This week I have been supervising student MAP testing. While the testing process is rather dull, it does provide us with interesting data that we can use to improve and focus teaching and learning practices for the benefit of each student.

Most of the data is collected by way of reports that take a day or two to generate. But some data is immediate. By observing students test and their immediate reaction on finishing the test, one can gain valuable insight into a child’s mindset. This week, I have observed three different mindsets to MAP testing that are evident in students of all achievement levels

Mindset 1: ‘What is the point?’

Some students simply do not care about MAP testing. They are indifferent to the test and are not particularly worried about their results. This is the rarest of the three mindsets but I would argue it is not the most detrimental to academic growth. These students might be thinking something along the lines of: ‘I know what I can do. You know what I can do. So what is the point of this test?’ While not necessarily lending itself to good MAP scores (although some students with this attitude do score very well), this disagreeability might not be such a bad thing in the long run. As Malcolm Gladwell in ‘David and Goliath’ points out, we owe revolutions and innovations to those that flout social norms and don’t care what people think of them – those who are disagreeable.

Mindset 2: ‘What did you get?’

This mindset is easy to spot. At the end of the test, students with this mindset might cover the final screen that flashes up their scores. Or students might ask the scores of everyone around them. Not wanting others to know their scores but wanting to know the scores of others is symptomatic of a student that sees his or her success or failure as linked to the success or failure of others. This mindset does not value growth and is problematic to say the least. These students are measuring themselves against criteria that they have absolutely no control over – the MAP scores of other students. For students scoring lower than their peers, they might consider a 10-point improvement a failure if they score lower than the person sitting next to them. For students scoring higher than their peers, they might consider a 10-point drop a success if they score higher than the person sitting next to them.

Mindset 3: ‘What did I get?’

You need to watch carefully for this one. It might reveal itself with a hidden fist-pump when the score flashes up on the screen. Or instead of a fist-pump it might be a face-palm. The reaction depends upon whether the score went up, down or stayed the same. Some students with this mindset might even share with others how their score changed without inquiring into the scores of others. This is the closest of the three mindsets to a growth mindset – a mindset that we must strive to instil in all of our students. These students are focused on what they can control.

It is good to take inspiration from or be motivated by the success of others, but ultimately we should be focused on improving ourselves and finding our own path to success. Gladwell again points out that history is full of heroes who, rather than competing against others, successfully followed their own paths.

MAP Picture