Less Resources, Harder Tests: Common Core in the Last Days of Obama

Must read of the year!

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teaching_testing

The bell hadn’t even rung to begin class yet, but Ce Ce already had enough.

She saw the pile of standardized test look-a-like sheets on the front desk and immediately asked if she could go to in-school suspension.

I’m not kidding.

She’d prefer to spend the day in silence doing homework isolated from the rest of the class than practicing high stakes testing with her peers.

And she’s not alone. This happens every year now. As assessment season gets closer, administrators push teachers to do test prep. And students revolt.

I’m not exactly sure why. Test replicas are not my favorite things to do, either, but they’re not THAT bad. I don’t think it can be my teaching since the mutiny usually happens before I’ve even begun.

It’s the testing. Pure and simple. Some students are so demoralized by the very prospect of skill-and-drill that spending one more second…

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US DOE Pumps Up Delaware Without Knowing All The Facts

JackandJohn

The United States Department of Education wrote a fluff piece today on Delaware’s assessment inventory.  There were obvious flaws in their article.  But they did get one thing right, which certainly applies to “the best test Delaware ever made” (quote attributed to Governor Jack Markell), the Smarter Balanced Assessment:

Done poorly, in excess, or without clear purpose, they take valuable time away from teaching and learning, draining creativity from our classrooms.

The Smarter Balanced Assessment is finally defined!

Here are some of the other fallacies in the article:

Following up on its commitment to be a part of the solution, the Department recently released guidance to States on how they can use federal funds under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) to reduce the testing burden and improve the use of high-quality assessments so that educators and families can better understand student learning needs and help them make progress (read the letter to States).

Hello! Part of the solution?  You created the problem!  How can educators and families help children make progress when they don’t see the answers the child gave?  This is all designed to get rid of the tests that give REAL information to better understand student learning needs and help them make progress.

 “It’s important for us to know where we have achievement gaps. It is important for us to know where our students are making progress,” King said. “But there are places around the country where there is too much assessment and the assessments are not the quality we want.”

Key words from Acting Secretary John King (and I stress the word “acting”): “…not the quality we want.”  Yes, you don’t want them because the whole mechanism by which schools are labeled and shamed, the high-stakes standardized test, is the quality you want.  Based on the Common Core standards, these tests are horrible.  And you know it John King!  You are deluded if you think parents aren’t waking up to this more and more!

All district and charter schools in Delaware were required to complete an inventory of their assessments and submit their findings to the Delaware Department of Education by December 31, 2015.

Who checks the facts at the US DOE?  Or did the Delaware DOE give them this information?  All districts and charters were not “required” to participate.  Many did and many of them got grant money for doing so.  And a couple of them recommended getting rid of Smarter Balanced!

A committee of teachers, administrators, and parents from across the State is reviewing the assessment inventories, recommendations, and impact information.

Actually, there is ONE parent on this committee (acting as both a parent and a teacher).  She has been to one of the four meetings.  There are six legislators on the committee, one of which is also a teacher (but I put him in the camp of the “good guys”).  The President of the Delaware State Educators Association is on the committee and one administrator: the superintendent of one of our vocational districts.  There is also a representative from the civil rights community on the committee.  And that’s it, aside from the Delaware Department of Education members who weren’t part of the original legislation but threw themselves on.  Oh yeah, it’s moderated by a woman from the University of Delaware.  I love how they make it seem like this is a huge group with an “s” added on at the end of each of the members.

“Our educators, our students, and their parents all deserve the benefits of effective assessments that show when students are excelling and when they need extra support,” said Governor Jack Markell. “At the same time, tests that don’t add meaningfully to the learning process mean less time for students to receive the instruction and support they need. We are committed to finding the right balance, and this initiative is an important part of that process.”

Notice the use of the words “the right balance” in the Governor’s statement?  Is this some kind of Jedi mind trick?  He is right though.  We do deserve the benefit of effective assessments.  Too bad “the best test Delaware ever made” isn’t one of them.  This initiative was started because Jack Markell didn’t know how to handle the opt out movement in Delaware.  He was arrogant enough to think it wouldn’t hit Delaware, but it did.  He said all sorts of stuff between February and December of 2015 without putting a lot of thought into what it actually meant.  My favorite was when he said the Smarter Balanced results could be used for Delaware universities so students wouldn’t have to take remedial classes.  Then he took away the Smarter Balanced Assessment for high school juniors in lieu of the revamped Common Core aligned SAT because too many Delaware juniors opted out last year.  Then the University of Delaware announced a pilot program announcing they weren’t going to use the SAT as part of their admissions process.

