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Growth Models Across America -- And More Pilots To Come

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Like I said last week, who needs a reauthorization when you can just change the law as much as you want without anyone really protesting? Not that there's anything wrong with that. Case in point, today the EdSec announced more growth model approvals. The latest three include Alaska, Arizona, and (last week) Florida. See below for the press release.

Additional waivers/pilots to look for in the coming months while reauthorization languishes include: that "just missed" AYP designation that she talked about last week in USA Today, a blanket waiver of some kind on HQT (statutorily, it's time to declare 40-plus states out of compliance and start doing compliance agreements).

SECRETARY SPELLINGS APPROVES ADDITIONAL GROWTH MODEL PILOTS FOR 2006-2007 SCHOOL YEAR

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings today announced approval of two high-quality growth models, which follow the bright-line principles of No Child Left Behind. Alaska and Arizona are immediately approved to use the growth model for the 2006-2007 school year.

To date, seven states have been fully approved to implement their growth models. In May 2006, North Carolina and Tennessee received full approval for the 2005-2006 school year. Last November, Delaware and Arkansas received full approval for the 2006-2007 school year. Additionally, Florida was conditionally approved by the Department in November and received full approval on June 26 to implement their growth model for the 2006-2007 school year. Ohio’s growth model was approved in May on the condition that the state adopt a uniform minimum group size for all subgroups, including students with disabilities and limited English proficient students, in AYP determinations for the 2006-2007 school year. The Department plans to approve no more than 10 high-quality growth models for the pilot program.

"A growth model is a way for states that are already raising achievement and following the bright-line principles of the law to strengthen accountability," Secretary Spellings said. "Alaska and Arizona were recognized by our impressive group of peer reviewers to have written strong growth models that adhere to the core principles of No Child Left Behind."

"There are many different routes for states to take, but they all must begin with a commitment to annual assessment and disaggregation of data. And, they all must lead to closing the achievement gap and every student reaching grade level by 2014. We are open to new ideas, but when it comes to accountability, we are not taking our eye off the ball."

A rigorous peer review process was used by the Department to ensure that the selection process was fair and transparent for all participating states. A panel of nationally recognized experts reviewed and made recommendations on states' proposals, choosing Iowa and Ohio for approval.

The Department intends to gather data to test the idea that growth models can be fair, reliable and innovative methods to measure student improvement and to hold schools accountable for results. Growth models track individual student achievement from one year to the next, giving schools credit for student improvement over time. The pilot program enables the Department to rigorously evaluate growth models and ensure their alignment with NCLB, and to share these results with other States.

September 15, 2006: Deadline for five States that were previously peer-reviewed to submit revised proposals to the Department for consideration for the 2006-07 school year.

October 16-17, 2006: Second peer review for the five States that submitted revised proposals that were not approved by the Department following the first peer review in April 2006.

November 1, 2006: Deadline for all other states to submit new growth model proposals to the Department for the 2006-2007 school year. The nine states that applied for the remaining five slots were: Alaska, Arizona, Iowa, Hawaii, Ohio, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Utah.

March 15-16, 2007: First peer review for the eight States that met the Secretary’s core principles.

May 1, 2007: Deadline for the five States for which the peers requested additional information to submit revised proposals. The five States were: Alaska, Arizona, Iowa, New Hampshire, and Ohio.

May 14, 2007: Second peer review of the five States that submitted revised proposals.

May 24, 2007: The Department announces Iowa for approval and Ohio for conditional approval in the growth model pilot program for 2006-07.

June 26, 2007: The Department announces Florida for full approval in the growth model pilot program for 2006-07.

July 3, 2007: The Department announces Alaska and Arizona for full approval in the growth model pilot program for 2006-07.

The bright-line principles for high-quality growth models are:

· Ensure that all students are proficient by 2014 and set annual state goals to ensure that the achievement gap is closing for all groups of students;

· Set expectations for annual achievement based upon meeting grade-level proficiency and not upon student background or school characteristics;

· Hold schools accountable for student achievement in reading/language arts and mathematics;
· 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;

· Include assessments, in each of grades 3 through 8 and high school, in both reading/language arts and mathematics that have been operational for more than one year and have received approval through the NCLB standards and assessment review process for the 2005-06 school year. The assessment system must also produce comparable results from grade to grade and year to year;

· Track student progress as part of the state data system; and
· Include student participation rates and student achievement as separate academic indicators in the state accountability system.

