University of Arkansas Office for Education Policy

Examining Student Academic Growth

In The View from the OEP on October 27, 2021 at 11:48 am

Last week we highlighted twelve schools that were ‘super growers‘ – schools where students demonstrated consistently high growth in student achievement since 2015-16 – but how do you think students’ academic growth relates to a schools’ overall score? The overall ESSA score is combination of student achievement, student academic growth, school quality measures, and (for high schools) graduation rate. How do you think students’ academic growth relates to a schools’ overall ESSA score? You may remember that for elementary and middle schools, growth is weighted as 50% of the ESSA score, and for high schools it is weighted at 35%. It would seem logical that elementary and middle schools with the highest growth would also have the highest overall ESSA score- but this is not always true!

There are 6 elementary schools, 7 middle schools, and 14 high schools that are in the top 1/3 of the state for student academic growth, but in the bottom 1/3 for the overall ESSA score. And guess what they all have in common? A high percentage of low-income students. Students in these schools are showing high academic growth, but it isn’t enough to outweigh the influence of student achievement in the ESSA calculations.

Schools in the top 1/3 of student growth and bottom 1/3 for overall score

You can find these schools for yourself! Just go to our new data visualization and use the sliders to select 66th percentile or greater for Value Added Growth and 33rd percentile or lower for ESSA Index. Each dot represents a school, and the color-coding of the dots is based on growth: green indicates schools with higher than average student growth, while red indicates schools with lower than average growth. You can hover over the dots to see the school information, including the percentage of students eligible for Free/Reduced Lunch, value added growth percentile, weighted achievement percentile, school quality score percentile, and graduation rate if the school is a high school.

The viz allows you to easily answer questions about how schools are serving students across the state.

Here are some questions you might want to explore with the viz:

  • How are schools similar to yours growing student learning?
    1. Select your school from the list, and note your %Free/Reduced Lunch.
    2. Clear the selection for your school, and move the %Free/Reduced Lunch slider to 5 percent higher and lower than your schools’ percentage. For example, if you have 65% of students eligible for FRL, you would move the left slider to 60 and the right slider to 70.
    3. The color-coding of the dots is based on student growth: Green= higher than average growth while red=lower than average growth.
    4. If you want to just see a certain school level (Elementary, Middle, or High School), just select that school type using the grade level group filter.
  • How are schools in neighboring districts growing student learning?
    1. Select your district and neighboring district from the district list. You can select as many as you want to!
    2. The color-coding of the dots is based on student growth: Green= higher than average growth while red=lower than average growth.
    3. If you want to just see a certain school level (Elementary, Middle, or High School), just select that type using the grade level group filter.
  • Which high poverty schools are showing high academic growth?
    1. Use the %Free/Reduced Lunch slider to limit the viz to schools with greater than 75% FRL
    2. Use the Value Added Growth slider to limit the viz to schools with greater than 75% growth.
    3. If you want to just see a certain school level (Elementary, Middle, or High School), just select that type using the grade level group filter.
  • What is the relationship between student growth and school quality scores?
    1. Use the SQSS slider to limit the viz to schools with greater than average school quality (50).
    2. Check out the color of the dots- More green dots means that schools with higher school quality scores are generally demonstrating above average growth, while more red dots indicates that schools with higher school quality scores are generally demonstrating below average student growth. If the dots are a mixture of green and red, we can infer that there is little relationship between student growth and high school quality scores.
    3. Remember that if you want to just see a certain school level (Elementary, Middle, or High School), just select that type using the grade level group filter.

We hope that you find the information as interesting as we do! Leave us a comment to let us know what you think or any questions that you have.

Stay tuned- it is awards season here at OEP! Next week we award our Outstanding Educational Performance awards for high growth elementary schools!

  1. I love this! I couldn’t find a legend for the meaning of the colors and found that in the blog. If you added that it could be even more powerful than it is already. If I missed it I apologize. This is a really helpful visual for the public and the explanation in the blog helps as well.

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