This article appeared in the NY Times. The premise is that if you use a "growth model", it will track student progress from grade to grade rather than comparing last year's 4th graders to this year's 4th graders.
NCLB is allowing several states to pilot the program. "Adding growth models as a way to satisfy federal requirements to demonstrate “adequate yearly progress” could make it easier for some schools to avoid penalties because they would receive credit for students who improve performance but still fall below proficiency levels."
From the article:
"Many urban educators contend that growth models are a fairer measure because they recognize that poor and minority students often start out behind, and thus have more to learn to reach state standards. At the same time, many school officials in affluent suburbs favor growth models because they evaluate students at all levels rather than focusing on lifting those at the bottom, thereby helping to justify instruction costs to parents and school boards at a time of shrinking budgets."
There were some interesting points made:
"Cohoes school officials have spent more than $1 million on programs for their most struggling students in the past five years, and wanted to find out how much they had progressed. They learned that the lowest-level students were doing fine, while their high achievers were starting to fall behind."
This speaks to a point Charlie has made in the past:
“The fact is we serve all students, and not just the lower-end students,” said Mr. Dedrick, who travels across the state to speak about growth models to school superintendents. “If you’re just concentrating on one group of kids, it’s not fair because both sets of parents pay taxes.”
"In Ardsley, N.Y., a Westchester County suburb, administrators intend to place more special education students in regular classes after seeing their standardized test scores rise in the last year."
"But as growth models become more widespread, some teachers and parents have complained that they are hard to understand and place too much focus on test scores. Teachers’ unions, even while supporting the concept, have protested the use of growth models for performance reviews and merit pay."