Unsure how model can work

We’ll be honest – we don’t understand how the Hawaii Growth Model for evaluating public school students’ progress can possibly work.

As we understood from the story in Sunday’s Maui News, each student will be evaluated individually to see if he or she is making progress. This individual measurement will replace the “adequate yearly progress” requirement of the federal No Child Left Behind law.

In other words, there will no longer be a set score on a standardized test to measure if students are making adequate progress.

Our problem with Hawaii’s model is that our students will be competing with their peers from all across the country for the best jobs. How can we tell if they are making progress to being able to compete for those jobs if the only measurement is “Are they doing better this year than last year”?

We realize there was a lot of frustration with not being able to meet No Child Left Behind’s benchmarks. But is abandoning measuring how our students are doing against other students in the country the way to solve the problem?

Proponents say the new model will hold students and teachers more accountable. They claim the old method held the school as a whole accountable – i.e., the school was failing, not an individual student or teacher. Proponents say this is a much fairer test of the system.

But the basic problem is that the new system will not give us even a glimmer of how good an education Hawaii students are receiving compared to students in other states.

Just because Junior has learned to spell a word or do a math problem he couldn’t do last year doesn’t mean he is making progress toward finding a great career in life. It may seem unfair at times, but the only way to see if Junior is making adequate progress is to test him against other students.

And that means standardized tests.

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.