DOE Responds To My Not A FOIA Request On SBAC Achievement Levels With Names

Holy smokes!  I guess if you respond to a DOE email and include tons of people on the response, you might just get a response.  I got real live actual information regarding Smarter Balanced without making four mortgage payments!  State Rep. John Kowalko was included on this as well.  Below is the email from Alison May at the Delaware Department of Education with answers to all my questions (just for this request, they know I still have TONS of other questions).  I did take the liberty of doing some minor edits by adding a colon after each of my questions instead of the comma Alison May used.  As well, her answers had red, so I will do that which got lost in the copy.  I just wanted to make it prettier, but if anyone wants to see the REAL email, let me know.

From: May Alison <>
To: “‘'” <>; Kowalko John <>
Sent: Monday, October 12, 2015 4:22 PM
Subject: FOIA response

Mr. Ohlandt and Rep. Kowalko,

This is in response to your recent requests for information. Quoted below are Mr. Ohlandt’s original questions with respective answers in red.
1)     I would like to see a list of the individuals from Delaware who participated in the Smarter Balanced Achievement Level Setting.  This would include both the In-Person Panel and the Cross-Grade Review Committee:  The below spreadsheet lists the Delaware in-person participants.  Also, it identifies the cross-grade review committee participant from DE —-this process was also called Vertical Articulation Committee (VAC).  This was Karen Clifton.
The following represented Delaware as in-person panelists. TBL indicates the person served as a table facilitator. VAC indicates the person also participated on a vertical articulation committee.
SBAC Achievement Level
2)     As well, I would like to know who from Delaware represented the final achievement level settings: The state representatives participated in reviewing and making recommendations, which also took into consideration the online recommendations, etc.  There was then a final cross-grade or vertical process on the last day to make final recommendations from this group to pass forward.  These recommendations also went through external review, TAC, and Governing States chiefs for discussions.  Then they went to states for additional discussions and possible adoption. Karen Clifton from Delaware stayed for the final day of achievement-level setting. Carolyn Lazar of DDOE’s Assessment Office also was there for observation/auditing the process.  Former Secretary Mark Murphy participated in the Governing States discussions.
3)     Which higher education leaders participated in the 11th grade achievement level setting:  Faith Muirhead
4)     And anyone from Delaware who served on SBAC’s Technical Advisory Committee: There were no Delaware reps on Smarter’s TAC—this is not designed to be a state representative group but a professional group of assessment authorities.
5)     And if anyone from Delaware participated in the audit process for this:  Carolyn Lazar participated as a state observer/auditor for the process.  Each state was allowed to send one representative for this.
Alison May
Public information officer
Delaware Department of Education
401 Federal Street, Suite #2
Dover, DE 19901-3639

I do know or have heard of some of these teachers and general public participants in this.  Yvonne Johnson is THE Yvonne Johnson.  There can only be one!  At least on the Delaware PTA.  I know Yvonne was involved in many facets of the Smarter Balanced Assessment in Delaware as it was being developed, but don’t signal this as Yvonne has gone DOE on us.  She does not like this test AT ALL!  Don’t forget she was one of the major voices for opt-out and House Bill 50.

Some of these teachers are or have been involved with Rodel and the Vision Coalition of Student Success 2012, er uhm, 2015, er uhm. 2025.  The bottom line, we will all be dead and Dr. Herdman’s great grandson will be talking about Vision 2105.  And Alison:


Published by

Kevin Ohlandt

I am a proud parent of a son with Tourette's Syndrome and several other co-morbidities. I write on this blog to educate other parents so they know a bit more about not only special education, but all the really bad things that are happening with public schools in Delaware and the USA. We are all in this together, and if our children aren't able to advocate for themselves it's up to us parents! We need to stop letting companies run our schools, and demand our children get a proper education. Our Departments of Education in our states have become weak with fear from the bullying US DOE, and we need to take back our schools!

31 thoughts on “DOE Responds To My Not A FOIA Request On SBAC Achievement Levels With Names”

  1. So what does this prove, if anything? You asked and received a response within one business day. It still doesn’t prove that the cut ranges were “made up”.


      1. Are we going there again? I am not defending anyone, I just like proof when allegations are made from either side. I have no actual involvement in the DOE or the school system; I am not a teacher. I am only a parent who likes Common Core.


        1. You are the only non-DOE, non-Rodel, non-Rodel Dream Team, non-corporate education reform worker, non-charter school board member, non-DOE sycophant I have ever met who actually said they like Common Core. Seriously. If you can give me reasons not already cited by DOE or Markell on WHY you like Common Core, I will believe you! 😉


  2. I’m so glad the process was made clear; as mud. Maybe Yvonne Johnson would be willing to discuss the role of these members in determining the cut scores for the performance level determinations for Smarter Balanced Assessments.


  3. A parent who likes Common Core? That is a joke! A parent would want their child to actually LEARN something. Common Core is a convoluted system of teaching which lines the pockets of assessment companies around the country.


    1. See, and I think the same about all the parents who don’t like Common Core. With that way of thinking, the education system has been lining the pockets of assessment companies for years. I would love for everyone that dislikes Common Core to give me a good reason to not like it…besides the typical responses, which could be said about the system long before CC came about.


