How different assessment data can help early reading teachers move students forward

Imagine this: It’s after school on a cold day in January and you have just finished changing out the seasonal bulletin board in your first-grade classroom. It now showcases snowflakes and snowmen framed by a border filled with colorful mittens and winter hats. This is where you plan on displaying students’ simple sentences about winter in your small Midwest town.

After 15 years of teaching the primary grades, it has felt like the ground has shifted beneath your feet this year more than ever before in your career. With the science of reading on the scene, you have attended many trainings and are trying hard to incorporate what you have learned into daily instruction. Although you have been teaching foundational skills for years, this year you have been very focused on explicit and systematic instruction of these critical skills.

You haven’t had a chance to review your students’ MAP® Growth™ scores since they took the assessment last week. Today they finished the Adaptive Oral Reading benchmark in MAP® Reading Fluency™. You can’t wait to see your students’ early literacy data after months of carefully planned scaffolded instruction! You click open your MAP Reading Fluency results first. You are curious about how this data will compare to their overall reading achievement scores in MAP Growth.

Begin with MAP Reading Fluency’s Instructional Planning report

It is your district’s protocol that all first-grade students take the MAP Reading Fluency Adaptive Oral Reading benchmark test in the winter. After asking kids to read some sentences, this assessment routes students to either oral passage reading or foundational skills testing.

At a glance, your class’s Benchmark Matrix report indicates that about 75% of your students were routed to foundational skills, as you expected. You are anxious to view the Instructional Planning report’s groupings of students within each zone of proximal development (ZPD) in both the phonological awareness and phonics/word recognition domains. You click the tab to open the report.

First, you review the information on each student’s ZPD for phonological awareness in the chart below.

A sample Instructional Planning report section from MAP Reading Fluency shows a teacher the four levels of phonological awareness and where each student in their class falls.You know that the grade-level expectation for students securing skills within each ZPD, or level, as indicated on the chart, changes each term. For example, a first-grader with a ZPD in phonological awareness that focuses on learning blending and segmenting phonemes (that is, a student at level three) after fall testing would be meetinggrade-level expectations. By winter, a student at this same ZPD would only be approaching grade-level expectations if their level hadn’t changed. Since it’s winter (remember that snow-themed bulletin board you’ve been working on), looking at this report data helps you see that you’ll have to scaffold instruction for all the kids at level two and below.

You work your way through the rest of the Instructional Planning report, which has data on your students’ phonics/word recognition using a similar chart with ZPDs and student groupings by percentiles in language comprehension. You are very surprised to learn that some students are at or below the 25th percentile in language comprehension while being at ZPD levels three or four in phonological awareness or phonics/word recognition.

Now look at the MAP Growth Class Profile report

The MAP Growth Class Profile report contains each student’s MAP Growth reading RIT score, which represents achievement related to standards in vocabulary, foundational skills, literature/informational text, and language/writing—a much wider breadth of skills than those assessed in MAP Reading Fluency. (MAP Reading Fluency dives much deeper into foundational skills and assesses oral reading.)

In the Class Profile report, each student’s achievement percentile is color coded to represent one of the five percentile groups (quintiles). The lowest two quintiles, shown below in orange and red bars, are comprised of students below the 21st achievement percentile (red), and students between the 21st and 40th achievement percentile (orange).

A MAP Growth report bar graph shows a teacher how many of their students fall in each of five percentile groups representing achievement.

How your first graders are developing as readers

Let’s look at the data from each report more closely:

  • MAP Reading Fluency: You can breathe a sigh of relief. It looks like your efforts have paid off in phonological awareness and phonics instruction when you look at the Instructional Planning report. For example, if you zoom in on the phonological awareness skills, you will see that almost all the students you scaffolded in skills like rhymes and syllables and initial sounds since fall testing have moved up to ZPD level three, “Blending and segmenting.” And, even better, most students are at the highest ZPD level, “Manipulating phonemes.” You should be jumping for joy that, due to all your time and effort in planning systematic and explicit instruction (plus all your kids’ hard work and dedication), these students are on track to oral reading in the spring.
  • MAP Growth: You are pleased to see that there are only five students in the lowest two quintile bands (40th percentile or less) in reading achievement. Three of these students started receiving Tier 2 support in the fall. One student transferred to your school in late October, and you have been struggling to catch them up in both math and reading. This confirms that they will need some more intense support. You plan to work with each student to find out more about their areas of strength and opportunity, and you will intensify the extra support you were already providing.

Based on the data from these two reports, you can glean some very positive insights:

  • The students who are in the 40th percentile or lower in reading achievement in MAP Growth are in ZPD levels two and three in phonological awareness and phonics/word recognition in MAP Reading Fluency. This tells you that these students need support across all areas of reading, including strengthening their foundational skills. This will likely support growth in the other instructional areas, such as literary and informational text and vocabulary.
  • Some students in the MAP Growth reading quintile of 41st–60th percentile are already testing in oral reading in MAP Reading Fluency, while some are ready to secure foundational skills, like blending and segmenting or phonemic manipulation (ZPD levels three and four). Even when students start to demonstrate strength in these critical skills, you will continue to reinforce them.
  • There are no real surprises in student achievement when comparing data from these two reports. In other words, students who are testing in oral reading in MAP Reading Fluency are not in the lower quintiles in MAP Growth reading, or vice versa. This tells you that their development of these differing skills is comparable.
  • Based on MAP Reading Fluency data alone, you now know that about a quarter of your students are reading passages orally, which is the spring goal for all first graders. Differentiating instruction will be easier because there are fewer groupings of students across these foundational skill areas now.
  • As the science of reading and Scarborough’s Reading Rope tell us, students will need to secure language comprehension skills to successfully construct meaning while reading. Looking at the data in the Instructional Planning report, you notice there are big discrepancies between some students’ language comprehension scores (i.e., picture vocabulary and listening comprehension) and their phonological awareness and phonics skills development. While some students may be achieving in those domains now, struggling in language comprehension (e.g., vocabulary) will eventually hold them back from the goal of reading comprehension. The next step is to cross-reference these students’ percentile groupings to their reading achievement percentiles in the MAP Growth Class Profile report.

Moving forward with confidence

Because your life as a first-grade teacher is jam packed each day, examining assessment data is something that may sometimes move to the bottom of your to-do list. But, after reviewing the data from both MAP Growth and MAP Reading Fluency on this snowy day in January, you feel more confident and also validated that your efforts in foundational skills instruction are working. Your first-graders are moving forward on their reading journey, and you are inspired to continue to guide them.

It’s time to head home for the day, and already you have ideas for tomorrow about ways to group your students while supporting them one at a time.


Reading differentiation made easy

MAP Reading Fluency now includes Coach, a virtual tutor designed to help students strengthen reading skills in as little as 30 minutes a week.

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