achievement. Where should you start? By interrogating the data. What is it trying to tell you? Remember, assessment data is not a verdict; it is a door to exploration.

How to look at both MAP Growth reading and MAP Reading Fluency data

If both MAP Growth and MAP Reading Fluency measure reading, what’s the difference?

Both tests provide strong early literacy data. MAP Growth has a deeper comprehension probe, however, with many more items that align to numerous standards, while MAP Reading Fluency assesses comprehension in a wholly different way: by assessing literal comprehension after reading orally, one time.

The two tests also provide different frames of reference on a student’s performance. MAP Growth’s national growth and achievement norms provide perspective on how well students are achieving and growing relative to their peers. MAP Reading Fluency can add to this perspective because it has user norms for each of three foundational skills domains (phonological awareness, phonics and word recognition, and language comprehension) as well as data on whether students are meeting benchmark expectations by grade and season. These foundational skills are tested in a very granular way with MAP Reading Fluency, and the reports detail the specific skills that are in each student’s zone of proximal development.

MAP Reading Fluency also assesses oral reading fluency, the prince of the reading realm. The rate, accuracy, and prosody of a student’s oral reading are important data to throw into the mix when trying to determine whether they are constructing meaning while they read; fluency is like the yellow brick road to reading comprehension.

Triangulating MAP Reading Fluency and MAP Growth Reading data provides new insights into student, class, and grade-level reading achievement and growth. Here are some ways to think about this:

A sample triangulation scenario

There are many reports from each assessment you can use to look at your students’ data. Here’s an example of a school using the MAP Reading Fluency Term Summary Report and MAP Growth Student Growth Summary Report to triangulate data.

It is after fall testing, and a district leader, Ashley Jones, is looking over MAP Reading Fluency first-grade data in the Term Summary Report. The Adaptive Oral Reading test form was administered to all first graders in mid-September, as is the district protocol.

Ashley notices that there is a higher proportion of students this fall who are being tested in foundational skills as opposed to oral reading (the skills tested are determined by students’ silent sentence reading score). Next, she notices that of those students who tested in foundational skills, almost 40% are not meeting grade-level expectations for the fall of first grade.

Ashley is surprised and wants to consider steps that could support these students, but first, she wants to check out how this data compares to other available data. She pulls up her district MAP Growth Student Growth Summary for fall but is not sure where to start. Here’s what she could do:

  • Take a look at the MAP Growth Student Growth Summary Report for reading, comparing this fall to last fall, and make note of what percent of students are at or above the national norm, which is the 50th percentile. (Ashley notices that 35% of students did not meet their projected growth.)
  • If schools tested using MAP Growth in kindergarten last year, look at each school’s conditional growth percentile. This number reflects how fast kids are growing compared to like students in the nation. (Ashley sees that first graders in her district are growing at the 20% conditional growth percentile.)
  • Probe deeper into what she knows about foundational skills instruction and triangulate other formative assessment data for that instruction. Have there been any changes in factors such as curriculum, instructional minutes, or support resources? (Ashley recalls a significant teacher turnover rate last year, and they adopted a new early reading curriculum, too.)
  • Look for common threads between the two data sources. (Ashley sees that both sources are suggesting that students are not meeting expectations.)
  • Expand the considerations. Is there any feedback from teachers or building principals about this cohort of students? Has there been any change to the curriculum or other resources? Is there any other formative data to fold into this triangulation? Many times, probing further with questions like these will help you uncover some variables that could be further explored. (Ashley remembers principals saying there was a higher than usual absentee rate last year for kindergarten in one school. She is meeting with building administrators for each of the three schools later this week and will ask them to bring feedback from their classroom teachers and literacy coaches about this cohort of students. She will also ask them to share information about any other formative data they can fold into this triangulation.)
  • Dive deeper into MAP Growth reports, such as the District Summary Report, School Profile Report, or Grade Report, and continue to ask questions about the data they share.
  • Support teacher use of student groupings by zone of proximal development (ZPD) provided in MAP Reading Fluency’s Instructional Planning Report, along with supporting activities, and encourage teachers to teach fluency systematically and explicitly each day.

Reviewing student reading data is an art

There is not one right way to examine student data. And one should not assume that one set of data is the reason for another.

As you work on triangulation, be on the lookout for trends and anomalies. Historical data and outliers are parts of the plot that build your students’ story. Disaggregate the data by looking at trends of different student groups. Looking at previous data helps to provide some context, no matter the data source.

Remember, too, that data truly is a point of inquiry, not a verdict. When something catches your attention, dig deeper with another report and by asking more questions. Encourage your building leaders and teachers to reference their data and think about what surprises them and what confirms what they already know about their students. Not looking carefully at the data after testing is a missed opportunity to support student growth.

Learning to read has many slippery, moving parts. Our primary teachers have a big job teaching kids to read, and it is not easy. Triangulating reading assessment data will shed valuable insight on ways to support all students to meet growth and achievement goals.


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