West Jefferson ‘maps out a plan for students

Jefferson Local School Board members spent almost two hours on Sept. 26 learning about a new assessment process that could help district children become better students.

The software program by Northwest Evaluation Association is synched with Ohio standards and assesses where students are and formulates a path to move them forward in the educational process, whether they are behind, at, or above grade level.

Joan Scofield, director of curriculum and assessment for Jefferson Local, said the NWEA Measure of Academic Progress (MAP) program is a short cycle evaluation of students, which offers student assessments four times a year in language arts and math with an optional science assessment. The program would not replace any other testing instruments, but serve as an additional evaluation tool.

"It would be a benefit to the district because Northwest has levels equating percentages necessary in passing the OGT and OAT achievement tests in Ohio," said Scofield. "It looks at the student and rates their performance on specific items. It brings questions down to the level of the student to evaluate where they are and information generated by the assessments would go into reports created by Battelle for Kids.

"By working with Battelle for Kids, we would get a discount on the NWEA program. We’re also looking at how it could be incorporated into our professional development and we’re going to present it to teachers for their feedback."

According to the NWEA, the four-part MAP program identifies individual skills and concepts learned by students; diagnoses instructional needs; monitors academic growth over time; makes data-driven decisions at the classroom, school, and district level; and places new students into appropriate instructional programs. The assessment adapts to the student’s ability, evaluating what a student knows and needs to learn. Tests measure academic growth over time, independent of grade level or age.

MAP components include state-aligned computerized assessments, classroom resources, analytical tools, and professional development.

"From my perspective, this is about as good an assessment tool as I’ve ever come across," said Superintendent William Mullett. "People have figured out how to get real consistent standards. One of the hardest things for us to do is assessments. You have to know where kids are. Part of it you know because you are teaching them. This assessment zeros in on where they are and what they need to know. It gives you a head start, ideas, and patterns for a theme and points you in the direction of instruction for not only the classroom as a whole, but also for individual kids. Once the test is taken, you get results back in only a couple of days. It is a pretty nice, effective piece of software that has a lot of different options."

Battelle for Kids takes district assessments, such as data gathered by programs like MAP, analyzes the information, and compiles it into a report and Scofield said the MAP software program is just getting established in Ohio.

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