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Interpreting Common Diagnostic Patterns
It's important to reflect on the overall patterns of growth across groups, rather than placing too much emphasis on any one value. The following examples illustrate patterns that are common in these reports. These examples are from reports, but similar patterns can be seen in other diagnostic reports as well.
It's important to rely more heavily on the bar charts than on the pie chart as you examine the patterns of growth across groups. The bars offer a better view of the growth of students in different groups, while the pies provide insight into the percentages of students in each group.
Pattern 1: Downhill Pattern
The downhill pattern occurs when the instructional program benefits lower-achieving students more than their higher-achieving peers. This pattern might occur in a district where accountability is a primary concern. That concern can lead teachers and administrators to focus more heavily on meeting the needs of low-achieving students who are not yet proficient. Helping low-achieving students exceed expected growth each year is important. However, in this case, high-achieving students are not meeting the standard and are losing ground academically. If the program continues to produce these results, there might be fewer high-achieving students in later grades.
Pattern 2: Uphill Pattern
The uphill pattern occurs when the instructional program benefits higher-achieving students more than their lower-achieving peers. This pattern might occur if a district shifts the program toward a stronger emphasis on academic rigor without effectively differentiating the instruction for lower-achieving students. This pattern often results in a widening of the achievement gap.
Pattern 3: Tent Pattern
The tent pattern occurs when the instructional program most benefits students in the middle of the achievement range, without appropriately addressing the needs of students on the higher and lower ends of the range. Teachers and administrators should consider how to broaden the curricular focus, offer effective supports and interventions for low-achieving students, and provide meaningful enrichment opportunities for high achievers.
Pattern 4: V Pattern
In the V pattern, only the lowest-achieving and highest-achieving students exceeded expected growth, but students in the middle groups have not had sufficient opportunities to make progress. This pattern might occur in cases where instruction is not very effective, but the lowest-achieving students are receiving additional services, and the highest-achieving students are being challenged, perhaps through a strong gifted program or honors level courses.
Pattern 5: Opportunity Gap Pattern
The opportunity gap pattern occurs when students at all achievement levels are making good growth except for students in the second achievement group. This type of pattern might occur when classroom instruction is aimed at students who are at least average in achievement, while the lowest-achieving students are benefitting from additional services and interventions. Students in the second achievement group might lose ground if they are not provided with additional services or if their academic needs are not addressed through differentiated instruction in the classroom.
Pattern 6: Desirable Pattern
The desirable pattern occurs when students at all achievement levels are meeting or exceeding expected growth. In this pattern, the lowest-achieving students are making the most growth. Over time this pattern has the potential to close the achievement gap without inhibiting the growth of high-achieving students.