Student Growth and Effect Size

Amy Casaldi Assessment, Professional Development

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Recently, I had the pleasure to sit through a professional development session geared around quick formative assessments. Having taken other classes and even reading a few books with formative assessment ideas I felt prepared for the session. What I was struck by was the presenter’s statistical information about how students grow.

The session began with the presenter speaking about John Hattie’s work. She had recently attended a workshop presented by Professor Hattie, author of Visible Learning: Information About What Works Best for Learning. Some of the data and discussion on effect size might not appeal to all of my colleagues but I was really struck with the information about effect size. Perhaps it is my love of math or my undergraduate degree in Statistics but evaluating strategies by themselves and the effect they could have on student learning gave me a strong visual for changes or improvements to my lesson plan and instructional practices.

After reviewing the graph on effect sizes 0.4 refers to one year’s growth for a student, a goal we have for each one of our learners, but what helping our learners to grow beyond one year, especially when we may be trying to help a student catch up in a certain academic area?

Instructional Strategies within the one year’s growth effect size include:
– Student self – concept
– Teacher expectations
– Teacher questioning
– Matching styles of learning
– Computer-assisted instruction

So what instructional strategies went beyond a year’s growth?
– Formative assessment- 0.9 effective size (over two years of growth)
– Self – report grades 1.44 effect size (over three zyears of growth)
– Reciprocal teaching
– Direct instruction
– Metacognitive strategies- can pair well with self – report grades

Keep in mind strategies like formative assessments are only helpful if you use them strategically. I found the above list really helpful for my unit planning. When I am concerned I am not growing my students’ learning as much as I could, I can reflect upon my instructional practices and see if I am including ones that can have a large effect size on my students’ learning.

Finally, if you aren’t ready to consider effect size and the above instructional strategies, consider the list of high impact strategies for teachers. According to “Hattie and His High Impact Strategies for Teachers” Hattie discovered that teachers are far more likely to have a large and positive impact if they:
– Are passionate about helping their students learn
– Forge strong relationships with their students
– Are clear about what they want their students to learn
– Adopt evidence-based teaching strategies
– Monitor their impact on students’ learning, and adjust their approaches accordingly
– Actively seek to improve their own teaching
– Are viewed by the students as being credible (Hattie 2016 Update)

You are far more likely to have a low (or even negative) impact if you:
– Repeat students
– Label students (fixed mindset)
– Have low expectations (

These read a lot like the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards Core Propositions, or at least pieces of the core propositions to me. How can this information impact your practice or how has it already impacted your practice?

Hattie and High High Impact Strategies for Teachers:

National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. (2016). What Teachers Should Know and Be Able to Do. Retrieved from


An Arizona native, I earned an M.Ed. in Elementary Education from Grand Canyon University, B.S. Marketing, B.S. Business Process Management and an M.Ed. in Gifted Education from Arizona State University. I have spent the past 11 years working in public education, K-12 and higher education, with nine of those years spent in the Gilbert Public Schools district. As a 5th grade teacher at Islands Elementary, I am passionate about student relationships and engagement, demonstrating that passion by bringing the outside world into the classroom. I have served on numerous committees including the Arizona State Standards Committees and district curriculum committees as well as serving most recently as an Arizona Hope Street Group Fellow. I was awarded the Teacher of the Year Award from my school, a scholarship from Engineering is Elementary to the Museum of Science in Boston, and a Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute Scholarship. When not working, I enjoy traveling and hosting parties with my husband Heath, laughing at our two silly cats, and anxiously awaiting my National Board portfolio scores.

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