Thursday, May 31, 2007

Ohio Approved for NCLB "Growth Model"

Education Secretary Margaret Spellings gave conditional approval to Ohio's proposed growth model for evaluating public school students. Under standard NCLB testing, a school or district is judged by how many kids are proficient according to the test results. Under a "growth model" the state evaluates how each child is progressing year to year. If schools show sufficient growth, they can still meet Adequate Yearly Progress. The Department doesn't like to use words like "Pass" or "Fail," but if you meet AYP, frankly it means you pass.

In addition to Ohio, Spellings approved Iowa's proposal. She reached her decision last Thursday, though the press releases didn't go out until earlier this week. Here's the presser from USDOE. The decision has received scant press attention.

This makes Ohio one of seven states approved for growth model evaluation. The Department is peer-reviewing proposals with the goal of approving up to ten states to serve as test cases for the new evaluation method.

The Ohio Department of Ed website hasn't updated to indicate that their proposal was accepted, but a page summarizes the proposal and links to a pdf. of the whole thing. Here's the summary in Educationese:

    The projection measure will calculate student trajectories toward proficiency as a second look, once the conventional assessment of whether all subgroups are meeting the status or Safe Harbor goal for percent proficient is made.
And translated for the rest of us:
    Under this provision, if one or more subgroups (including the all students group) falls short of the status goal and safe harbor, but the school or district demonstrates that students are making gains such that they are on track to reach or remain proficient by the next grade beyond the school’s grade configuration . . . then the district or school will meet AYP
This is potentially good news for schools and districts that teach high numbers of at-risk kids who come into the district without much of a knowledge base. It's potentially bad news for failing charter schools that fall back on the argument that they have bad test scores because they are educating kids ruined by bad public schools.

In Akron we haven't felt the bite of NCLB sanctions yet. The district met AYP two years ago after a couple of years of falling short. Then last year the district came up short again. Next up on the sanction schedule. is the district paying for outside tutoring. Sadly, the district is making gains in part because of an aggressive program of district-provided tutoring. The sanction could really be a waste; hopefully under the new model we won't have to find out.


Jill said...

FYI - Battelle for Kids has been doing this for a few years in Ohio, at least since 2004, as a pilot. Just thought I'd mention...:)

Scott Piepho said...

To clarify the above: Battelle has been doing growth model evaluations and, if I remember right, helped ODE put together their proposal. The significance of this news is that Ohio can use growth model results to meet AYP.