One of the best recent developments in public education is the ability to measure, consistently and on a large scale, student growth. In Utah, all students who take the SAGE summative assessments get scored on their content and skill mastery. More than that, a growth score is also calculated for each student. These growth scores, combined with proficiency scores, give us the most useful indication yet of how students are progressing year-to-year across the state.
What are the advantages of using SGPs?
- The focus is not on categorizing or labeling, but on tracking growth
- It is a meaningful measure for all students, from least to most advanced
- It is straightforward and comparable across all classrooms
What are the disadvantages?
- Not a diagnostic measure, i.e. there is no indication as to the “why” behind student growth.
- There’s still a ceiling for the highest-performing students
Questions for thinking through your students’ SGPs
- How do growth metrics compare to what you already know about students?
- Which students are not proficient, but are showing growth?
- Which students are proficient, but not showing growth?
- How does growth compare across subject areas for each student? Is growth in Math, ELA, and Science similar or different?
- Are any student groups (by demographic or classroom) showing patterns or trends?
This overview is brief, and there is much more potential use for SGPs in the classroom. How good is SGP as metric of school quality? That I can’t say. Making causal claims to categorize classrooms, teachers or schools is really not the point of an SGP. The best use for this metric is to monitor our own instruction as teachers and our own leadership as administrators, and see where we can take steps forward. Data like this is always meant to start conversation, not bypass it.
Further information on SGPs available from
- Utah State Office of Education: http://www.schools.utah.gov/CURR/educatoreffectiveness/Student-Growth.aspx
- RAND: http://www.rand.org/education/projects/measuring-teacher-effectiveness/student-growth-percentiles.html
- Achieve NJ, from the New Jersey Dept of Education: http://www.nj.gov/education/AchieveNJ/teacher/percentile.shtml
- Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, Washington: http://www.k12.wa.us/assessment/studentgrowth.aspx