Press Release

As we work toward getting all of our children to high standards, we need to learn more about which accountability systems provide the most constructive information to teachers, parents, and the public.

A limited, carefully developed pilot to test alternatives to the current approach could be enormously helpful in teaching us how to improve on No Child Left Behind in the next reauthorization. But a poorly designed growth system, like many states had prior to NCLB, will give people the illusion of progress while kids never actually reach high standards.

Today’s proposal by the U.S. Department of Education contains some of the elements necessary to protect the interests of parents and students. But the Department has not been clear enough on several other fundamentally important elements:

Growth expectations for previously lower-performing students and schools must be higher to ensure that they catch up. We cannot afford to have lower targets for students who arrive below grade level.

The process and results must be fully transparent to make sure we actually learn from this pilot. All state applications must be open to public scrutiny. Third-party researchers and evaluators must have access to the data to objectively analyze whether these growth models work.

This pilot program should be limited to only a few states — those with strong assessment, accountability, and data management systems.

“This can’t be about using growth models to let schools, districts, and states off the hook,” said Kati Haycock, director of the Education Trust. “We had so-called growth models before NCLB, and they did little to drive reform or improvements for students. The question we can answer with a good pilot is whether a new generation of growth-based accountability systems will do more to drive the necessary changes in teaching and learning than the current model.”