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New Data Quality Campaign Resource Breaks Down How Each State is Measuring Individual Student Growth

New Data Quality Campaign Resource Breaks Down How Each State is Measuring Individual Student Growth

With states implementing measures of individual student growth, the public will have more information than before on student progress – but all growth data is not measured equally. 

 WASHINGTON (January 23, 2019) – Forty-eight states and the District of Columbia have committed to measuring and reporting on individual student growth in their Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) accountability plans. This means everyone in those states – from parents to policymakers – will have more robust information than before on student performance and school quality. But understanding which growth measures states are using, and the questions they’ll be able to answer, is complicated.

The Data Quality Campaign’s latest brief, Growth Data: It Matters, and It’s Complicated, breaks down the five most common measures of student growth, which measures each state has committed to using, what that means for education stakeholders and their understanding of student success. DQC defines growth measures as using an individual student’s assessment data over time to evaluate some aspect of that student’s academic progress.

“All but two states have elected to measure growth and share those results with communities in their states. Fortunately, the public will now have more information about student progress than ever before,” said Jennifer Bell-Ellwanger, president and CEO of the Data Quality Campaign. “But these measures – and their differences – matter. As states go forward, growth data must be transparent, well communicated, and readily available to those closest to students in order for it to lead to improvements in understanding student progress and decisionmaking that promotes student success.”

States have moved beyond relying on a one-time test score as the sole measure of student achievement and most will report on student growth as part of a broader picture of student success and school quality. While student growth data offers a richer understanding of student performance than a moment-in-time test score, states are measuring it differently, and these differences matter in helping all education stakeholders – from parents to policymakers – understand school quality and performance in their communities.

DQC’s brief endeavors to provide clarity on the complicated landscape of individual student growth measures and how to talk about them. Through a systematic analysis of every state’s approved ESSA accountability plan, DQC found that:

  • 24 states are using student growth percentile, employing advanced statistics and students’ past performance data to evaluate how students are performing compared to their academic peers across the state.
  • 12 states are using a value table, placing students in performance levels based on their test scores and note when students move between levels year to year. These performance levels are a range of scores determined by the state.
  • 10 states are using a growth-to-standard measure, evaluating the distance between a student’s current performance and a grade-level standard and, based on that student’s rate of progress, estimates how soon the student will meet that standard.
  • 8 states are using a value-added measure, which uses advanced statistics and multiple data points to evaluate the impact of teaching practices on student achievement.
  • 3 states are using a gain-score measure, use a change in test score on a comparable assessment year to year to demonstrate how much a student has learned over a given time period.
  • 3 states are using a less common growth measure, which cannot be classified as one of the more common measures above.
  • 10 states are using a combination of multiple measures. Six states are pairing a growth-to-standard measure with a student growth percentile measure, which will give them insight into both how students are performing compared to their academic peers and how they are progressing toward state standards.

The brief also includes recommendations for policymakers who are working to roll out this growth data to their communities, encouraging them to be transparent about how their state’s student growth measures were developed, make this data readily available to education stakeholders, and communicate the story this data tells about school quality and student performance.

To read the full brief on DQC’s website, click here.


Contact: Blair Mann,, 202-393-7192

About the Data Quality Campaign
The Data Quality Campaign is a nonprofit policy and advocacy organization leading the effort to bring every part of the education community together to empower educators, families, and policymakers with quality information to make decisions that ensure that students excel. For more information, go to and follow us on Facebook and Twitter (@EdDataCampaign).