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[Assessment Literacy Video Series] Measuring Growth

[Assessment Literacy Video Series] Measuring Growth

Our assessment literacy video series aims to demystify, unpack, and connect assessment concepts and principles to help you make more sense out of your assessment data. Maybe you’re just learning the ropes of some of the more complicated metrics reported in educational assessments, or perhaps you’re hoping to see how an assessment concept applies to Edmentum’s suite of assessment programs. Either way, let our top-notch research team of former educators and subject-matter experts be your guide.

As teachers, you have seen firsthand that look of pride when a student finally understands something they were struggling on. That precious aha moment is one tangible example of growth for that student. Beyond those milestones in the classroom, ongoing assessments and progress in the curriculum can also give insight into a student’s overall picture of growth.

Let’s take a closer look at ways to track student growth. Growth is about change. Academic growth is change in ability from one time to the next, and there are different ways to track these changes. At Edmentum, we use the Edmentum growth triangle, which is a way of tracking growth from three different perspectives: assessment, curriculum, and instruction.

Based on “The Design of an Assessment System for the Race to the Top: A Learning Sciences Perspective on Issues of Growth and Measurement” by J.W. 2009, paper presented at the Exploratory Seminar: Measurement Challenges Within the Race to the Top Agenda, December 2009 ( Copyright 2010 by Educational Testing Service.  

1. Tracking Growth Based on Assessment Scores

For assessment, one way to track progress, or growth, is with test scale scores. In previous videos, you may have learned that a scale score is a score that accounts for the difficulty of the questions the student answered correctly and makes it possible to compare one test score to another on that same scale.

One of the simplest ways to track growth is to evaluate the change in scale scores; this method is known as the gain score model. To spot positive growth, you can see if the student’s scale score on a later test is greater than the earlier test. For example, if a student scored 780 in the fall and 830 in winter, then their gain score is positive 50 points. A gain score can be negative if a student’s scale score decreased.

Keep in mind that a student’s test score may be higher or lower in a particular testing session due to inconsistency in student effort, changes in how the test was administered, or measurement imprecision, quantified by the standard error of measurement (check out our other assessment video for more on that). For example, a student may have increased in ability over several months of learning but received a lower score in the later testing session if they were particularly tired that day. In this case, the student’s growth would look like less than it actually is. 

2. Tracking Growth in the Learning Path

The second vertex of the Edmentum growth triangle is curriculum, specifically the Exact Path learning path. After students complete the Exact Path diagnostic, they receive an individualized learning path with a set of skills to work on; each skill is aligned to a grade level. The Learning Path Entry Grade (also known as LPEG) is the grade level of the first skill the student will work on in their learning path. The LPEG is provided by domain and overall for the studentthe overall LPEG is simply the lowest of the LPEGs by domain. Changes in LPEGs after each diagnostic and progressions in the learning path are another way to track growth, in addition to gain scores.

For example, a student might have an LPEG of 3 in the fall, meaning that student begins with grade 3 material, but by spring, that student might be working on grade 5 skills. In Exact Path, educators can use the Knowledge Map to see which skills students have mastered as students progress in the learning path.

3. Tracking Growth Based on Educator Instruction

The third part of the Edmentum growth triangle is instruction. Educators hold the most information about what skills students have received instruction on and mastered and can use observations of their students to track growth. Educators can again use the Knowledge Map to see which skills are coming up in a student’s skills progression.

Using Exact Path Reporting to Track Growth

In Exact Path, you can see student growth information on the diagnostic reports and the Knowledge Map, including students’ scale scores, growth, LPEGs, and a visualization of which skills students are working on or have already mastered. Administrators can also view average growth by grade and school on the aggregated report.

Interested in more assessment literacy topics? Check out our Edmentum Assessment Literacy video series, and continue to follow along on the blog as we dig deeper, making you assessment experts along the way! Want to learn more about Study Island? Get more information about our award-winning program on our website.