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Questions and Answers 2012

General FAQ Answers

What is a growth model?
The term growth model describes a method of measuring students’ learning progress on statewide assessments by tracking the test scores of the same students from one year to the next.

How will Aldine measure student growth?
Aldine will measure growth for an individual student by comparing the change in his/her TAKS/STAAR performance to all other students in Aldine who had similar TAKS/STAAR achievement results in previous years (the student’s “academic peers”). This change will be reported as a Student Growth Percentile (SGP) from 1 to 99.

For which grades and subjects will Aldine report growth?
In 2011, Aldine will report growth for Reading and mathematics in grades 4 through 9. In future years, other grade levels and subjects will be added.

What do growth reports show that TAKS/STAAR and AYP reports don’t?
Growth reports show the academic progress students made in relation to their academic peers (students with a similar TAKS/STAAR test results).
TAKS/STAAR show the achievement level of students at the end of each school year (e.g., the percent of students who Did Not Meet Standard, Met Standard or achievedCommended Performance).
Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) shows the increase of decrease in the percent of students that reached proficiency. It compares grade-level cohorts (e.g., this year’s 4th graders to last year’s 4th graders), not individual student’s growth.

Is growth a better measure of student performance than TAKS/STAAR scores?
If you want to know how well a student achieved on the standards for mathematics by the end of 6th grade, the TAKS/STAAR score will answer that question. If you are trying to determine how much a student’s performance changed from year to year relative to the student’s academic peers, the growth score will answer that question.

What questions can a growth model help answer?
Growth models help schools identify promising and underperforming programs, practices, and teachers. A growth model can answer questions such as:

  • How much academic progress did an individual or group of students make in one or more years?
  • How does an individual student’s growth compare to that of students with similar prior TAKS/STAAR test scores?
  • Is a student, school or teacher’s growth higher than, lower than, or similar to the growth of comparable students, schools or teachers?
  • Which schools or teachers demonstrate better than (or less than) average growth?

Why did Aldine develop a growth model?
Aldine developed a growth model to measure students’ academic progress and use that data to improve learning and instruction. Aldine aims to provide every student with a highly effective teacher.

When will growth reports be available?
Aldine educators can expect to receive their growth data each year in the summer or early fall.

How will growth data be disseminated?
Growth data will be delivered via a password protected secure Web site (https://thevaanetwork.com). Aldine administrators will enroll their teachers and school staff.

What additional information will Aldine provide to teachers, administrators, and other education stakeholders about Aldine’s Measure of Student Learning Growth?
Aldine principals will be trained during horizontal and vertical district meetings. In turn, they will deliver face-to-face presentations to teachers about the growth model. Several recorded Webinars describing the Aldine Growth Model can be viewed athttps://thevaanetwork.com. Finally, a Quick Start Growth Guide and detailed FAQ will answer additional questions.

Specific FAQ Answers

What is a student growth percentile?
Student Growth Percentiles, or SGP, measure how much a student has learned compared to his or her academic peers. Academic peersare students who have similar TAKS/STAAR test scores. SGP allows educators to see whether a student has progressed similar to, greater than, or less than comparable students.
Growth percentiles are reported on a normative scale from 1 to 99 with higher percentiles indicating greater growth. The 50th growth percentile represents average growth.

Against whom are students being compared to generate SGPs?
Each student is compared to his or her academic peers (i.e., other students in Aldine with similar TAKS/STAAR test score histories). This makes for a fair growth comparison because it allows us to describe the growth in student learning compared to other students that started at equivalent achievement levels.

What does the median student growth percentile at my school, grade level, and classroom represent?
The median student growth percentile is the midpoint of student growth percentiles in the school, grade level or classroom. Half of the students had student growth percentiles higher than the median; half had lower.

Can the student growth percentile be interpreted the same way regardless of the grade level or subject matter?
Yes. A student with a growth percentile of 70 improved more than 70 percent of his academic peers, whether that student is enrolled in grade 4, 5, 6, etc. Moreover, a student with a growth percentile of 70 in reading improved more than 70 percent of his academic peers in reading. And, a student with a growth percentile of 70 in mathematics improved more than 70 percent of his academic peers in mathematics.

