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NWEA Testing Helps Educators Improve Learning

NWEA Testing Helps Educators Improve Learning
Posted on 08/27/2019
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HSSD families have seen information from teachers and/or school leadership at each of our campuses regarding NWEA (Northwest Evaluation Association) Testing, which is taking place in K-10th grade classrooms through September 13. NWEA tests are different from the ACT Aspire Interim Tests, ACT Aspire Tests, and ACT tests that are offered later in the winter and spring. Data derived through NWEA MAP Tests provide actionable items for teachers to create curriculum and classroom offerings that improve learning in every classroom. MAP test data is not used to compare schools at the state level, but directly used by teachers, administrators, and HSSD leadership to offer the very best education possible to our world class students.


What is NWEA? NWEA is a non-profit organization that has worked with schools across the U.S. and the world for over 40 years. It is one of three testing platforms approved by the Arkansas Department of Education (ADE) as the state required test for monitoring the progress of K-2nd grade students, and the choice of the HSSD.  HSSD also utilizes NWEA for monitoring the progress of 3rd-10th grade students.


What are MAP tests? MAP stands for Measures of Academic Progress. MAP is an online assessment that is aligned to the academic standards approved through the ADE and developed by the school district. MAP assessments are actually what your students are taking in class to help communicate to educators where their skill levels are.


MAP tests through NWEA are offered in Reading, Language Usage, Science, and Mathematics. When taking a MAP test, the difficulty of each question is based on how well a student answers all the previous questions. As the student answers correctly, the questions become more difficult. If the student answers incorrectly, the questions become easier. The final score is an estimate of the student’s achievement level. 


What do HSSD educators and administrators do with the results from MAP tests? Short Answer: The HSSD uses MAP test data to offer a world class education to each of our students using curriculum and standards tailored as specifically as possible to the needs of our students and student groups. 


Results from MAP tests are typically available immediately to teachers and administrators. The results from MAP tests allow our teachers to develop curriculum that follows state standards, but to also develop day-to-day lessons and experiences tailored to the specific needs of each of our students. Data shows teachers exactly what a student knows about each skill or standard. If a student needs to improve on a standard, the data helps to determine what skills are needed to reach proficiency. If data shows that a student has mastered a standard, it suggests skills to help them to keep growing and improving. MAP data allows our teachers to monitor student growth at the classroom level, and allows our Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) of teacher groups to differentiate and adjust instruction for groups of students, or entire grades based on the results of the assessment. 


Think of MAP Tests like a Growth Chart ... MAP assessments are used to measure each student’s progress or growth in school. Parents are used to students being measured by a chart on the wall at an annual wellness visit. Think of MAP tests the same way. They show how much a student has grown  academically from one year to the next in mathematics, reading, and language usage. The scale used to measure each child’s progress is called a RIT scale (Rasch unIT), which is an equal-interval scale much like feet and inches on a yardstick. It is used to chart each child’s academic growth from year to year.


How long does it take to complete a test? Although the tests are not timed, it usually takes 7th-10th grade students about one hour to complete each MAP test, and K-6th grade students 20-30 minutes. Teachers receive training from building testing coordinators to make sure that tests are administered accurately and securely. 


How should students prepare for NWEA MAP tests? The MAP tests are not nearly as long or rigorous as the ACT Interim, ACT Aspire, or ACT tests that take place later in the year. Parents should prepare students for a normal school day, with plenty of rest, a hearty breakfast, and as always - lots of love and encouragement. Parents might remind students that MAP tests are simply tools used by teachers to figure out how to best teach the lessons that students need to learn and grow.


Look for communication from your teachers regarding when NWEA tests will take place in specific classrooms throughout the coming weeks. Learn more about NWEA assessments in Arkansas, here


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