Absolutely! Growth models are designed with room for all students to grow, regardless of their starting point, and we've designed our ratings so that it's possible for schools with already high-performing students to receive a high Student Progress/Growth Rating. In fact, high test scores and high growth are typically correlated.
For instance, if high-scoring students started the year well above grade level and progressed throughout the year at a pace higher than their peers, that school would receive a high growth score.
What is student progress or "growth"?
Student progress measures how much progress individual students have made over the course of a year compared to where they started from, how their performance aligns with expected progress based on a student growth model established by the state Department of Education, and how a school’s growth data compares to other schools in the state.
Student progress helps us understand how well schools are helping individual students grow academically year-over-year, and whether these students are on track to meet their full potential, compared to students in other schools in the state.
What is the Student Progress Rating?
The Student Progress Rating (also known as “growth”) compares the academic progress of a school over time to all other schools in the state, using student growth data provided by the state Department of Education (DOE). Student Progress is a way of understanding how well schools are helping individual students grow academically year-over-year, and whether these students are on track to meet their full potential, compared to students in other schools in the state.
Our Student Progress Ratings are based on growth models established by the state’s DOE. We use information about how much students are learning year-over-year, not how much school test scores have increased over multiple years.
The key advantage of growth is that it’s less correlated with socioeconomic background than proficiency. The goal of the Student Progress Rating is to provide transparency into schools that are improving student outcomes regardless of the student’s starting point in terms of academic achievement.
What does it mean if a school has high test scores and low student progress/growth?
A school with high test scores and low student progress means students have strong academic skills but are making smaller gains than similar students in other schools. Essentially, the students at this school aren’t improving at the rate expected by the state's Department of Education.
Wouldn’t high-achieving students run out of room to “grow”?
No, it’s not possible for students with high test scores to “max out” when it comes to growth. Growth models do not have a cap and are designed to account for all students no matter where they started.
In terms of test scores, keep in mind that 98th percentile means that the student performed better than 98% of other students, not that they got 98% of the questions correct on the test. A student in the 98th percentile can improve as much in the following year as any other student.
Helpful analogy: If a runner ran a mile faster than 98% of other runners, they could still improve as much as any other runner the next year.
For more information
For specific information about how growth scores are calculated in your state, visit or contact your state's Department of Education website. They often have helpful resources, such as toolkits, videos, and explainers to help teachers, principals, and the public understand and interpret this important measure.