Delaware’s Assessment Inventory Final Report Is A Complete Waste Of Time

This makes me sick.  All that time, wasted.  What did this assessment inventory accomplish?  Not a heck of a lot.  That’s for sure.  Just another notch in the DOE’s bedpost sucking away money from public education, yet again.  A bunch of people got together, but at the end of the day we still have Smarter Balanced and districts still have assessments.  So what was the point of all this?  Oh yeah, it was the “antidote” to opt out.  We still have the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  Let me reiterate.  We still have it.  Even though everyone NOT affiliated with the DOE and Markell’s pals in the General Assembly said “Get rid of it”.

I don’t remember all the talk about computer-based assessments as a best path forward.  How about those who attended a lot of these meetings?  Do you remember that?  And I’m sorry.  I don’t know Equetta Jones at all aside from a public comment she gave at a Red Clay board meeting.  But the “parent” representative was picked by Governor Markell and she showed up to one meeting, the first one.  I don’t know her circumstances, but if she was unable to commit to being on the committee, she should have resigned.  All that time was wasted when a parent (who is not also a teacher) could have been giving worthwhile feedback.  State Rep. Kim Williams noted in public comment at one of the meetings that she reached out to the Delaware DOE about this without any response.  Once again, parents were completely shut out as if our opinions don’t matter at all.  The usual kick in the back by those who know best.

Here is the final report folks.  I predicted months ago nothing of great importance would come of it.  It was a distraction, pure and simple.

WEIC Meeting Tonight, The DOE’s Divide And Conquer Strategy Next Monday, & The Capital Debate

The Wilmington Education Improvement Commission is having a full commission meeting tonight at the Community Education Building in Wilmington.  The meeting on the 2nd floor in the teacher’s lounge begins at 5:30pm.  Many big education meetings are going down Monday afternoon with overlapping times, thereby ensuring no one can possibly make all three meetings.  As well, the very odd-sounding EFIC group has another meeting and the candidates for the Capital School Board are having a question and answer night!  But first, the WEIC agenda:

WEICAgenda42616I would imagine the group is a bit nervous since no legislation has been introduced to move forward on their redistricting plan.  If I were a betting man, it is coming but not until late June.  Tomorrow, one of the WEIC sub-committees is having a meeting: The Charter & District mud fight Collaboration Committee.

WEICCharterDistrictAgenda

But next Monday is where a lot of the action is as groups meet about the assessment inventory, student data privacy and the Every Student Succeeds Act.  It is possible to make all three if you drive REALLY fast and miss portions of two of the meetings.  But if you want free soda and pizza on the taxpayer’s dime, go to the last meeting!

The first one, which I’m most interested in given that I write a lot about student data privacy all the time these days, is the Data-Mining Club Student Data Privacy Protection Task Force.  They canceled the last meeting because they knew they wouldn’t have a quorum.  I would have put the agenda in, but of course the link doesn’t work.  I guess they want to make it private! 😉

StudDataPrivTF5216

In the next episode of “We Hate Parents so we are going to trick them out of opting out by making it look like we are getting rid of the bad tests”, the committee meets to discuss testing in Delaware.  Someone on the DOE side will talk about how essential the Smarter Balanced Assessment is and someone from the “good guys” side of the table will question what the hell we are even doing.  Audience members will give public comment overwhelmingly on the side of “Smarter Balanced sucks”.

SJR25216

To see the wonderful world of the Every Student Succeeds Act through the eyes of Corporate Education Reform Cheerleader State Board of Education Executive Director Donna Johnson, come to Grotto’s Pizza at 5:30pm.  Keep in mind, everyone is still trying to figure out what the hell this mammoth law even means so anything Donna talks about will be subject to change.  Expect many “I don’t know”s and “We don’t know yet”s coming from the microphone for this one.  We can expect a lot of the same people to show up to this one.  Last time I went to one of these I got to take part in a table discussion with Kendall Massett from the Delaware Charter Schools Network and Melissa Hopkins from the Rodel Foundation.  Talk about awkward!  But it was all good…

StateBoardWorkshopESSA

And then on Tuesday, the Education Funding Task Force is meeting again to finalize their pre-determined potential education funding plan for the General Assembly to squeeze in during the last days of their legislative session.

