Open Letter to the CA State Board of Education on Release of [False] #SBAC Scores


Screenshot 2015-09-07 12.54.13Dear Members of the California State Board of Education,
Last Spring, 3.2 million students in California (grades 3-8 and 11) took the new, computerized Math and English Language Arts/Literacy CAASPP tests (California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress). The tests were developed by the SmarterBalanced Assessment Consortium, and administered and scored by ETS (Educational Testing Service). Costs are estimated at $360 million dollars in federal tax dollars and $240 million dollars in state funds for 3 years of administration and scoring.

Despite the documented failure of the assessments to meet basic standards of testing and accountability, [invalid] scores are scheduled to be released to the public on September 9th.  According to media reports, the 11th grade scores will be used for educational decision-making by nearly 200 colleges and universities in six states. For detailed documents, see Critical Questions about Computerized Assessments and SmarterBalanced Test Scoresthe SR Education SBAC invalidation report, the…

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Redlining The Delaware DOE Inner-City Teacher Bash Round 5,238,964

Hip-Hop Hooray! The Delaware Department of Education got federal kudos for spending millions of dollars on a teacher report that took three years and lots of human capital research work.  What’s next?  Arne Duncan coming to Delaware to visit the same school again and say “Delaware is really awesome, keep up the good work guys.”  In any event, here is the usual mud the DOE likes to sling at teachers in low-income and poverty schools.  Along with my comments…

State educator equity plan earns federal approval, praise

Delaware’s plan to improve equitable access to excellent educators for every child received approval from the U.S. Department of Education, federal officials announced today.

What the hell is equitable access?  Does this mean any teacher of any race, religion, disability level and whatnot can teach in our schools?  Do you morons even know what you write anymore?

The First State’s plan was shaped by six months of public engagement and input from more than 200 parents, educators and other community members.  Delaware’s stakeholders collectively developed seven strategies for greater focus over the next decade: improving school leadership and retaining the best leaders; strengthening educator preparation programs; enhancing educator recruitment and selection; improving induction and mentoring programs; enhancing professional learning; rethinking compensation and career pathways; and considering school climate and working conditions (through the ongoing administration of the TELL Delaware survey).

Oh, was that the TELL Delaware Survey the State Board of Education and the Rodel Foundation wouldn’t run this year because they didn’t like the changes teachers wanted in THEIR OWN SURVEY?  I swear, if Rodel and the State Board collectively had one more brain cell it would be lonely…

“The trends in the data are clear: Low-income and minority students in Delaware are more likely to go to schools with less experienced educators and more likely to have turnover among their teachers,” Secretary of Education Mark Murphy said. “This plan is about ensuring any student in any classroom in any public school in Delaware has the same opportunity as any other student to be taught by a great educator who is supported by a great leader.”

In other words, Murphy said “We are going to threaten and intimidate and bully those schools as much as we can by testing the kids with rigor and grit, label the schools and then punish them.  Who cares about job security!  We got TFA ready to come in. And if they don’t want it, we have Relay right around the corner!”

The U.S. Department of Education asked each state educational agency to submit a new state educator equity plan in accordance with the requirements of Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA).  As required by ESEA in its plan, each state had to, among other things, describe the steps it would take to ensure that “poor and minority children are not taught at higher rates than other children by inexperienced, unqualified, or out-of-field teachers.” Each state needed to analyze what its stakeholders and data had to say about the root causes of inequities and craft its own solutions.

So this means TFA and Relay should not step one foot into those schools!  I know, I know, it’s not all TFA teachers.  And they are nice people, blah blah blah…

Delaware data show clear educator equity gaps:

Based on DOE research which they designed to show clear educator equity gaps!

The state’s high-need schools have significantly higher teacher turnover rates than schools not designated as high-need. Teachers are also much more likely to transfer from high-need schools to non-high-need schools than to transfer in the opposite direction.

See my third red-line paragraph in this idiotic press release!

  • Turnover rates in Delaware schools with the highest proportion of minority students were close to 20 percent compared to 11 percent in the Delaware schools with the lowest proportion of minority students.
  • Oh, like Christina, where they get beat up by the DOE all the time and give them a black eye in the media so they wind up losing referendums cause the DOE are a bunch of thugs?  Yeah, we know your game…
  • 39 percent of Delaware teachers that left high-need schools transferred to a non-high need school; 5 percent of teachers that left a non-high need school in Delaware transferred to a high-need school.
  • Nothing to do with taking a lot of those “high-needs” schools out of partnership zone status?  Way to use your own data to manipulate a submission to the Feds there Delaware DOE!  As well, you changed ALL the low-income numbers, so there may not APPEAR to be as many high-needs schools.  Bravo you David Copperfield wannabies!

Early career teachers are more likely to teach in schools with high proportions of low-income and minority students.

