Five Ways to Increase Students’ NWEA Math Scores

I believe every teacher wants to see their students grow. Students’ growth make us feel like our work is not in vain. Their growth validates us as teachers. Enough with the selfishness … students should feel like all of their work is not in vain too. So, we, as teachers, need to make sure the work is productive and not just active. Below are five ways to help you do just that:

1. Start where students are. Often times, teachers want to teach at the grade level. After all, that’s what most comfortable for a teacher. However, some students might be below grade level and others can be above grade level. When students take the MAP test, the test will begin a level lower than students’ last RIT score. The test will not begin on grade level, unless students’ last RIT scores are on grade level. Thus, if you teach where students are, they are more likely to reach their targets.

2. Use the Learning Continuum. NWEA provides a continuum that lost the skills that should be taught at each RIT Band for each Math goal. This continuum also includes the likelihood of success for every band of scores. I used search for skills based on my students RIT band, then I provide instruction for the skills that students have a 50% chance of understanding. There are skills that students have a 27% chance and 73%. I believe a 27% probability is too difficult for students and 73% is not challenging. A 50% probability is the right amount of cognitive disonance for students. In fact, this is how students’ are based. When a student earns a 227, this means she understood 50% of the questions that were leveled at 227. The Learning Continuum can be quite confusing and overwhelming, especially if you are meeting students where they are. Thus. I have resources available at my Teachers Pay Teachers Store available to help teachers with students who range between 211 and 240.

3. Expose students to all math goals at all times. There are five math goals that are aligned to the Common Core Math Standards. I noticed that whenever my students took the MAP, they scored hCover_221_Bundleighest in whatever goal area I was currently teaching. Thus, I decided to keep all math goals in front of my students at all times. I teach according to the scope and sequence mandated by my district, but during my small groups I use the Print & Go Daily Math Practice Bundle that I created. It provides daily practice of all the math goals. I have two bundles available – 211 – 220 RIT Band and 221 – 230 RIT Band. The next bundle for RIT Band will be available soon. (I am currently developing content for growing bundles for the lower grades. The presale will start in the the spring. I am also looking for teachers, who would like to be apart of a focus group for the bundles for the lower grades.)

4. ACover_OAT Game_221_2llow time for games. It is important for students to learn with their peers and to having fun while learning. Since games are competitive in nature, they lead to academic debates and great conversations about math. I designed board games to help students practice building skills specific to math goals. Operations and Algebraic Thinking Game Boards are available for the following RIT Bands: 211 – 220, 221 – 230, and 231 – 240. Games will soon be available for the other math goals.

5. Teach vocabulary.  Students must understand what is being asked of them. So, understanding vocabulary is essential to meeting their target scores. Not only do I teach the key words for the operations, but I also teach the academic vocabulary related to testing. For example, students need to know command words: sort, compare, order, identify, etc. Teachers should use this vocabulary and require students to explain their thinking by using the vocabulary.

If you have any other tips to offer, please feel free to share.





  1. These are great suggestions for state testing and other math assessments! Keeping students fresh on previous learned material is so important! I love to use spiral review homework and a review station!

  2. Math games are not only teaching students that math can be fun, but it is also reinforcing math concepts that have already been taught.

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