Helping California Develop a Rigorous Measure of Student-Level Growth

“Everyone around here is thrilled with the result of yesterday’s meeting. Thank you for keeping us all on track the last few weeks and ensuring yesterday went smoothly.”

— State Board of Education staff member who observed the first stakeholder convening in February 2019


At its July 2018 meeting, the California State Board of Education (SBE) asked staff from the California Department of Education (CDE) to gather feedback from a range of education stakeholders about what information they would need if the state were to report changes in student performance over time (i.e., student-level growth model). Although the California School Dashboard includes a summary measure of test scores, stakeholders are concerned that the measure is subject to error due to student mobility. With awareness that the topic has been controversial, CDE staff asked the California Comprehensive Center (Center) to serve as an objective convener and facilitator. Specifically, the Center was asked to host and facilitate a series of stakeholder input meetings to explore technical and policy considerations for a student-level growth model. The discussions at the meetings would serve as an important input to CDE staff as they craft recommendations to the SBE.

Center Support

  • Internal planning with staff of the CDE and SBE: Convened CDE and SBE staff to identify what outcomes the stakeholder convenings should be designed to achieve. Debriefed stakeholder convenings with CDE and SBE staff to continue responsive, outcomes-focused planning.
  • Convening stakeholders: Scheduled in-person stakeholder meetings for February, April, May, and August 2019. Convened the February meeting and hosted a virtual meeting in March for stakeholders who were unable to participate in February. Brought a nationally recognized expert on growth models into the process as a collaborator and presenter.
  • Expert content facilitation: Developed and curated the materials, articles, and research brought to the stakeholders to support their background knowledge, engagement, and discussion. Provided content expertise in growth models, reporting, and accountability to help ground the discussion.
  • Expert process facilitation: Facilitated in-person and virtual meetings structured to ensure both stakeholder learning and participation. Developed norms and expectations document to support honest, forthright, and productive engagement from all stakeholders.
  • Documenting discussion: Generated artifacts in the authentic voice of stakeholders from which CDE staff can draw from to develop recommendations to the SBE.

Outcomes and Impact

Although student-level growth and its role in California’s system of accountability was a controversial issue in 2018, the Center’s stakeholder input process is changing the narrative, mainly by educating and promoting transparency. In addition, stakeholders have come to see that the issue is more complex than anticipated. The Center has ensured that the topic has been explored within a rigorous and respectful structure, with guidance from content experts and experienced facilitators. As a result, the CDE and SBE are on track to having recommendations informed by thoughtful, engaged stakeholders who understand the policy and technical considerations of measuring and reporting student-level growth.