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20 States Seek to Join Pilot on NCLB ‘Growth Models’

By Lynn Olson — February 24, 2006 3 min read
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edweek.org: A link to the peer-review guidance is online at www.edweek.org/links.

Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Utah submitted proposals to the Department of Education by the Feb. 17 deadline, to begin incorporating a growth measure into their accountability systems under the federal law starting this school year. Maryland, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and South Dakota have asked to participate in the pilot starting next school year.

“Peer Review Guidance for the NCLB Growth Model Pilot Applications” is available from the U.S. Department of Education. (Requires Microsoft Word.)

In announcing the program last November, Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings said no more than 10 states would be selected for the pilot, which is designed to test whether growth-based accountability models show promise as a fair and reliable way of measuring improvement and holding schools accountable for achievement under the law.

To make adequate yearly progress under the 4-year-old law, schools and districts must meet annual targets for the percent of students who score at least at the proficient level on state tests, both for the student population as a whole and for subgroups of students who are poor, speak limited English, have disabilities, or come from racial or ethnic minorities.

Growth models could enable schools and districts to receive credit for students who make significant progress over the course of a year, but who have not yet reached the proficient level, by tracking the gains of individual youngsters over time.

“This is a very, very important next step in the maturation of No Child Left Behind,” Deputy Secretary of Education Raymond J. Simon said in a conference call last week. “This is a very big step for us, and one that we want to absolutely assure is successful.”

Peer Reviewers Selected

The Education Department has designed a two-step review process that will rely on a panel of outside experts to make recommendations about which proposals should be accepted.

By the end of March, department officials will have conducted an initial review of each state’s plan to see if it meets seven key criteria required for participation in the pilot. (“States Vie to Be Part of NCLB ‘Growth’ Pilot,” Feb. 1, 2006.)

Those include, for example, having at least two years of test data in reading and mathematics in each of grades 3-8 and once in high school, as required by the federal law, and ensuring that all students are proficient on state tests by 2014.

For a state to participate, its system of standards and assessment also must have received approval from the department for the 2005-06 year.

“Something that we’ll be spending some time thinking about here, as well, is what are the fundamentals required for an accountability system to even do a growth model well,” said Kerri Briggs, a senior policy adviser in the department.

Proposals that pass the initial review will be forwarded to a panel of peer reviewers drawn from academia, private organizations, and state and local education agencies. They will review the plans based on guidance issued by the department in February. Ms. Briggs said the department would post the proposals on its Web site at the same time it sends them to the peer reviewers.

The reviewers are: Eric Hanushek, senior fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University (chairman); Chris Schatschneider, associate professor of psychology, Florida State University; David Francis, professor of psychology, University of Houston; Margaret E. Goertz, professor of education, University of Pennsylvania; Robert L. Mendro, assistant superintendent, Dallas Independent School District; Jeffrey M. Nellhaus, deputy commissioner, Massachusetts Department of Education; Mitchell D. Chester, assistant superintendent for policy and accountability, Ohio Department of Education; Louis Fabrizio, director of accountability, North Carolina Department of Public Instruction; Kati Haycock, executive director, the Education Trust; William L. Taylor, chairman, Citizens’ Commission on Civil Rights; Sharon Lewis, retired, Council of the Great City Schools.

A version of this article appeared in the March 01, 2006 edition of Education Week as 20 States Seek to Join Pilot on NCLB ‘Growth Models’

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