  • 14 percent of teachers in Delaware’s highest poverty schools (top quartile) are early career teachers compared with 10 percent in schools with the lowest proportion of low-income students (bottom quartile).
  • But they tend to be some of the best teachers Delaware has because they deal with stuff, as Governor Markell said, “You and I can’t imagine”.

Low-income and minority children also were less likely to be taught by teachers who received the highest ratings for student growth on their educator evaluations.

Because children in poverty don’t do well on high-stakes testing.  Haven’t you read any graph published on a non-DOE website in the past week?  If not, it’s called my blog and Delaware Liberal.  You might learn something!

  • A quarter of math/English teachers in the highest-poverty schools earned the highest rating, “exceeds,”  based on their students’ growth on state tests. But in the most affluent schools, almost 40 percent of math/English teachers earned “exceeds” ratings based on their students’ growth on the same tests.
  • What is an “affluent” school?  All you are saying is money makes kids do better on tests with that statement.  Seriously, who writes this stuff?  How can you talk about equitable access when you are labeling schools based on income?
  • These ratings are based on growth only, which takes into account the proficiency level at which students started. However, additional analyses also found promising counter-examples to this trend with several high-poverty schools having the majority of teachers earning “exceeds” ratings based on their students’ growth on state tests, demonstrating that teachers and students can and do thrive in such schools.
  • Yeah, when they get “grants” and “donations” from places like the Longwood Foundation, Rodel, and all those other pro-charter school organizations.  When you are talking about these select high-poverty schools, you are talking about charters.  You aren’t fooling anyone here.  And with all that growth, I’m sure you wrote a lot about EastSide Charter School and their last DCAS “growth”, but failed to mention attrition rates there.  Say, how did they do on Smarter Balanced?

Delaware’s Plan to Ensure Equitable Access to Excellent Educators for All Students outlines a course for 2015-2025 by detailing the state’s equity gaps, stakeholder engagement, root cause analysis, potential strategies and solutions, plan for ongoing monitoring of strategies and results, and plan for reporting progress to stakeholders and the public.  Delaware’s stakeholder engagement efforts were heralded by USED.

A ten year plan?  Why doesn’t the Department of Education just change their name to the Rodel Vision Foundation of Education in Delaware?  I guess RVFoEiD would be too complicated?  Did you say “heralded”?  The only time I hear the word “herald” anymore is when I go to midnight mass and hear “Hark The Herald Angels Sing” or the Marvel Comics planet-eater named Galactus gets a new herald, like the Silver Surfer. 

The department now will work on the state initiatives outlined in the plan and provide support to districts and charter schools in their next steps addressing the key areas of the plan, ranging from leadership development programs and examination of mentoring programs to improved recruitment efforts.

In another words, we have zero clue, but we’re going to put it in our plan to the feds and then put it in our press release to make it sound like we know what the hell were doing but really, what does it matter, we still get paid better than teachers!

“This plan will allow us to better analyze the root causes of why instructional inequities may exist around our state. Additionally, it should encourage all stakeholders to have the tough conversations needed regarding these existing inequities and lay out a plan to address them,” said Dr. Dusty Blakey, superintendent of the Colonial School District and a member of the Educator Equity Working Group.  This group, comprised of participants from earlier stakeholder engagement sessions, met to review the final plan prior to submission and will continue to meet quarterly to shepherd implementation.

Wait, isn’t the plan to get better teachers, not to keep examining the same thing.  Dr. Blakey, I’m a tad bit confused here.  Oh yeah, that’s right, it’s a DOE group: data, dive, data, dive, data, dive, action, back to data, dive, data, dive, robust discussion, action, data, dive, data, dive…time for a new plan!

“It’s all about providing every student across Delaware with access to outstanding teachers without regard to where you live,” Blakey said.

But graphs are graphs Dr. Blakey, you can’t ignore them!


The data presented in Delaware’s Plan to Ensure Equitable Access to Excellent Educators for All Students (Educator Equity Plan) builds on almost a decade of dedicated efforts to improve data quality as it pertains to educator effectiveness in Delaware. In 2006, the department submitted an educator equity plan to USED that detailed the steps that the state would take to ensure that students were instructed by a “highly-qualified” teacher (HQT). At that time, roughly one quarter of Delaware schools and more than a third of classes were instructed by teachers who did not meet the federal definition of HQT. Today, the vast majority of educators in core academic subjects meet that definition.  Via Race to the Top (RTTT), an updated statewide plan for building a more complex understanding of the state’s educator effectiveness landscape was charted in 2009-2010 (see Section D of Delaware’s RTTT Plan).

