Smarter Balanced Assessment in Delaware…What’s Next?

Delaware DOE, Delaware State Board of Education, Governor Markell, Smarter Balanced Assessment

The shot heard round Delaware went off yesterday, and most citizens don’t know what the hell any of this means!  Half the kids aren’t proficient in English/Language Arts and 61% aren’t proficient in Math.  But they did better than what they expected, or at least that’s what the Delaware DOE and Governor Markell are spouting.  But here’s the crucial truth: nobody knew what to expect with any of this.  I’ve heard from more than one source the DOE just kind of picked a number for proficiency and above.  But this is the nature of standardized testing.

With high-stakes assessments like this, not everyone can be proficient.  And not everyone can be failing.  There will always be that bar.  It is set up like that for a reason.  The DOE can’t label and punish if everyone is doing great.  With all the talk of poverty schools, which are Title I schools, the system is specifically designed to punish those schools.  The ones who promote getting these schools the resources they need to succeed (Markell, DOE, Rodel, Delaware Business Roundtable, etc.) are the exact same ones pushing the standardized testing agenda.  And parents and citizens buy into it hook, line and sinker.  The State Board of Education and Rodel have reached the point where it is hard to distinguish one from the other.  In an email sent out today from Donna Johnson, the Executive Director of the State Board, she cites Rodel’s huge help in getting resource material on the State Board website to “help” parents.  Dani Moore is the Administrative Secretary for the State Board of Education.  The key part is bolded for emphasis.

From: Moore Dani <>
Sent: Thursday, September 3, 2015 8:15 AM
To: Moore, Dani L. (K12)
Cc: Johnson, Donna R (K12)
Subject: Additional resources available on SBE website, please feel free to link to your site and share with others

Dear Educational leaders, Policy makers, and Community Partners:

In recent weeks we have developed and finalized additional materials to assist with the Smarter Assessment Score release and continue to provide information and resources to our educators, parents, and community partners. 

Our website ( has several new tools and resources that may be of interest to you.

1)      Two one page documents that provide an overview of Smarter Assessments as well as an big picture overview of the shift to new standards and assessment. I have also attached them here as pdf’s.  (I greatly appreciate the help from our SBAC partners in WA, CT, OR, and WV as well as the huge assistance from Rodel and DOE in pulling these together)

2)      Two short videos – one is a 30 second overview of why we shifted to these assessments and what it means for students, the other is a little over 1 minute description of the Smarter Balanced assessment suite and how it can be used as well as some big ideas about the summative assessment

3)      A link to a table of resources that provides additional tools and resources for educators, parents, and the community (this is also given as a word document so that others can utilize it directly in case that is more useful)

You will see throughout all of these resources we prominently link and direct people to the website, which is the existing partner site for information regarding Standards and Assessments.  That site is a partnership of DOE, DSEA, PTA, and Rodel. 

We have an additional video that should be available soon.  It is a narrated Prezi, in video clip format, that talks you through the components of the Smarter score report and basically verbalizes much of what is explained in written form within the Parent guide that will accompany the report. I will post this to our website as well as provide a direct link when it is ready to go live.

Here are links to the videos directly that are posted on our home page:

–          SBA 30-sec Promo

 –          SBA system overview  

I hope these resources are helpful to you, again please do not hesitate to give me feedback or suggestions that could improve upon these items and again please feel free to share these with others.

All my best,  


In terms of the DelExcels website, I have heard from quite a few people the Delaware PTA does not have an active role in this and haven’t for a long time.  But the DOE will get their name out as much as they humanly can just to attach Smarter Balanced with the Delaware PTA.  The PTA was very active in getting House Bill 50 to pass, and were instrumental in the legislative sessions surrounding it.

The key part of all this is the scores this year don’t matter…for this year!  They will be huge NEXT year though.  This is what all the growth measurements will be based on, this year’s scores and next year’s.  For a school like Eastside Charter School, who performed horribly on this test (if you count SBAC as a valid measurement of student performance which I don’t), they are pretty much set up to show huge growth gains based on their scores this year.  Most schools are, especially the Title I schools.

