Current Research/Resources: Growth Data: It Matters, and It's Complicated (May 2019)

This brief, published by Data Quality Campaign, provides an introduction to the issues associated with using various methods to measure and calculate student growth as an indicator of student performance and school quality as part of a state’s accountability system. Comparing growth data across states and assessing school quality and students’ long-term academic performance are difficult because states select and use their own indicators.

A review of states’ accountability systems reveals five common measures of growth: (a) value-added, (b) student growth percentile, (c) value-table, (d) gain-score, and (e) growth-to-standard. This brief examines each of the growth measures and how they are used by states. The authors conclude with several recommendations to assist state policymakers in effectively using and communicating student growth data to improve academic outcomes: (a) be transparent when discussing student growth measures, (b) ensure that growth data is accessible to those who are closest to students or who can make the greatest impact on their academic performance (i.e., parents and teachers), (c) frequently discuss student growth data, (d) consider growth data within the context of other information (i.e., proficiency measures), and (e) discuss how student growth measures impact decision-making across school levels. This treatise also includes questions stakeholders can ask when inquiring about how growth data are determined and interpreted.        

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