The DOE Smarter Balanced Propoganda-Brainwashing P.R. Campaign Begins Now!

The Delaware Department of Education released their latest newsletter called “Take Note” today with a very important message about their upcoming release of the Smarter Balanced Assessment results.  I feel obligated to break this down and give my thoughts on each part.  As usual, DOE’s stance is in black, mine is in red (which John Young from Transparent Christina invented, at least on Delaware blogs).

The Delaware Department of Education will release preliminary statewide Smarter Assessment results on September 2. Final results will be released in mid-September, when families also will receive score reports.

But they have had the results for well over a month now, but they were too chicken to actually release them.  Instead, they met with every single Delaware legislator individually.  Slowly but surely, I’m hearing some results here and there, and they are anything but promising, especially among students with disabilities.

The test results will show children’s strengths and weaknesses in different areas within each subject. This will help families and educators understand whether children need additional practice or need to be challenged by going deeper into a subject. Families can use these results to locate activities online that were designed specifically for each category at every grade level. Families also can use the test results to guide a discussion with their children’s teachers about additional supports or challenges that may be needed in class, as well as other ways to support their children at home.

The test results will show this is a crappy test, period.  This won’t show strengths.  It will show the inherent weaknesses in THIS test.  How will this help educators who no longer have the same child in their grade this year?  It won’t.  When you say “need to be challenge by going deeper into a subject”, what you are really talking about is teaching to the test.  “…to guide a discussion with their children’s teachers…”  I said this the other day.  If you have problems with the test, call the DOE.  The teachers want to teach, not go over a child’s test results when they weren’t even their teacher.  They don’t know how your child answered or even what questions they were given.  Parents, the best way to support your child at home AND at school is to REFUSE THE TEST!

There are many resources available. For example, you can find Delaware-specific resources differentiated by subject, testing area and grade level at Be A Learning Hero’s Skill Builder site (http://bealearninghero.org/skill-builder). Also check out GreatKids! (http://www.greatschools.org/gk/) for more resources, including a new Delaware-specific tool launching Sept. 1. Using a child’s individual results, a parent or guardian will be able to find resources that will match the child’s areas of strength and areas for improvement.

If the teacher isn’t teaching to the test properly, you can go online and have the same thing!  Because every child wants to go home and do the SAME thing for a high-stakes test they won’t even take until next Spring.  (Unless you REFUSE THE TEST and they don’t have to worry about it!)

Find these and other great resources and information about the Smarter Assessments on the DelExcels (www.delexcels.org) site. There you also will find sample score reports for each achievement level, an interpretive guide for reading the score reports and an extensive FAQ document.

Or parents, you could help your child out with their homework, or spend time with them and talk to them about how their day was, or go for a walk in the park, or count stars…you get the idea.

Students took the new tests, which assess children in grades 3 to 8 and 11 in English language arts/literacy and mathematics, for the first time in the spring. The tests replaced Delaware’s previous Delaware Comprehensive Assessment System (DCAS) state tests in reading and mathematics.

The U.S.A. is the ONLY country in the world that tests our children in all of these grades like this.  Something to be proud of…not!  DCAS was a much better test, and it actually showed growth, something this test doesn’t because there is NO growth model. And multiple states wisely jumped out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium because they knew it was going to be bad news.

The Smarter Assessments help parents understand how their children are doing and whether their children know and are able to do the things in each grade that are important for them to be prepared for the next grade level and the future. The tests show results in comparison to their peers in their grade levels and schools.  They also inform parents where their children need more support or additional challenges, which allows for more personalized teaching. Along with families knowing how their own children are performing, schools also benefit from knowing how all of their students are progressing, which enables educators to make the best and most-informed instructional decisions.

If it’s the first year of the test, how can the DOE say these tests “help parents understand how their child is doing”?  They can’t.  There is nothing to compare it to.  And they don’t show comparisons to their peers in their grade levels, they show comparisons to their peers from the LAST grade level, with a different teacher.  Your child is a guinea pig for the endless data machine that is killing public education.  Schools hate this test, and educators do as well.  The only ones that don’t are the ones who will use it to advance their own careers by sucking up to administration and DOE.  And how can teachers give “personalized” teaching when this test sucks the oxygen out of their entire school year?  And they have huge classrooms with little support?  Or are you talking about personalized learning, which is basically have the computer do all the talking and teachers just chat a little bit about it or go over homework?  No thanks.  I want my kid to be taught by a teacher, not a screen!

