7 Ways to Measure Student Growth

I define student growth as academic progress that is accomplished over a period, as assessed at the onset and end of a specified time. It can be calculated for countries, states, cities, schools, or students, and many variables and strategies can be used to determine if “growth” has occurred. Sounds easy, right. Not exactly. Many school districts and even state departments of education have difficulty measuring student growth. If you fall into this category, don’t worry, we have your back. In this article, we will discuss seven ways to measure student growth.

The Computer-Adaptive Approach

This approach allows educators to view student growth over a single year, as opposed to multiple years, on the same scale. Computer adaptive assessments will adjust their difficulty based on a student’s performance.

The Student Growth Percentile Approach

This approach compares a student’s growth to students with similar test scores. The benefit of this approach is that it allows us to fairly compare students who start at different levels with similar students.

The Value-Added Approach

This approach measures the teacher’s effectiveness in a given year by comparing the current test scores of their students to the scores of those same students in prior school years. Value-added models are considered fairer than other models since it takes confounding context variables like past performance, student status, or family income status into consideration.

The VAM – Covariate Adjusted Approach

In this approach, student academic growth is calculated by juxtaposing students’ predicted scores with their genuine scores. One of the drawbacks of this approach is that you will need several years of “matched” data for accuracy.

The Gain Score Approach

This approach measures year-to-year change by subtracting the year before an (initial) score from the current year (final) score. The growth of a teacher is averaged and compared to the overall average growth for other teachers. It’s easy to calculate and can be used with local assessments. The issue is that it doesn’t make accommodations for initial achievement levels; it’s just a run of the mill calculation of the change in score for students.

The Effect Size Approach

The effect size approach allows you to compute the amount of the difference between two groups. With this approach, if a teacher gets an effect size of +1.0, their students grew one standard deviation.

The Progress Monitoring Approach

This approach is different from your usual criterion-referenced assessments because they are not normed. They’re easy to administer, and the data can be shown to explain the difference between where the student is performing relative to the expected target or level.

Can you think of any additional ways that we can measure student growth?

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