Parent Advocate Questions Sending Kids To New Charters In Delaware

Delaware Charter Schools, Students With Disabilities

I may not always agree with Devon Hynson, but for the most part, he hits a bullseye!

This is the reality in Delaware.  And like he said, it’s not all charters. It’s not all schools.  But I don’t think the solution is necessarily to send your kid back to a traditional public school.  I think the time is come to hold the schools who say they can’t, or won’t accommodate, to the fire.  It’s not a choice for public schools to pick and choose things that go against state and federal law.  And if the DOE won’t do anything about it, than every single parent who goes through this needs to stand up and shout it to the world.  They are getting OUR taxpayer money.  Why should we leave?  They need to be held accountable for this stuff, not all the stupid assessments.  It’s not choice if the student isn’t getting everything they would be entitled to at a regular school.  It’s discrimination.  And traditional schools, you don’t get to pick and choose based on what’s best for the district or your budget, you pick what’s best for the individual student.  No more!

Delaware Does Better Than Expected On Smarter Balanced But Much Worse Than DCAS, Opt-Out Rates by District

Delaware Smarter Balanced Results

“Depending on the grade level and subject, students scored between 16 and 45 percentage points lower on the Smarter Balanced than they did on its predecessor, DCAS.”

The above quote by Avi Wolfman-Arent with his article on the Smarter Balanced results for WHYY/Newsworks tells the main story.  The results are in and the numbers are interesting.  Statewide, the proficiency rate was 51.9% for ELA and 38.8% for Math. The highest rated district was Cape Henlopen with an overall proficiency of 57.2% and the lowest was Laurel with 26.3%

Statewide, the opt-out numbers didn’t go below the 95% threshold with the exception of 11th grade English and Math, with 90.5% and 89.3%.  But certain districts did, with Christina at 91.8% in Math and 91.3% in ELA, Gateway Lab School at 94.6% in Math, the recent closed Moyer Academy had 85.9% in English and 87% in Math, another closed charter called Reach Academy for Girls had 89.3% for ELA and 91.3% for Math, and finally, Poly-tech had 94.0% and 92.3% for Math.  For the state, the overall participation rate in ELA was 96.7% and 95.8% for Math.

What hasn’t been announced yet is the  sub-groups, like students with disabilities, African-Americans, Hispanic, low-income, and so forth.  Those are the numbers I really wanted to see, aside from the opt-outs.  By looking at the below chart, found on the Delaware DOE website, it’s obvious schools with higher populations of these “sub-groups” performed worse than the more affluent schools.  And of course, the “Charter Trio” of Charter School of Wilmington, Newark Charter School and Sussex Academy did the best.  Cherry-picking has its advantages.

Even Eastside Charter School, praised by Governor Markell for their growth rates on DCAS, took a beating on this test.  As did many of the other charters in Wilmington.  The two charters with high populations of special needs students didn’t fare so well either.  I don’t blame any of these schools, I blame the DOE and American Institutes for Research, the creator of the assessment and the DOE’s vendor and distributor.  But the blame game by the DOE and Markell is already beginning, as seen in Governor Markell’s obligatory press release.  Even Secretary of Education Mark Murphy who still seems to be hovering around, said to Matthew Albright in the News Journal coverage:

Murphy said the goal is for parents to use those results to have more informed conversations with their teachers.  If a student scored a one or a two, parents should seek extra help for their kids in the subjects they’re struggling with, for example.

“It’s not like all the answers lie in the Department of Education,” Markell said.  “Many of the best are in the districts.  And, in the end, they have responsibility for their own schools.”

As the accountability gun is pointed at their heads…Sorry Jack and Mark, the test was forced on students by the Delaware DOE and the US DOE.  But the DOE will not take any blame for this test whatsoever.  Instead, they want to point fingers:

 As a governing state in the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, Delaware partnered with other states to develop the Smarter Balanced Assessment System. Delaware educators have been integral to many aspects of the new assessment system, including question development, standard setting, report development and the creation of professional learning resources for teachers. In spring 2014, educators and students across Delaware participated in the successful national field test of new assessment items and the accompanying technology.

Now we will see the schools and districts rushing to get all those kids “college and career ready” so they can get the very high growth portion on the upcoming Delaware School Success Framework, otherwise known as the school report card.  But what they may not be counting on is the anger about half the parents in this state will feel that their kids weren’t proficient on this test.  All that time and energy, designed for one test, and their kid is just not good enough.  But don’t despair parents.  Your kid should not be measured based on one test.  You do have a choice: REFUSE THE TEST!

