Delaware DOE Doesn’t Trust Science Teachers To Create End Of Unit Tests! Check Out This Contract RFP!

Stealth testing.  A state assessment, given 3 to 4 times a year to all students in Delaware public schools from 3rd to 10th grade.  On top of the end of year state Science assessment given to students in 5th, 8th, and 10th grade.   Wasn’t the goal to have students receive less assessments?  Or is the goal to have outside companies create the tests teachers used to create based on their college training and years in the classroom?  This is stealth testing.

These tests will be online.  They will be “embedded”.  The following describes Delaware’s science assessment goals.  When I say Delaware, I am not speaking for ALL of Delaware.  I would like to know how these decisions were vetted with the General Assembly and the public for consumption and digestion.  From the request for proposal:

Delaware envisions a comprehensive science assessment system in grades 3 to 10, consisting of three distinct types of assessment. Under this system, throughout the academic year students will take teacher developed, Embedded Classroom Assessments to provide information on learning in real time. Primarily for instructional use, these Embedded Classroom Assessments will be numerous, short, and administered at the discretion of each teacher. Students will also take End-of-Unit Assessments shortly after the completion of each instructional unit. In each grade, the academic school year is divided into three to four units, each of which is aligned to a specific disciplinary content domain1 (see Appendix B for more detail). Each End-of-Unit assessment is meant to provide information on student learning of the NGSS content in each unit for the purposes of instruction (e.g., determining if additional instruction on previously instructed topics is needed, to be used in place of a classroom assessment for grading purposes) and evaluation (e.g., informing curriculum adoption, adaptation, and modification) at classroom, school, district and state levels. Finally, students in grade 5, grade 8, and high school biology will also take an Integrative Transfer Assessment (whereas the Embedded Classroom Assessments and End-of-Unit Assessments are taken by students in every grade, 3 to 10). These Integrative Transfer Assessments are meant to capture students’ learning of the content instructed during the entire year, in greater depth than on the End-of-Unit Assessments. That is, the Integrative Transfer Assessments are meant to capture the ways that students integrate, transfer and apply science knowledge and skills learned during the year. The integrative transfer assessments will be used to meet federal requirements under the Every Student Succeeds Act.

So the only thing I see here, which is required by Federal law, is the end of year assessment given in 5th, 8th, and 10th grade.  To be clear, end-of-unit assessment is the same as stealth assessments.  Don’t kid yourself on this!  Why are we hiring a company for, what will surely be a very expensive project costing hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions, to create assessments that go beyond the scope of what is required?  In the below RFP, the Delaware DOE talks about this science coalition that represents 25% of Delaware science teachers that have agreed to this.  Did local school boards and charter school boards approve this complete change to the way students are tested in THEIR schools?  Did the General Assembly pass laws to allow the Delaware DOE to completely change methods of assessment?  Why does the Delaware DOE need End-of-Unit Assessment information?  Isn’t the End-of-Year Assessment given to students in certain grades good enough for you anymore?  Why do you need all this data?  You don’t.  Stop testing our kids incessantly.  Parents, opt out of these end-of-unit assessments as well!

I’ve been warning about these stealth tests for well over a year and a half.  Here they are.  This IS competency-based education in a personalized learning environment.  It is a simple formula- testing = data = speculative investment.  They need to test to get the data so our students become investments.  Those that do well.  Those that don’t, keep testing them until they either get it or don’t.  The Delaware DOE will NEVER tell you this, but that is what these companies want.  The workforce of tomorrow!  What a grand plan!  Except, they forgot a few things.  This flies in the face of everything legislators have been wanting: less testing.  How much do teacher created tests cost compared to these “end-of-unit” assessments?  When did we stop trusting our teachers to create tests?  This is a big reason why Delaware has a huge budget deficit.  We have allowed the Delaware DOE to do whatever they want with very little oversight.  And we ALL pay the price, one way or another.  This is what the folks at Rodel want, not what Delaware wants.  At least be honest about that Delaware DOE!

 

Guest Post: Jennifer Cinelli-Miller On School Resource Officer Training

Yesterday, Delaware’s House Bill #142 was heard in the Senate Education Committee.  This bill deals with training for school resource officers in relation to students with disabilities.  This is a great bill!  It passed the House and is now on the Senate Ready List for a full Senate vote.  Delaware State Rep. Kim Williams worked extensively with Milford parent Jennifer Cinelli-Miller to get this bill going.  With Jennifer’s permission, I present her public comment to the Senate Education Committee:

Good afternoon Gentlemen,

Thank you for allowing me to be here today to speak on behalf of this piece of legislation. My concern with officers being placed in our schools began in 2013, when the Milford School District, in response to the horrific events at Sandy Hook, hired School Resource Officers (SROs) for our elementary schools, including Morris Early Childhood Center. When I began my research, many issues surrounding the use of uniformed, armed officers at the elementary level became apparent.  Most of these issues concerned students with special needs.

