Magazine article Parenting for High Potential

What Are Student Growth Measures?

Magazine article Parenting for High Potential

What Are Student Growth Measures?

Article excerpt

While there are conflicting views about the effectiveness of standardized tests in measuring student learning, the fact is most state student data is currently based on some sort of standardized test. Historically, after No Child Left Behind (NCLB) mandated proficiency for all students,1 the media primarily focused on reporting student achievement data, while overlooking growth data. Student achievement data focuses on the status of subject-matter knowledge-how well specific knowledge has been mastered at one point in time. Growth data is a better measure as it focuses on an individual child's learning or academic progress between two points in time.2

It's important to remember that standardized tests often measure only math or language arts, for example, and ignore social studies, science, electives, and critical-thinking skills. In addition, high academic achievement doesn't necessarily mean high academic growth, most notably for gifted learners. In fact, when focus is placed directly on the "bubble students" (those close to proficient but not quite there), growth for gifted learners levels off, or frequently declines.3 Therefore, many professionals suggest that true measures of student growth should include both hard and soft data.

Measuring student growth without relying solely on standardized tests involves looking at multiple measures of student learning, such as essay exams, portfolios of students' work in various subjects, and group projects that require analysis, investigation, experimentation, cooperation, and written, oral, or graphic presentation of findings. An individual student's learning growth in one year or over the course of several years could be assessed by creating a record of student achievement that includes representative examples of student work.4

The dilemma still exists in how to present student growth data as a whole. Student data is often aggregated-either by state, district, school, grade, or class-and can be a useful measure if the right test is used as the right data point for the right situation. …

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