We have all heard a teacher or parent tell a student, “What’s important isn’t the grade you got. What matters is the work you put in to earn that score.” Yet, if you crack open any student’s permanent record file, the only thing you’re likely to find there are grades and test scores.
If we continue to just look at the end points of a student’s academic trajectory, what can that tell us about them as a whole individual? How can we know that a student’s A is because of effort, growth and sound instruction and not just because they weren’t given an appropriate challenge? And how do we show our students that we truly mean, “What matters is the work you put in to earn that score?”
Thankfully, our parents, administrators and teachers can now answer those questions with a new tool that our students throughout the Archdiocese are experiencing: MAP Growth.
MAP Growth is a suite of computer adaptive assessments that our 3rd through 8th graders will take at least twice a year, with an optional winter window available to them as well. Because the tests are computer adaptive, they change the type and difficulty of its questions to meet the needs of each individual student taking it. Because the tests are taken at different points throughout the year, it gives us invaluable information that we could not get from only an end-of-year test.
The Growth assessments don’t just measure the endpoints of a student’s academic trajectory. Rather, Growth draws the lines between those points and sheds light on the pathways extending outward from where each student currently stands. It details what learning has occurred since the last assessment and what topics each student is ready to face.
At its core, though, Growth measures the growth that each child, regardless of ability level, has achieved, not compared to his or her classmates, not compared to grade-level expectations, but compared to him or herself. It challenges students to design their own self-improvement plan, set their own goals, and invest in their own learning. It changes the conversation from “Where did you end up?” to “How will you get to where you want to go?” It lets them build a path for themselves.
No one reading this article will be in the same place 10 years from now: some of us will graduate; others may become spouses or parents or grandparents. Some may find new jobs, move cities, get promoted, or retire.
This week, we celebrate the opportunities that Catholic schools offer. But this is also the time of year where our students, educators and administrators reflect on what more we can do for our Catholic schools.
For our children, we know that they can do anything they push themselves to do and that limitless possibilities exist for them as long as they work towards their goals. We want them to know that, too. So why not finally hand them a tool to carve steps towards their own futures?
Theodore Scheps is Curriculum Coordinator for the Office of Catholic Schools.