Can students who perform at the top range of the test, the Commended Performancelevel show growth?
Yes. One of the strengths of the Student Growth Percentile model is that it measures growth at the top and bottom of the TAKS/STAAR performance scale equally well. All students no matter where they start have the opportunity to exhibit growth from the 1stto 99th percentile. SGP accounts for this by measuring each student’s growth relative to his or her academic peers.

Research shows that there are correlations between a student’s socio-economic status and their achievement. Is the same true with growth?
No. Numerous studies have established that the correlation between growth and economically disadvantaged students is weak and statistically insignificant.

If my school made AYP, does that mean my students are growing faster than their academic peers?
No. AYP determinations are based on absolute performance, and do not compare the same students’ growth over time.

Aldine Workgroup FAQ Answers

What percentage of each teacher’s evaluation will be based on his/her students’ learning growth?
The Workgroup recommends 50 percent.

Is student learning growth for a teacher based on teachers in his/her respective school, or teachers in the entire district?
Student learning growth for teachers is based on all the students in Aldine ISD.

How many students are needed to calculate a teacher’s classroom growth?
Eight students is the minimum, however, more students produce more reliable growth results.

Will the district implement a roster verification process to ensure the teacher on record taught the students assigned to her?
Yes. Beginning in Spring 2012, during the last week of school, Central Office will ask each principal to sign off on the accuracy of his/her school’s roster data.

How many days does the student need to be in a teacher’s classroom to be counted in the analysis?
The Snapshot Date and First Administration Test will be used to calculate each teacher’s classroom growth.

How will Kindergarten to third grade teachers’ growth be calculated?
The Workgroup is researching a variety of standardized assessments. They will select and recommend an assessment to be administered in spring 2012. The standardized test data will be used to calculate student learning growth for teachers in grades 1 to 3.

How will high school teachers’ growth be calculated?
For 10th and 11th grade English teachers, student learning growth will be calculated using the Language Arts assessment. For social studies, science and math teachers, because there are no pre-test(s), the Workgroup recommends using pre-requisite test(s) to calculate student learning growth on the EOCs (e.g., using the Algebra test to calculate learning growth for Chemistry). The Workgroup recommends piloting this approach in 2012. Similar methods are being used in other states and large school districts.

For teachers whose students don’t take state tests (specialists, middle school social studies and science teachers, various high school teachers without EOCs, counselors, etc.), how will student growth factor into their evaluation?
This question is being addressed by a different workgroup, and the district leadership.

Should demographic variables be included in the growth analysis?
Analyses of Aldine students’ growth demonstrate demographic variables do not affect student learning growth, and should not be included in the growth model.

Will the growth in teachers’ classrooms always be normative?
Yes. However, to guard against misclassification, standard errors of measurement are employed. That means, roughly 68% of Aldine teachers will fall into the effective range, 17% highly effective and 17% ineffective.

Are Special Ed., Title 1, and other co-teachers accurately identified in the district data system?
Yes. The only teachers not identified are Title 1 Pull out & RTI teachers.

Will the model address cases where classrooms have students who are serious discipline problems?
No, this data is not collected and stored in the district database.

Is the Student Growth Percentile (SGP) approach as rigorous and fair as value-added analysis?
The correlations between SGPs and VAM are high (.82 to .91), showing that both types of statistical analyses produce similar results.

How will Aldine make sure principals and teachers understand the difference between percentiles & percent when interpreting SGP results?
Principals are being trained in SGPs during horizontal and vertical district meetings. Principals and Workgroup members are giving presentations about SGPs to teachers and the community. In addition, there are online Webinars, this FAQ, and the Aldine Growth Model Guide to educate employees.

On the scatter plots, how do you determine which students are in the "low, average and high" achievement categories?
We divide the total number of students in a classroom into thirds based on their pretest scores. Low, middle and high achievement is relative to each classroom.

Will alternative schools be included in the growth analyses, even though they don’t have students for the requisite number of days?
No.