Sunday, 7 Aug 2005

MEDIA RELEASE For immediate release Sunday 7 August 2005 Growth not benchmarks the key to school success The mark of a school’s success is how effectively it causes growth for students and not just how many students it helps over a particular ‘proficiency hurdle,’ according to a visiting US education expert. Professor Gage Kingsbury of the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) is in Melbourne to deliver the opening keynote address to the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) tenth annual conference, entitled Using Data to Support Learning, on Monday. Professor Kingsbury is critical of the approaches taken by systems such as the US No Child Left Behind (NCLB) which relies on proficiency tests and does not take individual growth into account. He says a more complete accountability system would reward schools for the growth they nurture in students. “The percentage of students who happen to be able to clear a single proficiency hurdle on a single test on a single day of the school year might be a useful piece of information, but it isn’t the most important element to look at when measuring school success,” Professor Kingsbury says. “We can’t judge student growth by looking at a student’s current level, and without knowing anything about student growth in a school, we can hardly judge whether that school is successfully educating its students,” Professor Kingsbury says. “To the extent that students are growing as much or more than expected and growing towards or beyond proficiency, the school can be judged a success.” Professor Kingsbury’s presentation will discuss research concerning US attempts to use student proficiency standards to identify struggling schools and describe the Kingsbury and Houser Hybrid Success Model that combines growth and standards to improve the ability to identify successful schools. He will also discuss the use of an assessment system that fosters improvement in education. Professor G. Gage Kingsbury is the Director of Research for the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA). He has designed adaptive achievement tests that are currently in use by over 1000 agencies throughout the United States and has published or presented over 60 studies dealing with item banking, item response theory and computerised adaptive testing. More than 700 delegates will attend ACER’s Research Conference 2005 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel Melbourne on 8-9 August. Three keynote addresses and 16 concurrent sessions will be presented. The conference is the largest undertaken by ACER. ****************ENDS*************