The peer reviewers, who represent academia, private organizations and state and local education agencies, reviewed each proposal based on the Peer Review Guidance () issued by the U.S. Department of Education as a road map for developing the models. The reviewers are as follows:

Chair: Anthony Bryk, Stanford University

Academia:

· Chris Schatschneider, Florida State University
· Harold Doran, American Institutes for Research
· Chrys Dougherty, National Center for Educational Accountability
· Ann O’Connell, University of Connecticut
· Pete Goldschmidt, California State University, Northridge
· Margaret McLaughlin, University of Maryland
· Martha Thurlow, National Center of Educational Opportunities

State and District Practitioners:

· Robert Mendro, Dallas Independent School District
· Jeff Nellhaus, Deputy Commissioner, Massachusetts Department of Education
· Lou Fabrizio, North Carolina Department of Public Instruction
· Tom Fisher, Independent Consultant
· Sandy Sanford, Riverside County Office of Education

Education Organizations:

· Dianne Piché, Citizens Commission on Civil Rights
· William Taylor, Citizens Commission on Civil Rights
· Sharon Lewis, Retired, Council of Great City Schools

For more information on the Growth Model Pilot, please visit:

1 Comment

Who’s Child Shall Be Left Behind? Your’s?
The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) is first, and foremost an aspiration for the success of every student. The parameters and accountability standards are daunting, indeed. States, including Arizona, have set their plans to assure proficiency for every student by 2014 and educators are focused as never before. In fact, on July 3, the U.S. Department of Education announced that it has accepted Arizona’s proposed NCLB growth model. We must stay the course.
Educators know that some children come to school more than a year behind their peers and bringing them to grade level in nine months is likely impossible. However, students, teachers and schools deserve credit when that student’s achievement increases by more than a grade level in one year, even if they don’t quite make it to the grade level they are in. Arizona’s growth model allows tracking of each student and will give schools credit for that achievement from one year to the next. Instead of just a snapshot of student performance provided by a score on the AIMS test, schools will now get credit for having students on track to grade level proficiency, over time, by the NCLB mandate of 2014.

The promise of NCLB is, indeed, that local schools will have to teach every child to read, write, and perform math at grade level. Is this a goal worthy of aspiration? And if not, whose child, among today’s readers, shall we agree NOT to teach to grade level? Whose child shall we agree be left in the 20 percent who’ll never reach grade level? Your’s?

The statement by the East Valley Tribune editorial staff that NCLB is “dictating for the first time what classes high school students must take to receive a diploma.” is inaccurate. Such a directive from NCLB would fly in the face of local control. State standards could be tougher however and the Arizona Business & Education Coalition (ABEC) along with Achieve, Inc., American College Testing (ACT), the Governor’s P-20 Council, and many other education policy groups, have advocated that students must take a rigorous curriculum in high school including Algebra 1, Geometry and Algebra 2 in addition to lab coursework in Biology, Chemistry and Physics or physical sciences in order to be prepared for postsecondary education or the workforce. To date, more than 3,000 Arizona high school students have graduated with a distinguished Arizona Academic Scholar’s diploma because they have recognized the need and have taken a more rigorous curriculum. These students will certainly succeed in post secondary education or in the workforce. It is our hope that more students, teachers, members of the business community and legislators recognize the need for increased rigor in our high school curriculum so that every student is 21st century ready.

Before dismissing the NCLB as too onerous, consider what the Act stands for:

• Ensuring that all students are proficient by 2014 and setting annual state goals to ensure that the achievement gap is closing for all groups of students;
• Setting expectations for annual achievement based upon meeting grade-level proficiency and not upon student background or school characteristics;
• Holding schools accountable for student achievement in reading/language arts and mathematics;
• Ensuring 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;
• Tracking student progress as part of the state data system; and
• Including student participation rates and student achievement as separate academic indicators in the state accountability system.
Don’t we all want our own children to be proficient? If so, why wouldn’t we want these standards for all children in Arizona?

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