University of Arkansas Office for Education Policy

New OEP Database: Measuring Growth as Achievement

In The View from the OEP on November 29, 2012 at 10:59 am

Growth itself contains the germ of happiness. ” – Pearl S. Buck

Over the past two years, the OEP has allocated a lot of time and effort into building what we hope are user-friendly school- and district-level databases to be used by anyone who is interested in the demographics, achievement, or finances of Arkansas’ schools and districts. As you can see by visiting the OEP Data Page on our website, we have primarily posted school- and district-level databases that include demographic/academic/financial variables from a given year. We’ve always believed we were adding a new feature to the world of Arkansas data by posting databases that allow users to see whole-school and/or whole-district performance (whereas other sources such as the Arkansas Department of Education list scores by grade level  in spreadsheet form, or you can view individual school/district scores by grade-level on a PDF form provided by the Arkansas Research Center and the National Office for Research, Measurement, and Evaluation Systems).

Today, we hope to add another feature to the world of Arkansas School Data: our Arkansas School Benchmark Growth Database. Using test scores ranging back to the spring 2006 administration of the Arkansas Benchmark Exam, this database tracks each school that took the benchmark up through the spring of 2012 administration. To establish our baseline, we averaged spring 2006 and spring 2007 scores together to have one starting point from which to measure. We then compared that score against an average of the most recent Benchmark Exam scores from the spring 2011 and spring 2012 administrations.  The resulting numbers represent the total percentage point growth for students who scored at the proficient or advanced level in both math and literacy.  In addition, we provide similar results for our School GPAs, which takes into account students at all levels (Below Basic, Basic, Proficient, Advanced). With this database, you can sort by the reported testing results for each year, just as before.  However, in addition, you can now sort by the growth rates, to see which schools have made the most improvement over the years. Also, this is the first database we have published that has each year side-by-side.

One quick note should be made: we did not include any schools in this growth database that did not have reported scores for the four necessary years.  We realize that this leaves out some of the newer schools in the state. In the future, we look forward to adding these new schools as they matriculate into their fifth year.  In the meantime, we have included a separate three-year growth database (on a separate tab of the 5-year database), which allows for more schools to be included.

We hope you will find this new Arkansas School Benchmark Growth Database useful. Whether you are interested in knowing how much your school has grown in the past 5 years – or – you want to compare your school’s growth rate on the Benchmark Exam to that of surrounding schools, this database should be a handy, user-friendly, filter-able, and sort-able resource for you to answer such questions. Click here to view the database now!

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