The Intersection

Webinar Recap | Thinking Creatively to Evaluate Skip-Year Growth

January 26, 2021

We convened on January 12, 2021 with Rob Curtin of the Massachusetts Department of Education, Dr. Juan D’Brot of the Center for Assessment, Tomeka Hart of Blue Meridien, and Marie Huchton of the Colorado Department of Education to share ideas on monitoring student progress during this unprecedented year.

Jennifer Bell-Ellwanger and Allie Ball began the webinar on behalf of Data Quality Campaign by sharing how skip-year growth data demonstrates the progress students are making each year. Skip-year growth measures use data from the current year and two years prior to capture student progress over the past two academic years combined. The data can be disaggregated by student groups, working with different growth models and provides critical insight into school quality and growth.

“There’s a greater time between the tests and maybe some of the conclusions that need to be drawn have to be adjusted but the basic premise is the same and we shouldn’t think about the fact that we missed a year of data as being a barrier.”

-Rob Curtin, Associate Commissioner for the Center for District Support, Massachusetts Department of Education

Rob shared how the state is a student growth percentile state and has been so for a decade. He cautioned that data should be examined through the lens of what can be done rather than what is impossible, so schools not having 2020 test data does not mean there will be no 2021 growth data. However, data should be turned around as quickly as possible for schools to diagnostically prepare to meet the holistic needs of students for the next year.

“We don’t necessarily have the ability or the capacity to get data ourselves, so how do we engage in more meaningful dialogues particularly with our districts and stakeholders to get an idea of what is happening with them.”

-Marie Huchton, the Supervisor of Accountability Analytics for the Colorado Department of Education

Marie discussed how the state has been using the growth model and been flexible with transitioned assessments in the past decade. In times like now, Colorado reflects on whether they can still show growth with disruptions to learning. Information about student progress gives the best insight into schools and districts and should not be used as punitive accountability. The post-pandemic results cannot be predicted but the Department of Education can check the concept of school year growth based on historical data and determine how consistent the results were to make comparable evaluative judgement.

“Save the large-scale accountability for the high-stakes consequences but then create these models that can be used to inform district inquiries about data that are availablel.”

-Juan D’Brot is the Senior Associate for the Center of Assessment

Juan examined how skip-year growth is about gaps of information with known variables that are less than comprehensive. Rather than annual growth standing alone, skip-year growth is set to supplement previous years’ proficiency and performance. He noted that pre-pandemic data cannot be used to identify a post pandemic effect, so the conditions under which the test is administered needs to match the conditions met when the test was designed to determine credibility.

In summary, the panelists shared that this  year has been unprecedented with the two pandemics of social injustice and the Coronavirus that have greatly changed education, including assessments. States, districts and schools have the opportunity to reexamine data and accountability to meet the diverse needs of all students. Please refer to the linked document for more information on measuring growth.

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