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The House Cheat Sheet, Part 1

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Many folks out there are looking through the fine print of the 400-page NCLB draft that the House education committee put out yesterday. If you don't have time to do that—or even read the summary—here's a digest of issues related to testing, accountability, and AYP. I'll follow up with issues related to special education and differentiated consequences.

For a summary of issues related to English Language Learners, read this post on Learning the Language, a blog written by my colleague Mary Ann Zehr.

One key point to remember about this proposal is that it retains two significant policies from the current law: the goal that all students will be proficient in reading and math by 2013-14 and the requirement that states assess student progress toward that goal in grades 3-8 and once in high school.

Multiple Measures
States could choose to use several different measures to supplement their statewide test scores. Those indicators are: graduation rates, dropout rates, college enrollment rates, percentage of students passing exit exams for college-prep courses, test scores for academic subjects other than reading and math, and test scores for students at the lowest and highest achievement levels. Under that final category, schools and districts could get credit for moving students from a "below basic" category into "basic" or from "proficient" to "advanced." All multiple measures would need approval from the education secretary.

Even when using additional measures, the reading and math scores would form the basis for accountability systems. States could use these measures to boost the scores of schools or districts. Think of it as extra credit. The bill, though, would cap the amount that these measures could add to the math and reading scores.

Growth Models
All growth models would need to track students' progress toward proficiency by 2013-14. They also could count students as proficient if their test-score growth puts them on the path to proficiency within three years. The growth models also would need to establish separate growth targets for reading and math.

Increasing the Rigor of Standards
Provides incentives for states to revise their standards to ensure that they meet the academic expectations for college and the workforce. These states would have to change their tests to be aligned with those new standards. Those incentives aren't defined in the draft and may be added later based on comments submitted to the committee, I'm told.

'N' sizes, etc.
Would set a maximum 'n' size of 30. Would set a maximum confidence interval of 95 percent and 75 percent for schools in Safe Harbor. Also would prohibit the use of confidence intervals in growth models.

2 Comments

Under multiple measures: "Those indicators are: graduation rates, dropout rates, college enrollment rates, etc..." Someone is going to have to explain how these pseudo "measures" indicates learning has occurred. And just who is going to be reporting these rates? The local districts? Anyone interested in some quality swampland in Florida? I can let you have it for a song. Multiple measures suggests; for the kids who cannot pass the NCLB tests, states are going to offer them an out, because the states wants everyone to feel good. This is the same nonsense that got our schools in the deplorable condition they were in prior to ed reform.

Any measures are subject to manipulation and interpretation. The knee-jerk rejection of multiple measures requires a degree of faith in current NCLB testing that seems unwarranted. It seems to me more information would be helpful. For example, it's true that graduation rates don't prove that learning occurred, but wouldn't you also want to know if testing showed skills improvement but a school showed no correlating improvement in graduation?

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  • David Cohen: Any measures are subject to manipulation and interpretation. The knee-jerk read more
  • Paul Hoss: Under multiple measures: "Those indicators are: graduation rates, dropout rates, read more

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