NWEA is changing its item selection algorithm for the 2023-2024 school year to be more grade level specific. Given the information available, the algorithm change will likely render mathematics RIT scores for the new test version to be non-equivalent to RIT scores produced by the current test version. It is uncertain whether reading scores will be impacted.
While ECRA believes the more grade-level specific approach to NWEA’s item selection algorithm is a positive development that will benefit students, districts should consider delaying the implementation of the new tests for one year. Districts can opt out of the new version for the 2023-2024 school year by following instructions provided by NWEA, which will allow the district to continue to use the current test for the 2023-2024 school year.
Whether or not to opt out of the new test for one year depends on the extent to which your district has established practices that rely on comparable RIT scores and national norms from NWEA. Uncertainty related to the magnitude of RIT score and national norm comparability at various points of the score distribution will have the following implications:
- Established district-level cut scores and benchmarks to support student placement, RTI, MTSS, or other program eligibility will likely not be valid and will need to be re-established. This will present an operational challenge since districts will not be able to apply existing policies.
- National growth and proficiency norms on the new test may not be valid.
- Proficiency and growth trends will likely not be valid without appropriate adjustments that depend on data that are not available.
Opting out for one year will allow more data to be analyzed to better understand the comparability of scores, and will provide more time for districts to update internal benchmarks and policies.
ECRA Plan for Clients Who Implement the New Tests
Should ECRA clients choose to move forward with the new tests, the following summarizes how ECRA will proceed for the 2023-2024 school year.
- Propensity scores will be unaffected by the NWEA algorithm change and will be equivalent under the new test. Districts will be able to use ECRA propensity scores in the same manner they have used propensity scores in the past.
- Forward-facing student-level and aggregate projections will remain on the prior RIT score scale until a student actually takes the new test. This will allow districts to use ECRA projections to support student identification and goal setting in an equivalent manner as in the past.
- Fall, winter, and spring growth evaluations will be adjusted to reflect the new test. The main consequence of the adjustment is student-level projections may change once actual values are observed. Growth evaluations may be slightly delayed due to these adjustments.
Still have questions?
If you still have questions regarding the best path forward for your district, Dr. John Gatta, Ph.D. CEO of ECRA Group will be available for a live Q and A discussion on May 31, at 11:00am CT.