SJR4Mtg5316

But THE most exciting education event next week will actually take place at Central Middle School on Wednesday May 4th at 7pm.  Candidates running for the Capital School Board are having a debate!!!  Shameless plug: I am one of the candidates.  Come and find out what our priorities, ideas, and concerns are and what our plans are to improve the district.  And don’t forget, no matter what district you live in, the school board elections are only two weeks away, on May 10th.

Capital Candidate Night

Assessment Inventory Minutes From February Show Clear Divide Between DOE & Everyone Else!

The Delaware Assessment Inventory Committee met in February, and the meeting was very controversial!  It is interesting how the Delaware Dept. of Education spun what happened in their meeting notes.  The minutes, written by Susan Haberstroh with the DOE, do show a lot of discussion around the Smarter Balanced Assessment and its effectiveness.  In the above link with my perception of the meeting, I have, verbatim, what I said in my public comment.  Never once was the word “weasel” used!

The next meeting of the Assessment Inventory Committee is on the Delaware Public Meeting Calendar for May 2nd at 4:30pm at the Townsend Building in Dover.

When Is The Next Delaware Assessment Inventory Meeting? Why Are They Stalling?

A week ago, I received notice the Delaware Assessment Inventory Committee will meet on April 26th.  Now, I am hearing May 2nd.  This came straight from Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Steven Godowsky!  The May 2nd date is tentative.  So what is the hold-up?  It seems to me no one at the DOE really knows what they are doing with all of this.  Why are they the ones calling the shots?  They screwed it all up to begin with.

TaskforceUpdates

The above picture came from Secretary Godowsky’s “Legislator Update”, an email sent to all the legislators in the Delaware General Assembly yesterday.  While this may seem arrogant of me, I could swear they change these meetings to Monday afternoon because they know I will be at work! 😉

For all the hoopla Delaware has made of their beloved “assessment inventory”, they don’t seem to be in a rush to get anything done with it.  This has been in discussion since April of last year, when it was first announced at the State Board of Education meeting.  We all know what it really is: a “solution” to eliminate opt out by giving the people what they think they want (but we aren’t that stupid DOE) and to get rid of local assessments that give immediate feedback and help to guide instruction.

Parents say there is too much testing and I agree with that.  But take what Appoquinimink is doing: They are administering the Smarter Balanced Assessment and then the MAP testing immediately after.  What kind of message does this send to parents?  They will all say “there is too much testing”.  The Governor and the DOE will pounce on that and suggest getting rid of the lesser of the two evils.  Buh-bye MAP tests, hello to the great Smarter Balanced!  This is all rigged and far too many parents believe the lie.

Other “highlights” from the “Legislator Update” include:

LegislatorUpdate3

I love the use of the word “investment”.  While I appreciate Dr. Godowsky getting this out there, and it is light years better than anything former Secretary Mark Murphy did, sending out a newsletter instead of actually changing things legislators want are two very different things.  For example, how about House Resolution #22 Dr. Godowsky?  Why do they only put the “good things” the DOE is up to in this newsletter?  I would love to see articles on how the DOE is causing more stress and headaches in our schools.  Putting a pretty picture on a state agency really doesn’t fool anyone Dr. Godowsky.

LegislatorUpdate1

It was at last year’s Common Core for Common Ground that Governor Markell gave a very condescending speech to Delaware teachers.  He told them it was the last year before things start to count, meaning the Smarter Balanced Assessment scores being used for their teacher evaluations.  Of course this year, they won’t either.  And everything changes with the Every Student Succeeds Act replacing ESEA.  What teacher in their right mind (those not recruited into the Rodel-DOE-Markell “dream teams” that unabashedly promote Common Core and personalized learning) would show off the very standards and “results-driven” strategies (which is one thing only in Delaware: the almighty high-stakes testing score) to their peers?  It looks like there is free food though.  That is always a way to lure educators into these events.  It wouldn’t shock me if they use all the culinary students in the state to produce the food!  But will they have the chocolate eclairs Rodel uses as bait for Delaware citizens to their Vision 20whatever conferences?

LegislatorUpdate2

I can’t wait to see the scores on the “new” SAT.  They are going to plummet because of the Common Core alignment.  But instead of recognizing that, we will see constant reports about how our high school juniors aren’t getting the instruction they need to be college and career ready.  More pawns in the corporate education reform psychodrama.

