Reforms in schools are critical, mostly geared towards increasing accountability. Two conflicting systems are proposed for enhancing accountability, one based on test score growth and the other on proficiency (Psacharopoulos, 2014). The most effective methodology for reporting the performance of the students is necessary, leading to the question, which of the two is the most suitable. Recommendations to the Governor of Michigan is to go ahead with the signing of the proposed bill to change the accountability system to base it on test score growth as opposed to proficiency.
One of the benefits of using the test score growth is that there is reduced implication of scaling issues based on the modeling of the same grade over the years covered in the measure of accountability. The model takes into account the improvement measure over time, by considering the performance of the same grade over a period (Wang, Walters, & Thum, 2013). Proficiency targets are made, but monitoring of the schools is not done based on the present proficient. The teacher is allowed to have control over the performance of each student by taking into consideration the base performance (Ready, 2013). Children are judged based on their potential to improve with the differences in the demographics of the children as schools are taken into consideration. Hence, the teacher can work with each student, based on the capability to achieve improvement in performance. Realistic targets can be set when the growth model is used since the educator has an understanding of the potential of each student.
The measure is also not based on the changes in percentage proficient, but on the progress the school is making towards achieving the set level of proficiency in a future time period. The model is beneficial as it takes into consideration the current state of the school and assesses its growth potential towards achieving the set targets (Ready, 2013). The accountability model is critical to guiding debate around bridging the achievement chasm. Across the time, efforts can be made by all the teachers to work towards closing the gap in achievement of the students. Aligned grade-level teams, professional learning communities, and data teams work collaboratively to achieve positive growth over the time period. Use of a goal-setting system in developing long-range objectives for the below proficiency level students to perform better informs the success of the growth model.
Regardless of the benefits of the proposed change, there are some drawbacks connected to the test score growth model. Setting of exact yet practical growth targets can be a daunting task for the educators and policymakers. There is still inadequate consensus on what growth means and what can be considered as a growth. Universal expectations surrounding “expected growth” might not be well established (Moeller, Theiler, & Wu, 2012). The value of growth targets can be undermined by poor pre-test and post-test design models. Other challenges can emanate from growth targets for providing compatibility across schools. It is a challenge to set targets that are common for all schools across the state and allow the teachers to work with them. There are ineffective means of ensuring that all the students are working towards the set targets. Additionally, without meticulous and long-term planning, the set level of proficiency might never be achieved by the poorly performing students (Wang, Walters, & Thum, 2013). It is possible for the students to grow with time, but they could remain below the proficiency target.
In this case, the governor should go ahead and sign the bill into law. There is greater value in the use of the test score growth model as opposed to the proficiency model as it will provide a better measure of accountability. The model offers a better means of acknowledging the contribution of the teachers to the learning process as the growth of every student is clearly stated (Sheehan, 2012). Unlike the use of the model that concentrates on the proficiency of the students, the growth model takes into account the improvement of the poorly performing students even if they are growing without meeting the proficiency level. The growth model is also a more accurate measure of the quality of schools and teachers. Unlike the proficiency model which sets goals that appear unrealistic for some schools, the growth model is more effective in setting more realistic goals (Moeller, Theiler, & Wu, 2012). In this case, the goals are set according to the prior performance of the students, allowing the teachers to also put realistic efforts towards achieving the set targets. The goals are set based on the information on the current performance of the students, making them more realistic than when a level of proficiency is set without taking this important factor into consideration.
The most effective school accountability system is critical within the state, which indicates the criticality of the move away from the proficiency model to the test score growth model. The governor should sign the bill into law to ensure that accountability in the state is guided by the potential for growth within the schools. Therefore, this will be the most effective system for evaluating the performance of the teachers and the schools in the state.