Student Growth Assessments

January 11, 2017


Overview of Student Growth Assessments

The purpose of student growth assessments is to provide educators with the individualized and group data they need to understand their students’ progress towards mastery of given standards of learning. When given at the start of a class or course as well as towards the end of the course, these assessments serve as benchmarks for topics such as ELA, math, science, or history.

Recommended Uses

It is recommended that teachers administer Student Growth Assessment (SGA) #1 as early in the year or course as possible to get a baseline of student knowledge and comprehension of the content. SGA #2 should be administered near the end of the year or course with an allowance of time for remediation of skill gaps identified by the assessment.


The difference in student knowledge prior to instruction and after instruction is the measure of student growth.

Student Growth assessments are designed to closely mirror state summative assessments in the number of items, type of items, font, style, the ways questions are typically asked in each content area, and the level of difficulty. SGA #1 and SGA #2 are equivalent tests. The pre-/post-course assessments can be used interchangeably. They assess the same standards and skills at the same level of difficulty.

Assessment Design

Student growth assessments are constructed to assess state standards of learning (SOLs), essential skills and knowledge as they are presented by a given curriculum framework. For example, in Virginia, Virginia Standards of Learning essential skills and knowledge are presented in the Virginia Department of Education’s Curriculum Frameworks.

Student growth assessments also mirror standards of learning in question type. As a result, PowerSchool SGAs demonstrate evidence of content, construct, and predictive validity.


Differences Between Computer Adaptive Tests and SGAs

A computer adaptive test (CAT) is a computer-based, programmed assessment that is customized for every student. The computer-based test adjust the difficulty of questions throughout the assessment based on the student’s response. If a student answers a question correctly, the next question will be harder; if a student answers incorrectly, the next question will be easier. Computer adaptive testing is part of the summative (end-of-year) assessments.

The three main differences between traditional tests and CATs are:

  • different number of items based on type of assessment
  • different items test the same content
  • navigation through the test

Are SGAs Appropriate for K-12 Students?

K-1 student growth assessment questions predominantly use images and graphics to assess student learning. These assessments are designed for non-readers and emerging readers. Most kindergarten teachers read these SGAs to their students in small group settings. First-grade teachers often read aloud the pre-assessment at the beginning of the year and expect the students to read the post-assessment at the end of the year.

Are There Multiple Forms of each SGA?

Because PowerSchool Assessment allows for SGA questions and answers to be randomized, and because new items are not field tested on the SGAs, each SGA is comprised of a single form and does not include short forms or screeners. Teachers should parallel form validity between the SGA @#1 and SGA #2 for each grade level and course through the relationship between Fall and Spring state standards of learning (SOL) scores, as confirmed by a study conducted by AEM in February 2015.

Who Writes the SGAs?

Student growth assessments are created by highly trained subject matter and assessment experts who adhere to the principals of universal design and item writing best practices. In addition, groups of educators, ranging in roles from classroom teacher to Director of Instruction, and varying in experience from one to thirty-five years in schools, critically review the SGAs and submit their suggestions for improvement throughout the creative process. All SGA items undergo stringent, multi-round, bias/sensitivity, editorial, and subject matter reviews before they are released.



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