Delaware Smarter Balanced Results: Who Cares? It Really Doesn’t Matter

Smarter Balanced Assessment

I’m sure if you go read the News Journal or any of the other Delaware media right now, you can read all about the release of the Smarter Balanced Assessment results.  But guess what?  None of it matters.  That’s right, it doesn’t matter.  It won’t impact your child (they are in a new grade), it won’t count against teachers (they got another skip year from it counting against them on their teacher evaluations), and it won’t count in the state’s School Report Card (cause it’s the first year).  So really, does this have any bearing on your child’s education?  No, it doesn’t.  These tests never did.

It’s all about the companies getting the data, and telling us “Your schools are failing.”  And how we need to fix them, and close the proficiency gaps, and get our kids college and career ready, and and and….blah blah blah

I have no clue what these results are going to say because  I wasn’t invited to their embargoed press junket yesterday.  I can only guess what they are going to say.  I can picture Governor Markell saying something like “Most of our teachers were rated effective last year, but as we see with these test results, our students are not getting an effective education,” or his usual “There has never been a better time to be a person with the right skills, and never a worse time to be a person with the wrong skills.”  He loves that one!  Whatever he says, whoever he wants to blame, know that he doesn’t know any better.  He has been swallowed by greed.  He doesn’t care about your kid.  He truly doesn’t.  He cares about his buddies, the ones that are making money hand over fist at the expense of your child, or your student.  He will smile for the camera, and write his big words, and take his tough-guy stance, but at the end of the day, he’s a snake.  Inside, he is coiling and hissing, and waiting to strike.  He already gave Eve the apple, and he’s just slithering around waiting for his next victims.  Don’t believe a word he says, cause it’s all a pack of lies.

The Delaware DOE and their accomplices over at American Institutes for Research (AIR) are just as guilty as Markell.  The DOE has no skin in this game, they are just “following policy”.  Policy they helped to create.  If Markell is the snake, they are the worms eating away at the apple that is public education.  And the testing freaks over at AIR, who scare the living daylights out of me, they are the embodiment of evil.  They set everything up for this moment, this time.  When their decades of education “policy” got them to the exact place they wanted to be.  They put the sticks in the pit, threw some gas on it, and waited.  Now they have struck the match, and they are watching it all burn.  Which is what they have wanted this whole time.

It doesn’t matter what your kid scored on this test.  All you need to do is stop having your kid take this test.  You can REFUSE THE TEST.  Don’t let these companies (and the DOE is a very big company with lots of high-paid employees) turn your kid into something they don’t want your child to be: data.  Your child is a living, breathing, unique gift on this planet.  Your child is different than everyone else, because they are their own person.  With real thoughts and emotions.  They want to take that away from your family.  They want to standardize your child.  Don’t let them.  Don’t you dare!

My son won’t take the Smarter Balanced Assessment this year.  He is safely tucked away somewhere outside of the battle, and things like Common Core and standardized assessments, they don’t matter for him, at least not for a long time.  So if this is the case, why do I care?  It’s simple… I do.  I care about all the victims of this grand larceny of public education.  I care about the teachers and the schools.  I care about the parents, most of which don’t have the first idea about what is happening to their child 180 days of the year.  But most of all, I care about the kids.  The ones who can’t speak for themselves.  The ones who don’t have enough voices speaking for them.  The ones whose hopes and dreams are drowning while the adults who should know better plot and scheme and say they are the ones “doing it for the kids”.

I’ve been writing about this stupid test for fifteen months, and fought the DOE and the Governor every step of the way.  And I will continue to fight this until this test is gone, along with all the greed and fraud that came with it.  For fifteen months, we’ve been on the defensive.  Now we have the ball, and we are taking it all the way down the field for the biggest touchdown of all.  Our next move will be the one NOBODY saw coming!

Delaware Children Are Pawns To American Institutes for Research & Not Just For The Smarter Balanced Assessment

American Institutes for Research, Smarter Balanced Assessment

“When you are using the test for accountability, you’re not really using it to measure the kid, but you are using it to measure the school or the teacher or the district.” Jon Cohen, President of Assessment at American Institutes for Research

Today we find out the Smarter Balanced Assessment results for Delaware.  This test was designed by American Institutes for Research.  They also created DCAS.  Known as AIR, they are everywhere.  Your child is a mere data point to them so they can help states hold schools and districts accountable for their own tests.  I first wrote about them at the end of April, and what I found shocked me then.  Watch this video, and think of your child taking this assessment.

