Achievement Levels Set For Smarter Balanced Assessment…Who Cares, Opt Out Anyways

Smarter Balanced Assessment

I don’t want to tick off the Smarter Balanced gods, so I can’t copy and paste directly from their website.  But today the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium announced the proficiency levels for the upcoming Common Core test.  I could care less because I already opted my son out, but for those still on the fence, read on.

I will share an email that was sent out today to selected education professionals:

Sent on behalf of Joe Willhoft

To NEA and AFT Teacher Ambassadors,

Attached is a press release that just went out earlier today.  It talks about the setting of four achievement levels on the Smarter Balanced assessments that our member states will start using in 2015.

The process and activities we went through to arrive at consensus on the achievement levels was extremely thorough.  We hosted nearly 500 individual panelists to assist us with these decisions, two-thirds of which were teachers from Smarter Balanced states, with another 20% or so being non-teaching educators (principals, curriculum directors, etc.), about 10% college faculty, and about 5% parents/business leaders.  These panelists spent several days going through test items, the Common Core, and our descriptions of knowledge and skills that teachers told us students needed at different levels of performance.  These panelists submitted recommendations to our chief school officers in member states.  The chiefs gave primary consideration to the content-based recommendations from our in-person panelists, but also took into account other external data on what we currently know about high school student readiness to enter into credit-bearing college courses.  In the end, we had unanimous agreement (18-0, with 2 abstentions) on new and rigorous performance standards on the Smarter Balanced assessments.

Feel free to visit our website​ for more information.  Thanks,


No, thank you Joe!  Now I know who the big guy is at the top of the group.  Sounds like they had all these stakeholders meeting to decide the assessment achievement levels, but at the end of the day it was up to the state school chiefs.  I dread thinking about Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy having any input on these recommendations.

The Consortium (love that word, makes them sound so sinister) sent out the following press release today:

Smarter Balanced States Approve Achievement Level Recommendations

<!– 11/17/14 – Smarter Balanced –>

OLYMPIA, WASH. (November 17, 2014) —Members of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium have voted to approve initial achievement levels for the mathematics and English language arts/literacy (ELA) assessments that will be administered in 17 states and one territory this school year. The vote marks an important milestone in the development of the assessment system.

“These initial achievement levels were developed with input from thousands of educators and community members, reflecting a diverse cross-section of views on education. Moving forward, the achievement levels, along with scale scores that also will be reported, will help teachers and parents understand student performance and needs for support,” said Smarter Balanced Executive Director Joe Willhoft.

The achievement levels serve as a starting point for discussion about the performance of individual students and of groups of students in mathematics and English Language arts. There are other measures that students, teachers and parents can also use to help evaluate the academic progress of students and schools, such as scale scores, growth models, and portfolios of student work. The states also unanimously approved a position paper to provide broad guidelines for how the scores and achievement levels can be used and interpreted by state officials, parents, teachers and other stakeholders.

Since Smarter Balanced is offering assessments for both ELA and math for grades 3-8 and high school, the recommendations include achievement level scores for both subject areas and at each of those grade levels. The attached charts display the threshold scores that distinguish four achievement levels and display the estimated percentage of students across all Smarter Balanced states who would have scored at each level based on data from the Consortium’s spring 2014 field test. Smarter Balanced estimates that the percentage of students who would have scored “Level 3 or higher” in math ranged from 32 percent in Grade 8 to 39 percent in Grade 3. In English language arts, the percentage of students who would have scored “Level 3 or higher” ranged from 38 percent in Grade 3 to 44 percent in Grade 5. See the charts for further details.

“Because the new content standards set higher expectations for students and the new tests are designed to assess student performance against those higher standards, the bar has been raised. It’s not surprising that fewer students could score at Level 3 or higher. However, over time the performance of students will improve,” said Willhoft.

Willhoft added, “It’s important to note that the figures released today are a Consortium-wide estimate based on the spring 2014 Field Test. Once the operational assessment is administered in 2015, states will have a much clearer picture.”

To create the achievement levels, Smarter Balanced organized an unprecedented level of educator and public input, involving thousands of interested constituents, using a rigorous process known as the “bookmark procedure.”

During an in-person panel, held in Dallas, Texas, close to 500 teachers, school leaders, higher education faculty, parents, business and community leaders reviewed test questions and determined the threshold scores for four achievement levels for each grade and subject area. Member states had representatives at each grade level for grades 3 through 8 and high school. Educators with experience teaching English language learners, students with disabilities and other traditionally under-represented students participated to help ensure that the achievement levels are fair and appropriate for all students.

In addition, an online panel was open to educators, parents and other interested members of the community to provide unprecedented input on the achievement levels. More than 2,500 people participated in the online panel. A cross-grade review committee composed of 72 members of the in-person panels then took the results of the online and in-person panels into account to develop recommendations that coherently aligned across grades and that reflected student progress from year to year.

As an additional step, Smarter Balanced engaged an external auditor, an Achievement Level Setting Advisory Panel and its standing Technical Advisory Committee to review the recommendations before they were presented to the states for approval. The auditor and both advisory panels certified that Smarter Balanced conducted a valid process that is consistent with best practice in the field.

