Tutorial 4.2 Using the Relative Growth Report to monitor students’ progress over time

In this tutorial, we will investigate ways the Relative Growth Report can be used to help you understand the data for a class or year level within your school.

[For a more general introduction to the relative Growth Report, see tutorial ‘Relative Growth for Classes’.]

These eight students are from a current Year 9 class at Victoria Secondary College. NAPLAN results have just arrived at the school. Their homeroom teacher is looking at a table from the Relative Growth Report for Reading. Here’s what an extract from the table looks like …

There is a lot of information in this table, covering two years’ worth of data, so it’s important to concentrate on its various features one at a time …

… First, notice that the left side indicates how these students scored in Reading two years ago.

… This version of the table has the students sorted in the default listing in order of their Year 7 Reading scaled scores, with Sam achieving the highest score. This allows their teacher to track the relative growth from similar starting points. Note that it is also possible to sort the students by name, growth category or current score (here, that current score happens to be Year 9).

Year 7 results are reported in Bands 4 through 9, with Band 5 being National Minimum Standard.

Betty and Sam achieved Reading scores two years ago, which were, respectively, below and above this range.

Willy’s Year 7 Reading results aren’t evident in this table. It may have been that he was absent on the day of the NAPLAN Reading test, or that he was not enrolled at Victoria Secondary College in Year 7. His homeroom teacher probably knows the reason.

This is a fairly typical group of students; though they are from the same class at the same school, their relative growth in progressing from Year 7 to Year 9 has varied.

Betty, Graham and George achieved results at or below National Minimum Standard in Year 7 …

… but in Year 9 had achieved results at or above National Minimum Standard, thus showing medium or high relative growth …

… while Lily and Brittany achieved one or two bands above National Minimum Standard in Year 7 …

… yet this year, their results were at or just above National Minimum Standard for Year 9 , and were in the lowest 25% of the students who’d scored similarly in Year 7 …

… and whilst Tracey and Sam, starting from high Year 7 achievement levels, didn’t show big amounts of score increase …

… and whilst Tracey and Sam, starting from high Year 7 achievement levels, didn’t show big amounts of score increase …

… those amounts were in the upper 75% of similarly high-achieving students, in Year 7 two years ago.

There are a couple of different graphics used by the VCAA to help schools reflect on relative growth. This summary graph – let’s say it’s for Year 5 to Year 7 Spelling - shows the state represented by the three dots …

… This one, placed at exactly 25%, indicates that throughout Victoria 25% of the students who started from the particular starting point in Year 5 Spelling are defined to have low relative growth …

… But Victoria Secondary College had closer to 30% of its Year 7s showing this low relative growth …

Now look at this dot, which shows that 50% of all Victorian students from this starting point in Year 5 Spelling are defined to have medium growth …

… and a slightly higher percentage, about 52% of Victoria Secondary College’s Year 7s from this starting point in Year 5 Spelling were in the category of medium growth …

… Finally, this dot shows high relative growth being defined for 25% of all Victorian students at that particular starting point …

… Though closer to 20% of Victoria Secondary College’s Year 7 students at that particular Year 5 starting point exhibited high relative growth.

When the table and the graph are presented simultaneously, comparisons between the school and the state are often easier to make. Let’s suppose there are 140 students in this Victoria Secondary College’s Year 9 cohort this year. The actual numbers, as well as percentages, of those students are shown in the table. Remember that state percentages in these categories stay fixed at 25-50-25, but there is often variation in the school’s relative growth rates.

Here is an example of another school’s Relative Growth for its Year 9 Numeracy results, being compared with how those same students performed in Numeracy two years ago in Year 7. Note that the positions of the three dots for the State remain in their 25%-50%-25% places …

… though we can see, in contrast to the previous example, that this school’s cohort of Year 9s had fewer than expected students showing low and medium relative growth …

… But the school also had a much higher than expected percentage of Year 9s whose relative growth from their Year 7 Numeracy assessment was High.

Here is yet another way the data from this Year 9 class’s Numeracy results is presented in the Relative Growth Report. The results of the 30students from this class have been separated into four different groups, representing the Year 7 Bands they were in two years ago. What do they tell us?

Be aware that when you are looking at a graph representing a small number (i.e. one class) of students, the pattern of results may look quite different to the state.

The presence of three green columns indicates that there was high growth experienced by students across a broad range of Year 7 achievement levels; the most noticeable is this column, indicating 30% of those students who were at or just below National Minimum Standard in Year 7 had experienced high growth in their Year 9 Numeracy results.

Similarly, the presence of a yellow column in each of the Band groupings indicates that there was medium growth experienced by over 43% of the students across the entire range of Year 7 achievement levels …

… and a relatively small proportion of students experienced low growth.

In summary, high or medium growth was experienced throughout the school. We might conclude from this that the school did not concentrate on the improvement of one group at the expense of the others.

The VCAA’s Relative Growth Report is clearly packed with information. School communities need to take the time to analyse and discuss the implications of the Report as part of the many activities leading to improved learning outcomes for students.