GAO: Growth Models Promising

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Carefully constructed “growth models” can help meet the No Child Left Behind Act’s goal of getting the nation’s students to academic proficiency, but states face technical hurdles in crafting such models that work, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office.

To make adequate yearly progress, or AYP, under the federal law, schools and districts must meet annual targets for the percentage of students who score at least at the proficient level on state reading and mathematics tests, both for the student population as a whole and for certain subgroups of students. Growth models would allow schools to meet the standards by measuring the academic progress that students make from year to year, even if the students have not yet made it to the proficient level.

North Carolina and Tennessee are now running growth-model pilot programs approved by the federal Department of Education. The GAO said in the report last month that almost every state has created or is developing its own growth model.

The GAO used a broad definition of the term. In addition to models that track the academic growth of individual students over time, the agency included in its report states that measure changes in test scores or proficiency levels of schools or groups of students. Under that definition, 26 states currently use a growth model, and 22 states and the District of Columbia are considering using one. States have used growth models for their own purposes to target assistance to schools, or to award bonuses to teachers, for example.

Vol. 25, Issue 44, Page 26

Published in Print: August 9, 2006, as GAO: Growth Models Promising
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