"A child's learning is the funtion more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Growth Model Nonsense

Three more states have been added to the growth model sweepstakes game. With Delaware, Florida, and Arkansas coming aboard, now there are five states that have been able to thread the Secretary's needle to make sure that nothing impedes the impossible end game set for 2014, while giving the impression that flexibility has been introduced.

The most likely effects that this charade will have are the renewed reliance on junk tests, a minimizing of the disadvantages associated with poverty, and the unabated continuation of achievement gaps.

A clip from the Arkansas Democrat Gazette:

. . . . Arkansas’ conditionally approved growth model builds on the existing status system.

A trajectory of growth will be established for individual students on the Benchmark tests, Julie Johnson Thompson, a spokesman for the state Education Department, said in a news release. For students scoring at the lowest levels — “below-basic” or “basic” — on the tests, the slope of the trajectory is determined by how much growth needs to occur for students to reach a proficient level by the time they take the eighth-grade Benchmark test.

The growth model also requires students who are already scoring at a proficient or better level on the tests to continue to show growth.

If the percentage of students exhibiting growth at a school equals the percentage of proficient students that the status model requires of a school, then the school will have made adequate yearly progress toward the 100 percent goal and will not be placed on the state’s list of schools in need of improvement and will not be sanctioned.

Arkansas schools also can continue to show adequate yearly progress toward the 100 percent goal by taking advantage of the “safe harbor” provision of Arkansas’ plan. Schools in which students don’t reach the state-set achievement levels can qualify for safe harbor if they can show that the number of students scoring at the proficient level increased by 10 percent over the percentage the previous year.

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