Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Challenges in addressing attainment and growth goals

This debate summarizes much of the concern about growth or value-added models and the risk that they will dilute the push for high expectations for under-performing kids and schools. There are at least two ways that these concerns can be addressed. One thing that value-added measures can be used for is to identify schools that are "beating the odds" and delivering higher than average growth in student learning. This both provides an "existence proof" to show what is possible as well as a target for evaluation to figure out the mechanisms of success.

The other important contribution of value-added analysis to an high-stakes, high attainment system is to provide insights into what kind of growth exists in current systems. There is some concern that there many be very few schools in the nation capable of delivering the rates of growth needed to achieve NCLB standards by 2014. This is vital policy information. If nothing we are currently doing - in terms of teacher education, professional development, curriculum, etc. - can deliver the growth needed, then more radical interventions in these areas are necessary.


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