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How Are States Measuring Student Growth Under ESSA?

By Alyson Klein — January 23, 2019 1 min read
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Almost every state is rating schools in part on student growth in test-scores under the Every Student Succeeds Act. (The exceptions: California and Kansas). But that doesn’t look the same everywhere and the differences matter to parents and policymakers, says the Data Quality Campaign, a research and advocacy organization.

So what are the different types of “growth models” and who is using what? The DQC breaks it down in a report entitled “Growth Data: It Matters, and It’s Complicated” for those of us who aren’t psychometricians.


  • The most popular measure is a “student growth percentile.” It essentially tells parents and policymakers how schools served different kids who started at about the same academic level.
  • Twelve states use a “value table” which gives a measure of student progress. It shows whether kids moved from the “basic” to “proficient” level on state tests.
  • Ten states are using a “growth to standard measure” which gives a picture of how far on, off-track, students are from where they are supposed to be at this point in their education. It can also give a sense of how long it will take the student to catch up (meaning reach the “proficient” level).
  • Eight states have chosen “value-added” measures which shows the impact of teachers and other adults in the school on student achievement.
  • Three states have a “gain score measure” which looks at how much students have improved from one year to the next.
  • Three states have gone with less common measures that aren’t easy to classify.
  • And ten states are using a combination of measures.

Who’s doing what? Check out this map from the DQC report.

Want to learn more about the Every Student Succeeds Act? Here’s some useful information:

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