The research also showed that SROs were not being provided with appropriate training in regards to behaviors, exhibited by children with special needs which are a manifestation of their disability. These behaviors can be viewed, by the untrained eye, as behaviors that reach a level that requires law enforcement intervention.  My biggest fear was that my daughter, whose Autism causes her to have very serious meltdowns, would be mistaken as a public safety risk and arrested, placed in handcuffs or worse could end up dead.

I took my research to then Lt. Gov. Matt Denn and R.L. Hughes – who was at Homeland Security at the time and was working with the school districts to identify improvements to security measures in their buildings. None of the recommendations from the Department of Homeland Security included adding officers. 

The very first year with SROs in the schools in Milford brought about an incident which was by all accounts the “Perfect Storm” and ended with a child being committed to Rockford Center; strictly because he has Autism. There is nothing in this situation that the officers did that was inappropriate. There was a major breakdown in communication on the school’s part which led the SROs to be called for assistance instead of educators.

I had the honor of meeting with Rep. Williams after this incident and we set out to try to ensure that, at least in Delaware, SROs would be trained with a basic knowledge and understanding of children with disabilities. The family impacted by this incident wanted to ensure that it would never happen to another child.

This legislation will provide SROs with training and a basic knowledge of how the behaviors they may see in the schools are a manifestation of children’s disabilities and should be addressed by the educators in the schools.

I want to thank the many of those statewide that have assisted with this process. It was an honor and a pleasure to meet and work with so many of our wonderful officers from the Delaware State Police (DSP) and it was a relief to hear that they had just as much concern about SROs being utilized in situations that were meant for educators. I would also like to thank Brian Moore from Red Clay’s Public Safety Department, the Delaware Department of Education (DOE), specifically the Exceptional Children Resources group. Wendy Strauss and Sybil White from the Governor’s Advisory Council for Exceptional Citizens as well as Dafne Carnright from Autism Delaware and Bill Doolittle, a parent advocate who has been an instrumental part every step of the way.

So, after all of our hard work, I am here today to ask for your vote on this bill which has the support of DSP, the DOE and so many parents of children with disabilities.

Thank you,

Jennifer Cinelli-Miller, Parent Advocate

Milford, DE

Delaware Senate Passes Bill Discriminating Against Christina Wilmington Students, Not Given Preference To Newark Charter School

It appears de facto segregation is just as okay with the majority of the Delaware Senate as it was with the Delaware House of Representatives.

The Delaware Senate just passed House Substitute 1 for House Bill 85 with 12 yes, 4 no, 2 not voting, and 3 absent.  The no votes belonged to State Senators DelCollo, Henry, Marshall, and McDowell.  Those voting yes were Bonini, Bushweller, Cloutier, Hansen, Hocker, Lawson, Lopez, McBride, Poore, Richardson, Sokola, and Walsh.  Lavelle, who originally voted yes, switched to “not voting” and Senator Simpson stuck with his original not voting.

An attempted amendment, similar to the failed amendment in the House, would have removed the very controversial part of the bill that would disallow Christina Wilmington students to be given the same preference as the Greater Newark Christina students for Newark Charter School.  Sokola argued it was an unfriendly amendment.  The amendment failed with 6 yes, 8 no, 5 not voting, and 2 absent.

Senator Robert Marshall said he believed the amendment would open the preference to everyone in the Christina School District and if parents really wanted their child to get an NCS education, they would find a way to make sure their child gets there.

A representative from the Delaware State Education Association testified they would be in support of the amendment which echoed their stance at the Senate Education Committee meeting two weeks ago.

The bill will go to Governor John Carney for signature.  I call on ALL to contact Carney’s office in deep opposition to this bill that I fear will set up the State of Delaware for a massive lawsuit for furthering de facto segregation.  He needs to veto this discrimination factory of a bill!

