6 reasons you should measure ‘skip-year’ growth in 2021

'Skip-year' growth combines data from two years ago and the current year to develop a picture of student progress
By: | August 4, 2020
A return to measuring student academic growth in 2021 will allow educators to gauge any learning loss that has occurred during the COVID pandemic. (GettyImages/RichLegg)A return to measuring student academic growth in 2021 will allow educators to gauge any learning loss that has occurred during the COVID pandemic. (GettyImages/RichLegg)

Despite COVID’s disruptions to education, states should track students’ “skip-year” academic growth in 2021 as it blends equity and accuracy in the process of measuring school quality, according to a new report.

Having this data will better equip state and local education leaders to help students recover from COVID-era learning losses, says the brief released Tuesday by the Data Quality Campaign, the Alliance for Excellent Education and the Collaborative for Student Success.

“Suspending 2020 statewide annual assessments was unfortunate but understandable given this unprecedented disruption in education,” Jim Cowen, executive director of the Collaborative for Student Success. “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.”

Because schools lack data for the 2019-20 school year, states can measure “skip-year” growth rather than year-to-year growth.


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The approach, which is used in a handful of states, combines data from two years ago and the current year to develop a picture of student progress.

“While skip-year growth might be a departure from business as usual, it’s a definite consideration for states, districts, and families right now,” Alliance for Excellent Education President and CEO Deborah Delisle said.

The new brief lays out the following reasons for using skip-year growth:

  • It can be disaggregated by student group.
  • It works with different types of growth models, including percentiles and value-added approaches.
  • It works with models that use multiple years of assessment data.
  • Skip-year growth provides the same critical insights into school quality and student learning as year-to-year measurements.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected vulnerable students who struggled even before this crisis closed schools for months,” Delisle said. “Growth data gives parents, educators, and school leaders information about how these students are learning during this unprecedented time.”


DA’s coronavirus page offers complete coverage of the impacts on K-12.