Delaware Met Teacher Defends…I Don’t Know What, Trying To Wrap My Head Around This One…

Sometimes a comment just screams “I want my own post on this”!  This one definitely deserves a focus.  I posted last night about student comments at Delaware Met’s formal review public hearing.  Never in a million years did I expect an actual response from someone at the school.

DelMetComment

If You Thought Delaware Had Issues, Check Out The Monstrosity Created By AIR In Florida!!!!

I love posting guest articles.  It is always refreshing to get other opinions out there.  This one hails from Deb Herbage down in Florida.  I’ve known Deb for a couple months now and we share many of the same thoughts.  Her post is based off the Florida state assessment, the FSA.  While it isn’t the Smarter Balanced or PARCC, it was created by the very same vendor Delaware has for the Smarter Balanced Assessment: American Institutes for Research!  We need a hero, and Deb is already one of them!

280 Days

Written by Deb Herbage

11/18/2015

 

It has been 260 days and 8 months since my daughter sat for the FSA (Florida Standards Assessment) at her elementary school here in Florida and we still have no scores.  260 days and 8 months  ago she took the first of many tests that were supposed to tell her teachers where her learning deficiencies are.  A test  that was supposed to show academic improvement.  A test that was supposed to show  performance data.  A test that was supposed to show us, her parents, results.   What we received was appalling.   What we received was not a report telling us about her learning deficiencies, academic gains or performance.  What we received was deeply disappointing.  Two  sheets of paper (stuffed in her backpack) showing her “percentile rank” – one for ELA and one for math.  THAT’S IT.  This test that was supposed to revolutionize education.   This test that we paid AIR $176 million dollars is an embarrassment and a flop.  It’s worse than a flop – it’s an epic failure of monumental proportions.  A big disappointment.   A rip-off. 

We are now into our second quarter of the new school year and we STILL have no scores.  I do not know how my daughter scored on the FSA and I probably never will.  Her teachers do not know if there were any learning gains or deficiencies but it would be a moot point at this stage of the game considering the test was 8 months ago.  All the empty promises of a cost-effective test, a test that could be scored instantaneously, a test that provided immediate results, all just that – empty promises.  This test was written and designed for one purpose and only one purpose – accountability.  This test was designed to evaluate my daughters teachers, school and district.  This test was never about the students.   The Superintendents in the state of Florida called the accountability system “severely flawed” and “lacking credibility and validity” after the validity fiasco.  Governor Scott and the FDOE are moving ahead with the “severely flawed” and “incredulous and invalid” test results to grade our schools and evaluate our teachers.  It was never about the students.  That is quite evident now.

As a parent – I am deeply concerned at the current state of education in the state of Florida.  I am deeply concerned that my daughter is not getting the education that our tax dollars support.  I am deeply concerned that the damage being done to her and all the students in the state of Florida will be unmeasurable and hopefully not irreversible.

The FDOE, the FL senators, Governor Scott and the FL legislators seem to think this is okay since they are the ones that put this in place.   They seem to think that leaving our kids, teachers and schools in limbo for 8 months and using “invalid and incredulous” results to hold our kids, teachers and schools accountable is okay.    It’s time to man up.  Stop pointing the finger of blame at our teachers and schools and take responsibility for your failures and clean up the horrendous mess you created.  We didn’t ask for this – it was forced upon us.

If I am to believe the test scores that have been released across the country– then Florida will fall right in line with the rest of the country and fail either 54% or 70% of our students next month when the cut scores are set.   All across the country the SBAC/AIR and PARCC (testing consortia) results have been slowly released –  trickling in and they are not good.  Another big disappointment.  Another epic failure.    They are going to tell us our kids “failed”.  They will want us to believe our kids are not “college or career ready”.  They can tell us that because they control the numbers and make them what they want them to be.  The only failure I see is the test.  The big disappointment, epic failure of a test.   260 days for this?

How bad does it have to get before someone, ANYONE does something to put an end to this?  How many more kids will be labeled as failures before someone acts?  How many more hours and days of real, quality instructional time will our kids have to miss for unnecessary test prep and test taking before someone does  something?  How many more kids will be labeled and sorted before anyone does something?  How many more teachers will be driven out before someone does SOMETHING?  All it takes is one.   A coward hides behind lies and deceit.  We need a hero because we have a lot of cowards.  Who will be our hero? 

If the folks in Tallahassee think for one second that parents are more concerned with “percentile ranks” than they are with their child’s education then clearly they are not listening to parents, teachers, the public or students.   They should be ashamed of themselves for labeling our kids as failures when that title deservedly goes to them.  Time to end the malfeasance and man up and stop hurting our children.  Maybe we will have our test scores by then, until so we will continue our act of civil disobedience by opting out of the test so we don’t have to wait another  260 days.

