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The Power of Data in the New Year
District 35 values the growth and development of the whole child. Much of what we value in education, including social-emotional learning, critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, and communication, is measured daily. Through observations and formative assessments, teachers are able to respond to student and classroom needs each day. While a unit test or end of quarter assessment provides summative data, the daily responses and discussions within our classrooms determine much of what our teachers plan for learning.
In a time-lapse film of a flower, the visual effect is created through multiple snapshots put together to show the plant’s trajectory from bud to bloom. Student growth can be measured in a similar way, through a series of snapshots that measure achievement at a given time. Assessments, taken at different points throughout the year, can provide these learning snapshots, and when viewed together, show the pattern of a student’s growth, providing teachers with valuable information. This data helps our teachers identify the areas on which to focus, and plan accordingly.
Interim assessments are given at regular intervals throughout the school year, typically fall, winter and spring. At South School, our teachers use local grade-level assessments to look at growth over time. At West and Central School, our teachers use local assessments, as well as the NWEA MAP Growth Assessment. Click here to view the District 35 Assessment Schedule.
Unlike the paper-and-pencil tests, where all students are asked the same questions, MAP Growth is a computer-adaptive test. Computer-adaptive tests are designed to adjust the level of difficulty—based on the responses provided—to match the knowledge and ability of a test taker. The purpose of MAP Growth is to determine what a student knows and, therefore, what that student is ready to learn next. District 35 uses MAP Growth data to track student growth from fall to spring, annually, and over longer periods of time. MAP Growth data is also used to set appropriate instructional goals for individual students. While we recognize there are polarizing opinions when it comes to testing, in context with all observational and formative information from a child’s classroom experience, we do feel these assessments provide valuable data. Additional information on MAP Growth can be found here.