Steve Martinez and Rick Miller Argue for Measuring Test Score Growth as Key to Understanding Student Progress

Steve Martinez
November 2018

Steve Martinez, Superintendent of Twin Rivers Unified School District, and Rick Miller, Executive Director of CORE Districts, co-authored a commentary for EdSource advocating that the state of California change the way it measures progress on its math and English standardized tests. Currently, the state reports change by comparing the scores of this year’s students against the scores of last year’s students who were in the same grade. Martinez and Miller argue that a better way to measure improvement from one year to the next is through a model called “Academic Growth.” Academic Growth measures the acceleration of achievement at a school by accounting for how much each individual student is learning over time and considers improvement in scores even if a student hasn’t reached the goal of proficiency. Twin Rivers Unified is a part of the CORE Data Collaborative, which adopted a method that compares schools by considering whether each student’s progress is less or greater than could be expected for similar students who started off at the same score the previous year. By digging deeper into the data using the Academic Growth model, Twin Rivers Unified sees evidence that they are on the right track and are able to validate the work of teachers, students, and families. This model also allows the Board to make informed decisions and support meaningful changes for students.