Deb Herbage

Will The Red Clay Board Renew Delaware College Prep’s Charter?

The Red Clay Consolidated Board of Education, as well as voting on an opt-out policy for the district, will also look at the renewal of two charters authorized by Red Clay: Delaware Military Academy and Delaware College Prep.  Delaware College Prep has been plagued with issues for years.  Will the Red Clay board recommend charter revocation at their December board meeting?  The Delaware Department of Education gave them a rating of “Falls Far Below Standard” on their financial framework for the 2014-2015 academic year and the Delaware Auditor of Accounts found severe financial mismanagement at the school.  The Red Clay Charter School Accountability Committee report does not bode well for them…

Updated, 6:45pm: Kilroy is on it! Red Clay Charter School Accountability Committee recommending now renewing Delaware College Prep’s charter!

 

Capital School District Parents: Go To The Board Meeting Tonight & Give Dr. Shelton Your Opt-Out Letter

This is a special announcement for all parents of students in the Capital School District: Please go to their board meeting tonight, at 7:30 pm at the District Office, and give Superintendent Dr. Dan Shelton your opt-out letter.  And then give public comment about why you are opting your child out and your desire to have the Capital board pass a parent opt-out policy like the Christina School District board did two months ago and the Red Clay board is going to vote on tonight.  The Capital Board did pass a resolution honoring a parent’s right a year ago, but a policy would make sure this is ironclad in Capital.  This is a public service announcement brought to you by Exceptional Delaware.  Thank you!

Red Clay Board To Vote On Opt-Out Policy Tonight

The Red Clay Consolidated Board of Education will vote on an opt-out policy this evening at their monthly board meeting.  This is an action item.  Like the Christina Board of Education did a couple months ago, this would make parent opt-out a policy in Red Clay.  While both boards as well as Capital passed resolutions over the past year, these policies would ensure superintendents, administrators and schools would have to follow this.  I fully support this measure and sincerely hope the board passes this unanimously.

In light of the impending hammer of doom about to be imposed on all Delaware public schools by the unelected State Board of Education and Secretary Godowsky, I encourage ALL boards to adopt this policy.  As well, I encourage all parents to opt their child out today.  If you live in Red Clay, go to the board meeting tonight at Conrad, beginning at 7:00pm and hand the letter to Superintendent Dr. Merv Daugherty.

Did You Opt Your Child Out Of The Smarter Balanced Assessment Today? Many Have! Join The Club!

I am happily hearing many parents in Delaware submitted opt-out letters to schools today.  This has become even more important than it was yesterday, for reasons that will be revealed in the next 24 hours.  Opt-out is a parental right, pure and simple.  It is also a choice.  I will make very clear why parents need to exercise that choice very soon.  There are huge games going on, and we are merely pawns.  The key to making the change for your child’s education and future is opt-out.  Please opt your child out of the Smarter Balanced assessment immediately, if not sooner.  Your child is becoming a victim of one of the most craftily laid plans I have ever seen.  But this plan has its cracks and they are so small and tiny, if you didn’t see the big picture it wouldn’t even dawn on you.  It is way more than we ever imagined and answers all the questions about why Delaware is so insistent on harsh opt-out penalties against our schools while other states are not.  The convergence is upon us…

WEIC: Title 14 Very Clearly States How Meetings Should Be Run

Last week I got some heat about my disagreement over a non-public meeting between Colonial School District and some of the top echelon of the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission.  Of course, while searching for something else, I stumbled across the below in Delaware Title 14:

(c) Meetings of the WEIC and all WEIC committees shall be public, unless designated for executive session. Voting membership in WEIC shall be limited to subsection (a) of this section.

Here is a link:  Title 14

The Biggest Problem For The State Board of Education: Donna Johnson

It is no secret that I have issues with Donna Johnson.  It is also no secret that I blew her anonymous identities on my blog and another one at the end of the summer.  As well, I filed many complaints against the DOE with the Delaware Department of Justice and one of those was specifically against her over what I perceive to be very serious ethics issues.  With those disclaimers out of the way, I firmly believe she is hazardous to education in Delaware.  I know she has passion and conviction for what she believes, and I am okay with that.  What I am not okay with is how she goes about it.

The true problems exist within Title 14.  The role of Executive Director for the State Board of Education is not clearly defined.  I would assume that role to be that of an impartial and unbiased mediator between the Delaware Department of Education, the State Board of Education, and the Secretary of Education.  Instead what we have is her informing the board about issues and offering suggested guidance to them.  As well, when there are State Board workshops, like the recent one on the Smarter Balanced Assessment at Grotto’s in Dover, the entire presentation was led by Donna Johnson.  She sits on the DESS committee, she sat on the AFWG committee, and many others.  That is not State Board representation as the law dictates.  That is Donna Johnson representation.  I’m sure the law is written in such a way that the President of the State Board can choose a designee, but when it is the same person at the bulk of these meetings and workgroups that is not a voting member of the State Board, I take great issue with that.

