Student taking a testState test results show how many students are achieving proficiency on annual exams. But some kids start further behind than others. How can you tell whether students, wherever they start, are making progress?

For example, are students already scoring advanced just coasting along or are they actually growing relative to where they were last year?

Answering those questions is the goal of the Colorado Growth Model, which uses four key indicators – based on an analysis of individual students’ test history – to paint a picture of academic progress by school and district:

Median Growth Percentile: Shows how much a group of students is progressing compared to others. Typical growth for an individual student centers around 50. Lower means slower growth, higher means better than average.

Adequate Growth Percentile: Shows the growth that students needed on average in the past year to reach or maintain proficiency within three years or by the tenth grade, whichever comes first. With this indicator, lower is better. Lower numbers represent an easier task because less growth is required. A school with an AGP of 12 means that, on the whole, this school’s students have a strong test score history and, even if their growth or progress is low, they’re probably still on track to stay proficient. On the other hand, a school with an AGP of 95 probably has many students that have had low test scores and they need to make an extraordinary amount of growth to catch up in the time allotted.

“Catching up”: The percentage of students who previously scored below proficient in this content area but who have shown enough growth in the past year to reach proficiency within three years or by 10th grade.

“Keeping up”: The percentage of students who previously scored proficient and are on track to maintain that level over three years or through 10th grade.

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Still confused by what the numbers mean?

    Try an example – West Denver Prep’s Highland Campus in northwest Denver 
  • The middle school’s Median Growth Percentile is 60 in reading and 66 in writing – both higher than average. But in math, it’s 96, the highest Median Growth Percentile in the state. On average, students in this school are growing faster (learning more) in math than 96% of other students across the state in the same grades. And this is not because they started out higher – they are only compared to other students with similar past test scores.
  • The Adequate Growth Percentile in math is 81. Students are showing strong growth in math – with a 96 Median Growth Percentile – but they need to continue at a pace of 81 or more to achieve and maintain proficiency over three years. Adequate Growth Percentiles are calculated by combining the school’s Catch Up and Keep Up numbers, as defined below.
  • The school’s “Catch Up” number in math is 67, meaning that students in this school scoring below proficient need to make higher-than-average growth – 67th percentile – several years in a row in order to catch up and score at the proficient level. Because their overall growth was 96, they are currently on track to getting these kids to proficiency.
  • The school’s “Keep Up” number in math is 83, meaning that students in this school already scoring in the proficient range need to make higher-than-average growth – 83rd percentile – several years in a row in order to keep scoring at the proficient level. Because the school’s overall growth was 96, they are currently on track to keeping these kids at proficiency.
  • West Denver Prep’s Highland Campus has a 94 percent poverty rate. In spring 2011, 68 percent of its sixth-graders – then the only grade – scored proficient or advanced on state math exams. The statewide math proficiency rate for sixth-graders is 63 percent.
  • Thanks to Bill Bonk, Colorado Department of Education longitudinal growth consultant, for helping to ensure the accuracy of our explanations.

Search tips

  • A search result of “NA” refers to “not applicable” and means there are no public results for this category. The state does not provide data for groups of fewer than 20 students to protect their privacy. In addition, because growth data is based on student performance over time, new schools growing from kindergarten up – such as Denver’s Math and Science Leadership Academy – will not have growth scores until their students complete additional years of state exams.
  • The database allows for multiple selections of districts, schools, subjects and grades. To see more than one school in a district, click on the district name, press “Ctrl” and then select as many school names as you’d like. Similarly, you can click on multiple grades and subjects for the same school.
  • To check indicators for a district, click on the district name and then select “District Totals” in the School box.
  • You need not click an item in each box to complete a search. Clicking on Denver Public Schools and Abraham Lincoln High School, for example, will bring up indicators for all grades and subjects for the school.

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