5 Things You Should Know About Interpreting Your Exact Path Assessment Data

Dec 15, 2023
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Inside of our award-winning, evidence-based individualized learning tool, Exact Path, students receive a scale score following each Exact Path diagnostic administration. A scale score allows you to compare performance from the same test given at different times both within a school year and across grade levels to show student growth. In our program, the range of this scale is from 500 to 1500, and you’ll find it in a series of our diagnostic reports.

While an important starting point in making sense of student performance, no piece of data is at its strongest in isolation. Let’s dig into some of the surrounding data that add depth and context to understanding student performance following each administration of our valid and reliable Exact Path diagnostics.

1. How do scale scores relate to grade-level expectations?

This is where grade-level proficiency (GLP) comes into play. For partners using the Exact Path diagnostic to support K–8 students, friendly color-coding appears beside each scale score in the Class Results report to classify each student’s grade-level proficiency as below, approaching, meets, or exceeds grade-level proficiency based on seasonal expectations. Coupled with a scale score, grade-level proficiency answers critical questions like:

  • Fall: Are students ready for grade-level instruction?
  • Winter: Are students progressing as expected toward grade-level expectations?
  • Spring: Have students met grade-level expectations?

Using the visual above as an example, I can see that Lilliana’s scale score was 727 on her second assessment of the year and her yellow grade-level proficiency indicates that she is approaching grade-level proficiency. From this, I know that we have work to do but she is not far from meeting desired expectations. The simplicity of this metric makes it incredibly powerful for parent-teacher conversations, removing much of the technical complexity that assessment reports can sometimes bring.

2. How do students’ scale scores stack up against a national sample?

For this question, we’ll turn to national percentile rank (NPR). When you view your students’ scale scores, you may be thinking “how do students compare to other students?”. Without any added context, the score itself doesn’t tell us how many students earned the same score, a lower score, or a higher score. A student’s percentile rank tells you the percent of peers the student scored higher than relative to spring assessment results.

Imagine that Jacob is a 5th grade student and his score report says that he has a national percentile rank of 83. This means that Jacob is scoring higher than 83 percent of other 5th graders nationally. Since Jacob is scoring higher than most of other 5th graders nationally—83 percent of them to be exact—Jacob is doing well compared to his peers.

All in all, NPR adds a comparative perspective to students nationally, and t can be an important indicator for guiding your ongoing instructional decisions.

3. How does scale score relate to the actual level of content students will receive in their learning path?

Let’s take a closer look at learning path entry grade (LPEG) to answer this question. While other pieces of data we’ve reviewed so far are specific to the assessment itself, learning path entry grade represents an important bridge into data about actual instruction in the learning path by answering the question: Where exactly will students begin working in their learning path based on their diagnostic placement? The data points come in the form of a grade level, from K to 12, and are available for each domain on the assessment.

For example, Katherine may receive a 3 in counting and cardinality, indicating her first skill in that domain is at the 3rd-grade level and may receive a 4 in measurement, data, and statistics, indicating her first skill in that domain is at the 4th-grade level.

The precision and variability within each subject domain demonstrate how the assessment works deliberately to ensure that students are placed beyond specific material they already know but given the opportunity to revisit instruction where they may have skill gaps.

4. After multiple assessment administrations (and multiple scale scores), how can I interpret growth?

Growth is about change. Academic growth is change in ability from one time to the next. One of the simplest ways to track growth is to evaluate the change in scale scores; this method is known as the gain score model. To spot positive growth, you can see if the student’s scale score on a later test is greater than the earlier test. For example, if a student scored 780 in the fall and 830 in winter, then the gain score is positive 50 points. A gain score can be negative if a student’s scale score decreased.

Keep in mind that a student’s test score may be higher or lower in a particular testing session due to inconsistency in student effort, changes in how the test was administered, or standard error of measurement.

Setting growth goals is a common practice in Exact Path, and monitoring assessment growth is one way to track the gains being made. Check out our printable trackers in this Exact Path contest toolkit to add some fun student motivation to your success tracking.

5. Finally, how do I understand what normal growth is over time?

Compare actual student growth (noted above) to typical growth to see how a student’s growth compares to other students nationally. Typical growth is reported based on students’ enrolled grade level and their grade-level proficiency classification and can be used as a powerful indicator to determine how students are performing relative to others in the same grade level with a similar starting ability. Following multiple administrations of the Exact Path diagnostic, educators will be able to see a student’s actual growth from one assessment to the next, paired with what typical growth can be expected in the Class Results report.

Imagine that a student, Chloe, whose GLP continues to show as approaching grade-level proficiency after multiple assessment administrations but whose growth is exceeding what is considered typical. While this learner could appear to be stagnating based on GLP alone, her growth as compared to typical growth, unpacks more specifically the path being charted and the gains made to ensure that this learner is ultimately successful. Such information could confirm a set of instructional strategies are working or guide a new approach to hit typical growth targets.

Want to learn more about how to get the most out of your Exact Path program? Check out this post on how much time students should be spending in Exact Path.

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