"To ensure greater flexibility in tracking individual students' annual progress, growth models provide states with more options for a nuanced accountability system, while adhering to the core principles of No Child Left Behind."
Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings
In April 2005, Secretary Spellings announced a New Path for the No Child Left Behind Acta set of common-sense principles and approaches to guide states as they measure their progress in meeting the law's important "bright line" goals. These goals include assessing all students in grades 3-8 and once in high school every year, breaking down results by student subgroup to help close the achievement gap, improving teacher quality and informing parents of their options in a timely manner. Above all, they must lead to all students achieving at grade level or better in reading and mathematics by 2014.
One approach requested by many states is the use of growth-based accountability models. These models hold promise as reliable and innovative methods to measure student achievement over time. In Nov. 2005, Secretary Spellings announced a pilot program for qualified states to request the use of growth-based accountability models so their fairness and effectiveness could be evaluated. The Department received many requests by states to participate. In 2005-06, two states, Tennessee and North Carolina, were approved to participate in the pilot. In 2006-07, Secretary Spellings approved Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas Delaware, Florida, and Iowa to participate in the pilot. Additionally, Ohio was been approved 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 2006-07 school year. Ohio was not able to meet this condition in time to include its growth model in AYP determinations in 2006-07.
As a condition of participation, the states must share data on which schools made Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) under each model, the original status model, and the new growth model. The Department will then gather this data and share it with other states and the public.
Based upon the success in the first two years of the pilot, in December 2007 Secretary Spellings invited all eligible states to submit a growth model proposal for the 2007-08 school year. The cap for the number of states that may participate has been removed. Six states, the District of Columbia, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, and Pennsylvania submitted growth model proposals that have been forwarded to a panel of outside experts in mid-April.
The nine states currently in the pilot meet the bright line principles of NCLB and their growth model proposals met all seven core principles outlined by the Department in November 2005. These principles are:
- Ensure that all students are proficient by 2014, and set annual goals to ensure that the achievement gap is closing for all groups of students;
- Set expectations for annual achievement based on meeting grade-level proficiency, not on 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 3-8 and in high school for both reading/language arts and mathematics, and ensure that they have been operational for more than one year and receive approval through the NCLB peer 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 on a separate academic indicator in the State accountability system.
The Department is using a rigorous peer review process to ensure that
the selection process was fair and transparent for all participating states.
A panel of nationally recognized experts has been reviewing and making final
recommendations on states' proposals. The peer reviewers represent a wide range
of perspectives and expertise, from academia to the private sector to state
and local and community organizations. The panel for the April 2008 review includes:
Dr. Ann O'Connell, Chair, The Ohio State University; Dr.
Bill Auty, Independent Consultant; Charlie Barone,
Independent Consultant; Dr. J.P. Beaudoin, Research in Action;
Dr. Harold Doran, American Institutes for Research; Dr.
David Figlio, University of Florida; Dr. Catherine Freeman,
National Academy of Sciences; Dianne Piché, Citizens
Commission on Civil Rights; Dr. Chris Schatschneider, Florida
State University; Robin Taylor, Delaware Department of Education;
and Dr. Martha Thurlow, University of Minnesota.
The Department has conducted the review and approval process in a thorough and timely way:
- June/July 2005 The Department held working group meetings on the potential use of growth models to meet the goals of NCLB.
- November 21, 2005 The Department announced the eligibility criteria for States to apply for the growth model pilot program.
- February 17, 2006 Deadline for states to apply to be considered for the growth model pilot for the 2005-06 school year.
- March 2006 Proposals from eight states (Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, North Carolina, Oregon, and Tennessee) were forwarded to the peer reviewers for consideration.
- April 2006 The peer reviewers met to consider states' proposals.
- May 17, 2006 The Department announced Tennessee for approval and North Carolina for conditional approval in the growth model pilot program for 2005-06.
- 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 2006 Second peer review for the states that submitted revised proposals.
- November 1, 2006 Deadline for states to submit new growth model proposals to the Department for the 2006-07 school year. The overall limit of approved plans remained at ten. Nine states (Alaska, Arizona, Iowa, Hawaii, Ohio, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Utah) have applied for the remaining five slots.
- November 9, 2006 The Department announces Delaware for approval and Arkansas and Florida for conditional approval in the growth model pilot program for 2006-07.
- 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.
- December 7, 2007 — The Secretary invites any eligible state to submit a proposal for 2007-08. There is no longer a cap on the number of states that may participate in the pilot.
- February 15, 2008 — Deadline for states to submit new growth model proposals.
- April 24-25, 2008 — Peer review for growth model proposals from the District of Columbia, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, and Pennsylvania.
- Mid-May, 2008 — The Secretary makes a determination on the states that will be approved to participate in the pilot for 2007-08.
A detailed description of the peer review guidance for the NCLB growth model pilot applications can be found at: http://www.ed.gov/policy/elsec/guid/growthmodelguidance.pdf