75% Of Delaware Legislators Write Letter To Secretary Bunting Urging Delaware To Request Waiver From US DOE For Smarter Balanced Assessment

On February 5th, led by Delaware State Rep. Kim Williams and State Rep. William Bush, 46 out of the 62 Delaware state legislators wrote Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting requesting Delaware seeks a waiver from the United States Department of Education in implementing the state assessment in Delaware for the 2020-2021 school year. The test was waived last year due to the Covid pandemic. I highly salute all of these legislators on BOTH sides of the aisle for doing this!!! When it comes to education, our legislators need to put away partisan politics and do what is right for kids and this is an awesome way to do it. Of course, Bunting needs to acquiesce to their request and that has yet to be determined. And then the United States Department of Education needs to grant those waivers. Still a lot to happen here with a small window of opportunity for the Smarter Balanced Assessment to go away this year. But the legislators stepped up!

February 5, 2021

The Hon. Dr. Susan Bunting
Delaware Department of Education
401 Federal St.
Dover, DE 19901

RE: U.S. Department of Education ESEA/ESSA assessment waiver request

Dear Secretary Bunting:

It has recently come to our attention that the U.S. Department of Education has been accepting applications from State Education Agencies to waive certain requirements under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), with respect to student assessments. It also has been reported that U.S. DOE sent correspondence to all state chief school officers in recent weeks advising the extension of the waiver application period beyond Feb. 1, and that several of your colleagues in other states have already availed themselves of this opportunity to request a standardized testing waiver for this school year.

We strongly urge you to request an ESEA/ESSA assessment waiver for the state of Delaware as soon as practicable and without delay.

As you well know, the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a tremendous toll on Delaware educators, administrators, school support personnel, students and their families. Although U.S. DOE may waive the testing requirement for accountability purposes, it is also our firm belief that the state should forego plans to implement the shortened Smarter Balanced Assessment as indicated by your department during the Jan. 26 meeting of the ESSA Advisory Committee. Any attempt to administer required standardized tests in the current school environment would create an extreme hardship for our school communities and jeopardize the fairness and equity of the testing structure itself. Even if our talented education professionals were able to create a testing plan that would comport with the health and welfare restrictions in place to control the spread of the virus, the resulting testing data would almost certainly be flawed for a variety of reasons.

We believe the time required for testing could be better spent by educators in continuing to provide instruction and screen students at the district and building level to inform summer intervention programs and prepare for instruction in the fall.

We know there is no guarantee that a request for a waiver would be granted, however we also know that U.S. DOE is more likely to facilitate waivers if a significant number of states make similar requests. If you wish to discuss this matter further, please don!t hesitate to contact us directly. Thank you for your kind attention.

Sincerely,

Kimberly Williams
State Representative, 19th District
Chair, House Education Committee

William Bush
State Representative, 29th District
House Education Committee

Peter C. Schwartzkopf
State Representative, 14th District
Speaker of the House

John L. Mitchell
State Representative, 13th District
House Majority Whip

Valerie Longhurst
State Representative, 15th District
House Majority Leader

Nnamdi Chukwuocha
State Representative, 1st District
Vice-Chair, House Education Committee

Debra Heffernan
State Representative, 6th District
House Education Committee

Sherae’a Moore
State Representative, 8th District
House Education Committee

Kevin S. Hensley
State Representative, 9th District
House Education Committee

Sean Matthews
State Representative, 10th District
House Education Committee

Michael Ramone
State Representative, 21st District
House Education Committee

Michael F. Smith
State Representative, 22nd District
House Education Committee

Edward S. Osienski
State Representative, 24th District
House Education Committee

John A. Kowalko
State Representative, 25th District
House Education Committee

Eric Morrison
State Representative, 27th District
House Education Committee

Sean M. Lynn
State Representative, 31st District
House Education Committee

Ruth Briggs King
State Representative, 37th District
House Education Committee

Laura V. Sturgeon
State Senator, 4th District
Chair, Senate Education Committee

S. Elizabeth Lockman
State Senator, 3rd District
Majority Whip
Vice-Chair, Senate Education Committee

David P. Sokola
State Senator, 8th District
President Pro Tempore of the Senate
Senate Education Committee

Bryan Townsend
State Senator, 11th District
Majority Leader
Senate Education Committee

Sherry Dorsey Walker
State Representative, 3rd District

Gerald L. Brady
State Representative, 4th District

Kendra Johnson
State Representative, 5th District

Larry Lambert
State Representative, 7th District

Jeffrey N. Spiegelman
State Representative, 11th District

Krista Griffith
State Representative, 12th District

Franklin D. Cooke
State Representative, 16th District

Melissa Minor-Brown
State Representative, 17th District

David Bentz
State Representative, 18th District

Paul S. Baumbach
State Representative, 23rd District

Madinah Wilson-Anton
State Representative, 26th District

William J. Carson
State Representative, 28th District

Andria L. Bennett
State Representative, 32nd District

Lyndon D. Yearick
State Representative, 34th District

Ronald E. Gray
State Representative, 38th District

Daniel B. Short
State Representative, 39th District
House Minority Leader

Timothy D. Dukes
State Representative, 40th District
House Minority Whip

Sarah McBride
State Senator, 1st District

Kyle Evans Gay
State Senator, 5th District

Spiros Mantzavinos
State Senator, 7th District

John “Jack” Walsh
State Senator, 9th District

Stephanie L. Hansen
State Senator, 10th District

Nicole Poore
State Senator, 12th District

Bruce C. Ennis
State Senator, 14th District

Trey Paradee
State Senator, 17th District

4 thoughts on “75% Of Delaware Legislators Write Letter To Secretary Bunting Urging Delaware To Request Waiver From US DOE For Smarter Balanced Assessment

  1. I disagree. Now, of all times, we need an assessment test to show exactly how far behind students have fallen and to point out where is the greatest need. We need to see just how much damage the school shutdowns and ‘online learning’ has done to our educational system. We need hard numbers. It should not be a test to punish a student, a teacher, a school, or a district. But a test that illustrates what has happened and what should be done.

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    • To add to my point, we need to know the ‘low point’. Because, when they finally get the schools going – in person and full time – and the students and teachers make great strides to make up for what is lost, how will we know how successful they have been? If, in a year, we compare them with pre shut down numbers, it might look like they’ve failed. But, if we have the low during-shutdown number, we would be able to see just how much the students and teachers have accomplished.
      Also, I don’t buy the ‘we don’t want to waste teaching time’ argument. Because, they’ve already wasted so much time, another day or two spent testing really don’t make much of an impact.

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      • Not sure if you are a teacher or not but the “another day of two spent testing” does not apply with the state assessment. For most students it can take a week or more. For students with disabilities, I’ve seen it take up to three weeks. While the state may come up with a shortened test, I don’t believe the Smarter Balanced Assessment is a good test therefore it won’t matter what kids have learned or not learned. The test is a god awful barometer for what kids have learned.

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        • Interesting. But, I still want a test to show how much has been lost. A shortened test will do. For high school, the psat or such. I’ve heard from friends that their kids are falling behind- way behind. I worry if this year’s seniors will be ready for college and what that will mean for the kids – do they flunk? do they take remedial college classes (and pay for that)? But, it would also show gains that are made after a ‘normal’ school year. It would be horrible for everyone to be judged on standards of pre-corona, without the realistic look showing how far things had fallen. Personally, I’m out of the K12 life. I’m paying for way too many college students who are still remote learning….

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