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Update: NWEA MAP Growth Science Assessment

By March 12, 2024March 13th, 2024No Comments

Acera is a school deeply rooted in innovation, and with innovation comes piloting new ideas, processes, and tools. In the 2023-24 school year we have set an intentional focus on deepening our science practices at Acera, a hallmark of what our school was built around. This focus comes from internal reflections and feedback from our community and our desire to constantly improve so our students can be the best version of themselves.

This year we are running two assessment pilots: the NWEA MAP Growth Science assessment in March and Advanced Placement (AP®) exams in Physics and English Language and Composition in May. As with all pilots, we don’t know what the outcomes will be. Regardless of the outcomes, though, we expect the data to be informative and help us actively shape the next decisions we make.

The NWEA MAP Growth Science assessment was conducted in Ms. Emily’s and Ms. Renee’s core classrooms on March 7, 2024. The intent was to run the pilot in one lower school and one upper school class. We structured the assessment to be light and low-stress and made sure to clarify for students that the pilot was more for us to see if the MAP Growth Science assessment would be a fit for Acera than to assess students’ individual or group progress within the MAP system. The MAP assessment is strictly aligned to the grade sequencing of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), and at Acera we use the NGSS as a guide and inspiration, not as an aligned, sequential map. We wondered if administering the MAP Growth Science assessment would be beneficial to our school in the way the MAP Growth Math and Reading assessments are, and we wanted to know with data and evidence.

George Payayannis, Ed.M, is Director of Upper School at Acera.

Our review team, which consisted of George Papayannis, Emily Stefanich, Renee Scherer, and Sarah Slubowski, made observations on the assessment while it was occurring, followed by capturing reflections and debriefing together. Ms. Emily and Ms. Renee also debriefed the assessment with their students and got useful feedback, and discussed individual results of the assessment at the March 12 conferences with families whose child participated. 

We concluded that the static nature of the NWEA MAP Growth Science assessment does not fit with how we teach students to engage in and understand science, and does not provide actionable data to inform our teaching or offerings, so we do not plan to use it in the future.

Thank you for being a part of our innovative school community and working with us to test new ideas, processes, and tools! We’re excited to continue on this journey of discovery with you. If you have any questions or want to talk further about this, please feel free to reach out to George (, Emily (, or Renee (