This is a company who promises Delawareans they will keep your child’s data safe.  Which is interesting, considering they can’t do the same for their own employees so how safe is your child’s information?  This is a company that proudly boasts on their own website how they delivered 60 millions tests to students this year, including 12 million Smarter Balanced Assessments.  But they aren’t just satisfied with American students, they have their paws in international organizations as well with their project called “International Development, Evaluation, and Research”:

IDER is developing a benchmarking tool as part of the World Bank’s System Assessment and Benchmarking for Education Results project that will allow countries to analyze their progress in implementing curriculum based learning standards. The tool will be developed in conjunction with extensive research on the conditions and policies needed to promote standards-based education systems.

I wrote last week about how these assessment developers really operate, and the very dangerous implications it can have for students, especially those with disabilities.  But did you know AIR’s founder, John Flanagan, was heavily involved in eugenics experiments to help the “superior” race.  You can read about this very sordid past with the practice of eugenics which is defined as:

Eugenics: the science of improving a human population by controlled breeding to increase the occurrence of desirable heritable characteristics. Developed largely by Francis Galton as a method of improving the human race, it fell into disfavor only after the perversion of its doctrines by the Nazis.

In a sense, what the corporate education reformers are doing with education isn’t really different than what the eugenics movement attempted.  They are trying to improve the student population by controlled standardization to increase the occurrence of desirable outcomes: the complete destruction of a particular “race” of education: public education.  What companies like AIR do is create the conditions and situations for our schools to be seen as “failing” and then set up the method by which to prove it, tests like Smarter Balanced.  As seen in the accountability matrices for Delaware, and the fact that future priority and focus schools will be based on these measurements, and they are all based on the Smarter Balanced Assessment, is it any wonder our schools aren’t improving?

Even when states like Florida, who withdrew from the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, still used AIR to implement their state assessment, major problems still occurred.  So much so that their own Governor issued a findings report on AIR’s psychometric practicalities and the bungling of the test last Spring.  That report just came back, but unfortunately Florida’s Governor used education reform companies who are well-connected with their Governor to issue the report.  Furthermore, the analysis was done using AIR employees as part of the state’s Technical Advisory Committee.  You can read it all here:

This is a company who has their hands in every aspect of education: assessment, turnaround schools, discipline, achievement, academic standards, accountability, teacher evaluation, and more.  Aside from a few states, I have not seen AIR mentioned as one of the chief education reform companies, but in my eyes, as well as thousands of others, they are at top of the list.  They have received over $1 billion dollars from the US DOE, and in just five years, $38 million from Delaware.  What are the results of this companies assessments in our state?  What progress has been made?  We all know the answer to that.  Remember this company and the above video when you hear so much about the Smarter Balanced Assessment today and in the coming weeks.  Remember their dark history and their very influential present.  Remember they’ve had their hands on Delaware student data for over five years now.  And ask yourself, why does this company know EVERYTHING about my child?  After you finish reading this article, go to AIR’s website.  Peak around, check them out.  See how many countries they are involved in.  See how many different areas of everyday life they have a direct hand in.  Do the research yourself, and if you still don’t have that queasy, unsettling feeling in the pit of your stomach, if you aren’t horrified by this company, then do some more research.  Look into all these companies.  And ask yourself, how in the world did education ever become about this…

Who Reads Exceptional Delaware? Not Mongolia!

Exceptional Delaware, The World

I like doing this every once in a while.  Internationally, Exceptional Delaware has been read by most of the world.  The biggest continents I need to fill are Africa and Asia.  The United States is obviously my most-read country, but what other countries are my biggest readers?


If a section is white, that means I have not obtained any viewers from that country.  I’ve been aggressive with certain countries like Greenland.  I actively found a blog in Greenland and reblogged it earlier this year!  My goal is to fill in this map, but does every country in the world have internet access?  I would assume they do, but in a case like North Korea would they even allow any data out of the country?  The biggest country in terms of size that hasn’t viewed Exceptional Delaware is Mongolia.  C’mon Mongolia! Get with the program!  As well, a lot of the Stan countries haven’t yet.  Our last two wars haven’t either, Iraq and Afghanistan.

The English speaking countries are my largest “non-American viewership” followed by India, Germany, Russia and Mexico.

Top 25 Countries Reading Exceptional Delaware:
1. United States of America
2. United Kingdom
3. Canada
4. India
5. Australia
6. Germany
7. Russia
8. Mexico
9. France
10. Kuwait
11. Netherlands
12. Italy
13. Puerto Rico
14. Philippines
15. Spain
16. South Africa
17. Norway
18. Ireland
19. Japan
20. Singapore
21. South Korea
22. Jamaica
23. Romania
24. New Zealand
25. Austria