MORRIS, Minn. - Preliminary data from the first two testing periods of a new assessment tool indicates that Morris Area students are ahead of the national average in math and language arts, but are not growing at the same rate as the national average.
Sarah Suchy, AYP Coordinator and Reading Specialist with Lakes Country Service Cooperative, presented the Morris Area School Board with results from the Northwest Evaluation Association's Measures of Academic Progress, a new assessment implemented this year to help give more immediate and specific feedback about student achievement.
Three times a year, students in grades 1 through 8 are tested in three areas - math, reading and language arts - and scores are compared to a national average score. Suchy's presentation focused on data collected during the first two testing periods, October and January.
MAP measures student scores on the RIT scale. In general, the rate of growth tends to decrease as student age. In younger grades, it's not uncommon to see growth of 10 to 20 points between testing periods, but by 7th and 8th grade, growth of around three points is considered significant, Suchy explained.
In math, all students scored above the national norm group by an average of 5.7 points, but growth was not as large as the national norm. In language arts, all scores were above the national norm by an average of 2.9 points. However, the scores for both 6th and 7th grade students were the same, showing no growth from grade-to-grade.
In reading, scores for students in grades 1 through 6 were above the national norm group by an average of 3.8 points, but students in grades 7 and 8 were below the national norm group by an average of 2.8 points.
Suchy suggested that a lack of motivation may have played a role in the lower scores for 7th and 8th grade students. Additionally, 7th and 8th graders have shown similar trends in their grades, so the lower MAP score was not necessarily a surprise. Long-term, Suchy hypothesized there may need to be conversations between elementary and secondary teachers to look at standards and materials used to teach.
Students are scheduled to begin the third NWEA testing window April 30 and finish around May 18. The district also plans to offer some summer training to help teachers understand how to comprehend this data and discuss tools to help motivate and support the needs of all learners.
Superintendent Scott Monson reminded the board that there are many variables that go into test scores and that all groups of students are different.
"The more years worth of data that we get, I believe, the more accurate picture we'll be able to develop," said Monson.