Nay Ah Shing School met their academic goals for 2016–2017, and they’re aiming even higher for next year.
According to Academic Coach Roger Nieboer, test results show that the school made significant progress over the last year. In math, the percentage of students reaching their growth goal rose from 45.9 in 2015–16 to 50.5 this past year. In reading, the increase was from 50 to 57.6 percent.
Next year’s goal is for 52 percent of students to meet their growth projection in math and 60 percent in reading. “We want to improve every year, but we also want our goals to be attain- able,” Roger said.
The Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) requires that Nay Ah Shing assess student achievement three times per year using Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) MAP testing.
NWEA is a private, non-profit organization started by a group of teachers in Seattle who were not happy with standardized tests because they weren’t delivering results they could use.
What Roger likes about NWEA tests is that they focus on each student’s growth and give teachers concrete data to cater curriculum to their students’ needs. “It’s a lot of testing, but the good thing is we can use the results,” Roger said. “Teachers have been trained to use the data to provide individualized instruction.”
Growth projections are based on MAP data gathered from millions of kids who take the test, giving teachers a clear picture of where students are, where they should be and how to get there.
Principal Noah Johnson also prefers the NWEA tests to the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment (MCA) tests required by No Child Left Behind (NCLB), which focus on proficiency — all students meeting a grade-level standard — rather than growth.
“The MAP tests are a true means of finding out where kids are at,” Noah said. “We can also use the NWEA with our Odysseyware program to match curriculum to students’ needs.”
The Every Student Succeeds Act that replaced NCLB represents a shift away from standards toward individual student growth. “I think that’s a fairer way to judge a school and the kids, and it’s actually more helpful and informative for the school and the community,” Roger said.
Noah is pleased with the progress the school is making. “You can look at our kindergarten results and they’re off the charts,” he said. “Eighty percent of our kids are not just meeting but exceeding proficiency. That’s definitely encouraging for anyone looking at enrolling their kids. I’d put those numbers up with anybody’s.”
He said Nay Ah Shing is fortunate to have Roger on staff to help teachers make sense of test data and use the results in the classroom. “Not every school has an academic coach,” Noah said. “We’ve benefitted greatly by having Roger here.”