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Growth Model FAQs

Frequently asked questions and answers for the student growth model.

General Questions | Accessing Individual Student Growth Scores | Individual Student Scores | Aggregated Scores | Decile Rankings | Student Set-Up | Resources | Miscellaneous |

General Questions

What is a growth model?

The growth model is a way of measuring students' growth between the current year assessment scores and the previous year assessment scores. The individual growth score looks at the difference between the students' expected test score and their actual test score.

When using growth scores for accountability purposes, an aggregate growth score can provide a picture of average growth for students within a school, Local Education Agency (LEA) or student group. California’s growth model was developed specifically to be used for accountability purposes only, and not at the individual student level, and therefore is focused on producing reliable and valid aggregate growth scores.

What grade level assessments are used to calculate a growth score?

The growth model is limited to students who were administered the assessments in grades 4 through 8. Students in grades 3 and 11 will not have growth scores in the growth model because there are no prior year test scores available to calculate growth.

What assessment data are used to calculate growth scores?

Growth scores are calculated using scale scores from the Smarter Balanced Summative Assessments in English language arts/ literacy (ELA) and mathematics. Scores from local assessments are not used in the growth score calculation.

How are growth scores calculated?

First the expected growth score needs to be calculated. To do this, all students are grouped together by grade level with their current year scores on one single assessment along with their previous assessment scores in both ELA and mathematics. For example, all students in grade 4 who took the ELA assessment in 2017–18 would have their current year scores along with their 2016–17 Grade 3 ELA assessment and 2016–17 Grade 3 mathematics assessment scores. The computer uses all of that information to calculate the score expected of those students in 2017–18 in grade 4. We then compare their actual score on the 2017–18 Grade 4 ELA assessment to the expected score calculated by the computer.

How many years of data are used to calculate aggregate growth scores?

Individual student growth scores are calculated using two years of assessment data, i.e., 2017–18 and 2018–19.

Aggregate growth scores, however, are calculated using either one year or two years of student growth scores. A simple average growth score, using only one year of student growth, is valid and reliable when it’s based on many student scores. Therefore, a simple average is used to calculate aggregate growth scores for student groups with more than 500 students in an LEA. However, low year-to-year stability was found when using just one year of growth at other aggregation levels. To increase the accuracy of these aggregate growth scores, California is using the model called the Empirical Best Linear Predictor (EBLP). The EBLP uses a weighted average of two years of growth scores (i.e., three years assessment results) at the school, LEA, and school student group levels.

Why do you weight the scores when using the EBLP?

Individual student growth scores involve two data points on two different assessments in two different years, which causes more statistical “noise” or imprecision than a single year achievement score. This can make them “bounce” up and down from year to year, especially for small groups of students. The “bounce” from year to year is addressed by the weighting. The EBLP weighting balances the need for score stability from year to year with the need to show changes in true growth as soon as it can be done with reasonable confidence. That is one reason that the weight of the current year growth is always higher than for the previous year.

What years of assessment data were used to calculate the recently released growth scores?

Due to changes in instruction and assessment caused by COVID-19 in the 2019–2020 and 2020–2021 school years, the growth scores released in 2021 were calculated using historical data from 2016–17, 2017–18, and 2018–2019.

When will the next release of growth scores take place?

Growth scores will be released once three consecutive years of assessment scores are available. The soonest this will be available is 2024, which will incorporate assessment scores from the 2021–22, 2022–23, and 2023–24 school years.

Do the growth scores account for student demographics?

No. When growth scores are calculated, the groups of students are not separated by any demographic factors (i.e., all grade 4 students are grouped together in the calculation). This allows us to see differences in growth between demographic groups once all final scores are calculated.

How are growth scores different from using interim assessments to measure student growth?

Interim assessments are typically used several times throughout the school year to inform teaching and learning. They can be assessments of learning, or assessments for learning, and the scores from these assessments give teachers information they need to adapt teaching and learning in the moment.

The growth model score is based on summative assessment growth for an entire year, and shows the expected assessment score compared to the actual student assessment score. Summative assessments give teachers the overall picture of student learning for the year.

Is this information we should be presenting formally to our Governing Board?

You may present information about the growth model with your Governing Board. We have prepared resources, specially the Growth Model Fact Sheet and “What is a Growth Model?” video to assist LEAs and the public in understanding this data release. However, due to the historic nature of the data it is inappropriate to produce or present actionable reports or communications utilizing this set of growth data.

Accessing Individual Student Growth Scores

Who at the LEA will be given access to the Individual Student Growth Scores File?

