Student Growth in Arizona: Unpacking SGP and SGT and the Impact on School Ratings

Student Growth in Arizona: Unpacking SGP and SGT and the Impact on School Ratings

With the release of AzMERIT scores just a few weeks ago, many Arizona educators are anticipating their school’s or district's A-F accountability rating. In elementary and middle schools, 80% of the A–F rating is based on the AzMERIT, and in high schools, it's 50%. But, ratings are not just based on how many students pass; student growth plays a major role in ratings as well. In elementary and middle schools, 50% of the accountability rating is based on students' AzMERIT performance growth, while only 30% is based on proficiency. In high schools, although proficiency is weighted more than growth at 30% and 20% respectively, growth is given equal weight to graduation rates and college and career readiness.



There are various ways that student growth is measured, and in this blog post, we'll unpack how Arizona measures student growth and discuss how a focus on growth may impact instruction. Arizona measures growth in two ways: Student Growth Percentile (SGP) and Student Growth to Target (SGT), and both methods are weighted equally.

Measuring Student Growth Percentile (SGP) 

SGP is designed to answer the question: How much academic growth did students experience in comparison to their peers? SGP measures how much growth in the AzMERIT scale scores that students have demonstrated from one year to the next, in comparison to other students in Arizona in the same grade with the exact prior-year AzMERIT score. There are three levels of SGP growth:  low growth, which is growth between the 1st and 33rd percentile; average growth, which is between the 34th and 66th percentile; and high growth, which is 67th percentile and up. The other factor that contributes to how districts and schools are awarded points for SGP is students’ proficiency levels in the previous academic year, with the most points going to students who were minimally proficient on the AzMERIT in the previous school year and who experience high growth.

Measuring Student Growth to Target (SGT)

The goal of SGT is to answer this question: Is the growth demonstrated by a student sufficient for the student to be on track toward proficiency or remain proficient? An SGT is determined by a preestablished future achievement target, a timeframe to reach the target, and the performance level of the student in the prior year. Two preestablished targets are: Is the growth demonstrated by a student sufficient for the student to be on track toward proficiency or remain proficient? To determine the SGT measure for state accountability, each student's growth target is compared with the student's growth percentile (SGP). If the SGP is lower than 10 points below the target, the SGT measure for that student is Below Target. If the student's SGP is within 10 percentile points above or below the target, then the student's SGT counts as At or Near Target. And, if the student's SGP is more than 10 percentile points above the target, then the student's SGT counts as Exceeds Target. Like SGP, the lower the student's previous-year proficiency level on the AzMERIT, the more growth points the student is eligible to earn for the school.

What does Arizona's focus on growth mean for classroom instruction?

The way that state and federal accountability ratings are determined always has an effect on classroom instruction. Naturally, more focus will be given to areas that carry more weight in the rating. Arizona's focus on growth means that educators are likely to address the needs of all of their learners, no matter their current level. When accountability focuses only on achieving proficiency, there is a tendency to spend more time on interventions for students who are near the passing level, and because of limited time and resources, that focus can come at the expense of the lowest-achieving students because educators know that their lowest-performing students aren't likely to achieve proficiency in the current year. This is a struggle that teachers face daily when there is dissonance between best practices for boosting the accountability rating and best practices for helping all students improve their achievement. Arizona's focus on growth helps relieve this tension.

Looking for online tools to help improve proficiency and growth? Check out Edmentum's individualized learning program, Exact Path, and formative assessment and test preparation program, Study Island.

Exact Path generates individualized Arizona-standardsaligned learning paths for each student based on his or her results on Edmentum's adaptive diagnostic assessment or his or her NWEA™ MAP® Growth™ or Renaissance® Star® results. Study Island provides standards-based formative assessments so that teachers always know which standards their students have mastered and where students need more help. Study Island also helps students prepare for the AzMERIT, AIMS Science assessment, and the SAT® and ACT® tests.