Bennet, Udall, Polis Introduce Growth to Excellence Act to Ensure Students are College- and Career-Ready the Day They Graduate High School

Legislation Would Replace Static, Outdated No Child Left Behind Standards with More Useful, Dynamic Data for Parents, Teachers, Students

Colorado U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and Mark Udall joined with Congressman Jared Polis today to introduce the Growth to Excellence Act to ensure that schools have better, more dynamic standards and systems to track student performance from year to year. Colorado's dynamic “growth model” for measuring students' academic growth over time has been recognized nationally as a working reform to No Child Left Behind. The Growth to Excellence Act would help schools around the country more accurately measure student performance and ensure that high school graduates across the country are college- and career-ready the day they earn their diplomas.

“Kids in Colorado and across the country deserve an education system that will accurately measure student achievement,” Bennet said. “In the Denver Public Schools superintendent's office, we saw firsthand that No Child Left Behind's system for measuring students was missing the mark, which is why we developed a framework to measure a student's progress year over year throughout their careers. This type of commonsense model will help ensure all of our kids receive the best education possible.”

“The future of Colorado's economy — and our nation's ability to win the global economic race — is rooted in our education system,” Udall said. “We need to ensure that students are performing and getting the skills they need to fill 21st century jobs every step of the way, from preschool and the first day of kindergarten through high school graduation. This common-sense legislation, which is based on our successful 'growth model' in Colorado, would give states more flexibility in measuring student achievement, and ensure that children do not fall through the cracks and are ready for college on day one.”

“Measuring individual student progress is crucial to ensuring that all young people have access to a quality education that prepares them for college and a career. I am proud to be reintroducing the Growth to Excellence Act with Colorado Senators Udall and Bennet,” Polis said. “This legislation will hold all states to the rigorous academic standards similar to those used in Colorado, while also allowing states to build upon their accountability systems to meet their individual states' needs. As we work to reauthorize the No Child Left Behind Act, it is important that parents, teachers, and students alike have clear and useful information about individual student growth, instead of relying on a one-size-fits-all measurement of school performance.”

The Growth to Excellence Act of 2013 would amend federal school standards to include an accountability model for states to track student growth and performance toward being college- and career-ready. Instead of a one-time snapshot of school performance at test times, the bill would tie school performance to its students' growth over time to ensure they are academically ready for graduation. The standards also would ensure that schools, parents, teachers and students readily have the information they need to track where growth has occurred and where there is room for improvement.

No Child Left Behind, the existing standard for tracking student growth, only requires states to compare one year's class of students to the next year's class using a fixed target for all students regardless of how far or close they were to proficiency; it fails to measure individual student progress over time. Udall, Bennet and Polis's proposal would replace this static standard with a more dynamic and useful system for schools, parents, teachers and students.