New White Paper Explores Connecting Assessment to Achievement Through Student Growth Models
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New White Paper Explores Connecting Assessment to Achievement Through Student Growth Models

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — September 19, 2011 —

Supporting its continued commitment to providing thought leadership in connecting assessment to student achievement, Pearson today unveiled a new white paper on student growth models: Authored by a team of the company’s psychometricians, the free, downloadable paper explores the importance of growth models, their evolution and the three primary types being implemented today.

The term "student growth model" tends to refer to a variety of methods used to connect student scores over time. However, growth models actually require scores that can be mathematically compared from one occasion to another, can be connected for the same students over two or more occasions and for which changes indicate trait changes.

First gaining national attention in 2007 through an accountability program implemented under former Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, growth models are important for three reasons. First, they support the fundamental goal of education: student learning. Second, growth models provide a richer source of information on student learning than a single score at one point in time. Third, growth models focus on the educational development of individual students.

"We expect ALL students to learn each year and to make progress to college- and career-readiness. Student growth models capture that learning and provide critical information about where students are, whether they are on track to their goals, and their rate of learning," said Kimberly O’Malley, vice president, Psychometric Services at Pearson, and one of the authors of the paper. "Our new white paper compares and contrasts different types of growth models on practical, psychometric and policy considerations and helps states and districts implement the growth model that best meets their needs."

The paper details the three general types of student growth models:

  1. Growth to proficiency: These models take initial student performance and provide a yearly growth target such that students will reach proficiency in a set number of years. Each year, states compare actual student performance to target performance to determine if students have progressed or regressed.
  2. Value/Transition: In this approach, student growth is evaluated based on the changes in performance categories or subcategories, typically over two years. Students are expected to make a set number of transitions across subcategories each year so they reach proficiency by a defined number of years – typically three or four.
  3. Projection: These models predict student performance in a future year – up to three years in the future. Projections are based on past and current student performance and the performance of prior cohorts of students in the target grades. These models offer an indicator of the extent to which students are on track to meet proficiency.

For each model, the authors explore the larger practical, psychometric and policy decisions that state educator leaders need to take into consideration when implementing each of the three types of student growth models.

This new white paper is part of Pearson’s overall commitment to collaborating with the greater education community on the use of assessments to improve student achievement. Other components in this initiative include the launch of a special website, Next Generation Assessments, which features open, public access to numerous white papers and other resources to help states as they design and deliver new assessment systems. A new video series on the site features Pearson’s content development, editorial, research and psychometric professionals discussing topics such as the power of technology to transform assessments and measuring student growth.

About Pearson

Pearson (NYSE:PSO), the global leader in education services, education technology and school solutions, provides innovative print and digital education materials for preK through college, student information systems and learning management systems, teacher professional development, career certification programs, and testing and assessment products that set the standard for the industry. Pearson’s other primary businesses include the Financial Times Group and the Penguin Group. For more information, go to

For more information:

Adam Gaber, (800) 745-8489, @Apgaber (twitter),