Since growth is a vital gauge of student progress, it’s crucial to estimate it as accurately as possible. To estimate growth well and provide actionable assessment data for all students, regardless of their starting points, an assessment must do three things:
- Have a stable scale as a foundation. A stable scale supports powerful data that are comparable over time for individual students and groups of students. Growth, by its very nature, can only be estimated over time, using snapshots of what students know and are ready to learn. A stable scale allows for growth to be estimated accurately.
- Include cross-grade content. Growth is possible for every student. But to measure progress for each individual, the assessment has to find each student where she or he is—which may be on, above, or below grade level. Assessments that only include on-grade level content can’t serve the students who are challenged or gifted. It can only tell the growth story of a fraction of the classroom.
- Provide context for the assessment results. A score with no context has very little utility— it exists in the abstract. Context, such as understanding what that score means in relation to other students—in the classroom, in the grade, and across the nation—helps an educator make informed instructional decisions. One type of context is comparing a student’s score to a pre-set benchmark. This helps educators understand if the student is achieving at an expected level or needs more support. Another important sort of context is provided by growth norms and growth targets. These help an educator understand if the student is growing on par with her peers and whether she is projected to meet achievement standards. If she isn’t, this sort of context allows educators to make adjustments in time to get the student on track for success.
MAP® Growth™ assessments have a demonstrably stable scale, include high-quality cross-grade content, and provide rich contextualization of assessment data. Academic growth is a beautiful thing—it reflects evolution, expansion, and empowerment. Proficiency for all students is the destination, and it is growth that will get us there.