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Growth to Excellence Act Reforms No Child Left Behind, Boosts Achievement

Bill Contrasts with Republican Efforts to Weaken Accountability and Reform

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Washington, Feb 9, 2012 | comments

With the leading House Education and the Workforce Republican offering two bills that weaken the cause of education reform, Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO) today announced the introduction of the Growth to Excellence Act (H.R. 3845), which reforms No Child Left Behind to allow states to develop their own policies that increase student achievement and measure it over time, and that instill accountability. The bill was authored and first introduced by Senators Mark Udall (D-CO) and Michael Bennet (D-CO).

“The Growth to Excellence Act demands results and accountability but allows states the ability to chart their own course to higher achievement for students,” said Polis. “There is no substitute for improving student outcomes and ensuring that every graduate is ready for college or a career, but where No Child Left Behind was prescriptive and punitive, the Growth to Excellence Act is flexible and focused on what helps better prepare students to succeed and graduate. I am proud to partner with Senator Udall and Senator Bennet on this critical education reform legislation.”

"I look forward to working with Congressman Polis to pass our growth model bills through Congress and to help schools to more effectively track their students' progress over time," Udall added. "Colorado's way of measuring students' performance over time instead of a one-size-fits-all snapshot on test day is a great blueprint to help schools around the country in making students college- and career-ready."

"As a former school superintendent, I’ve seen firsthand how No Child Left Behind's measures for student performance are missing the mark," said Bennet. "We developed a School Performance Framework in Denver to measure the progress of actual students year over year that served as the foundation for the Colorado growth model, which is now being used or pursued by more than a dozen states. Our model has provided the country with an innovative example of how to measure student progress in real and meaningful ways. This bill builds on Colorado’s example and ensures we are working towards a sane and useful accountability system that gives every kid a shot at a quality education. I commend Congressman Polis for taking up this bill in the House of Representatives. It is an excellent counterpart to the bill Senator Udall and I have introduced in the Senate."

The bill is a sharp contrast to Republican legislation by House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN), which fails to include any required student achievement goals or research-based interventions for schools not improving students’ academic performance.

Under the Growth to Excellence Act, rather than a top-down federal approach, states could set their own robust and achievable goals for measuring student achievement in test score growth and high school graduation rates and ensuring accountability from schools and school districts. The bill is based on Colorado’s deep experience in this area of student growth and school accountability systems. Since the U.S. Department of Education established the Growth Model Pilot Project in 2005, 14 other states have joined Colorado in participating in the program to incorporate growth as a way of measuring achievement.

The Growth to Excellence Act would:

  • Ensure that all high school graduates are ready for college or a career by requiring challenging standards that measure each student’s preparedness;
  • Consistently apply and rigorously define adequate student growth as being on track to college and career readiness within 3 years or by the last year of student testing, whichever is earlier;
  • Allow states to set educationally-sound, rigorous and achievable measures of student achievement based on test score growth and high school graduation rates;
  • Rate schools and school districts based on measures of student achievement and require state-developed interventions for schools that do not improve;
  • Close achievement gaps by continuing academic performance targets for minority and low-income students, English language learners and students with disabilities;
  • Replicate success by recognizing top performing schools and districts to encourage adoption of practices that increase student achievement; and
  • Better measure student progress by allowing states to use adaptive assessments, which dig deeper into a student’s knowledge base to better measure knowledge or ability, depending on the student’s answers.

The bill is endorsed by Education Trust, a national organization focused on education reform policies.

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Tags: Education

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