Return to Headlines

Goal Setting Conferences Explained | Education is a Partnership

A family reading together


Setting goals and celebrating growth, together. You see a bright future for your child and so do we!

This article explains some words you may have heard in your Goal Setting conference this week and how to help at home.

Last week was an important week in MUSD! Students and families in grades K-8 participated in Goal Setting, a week dedicated to establishing relationships between student, teacher, and parents/caretakers to set goals and celebrate growth, together. 

Formerly referred to as “conferences”, or as students like to stress “minimum days”, this dedicated week differs from traditional parent-teacher conferences with one important shift: Moving the conversation away from a pass/fail spectrum and toward an academic plan that is achievable and celebrates student growth. 

Goal SettingToday, we call this important shift GOAL SETTING week. Where the critical discussions focus positively on next steps in your child’s learning plan, versus the age-old “conferences” that presented student report cards and discussion only after the teaching and learning occurred. 

Goal Setting Week helps build a learning plan allowing students, parents/caretakers, and teachers to set meaningful goals and meet to review progress in relation to those goals. 

“It is a cooperative discussion about how to help their child grow as a learner,” shared 5th grade teacher at Shasta Elementary, Ms. Donna Morais.” It is so easy to celebrate growth on MAP scores, to check the first trimester goals for growth and celebrate or reiterate the importance of the goal. All of my conferences ended on positive ground.”

MAP DataInformation discussed during Goal Setting is drawn from the child’s MAP DATA, an important tool used to Measure Academic Progress (MAP) for each unique student. Children learn better—and faster—when teachers have a clear picture of what each student knows and is ready to learn next! MAP data helps teachers plan with each unique learner in mind and is just one tool in a teacher’s toolbox to identify the needs of your child to achieve mastery of grade level standards in MUSD.

How the MAP tool works: The test begins with a question at each student’s grade level. If your child answers a question correctly, the next question is more challenging. If they answer incorrectly, the next one is easier. This type of assessment challenges top performers without overwhelming others. At the end of the assessment, the tool measures what a student knows regardless of grade level. 


RITMAP uses a scale to continue tracking progress through the school year and across multiple years. If you’ve heard your child’s teacher use the word “RIT,” this just refers to the data/score collected on the scale after a student completes a MAP growth assessment. 

Goal Setting and MAP go hand-in-hand and are new tools in MUSD, first piloted in elementary schools last year. 

“I really appreciate the focus on celebrating small victories in my children’s growth and the thoughtful plan to moving forward in their academics,” shared Nathalie John, parent of two elementary aged children. 

Parents/caretakers should know that they play a critical role at home. In fact, Ms. Morais expressed that she and her student’s parents love the portion of the Goal Setting conference that focuses on how they can work together on the child’s goal— from in the classroom to at-home.  Anyone can help further a child’s learning progress at home by using an additional online tool called Exact Path which supports reading and math skills.


Exact PathEXACT PATH is an extremely useful tool to use at home because it directly supports a child’s unique learning plan,” described Lisa Goodwin, MUSD Director of Innovation and Improvement. “The tool itself uses a child’s MAP data and creates an appropriate, interactive learning path just for them. MAP identifies the gap in learning and Exact Path creates the lessons for the growth.” Click here to learn how to get started with Exact Path. 

This year MAP is being implemented in high schools where high school students will begin to experience Goal Setting with their teachers by next school year.