Response to recent conversation

Commenters on the AJC Get Schooled blog were skeptical of the state’s new growth model that grades schools on how much progress their students make when compared with students with similar performance histories around the state. Here is a sampling of comments under each poster’s chosen screen name:

Living: This metric does have significance, and it is important to recognize students and teachers who are showing the highest academic growth. At the same time, we have to ensure students are showing academic proficiency against the standards. We want to measure improvement, but at the same time, ensure that they exceed the bar.

Class80: Letter to parents: We have some good news about our school. We achieved a 50 percent growth this year! Yea! On the other side of the coin, because of rampant social promotion, the average student at our school is 3.8 years behind grade level and has little hope of catching up and graduating. Have a nice day!

AMom: I have a master's degree plus post-graduate work, and I think this is beyond complicated. Surely, there is an easier way.

Cindy: Honestly, when these standardized tests are so fundamentally flawed and truly mean so little in terms of student/human growth, this whole action by the DOE is just more smoke and mirrors, keeping us focused on all the wrong things. Thus, we are kept passive and obedient.

Anon: Stop the knee-jerk reaction to anything new, much less something that makes sense and is the proper way to evaluate learning. In short, do your homework.

DC: At first blush, this looks like a very promising measurement. And it will help the teachers who are willing to invest in poor schools — who have been hammered with the "low passing rate" measurement — show the real value that they are bringing. Hopefully, it is both reasonably accurate and focused enough to help the admin determine which teachers are providing added value. Anything that helps us objectively identify the best teachers — and then reward and support them — is good news.

HallCo: If you teach higher-level students, you should be expanding well beyond a narrow interpretation of the standards. You should be enriching your curriculum to stretch your students as far as they can go. But that enrichment will not show up on a test. With the growth model, teachers of students with high incoming scores cannot afford for their students to miss any questions. So instead of enriching, we are being pushed to drill over the "assessable" part of the standards. Instead of plowing new ground, the system is forcing us to go over and over the same material in the hopes of perfect scores.

Dawgn: Students with the greatest opportunity to show growth would be those who score the lowest on the first test in the range of study. Students with the least opportunity to show growth would be those with the highest scores. I do see value in tracking growth from k-12 just to see which grade levels show the smallest and largest change, but this still doesn't tell the story about how individuals grow.

HsMath: Big deal. Big whoop. Who cares? I'm so jaded from the last five years, you can sit on your "growth model" and let it sprout vegetables on your backside.