What did I learn from my experience at the South Carolina Regional NWEA Conference? First, MAP test data does give good data on how well students are doing in school. Second, MAP test data shows teachers and administrators what students need to work on to achieve more in school. While MAP test data is good for individual students, it could have a potential of overwhelming teachers. Individual student growth plans are a good idea but putting those plans into practice could overwhelm the one tool in the classroom which will not be added, a classroom teacher.
So how do decision makers help out teachers? One way many schools have taken is RIT Band Classes. This means grouping students into classes based on RIT score levels. Teachers will be working with children of similar abilities and deficiencies. This would help tailor lesson plans to promote academic growth. Another means would have prepackaged lesson plans and activities prepared for teachers to use with students of different RIT Ranges.
Technology can help teachers work with kids of different RIT Ranges. Services such as Compass Learning provide lessons and activities on computers. The problem with this solution is the lack of technology infrastructure. More computers are needed in individual classrooms so some students can work on individual lessons while teachers can work with smaller groups or individual students. One educational tool with great potential is the use of gaming. Gaming allows students to learn at his or her own pace. Students must learn or master a skill to accomplish a task before moving on to the next task. If you don't believe it, just watch kids play games on Play Station or X-Box. Another benefit to gaming is how students will collaborate to solve problems or share information to help each other achieve the next level. Again this would be a great benefit to teachers who could use help in working with students. Also, this teaches students to become life-long learners, a skill that will be needed in the workplace of today.
Unless computers can get into classrooms, this opportunity to increase student achievement will be lost and the task will become harder.