The start of a school year is a bit of an oddity. After a long break of play and rest, we send children back into school with a new teacher, a new schedule and new expectations. This process can be unsettling. The Alpha difference: Our students love school. Further, they expect change. If we left everything the same as last year, I’d spend the first two weeks attending student led presentations on what needed to be done (which I secretly love).
As I watch launches, workshops and core skills, I see happy people enjoying a terrific program. I see new friendships, new dance moves and lots of smiles. Bluntly, I see love of school and engagement. I think we are off to a good start, but what really matters: what do the kids think?
We use the MAP test as an objective measurement of core academic progress. Tests typically take the same amount of time of time as one Alpha core skill block and it is adaptive like the software Alpha students use. A couple of quick notes:
- MAP score reports come directly from the MAP NWEA system.
- Students can see their scores and some will self-report; however, their accuracy may be off. It is possible that kids don’t exactly remember their numbers.
- We ask students to skip the score discussions and we don’t discuss scores with kids until the actual reports are disseminated.
- The sequence of testing is Reading, Math, Language, Science.
- Treat MAP testing week like any other week. We recommend normal patterns.
Directly following MAP testing, we have parent conferences. Parents receive an invitation to set a conference with guides via e-mail. These meetings are a chance to discuss the start of the year, discuss MAP and give us a sense of the goals parents have for their children.
Each student takes the MAP test 3x per year. A recent internal study showed a strong correlation between time in app and MAP testing. While each MAP test is important, we’re aiming to see progress over the long term.