This report is available only to the current LEA California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) coordinator(s).

How do LEAs access Individual Student growth scores?

The file is located in TOMS as a downloadable report.

Where do we find the new files in TOMS?
  1. Navigate to caaspp.org
  2. Select the Test Operations Management System (TOMS) button
  3. Log into the TOMS system
  4. Navigate to the Reports tab of the upper navigation bar
  5. Select the CAASPP Smarter Balanced Student Growth Report
  6. Select the organization
  7. Select the Download Report button
Will parents be given access to individual growth scores?

Parents will not receive individual growth scores for their students.

Individual student growth scores should NOT be used for measuring individual student progress. Just like the assessment target reports from the Smarter Balanced assessments, the data are more robust and usable at the school, LEA, and student group levels. Individual student growth scores should not be used or shared with others such as teachers or families. Individual student growth scores are computed as one step of the methodology for creating aggregate growth scores at the school, LEA, and student group levels.

Instead parents should access their child’s Student Score Report to get information on their current performance on the statewide assessments. Parents can also reach out to teachers to discuss classwork, grades, and other measures of student success.

Individual Student Scores

If a student attended a different LEA in the year prior, and took the CAASPP, will their growth scores be included in the current LEA's scores?

Two valid assessment scores are needed to calculate a growth score. It does not matter if the student has attended a different LEA in the year prior, as their growth will be reflected at the current LEA.

Will each student's expected score for the next year be made available?

Expected scores are not predicted in the prior year. Each year the expected growth changes based on the individual student’s current year score and those with similar scores. Each student will have a different expected score calculated when growth scores are released. The expected score, therefore, will not be made available before the growth scores are released.

Will individual reports be generated for each student that can be shared with parents?

Parents will not receive individual growth score reports for their students.

Individual student growth scores should NOT be used for measuring individual student progress. Just like the assessment target reports from the Smarter Balanced assessments, the data are more robust and usable at the school, LEA, and student group levels. Individual student growth scores should not be used or shared with others such as teachers or families. Individual student growth scores are computed as one step of the methodology for creating aggregate growth scores at the school, LEA, and student group levels.

Instead parents should access their child’s Student Score Report to get information on their current performance on the statewide assessments. Parents can also reach out to teachers to discuss classwork, grades, and other measures of student success.

Aggregated Scores

Which aggregation methods are applied to which student groups?

A simple average is used for student groups with more than 500 growth scores in an LEA. However, low year-to-year stability was found when using one year of aggregated growth scores at other aggregation levels. To increase the accuracy of the scores California is using an Empirical Best Linear Predictor (EBLP) which uses a weighted average for two years of growth scores (i.e., three years of assessment results) at the school, LEA, and student group levels.

If under 100 is less than expected/average and 100 is considered average/expected growth, what would be considered above average exceeding expected growth? Anything over 100? More than 105 or 110?

At this time, the growth scores are for informational purposes only California Department of Education (CDE) is not assigning any value to them. A score of 100 means that on average, the students are meeting their expected growth. A score of less than 100 means that on average, the students scored lower than their expected growth. A score of more than 100 means that on average, the students score higher than their expected growth.

If your total student group count is under 11 students in one year, but not in the next is an aggregate score generated?

A school/LEA/student group needs to have 11 students in the reporting year in order to receive an aggregate growth score.

Are growth scores computed for DASS schools?

While most Dashboard Alternative School Status (DASS) schools are high schools and would not receive a growth score, if a DASS school has the appropriate grade range and at least 11 students in the reporting year, they will receive a growth score.

Will the aggregated growth score ever factor into a school's Academic Indicator on the California School Dashboard? Does it seem likely that growth scores will replace Distance from Standard (DFS) as the state's measure of growth for each LEA?

Action would need to be taken by the State Board of Education to add growth scores to the Academic Indicator on the California School Dashboard, or to replace DFS with any other measurement such as growth scores.

Would CDE also consider releasing growth scores by grade level in the future?

We will be working with LEAs and others to evaluate the released growth scores, file format and data visualization prior to the next release in 2024. At that time, we may revisit the file format and data shared in our releases to better fit the needs of LEAs and stakeholders.

How can you use the growth scores for accountability if you are saying it’s inappropriate to use the scores to target schools or subgroups now?

The growth scores released in 2021 were calculated from the 2016–17, 2017–18, and 2018–19 Smarter Balanced Summative Assessments in English language arts/literacy (ELA) and mathematics. Because the growth scores are based on historical data, the information provided by these scores is not actionable. We expect that all future growth score data will be actionable like other accountability data and released during the Fall accountability period starting in 2024.


