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How to Identify Meaningful Subgroups

Measuring trends across different groups of people


Developing subgroups is a way to break down samples of participants into smaller subsets based on demographics. For example, a study of unfinished learning conducted with Lindsay Unified School District created subgroups based on their individual school buildings as well as whether students might have been classified as English Learner, Migrant, Homeless, or receiving special education services.

To identify subgroups in your own context:

  • Determine what’s important to YOU! You might choose to examine differences based on school building, race, gender, socioeconomics, geography (rural, urban or suburban areas), broadband access, teacher certification, etc.
  • Your chosen assessments may dictate that only scores within specific age groups can be compared. For example, subgroups could be students in K-2, 3-5, 6-9, and/or 9-12.
  • State or federal reporting requirements may ask for specific subgroups such as race, students who qualify for Free or Reduced-Price Meals, or English Learner status.