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States Can and Should Measure Student Growth in 2021: New Resource Details How State Leaders Can Prepare Now to Measure Skip-Year Growth Next Year

WASHINGTON (August 4, 2020) – Student academic growth data is the most comprehensive and equitable way to measure student progress and school quality—and education leaders and communities have prioritized growth as a tool to understand how schools are serving their students. As states and districts work to reopen for the 2020–21 school year, measuring student growth should remain a priority, especially given anticipated widespread learning losses due to COVID-19. States can and should continue to measure student growth in 2021; to do so, state leaders should start preparing now. 

A new brief from the Data Quality Campaign (DQC), the Alliance for Excellent Education (All4Ed), and the Collaborative for Student Success (CSS) outlines considerations for measuring growth absent 2020 assessment data, lays out how states should and should not use this data, and recommends actions state leaders can take right now to measure growth in 2021. To ensure that they have student growth data in 2021, state leaders should plan for 2021 annual statewide assessments and be transparent about what skip-year growth is and how it will be used. 

“To successfully recover, state and district leaders will need data to understand how to help students make up learning losses. And families will need information about student progress to help their children succeed. Measuring growth data next year will give everyone insight into how to move forward,” said DQC President and CEO Jennifer Bell-Ellwanger. “Skip-year growth data will allow leaders and communities to understand which recovery strategies are most effective and use those best practices to drive continuous improvement that will help all students succeed.”

State leaders were committed to measuring student growth data before the pandemic and should re-commit to this effort as they work toward recovery. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, all but two states used student growth as a metric in school accountability systems, and 42 states and the District of Columbia reported growth on their annual report cards. And parents want it too: In DQC’s 2019 national parent poll, when asked what information they wanted to have about their children’s schools, 49 percent of parents said they wanted student growth data. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected vulnerable students who struggled even before this crisis closed schools for months. Growth data gives parents, educators, and school leaders information about how these students are learning during this unprecedented time,” said All4Ed President and CEO Deborah Delisle. “While skip-year growth might be a departure from business as usual, it’s a definite consideration for states, districts, and families right now.”

Skip-year growth is not just a possibility—it is a tried-and-tested solution to measuring growth when year-to-year growth data is not an option. Florida, Massachusetts, and Tennessee are just a few of the states that have used skip-year growth successfully. With skip-year growth, state leaders can still get the vital insights they will need to understand and continue to support student learning.

“Suspending 2020 statewide annual assessments was unfortunate but understandable given this unprecedented disruption in education. Having growth data next year will be crucial for understanding how school closures affected student progress and what supports they will need to get back on track,” said CSS Executive Director Jim Cowen. “Student growth data will be critical for guiding recovery efforts and reinforcing states’ commitments to transparency, equity, and communication.”

Click here to read the full brief on DQC’s website.


Contact: Blair Mann,, 610-724-5914

About the Data Quality Campaign
The Data Quality Campaign is a nonprofit policy and advocacy organization leading the effort to bring every part of the education community together to empower educators, families, and policymakers with quality information to make decisions that ensure that students excel. For more information, go to and follow us on Facebook and Twitter (@EdDataCampaign).

About the Alliance for Excellent Education 

The Alliance for Excellent Education (All4Ed) is a Washington, DC–based national policy, practice, and advocacy organization dedicated to ensuring that all students, particularly those underperforming and those historically underserved, graduate from high school ready for success in college, work, and citizenship. For more information, visit

About the Collaborative for Student Success

The Collaborative for Student Success is a non-profit advocacy organization that works to defend high standards, high-quality assessments, and strong systems of accountability, to ensure that all kids are prepared for college or career. Through capacity-building efforts with in-state organizations and collaboration with national partners, we promote fact-based public discourse and fight to advance policies that promote best practices and ensure equitable outcomes for all students. Learn more at