The Virginia Growth Assessments are new tests that are required by state law. They are designed to measure student progress in math and reading from the beginning of the year to the end of the year. This year the student will take a fall Growth Assessment to find out how much they learned on last year’s standards. At the end of the year the fall results will be compared to spring SOL test results to determine how much learning growth occurred. Each test will have a “Vertical Scaled Score” for the comparison.
Vertical Scaled Scores
Vertical scaled scores are NOT an indicator of passing or failing. Since these tests are used for growth purposes, they just give us a starting baseline for your child this fall. The score itself doesn’t mean much right now, but will mean more once we compare them with the vertical scaled score on this spring’s SOL test to determine growth. In the meantime, the Virginia Department of Education has developed charts to help interpret the score.
The charts, shown on the attached document (click the link on the heading), give an indication at each grade level how much help students will need as they learn new material this year. Here is how to interpret the charts.
-Find your child’s grade level first. The chart will show a score on the red line and a score on the purple line. Compare those numbers to your child’s vertical scaled score.
-If your child’s vertical scaled score is higher than the number on the red line, they have a strong foundation for learning new material and shouldn’t need much re-teaching of previous learning.
-If your child’s vertical scaled score is between the number on the red line and the one on the purple line, they have learning gaps that will sometimes require the teacher to help them learn skills from previous years as they learn this year’s skills.
-If your child’s vertical scaled score is below the number on the purple line, they likely have significant learning gaps that may require quite a bit of support from the teacher to re-learn previous skills so that they can do this year’s work.
Results by Item
The state doesn’t allow us to see secure test items, so they provide us with descriptions of the test items so that we can know the topic of the question. Question descriptions are grouped by topic in “Reporting Categories” on the chart and are NOT in the order they were taken on the test. Reporting categories with many missed questions may indicate learning gaps in those areas. Your teacher uses this information to help get an idea what skills students have and have not yet mastered. When using this section of the report, be sure to note the key at the top to help understand the abbreviations and symbols.
Note About 3rd Grade
Because there are no 2nd grade SOL tests, the 3rd grade tests include basic versions of 3rd grade skills. The scaled scores are adjusted to account for this.
A student's guided reading level is measured in comparison with grade level expectations. It enables the teacher or parent to apply the level to grade level bands to determine if the student is below, at, or above grade level in their reading development. It uses a scale from A-Z.
Roanoke County mainly uses the Fountas & Pinnell or the Scholastic GRA assessments to measure a student's guided reading level in grades K-1. During 2nd grade and throughout the rest of elementary and middle school, RCPS transitions to the Reading Inventory (RI) and usually only uses the Fountas & Pinnell or Scholastic GRA as a diagnostic instrument for students with low RI scores. See the bottom chart on the attachment to see which levels are normal for the grade level.
Our formative assessments give us a snapshot of how well a student has mastered skills that have been taught so far this year. The tests are ungraded and usually have much lower scores than normal tests. This is because they are tied in difficulty to SOL assessments rather than to a grading scale and because the learning process is still ongoing.
English results and some math courses show the percentile bands for each test. You can use the student's score on the benchmark to determine which the band in which your child scored. The score(s) can be found in the Synergy ParentVue gradebook.
For example, a score that fell in the 90-99.9th percentile band would, at a minimum, be higher than 90% of the students in the entire county who took that test. A score that fell in the 26th to 50th percentile band would be slighly below the average score, but the student is likely on track to pass their end-of-year SOL test because our SOL pass rates are rarely below 75%. Keep in mind that half of all students will be between the 25th and 75th percentiles, so a score at the 39th percentile doesn't mean the student failed, it just means they were on the lower end of normal.
Most math results are shown with cut scores. This is because in math we can compare current scores with past divisionwide performance to project future results. If a student is above the cut score, they are considered on track to pass the spring SOL.
Teachers will analyze your child's formative assessment results as well as all of their other work to determine if additional assistance is necessary.
The division uses the Reading Inventory test in grades 2-8 to determine a student reading comprehension level. Reading comprehension simply means how well they understand what they are reading. The score that we get from the test is called a Lexile score, and the number is applied to the attached chart to get an idea if the student is reading at, above, or below grade level.
The chart shows the fall, winter, and spring results for all students nationwide at each grade level. For each season, it shows the 50th percentile (the median score for all testers in the nation) and the 90th percentile (achievement which is higher than 89% of the testers in the nation). If the RI score on the report card is "BR," then the student has not yet scored a Lexile of 100 and is still considered a beginning reader.
When you get a Lexile score for your child, keep in mind that a score that is slightly below the 50th percentile is still a "normal" score (half of all students are below the 50th percentile). The key is that the student is showing growth. Also, if your student shows a significant drop in their score from the last Lexile they received, they probably had a bad day or weren't giving their best that day. Students don't typically show big drops on this test.
The main purpose of the DSA (Developmental Spelling Inventory) is to determine a child’s developmental spelling stage. The screening tool consists of twenty-five words that become progressively more difficult. The words are designed to show students’ knowledge of key spelling features that relate to the different spelling stages.
The spelling stages are as follows: Early Letter Name (letter sounds), Letter Name (LN), Within Word (WW), and Syllable Juncture (SJ). Students scoring within the 11-21 range are considered instructional within that stage. The results of the features are then analyzed to guide instruction. Once a student masters a stage of development scoring (22-25), they will move into the next developmental stage. Students should show progress in their level from fall to spring.
The PALS is an assessment system developed by the University of Virginia to measure early reading development. Is is phased out by 3rd grade as students become more proficient readers. The report card will state whether a student did or did not meet the PALS benchmark. If your child does not meet the benchmark, then the state provides funding to Roanoke County to help us give extra assistance to your child to help catch him/her up.
***This is the first year for the IXL Diagnostic and we are still in the piloting phase. Once we determine our level of trust with the results we will report this information.***
The IXL Diagnostic Snapshot is given in fall and the system tracks progress through the year. It will provide teachers with detailed information on which individual mathematics skills students have mastered. The test will even show skills above and below grade level to assist in differentiation of instruction. Overall levels are provided to parents to help track student growth. The overall level comes in a score such as 540, which would mean the student has mastered 40% of grade 5 math skills. Normal year to year progress is 100 points. You can use the linked chart to see how your child is progressing as related to grade level norms, and you can contact your child's teacher if you would like more detailed information.
The VKRP readiness benchmark for fall is 538. For context, the possible range of scores is 296 (the lowest possible score) to 830 (the highest possible score). Kindergarteners can be really inconsistent testers, so don't get too concerned over one score. If you are concerned, have a conversation with your child's teacher.
Note: There is no attachment that goes with this section.