Exclusive: Governor Markell Letter To General Assembly, DOE Freaking Out Over Opt Out

Parental Opt-Out of Standardized Testing

Parents are opting out.  Teachers are crying foul.  Legislators are demanding accountability from the Delaware DOE.  Schools are overwhelmed.  Students are walking out of schools across the country.  We are in test overload as a country.  So what is the DOE, members of the 148th General Assembly, and Governor Markell’s response?  Ease the problems by taking away what is surrounding the Smarter Balanced Assessment but by all means keep the test intact.

So who is this “small group” of legislators who have had closed-door meetings with the Delaware DOE?  Why is there no transparency with these discussions with parents or other stakeholders aside from DSEA or the Delaware PTA?

This is what you are going to see: more “extensions” for teacher accountability, a push to decrease the other tests students get during the school year, downplaying the parent opt out movement by making the Smarter Balanced Assessment less than what it is, turn the movement into a political thing, and education leaders voicing objections to the objections as if they are speaking for everyone they represent when they are not.

This is becoming dirty politics in every sense of the word.  I imagine many closed-door conversations are occurring down at Legislative Hall without authority or transparency.  This is the Delaware Way.  When things get out of hand and the people actually speak out about something, let’s get dirty.

What makes this situation different though is parents are finally starting to see through the smoke and mirrors.  I told the legislature last week in an article that parents will hold them accountable, and the response has been less than stellar.  There are a handful trying to do the right thing for students, but the vast majority either won’t address it or the ones that do are making the situation worse.

Yesterday, we had State Rep. Jaques refer to Smarter Balanced as a “little test” in an attempt to diminish the impact.  This was quoted in an article about potentially getting rid of some of the other tests for students which give actual useful data and in a timely manner.  Donna Johnson, executive director with the State Board of Education echoed this sentiment overtly at the Delaware PTA Kent County Parent Opt Out Town Hall last night.  Now we have this article from WHYY/Newsworks: http://www.newsworks.org/index.php/delaware/item/79167-delaware-lawmakers-unions-want-delay-on-tying-new-test-to-teacher-evaluation with this direct quote from the President of the Delaware Educators Association:

“Jenner said she’d support tying test scores to teacher evaluations beginning in the 2016-17 school year.”

But not so fast, Jenner is denying on Twitter that this was the context of what she said.

In everything I’ve heard from numerous members of DSEA and the various education associations with each district, they did not support this, and overwhelmingly were against Component V in the DPAS II teacher evaluation system.  In Delaware DOE surveys given to teachers last year, they consistently said they lack faith in the systems as they are.  In fact, DSEA voted on a moratorium on Component V.

State rep. John Kowalko said in a conversation with Exceptional Delaware this afternoon,

“This is a Trojan horse, and DSEA members need to think twice before they approve a stall tactic designed to lessen the impact of an intrusive and damaging test to children.”

More details on this continuing story as they emerge…


9 thoughts on “Exclusive: Governor Markell Letter To General Assembly, DOE Freaking Out Over Opt Out

  1. Kevin,
    I am also very upset with the less than open negotiations that some of my colleagues are engaged in with DOE and the Governor. Being forced off of the Education Committee does not give anyone, Speaker, committee Chair or even the Governor the right or excuse to not invite me and all General Assembly members into the dialogue, especially on the subject of purported education and testing reform. My constituents deserve and demand this inclusion.

    Representative John Kowalko


  2. The reason school districts have additional assessments and track results of those is because when the DOE tries to put them under review for not making AYP, they have additional data from several other venues to discredit the DOE rating. I would imagine if schools are armed with credible data from credible assessment companies other than the garbage DOE is handing out, they will instigate legislation over it. The extensions for teacher accountability for a year or two is an effort to get teachers to be shushed because the Comp V accountability measure went into effect last year. Then, members of the DOE told administrators at a meeting that over 70% of the student population is expected to fail this test. DOE does not want parents and teachers talking about this. BECAUSE, we know what is in the best interest of the children; high stakes testing is not it.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. The letter is not about opt-out but it and the discussions with the House Chair, Governor, DOE and others is an obvious attempt to kick the can of “smarter balanced” worms down the road while keeping it alive and well and credentialing it with. “well we’ve had it now for a number of years so it must be OK”. And by the way “we’ve assuaged the teachers with this cooperative delay but “eff” the children who still must suffer the consequences of being put in this bull-crap pressure cooker” I’ve seen this type of “concession and compromise making” enough times to make that gift horse open its mouth in front of witnesses.

    Representative John Kowalko


  4. With all respect to the johns commenting on here (had to say it!), this is all about opt out because this wouldn’t even be a conversation if this test didn’t exist. Take all the comments floating around Delaware right now from the “important” people, add them all up, and boom: this is a response to the opt out movement. Which will only get bigger as long as this “little test” is around.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Kevin,
    In that context I must admit you are right, It is those who disregard the feelings and emotions of children and the rights of parents who are pushing these half-a**ed compromises and their sole intention is to attempt to diminish the awful reality of this horrid test. Unfortunately they have manged to mystify the gullible and naive with the politics of distraction.
    John Kowalko

    Liked by 1 person

  6. John M. Young
    3 hrs ·

    Perfect example of slow, uninformed capitulation. The fact that we are arguing of when, instead of if, means ed-reformers are winning. If the DSEA, pols and educators want to re-take the narrative, the push needs to go from when does it “count” to this WILL NOT BE USED. It’s junk science, do not be deceived by the Jack Markell letter today. Accepting the premise of discussing timelines betrays the real conversation: the tests were not designed to measure teachers and they must not be misused in that manner. Ever.

    Liked by 1 person

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