TTO Resource Guide: Measuring Student Growth

What does it mean to measure student growth?

It all depends on what kind of learning growth you’re talking about. At home, parents might use a chart to keep track of how many inches their child grows each year. In schools and in education policy, educators deploy a range of methods on a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis, to determine what—and how much—students are learning over time. They can include anything from real-time teaching techniques, like checking for student understanding, to formative assessments such as end-of-day exit slips, to larger scale assessments like NWEA’s nationally-normed MAP Growth. In all cases, we believe in a key principle, which is to start with the student: Measuring growth is about understanding each student’s ‘starting point’ and assessing how much they’ve learned against that benchmark over time.

As the Data Quality Campaign shows in a new report, how it’s done at the state-level as part of the Every Student Succeeds Act, “it’s complicated.” States are using at least five different growth measures and each one is designed to show very different points.

In this resource guide, we’ll try to make sense of the confusing pieces while showcasing best practices.

How Assessing Growth Informs Individualized Instruction

Kathy Dyer, a senior professional development specialist for NWEA, shares why it’s important to shift our focus on measuring grade-level proficiency to one that incorporates growth. Specifically, she argues it can empower educators to “look at students on an individual basis, regardless of their proficiency, to gauge their progress—or lack thereof.” She offers a few guiding questions for education leaders to consider:

  • What three to five metrics drive decision making in our school or district?
  • What behavior do those metrics incentivize, and are all students encompassed or required to improve in those metrics?
  • Are programs including all kids, and are we sustaining participation of all kids over time?
EduGAINS: Self Assessment Video Library Assessment isn’t just about administering exams or tests to students. In this video series, educators explain how self assessment leads to a deeper learning that helps students become independent learners. In five segments, this library covers the process of self assessment, defining criteria for success, how students learn to apply the criteria, how to provide feedback, and goal-setting.
Formative Assessment: Debunking the Myths and The Culture of Formative Assessment The Association of Middle Level Education produced a two-part podcast discussion on formative assessment. The first episode explains how formative assessment is about the process – assessment for learning as opposed to just assessment of learning– and does some good old fashioned myth busting about formative assessment. The second episode covers the culture of formative assessment.
Assessment for Learning Project Supported by a national group of partner organizations, including Next Generation Learning Challenges (NGLC), the Assessment for Learning Project is a multi-year grant program designed to fundamentally rethink the roles that assessment should play to advance student learning. The web site includes case studies for what assessment for learning looks like and audio stories by students sharing their perspectives on assessment.
Seven strategies of assessment for learning Author Jan Chappuis, of the Pearson Assessment Training Institute, provides an incisive look at seven practical strategies structured around three essential questions—Where am I going? Where am I now? and How can I close the gap? Complete with research-based recommendations about assessment practices for improving student achievement, the book is sequenced to help teachers easily weave formative assessment practices into daily teaching and assessment activities at all levels.
4 Steps to Using Your Students’ Assessment Data to Promote Growth

This is a guest post written by Edmentum customer Krystal Smith, a 5th grade teacher at Twin Rivers Intermediate School. If you are willing and know how to embrace it, she explains, the data that assessments provide can be used as a powerful tool you can use to promote the kind of growth you and your students want and expect to see. Specifically, she offers four simple steps to follow to help your students make real academic progress:

  • Before you even think about giving your students an assessment, talk to them
  • Share assessment data with your students
  • Use data to set individual goals
  • Allow time for reflection, for both yourself and your students

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#SEL Twitter’s #sel page, generates hundreds of inspiring and insightful posts from around the world every single day. Top tweets link to articles, infographics, wonderings, and conversations about SEL.

Promoting social and emotional learning: Guidelines for educators This timeless book, first published in 1997, is still as relevant as ever. After the authors noted the crucial need for a practical educator guide to establish high-quality SEL programs, they drew from scientific studies, site visits, and their own extensive professional experiences to identify 39 concise guidelines.
Student 360 Information Tracker This helpful chart allows teachers track the personal experiences and interests of their students in order to build strong lasting relationships. Understanding more about students’ lives outside of the classroom is just as important as the academic performance data.
Whole Child Indicators A checklist for schools from ASCD (wholechildeducation.org/) of a whole child approach to education and community engagement.

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