Published Online: July 3, 2007

U.S. OKs Pilot ‘Growth Models’ for Last 2 States

The U.S. Department of Education announced today that it will permit two more states—Arizona and Alaska—to use so-called growth models to measure student progress for the 2006-07 school year.

Six other states—Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, and Tennessee— have already been fully approved to participate in the department’s growth model pilot project. Beyond Ohio, which has received conditional approval, no additional states will be considered for approval to participate in the pilot project, said Rebecca Neale, a spokeswoman for the department.

Growth models allow states to receive credit under the 5-year-old No Child Left Behind Act for improving individual students’ academic performance over time.

By contrast, states adhering to the standard accountability requirements under the federal law compare test scores of groups of students against those of students in the same grade during the previous year, to gauge whether they are making progress toward bringing all students to proficiency by the 2013-14 school year.

‘Many Different Routes’

The department announced in 2005 that as many as 10 states could be permitted to participate in the pilot project, which U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings initiated to gauge whether growth models can be reliable indicators of student progress.

If lawmakers are satisfied with the results of the project, they could choose to expand the use of growth models during the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act, scheduled for this year. The department will also evaluate the results of the project and consider next steps, Ms. Neale said.

Ms. Spellings outlined a set of “bright line” principles that all states interested in participating in the pilot project must meet.

For instance, the accountability plans must adhere to the 2013-14 target for having all students achieving at the proficiency level on state tests. Like standard state accountability plans approved under the NCLB law, acceptable growth models also must hold schools accountable for the performance of student subgroups, such as racial minorities.

“There are many different routes for states to take, but they all must begin with a commitment to annual assessment and disaggregation of data,” said Secretary Spellings in a statement. “And, they all must lead to closing the achievement gap and every student reaching grade level by 2014. We are open to new ideas, but when it comes to accountability, we are not taking our eye off the ball.”

Vol. 26, Issue 43

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