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Growth Model

Explanation and resources for the student-level growth model.


Since 2015, California has invested significant time and effort in developing a student growth model that is valid, reliable, and fair. California conducted a thorough and thoughtful process of selecting the model that best meets California's needs. On May 12, 2021, the State Board of Education (SBE) approved a student-level growth model using grades four through eight growth scores. The development and adoption of this growth model was accomplished due to the valuable input from a broad range of stakeholders, and the expertise of the California Department of Education's (CDE's) assessment vendor, Educational Testing Service (ETS), and the Technical Design Group (TDG).

The California Department of Education will publicly release growth data in December 2024.

California's Student-Level Growth Model

A growth model is a way of measuring the growth of students’ assessment scores year to year based on their statewide assessment scores in English language arts (ELA) and mathematics. Growth is different from achievement. Achievement—such as a single assessment score—shows us how much students know at the time of the assessment. Growth shows us how much students' scores grew from one grade level to the next. In an accountability system, aggregate student growth can provide a picture of average growth for students within a school, local educational agency, or student group.

Calculating Growth Scores

California’s student-level growth model methodology uses the statewide California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress results from students in grades four through eight in both English language arts (ELA) and mathematics.

The first step in calculating individual student growth scores for a subject area (ELA or Mathematics) is to determine the student’s expected test score. The expected test score is determined by looking at students who had similar test scores in the previous grade and then evaluating their typical test scores in the current year. Once an expected test score is determined for each student, the difference between the student's expected test score and their actual test score is compared to arrive at their individual growth scores.

These individual scores are averaged for students at the district, school, and student group levels, using either a simple average—when there are large numbers of students, or a weighted average— when there are small numbers of students.

For a complete and in-depth technical review of the growth model methodology, please view the Additional Resources made available at the end of this web page.

Upcoming Data Releases

  • Fall 2024:
    • Release of aggregate LEA, school, and student group growth score data for English Language Arts (ELA) and mathematics (i.e., 2022, 2023, and 2024 results).
    • Publication of growth score data on the Dashboard.

Accountability Updates

  • 2025:
    • CDE’s annual Accountability Workplan will be presented to the SBE in January 2025. The workplan will include:
      • Approval of performance standards for Student Growth
        • The SBE will be asked to adopt these standards at their meeting in July 2025.
      • Options for the addition of Student Growth to the Dashboard
      • Approval to include Student Growth within the State Accountability System through Differentiated Assistance Criteria
      • Approval to include Student Growth within the Federal Accountability System through ESSA Eligibility Identification as early as 2026
  • 2024:
    • Release of growth scores following the publication of the California School Dashboard (required publication no later than December 1, 2024)
  • 2023:
    • CDE worked with educational partners to develop graphical displays for growth data on the Dashboard and additional materials to support understanding of the growth model.

Prior Growth Score Data Release

  • 2021:
    • Released aggregate LEA, school, and student group growth score data via downloadable data files for informational purposes only. This data is not intended to be used for accountability and/or evaluation purposes.
    • Released Student Growth Toolkit to support understanding of California’s Student Growth data.

Student Growth Toolkit



Getting to know the California School Dashboard (Translated)

Appropriate Uses of Growth Scores Flyer

Growth Model FAQs

Commonly asked questions about the Growth Model

Data Files and Record Layouts

Due to changes in instruction and assessment caused by COVID-19, the growth scores released in 2021 were calculated based on historical data from 2016-17, 2017-18, and 2018-19, and were not intended to be actionable. Growth scores will be calculated and released again in 2024 after three consecutive years of test scores are available (2021-22, 2022-23, 2023-24).


Additional Resources

Recent State Board Items and Memos

  • February 2021 SBE Information Memorandum(DOCX) includes the final technical report from ETS on the student growth model and recommendations for criteria for determining the assignment of the Empirical Best Linear Prediction Model (EBLP) or simple average.
  • May 2021 SBE Item(DOCX) includes detailed information on the approved growth model methodology and the aggregated growth scores for student groups at the LEA and school-levels.
  • October 2021 SBE Information Memorandum(DOCX) includes a progress report on ongoing work on the Student Growth Model as of October 2021.
  • February 2022 SBE Information Memorandum(DOCX) includes the overview of research conducted by the California Department of Education (CDE) on the development of a data report or display to combine English Language Proficiency Assessment for California (ELPAC) levels with academic growth scores.
Questions: Analysis Measurement & Accountability Reporting | | 916-319-0863 
Last Reviewed: Friday, May 17, 2024