The Case For Student Growth

I have a new column up at The 74 making the case for why we should measure student growth. It may be easier to judge school quality based on the students who are enrolled there, but that will likely present a misleading view of the school’s actual contributions to student learning:

The only way out of this conundrum is for states and districts to take the lead in measuring student growth rates and embedding them in a more prominent way in school rating systems. For example, the Office of the State Superintendent of Education in Washington, D.C., has run the numbers on what its “STAR” accountability system would look like both with and without growth. It concludes:

“…schools at the lower end of the STAR rating distribution tend to benefit from the inclusion of growth metrics, whereas schools at the upper end of the STAR rating distribution would tend to benefit from the exclusion of growth metrics.”

That is, the D.C. school ratings would have the same problems as the real estate agents on Long Island and the reformers in Newark if they didn’t include student growth. The D.C. example is a reminder that if we don’t measure student growth, we’ll have the wrong definition of school quality. Worse, we’ll favor student populations that are already doing well, while harshly judging schools that actually help students learn the most.

Read the rest here.

–Guest post by Chad Aldeman