GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. — Since the pandemic closed schools nationwide last spring, researchers have predicted that students will lose ground academically. Educators worry that hybrid schedules and online learning can’t replace fulltime, in-person instruction, particularly for students who were already struggling.
To help determine the impact of COVID-19 on learning, Guilford County Schools is partnering with the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) to measure students’ academic progress.
The NWEA MAP Growth assessment is administered in thousands of districts across the country and is taken by more than 34 million students. The information gleaned from the assessments will be used to help teachers better target their instruction to meet their students’ needs. Students in grades K-2 will start giving the assessments in-person the week of Dec. 8. Students in grades 3 through 10 will begin testing after the winter break.
The NWEA MAP Growth assessment is a computer-adaptive test, which means if a student answers a question correctly, the next question is more challenging. If they answer incorrectly, the next one is easier, allowing them to perform at their current level. It also means that the NWEA MAP Growth assessment provides real time, personalized data to see if students perform at, above or below grade level. MAP data allows for comparisons at local and national levels as well as understanding of student growth and achievement and predictions of performance on state accountability assessments.
The assessment will be used to inform instruction, personalize learning and monitor the growth of individual students. The assessment also helps everyone involved in the learning process. A student and his/her teacher are able to immediately see which skills the student has mastered and which should be addressed. The assessment also allows parents to understand which skills and topics their students are prepared to learn next. Knowing information about a student’s learning in this uncertain time could be the key to addressing learning loss in future years.
“Since school closure, we have not had a reliable way to measure student skills in reading and math,” said Sharon Contreras, superintendent of Guilford County Schools. “Assessment is a critical part of instruction that will enable teachers to target instruction. It is imperative that we understand where students are to accelerate learning and plan for filling gaps that students may have as a result of school closure.”
This year, because of health protocols, schools will be working directly with students to administer the test in-person. Students who are currently remote are highly encouraged to test in-person, but have the ability to test remotely. Once students complete the MAP Growth assessment, they receive their scores. These scores on the MAP Growth assessment have the same meaning across grade levels and across the country, giving students an accurate assessment of how they compare to others not only in their school or grade level but across North Carolina and the United States.
Students and their families will receive more information from their schools.