BoardBuzz is certain that many state departments of education staff have been burning the midnight oil the last couple days. That’s because today is the deadline for states to submit their proposals for including a growth model into their No Child Left Behind (NCLB) accountability plans for the 2007-08 school year.
Back in December Secretary Spellings announced that she was expanding the growth model pilot program to include all states instead of limiting it to just ten. However, BoardBuzz is not expecting a slew of states to use growth models in the coming year for several reasons discussed below.
In its recent report Growth Models: A guide to informed decision making the Center for Public Education points out that states need properly designed annual tests; data systems to collect, sort, and analyze data covering at least the past two years; and statistical experts to design and implement an accurate and reliable measure of student achievement growth. Unfortunately, growth models are still relatively new in education and not only do states have to meet all seven of the pilot program’s conditions, but, as the Center for Public Education points out, so many states still do not have the right elements in place, although most states will in the coming years.
BoardBuzz certainly agrees that allowing states to judge schools based on how much their students learned from one year to the next is much more fair then the current system. However, that does not mean states should rush into implementing just any growth model. School boards members, educators, parents, state policymakers, and anyone else interested in developing an accurate measure of student growth should read the Center for Public Education’s Growth Models: A guide to informed decision making to learn what it takes to implement the right growth model. Implementing the wrong growth model will not help improve NCLB, but implementing the right one most definitely will.