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Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings made news of her own today. She announced that Michigan and Missouri will be allowed to use growth models. Michigan can start now, but Missouri has to adopt the same 'n' for all subgroups before it can change over to growth.

Spellings has approved 11 states in the growth model pilot—the secretary's first and biggest effort to provide flexibility under NCLB.

States will have one last chance to win Spellings' approval in the growth-model pilot. She's calling for applications again in the fall and will approve the last ones before she hands over the office keys to the next education secretary on Jan. 20.

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As a resident of Michigan, I am confused as to how this will help struggling schools. At first glance, the growth model seems that it will allow schools to use the year-to-year progress of individual students to be factored into the equation when measuring adequate yearly progress. This is much fairer than just if the student has meet the grade level proficiency on the state exam. This appears to be a positive step to measuring adequate yearly progress. If schools are allowed to show their individual students are making progress on the state exams it gives us a much better indication of how that school is performing. I would conclude that if students scores on the tests are improving then the school is improving the quality of instruction. I am more concerned with improvement than the number of students scoring advanced or proficient on the state exam.

However, using the growth model schools are still held accountable for having all students’ proficient on the state exam by 2014. This number is unrealistic. It would be more realistic to say all students must show improvement but realistically not all students will ever meet proficiency on a standardized exam. This obviously needs to be changed to reflect what is realistic for schools to accomplish. It is extremely unfair to hold schools accountable to a goal that is impossible to reach.

It will be interesting to see how the growth model will affect the number of schools in Michigan that are meeting adequate yearly progress. This is a step in the right direction and it is a good start to a fair and reliable way to measure progress of schools. However, much more is needed.

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  • Pam V.: As a resident of Michigan, I am confused as to read more



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