Federal

GAO: Growth Models Hold Promise for NCLB Accountability

By Christina A. Samuels — July 28, 2006 3 min read

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 creating models that work, according to a report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

To make adequate yearly progress, or AYP, under the No Child Left Behind 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 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.

Read the report, “No Child Left Behind Act: States Face Challenges Measuring Academic Growth,” posted July 27, 2006, by the Government Accountability Office. An abstract of the report is also available.

Two states, Tennessee and North Carolina, are currently running growth model pilot programs approved by the U.S. Department of Education. The GAO, the watchdog agency of Congress, said in the report that almost every state has created or is developing its own growth model.

The GAO used a broad definition of the term “growth model.” In addition to models that track the growth of individual students over time, the GAO also 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.

“I think that states can create a growth model for all students to reach proficiency by 2014,” Marnie S. Shaul, the director of the GAO study, told the House education committee on July 27. But to use the models for NCLB purposes, each state would have to develop a robust data management system that would allow them to track the progress of individual students, she said.

Educators Favor Model

A panel of educators and analysts appearing before the House Education and the Workforce Committee generally spoke in favor of adding a growth-model component to the No Child Left Behind law, which is up for reauthorization in 2007.

New York City Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein told the committee that under the law’s main accountability system, educators are motivated to work intensively with students who are just below proficiency, to move them over that threshold and therefore meet AYP. Students who are well below proficiency might be left to struggle because moving them forward is too difficult. Students who are already proficient are not challenged to work harder because their growth doesn’t count under the current accountability system, he told the committee.

“I think it’s very important that we don’t breed cynicism in the system,” said Mr. Klein, who leads a district of 1.1 million students. Growth models would encourage schools to make progress with students at all proficiency levels, he said, instead of just with those at the edge of proficiency.

William L. Sanders, a statistician noted for his work on “value added” analysis, which allows schools and districts to more precisely measure their contribution to student learning, suggested that growth models could take the place of NCLB’s “safe harbor” policy, which provides a second look at schools that have failed to meet their annual achievement targets. That policy allows schools to meet AYP if the percentage of students below the proficient level on state tests drops by 10 percent from the previous school year, for the group of students that missed its target.

Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., the chairman of the education committee, said the reliability and utility of growth models is the focus of an ongoing debate.

“We’re not necessarily here to embrace the concept, nor to refute it,” he said. “Instead, we’re simply here to listen, and to learn.”

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Mathematics Webinar
Building Equitable Systems: Moving Math From Gatekeeper to Opportunity Gateway
The importance of disrupting traditional American math practices and adopting high-quality math curriculum continues to be essential for changing the trajectory of historically under-resourced schools. Building systems around high-quality math curriculum also is necessary to
Content provided by Partnership for L.A. Schools
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Measuring & Supporting Student Well-Being: A Researcher and District Leader Roundtable
Students’ social-emotional well-being matters. The positive and negative emotions students feel are essential characteristics of their psychology, indicators of their well-being, and mediators of their success in school and life. Supportive relationships with peers, school
Content provided by Panorama Education
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Making Digital Literacy a Priority: An Administrator’s Perspective
Join us as we delve into the efforts of our panelists and their initiatives to make digital skills a “must have” for their district. We’ll discuss with district leadership how they have kept digital literacy
Content provided by Learning.com

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Federal Miguel Cardona: Schools Must Work to Win Trust of Families of Color as They Reopen
As Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona announced new school reopening resources, he encouraged a focus on equity and student engagement.
4 min read
Education Secretary nominee Miguel Cardona testifies before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee during his confirmation hearing Feb. 3, 2021.
Now-U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona testifies before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee during his confirmation hearing in February.
Susan Walsh/AP
Federal CDC: Nearly 80 Percent of K-12, Child-Care Workers Have Had at Least One COVID-19 Shot
About four out of five teachers, school staffers, and child-care workers had first COVID-19 vaccine doses by the end of March, CDC says.
2 min read
John Battle High School teacher Jennifer Daniel receives her COVID-19 vaccine on Jan. 11, 2021. Teachers received their first vaccine during an all-day event at the Virginia Highlands Higher Education Center in Abingdon, Va.
John Battle High School teacher Jennifer Daniel receives her COVID-19 vaccine on Jan. 11at the Virginia Highlands Higher Education Center in Abingdon, Va.
David Crigger/Bristol Herald Courier via AP
Federal Ed. Dept. to Review Title IX Rules on Sexual Assault, Gender Equity, LGBTQ Rights
The review could reopen a Trump-era debate on sexual assault in schools, and it could spark legal discord over transgender student rights.
4 min read
Symbols of gender.
iStock/Getty
Federal Q&A EdWeek Q&A: Miguel Cardona Talks Summer Learning, Mental Health, and State Tests
In an interview after a school reopening summit, the education secretary also addressed teachers' union concerns about CDC guidance.
10 min read
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona speaks during a press briefing at the White House on March 17, 2021.
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona speaks during a press briefing at the White House on March 17.
Andrew Harnik/AP