The Delaware Department of Education and Governor Markell are finding the very traps they set to stop the opt-out movement are coming back to bite them in the ass. Irony is an awesome thing sometimes. At the beginning of 2015, the DOE was riding high. They thought they had Christina and Red Clay in their crosshairs, the Smarter Balanced Assessment was coming out, and they were winning. A funny thing happened on the way to their victory lap. Parents. They said no to the almighty DOE and Markell. This set off a litany of announcements from the DOE and Markell.
The Governor announced the Assessment Inventory as opt-out was gaining a lot of traction. He foolishly believed that parents wouldn’t opt-out if they just reduced the amount of tests students take. In April, the DOE and Markell announced University of Delaware, Delaware State University, and Wilmington University were going to accept Smarter Balanced scores in lieu of students taking remedial classes. Meanwhile, the SAT was retooled to align with Common Core. In December, the Governor and Secretary Godowsky announced the SAT would replace Smarter Balanced for high school juniors, which killed the press announcement in April about Smarter Balanced. Yesterday, https://delawarefirststate.wordpress.com/2016/02/05/university-of-de-faculty-senate-will-vote-on-an-admission-requirement-making-sat-scores-optional/ revealed the University of Delaware will be voting on whether or not to make SAT scores a factor in their admission process. Several universities around the USA have already cut the SAT out entirely.
This whole experiment of Governor Markell’s to try to squelch the opt-out movement has been a miserable failure. It was so obvious to myself and others that each move he was making was from a clumsy and defensive posture against parents. In a way, his whole assessment inventory plan helped to set up a national argument against too much testing. As a result of that, Delaware is now postponing their new science and social studies assessments because of the whole assessment inventory. Another example of “be careful what you wish for”. These were the unintended consequences of opt-out. The DOE and Markell looking like fools on the Delaware stage. By switching from the Smarter Balanced to SAT, the “best test Delaware ever made” has now become much less than what Markell professed it to be. And now the SAT, with all the insanity the College Board has gone through switching the test to Smarter Balanced Junior, is redundant as well.
Meanwhile, parents are still opting their kids out of Smarter Balanced and there is nothing anyone can do to stop them. The 148th General Assembly still has a shot at redemption with parents by allowing a vote for the veto override of House Bill 50. Will Schwartzkopf continue to ride the Markell train that is about to derail and fly off a cliff? Or will he do the right thing and put it up for a vote? In the meantime, we can put the pressure on Schwartzkopf by gaining over 20,000 signatures on the Change.org petition: https://www.change.org/p/delaware-speaker-of-the-house-pete-schwartzkopf-put-hb50-on-the-agenda-for-a-full-house-vote-on-the-veto-override