BoardBuzz has heard from a lot of hard working educators and school board members that growth models need to be incorporated into NCLB version 2.0 so schools are given the credit they deserve for increasing student achievement. BoardBuzz certainly agrees, but is including a measure of student growth a silver bullet to cure all of NCLB’s ills?
If you have been following the recent developments up in the Big Apple, the answer surely seems to be a resounding NO. The New York Times had two articles (read here and here) this past week on the fallout of New York City‘s new school accountability system which included a growth measure. So what is all the fuss about? Well, since the growth measure accounts for more than half (55 percent) of each school’s accountability grade (schools are graded A through F) many schools with already “high performing” students with impeccable reputations received grades lower than schools with lower performing students who were making greater gains with their students. This did not sit well with many parents from the “high performing” schools or parents from many of the schools receiving D and F’s for that matter.
So what went wrong? If New York officials were able to read the Center for Public Education’s report released todayGrowth Models: A guide for informed decision makingmaybe the fallout could’ve been avoided. The report points out several important issues policymakers, such as those in New York City, need to take into consideration when implementing a growth model. Although BoardBuzz is an NYC outsider, it does not appear that city officials took into consideration one key element the Center’s report points outone that is often overlooked when implementing a growth modelprovide professional development.
According to the report, professional development is needed to inform teachers, administrators, and parents to what exactly is being measured and how the data should be used, because if those who are affected by the growth model don’t understand it, then they won’t accept its results. After reading the New York Times articles, it appears this was the case in NYC. Parents and educators seemed confused about how some schools were graded higher than others, since it is hard to understand how the grades were calculated.
This is a lesson federal policymakers should take heed of before they include a growth model in NCLB’s reauthorization. Just throwing a growth model into the new law won’t magically make NCLB better, just as a doctor simply diagnosing an illness won’t make a patient better. As the Center’s report points out, there is no “one” growth model, and federal policymakers should give states the flexibility needed to develop growth models that meet the goals of NCLB and enable them to develop growth models that fit their needs and resources.
Although including a growth model in NCLB 2.0 is certainly a step in the right direction, it needs to be done correctly. Policymakers, educators, parents and even the media should check out the Center for Public Education’s Growth Models: A guide for informed decision making to learn more about the different types of growth models, what is needed to implement a growth model, and how growth model data should be used.