High-Stakes Testing and Equity in Schools: A Critical Feminist Perspective


the idealist critic

8165522990_6fde64b26b_oOn May 5th, twelve major civil rights organizations signed a statement detailing their opposition to “anti-testing efforts” such as the opt-out movement.  Among those organizations was the American Association of University Women (AAUW), an organization that has a history of supporting both gender equity in the workplace and ethnoracial equity in schools.   Other critical educators have offered compelling arguments for the importance of “anti-testing efforts” for communities of color, pointing out how this statement was crafted and promoted by a white TFA alum. I will further argue for the importance of testing resistance to the women represented by the AAUW and other civil rights organizations.  I am making this argument out of great admiration for the twelve civil rights organizations signing this letter, as well as the grassroots organizations responding to it.  By offering my own perspective on these issues, I hope to join an ongoing dialogue…

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Tourette Syndrome Awareness Month Begins TODAY!!!!

Tourette Syndrome


Tourette Syndrome Awareness Month begins today, May 15th, and runs through June 15th.  In support of those with Tourette Syndrome, please wear teal on Tuesdays during TS Awareness Month!  The Tourette Syndrome Association of America has renamed itself The Tourette Association of America.  With a new website and a new logo, TAA is looking to bring massive awareness of this disability to America!  As of May 22nd, http://tourette.org will be the new website, replacing http://www.tsa-usa.org/index.html.

In Delaware, the awareness month was honored yesterday by the Delaware 148th General Assembly when both the State House of Representatives and Senate unanimously passed House Concurrent Resolution #36, recognizing the awareness month.  Tomorrow, in Glasgow Park in Newark, DE, there will be a TS Walk in honor of Tourette Syndrome Awareness Month, beginning at 10:00am.

For students with Tourette Syndrome in Delaware, the call for awareness and acceptance has never been greater.  As a father of a child with TS, it can be very tough for our kids.  Acceptance and understanding can be difficult.  For those who happen to see a child ticcing, or maybe even making noises, try to understand these children can not help it.  And drawing attention to tics usually result in greater stress for the child, which only increases the tics.  Children with TS are just like any other kid, they just happen to have something others don’t.

MOT Charter Renewal Appears To Be A Slam Dunk!

MOT Charter School

MOT Charter School responded to the Delaware DOE Charter School Office Charter Renewal report today, and like my earlier report on Campus Community School in Dover, I would have to guess things are looking good for MOT’s charter renewal as well.

This is a school that meets standards on everything and has the past few years as well.  Nothing to report here.  The only negative thing I’ve ever heard about this school, which I’ve heard about pretty much all the charters, is their responses to parent opt-out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  But I can’t even say it’s a charter thing, cause many districts have been pretty bad in this area as well.  This charter renewal should be a slam dunk for them though.

Timeline for Delaware Charter Schools Going Through Formal Review

Delaware Charter Schools

Four Delaware charter schools, Academy of Dover, Delaware Design Lab High School, Freire, and Prestige Academy are all under formal review by the Delaware Department of Education right now.  All four schools had their initial meetings with the Charter School Accountability Committee on 5/13/15.  All meetings are open to the public.  As well, you can email public comment on any of the four schools and send it to this email address: infocso@doe.k12.de.us

This is what happens next:

5/15/15: Charter School Accountability Committee (CSAC) report issued (not currently showing) for Academy of Dover

5/18/15: CSAC report issued for Delaware Design Lab High School, Freire, and Prestige Academy; Public Hearing for DE Design Lab, Freire and Prestige Academy at Carvel Building, 2nd floor auditorium, in Wilmington, 5pm

5/19/15: Public Hearing for Academy of Dover at DOE Building in Dover (across from library), Townshend Building, 2nd floor Cabinet room, 5pm

6/1/15: Response to initial CSAC meetings due by all four schools to DOE by 5pm

6/3/15: Final CSAC meetings for all four schools held at DOE building in Dover, 2nd floor Cabinet room, 1pm

6/5/15: Final CSAC reports issued for all four schools

6/9/15: Final Public Hearings for Freire, DE Design Lab and Prestige Academy, at Carvel Building, 2nd floor auditorium, DE Design Lab and Prestige Academy at 5pm, Freire at 6:30pm

6/10/15: Final Public Hearing for Academy of Dover, DOE building, 2nd floor Cabinet room, 5pm

6/12/15: Public Comment Period ends

6/18/15: State Board of Education Meeting, 1pm, decision on all four schools by Secretary of Education Mark Murphy and State Board of Education

Campus Community Looking Good For Charter Renewal!

Campus Community School

The Delaware Department of Education issued a charter renewal report to Campus Community School on 4/30/15, and the school responded yesterday.  While many know I’ve had issues with this school in the past, I also recognize any school that makes important changes and stays on course can be a good, or even great school.  Campus made many of those changes the past couple of years.

The only hurdle Campus is experiencing with the DOE is the same problem many schools in Delaware with a high population of low-income students are having: scores on standardized tests.  This is an ongoing systemic issue with the state in my opinion.  The demands placed on these schools is insane in my opinion, and there are many ways to determine effectiveness in a school.  I do not believe standardized test scores are a good measurement at all.  The fact that Campus had near identical rates with their home district, Capital, shows progress IF you believe this is a quality tool of measurement, which I don’t.

Documented research, proven time and time again, has shown students from low-income or poverty in urban schools do not perform as well as their peers.  But the Delaware DOE and the US DOE continue to believe all performance gaps should be closed, even as this methodology is falling apart at the seams.

I had to laugh that the DOE measured Campus Community on high school graduation rates since they closed their high school in 2012.  I’m sure it was a technical error, however it’s probably not so funny to the school when they get these reports for charter renewal and they see these kinds of flaws.

While I may have some issues with some of the things I’ve heard in regards to parent opt-out responses, overall Campus has come a long way.  In comparison to Academy of Dover and Providence Creek Academy, I would say they are far superior.  They certainly have not had any of the financial issues those schools have, and glaring “situations” do not appear to be going on.  Great job Campus!

House Bill 148 Creates Wilmington Education Improvement Commission

Wilmington Education Improvement Commission

That certainly didn’t take long.  Tony Allen, the Chair of the Wilmington Education Advisory Committee, hand delivered a letter to both the Delaware House of Representatives and Senate to create a Wilmington Education Improvement Commission.  The very next day, yesterday, State Rep. Helene Keeley sponsored House Bill 148, which would create this entity.

This is a very interesting bill.  It would allow a group not associated with the State government to implement changes through legislation.  I am very reluctant to any legislation that gives any type of authority to the unelected State Board of Education, especially for a redistricting plan.  I completely agree that many Wilmington schools desperately need help, along with many other Delaware schools.  But having a Wilmington-based group like this advising strategy for the rest of the state is a slippery slope.  I am intensely curious how this will all come out in the wash, over the long-term.  I agree with Tony Allen, the time to act is now, but it should not be designed to give short-term fixes to long-term problems.

I’m going to go on record here and say that 50% of the problems in Wilmington can be traced back to special education.  If this group does not tackle this issue, it will be destined for failure.  I don’t know who would be on this group, but it would have to be many people with a true understanding of children with disabilities.

This bill’s next destination will be the House Education Committee, which will not meet again until June 3rd after the General Assembly has a two week recess.  No agenda for that meeting has come out yet.