The U.S. Department of Education is giving Iowa approval to change the way it measures the progress of third through eighth graders in meeting federal education standards. Iowa Department of Education Director, Judy Jeffrey, says the new way makes more sense for teachers. Jeffrey says teachers will be held accountable for the growth of students under the "No Child left Behind Act", instead of the current system that compares one group of students to another group of students.
Jeffrey says the new system gives a better view of the students as they move through the system. The group of students is tracked as they move from third grade on through to eighth grade, instead of being compared to a previous third grade class. Jeffrey says classes can have very different characteristics from one year to the next. The new model for measuring students begins immediately. She says the achievement measures from the past school year can be used as the students move into the next grade.
The state uses the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills and the Iowa Tests of Educational Development to gauge student progress. Iowa is one of select few states that will try the new approach. Jeffrey says the Secretary of Education is going to allow up to 10 states to pilot the growth model to see if it is a good model to use. Jeffrey says things won’t change much for the school districts, as the state will still provide the tests and the data from those tests. But now the test scores will be analyzed for each group of students as they move through the system to determine their progress.