So Who Bid On The Social Studies And Science State Assessments In Delaware?

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The Delaware DOE is getting ready to pick a vendor for their high-stakes rigorous grit-worthy state assessments for Science and Social Studies.  Some of these were the companies I expected to see and some I never heard of before in my life!  This is the world of corporate education reform.  Every time you think you have a good handle of what companies are out there, a few more rise to the surface.  All bids were due to the Delaware Department of Education by November 30th.  The DOE is giving an estimated date of 12/18 for the recipient of the contract to be announced.

So let’s start with the obvious suspects: American Institutes for Research (AIR) and Pearson.  AIR is the vendor of choice for the DOE on the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  They were also the vendor for DCAS.  They also implemented state assessments in Florida and Utah that did not go over well with the public.  Pearson, the father of the PARCC assessment, is taking a huge hit after their bungled test.

Strategic Measurement & Evaluation Inc. comes from Lafayette, IN.  Coincidentally, they have as one of their clients the Indiana Department of Education, along with the Michigan counterpart.  But what is really fascinating is the testimonial section of their website.  There are only two names on there.  One is John King, the upcoming US Secretary of Education.  It turns out he used this company when he ran schools in New York City.  Another woman worked in NYC around the same time.  She was the Vice-President of School Supports for the NYC Charter School Center.  We in Delaware know this woman by her current title, Chief Executive Officer of the Community Education Building in Wilmington, none other than Aretha Miller.  Yes, I noticed their website address is “escoreny” as well.  Turns out they have a revamped website coming soon called “smeasurement.com”.

The other company, MetriTech is something of a mystery.  Not for the obvious reason.  If you go to their website, you better bring a magnifying glass or zoom to 150% or greater.  Not that I’m impressed with any of these companies, but at least have a good website!  Their list of clients includes Chicago Public schools and a couple state DOEs, but in looking at their product, it seems geared towards ELL students.  But they are based out of Champaign, IL.  So maybe they have some political connections or something.

So who will win the big contract?  If I had to guess, I would go with Strategic Measurement and Evaluation.  Pearson and AIR are becoming toxic names associated with the Smarter Balanced Assessment and PARCC.  MetriTech looks like they need financing to get a good website going.  But then again, SME has an old website.  Who knows!  I’m sure whoever it is, kids will hate it, teachers will prep students for it, and parents will want to opt their kids out of it!

 

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Delaware DOE Cleared Of Audit Investigation I Had No Clue About!!!!

How about them apples?  The Delaware Department of Education was cleared in an investigation surrounding their travel expenses.  Delaware has very specific rules about spending state funds for travel, and the Delaware Auditor of Accounts investigated the DOE.  It turns out, someone gave the State Auditor a tip that the DOE worked cushy travel plans into their contracts with American Institutes for Research and Great Schools.  Which would cause the contract to go up, and more money coming out of taxpayer pockets.  How does this even happen and I have no idea it is going on?  I wonder who tipped them off and what they based the complaint on.  Maybe an ex-employee?  Nah, Murphy’s law says it wouldn’t be that guy…

My favorite part about the below audit report: they reviewed the contracts with these companies.  Now I should see if I can FOIA a contract that is part of a state audit investigation from the State Auditor’s office.  The report did find about $42.00 in expenses without receipts.  Shut them down!!!!  The abuse must stop!!!!  I am wondering if the State Auditor goes in order of complaints received.  Cause we still haven’t seen that Family Foundations Academy audit from a year ago.  What’s up with that?

There will be more about American Institutes for Research later on tonight in another article.  Stay tuned!

Delaware Hispanic Commission Not Happy About Treatment Of ELL Students In Delaware

As I was updating the Education Meetings & Events tab at the top of my blog, I was perusing through the Delaware Public Meeting Calendar.  I found an entry in December, January, and February for the Delaware Hispanic Commission.  Their education committee is having meetings to discuss the treatment of English Language Learner students in Delaware.  This is actually becoming a VERY big topic lately.  I’ve been hearing both Red Clay and Christina are ill-equipped to handle this growing population.  The students services are not being met, and parents are not happy.

If you are a parent or a teacher of an ELL student and you want to talk about the status of ELL in Delaware, please come to their next meeting on December 15th, 3pm, at 198 Commerce Way, Administration Building in Dover.  It appears last month’s meeting of this committee was canceled.

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Delaware Met Head Of School Quits

After last week’s recommendation by the Delaware Charter School Accountability Committee to revoke the Delaware Met’s charter effective January 22nd, 2016, the school’s leader has decided to resign.  Tricia Hunter Crafton submitted her resignation on December 3rd.  As well, the board appears to be in turmoil and an emergency board meeting was scheduled for 12/4/15.  Good luck finding this on their website though.  It doesn’t look like they have been doing much on there at all.  In fact, they didn’t even have a board meeting in November!  One of the board members reached out to me anonymously and explained how frustrated they are with everything going on.

