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Ed. Dept. Sets High Hurdles to Qualify for Growth Models

Following up on yesterday's post on growth models, here is my story on the Department of Education's announcement and here is a copy of the letter going to state chiefs.

In the letter, Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings explains the criteria that the department will use to evaluate states' applications. Quoting from the letter, states must:

"1. Ensure that all students are proficient by 2014 and set annual goals to ensure that the achievement gap is closing for all groups of students identified in the statute.
2. Set expectations for annual achievement based on meeting grade-level proficiency, not based on student background or characteristics.
3. Hold schools accountable for student achievement in reading/language arts and mathematics separately.
4. 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.
5. Include assessments that produce comparable results from grade to grade and year to year in grades three through eight and high school in both reading/language arts and mathematics, have been operational for more than one year, and have received full approval or full approval with recommendations before the state determines AYP based on 2007-08 assessment results.
6. Track student progress as part of the state data system.
7. Include student participation rates and student achievement on a separate academic indicator in the state accountability system."

How many states will end up qualifying? Just 34 states have the basic data elements necessary to conduct a growth model, according to the Data Quality Campaign. (Look here to see if your state is one of them.)

How many of those states are able to guarantee that their assessment system produces results from grade to grade? A recent report from the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation suggests that many states might have problems proving that. (From personal experience, I have my doubts about Virginia—one of the 34 states with adequate data.) Additional states will be disqualified because the department hasn't approved their assessment systems.

How many states will be using a growth model for the first time in the 2007-08 school year? Will it be two? five? 10? More? Any guesses out there?

P.S. In his statement, Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., the chairman of the Education and Labor Committee, endorses the idea and chastises the Bush administration for not being serious about NCLB reauthorization.


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