Secretary Spellings Approves Additional Growth Model Pilots for 2008-2009 School Year
Archived Information

January 8, 2009
Contact: Chad Colby or Elaine Quesinberry
(202) 401-1576

Washington, D.C. -- U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings today announced approval of four additional states' high-quality growth models, which follow the bright-line principles of No Child Left Behind. The states receiving approval are Colorado, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Texas. Pennsylvania and Texas are conditionally approved provided they satisfy final requirements related to their accountability and assessment systems, respectively.

In May 2006, North Carolina and Tennessee received approval to implement their growth models for the 2005-2006 school year. Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida and Iowa received full approval to implement their growth model for the 2006-2007 school year. Additionally, growth models for Ohio, Michigan and Missouri were approved for the 2007-2008 school year.

"Once states had developed the framework to take a snapshot of student skills each year, as the law requires, I invited them to join me in combining those static measurements to demonstrate progress over time. After early pioneers proved that this method was viable, I invited all eligible states to adopt this more sophisticated measurement system, also known as the growth model or value-added approach," Secretary Spellings said. "Colorado, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Texas proposed models that will support educational innovation while continuing to hold schools accountable for the goal of every student performing at or above grade level by 2014. I look forward to seeing the positive results these changes will help produce for students."

The Department used 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 reviewed and made recommendations on states' proposals.

The Department is gathering 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, which began in 2006, allows the Department to rigorously evaluate growth models and ensure their alignment with NCLB, and to share these results with other states. Fifteen states now have approved growth models: North Carolina, Tennessee, Delaware, Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Ohio, Alaska, Arizona, Michigan, Missouri, Colorado, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Texas.

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. 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: JP Beaudoin, Research in Action
  • Maggie McLaughlin, University of Maryland
  • Gongshu Zhang, Guilford County, NC public schools
  • Sean Mulvenon, University of Arkansas
  • Daria Hall, Education Trust
  • Pete Goldschmidt, California State University at Northridge
  • Robin Taylor, Delaware Department of Education

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



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Last Modified: 01/08/2009