“We spent lots of money thanks to the taxpayers and all those who signed the in your face RTTT memorandums of understanding.  The rest is just our hipster little ways of making us sound smarter (get it, Smarter, Smarter Balanced…)”

In 2012, the department partnered ( and paid tons of money too as well, thanks taxpayers!  All of us at the DOE pray we can get jobs with all these companies we gave money too when the new Governor napalms this building!) with Harvard University’s Strategic Data Project to increase the state’s analytic understanding and capacity relating to issues of educator effectiveness.  This three-year partnership has allowed Delaware to conduct sophisticated analyses relating to equitable access (educator equity).  In April 2013, the state released the Educator Effectiveness Diagnostic after more than a year of data analysis. The diagnostic, which covered topics ranging from educator experience to retention to performance, provided the foundation for the educator equity gap data presented in Delaware’s Educator Equity Plan.

“And then we got the legislators to turn all of this into state law and they passed it!  But we can’t rest on our laurels! The Human Capital Reich must move on! Damn those teachers!” said some surfer looking dude.

Alison May (302) 735-4006

Poverty Matters! The Smarter Balanced Impact: Delaware Charter Schools


According to Delaware Governor Jack Markell, throwing our hands up with poverty is a recipe for the status quo.  As we can see in the above chart, poverty had a tremendous impact in Delaware charter schools.  The higher the low-income status, the lower the Smarter Balanced Assessment scores.  There is no hiding this.  Even the highly-praised EastSide Charter School was not immune to the wrath of the high-stakes test.  Below is part of Governor Markell’s speech he gave at the Imagine Delaware Forum in March of this year:

One of the reasons that we often hear for the struggle of our kids in the inner-city schools is poverty. And it is absolutely true that poverty presents enormous, enormous challenges for many children across our state. They face barriers to learning that the rest of us can’t imagine. And that’s why we need to do everything in our power to lift our children and our families out of poverty and to reach these children from the beginning of their lives, to counter the effects of growing up poor. And we are committed to addressing the root causes of poverty, by increasing access to the best early-learning programs, by investing in economic development and reducing crime and battling the addiction epidemic, and more. But as we pursue these goals we can’t delay improvements to the education kids in these communities receive. I, and I know that many of you, refuse to throw up our hands and say that we can’t truly improve education in these schools as long as poverty exists. That’s a recipe for the status quo, a recipe for fewer of our most vulnerable children to get the skills they need to escape poverty.

What Governor Markell seems to lack insight into or just plain ignores is the impact of poverty on children’s education.  It isn’t something “rigor” and “grit” can fix.  It’s a matter of increasing the funding to these schools, and not under the guise of priority schools or focus schools.  It means lowering the size of classrooms, increasing special education funding, and judging children based on a once a year test the clearly shows how much poverty does matter.  The Smarter Balanced Assessment is not improving education. It is making it more difficult for schools to get the true reform they need.  The Delaware Department of Education will be releasing their school report cards with the Smarter Balanced Assessment carrying most of the weight for school grades.  This is highly destructive to schools that do not do well on this test.  With the Delaware DOE and the State Board of Education pushing Regulation 103 into state code, we need parents to see how that will affect all school districts in Delaware.

This is just the first of many articles based on the Smarter Balanced Assessment and how it affects students of low-income status, students with disabilities, and the most vulnerable minorities in our state.  In conjunction with Delaware Liberal, Exceptional Delaware will be publishing articles in the coming week on this high-stakes testing epidemic that is destroying schools in our state.  This very unique “blog crossover” will paint the picture the Delaware Department of Education doesn’t want the public to see.  But numbers don’t lie.  They present facts that cannot be disputed.  Please come to Delaware Liberal and here to see further articles “Poverty Matters! The Smarter Balanced Impact”.  Delaware Liberal will be covering New Castle County while Exceptional Delaware will be covering Kent and Sussex Counties.  We may cross reference each other here and there, and I highly recommend reading what they have to write, especially with all the potential redistricting in Wilmington and the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission.

A very special thanks to the always awesome Pandora and LiberalGeek from Delaware Liberal, Brian Stephan of the excellent blog Those In Favor, and Delaware State Representative Kim Williams for their assistance in the data collection and formation of the graphs in this series.  This is truly a collaborative effort on all ends, and Delaware is a better place for it!

Black Agenda Report: Why Black Parents Should Opt Out

Diane Ravitch's blog

Glenn Ford of Black Agenda Report explains clearly why black parents should opt out.

He understands that high-stakes testing is designed to fail most children and that black children will be failed by tests made artificially “rigorous.”

He knows that the ultimate goal– once a dream for rightwing Republicans–is privatization, which is already firmly implanted in many urban districts.

White parents won’t tolerate this scheme, and he says, black parents shouldn’t either.

It is a scam, he says.

“The movement by parents to opt their children out of high stakes testing is growing by leaps and bounds, but remains largely white and suburban, despite the fact that Black folks are the primary targets of the destructive testing regime. Almost two decades ago, the corporate world began pouring millions of dollars into a massive campaign to split the two pillars of the Democratic Party: teachers unions and Black voters. It began…

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