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Growth Models: Peer Review & Application Approval
March 8, 2007
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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 Margaret Spellings, November 21, 2005

In November 2005, Secretary Spellings announced a pilot program in which States may propose a growth-based accountability model for use in meeting the goals of No Child Left Behind. As a pilot program, the Department can test the idea that growth models show promise as fair, reliable and innovative methods to measure student improvement and to hold schools accountable for academic achievement.

  • Growth models give schools credit for student improvement over time by tracking individual student achievement from one year to the next.
  • A pilot program gives the Department the ability to rigorously evaluate growth models and their alignment with NCLB, and to share results with other States.
  • To date, the Department has approved four States—North Carolina, Tennessee, Delaware, and Arkansas—to participate in the pilot. A fifth State—Florida—may participate after its assessment system receives full approval.

The Department received additional State proposals for 2006-07 with the intent of approving no more than a total of 10 growth models in this pilot program. To help select additional models, the Department will use a peer review process.

  • The purpose of a peer review is to help ensure that the States accepted into the growth model pilot have technically sound growth models, a high probability of success in incorporating measures of student growth into their school and district accountability systems, and a model consistent with the core principles of No Child Left Behind.
  • A peer review will ensure that the selection process is transparent and fair for all participating States.

State Submissions: Approval Process

  • Nine States submitted a growth model proposal for peer review. The nine States are: Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Utah.
  • Department staff conducted an initial review to determine how each state was meeting the bright line principles of the No Child Left Behind Act and how each State’s model addressed the seven core principles laid out by the Secretary (such as ensuring all students are proficient by 2013-14 and having an assessment and data system that tracks individual student progress).
  • After the initial review, the Department contacted each State to ask clarifying questions. In response, States submitted revised proposals.
  • Based on this information and an analysis of how each state was meeting the bright line principles of the No Child Left Behind Act, the Secretary has sent the following eight proposals to the peers for their review and consideration: Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio and Pennsylvania. These proposals, additional information, and the Department letters to these states may be found at:
  • Peers will examine each state's proposal using Peer Review Guidance which can be found on the Department's website at:
  • The Secretary will decide which states to approve for the growth model pilot.

An essential tool in selecting the growth model states is a panel of nationally recognized experts to review and make recommendations on states' growth model proposals. The experts invited to participate represent a wide range of perspectives from academia to the private sector to state and local organizations.

They include: Dr. Anthony Bryk, Stanford University; Dr. Robert Mendro, Dallas Independent School District; Dr. Harold Doran, American Institutes for Research; Dr. Jeff Nellhaus, Massachusetts Department of Education; Dr. Chrys Dougherty, National Center for Educational Accountability; Dr. Ann O’Connell, University of Connecticut; Dr. Lou Fabrizio, North Carolina Department of Public Instruction; Dianne Piché, Citizens Commission on Civil Rights; Dr. Tom Fisher, Independent Consultant; Dr. Sandy Sanford, Riverside County Office of Education; Dr. Pete Goldschmidt, University of California at Los Angeles; Dr. Chris Schatschneider, Florida State University; Sharon Lewis, Council of Great City Schools (retired); William Taylor, Citizens Commission on Civil Rights; Dr. Margaret McLaughlin, University of Maryland; Dr. Martha Thurlow, University of Minnesota (Note: This list is updated from the original announcement of the peers.)

The Department will rigorously monitor and evaluate states that receive approval under the pilot this year.

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Last Modified: 03/08/2007