What is very telling is the fact DOE did not release the sub-group data.  They have it, because all states do.  States like Connecticut already released their statewide sub-group information.  There is no reason the DOE could not have.  I’m sure they will come up with some reason, like they are still aggregating the data and whatnot, but I believe they did not want this information out yet.  The DOE and the State Board are masters at using timetables to their advantage.  They will only release information on their timing, so it can serve them best, not the true stakeholders: students, teachers, parents, schools, districts.  But you better believe Rodel was probably one of the FIRST organizations to see the Smarter Balanced data.

The State Board of Education meets next on September 17th.  They will release the sub-group data and come up with a shock and awe strategy to cover up the simple fact that the Smarter Balanced is a BAD test.  It’s what they do.  Meanwhile, schools don’t know what to do with all of this.  Parents are wising up faster than I anticipated them to and are asking if we even need this.  Yesterday, 105.9 covered the Smarter Balanced results and asked the audience if they felt Governor Markell should reverse his House Bill 50 veto.  When we are at that point, and the entire state knows what a colossal waste of time, money, energy and resources this has been, all involved in this assessment need to suck it up and say “Yeah, we need to admit failure and move on for what’s best for Delaware students.”  But that won’t happen, instead they will keep trying to fix what is irreversibly broken.  I’ve said this before, and I’ll keep saying it.  Last year, at a Christina School District Board of Education meeting, member John Young said “You want to know who needs great leaders? The Delaware DOE needs great leaders.”  Never has this been more true!

And DOE, stop calling it Smarter.  It sounds stupid, because we all know now the test is DUMBER than any test ever created!

The Stairs


Yesterday began like any other.  Woke up, got out of bed.  But what happened later was a first for me.  For over a year now, I’ve had a hernia.  It would flare up here and there, but nothing too painful.  That changed a few weeks ago.  The immense pain forced me to my doctor, and it was agreed this needed to be taken care of.

Today was the surgery to get it fixed.  The last thing I remember before waking up in recovery was the anesthesiologist joking with me.  I commented how cool it was in the operating room, and he said “that’s so we can keep our beers cold”.  Next thing I know I’m awaking from a slumber.  The next half hour or so was a blur.  I  heard the results of the Smarter Balanced Assessment on the radio as my father, who graciously came down to help out, was getting my prescription.

Today was a bad day to have this surgery.  Not that there’s ever a good day, but there was a lot going on.  Smarter Balanced Assessment results, an award ceremony for the “Four heroes of Education”, and a meeting at the Governor’s Advisory Council for Exceptional Citizens office.  The last was a group of folks meeting to discuss the now mandatory parent councils in each school district.  This came out of the IEP Task Force whereby parents form a council to assist new parents who are coming into the IEP process for the first time.  It wasn’t an open meeting to the public, but I joined the Delaware PTA to get in.  Unfortunately, the timing didn’t work out.

There will be days like today all the time.  I can’t be everywhere.  But what happened tonight scared me more than anything in my entire life.  Walking has been a challenge today, since the surgery.  I can walk, but I have to take it very slow and sometimes sturdy myself.  Stairs can be especially challenging.  After getting some water, I went to walk up the stairs.  My wife was on a work call and my son was asleep (after his challenging day).  As I got to the third stair, a wave of nausea came over me, and I came very close to passing out.  I started sweating immensely as I just laid myself on the stairs.  For about five minutes, I stayed there, not sure if I would overcome it or sink into oblivion.  I’ve had pain before, but as I laid there with my hernia area throbbing, I felt helpless like I never have before.  I couldn’t even talk or cry out cause I knew if I did it would take up the last remaining amount of energy I had.

As the moment continued, I decided going up the next nine stairs would not be a wise idea.  Getting up was going to be a challenge too.  So I prayed.  I prayed for God to either help me back up or let me pass out.  The  choice needed some help!  I slowly got up, one hand on the wall, the other on the railing, and I pushed my back against the wall.  The trip back to the couch, which would take ten seconds max on a normal day, took about four minutes.  But I made it, and I fell asleep in a blissful slumber.

I woke up an hour and a half ago, and knew I had to get my pain meds, which I left upstairs.  But the trip up was uneventful.  I’ve been up since.  I’ve been thinking about how some folks go through this all the time.  Whether they have cancer, or some physical impairment.  They make it through and fight, so I really shouldn’t be complaining!  But I am getting tired again, so it’s off to slumberland again.