Udall Bill Aims to Improve No Child Left Behind, Enable Schools to Better Measure Individual Student Achievement
CO is Model for Bill to Give Parents and Teachers a Better Picture of whether Schools are Meeting Students' Needs
Today, Mark Udall introduced a bill designed to improve a key shortcoming of the 10-year-old education reform law, No Child Left Behind. Udall's bill, which is co-sponsored by fellow Colorado Senator Michael Bennet, is based on a nationally recognized "growth model" developed in Colorado. The bill would allow states to consider a student's individual academic growth as a measurement of school performance. It was drafted with the help of education experts from inside and out of government in order to be a part of the discussion as Congress begins its scheduled re-write of No Child Left Behind.
No Child Left Behind radically changed the way schools are held accountable for student achievement by setting goals and standards for performance. But it has been widely criticized for applying one-size-fits-all consequences to schools that face unique and often challenging circumstances, neglecting credit where credit is due for schools that have made enormous improvement yet remain underachieving compared to their peers.
Udall and Bennet's Growth to Excellence Act would improve No Child Left Behind by allowing states to consider individual students' academic growth from year to year - in addition to other standards - to ensure schools are putting students on a track to becoming college and career ready. It is based on lessons Colorado learned in implementing a nationally recognized plan to incorporate student achievement into No Child Left Behind, and would enable schools to track students from year to year, providing schools, parents, teachers, and students alike with the information they need to see where improvements have been made and where there is still room for continued learning. Udall introduced legislation on this topic when he served in the U.S. House.
"When my kids were in school, one of the most important things to me as a parent was that my children had classes and teachers who could help them grow to their full potential. Every child is different and every school faces unique challenges; if a child enters school far behind - and then makes big improvements - we ought to factor that in when measuring their school's performance," Udall said. "I'm proud of Colorado's leadership - this will make a much-needed improvement to No Child Left Behind. Instead of taking empty, one-size-fits-all snapshots of school performance, this bill would help students meet high goals while also tracking their individual growth toward college and careers."
"As superintendent of DPS, I saw firsthand that No Child Left Behind's system for measuring students was missing the mark," said Bennet. "We developed a School Performance Framework that measures the progress of actual students year over year throughout their careers - rather than the meaningless measurement of one year's class against the next year's class. This was the foundation for the Colorado growth model, which is now being used or pursued by 16 states across the country. Bringing this Colorado commonsense to Washington can help ensure all of our kids receive the best education possible."
More details about the bill
In order to be eligible to consider student performance as part of accountability standards, states would have to:
• Implement challenging academic standards approved by a system of four-year institutions of higher education within the state that would put all K-12 public school students on the path toward being college and career ready without the need for remediation.
• Implement an assessment for math and reading or language arts that measures the annual academic growth of individual students.
• Measure and compare school graduation rates.
• Assess not less than two additional measures of college and career readiness, such as ACT/SAT scores, and post-secondary achievement.
• Measure how the overall performance of students at a school compares to growth targets, and also compare the performance of each subgroup of students - including students with disabilities, economically disadvantaged students, students from racial or ethnic groups, and limited English proficiency students.
In developing the plan to track student growth, states would have to:
• Track the academic growth of all public elementary and secondary school students and subgroups of students that include students with disabilities, economically disadvantaged students, students from major racial or ethnic groups, as well as students with limited English proficiencies.
• Define growth as a rate of progress indicating that the student will be on track to being college and career ready before the last year of student testing, or within three years, whichever is earlier - or a year's growth in a year's time if the student is already on track to being college and career ready.
• Establish annual targets aimed at cutting in half the percentage of students not meeting academic growth toward college and career readiness in six years and halving the difference between the percentage of students graduating from high school and 90 percent in six years.
• Be able to use computerize adaptive assessments that measure academic growth above and below grade level, in order to properly measure the growth of all students over time.
• Include components that recognize schools with a successful track record of meeting growth standards, as well as intervention measures for schools that may require help in closing the achievement gap.