The Delaware DOE is making a push for another year of the Smarter Balanced Assessment not counting towards teacher evaluations. So that will mean, if the US Department of Education allows this, the scores won’t hit the teachers ratings. Pretty cool, right? WRONG. This means nothing for the schools themselves. They will still be counted in the Annual Yearly Performance ratings. Not a big deal, right? WRONG. Does the term priority schools ring any bells?
At the January House Education Committee meeting, Delaware State Rep. Kim Williams asked Penny Schwinn, the Chief Accountability and Performance Officer for the DOE if there would be any new priority school announcements this year. Schwinn said no. But was she talking about 2015 or Fiscal Year 2015? The last priority schools announcement was made on September 4th based on the DCAS ratings, a test the state isn’t using anymore because it wasn’t aligned with the Common Core State Standards. But if teachers were implementing those standards in schools as far back as three years ago, then all of the data is skewed at the DOE with accountability ratings. They don’t care.
Even though legislators met with the DOE about holding off on the teacher accountability ratings for another year and we have no transparency on that, the DOE still ignored the request, thus the request to Governor Markell. Do not see any attempt by the DOE to be a peace offering to the citizens of Delaware, including teachers, schools, parents and students. They have become a bureaucracy filled with a lot of young people who are using Delaware as their stepping stone to their next big thing. When the Schwinns, Ruszkowskis, and Watsons leave the DOE, another KIPP/TFA/Charter Leader will be waiting in the wings to fulfill the bastardized legacy of the Markell/Rodel vision.
If these legislators who are so desperately trying to help the students and teachers of Delaware truly want to make true and lasting change, they need to do the following:
1) Introduce legislation to repeal House Bill 334 from the 147th General Assembly allowing the Smarter Balanced Assessment to begin with and ban any high-stakes assessments in the State of Delaware.
2) Introduce legislation to make the Secretary of Education and the State Board of Education elected officials.
3) Introduce legislation banning Common Core in Delaware.
4) Introduce legislation that the State Board of Education cannot approve any Elementary and Secondary Education Act waivers without approval by the General Assembly.
Do these things, and the “getting angrier by the day” citizens of Delaware who put you in office will begin to take you seriously when it comes to education. These are bold moves, but all four of these have put Delaware in the position it is now: stagnant education tied to federal standards with a Department that has fattened themselves up at the expense of the students of Delaware. You may get some flack from Governor Markell over these matters, but there could be a strong case for http://delcode.delaware.gov/constitution/constitution-07.shtml if you were able to get a subpoena for a certain individual’s full financial records including stock portfolios and any pertinent information tied with the sources of said funding.
For the students of Delaware who are not opted out of the state assessment, you will be told on Monday to make sure you get a lot of sleep in the coming weeks, eat your Wheaties, and do your best. All the rigor will have paid off, cause it’s Smarter Balanced time! You will be in front of computers for hours with expectations that you can all type. You will see teachers attentive to your every need during these tests. Some may offer you incentives to do well. Others may tell you what will happen if you do bad.
Know this students of Delaware: the last thing the DOE wants is a corruption of data. They don’t want to see students start the test and then intentionally get problems wrong. They don’t want to see students scores not even count because of this. That would be oh so very wrong to do. It would tamper with the whole system and cause headaches from Dover to Washington D.C. and could make certain politicians ask some very tough questions about the validity of these tests. I know students are doing this in other states, at very high levels, but let those states deal with that. We are Delaware, and we believe every student deserves a top-notch education. Let’s close those performance gaps kids. Just because you may have special needs, or you are a minority, or you are low-income doesn’t mean you can’t perform just like everyone else. Ignore the scientifically proven facts that show these facts. That kid next to you, you can be the same as him. The one to the other side of you, ignore his frustration when he can’t type. This is what 3rd grade should be about! And 10th! You should all be the same. Take that original thought out of your head. If you want to paint something in art, do that at home. Art is about writing about art. Don’t worry about playing in a band. We want you to explain how bands have changed 4th of July ceremonies as opposed to playing pre-recorded music. We want you to evaluate and elaborate the same as everyone else but don’t question anything, because that’s wrong. There is one standard for all, and we must follow it. Why play sports when through the joy of personalized learning you can learn about sports on a computer. You won’t have to deal with a teacher, cause she will just give you some quick guidance on how to do your online programs for the day. This is your life, but don’t worry, it’s all been predetermined for you. And don’t worry about your teachers, because they will all be the same.
Meanwhile, students in Finland have NO standardized testing, lower classroom sizes, shorter school days, better special education, less poverty, teachers who have high value in society, and to top it off, students get more recess. And they are considered the best in the world.