Delving Into One of the Questions Betsy DeVos Couldn't Answer
Trump’s pick for education secretary was slammed for her failure to differentiate between growth and proficiency in response to a question from Senator Al Franken. Here’s how the states currently measure achievement.
It doesn’t sound particularly sexy, but the growth-versus-proficiency debate is one of the most consequential to have shaped education policy in recent years.
The “proficiency” approach amounts to evaluating kids based on whether they arrive at a set benchmark—whether, for example, they achieve a certain math score on standardized tests. (This was, controversially, pretty much the exclusive focus of No Child Left Behind.) The “growth” approach is more customized in that it involves, say, evaluating each individual student based on how much he or she has progressed from the beginning to the end of the school year; schools aren’t punished for serving consistently below-average yet improving children and they’re responsible for being attentive to those who are steadily high-performing.
Clashes over the two models have long bedeviled deliberations over education policy because they play a huge role in determining which schools, for instance, get shuttered for low performance.
When asked at her confirmation hearing whether she preferred using growth or proficiency to measure student achievement, DeVos fumbled.
But that debate is one on which Betsy DeVos, who’s slated to be the country’s next education secretary, hasn’t offered substantial input. In fact, when asked at her confirmation hearing whether she preferred using growth or proficiency to measure student achievement, she fumbled, apparently conflating the two very-different approaches.
In one of many testy exchanges that took place at the Michigan billionaire’s hearing Tuesday evening, Democratic Senator Al Franken, of Minnesota, started off with a wonky-sounding prompt that could’ve easily caused many viewers to tune out: “I would like your views on the relative advantage of assessments and Helping DeVos Understand How States Measure Achievement - The Atlantic: