I love trees. From wind-blown evergreens to white-barked birch; from towering date palms to sprawling old oaks; Each tree elicits memories of years gone by. 

Some of my earliest memories with my father were planting pine trees. Together we (myself, my dad, and my 4 siblings) would walk the fields, picking up rocks, preparing the soil for the tiny seedlings. Dad would carefully mark off rows, allowing space for each future tree to thrive. Then he would move steadily down each row, creating a small hole with a trowel into which we would carefully place a little plant and water. We carefully pushed back the dirt back in, making sure there were no air pockets left that would dry out the roots. One at a time, over and over, we planted more than 5,000 trees. 

Over the years, the care continued with pruning back branches, moving crowded trees, watering in days of drought, and adding the right fertilizer at the right time.  There were times when pruning was done by cutting down a crowded tree to make room for others to grow. (Those often became a beautiful Christmas tree in our house!). But more than anything, there was waiting…. lots of waiting. Growth takes time. Those little saplings now tower over 40 feet tall. Tall, stately, strong.

The same is true when working with children. Growth takes careful planning and preparation of the soil. Growth takes constant care. Growth takes time.

At Charleston Bilingual Academy, we desire to see every child grow and learn. And we give careful consideration as to how we can see each ‘sapling’ thrive. But how do we know what they need to continue to grow? We use a variety of assessments. 

The main way that we monitor student growth is by careful daily attention. Through guided and independent practice we are able to see and understand where each child is and what they need next. This we call formative assessment. It ‘informs’ our planning and teaching.

We also use summative assessments such as running records of reading, spelling tests, vocabulary tests, math tests, and project-based learning assessments. We gather data according to our benchmarks and Common Core Standards and share this with parents two times per year on our report cards. Parents also have access to Reading A-Z where they can see more data on their child’s reading level. (Here is a chart that explains the expected level your child should achieve according to their age). All of these assessments help us guard and guide their growth – preparing the soil, adding water or fertilizer, and pruning our instruction where necessary.

An additional assessment we use is called the MAP test. MAP Growth tests are given three times per year. MAP Growth tests are unique in that they adapt to the child’s responses to measure that individual child’s skill level. If the child answers a question correctly, the next question is more challenging. If they answer incorrectly, the next one is easier. After January testing and after the end-of-year testing, parents receive a Family Report showing a summary of how their child is performing academically over time.

Each school year, CBA students in grades 1 – 5 take the MAP Growth Test in English reading, Spanish reading, and Spanish mathematics in August/September, January, and May. Kindergarten also takes MAP in May. For this school year, the estimated dates are August 16 – 18, January 10 – 14, and May 16 – 20.

A few details about MAP®: 

  • This assessment is used by schools throughout the world.
  • Students will take the test online at school.  
  • Each test session is about 45 minutes on average.
  • Each student will test over three days.
  • MAP Growth scores help teachers check student performance by measuring achievement and growth. This helps them identify what happened academically since the last test. 
  • Measures of student growth are compared to historic statistics (not current statistics) and allow parents to see how their child’s performance and growth compare to children’s growth nationally on average over many years.
  • From kindergarten through 2nd grade, students are allowed to listen to text/passages being read during the tests. Starting in 3rd grade, students no longer have the audio component of the test and are required to read all text/passages themselves. This will be important to consider when reviewing your student’s data from 2nd  to 3rd grade.

Since MAP Growth tests provide immediate and accurate information about the child’s learning, it’s easy for teachers to identify students with similar scores that are generally ready for instruction in similar skills and topics, and then plan instruction accordingly. MAP Growth reports also provide typical growth data for students who are in the same grade, subject and have the same starting performance level. These results will provide a more complete picture of what the child knows and is ready to learn—whether it is on, above, or below their grade level. 

Oh, to see each student become a towering tree – thriving wherever God plants them. Oh to see them as described in Psalms 1, “He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither.” 

We are truly excited to focus on your child’s individual growth and achievement, watching and watering together through time.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns about your child’s report card, MAP score, or progress at any time during the year, please do not hesitate to reach out to his or her teachers to discuss.

For more information about MAP Growth, visit NWEA.org/familytoolkit.  Here is an FAQ page that handles frequent parent questions.

-Marilyn Lane
CBA Elementary/Middle School Principal