Next week’s score release will include preliminary aggregate results at the state, district and school levels. Final results, including analysis by student demographics and subgroups, will be released on Thursday, September 17 (but they have had the results for over a month) in conjunction with the State Board of Education meeting. Families will receive score reports for their students via U.S. mail beginning in mid-September.

Because the unelected State Board needs to know before parents!  What I really want to know is the number of opt-outs for each grade and sub-group.  The growth I want to see is how much that can be increased next spring.

In general, we expect fewer students to score at the proficient level on these exams than did on the DCAS. That’s because we are asking students to do more challenging work that will better prepare them for their futures. The new tests are measuring more complex skills including critical thinking, analyzing and problem solving, which is different than previous tests. A low score does not mean that a child did not improve or that he or she learned less. This first year’s test scores set a new baseline from which progress will be measured moving forward.

The first year’s tests will also punish schools by their participation rate.  Since the Feds said they can’t enforce federal funding cuts with opt-out, they are leaving this to the states.  The Delaware DOE, in conjunction with Delaware Superintendents and staff, with very little stakeholder input from other education organizations or parents, and almost no transparency passed this one on the sly.  A low score means the test is horrible Delaware parents!  If your child did well, they are probably good at memorizing what is on THIS standardized test because it was drilled into them for 7-8 months.  The DOE wants low scores, because if everyone does well, they have no basis for their continual high salaries and outside vendors they throw taxpayer money at, all in the name of the children.  Which is utter nonsense.

Back to normal color!  If you want to truly make a difference in your child’s education, REFUSE THE TEST!  Let’s get out of this high-stakes testing mentality that does nothing more than test, label and punish!  Just give the school a letter stating your child will NOT take the Smarter Balanced Assessment next Spring, and you expect your child to be educated during this time.  If the school wants to meet you to “discuss” this, politely say thank you.  If they pressure you, let me know.

Milford Superintendent To Retire After Two Failed Referendums

Referendum.  Many school districts in Delaware fear this word.  It can make or break a district.  No where has this been more evident than the Christina School District.  After two failed referendums last year, the district has been forced to make painful cuts to their schools and services.  Now the virus has infected Milford School District.  Like Christina, they experienced two referendums that did not pass.  In the midst of this, their Superintendent Phyllis Kohel announced her retirement at the end of the 2015-2016 school year.

According to the Milford Beacon, Kohel announced her intention to retire at the Milford School District board meeting Monday night.

“This is my 32nd year and it’s a very difficult position,” she said. “I like to think that I have, but I don’t know if I’ve ever worked so hard in my life as I have with this position.

“It’s very demanding and can be very disappointing at times, particularly when you’re in referendum mode as we’ve been in for the past two years.”

Mike Finney, the writer of the article, explained how Kohel served the school district for the past 31 years, and has been Superintendent since 2012.  As the second district this school year facing Superintendent and referendum woes, this could be a sign of things to come with Delaware’s antiquated funding system.  Meanwhile, in Wilmington, a commission of 23 will attempt to tackle this issue head-on and devise a new way of funding our schools.  This school year will be one of massive change in Delaware, between a new Secretary, Smarter Balanced results, parent opt-out, redistricting, WEIC, and an upcoming budget battle in the General Assembly that promises to be controversial.

An Inside Look At The Dark Minds Of The High-Stakes Testing Regimen of DOE and AIR

The below document is disturbing on many levels.  It is the minutes from a joint meeting from the Delaware Department of Education and American Institutes for Research.  Many assumptions are made on both parts, and they just run with it.  Of particular assessment is the second paragraph of page four and the last paragraph on page seven.  I am beginning to understand why the DOE really doesn’t get special education.  The very fact that they would not defend their own students to these data freaks at AIR is astonishing.

If anything, this document shows what our students are to these data freaks at AIR- nothing but even more data for them to dissect and disseminate.  The cold and callous way students are discussed in terms of high-stakes testing chilled me to the bone.  These are children, not data.

As well, Brian Touchette with the DOE gives mention to something called the Duckworth/Grit analysis.  Angela Duckworth is a  psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania who has made over a million dollars with her “grit” method, which revolves around “growth mindset”.  Grit and rigor…flip sides of the same coin…

Some things to keep in mind with this presentation.  This is December 2013, six months before the Delaware General Assembly voted on House Bill 334, which made Smarter Balanced the state assessment in Delaware.  The DOE advises AIR they have already committed to the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, without any change in the law.  Why is this important?  There has been differing opinions of when Delaware bought the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  Governor Markell said one thing and former Secretary of Education Mark Murphy said another.  This proves Delaware was very much committed to SBAC at least half a year before it was written into state law…