Brandywine’s assessment inventory found that many of these assessments were not aligned to the State’s standards, did not measure the depth of knowledge required by these new standards, nor included a variety of item types.

Kudos to Brandywine!

In particular, there was limited use of performance tasks that measure students’ critical thinking skills. The district is working with its teachers and school administrators to review, revise, and in some cases, eliminate these assessments. In their place will be high-quality formative assessments, tests used throughout the year by educators to assess whether students are learning content, aligned to the State’s standards that will be given throughout the district.

Oops! Never mind.  They are getting rid of what are most likely the good tests but don’t help the students to do well on the Smarter Balanced Assessment, which is the only test that matters to Governor Jack and his band of merry persons at the Delaware DOE!  And now we have to go through ten months of the new buddy team of Jack and John.  I may be running for the local school board, but I can’t help writing about the utter nonsense in this article.  And I am glad my local school district is one of the districts that said the Smarter Balanced Assessment is not a good assessment.

Meanwhile, the world keeps spinning as it has for billions of years, before Common Core and the Smarter Balanced Assessment made children feel stupid…

To read the complete nonsense in full, please go here if you have the stomach for more of this…

 

 

 

Why I Want Your Vote For The Capital School Board

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For those who haven’t heard, I am jumping into the fire!  Anyone reading this blog knows my stances on education.  Is it enough though?  We need change and we need it now.

These are the reasons I am running.  I will tackle each reason below.

  1. Far too many Dover residents don’t want to send their child to Capital School District.
  2. Every student needs to be treated as an individual and not a test score.
  3. Our middle schools need a lot of help.
  4. We need more fiscal transparency and accountability.
  5. Low-Income Students.
  6. The Every Student Succeeds Act.
  7. Student Data.
  8. More participation from parents in the district.
  9. Special Education.
  10. More participation in state legislative matters.
  11. Charter schools within our district.
  12. Kindergarten.
  13. Support for our teachers.
  14. Ensuring opt out of standardized testing is honored as a parental right.
  15. More focus on the arts.
  16. Perception of the district.
  17. Perception of Dover as a result of the district.
  18. Oversight of the Delaware Department of Education and the United States Department of Education.
  19. Leadership

CapitalSchoolBoardPoster

“Far too many Dover residents don’t want to send their child to Capital School District” Continue reading Why I Want Your Vote For The Capital School Board

Christina School District & Delaware DOE Reach Agreement On Priority Schools

It was revealed yesterday that the Christina School District and the Delaware Department of Education finally reached a signed agreement over the eighteen month priority school battle.  As shown below, Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Steven Godowsky formally wrote a letter to the State Board of Education indicating this.  As one of their conditional approvals for the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission redistricting plan, the State Board can no longer complain about this in their meetings.

Christina School District citizens face a referendum in 13 days.  I really like a lot of what I’m seeing from the district in terms of what they have planned for the money raised from the referendum.  Brian Stephan wrote an excellent article on Delaware Liberal earlier this morning about what the district will allocate the funds for and I like a lot of their ideas.

In the meantime, see the letter that ends the long DOE-State Board-Christina battle over three schools.  Is this the same agreement from a year ago?

GodowskyLetter

Reflections after last night’s educator evaluation committee meeting

Interesting perspective from a former Delaware DOE employee.

Urgency of Now

Imagine an evaluation system for teachers where a teacher is considered “Effective” after earning “Needs Improvement” ratings on both of their measures of student learning AND on each of the following criteria:managing student behavior, creating an environment to support learning, engaging students in learning, demonstrating flexibility and responsiveness, and using questioning techniques.

Most casual observers would consider this to be a pretty weak appraisal system. Or at least, they’d understand this is not a system designed to give anyone accurate feedback or recognize differences in teaching quality. Perhaps they’d ask how such a system came to be and what were the designers of the system thinking.

If you want to understand how things like this happen in our education system, you can start with a review of the recommendations approved at last night’s DPAS-II Subcommittee meeting. This committee was created by House Joint Resolution #6and is required…

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