In a month and a half, Delaware students will be in the awful position of taking the Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBAC). That is, unless, Delaware submits a waiver request to the U.S. Department of Education to forgo the god awful test for a second year in a row. The biggest problem right now appears to be Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting and Delaware Governor John Carney and their willingness to stop the test this year.
Yesterday, the state of New York requested a waiver from their state assessment. Any waiver hinges upon the confirmation of President Joe Biden’s Secretary of Education nomination, Miguel Cardona. No date has been scheduled in Congress for his nomination hearing. Former Secretary Betsy DeVos resigned in the wake of the Capitol riot but she had not she would have been gone the second Biden became President on January 20th.
Time is rapidly running out as the Smarter Balanced Assessment begins its annual reign of terror in Delaware schools in early March. In the fall, multiple sources informed me Secretary Bunting was very hesitant to request the waiver. Both she and the Governor wanted students to be tested. The problem with any standardized test is the data and how it is used. For this school year it would be disastrous and would only lead to more shameful and unwarranted labeling of schools. We all know students have lost knowledge and are behind the eight ball this year. That is not the students fault nor is it the schools. We can firmly place blame on the Covid pandemic that has wreaked havoc on America and the rest of the world. While recent indications suggest Bunting may be changing her view on this nothing has come to light officially.
Last week, the Delaware Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 42 which would essentially give teachers a break on their annual Educator Evaluation system. It is expected to pass in the Delaware House this week as 22 out of 42 State Representatives are already sponsoring the bill. But many parents voiced opinions that if teachers should get a break so should students. Some even suggested that all students should be automatically given a pass for this year with all the bouncing around from hybrid to remote schooling.
Education in Delaware has been a huge mess in Delaware for almost a year now since Covid forced schools to close last March. Governor Carney’s suggested (but actually forced since it appears he called all the Superintendents and told them to open) reopening plan has been met with little success. Many students who have chosen the hybrid option are not even attending school. Attendance is chaotic on its best day. Many teachers are absent because of potential exposure, Covid positives, and quarantining. An already existing substitute shortage has been amplified greatly due to the pandemic. Some schools are ramming tons of students into classes well above the legal capacity which can only lead to further spread of Covid.
This is not the time to test students for their academic ability. While I have always been resistant to standardized testing since the day I created this blog, it is more essential than ever that we get rid of it once and for all. But that is a request for another day. We must not test students this year. It takes too long with SBAC as it is and students have already lost far too much this year.
Please write to Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting at firstname.lastname@example.org and request that Delaware request a waiver from the state assessment.
The Network for Public Education is already requesting that Cardona cancels the state assessments for this year at this link. Please sign the letter.
If Delaware does NOT request a waiver and the new U.S. Secretary of Education does NOT cancel all state assessments, please know parents have another option. And that is to opt your child out of the state assessment. You just write a letter to the school principal telling (not asking) them that your child will not take or participate in the state assessment and that you expect their child to receive alternate education while other students are testing. It is perfectly legal and there is nothing legally preventing you from doing so. Schools are legally obligated to administer state assessments but students are not legally obligated to take them.