Saturday, July 22, 2006

Blogging got overtaken by proposal writing

Our value-added research group has been working on a number of proposals linked to various U.S. Department of Education and a couple of private foundation deadlines. It just so happens that they all fall in the latter half of July. Several are out the door and several more are due this coming week. We are proposing more work that links inputs (financial and human resources, professional development, curricular materials, etc.) with outputs (classroom practices, student tests, grades, attendance, etc.) in one urban district. This work would tie together ongoing school- and grade-level value-added analysis of test with data to other information systems that have traditionally been kept separate.

On the national front, we are bidding with one of applicants for the technical assistance center that will support the U.S. Department of Education's Teacher Incentive Fund. It's a bit of a pig in a poke since we don't know who will be awarded the TIF grants. So, there's no telling how challenging the work will be. We do know from years of experience that getting the models right is brutally hard. For example, if testing is done in late fall or early spring, growth cannot be simply assigned to a single grade or school. The credit for growth has to be apportioned proportionally to the two grades in which it occurred. Other issues such as how to handle mobile students and teachers and changes in test forms also complicate models. Students retained in grade present a challenge for growth modellers. If a student is retained in fourth grade and takes the fourth grade test again, what is the growth one would expect from the 4th grade to 4th grade?

If we win even half of the work proposed, we will have new windows into aspects of schooling and management that will advance our understanding of how best to support decision making at all levels of the educational system.


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