The Delaware DOE Surveys That Are A Pain In My ESSA!

Delaware DOE

Surveys can be a pain in the ass.  Especially when they come from the Delaware Dept. of Education.  Done right, they can be very informative and allow the survey taker to feel like they are contributing their voice.  But if they are too narrow in scope, and only lead a person to a very limited result, those surveys are worthless except to the person administering the survey.  I get that the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is very explicit with what it wants, but some areas are open to interpretation.  For example, every state has the ability to submit new standards and a state assessment to the U.S. DOE.  But Delaware is so stuck on Common Core and Smarter Balanced that they didn’t even consider doing away with it.

In their latest round of ESSA surveys, I found some of the questions to be very assumptive and misleading.  Without someone even knowing the background for the questions, a citizen would have no clue what kind of question they are even answering.  Of course, I believe the Delaware DOE relies on that and counts on specific parties answering them to get the results they want.


We used to call these school partnership zones, priority, or focus schools.  It is just another label for “failing” schools.  It doesn’t help when prospective home buyers see these labels when a realtor identifies those schools as “failing”.  The measurement that would determine any of these labels is the Smarter Balanced Assessment and other standardized tests.  Those measurements are flawed to begin with.


Both these questions are very misleading.  First off, the survey taker would have to believe the measuring device for a “failing” school is valid.  It does not take into account external characteristics that students bring into the school.  It could be an area of severe poverty or high violence or both.  In 2014, Delaware identified seven schools as “Priority schools”.  In the second question, that could make anywhere from 12-18 schools labeled as “failing”.  That is a HORRIBLE idea.  Schools shouldn’t be labeled based on standardized tests to begin with.


What if the school experiences a spike in special education students?  What if there is a spike in violence within that school district?  There are so many factors that would skew the results of this.  And once again, it is based on standardized tests.  All of their options are horrible and just serve to stigmatize a district over test scores.  This is no different than what came out of Race To The Top and No Child Left Behind. Bad, bad, bad…


Say you have a Title I school with 35% poverty and another with 60%.  Are they the same school?  What if one has a special education population of 6% and another has 20%?  Any funding should be contingent on the needs of the students.  These schools should be getting this in some format as it is.  Not based on standardized test scores!


See where this is going?  ALL of this is based standardized test scores…


How about student grades?  How they are growing in their student grades?  Their participation in class activities?  Why MUST it be tied to standardized tests?  The DOE has NEVER met their long-term goals so what the hell is the point?  They could say 50 years and we all know they aren’t going to make those goals because they are (yawn) based on standardized tests.  It is also comparing apples to oranges.  You can’t always compare students at a 3rd grade level in 2014 to 3rd grade students in 2016.  Especially on standardized test scores.



Once again, average citizens will have no clue what a 5 year or 6 year graduation rate even means.  They won’t know that 5 and 6 year graduation rates apply to students with disabilities.  100% will never be attainable and I know the DOE knows that.  So why even put it up as an option?  Unless you want No Child Left Behind to stay in place…


If they have to measure graduation rates, of course they should do it for each one.  But they can’t measure 4 year graduation rates the same as 5 and 6 years rates.  They are a different kind of student.  As for the next question, and I know school districts will disagree with me, but I would go with school safety data.  But I have a feeling they want people to answer the absenteeism which is often out of a school’s control.


Are you kidding me with the early learning measurement?  Once again, beyond an elementary school’s control.  No, no, no!  For the next one, how about a definition of “college and career readiness”?  Student growth and proficiency are once again based on Smarter Balanced and the Next Generation Science state assessment.  No, No, NO!


The “n” number is a very convenient way for charter schools that have low populations of subgroups not have those students count in their accountability ratings.  I say NO n#!


Enough with the ratings already!  Has history taught you nothing?

I won’t tell people to take this survey or not.  But please keep in mind what I’ve said about these questions should you choose to take it.  But then again, the danger is all the people the DOE “wants” to take the survey will give them the results they want.  Business as usual!