To see how your legislators voted on this horrible bill, please go here: http://legis.delaware.gov/BillDetail?LegislationId=26068

HJR #6 Directs Delaware DOE & State Board To Create Regulations To Prevent Gender Identity Discrimination In Schools

Pre-filed regulation released today in Delaware’s General Assembly would have the Delaware Department of Education and the State Board of Education to write into Delaware State Code certain provisions to prevent discrimination against students and school employees.  The House Joint Resolution, sponsored by State Rep. Deb Heffernan and State Senator Harris McDowell, states the following in the synopsis:

Directing the Delaware Department of Education, with the assistance of the Delaware State Board of Education, to promulgate regulations that prohibit discrimination in school districts’ employment practices or educational programs and activities for students on the basis of any legally-protected characteristic, including gender identity or expression.

Since the resolution is not “officially” filed, it does not appear on the list for the final House Education Committee meeting of the year, next Tuesday June 27th.  It will be read into the record today during the House’s session and would be assigned to the education committee.

Updated June 22nd, 2:30pm: Click this link for the actual text of the legislation.

 

Kenny Rivera’s Farewell Speech To The Red Clay School Board

Last evening was Red Clay Consolidated School District Board of Education’s last meeting for long-time member Kenny Rivera.  A social studies teacher in the Brandywine School District, Rivera spent some crucial years on the board.  He served as President and later Vice-President during his last two years on the board.  He gave a farewell speech to the board and the attendees.  Rivera’s seat is going to the amazing Ashley Sabo.  Sabo won the seat last month in a three-way race, beating Henry Clampitt and Thomas Pappenhagen.  Here is Rivera’s speech:

I would like to take just one minute a bid you a farewell from this seat. Throughout our progress and turmoil, from the discussions to the battles, I have found great joy in this opportunity to serve the Red Clay community. I will miss serving, but I cannot be any more thrilled to have Ashley Sabo join our board.

I have seen, experience, and learned a lot over the past 5 years, and I think we should be proud. There is something unique about Red Clay, and I think it has a lot to do with the culture our staff sets. My daily interactions with educators, administrators, and parents in Red Clay revealed to me a group of people who are true professionals, go way beyond the call of duty, and look to do what is best for students. And yes there have been our share of debates, but the majority of the people come to the table open minded, willing to listen and share their perspective, seeking to do what is best for our kids. I think this culture starts at the top. Attitude reflects leadership. We always need to remember that our heart of service, our motives, and our discourse is being emulated by those around us. I see this in the zeal from each of our board members, in the compassionate heart for all children from Superintendent Mervin Daugherty, and in some of the most talented people I have ever met – our district Cabinet. I have worked closely with Jill Floore, Ted Ammann, Hugh Broomall, and Sam Golder over the years, and they are some of our real unsung heros.

I hope that you take encouragement from our progress, continue to build strong relationships, and choose your battles carefully to win the wars that really make a difference. We must stand firm, continue to advocate, and work to find common ground to ensure that we provide an equitable and personalized education to every child. I look to continue our fight together for some needed reforms in education, especially our funding system.

I cannot leave without saying a few thank yous. Thank you to the board members, district and building staff, and parents who have taken the time to work together to ensure a better education for our children. I want to thank Leah Davis for her mentorship over the past 5 years, and to Rep. Kim Williams and Mike Matthews for their passionate involvement and ability to sharpen me. Lastly and most importantly to my wife Kelley who has fully supported my passion and calling to serve and for stepping up at home without one complaint.

I pray that I served and provided you the support that you needed to do your job. May God Bless you, and have a good night. This meeting is now adjourned.

Kenny also shared this on his Facebook account with the following news about his immediate future plans with Delaware education:

Last night was the completion of my 5 year term serving on the Red Clay School Board. I promise to remain active, as today I will speak to a UD program about education advocacy, tomorrow morning I will meet with Gov. Carney over the planned education cuts, and at night I will be featured on WHYY’s Delaware First program for needed school funding reform.

I met Kenny two years ago when Red Clay was voting on their opt out resolution, and later, their opt out policy.  He is a good guy and I wish him luck in his future Delaware education activities.  I have no doubt Kenny and I will cross paths in the coming months or years.

Charter School 5 Mile Radius Bill Gets Vote In Delaware Senate Today

The very controversial HS1 for House Bill 85 gets a full Senate vote today.  This is one of the thorniest education bills in the Delaware General Assembly this session.  It would remove the 5 mile radius enrollment preference for charter schools but there is a loophole.  For the Christina School District, which has a non-continguous section in Wilmington, those students would not get a preference to get into Newark Charter School.  That is Delaware’s largest charter school.

It was released from the Senate Education Committee two weeks ago but not without controversy.  In the House, it prompted a long debate over the issue last month.  Those who opposed the bill alleged it would cause even more de facto segregation of Wilmington students.