John Young breaks down this letter the DSEA sent in regards to the “gains” and “flatlines” made by students on DCAS this year. And the Smarter Balanced Assessment will be tougher? Way to go Delaware! Let’s set up more failure!
Here’s a few hints. It’s in Europe, it’s cold and dark in the winter, and very light in the summer. They have given America musical exports including ABBA, Ace Of Base, Roxette and The Cardigans. They did invent Swedish Meatball, but they don’t know why it’s called Swedish massage in Sweden, but they think it’s pretty funny. What nobody is laughing at in Sweden is their school choice program.
According to an article on Slate.com, Sweden is not very happy with how it’s students did on the Programme for International Assessment (PISA). The results were released last December, and Sweden was below the international averages in reading comprehension, math, and science. What contributed to these declining marks? Many Swedes blame it on the country’s school choice program.
In the early 1990’s, Sweden began a school voucher system. With this voucher system, the government would issue vouchers to the public to help support new private schools. As a result, private schools sprang up all over the country. As the money rolled in, the schools grew like weeds. The rich began opening schools, and it didn’t seem to matter how good the education was, as long as it was showing a profit. The students were doing very well, and standardized tests showed Sweden to have one of the best education systems in Europe. So what went wrong?
It was actually the standardized testing itself. In the USA, our teachers do not grade the standardized tests. They are graded by the computer program or outside evaluators. In Sweden, the teachers grade these tests. And the Swedish students were doing well. But what happens when you administer an international test, not graded by Swedish educators, and it shows a significant drop in the country’s educational standing with the rest of the world?
Sweden investigated this matter, and they found the students who attended the voucher schools were undereducated and performed bad on these types of tests. Those who attended the government schools (public schools), did much better. It was determined the teachers in the voucher schools were grading the national assessments much easier than those of the government public schools. The schools wanted to keep the students, and no parent is going to transfer their child out if they are doing well.
Furthermore, since they were private schools, they weren’t backed by the government. They were financed through private equity firms. A Danish firm, called Axcel, decided to stop backing the schools in Sweden. Over 10,000 students found their schools abruptly closed in Sweden. For a country of only 8 million people, that is a considerable size. Sweden’s education system prior to the voucher system was very good. But corporate greed got their hooks in, and the results were horrifying for Sweden.
The voucher schools in Sweden weren’t exactly the same as the charter schools in America. Most of the charter schools in America are non-profit. But some similarities can be made. The rise of the charters in America has occurred at about the same rate as the vouchers in Sweden. Children at charter schools don’t always perform as well on standardized tests as those in public schools. Public school advocates do not like the charters because they feel vital resources are drained for their own districts to support the charters. As well, both the voucher and the charter schools tended to attract “brighter” and “wealthier” students. In other words, it wasn’t a guarantee anyone could get into a voucher school in Sweden. But if you had the money, there was a pretty good chance.
Now Sweden views itself as a national embarrassment based on their international standing. 15 years ago they were near the top, and now they are below average. Scandinavians are a proud lot, and to have a neighbor like Finland getting all the great headlines about their education system while they are below average is humiliating for a country like Sweden. A lesson can be learned here for Americans, and especially Delawareans, about what can happen when corporate entities push their way into schools.
According to the News Journal, kids on state standardized tests remained about the same as last year in Delaware. This is the last year on DCAS, and next year starts the abysmal monstrosity called Smarter Balanced Assessment. You know, the one that got voted against in the Delaware Senate last month, only to have Markell’s team come in and say “We would have implemented it anyways”. So the Senate did a revote and passed it, eternally pissing off Kilroy cause of Greg Lavelle’s flip-flop.
Hey News Journal, how about a little love for the special needs children who have to take these crappy tests. You didn’t mention one word about how they did.
The article goes on to talk about how the Smarter Balanced test will be tougher for the kids, but it’s more in line with common core. And it will only take 7 hours for elementary kids and 8.5 for high school kids. No pressure for normal kids, or special needs kids either. And teachers. They will be okay with the mass prepping that will go on weeks before it comes out.
Secretary Of Education Mark Murphy seems to be okay with the growth targets coming out of this year’s DCAS testing. As News Journal Matthew Albright reported: “One bright spot state officials pointed out: More students are meeting their growth targets, the individual goals for test scores each student is assigned based on his or her previous performance and profile. In math, 57 percent of students met their growth targets, up five points from last year. In reading, 55 percent met those targets, up three points from last year. Murphy said this growth shows many students might not yet be proficient but are making progress.”
Here’s a newsflash for you Murphy, students tried to bomb the fall test so they could show growth. And teachers would constantly stress to the kids “This one doesn’t count.” So the students didn’t care how they did on it. This practice goes on all the time, and we all know it. But how can you measure growth now if there are no other tests during the year? Didn’t think that one all the way through, did you Murph?
Another Delaware charter school put under formal review. I saw it on the agenda for the Delaware DOE Board meeting today. Once again, special education children at a Delaware charter school getting the shaft. When are they going to learn? I suggest they all have a meeting with Positive Outcomes in Dover to learn how it’s done. Kilroy asked when they are releasing results of Moyer’s full Special Education audit. When are they releasing ALL of the special education audits?
UPDATED Thursday 7/17/14, 10:58 PM
As per the Delaware DOE website:
On July 17, 2014, with the assent of the State Board of Education, the Department of Education placed the Maurice J. Moyer Academic Institute charter school on Formal Review, pursuant to Title 14 Delaware Code § 515(b), to determine whether the charter holder is violating the terms of its charter and, if so, whether to order remedial measures.
The Department of Education accepts electronically submitted and written comments from the public. All letters of public comment will be part of the official record to inform the decision regarding this application. Electronic comments may be submitted by email to the Charter School Office at email@example.com. Written comments may be submitted to the Charter School Office at the Department of Education, 401 Federal Street, Suite 2, Dover, DE 19901-3639. Public comments will be accepted until September 15, 2014.