Notes from New England Public School

Test scores and report cards are designed to identify where a student needs help or is excelling by providing more and better information to teachers and parents so they can enhance instruction to meet individual student needs. Earlier in the week report cards and testing information was sent home to all of our students pre-school through twelfth grade.

By Kelly Koppinger

In this mailing, scores associated with our NWEA/MAP test were included. This test provides clear and meaningful information about the extent to which students are acquiring and mastering the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in school, and to progress toward college and career readiness by the time they graduate. You may have a chart in your home on which you mark your child’s height at certain times, such as on his or her birthday. This is a growth chart. It shows how much he or she has grown from one year to the next. MAP assessments do the same sort of thing, except they measure your child’s growth in mathematics, reading, language usage, and science skills. The scale used to measure your child’s progress is called the RIT scale (Rasch unIT). The RIT scale is an equal-interval scale much like feet and inches on a yardstick. It is used to chart your child’s academic growth from year to year.

These computerized tests are adaptive and offered in Reading, Language Usage, and Mathematics. When taking a MAP test, the difficulty of each question is based on how well a student answers all the previous questions. As the student answers correctly, questions become more difficult. If the student answers incorrectly, the questions become easier. In an optimal test, a student answers approximately half the items correctly and half incorrectly. The final score is an estimate of the student’s achievement level.

We typically test students at the beginning of the school year in fall and at the end of the school year in spring. There are times we may also choose to test students periodically throughout the school year.

As you review these scores, there are ways for parents to help their students in the various areas identified on the NWEA/MAP assessment. Some of the things you can do with language is to; talk to your child and encourage him or her to engage in conversation during family activities. Give a journal or diary as a gift. Help your child write a letter to a friend or family member. Offer assistance with correct grammar usage and content. Have a “word of the week” that is defined every Monday. Encourage your child to use the new word throughout the week. Plan a meal and have your child write the menu. After finishing a chapter in a book or a magazine article, have your child explain his or her favorite event.

If you need to strengthen your child’s reading; provide different opportunities for your child to read books or other materials. Children learn to read best when they have books and other reading materials at home and plenty of chances to read. Read aloud to your child. Research shows that this is the most important activity that parents can do to increase their child’s chance of reading success. Keep reading aloud even when your child can read independently. Make time for the library. Play games like Scrabble, Spill and Spell, Scattergories, and Balderdash together.

Follow your child’s interest. Find fiction and nonfiction books that tie into this interest. There are several web site to generate booklists for students. Work crossword puzzles with your child.

If math is an area of concern; spend time with kids on simple board games, puzzles, and activities that encourage better attitudes and stronger mathematics skills. Even everyday activities such as playing with toys in a sandbox or in a tub at bath time can teach children mathematics concepts such as weight, density, and volume. Check your television listings for shows that can reinforce mathematics skills in a practical and fun way. Encourage children to solve problems. Provide assistance, but let them figure it out themselves. Problem solving is a lifetime skill. The kitchen is filled with tasty opportunities to teach fractional measurements, such as doubling and dividing cookie recipes. Point out ways that people use mathematics every day to pay bills, balance their checkbooks, figure out their net earnings, make change, and how to tip at restaurants. Involve older children in projects that incorporate geometric and algebraic concepts such as planting a garden, building a bookshelf, or figuring how long it will take to drive to your family vacation destination. Children should learn to read and interpret charts and graphs such as those found in daily newspapers. Collecting and analyzing data will help your child draw conclusions and become discriminating readers of numerical information.

I know there is an overwhelming amount of information you received and if you have any questions regarding the information, please get in touch with your child’s classroom teacher. Parents can use this information to understand their child’s needs and strengths and work with their schools to identify resources to support their child’s education.

Kelly Koppinger is the Superintendant of New England Public Schools.

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