Look for an announcement on a pilot program for growth models from US DOE later today…administration rollout already starting. Pretty straightforward parameters for participation though some vague language and a lot of concern that this opens the door for a lot of mischief because of where the states are on data etc….
That said, if they’re serious about allowing a few states that have the capacity to try something new try to without retreating on standards then that’s good. Their willingness/ability to hold the line is questionable though because as opposed to Iraq, it appears that the Administration is pretty willing to accommodate insurgents here (or, to mix metaphors, has an emerging Stockholm syndrome situation at the top levels).
Not much of an exit strategy in either case though…
Update: There is some promise with growth models but the haphazard way that the Department has put this pilot together could end up discrediting the idea rather than bolstering it. Some key Dems on the Hill not thrilled about this announcement and here’s the statement from the Citizens’ Commission on Civil Rights:
We support Secretary Spellings’ willingness to take on the complicated challenge of exploring whether so-called “growth models” can be a useful substitute for or addition to current accountability requirements in the No Child Left Behind Act.
Nonetheless, we are skeptical that the experiment, as we understand it, will be rigorous enough to yield valid and useful information for the next reauthorization of Title I. The issue here is not whether the adults in the system will be pleased – and clearly many of them are – but whether children ultimately will benefit. We are particularly worried about how the children who are most behind and most often left behind will fare when states change their accountability systems. These students include: homeless and other students who move from school to school; students who enter schools significantly below proficiency standards for their age; students with disabilities who have been taught below grade level despite their capacity to achieve at higher levels; English language learners; and students who have been promoted from grade to grade without mastering essential literacy and math skills.
We fear that too many school board members and educators will view the growth-model approach as an invitation to water down expectations for student achievement in order to reduce the numbers of schools identified for improvement under Title I. But we believe a growth model system done right would actually surprise many in the education establishment who hold this view. This is because a growth model system with any integrity would require far more growth from year to year than is currently being made by many students trapped in high-poverty, low-performing schools.
CCCR also suggests limiting the pilot to five states (a very sensible recommendation considering the current capacity of states to do this well), including a third party evaluation of the pilots after they’re implemented which the Dept’s proposal inexplicably leaves out (aren’t these the evidence-based guys?), and ensuring real transparency in the review and approval process. Link to the entire statement coming when it is online.