A model for tracking student growth in Colorado is gaining momentum and could be implemented nationwide if Congress approves legislation to upgrade the American educational system.
On Wednesday, the United States Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee voted to include growth-based standards in the Strengthening America’s Schools Act of 2013, which aims to amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965.
Among the provisions approved for inclusion in the 1,100-page bill is a system for tracking student performance similar to a model used in Colorado. The growth-based student performance model also satisfies much of what Colorado Democrats Sens. Mark Udall and Michael Bennet, and Congressman Jared Polis pushed for last month when they introduced their Growth to Excellence Act.
“I applaud the Senate HELP Committee for joining our push to give schools, teachers and parents the tools they need to ensure students are performing and getting the skills they need every step of the way, from their first day of preschool through high school graduation,” Udall said in a news release. “This common-sense idea is gaining momentum, and I am excited that Congress is coming around to the idea that students need more than a single high-stakes test to ensure they are on track to be ready for college and careers.”
Mike Saccone, Udall’s communications director, said the concepts folded into the Strengthening America’s Schools Act improve upon the student performance tracking system outlined in No Child Left Behind, passed during the George W. Bush era.
Instead of using a one-time, end of the year test to gauge student growth, the bill aims to tie school performance to its students’ growth over time to ensure they are academically ready for graduation, or to enter the workplace, Saccone said.
States would have the freedom to develop their own models to ensure schools, parents, teachers and students readily have the information they need to track where growth has occurred and where there is room for improvement, the release stated.
“The Senate’s Elementary and Secondary Education Act reauthorization bill requires states to adopt college and career readiness standards and ensures that schools are accountable for student progress and closing achievement gaps,” Polis said in the release. “As we work to reauthorize No Child Left Behind, we must not retreat on accountability and should ensure that parents, teachers, policy makers and students alike have clear and useful information about individual student progress.”
In addition to calling for improved elementary and secondary education performance standards, Udall also called this week for Congressional action to ensure higher education remains affordable for Coloradans.
On July 1, Stafford student loan interest rates are scheduled to double from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent.
“A college education is the surest way for Coloradans to secure a high-quality job and build a successful future,” Udall said in a news release. “But, even with the best education, high loan rates and debt can cripple a career before it even begins.”
According to U.S. Department of Education statistics, 154,128 students enrolled at Colorado colleges and universities will receive more than $572.4 million in Stafford loans during the 2013-2014 school year.
In 2011-2012, 1,052 students enrolled at Colorado Mountain College received more than $3.3 million in Stafford student loans.
CMC operates 11 campuses throughout Colorado, including in Breckenridge and Dillon.