Education

How 11 Words Could Dramatically Change Proficiency Goal

March 16, 2009 1 min read

Back in 2007, the House education committee’s “discussion” draft for NCLB reauthorization bill came under fire from many sides. The NEA’s opposition to potential pay-for-performance programs drew most of the attention.

Barely noticed and hardly debated, though, were minor addition to NCLB’s goal for student achievement. The current law requires states to track whether students are on pace to be proficient by the 2013-14 school year. The discussion draft for Title I would have added one important 11-word phrase: “or be on trajectory to meet or exceed [proficiency] within 3 years.”

I point this out as a follow-up to Friday’s post on growth models. Throughout his report for Education Sector, Charles Barone judges Tennessee’s growth model based on the goal in the current law. But it’s important to note that the most comprehensive proposal to reauthorize NCLB included the same type of statistical measures as Tennessee’s growth models. The draft would have made proficiency a “moving target” (to use Barone’s words from his report on Tennessee).

Barone’s criticism of the Tennessee model stands today. But the inclusion of 11 words in a reauthorized law might lead him to write a new report—one that looks at the impact of a three-year trajectory in all 50 states.

A version of this news article first appeared in the NCLB: Act II blog.

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