NWEA Resources and some Goodies

I’m hoping I can get back to weekday blogging soon.  Lately, I’ve had no energy when I’ve come home from  work.  And, this week, many nights I’ve had other plans.  I’m a little excited for fall because things start slowing down a bit.  I’ll also start working with students this week so I’ll actually have some information to share with all of you! 🙂

We just finished administering NWEA at my school.  Do you use NWEA?  We do it with our kids in grades 2-8, and since I’m our school’s test coordinator, I’ve been knee deep in our data.  I’ve been looking for those students who are projected to not pass our state assessment to ensure we have them in RtI.  I’ve been trying to see which students have major drops from their spring scores, and also figure out who should be included in RtI.  The first thing I use is the normative data to find out who is at grade level.  I created my own chart that was a bit cuter than the one NWEA offers.  If you’d like it for yourself, just click the picture below.

Of course, an assessment isn’t very useful if you don’t do anything with the data.  Because NWEA isn’t exactly aligned with the Common Core standards, and isn’t aligned with the Indiana standards, we don’t use it as our only formal assessment.  I always recommend using it when you are looking for what you need to work on with your really low students or your really high students.  For high students, it can give you some ideas for independent work or anchor activities.  For low students, it can tell you what their deficits are in so you know what to work on.

  • DesCartes- The DesCartes allows you to select the RIT band students are performing in for that specific skill strand, and gives you information on what the students should be working on.  You access the DesCartes from within the Reports website.
  • For Idaho Teachers– This site gives you curriculum ladders similar to the DesCartes.  They used to be much more user friendly and very different from the DesCartes.  However, they recently updated it to align with the Common Core and everything changed.  With that said, it’s still a useful resources and is great for connecting the Common Core with NWEA for your instruction.  The rest of the site is also a great resource so look around a bit while you are there!
  • Campbellsport School District– This school district’s site has some great online resources that students can use based on their strengths and weaknesses as identified with NWEA.  Click on MAP Reading Activities or MAP Math Activities and then click on the RIT band for the substrand.  It’ll lead you to a list of online activities that students can use to reinforce that particular band.
How do you use NWEA in your school?  Have you found any specific data items to be especially helpful?  What about other resources you use to make the data even better?
This week I also had the chance to try out some more office supplies from Shoplet.com.  I was super excited because these are mostly items I’ve never seen or heard of before!
The BeGreen Dry Erase Markers are great!  I love that they are refillable.  Anything that is refillable instead of ending up in a landfill is a much better product in my book.  The ones I have are chisel tips with medium thickness, but there are also bullet tipped.

I also got to review the B2P Recycled Ballpoint Pen.  This is awesome!  The pen casing is made out of recycled plastic water bottles.  It’s sturdy (it doesn’t seem as flimsy as the bottles themselves) and the grip on the front is firm.  Again, anything that helps us keep our landfills emptier is fantastic in my book.

I also got to try out the Pilot FriXion Lite Erasable Highlighter and the Pilot FriXion Point Erasable Gel Pen.  These are great!  I will be completely honest- I couldn’t get the highlighter to completely 100% erase.  However, I’ve never seen an erasable highlighter in my life and so this is amazing!  It nearly removed all of the highlighting and this will be my go-to in the future.  As for the pen, it far surpasses the erasable pens my grandmother would use on her crossword puzzles!  It didn’t leave that residue behind that I was used to.  Another feature I liked was that the tips weren’t just an eraser.  They were little plastic pieces that won’t rub away.  Erasable has come a long way!

The last item I got to try is actually something I didn’t need to try!  The Pilot G2 Gel Roller Ball Pen is actually one of my all time favorites.  I think I have them in every color imaginable!  I have a variety pack with pink, purple, and blue, among others.  They are great to use when you’re writing on triplicated copies (like our referral sheets) because it seamlessly goes through all of the pages.  I also like that the gel comes out and writes smoothly.  I’ve owned them in .07 and .05 tips and love them both!

Also this week, I had the opportunity to find out a little about the company CampusBookRentals.  They buy books back and they also allow you to rent books instead of purchasing them.  I wish this option was available when I was in school.  They partner with Operation Smile and donate a portion of every book rental to them.  I like to support a company that I know supports worthwhile charities.

CampusBookRentals is also sponsoring a $25 gift TeachersPayTeachers.com gift certificate!

How do you use NWEA in your school?  Have you found other resources that have been helpful?



  • I love NWEA!
    We are administering it right now at our school. Last year we worked as grade level teams analyzing the Descartes & grouped our students in terms of meeting/not meeting growth & then in specific areas. Then we took a 45 minute block and taught what we called NWEA groups – students switched classrooms to be grouped to go over specific skills. I had a group that performed low in phonemic awareness, another teacher focused on a different area. We also rotated teachers/groups to include more skills. I felt it had a very positive impact! I also like the idea of tracking growth, which contrasts to so many other standardized tests. As a special educator, I feel the reports give me SO much information!
    Thanks for posting about it!

    • I think that's a great way to use the data Jen! I wish we did something similar. Unfortunately, we are so focused on our statewide assessment we don't use it as much as people would want to. Have you found any websites to be exceptionally useful instructionally once you have your groups made?

  • Thanks! I don't have any specific sites that I use on a regular basis (besides blogs!). This year, we are implementing Reading Mastery with mostly non-IEP students who are now in second or third grade and haven't (yet) responded to intensive instruction. I'm very curious to see how it works out. I do use Reading A-Z often for their PA/Phonics materials.
    I know what you mean about the state assessments! We do the same, but at least we also have NWEA – I think it provides a much more accurate picture of our students' learning and progress!

  • We use NWEA for K-5 at my school (and higher grades in the district). We love Prepdog.com to help prepare students. There is also a great resource here http://www.sowashco.k12.mn.us/ro/pages/studentlinks/map/reading.htm for reading and another for math if you just delete the "reading" part of that address. We use the scores to see who might need interventions and to make small groups we call "Target Groups." We are also looking at incorporating the strand data into our Daily 5/Cafe small groups and pulling those groups during Daily 5 time instead of just using the Cafe strategies.

    • Those are the same that I have listed above as the Campbellsport School District. I hadn't originally noticed that the web address changed. Thanks for sharing, though!

  • I loved NWEA as a parent. I could see how my children progressed from their elementary years to early high school charted in an easy-to-understand graph.

    • Thanks for the parent perspective! I've really liked using NWEA at my school. I think it's a valuable instructional resource. It makes me intrigued why P doesn't use it, especially since you know they've spent a ton of money on STAR so that can't be the factor.

  • We started using NWEA last year. I am going to try your suggestions this year. Thanks for sharing. When I try to download you NWEA Norms form all I get is a blank page with a star in the corner. Can you help?

  • We also use NWEA, but we really don't do much with the data at this point. But you have given me some good idea for what to do with with the RIT information and using NWEA for intervention. Thanks!


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