A recent GAO report suggests that growth models can help all students become academically proficient as required by the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). Such models could allow states to measure students' academic progress from year to year, making it easier to show growth in student learning and meet Average Yearly Progress (AYP) targets.
It won't be easy, though.
Growth models depend on comprehensive data management systems, which few states currently have. Other challenges include creating data and assessment systems that can track individual student performance across grades and schools; hiring individuals who can analyze and communicate growth model results; and merging the growth models into state accountability systems, which are already in place.
While 26 states, including Ohio, have some form of a growth model in place now--or will soon, only seven states can track individual student growth over time. And just two states, Tennessee and North Carolina, are actually running growth model programs approved by the Department of Education. Nonetheless, the report's authors believe all states can create growth models for students to reach proficiency by NCLB's deadline of 2014.
Though not a sexy read, the report does a good job of detailing the challenges and promises of using growth models. Too bad it provides little guidance for states such as Ohio, which faces a potentially rocky implementation of its own model in 2007-08.
Ohio will simply have to blaze its own trail.
Read the report here.