      1. Okay, ask and ye shall receive. I spent some time as a paraprofessional part-time in a Delaware school. I usually had my break during the math class, but one day I stuck around. The kids were doing subtraction. You know, like 10-8=2. Instead of doing the way EVERYONE did it before Nu Math or Common Core, they were building arrays and columns and putting all these numbers down. These kids looked like the last thing they wanted to do was be in school. For a week, this poor teacher built these arrays for the kids. The ones who struggled the most were the ones that usually needed the most help. But they needed it more. I asked the teacher “what the hell is this?” She said “We have to teach it this way.” It all went downhill from there after doing research into it. No, I don’t think Common Core makes people turn into certain things. But I do think it was poorly designed, not academically vetted by a large stakeholder group (who would have shot it down right off the bat), and not statistically normed. And now we see the fruits of their labor: Smarter Balanced and PARCC. And once again, after billions of dollars poured into Common Core and these tests, we know the exact same thing we did before: Smarter kids do better, and not so smart kids do worse. And the true proficiency gap widens even further. Now you brought up the other assessments. A great deal of those assessments give REAL and IMMEDIATE feedback. Yes, someone is making money off of them, but if it actually HELPS students and teachers, I can support it. What I can’t, and won’t abide by with all of this is our children’s private data floating around in a cloud for 300 companies to see…


        1. See and here is where you and I disagree. I think that Common Core needs to be given time to work. The standards are very good and higher than before. The teaching (at least in our district) is also very good. Most of the kids can now do the math because they are learning “the old way” and the “new” way. I love the “new” way…it is so helpful for the kids who struggle with math, but is yet to be seen.

          Moreover, the standards for English are great! We need more kids reading and writing….I have not heard of a parent who is opposed to their kids learning more, reading more and writing more.

          As far as the kids data floating around, it would have been the same no matter what education system was put in place….you can thank technology for that, the same way that the healthcare system is “acquiring” all of our data.


          1. I’m not going to try and convince you any more Kristy. One way or another, one of us will be right and one of us will be wrong. But let me ask you this, was the teaching in your district good before Common Core and SBAC, or only after? Cause if that is the case, I would be highly suspicious of that…


          2. Certainly more than a year….

            I do think that it was implemented incorrectly and the younger kids will see a drastic improvement. The older kids have already been indoctrinated to learn a certain way and it is difficult to change so the results will be similar until the younger kids grow up. I also think that once those kids will be much better prepared for college than the ones graduating now. I very well could be wrong and will admit it if I am, but until then…..


          3. Here’s the thing though Kristy, based on what you’ve said tonight and in other comments, your kids are very smart. I don’t know if you are low-income, a minority, or if your children have special needs. Speaking as a special needs parent, my perspective on all this is vastly different. To use your own words, your kids would be smart whether there was Common Core or not. Your kids most likely do better on tests overall than other kids. And there is nothing wrong with that. But to speak on behalf of children who do not have the ability to do so is. We have no proof that the kids “indoctrinated” into Common Core will be better off. But making rules and regulations is not the answer. That is what we will see, all based on this one test. Our generation wasn’t so bad before. We put a man on the moon and made discoveries the world has never seen. But one thing has been certain, and that is this: public education is in danger of leaving us forever. So I would be very careful in aligning yourself with the things that are killing our schools.


          4. That is a very strong response Kavips, and a little bit too far! I hate Common Core as much as the next guy, but to me, nothing can compare to what you wrote. In my opinion, that is the most evil and vile thing that can happen to a child.


          5. Kevin, there is. I proof that it doesn’t work either, which is why I think it needs to be given a chance. You could be right and it is terrible for the students, but until there is CLEAR data that it is bad for the kids, I will continue to view it as a good thing, just like you will continue to view it as a bad thing.


          6. Kevin, there is no proof that it doesn’t work either, which is why I think it needs to be given a chance. You could be right and it is terrible for the students, but until there is CLEAR data that it is bad for the kids, I will continue to view it as a good thing, just like you will continue to view it as a bad thing.


  4. It is very strong. And that is the most evil and vile thing that can happen to a child. We certainly agree on those two points. Which is why I am afraid, it is the only metaphor that accurately describes the effect Common Core has on children. An effect that so glibly gets shoved aside when a legislator comments “It’s just a little test.”

    This is your blog, and I give you all rights to change my response to what you want your blog to reflect or delete it if you choose to.. I certainly do the same to my comments and unlike you, I do it without even asking, so I would not take it as a personal affront….

    Common Core IS destructive to childhood. Like rape, it makes kids grow up way too fast. No parent can, should, or will stand for that.

    (If you want to clip that last above paragraph and sub for the previous comment then erase all subsequent ones, that might work… ) 🙂


  5. Common Core is not a test. Keep the standards; lose the test.

    I agree that basic arithmetic should be learned by rote memorization as an essential building block. That is not forbidden or incompatible with Common Core.

    My daughter had times-table drills and tests AND alternate perspectives based on arrays and sets. If some students are frustrated by the lessons, that is a problem of local implementation and lack of teaching adaptation.


        1. Kevin, are you against Common Core or Standardized testing? or both? And why are most people who oppose common core so upset over the math but not the English portion?


          1. I think you underestimate the amount of people that actually like Common Core. I can agree with you on Standardized testing and it being tied to federal funds, however, I still disagree that the more rigorous standards are going to do harm to the kids. We will have to just agree to disagree there because I doubt either of us will be able to ever convince the other that they are wrong. 🙂


  6. I like the concept of Common Core and I am a special needs parent. Do I think DE has a huge problem with structure and implementation? Yes. Do I think that the test is destructive rather than an appropriate indicator? Yes. I agree with Mike O. and I also believe that all the yelling and screaming is not always helpful. We need a Kumbya moment where we can work together, respect each others opinions and still develop something awesome and helpful to all children. Isn’t that ultimately the goal?


  7. Interesting they did not include information about the individuals that indicate what makes them “qualifed” to do this.  How can the Brd require teachers to “prove” their “certifications” but the people who develop these tests and regulations don’t have to identify what makes them qualified to tell our teachers what to teach our children. Ginny Hall, Selbyville


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