How school leaders can compare term data from different assessments to see the big picture 

Imagine it’s a week after testing windows have closed and you are anxious to review your MAP® Growth™ and MAP® Reading Fluency™ data.

With all the buzz about the science of reading, teachers in your elementary school have been working hard and intentionally on developing the youngest readers’ foundational and language comprehension skills. Language arts blocks now include systematic and explicit reading instruction, and there is an effort to support all students in reading grade-level text.

As the school principal, you’re wondering if students are growing in reading achievement and how you can support their needs as developing readers. After a four-year trend of declining or unchanged reading scores for first graders, this year, your focus has been on grade 1. You have intensified teacher support through professional development and made some changes in your early literacy curriculum.

After blocking time on your calendar, you have set aside an hour to get a first glimpse of test scores. There are many MAP Growth and MAP Reading Fluency reports that provide different kinds of data. Where should you begin? You pour yourself a cup of coffee and roll up your sleeves, hoping that this year’s data will reflect some growth for your little scholars in first grade.

Start with two MAP Growth reports

Let’s begin with MAP Growth data. As a school administrator, the Student Growth Summary report and the Term Summary report are good places to start your data review.

Student Growth Summary report

This report provides an overview of reading achievement and growth by grade.

The first thing you’ll want to do is choose the two terms you want to compare. Data for each grade represents a cohort of students and compares the same students’ change in achievement from a previous term to the current term. You can quickly view each grade’s achievement percentile and growth percentile, and the bars in the bar graph (representing observed growth in RIT points) and diamonds (indicating the projected growth) can quickly confirm whether different grades met their projected growth.

Here’s a sample bar graph for our imaginary school.

A sample bar graph shows observed growth and grade-level norms projected growth, as indicated by a RIT score, for grades 1–5.

District Summary report

Now that you have perspective on student achievement and growth from the Student Growth Summary report, let’s see how it compares to historical data by looking at the District Summary report.

Although its name includes the word “district,” this report can be generated for an individual school. If you want to home in on trends in a particular grade of concern, this report allows you to easily view RIT scores across all the terms previously tested. Ask yourself, is the positive or negative growth shown in the Student Growth Summary report a trend? What does achievement look like for each grade historically?

Then look at two MAP Reading Fluency reports

You’ll want to look at the MAP Reading Fluency Term Summary report and Term Comparison report.

Term Summary report

As a school administrator, the Term Summary report is a good place to get a temperature check of reading development at each grade. Here, pie graphs display how many students in our imaginary school tested in oral reading versus foundational skills and if those students still securing foundational skills are meeting expectations.

Sample pie charts show how students are doing with foundational skills, oral reading, decoding, and language comprehension. They also show how many students were flagged by the dyslexia screener.

Term Comparison report

The next step is to compare student performance outcomes across the same two terms you compared in the MAP Growth Student Growth Summary report. You will want to see the proportion of students who are meeting or exceeding grade-level expectations as compared to a previous term for the same skills.

The emerging first-grade data story

Before we can tell an insightful story of student achievement and growth, we have to examine each data source individually. Here’s what MAP Growth and MAP Reading Fluency are telling educators at our imaginary school:

  • MAP Growth: Good news! There is growth in first grade reading achievement this year. What is even more exciting is that the growth percentile has also greatly improved. This will speak loudly to the kindergarten and first-grade teachers who have been putting so much effort into thoughtful instruction and differentiation. And most important to you, an administrator, is that this breaks the trend of almost four years of stagnant or declining achievement.
  • MAP Reading Fluency: More good news! The Term Summary report mirrors the growth shown in the MAP Growth reports. Almost half of first-graders have shifted into oral reading and well over half are meeting grade-level expectations for foundational skills across the three domains (phonological awareness, phonics/word recognition, and language comprehension). You should be smiling ear to ear because the Term Comparison report highlights increases in the number of students meeting expectations in almost all skill areas. In fact, student performance outcomes remain unchanged only in picture vocabulary. You plan to look to your teachers for insight and possibly secure resources supporting best practices in vocabulary instruction.

Here are some more important insights from both MAP Growth and MAP Reading Fluency report data for your first-graders:

  • The improvement in reading achievement percentiles and, more importantly, reading growth percentiles, as seen in MAP Growth’s Student Growth Summary report is validated by the growth shown across the same two terms in MAP Reading Fluency’s Term Comparison report.
  • More first-grade students were tested in oral reading this year than one year ago. There is improvement in the oral reading rate, an indicator of increased comprehension.
  • More students are meeting expectations for phonological awareness skills. You know the importance of strong phonological awareness skill development during the critical years of kindergarten and first grade is well established by research. Because meeting grade-level expectations, especially in phonemic awareness (e.g., phoneme segmentation), is a good predictor of skilled and fluent reading ability, you are hopeful for what second- and third-grade scores may be in the next several years.
  • Phonics scores show an increase in students who are at or above grade-level expectations from last year. This sheds some light on how the shift to more systematic and explicit instruction is starting to gain some traction in overall student growth in reading.

How does the data story end?

It is easy to get caught up in the smallest pieces of assessment data, such as percentile points or number of skills showing growth. Teachers will be the ones to harvest those grains of data details, incorporating gleaned insights into instructional decisions. For administrators, the larger indicators and trends are what will be of most value for supporting student growth in broader ways, such as curricular choices, professional learning for teachers, and obtaining necessary supplemental instructional materials or tools.

The tale this data tells us is that students are growing their reading skills overall, as reflected in MAP Growth data. We usually think of this as a reflection of reading comprehension, but this story has more depth. It also tells us that the requisite skills for reading—those tested in MAP Reading Fluency—are flourishing. For these first-graders, we can infer that continuing to strengthen the very specific skills assessed in MAP Reading Fluency will eventually lend even more meaning to the story as students cross into the land of skilled reading.

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