Data from academic growth assessments presented to the Loudoun County School Board on Tuesday shows that students in the district achieved lower than expected growth, although administrators said that Loudoun has maintained its status as a high-performing school division.
Measures of Academic Progress Assessments, or MAPs, are created by the academic nonprofit NWEA and are administered to students in grades 2-8. They’re used as a universal screener, and aim to provide an understanding of students’ mastery of a subject. The scoring reveals students’ growth, and the data gleaned provides a trajectory of a student’s future success. The data presented to the board used condition growth percentile as a metric to demonstrate who students compare to similar students in school districts that also use the NWEA screening program. For example, if a student scores in the 50th percentile, then the student’s growth was greater than 50% of test-takers.
Ashley Ellis, the Assistant Superintendent of Instruction, said that the data shows that COVID-19 and hybrid and distance learning led to a decrease in proficiency, and highlights particularly low growth for English learners and students with IEPs.
Typically, Loudoun students rank in the 50th-60th percentiles in growth relative to students across the country in math and reading, Ryan Tyler, the district’s director of Research, Assessment, and School Improvement told the board.
Data from the 2020-2021 MAP testing shows that no category of test takers scored higher than the 45thpercentile. Data is available for Asian, White, Black, and Hispanic students, as well as English learners and learners with Individualized Education Plans, special education plans created to meet a student’s individual needs.
“We are able to project a student’s path from fourth grade, to see whether they’re on a trajectory to be college-career ready by 11th grade. We have longitudinal data points. We’re able to see, are they staying within that path of a student at the 60th percentile? Are they losing ground with a long-term perspective?” Tyler explained to board members during a meeting in August.
Ellis shared a list of efforts to address learning loss, including flexible educational pathways for students at W.O. Robey High School, adoption of English learner-targeted textbooks, additional teaching assistants in first grade classrooms, and expansion of Math Workshops at all levels.
The district is also employing WestEd, a California-based education analysis nonprofit, to conduct an audit of the testing and curriculum.
“We’re getting students that we need to learn how to serve better,” Tyler said. “I think it’s especially important to remember that when reflecting on student achievement from last year, that our students are so much more than a number or test score, now more than ever. And, many of the lessons we learned last year can’t really be measured on a standardized assessment.”