In an era when decisions have been based solely on student assessment scores, the progress and growth of a student received little attention. More recently, public interest in student growth models has increased because they provide valuable and meaningful information to educators, parents, students, and stakeholders about the ongoing progress and improvement of our education systems. 

As part of my role as Illinois’ Director of K-12 Assessment, I spearheaded the state's creation and adoption of a Value Table growth model for student progress and achievement. The report my colleagues and I wrote compared multiple growth models and ultimately recommended a Value Table model, which was adopted by the Illinois State Board of Education with support from numerous stakeholder groups. Our recommendation for a Value Table growth model was approved more than 4 years ago and the development of growth models has progressed considerably over the years. Then, as is the case now, we noted that the use of growth models at the classroom level (e.g., as part of teacher and principal evaluations) is to be used cautiously, due to constraints such as missing student data and assorted subject areas. I look forward to the evolution and use of growth models in the coming years.

The cultivation of student learning over days, weeks, and years is a commendable undertaking. Demonstrating student progress over time requires more than statistics. The collection of accurate student information is tricky: students move across cities or states, many students are absent during assessments, and computerized data systems face technical problems. Even so, learning what works in our education systems and ensuring it works in the long-term drives my passion for transforming learning nationwide.