It’s been a doozy of a year for the Wilton School District with regard to standardized testing, but now that the district has gotten through its first round of administering the new MAP test–and has received results–we asked assistant superintendent Dr. Chuck Smith to explain what the scores mean.

Given the worry caused earlier in the fall of Wilton’s lower-than-expected SBAC results, many residents were hoping that the MAP test results might indicate the earlier test was more of a fluke.

“There is a correlation between MAP and SBAC, they have done predictive studies. Does this confirm our SBAC results? To a certain extent it does, although the results on the MAP are a bit better than our scores on the SBAC,” Smith says.

However, he doesn’t want parents to rush to judgement and to understand that the MAP results are really just one single data point.

“When we get the second data point, we can start to track growth of individual students and groups of students. We’ll be able to know whether we’re on track for the end of year when the SBAC is given. Right now it’s the beginning of the school year, so you wouldn’t expect the kids to be meeting the SBAC standard yet. But it’s hard to tell right now with just one data point. When we do the winter testing, we’ll be able to track how much growth kids are making from fall to winter, and then we can start looking at what we expect for the spring,” Smith says.

Reiterating that the scores were only a single data point, Smith said that there were some highlights.

“We were very pleased that the distribution is very skewed to the high average-to-high range, particularly in grades kindergarten through second. We haven’t had much standardized testing data on Miller-Driscoll students, but now we have them and in second grade, 86-percent of our kids are falling in the high average-to-high range, which is excellent,” he says.

In fact, this performance of Wilton’s youngest learners was the area that surprised Smith the most.

“We’ve been doing a lot of work at the school with the implementation of the math and reading program, and it’s obviously paying off because the kids are doing very, very well. The challenge for us is to make sure that we maintain those high scores as the kids move to the upper levels.”

“The teachers get fairly detailed information on how the students did on various strands in each of the areas in math and reading. There actually is a tool called the learning continuum. Given the student’s score, teachers can look at what needs to be reinforced, what needs to be introduced, and what can be refined a little bit. They got a lot of rich information on how to take those results and help move the kids forward.”

As it’s still a new measuring mechanism for the school, Smith said that instruction is still ongoing for the staff. “We just finished the training on that with the instructional coaches yesterday, so they’ll be working with the teachers over the next several months and will share that learning with them, to help them look at the data. For instance, cross-referencing the opportunities the kids are presenting with the units of instruction. So they’ll be able to say, ‘We have this group that’s very strong in this area, and this other group has these opportunities for learning, how can I tweak the instruction to address that.’”

The learning curve is steep for parents as well, as emails were just sent home within the last week or two with individual students’ scores. Smith said it’s important to remember that this was just the first administration of the test.

“We have to be cautious of interpreting the results of a single administration of the test. The good thing about this test is that we’re going to be administering it three times a year, every year, and we’ll be able to see growth data for students over time. It’s really that growth data that’s most important. But for right now, we do have information on where the students are right now, and it’s an opportunity to have conversations, as teachers and administrators, about what do we see with this particular child, what are some opportunities we have for refining their instructional program, and it gives parents the opportunity to share their aspirations and concerns with teachers and administrators. It’s an opportunity to have conversations. And in the future, when you have more data, you’ll be able to see more reliable trends on how students are doing and how they’re growing.”

While the results showed such a high percentage of students falling at the higher end of the learning spectrum, Smith said there is a small percentage of students who fall in the low average-to-low range. “We need to make sure that those students are receiving interventions from specialists. I’m hoping that most of these kids are already getting interventions but if they’re not we’ll be contacting parents that they’re okay with us providing those extra supports to students.”

The efforts for those students go hand-in-hand with the recommendations being made by DMC, the consultant working with the Wilton on strengthening the district’s special education practices.

“This is solving multiple purposes, as DMC is recommending that anybody who falls below a certain score be automatically placed in intervention. We’re in the process of doing that now.”

However, Smith says that he was surprised by how few students fell in that lower range. “I was expecting more students to be falling in the low average-to-low range. At certain grade levels [the numbers of students] are higher–like at 6th and 7th grade–but otherwise I was pleasantly surprised that there weren’t more.”

MAP TEST READING District RIT Summary fall map tests- Fall2015 MathematicsandReading
MAP TEST MATH District RIT Summary fall map tests- Fall2015 MathematicsandReading