Assessment to measure student recovery and progress

Published 6:00 am Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Students in grades 3-8 this fall will be the first to take new growth assessments to determine baselines for measuring individual academic progress in reading and mathematics during the school year. The new tests are mandated by legislation (House Bill 2027 and Senate Bill 1357) approved by the 2021 General Assembly. For 2021-2022, the legislation calls for the administration of fall growth assessments in reading and math, in addition to the end-of-year Standards of Learning tests students will take next spring.

“These new assessments are timely in that they will provide teachers and other educators with baseline data showing exactly where students are in reading and mathematics as they return to school after the disruptions to learning caused by the pandemic,” Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane said. “Teachers will use performance data from the fall tests to craft instruction that meets the individual needs of every student, with the goal of achieving proficiency or significant growth by the end of the year.”

The new growth assessments are computer adaptive and shorter than the Standards of Learning tests most elementary and middle school students take in the spring. As is the case with other state tests, students must take the growth assessments in school settings and under established VDOE security protocols.

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For this year only, the fall growth assessments are based on content from the previous grade level to assist in the identification of unfinished learning from 2020-2021 due to the pandemic. Results from next spring’s grade 3-8 reading and math SOL tests will capture student growth during the year, in addition to providing summative data for use in calculating school accreditation ratings.

Full implementation of the 2021 legislation will occur during the 2022-2023 school year with reading and math growth assessments in grades 3-8 administered three times during the year: in the fall, midyear and spring.

“I want to emphasize that the new growth assessments are not SOL tests and they will be noticeably shorter than other state assessments given at the end of students’ courses,” Lane said.

VDOE is developing an online parent portal to allow parents to access their child’s growth assessment score report, along with a customized explanatory video. The parent portal is expected to be available in late fall.

The focus of growth assessments is on identifying what students have already learned, as well as the skills they may need additional help with during this school year. As the purpose of the fall growth assessments is to establish a baseline for measuring student growth, the tests will not have a minimum passing score, and VDOE will not report aggregate growth results for schools and divisions.

For the 2021-2022 school year, growth will be measured by comparing students’ spring 2022 SOL scores with their spring 2021 SOL scores, or with the scores on the new fall 2021 growth assessments. The comparison that shows greater growth will be used for calculating 2022-2023 school accreditation ratings.

Paper-and-pencil growth assessments will be available when there is a documented need. For fall 2021 only, paper growth tests will be the full-length SOL tests from the previous year. Shorter paper-and-pencil tests will be developed for use in 2022-2023.

More information on the new fall growth assessments is available at