I have watched Donna Johnson in the past year and a half.  Some of those times I didn’t even know it was Donna Johnson.  She is very quick to correct someone if they are wrong on something, or her perception of wrongdoing.  But when challenged on something that is controversial or on an issue she is unwilling to give an answer for, we get a self-righteous and indignant comment or look on her face, as if she is saying “how dare you question me, don’t you know who I am?”  Yes Donna, we all know who you are.  There has never been a question about that.  I have seen you at State Board meetings, education workshops, task force meetings, AFWG meetings, and even a State Board retreat when I was the only person from the public at the meeting.  I have no doubt you can’t stand me, and you probably view my outing of you as some sort of betrayal.  But I won’t apologize for that.  You are someone who helps set policy, and your antics behind the scenes demanded I do something.  You can say you don’t set policy, but you are at Legislative Hall more than some legislators and you are firmly aligned with Rodel.  That makes you probably the most dangerous person involved in education in Delaware.  I have seen you anonymously post on my blog about how Smarter Balanced is probably not the right answer but then promote it at every education meeting you go to.  And for those who want to argue about state IP addresses, I would not say this if I were not 100% certain.  Who is the real Donna Johnson?  If this were any other person, I would never have outed them.  And I know this caused some dissent among my readers.  I own that.  But to me, someone with as big a role as yourself, should not be leading conversations in certain directions.  Nor should you be providing information that is, at a minimum, false or misleading.

I have talked with numerous people about you in conversation, and the same basic thing always comes up: that you are very difficult to deal with.  I believe you have confused your job title with personal edification.  You should not be dictating policy, you should be impartially conveying information that is given to you to relay to the State Board.  You should not be the State Board representation at every important education meeting in the state.  We need actual State Board representation at every single one of these meetings so they can hear the tone, and see the looks, and feel the heart of the conversations.  Things get lost in the transition to communicating these meetings with the State Board and that tone of those meetings is lost.  The fact that the State Board is an appointed body and not an elected body leads most citizens to believe they will fall in line with what their appointee wants, not what is best for the students of Delaware.  This has been proven time and time again, and it is bad politics.

Let’s look at the Charter School Accountability Committee.  Yes, you are a non-voting member, but you are allowed to ask very in-depth questions of the charters that face this committee.  That can easily sway the opinion of the voting members of the committee.  Don’t get me wrong, I very much enjoy some of the questions you ask and they are very important to the context of the purpose of those meetings, but at the same time I can’t help but wonder if your undefined role needs clarification.  I believe the ambiguity of your role allows you to do what you do.  And that isn’t right, in my opinion.  I believe you wield and flaunt way too much “executive” power and policy is made based on this.  I think Rodel is too ingrained in your thought processes and those of other lobbyists.  I feel sometimes that you are a lobbyist when your role does not clearly grant you that power.

The bulk of this post is precipitated by your actions at the final Accountability Framework Working Group meeting yesterday.  Yes, I challenged you on many aspects of Secretary Godowsky and the State Board’s decision to move forward with harsh penalties against schools for the participation rate multiplier against a school’s proficiency on the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  You respectfully told me I am entitled to my opinion.  But two words did it for me: “positive consequences”.  This is the heart of this.  Because I could see that you truly believe positive consequences are needed to help destroy the opt-out movement.  I do not view these actions as positive in the grand scheme of things.  They are disrespectful to parents, educators, schools, and our communities.  It is meant to shame schools for a parent’s actions.  If I had my way, there would be absolutely no consequences for opt-out as it is not even in the State Board’s jurisdiction to assign judgment for parent’s actions.  But to refer to them as “positive” diminishes the very foundation of our education system and lumps parents as a problem that needs to be dealt with.  This is about an attempt to control parents and manipulate them into deciding what is best for their child.  This is why I vowed to you, the DOE, and Secretary Godowsky that opt-out will continue and it will reach a point where opt-out is not the only measure and it will wind up in court as a class-action law suit against the above parties by many parents in Delaware.

Trust is Not Given; Trust must be earned!

DelawareFirstState

group

Yesterday, I attended an AFWG meeting that was called by Secretary Godowsky; the group had finished their work last month and had their recommendations ready to send to the State Board. The Secretary called back the Accountability Framework Working Group; he wanted to discuss with them some changes that he and State Board have decided to make to the AFWG recommendations. The State Board and the Secretary have decided that they are gong to alter this group’s recommendations (AFWG) after the group had met 16 times over the last  1 1/2 years.  When the group had made their recommendations last month, all members of the group, except for Donna Johnson who was representing the State Board, all agreed with the proposed recommendations which would be submitted to the State Board for approval and then sent to US DOE. The only other person who had an issue with this group’s recommendation…

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