This train is in motion, and barring a miracle, I don’t think anything will stop this school from closing down.  The decision will be made by the Delaware State Board of Education on December 17th.  Meanwhile, surrounding districts and charters are planning for an influx of new students.  Some schools are already balking at taking these  students, even though it is in the students’ local feeder pattern.  These students need to find a school fast, and any district or charter that receives them needs to do so with welcome arms and be very proactive in making sure these students needs are met.  For the special education students, these schools need to be on top of this.  These students have already missed a lot of time, and they need help.

As well, I am very curious what happens with the building.  Delaware Met sub-leases the school from Innovative School Development Corporation who leases it from a company called Charter School Development Corporation.  That company bought the building from the State of Delaware who had bought the building from Bank of America who acquired the building in the MBNA merger back in 2006.  This is prime real estate.  First State Montessori Academy is right next to it, and down the street is the Community Education Building, which currently houses three charter schools.  This is all in downtown Wilmington.  In fact, the building is right next door to Delaware Attorney General Matt Denn’s office!  The bizarre part with this whole funky real estate deal was that Innovate Schools donated $1 million dollars to the Charter School Development Corporation prior to leasing the 920 N. French St. location from them for Delaware Met.

Hunter Crafton joined the Delaware Met last Spring.  In the third week of September, she went out on maternity leave and returned in mid-November.  She was only back at the school for a few weeks before quitting.  While she is leaving, I am hearing some of the board members are gearing for a fight of some sort.  I don’t think this is going to be as easy as the Delaware DOE seems to think.

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16 To Watch In 2016: Jack Markell

Seems rather obvious, doesn’t it?  He is always one to watch!  But 2016 will be very telling for Jack.  His legacy will be defined, one way or another.  We should find out what his post-Governor plans are.  I’m hoping he just goes away, but something tells me Jack has VERY specific plans.  I will watch very closely for how much he tries to hang out with Hilary Clinton.  If you thought Arne Duncan was a nightmare, you haven’t seen anything yet.  Trust me, you do not want Delaware Governor Jack Markell as the Secretary of Education for the United States Department of Education.

Jack will also have to deal with a mounting budget deficit in his state, projected to be well over $200 million.  While that is chump change for many states, Delaware has a population of less than a million.  That is a big deal.  His precious Delaware Department of Education will most likely not get their requested $87 million in Fiscal Year 2017.  Everyone will want a slice of the pie, and it will be very interesting to see who votes in the Delaware 148th General Assembly on what legislation.  I imagine the side deals with Markell will be at an all-time high, and he will play the veto card a lot in the next year.  Education has always been Markell’s baby, but many legislators said enough is enough when they voted for House Bill 50, the parent opt-out legislation.

Whatever Jack does next, I’m sure he will do it with his usual smile and charm.  Walking around like he didn’t wreck Delaware education and continue Delaware’s god-awful cycle of segregation.  Jack talks a lot about how much he does for people with disabilities.  However, he really hasn’t done a heck of a lot for special education.  Think about it.  He committed himself to make sure people with disabilities get jobs when they transition to adulthood, but he truly doesn’t help out students with disabilities.  In fact, when he set the Delaware DOE’s recent annual measurable objectives, he wants kids on IEPs to go from 19% proficiency on the Smarter Balanced Assessment to 59% in six years.  And Congress must be okay with that, because they just passed a bill allowing state’s more authority in education!  Something our potential future Governor John Carney just voted for as well…

Under the reign of Governor Jack Markell, we have seen more cronyism in Delaware than should be allowed anywhere.  He pimps our children out to the Rodels and other corporate education reformers that flock to Delaware.  They must love us and go crazy when they see our DOE put up a contract bid.  We pay top dollar for…what?  What are the results of Jack’s gigantic education agenda?  Are students doing better?  Not really.  51% proficiency on anything is still failing.  And failing bad.  Markell would tell you all about the growth Delaware has experienced.  Do you really want a national Secretary of Education who is proud of 51% proficiency?  Not that I think anything should be measured in terms of success on a standardized assessment, but since everyone in DC laps it up like it is important, is that really someone we want leading education in America?

Jack brought Mark Murphy to Delaware.  We all know what a resounding success that was.  And now history is repeating itself with Secretary Godowsky who really should know better, but he is just another one of Jack’s puppets, dancing on the string.

Jack is one of those guys you can never quite pin anything on.  You may come close, but he covers his tracks very well.  In terms of skating on the thin ice and getting to the other side, Jack is 100% proficient.  Try to find something on Jack, and the results will be inconclusive…