In approving the Achievement Levels, Smarter Balanced member states relied primarily on the recommendations from the Achievement Level Setting process. Members also gave consideration to other sources of information about the general content readiness of high school students to engage in credit-bearing college-level work. This included a comprehensive body of research on college academic preparedness of high school students conducted by the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB), the oversight body for the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

Over the coming months, member states will present these achievement level recommendations to the policy-making entities that have the authority to formally adopt achievement levels in each state. This authority most typically rests with the state board of education.

And we all know how the Delaware DOE loves to abuse their authority on behalf of a pro-Common Core Rigor Standardized Test Charter Loving Governor and his other puppet masters at Rodel.  Parents, just opt your kids out now!  Until I did, I was stressed just thinking about my son taking this (choose your own expletive) of a test.  Now, I feel a calm knowing he won’t have to deal with this, and a 50% to 70% chance of him being labeled a failure because of this (choose your own expletive again) of a test.

Write the letter, hand deliver it to the school, join one of the many Facebook groups I created for opt-out in each district, charter and vo-tech in the state, and call it a day.

Educational Failure and What YOU Can Do About It


Kavips is exactly right. The smoke and mirrors Markell has given the people of Wilmington is a farce. It’s a band aid for a wound that has been gushing blood for years. And the charter schools get the tourniquet when they have a little scratch…


Six schools in Wilmington were given close to $1 million each over 5 years and put on a priority list.

Some people say the $1 million is a good thing…

However simultaneous to this attempt,  there will be a considerable number of charter schools going into Wilmington.

Next year, 2015-2016 Frere school expects to take on close to 356 students.  According to their application, their predicted budget will be funded to the tune of $2,083,200 in state funds, and for the first year $1,246,224 from neighboring districts… (RED CLAY and CHRISTINA).

So, apparently based on scattered test results we have failing schools, and are investing roughly $5 million into those two districts to make them right.  Yet with this one school alone across the exact same span of time, we are taking over $7,061,936out of those two districts in “School District Local Fund Transfers”…

There is also another brand new charter…

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A Delaware Blog Returns At Last! Welcome Back Parents of Christina!

Delaware Bloggers

After a five-month absence, Parents of Christina is back!  Parents of Christina was started by Harry and Melanie Curriden years ago to talk about their daughter with Autism as well as their struggles with the education system in Delaware.  PoC could be very controversial at times, and I’m sure Governor Jack Markell didn’t always like to read it!

Sadly, Harry Curriden passed away last June.  Understandably so, Melanie took a hiatus from the blog.  But she’s back, and ready to give Delaware readers another spin on education in our state.  Last Monday, Melanie wrote the following:

Monday, November 10, 2014

I’m back!

Since September, I have been unable to hit “publish” on several posts I started .  When our lives change so do your priorities (that’s what I told myself anyway).  My daughter has a way of making me see what truly matters.
Over the weekend we were having a talk about school and she mentioned autism.  She understands autism makes certain things more of a challenge, but she knows I am extremely proud of her.   She said to me “I despise autism.”   Yes, despise hate is a word we try not to use in our home.  I explained that autism is a part of her and she is much more than autism and I love her very much.
This was the first time she has wanted to talk about autism and it seemed very troubling to her, so I gave her some time.   Later, I asked her what she didn’t like about autism and her response, “the sign at school—Delaware program.”  She explains that she has gone to several schools that were “wrong” and wants to know why she can’t go back to a school helped her regain a love for learning.

I will stop about my daughter due to privacy issues, but PoC was created to inform and help other parents advocate for their children.  Harry and I started PoC because we knew we weren’t along and then the issues all children are facing with education reform.  
My blogging hiatus is over not only to speak for my daughter,  but also because of the emails and Facebook messages I have received over the last month.  PoC was not created or supported by the district due the honesty my late husband Harry and I shared, and that honesty will continue.

Welcome back Melanie!  I can’t wait to read new articles from you.  Your voice has been sorely missed around the Delaware blogging world!  Readers can check out Parents of Christina at the following link:

Teacher Wage Theft: Active and Retired Teachers Are Being Victimized by Billionaires


Delaware would never do this…would they?

Reclaim Reform

Why are we ignoring the massive ($100 billion) wage theft that is happening right now? Active and retired teachers are the main targets. Specific funds are targeted by specific billionaires and financial service industry investors.

Active teachers seem to accept paying into funds that are guaranteed to make money for fund managers while nearly guaranteeing massive losses for teachers. Retirees seem to be in denial. Non-teachers don’t want to believe they will be next. Where is the rage? Where are the vast crowds opposing this grand theft?

CCSS, school closings, teacher evaluations linked to tests designed to fail children, rigged pension theft, media parrots, Pearson, Gates, Koch, Broad, Walton and corporate elected puppets (Democrapublicans) are lined up for a coup unlike anything seen in American history. It’s all about the money and power.

David Sirota reports in Salon, Wall Street’s dispiriting new victory at your retirement’s expense.

paid salarya

From Illinois…

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