Friday, January 16, 2009

"Growth" as a way to meet NCLB requirements

The PG has an editorial noting problems w/ conditional approval to allow PA schools to meet NCLB requirements by showing "growth."


Anonymous said...

Unless I am mistaken, Ted Kennedy was the original sponsor of NCLB legislation, but it has certainly been championed by this outgoing administration and serves as a great method in which to gloss over the elements that go into making a good student in favor of targeting teachers. I would have hoped that the Obama administration would have championed the thought of a more complete view of education today, but in listening to him speak it seems clear that not a great deal of help is on the horizon.
Here's the thing: we have never been able to find a remedy for the problem of students who do not care about education and parents who fail to value what education can do. Additionally, we allow the government to lump special education students into data analysis of schools.
This is a double edged sword that dooms districts and individual schools.
You can't fully measure the success(or lack of success) of a given school based upon what the NCLB Act uses as a lynch pin: PSSA scores. You cannot fully understands what urban educators especially are being made to deal with where problem students and special needs kids are concerned unless you spend some time in those schools and identify which rise above and which lag behind with the hands they have been dealt.

It's easy for the federal and state government types to throw stones from nice, cozy offices. They have no clue and it's easy to assert blame. It's easy for the media to jump on the bandwagon, because it stopped actually digging for news long ago and now simply reports what the government wants to have reported. (News outfits are more in line with public relations corps or state run news agencies than ever before).

Walk a mile in the shoes of people working in the trenches, and try not to be alternately offended and also humored by the folly of NCLB and its proponents.

Anonymous said...

This editorial is pretty off-base. The whole idea behind a growth model is that it tracks children as individuals progressing through school, rather than comparing this year's 5th graders to last year's 5th grader to the year before's 5th graders. That latter sort of comparison is how it's been done since NCLB began.

That may be okay for districts that don't have many kids coming to school already far behind. However, when kids are starting out far below the levels set, a "year's worth" of growth will still leave them behind, indefinitely.

This is addressed by PVAAS here in PA. It's sort of ridiculous to imply that it's changing or making things easier for schools, if anything, it's just finally concentrating slightly more on the kids than on the scores. It's basically no big deal and certainly no big change.

Mark Rauterkus said...

You know, if the tools in NCLB have measures and benchmarks that are not 'just' nor 'accurate' -- and I think this might be spot on -- then why not issue another, better, more insightful report card and measurement stick with the corresponding tic marks.

Do another report card.

Sure, you gotta do what the NCLB forumla requires, if you want to dance that dance. Understood.

But, great leaders would go above and beyond. They could make their own data open and assign ways to measure and report those facts.

I hear a lot of moans -- but -- the proof is in the performance and the story that can be delivered and supported by the paid leadership of the district.

Sure, pull out the special ed folks. Put them on a different scale. Then what?

Life and our schools are an open book test. Do the homework. Then, do an extra assignment. Go above and beyond. Make challenges that greatly exceed what is required.

Questioner said...

One of the confusing features about NCLB is that the performance standard is not uniform nationwide. States have some leeway in choosing how performance is measured. So absolutely the state could come up with a different measure, and what seems to be happening is that an standard that is easier to attain is being chosen.