By Paul Warren, Julien Lafortune
The California Department of Education recently released 2018 SBAC test scores that showed very modest improvement. Since last year, the percent of students meeting or exceeding state standards grew 1.1 percentage points in math. But focusing only on these year-to-year comparisons means that we miss the longer-term picture. That is, we don’t see how the same group of students are progressing over time. When we look at SBAC math scores in this manner, we have some cause for concern—but there are bright spots, too.
In the figure below, we show the growth in math test scores from grade to grade—that is, we can see how last year’s third graders performed in fourth grade, and so on. If growth is less than 100 percent, students aren’t keeping up with grade-level standards. If it is greater than 100 percent, student growth is outpacing what is expected by the standards. For instance, fourth grade students gained roughly 80 percent of the increase needed to keep pace with the proficiency standards.