Decile Rankings

Is a 1 in the top 10 percentile or the bottom 10 percentile?

A decile rank of 1 correlates to the bottom 10 percent of schools/LEAs/student groups. Conversely, a decile rank of 10 correlates to the top 10 percent of schools/LEAs/student groups.

How many students must be in a school/LEA/student group to receive a decile rank?

The group size must be greater than or equal to 30, however Foster/Homeless at LEA level must be greater than or equal to 15.

If your student group is under 11 in one year, but not in the next is an aggregate score generated?

Aggregate scores are only calculated for groups with 11 or more valid student scores in the reporting year.

The decile ranks appear to be specific to each student group. A 95.7 for SWD is decile 7, for example, while a 95.7 for All Students is a lower decile. Is that correct?

Decile rankings provide general context for how scores compare within groups. Therefore, deciles have been calculated for student groups separately at the LEA and school levels.

Will there be a similar schools decile ranking?

No. California does not currently use any form of similar school rankings either for assessment or accountability purposes.

Are there separate decile rankings for DASS schools?

No. DASS schools will fall into the same decile rankings as all other schools.

School Set-Up

If our charter/LEA was dependent for those school years, but now independent, are the growth scores with the LEA we were dependent under?

The growth score calculation used in the aggregate file is based upon the status of the charter/LEA in the reporting year. If the charter/LEA has not been reorganized under a new school code, the results will stay with the school regardless of its independent or dependent status in prior years.

If a student is attending a different LEA in the year prior, and took the CAASPP, will their growth scores be included in the current LEA's scores?

Growth scores for LEAs are calculated on an annual basis using a student’s current year score at the LEA where they tested and calculating an expected score and growth score from their previous year test information no matter where they tested.

Any info relating to a county-district-school (CDS) code not being included in the private preview?

If you believe that there is an error and your CDS code is not properly displayed in the released file please reach out to cagrowthmodel@cde.ca.gov.

Resources

What resources are you providing to support LEAs in this public release?

The CDE will be providing the following resources for schools and districts:

  • Key Messages
  • FAQ
  • Appropriate Uses vs Inappropriate Usage flyer
  • Webinar to answer remaining questions
  • Data Definitions and File Layout flyer

And the following resources for the public:

  • “What is a Growth Model” video
  • Growth Model Fact Sheet
Is there a key for the abbreviations used for student groups?

CDE will be creating a File Layout and Definitions document as part of the resources for the public release.

Miscellaneous

What are the differences between CDE's growth model and CORE's growth model?

CDE and CORE use a similar methodology to calculate student growth.

CORE's growth model includes demographic information into their Residual Gain (RG) calculation whereas CDE's does not. Additionally, the CDE growth score incorporates the EBLP methodology and two years of growth scores to increase year-to-year stability.

Will the results be publicly released in the Excel format, or will it be summarized visually for the public?

The aggregated growth data for schools, LEAs and student groups will be released in an Excel format. These results will not be summarized visually for the public, as they are historical data from previous years and intended to be used for informational purposes only. Future releases of growth data, as early as 2024, may be summarized visually for the public upon release.

What effect, if any, will the adjusted form blueprint for this year’s SBAC assessments have on the growth model ?

At this time, we do not expect the adjusted form blueprint to affect the growth model nor the schedule for future data releases in 2024 and beyond. We will continue working with our colleagues in the CDE Assessment Development and Administration Division to monitor this question and will bring any updates to the board.

How will the growth model be used in alignment with AB1505 for charter schools?

The growth scores released in 2021 were calculated from the 2016–17, 2017–18, and 2018–19 Smarter Balanced Summative Assessments in English language arts/literacy (ELA) and mathematics. Because the growth scores are based on historical data, the information provided by these scores is not actionable. The state board may reconsider “verified data” criteria once the growth data is used for accountability purposes.

Is it possible (and appropriate) for an LEA to calculate an aggregate student group growth score within a school/LEA? (E.g. to calculate it for students who were enrolled in a particular program, such as AVID.)

It is not appropriate to use the individual growth scores for any additional calculations at the school/LEA.

Is it possible (and appropriate) for an LEA to calculate an aggregate student group growth score for specific teachers?

No. California Education Code Section 44258.9 prohibits the use of specified data from being used by a local educational agency for purposes of evaluating certificated employees, certificated employee performance determinations, or employment decisions.

 

Questions: California Growth Model | cagrowthmodel@cde.ca.gov | 916-319-0863 
Last Reviewed: Wednesday, September 22, 2021