Federal Opinion

Growth Models Across America -- And More Pilots To Come

By Alexander Russo — July 03, 2007 6 min read
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Like I said last week, who needs a reauthorization when you can just change the law as much as you want without anyone really protesting? Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Case in point, today the EdSec announced more growth model approvals. The latest three include Alaska, Arizona, and (last week) Florida. See below for the press release.

Additional waivers/pilots to look for in the coming months while reauthorization languishes include: that “just missed” AYP designation that she talked about last week in USA Today, a blanket waiver of some kind on HQT (statutorily, it’s time to declare 40-plus states out of compliance and start doing compliance agreements).SECRETARY SPELLINGS APPROVES ADDITIONAL GROWTH MODEL PILOTS FOR 2006-2007 SCHOOL YEAR

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings today announced approval of two high-quality growth models, which follow the bright-line principles of No Child Left Behind. Alaska and Arizona are immediately approved to use the growth model for the 2006-2007 school year.

To date, seven states have been fully approved to implement their growth models. In May 2006, North Carolina and Tennessee received full approval for the 2005-2006 school year. Last November, Delaware and Arkansas received full approval for the 2006-2007 school year. Additionally, Florida was conditionally approved by the Department in November and received full approval on June 26 to implement their growth model for the 2006-2007 school year. Ohio’s growth model was approved in May on the condition that the state adopt a uniform minimum group size for all subgroups, including students with disabilities and limited English proficient students, in AYP determinations for the 2006-2007 school year. The Department plans to approve no more than 10 high-quality growth models for the pilot program.

“A growth model is a way for states that are already raising achievement and following the bright-line principles of the law to strengthen accountability,” Secretary Spellings said. “Alaska and Arizona were recognized by our impressive group of peer reviewers to have written strong growth models that adhere to the core principles of No Child Left Behind.”

“There are many different routes for states to take, but they all must begin with a commitment to annual assessment and disaggregation of data. And, they all must lead to closing the achievement gap and every student reaching grade level by 2014. We are open to new ideas, but when it comes to accountability, we are not taking our eye off the ball.”

A rigorous peer review process was used by the Department to ensure that the selection process was fair and transparent for all participating states. A panel of nationally recognized experts reviewed and made recommendations on states’ proposals, choosing Iowa and Ohio for approval.

The Department intends to gather data to test the idea that growth models can be fair, reliable and innovative methods to measure student improvement and to hold schools accountable for results. Growth models track individual student achievement from one year to the next, giving schools credit for student improvement over time. The pilot program enables the Department to rigorously evaluate growth models and ensure their alignment with NCLB, and to share these results with other States.

September 15, 2006: Deadline for five States that were previously peer-reviewed to submit revised proposals to the Department for consideration for the 2006-07 school year.

October 16-17, 2006: Second peer review for the five States that submitted revised proposals that were not approved by the Department following the first peer review in April 2006.

November 1, 2006: Deadline for all other states to submit new growth model proposals to the Department for the 2006-2007 school year. The nine states that applied for the remaining five slots were: Alaska, Arizona, Iowa, Hawaii, Ohio, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Utah.

March 15-16, 2007: First peer review for the eight States that met the Secretary’s core principles.

May 1, 2007: Deadline for the five States for which the peers requested additional information to submit revised proposals. The five States were: Alaska, Arizona, Iowa, New Hampshire, and Ohio.

May 14, 2007: Second peer review of the five States that submitted revised proposals.

May 24, 2007: The Department announces Iowa for approval and Ohio for conditional approval in the growth model pilot program for 2006-07.

June 26, 2007: The Department announces Florida for full approval in the growth model pilot program for 2006-07.

July 3, 2007: The Department announces Alaska and Arizona for full approval in the growth model pilot program for 2006-07.

The bright-line principles for high-quality growth models are:

· Ensure that all students are proficient by 2014 and set annual state goals to ensure that the achievement gap is closing for all groups of students;

· Set expectations for annual achievement based upon meeting grade-level proficiency and not upon student background or school characteristics;

· Hold schools accountable for student achievement in reading/language arts and mathematics;
· Ensure that all students in tested grades are included in the assessment and accountability system, hold schools and districts accountable for the performance of each student subgroup, and include all schools and districts;

· Include assessments, in each of grades 3 through 8 and high school, in both reading/language arts and mathematics that have been operational for more than one year and have received approval through the NCLB standards and assessment review process for the 2005-06 school year. The assessment system must also produce comparable results from grade to grade and year to year;

· Track student progress as part of the state data system; and
· Include student participation rates and student achievement as separate academic indicators in the state accountability system.

The peer reviewers, who represent academia, private organizations and state and local education agencies, reviewed each proposal based on the Peer Review Guidance (

) issued by the U.S. Department of Education as a road map for developing the models. The reviewers are as follows:

Chair: Anthony Bryk, Stanford University


· Chris Schatschneider, Florida State University
· Harold Doran, American Institutes for Research
· Chrys Dougherty, National Center for Educational Accountability
· Ann O’Connell, University of Connecticut
· Pete Goldschmidt, California State University, Northridge
· Margaret McLaughlin, University of Maryland
· Martha Thurlow, National Center of Educational Opportunities

State and District Practitioners:

· Robert Mendro, Dallas Independent School District
· Jeff Nellhaus, Deputy Commissioner, Massachusetts Department of Education
· Lou Fabrizio, North Carolina Department of Public Instruction
· Tom Fisher, Independent Consultant
· Sandy Sanford, Riverside County Office of Education

Education Organizations:

· Dianne Piché, Citizens Commission on Civil Rights
· William Taylor, Citizens Commission on Civil Rights
· Sharon Lewis, Retired, Council of Great City Schools

For more information on the Growth Model Pilot, please visit:

The opinions expressed in This Week In Education are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.