The Department of Education last week added three more states to a pilot program that evaluates schools under the federal No Child Left Behind Act based in part on the growth individual students make over time.
Delaware received full approval to participate in the pilot this school year, while Arkansas and Florida will be allowed to take part assuming they receive full approval from the department for their testing systems by the end of this school year.
That would bring to five the number of states using a so-called “growth model” under the federal law. North Carolina and Tennessee began using a growth model as part of the pilot program last school year.
Another nine states—Arizona, California, Hawaii, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Utah—have also submitted proposals that will go before a federal review panel as early as February.
But Alaska and Oregon had their proposals shot down for a second time. They’ve been invited to resubmit their plans by the end of December. The department intends to approve no more than 10 states in total.
‘Important to States’
The NCLB law’s current accountability system requires schools and districts to meet annual targets for the percent of students who perform at least at the “proficient” level on state tests, with those targets rising over time until all students score at that level in 2013-14.
In contrast, growth models give schools credit for the learning gains individual students make over time. To qualify for the pilot program, those gains have to be rapid enough to ensure all students are proficient by 2014, and the accountability system must include all students and all subgroups in the tested grades. Florida, for example, will calculate an individual trajectory for each student that requires the child to be proficient within three years, except for 10th graders, who will have only two years to reach proficiency.
“We know this is important to states,” said Raymond J. Simon, the deputy secretary of education, during a telephone briefing Nov. 9. “We believe it has possibilities to inform us and inform the Congress” as the law comes up for reauthorization next year.
“We’re excited about the opportunity to use growth as a measure toward making adequate yearly progress,” said Hanna Skandera, the deputy commissioner for accountability, research, and measurement for the Florida education department. “Certainly, it’s going to serve students and teachers better when it comes to measuring how are we doing and are kids really improving.”
A version of this article appeared in the November 15, 2006 edition of Education Week as 3 States Get OK to Use ‘Growth Model’ to Gauge AYP