Student Growth Data

Critical in Supporting Educators, Parents, Students, Community Members and State Policy Makers

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Posted By

Dodie Carmichael

Published On

June 8, 2021

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Student growth data is used to inform decision making about school quality, accountability, and informs educators on best teaching practices. With 2020 being the year of remote learning, possible learning loss, and educational inequities, growth data is critical to ensure community members and state policy makers have the information they need to support districts, schools, teachers, parents and the students who need it more than ever.

How can we best help students this summer as well as next school year if we do not know where the support is needed? It will require growth data to be collected and to identify the areas students are struggling and which students are most in need of additional support.

Student growth data can show how student achievement changes over time and provide the information needed to set goals and make targeted decisions. Without any real data, timely feedback, and information on student needs, it would be a lost opportunity in reaching our most vulnerable population of students and schools. 

What are the benefits of growth data to:

Districts, Schools, Teachers, Parents and Community Members:

  • provides a more comprehensive picture of student learning and a better indication of students’ progress than a one time test score.
  • by analyzing the change in students’ test scores over time, it will help to understand students’ progress, and whether each student is improving or falling behind.
  • schools, teachers and parents can act on this information immediately to support students on their path to college and career readiness—it is important for supporting students who may not be meeting learning benchmarks.
  • district leaders can use this information to identify schools that are outperforming their peers in improving student achievement and start the discussion of best teaching practices. 
  • community members can begin to advocate for support and resources based on the growth data collected for each school.

Students:

  • will focus on mastery orientation:  effort and use of appropriate strategies. 
  • will develop their understanding and competence of material.
  • will be evaluated privately by their teacher.
  • will set short-term goals based on their own growth data.
  • students and teachers can recognize and reward effort towards meeting benchmarks.

State policy makers: 

  • need to be transparent and start a conversation about what growth measure they are using in their state and why with educators, parents, and community members. 
  • can identify which districts may be in need of additional support based on the growth data collected.
  • need to ensure that all educators have access to the data they need about students’ academic growth, so they can begin to look at best practices, and make any changes or adjustments. 
  • must ensure that educators and decision makers have timely access to growth data they can act on to support all students on their path to career or college success. 
  • must ensure data points in state accountability systems work together to create a complete picture of student success and school quality. Strong standards do not always translate into high achievement. Standards must be paired with equally strong assessments and accountability to drive achievement at high levels.

Every state’s approach to measuring student growth for accountability is different. States are using the exact, same language, growth, but using different methods to calculate it. If data is going to promise to give everyone in education greater understanding of student performance, everyone needs to understand their state’s growth measure and how the data can be interpreted. 

Data always tells a story and the story becomes invaluable when it helps educators and leaders understand student learning over time. Obviously, collecting and reporting student growth data in a timely manner is just the beginning. Like with all data, consider it within the context of other student information. By doing this, we ensure educators, policymakers, and families make informed decisions for all students.

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