Proficiency or Growth? An Exploration of Two Approaches for Writing Student Learning Targets

Lisa Lachlan-Haché and Marina Castro

Student learning and growth have become important factors in measuring educator effectiveness. As states and districts develop new evaluation systems, an often implicit decision is made regarding whether student learning targets are based on measures of proficiency or growth.

As outlined in this report, proficiency and growth both have value in measuring student learning. Here, concrete examples of both  approaches are highlighted to provide clarity and particular attention is paid to the benefits and drawbacks of each approach. These examples, and this paper as whole, aim to make explicit the inherent—but sometimes overlooked—policy decision (i.e., whether to prioritize proficiency or growth) that often accompanies the building of an evaluation system that includes measures of student learning.

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Lisa Lachlan
Principal Researcher