AYP's Grade: Incomplete
One thing is almost certain about NCLB's future: The way AYP is calculated will change. Most, including the chairman of the House's education committee, would use students' test-score growth as the key indicator.
In the new issue of Education Next, Harvard researcher Paul E. Peterson is the latest to outline ideas for a growth model. Under his plan, schools would be given letter grades, from 'A' through 'F,' based on the amount of progress their students are making toward the goal of universal proficiency by the end of 2013-14 school year. He compares the current "you made it or you didn't" AYP structure to "pass/fail" grades.
"I have learned from bitter experience that such a grading system both gives students license to do nothing and, ultimately, provides less information to those who rely on grades as a way of ascertaining whether students have learned something," writes Peterson, who is a professor of government at Harvard University.
Peterson also believes that NCLB should hold people (students, teachers, and administrators) accountable for results. Students should not be promoted to the next grade if they don't perform well on tests, he says. Teachers should be rewarded if their students perform well, given help if their students fail, and "dismissed if they remain consistently ineffective classroom teachers," he writes. Likewise, he adds, principals and superintendents should be held accountable for student test results in their schools and districts.
Peterson's ideas are at the crux of two of the most significant issues in NCLB reauthorization. How will the law track student progress: through a statewide test or multiple measures? And what constitutes a highly qualified teacher: someone with credentials or someone whose students perform well on tests?
P.S. Peterson's essay is part of package asking the question: Will NCLB Hit the Wall? You can read the articles here.