Typical vs. Expected vs. Average Growth
The growth targets in NWEA reports show the average growth for students in the same grade who started with the same RIT score as your student. Thus, when sharing this data with parents, it is most accurate to say: “The average growth for a student in the same grade as your child, who started with the same score, was X points.”
Using the term expected growth to characterize average growth can be misleading. If the student has fallen behind their academic goals, we might have to expect greater growth than average for the student to catch up; thus, we should avoid characterizing "average" as "expected." Conversely, because half of all students in the norm study attained scores that fell below the group average, expecting every student to make average growth is setting an expectation that will be difficult, if not impossible to meet. In NWEA partner districts that perform well in terms of growth, about 70% of students meet or exceed average growth.
It is also not entirely accurate to use the term “typical growth” when referring to “average growth.” The term "typical" implies a condition that would characterize most students. For example, it might be fair to say that “the typical fifth grade girl is between 4 and 5 feet in height.” It would not be accurate to say that the typical girl is 4 ft 6 inches in height. While that might be the average, a relatively small number of girls are exactly 4 ft 6 inches tall. Thus, it's better to tell parents “Average growth for students with this score is 7 points,” instead of saying “Typical growth is 7 points.”
Finally, the growth target for students should be the growth needed to achieve their particular academic goals. While better than average growth is a great thing, it is best to call average growth what it is—average growth—and establish your growth target on what students need to achieve their academic goals.