Racing to the Top by Measuring Student Growth
A new blog post from New America Foundation’s Laura Bornfreund entitled Measuring Student Learning in the District-Level Race to the Top, provides readers with additional insight into how the Department of Education is thinking about measuring student achievement with this high-stakes grant competition, before applications are due in Washington at the end of next month.
The grant is asking local education agencies to report student performance in three ways:
- Tracking student growth
- Student performance measures
- Capturing student performance data
Tracking student growth and measures of student growth are of particular importance, as they are eligibility requirements of the grant. Districts applying for funding under RttT-D must come to grips with (1) how to effectively measure student growth over time, and (2) how to link student growth to teacher evaluation processes in the future. And while these two features are clear requirements of the grant, at this point districts do not have to define what these systems will look like in their RttT-D applications. They need only certify that such measures will be in place by the 2014-2015 school year.
Using actionable data through student performance measures is another key component of RttT-D. As a condition of funding, measurable goals for students in all age groups must be set for each year of the grant, and leading indicators will determine whether or not the district’s plan is working. If students are not making appropriate progress, instructional adjustments must be made to ensure students are on a trajectory to meet or exceed grade level standards.
Additionally, RttT-D is clearly focused on instructional transparency. The Department of Education expects districts to share student performance data with all who have a vested interest in a student’s success – parents, teachers, administrators, other pertinent school staff, the students themselves – so that this information can positively impact student achievement throughout a child’s schooling. The earlier constituencies receive information, and the more scaffolded support the student receives if he/she is struggling, the better the child’s chance for academic success.
For many students, social, emotional, and behavioral issues often create unintended obstacles to student success. As a result, USDE is also encouraging districts to consider how they might address out-of-school factors that may have a negative effect on student performance through RttT-D’s competitive priority, “Results, Resource Alignment, and Integrated Services.” Such social service programs might include health programs, after-school tutorial support, and early learning programs for preschool children.
Educators and parents: What other type of social service programs would you like to see included in RttT’s competitive priority program? We want to hear from you – please leave your suggestions in the comment section.
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