Parent Action Alert: Attend The Next Delaware Assessment Inventory Meeting Scheduled For April 26th

HighStakesTesting

The Assessment Inventory Committee for Delaware finally has a date scheduled for their next meeting.  It will be on April 26th, from 4pm-6pm, at the main Department of Education Building in Dover.  The meeting will be held in the Cabinet Room where the State Board of Education meets on a monthly basis.  No agenda has been set for the meeting at this point in time.

I highly encourage parents and teachers to attend this meeting and give public comment.  This is the time and place to make your voices heard where it could potentially have some sort of impact.  At the last meeting, I sensed some hesitation from State Rep. Tim Duke.  Prior to this meeting, I perceived Dukes as a pro-standardized testing, anti-opt out legislator.  He talked about walking through schools and really listening to teachers and hearing their concerns.  I would have not thought this was possible a few months ago.

This is a committee that is largely controlled by the DOE.  There is a parent representative on the group, but she only attended the first meeting.  I find this to be unacceptable.  State Rep. Kim Williams has emailed the DOE several times about this glaring hole on the committee without any response from them.  The Delaware PTA has also been very vocal about the lack of parent representation on the committee.

It is very important for parents and teachers to give their opinion on these matters to those who have the ability to make a difference.  While you may think your voice does not matter, it does.  It always has.  Don’t be afraid to use it.  The timing on this meeting is crucial given that the Every Student Succeeds Act is in the process of issuing regulations that could dictate how much control states have over high-stakes testing.  Our children need you to speak up.  They need you to be their voice.  Do not let them down!  The Smarter Balanced Assessment must go.  But we also need to make sure it is not replaced by something comparable or worse.  As well, the data output from the state assessment and personalized learning must be protected so children are not tracked and used as guinea pigs for testing companies or other corporate entities.  This is a non-negotiable in my opinion!

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…

 

 

 

Sorry If I Made You Storm Out Of The Assessment Inventory Committee Meeting!

The Delaware Senate Joint Resolution #2 Assessment Inventory Committee, otherwise known as the Achieve Inc. payday, had their fourth meeting tonight.  Most of the discussion was around the district inventories and the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  Don’t get too excited Delaware!  The discussion about Smarter Balanced was by some members of the committee wondering why the Smarter Balanced wasn’t a major part of the discussion and the DOE trying desperately to work around it and misinterpreting the actual legislation that created the committee.  Once again, Senator David Sokola, who wrote the bill, didn’t show up.  I think he has been at one or two of the four meetings.  He hasn’t been to most of the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission meetings either, of which he is a member.  But his Legislative Aide did sit in his place, unlike State Rep. Earl Jaques who also championed this legislation last spring as an anti-opt-out bill and didn’t show up nor did he have someone come in his place, but I digress.  I do reserve the right to re-digress later though.

Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Steven Godowsky was there for about the first third of the meeting.  State Rep. Sean Matthews asked if any state in the country has received a cut in federal funding due to participation rate.  The answer was no.  He then asked if any school or district in Delaware has.  Michael Watson from the DOE explained there have been Title I reallocations but didn’t specify why (and it wasn’t because of opt-out and we all know it).  Colonial Superintendent Dusty Blakey gave a presentation on Colonial’s assessment inventory process.  Many wondered right away why Smarter Balanced wasn’t included in their inventory even though most of the other districts and charters who participated did include it.  No clear answer was given except further clarification of the legal interpretation of SJR #2.  At some point, questions came up about the expectation of the district and the information supplied to them from the Delaware DOE for the process (of which schools and districts did receive grant money).  I yelled out “Achieve Inc. created it,” to which I was told public comment was at the end of the meeting.  😉  I can see the two DOE representatives were not happy with my comment and one of them was visibly pissed off.  State Rep. Matthews asked what the purpose of the Smarter Balanced is and why we need it.  He explained parents are more upset about their children not being able to go to the library to do research since their computer labs are tied up between March and June.  Even State Rep. Tim Dukes, a fervent supporter of standardized testing in the past, was questioning what this is all about.  He explained how he has been talking to teachers and, in my opinion, he may be walking towards the light in regards to how bad high-stakes testing really is.

Discussion continued around the federal role in Delaware education.  State Rep. Matthews asked why the DOE doesn’t push harder against federal mandate.  DSEA member Kirstin Dwyer, also on the committee, explained that when teachers pushed very hard for another year off from Smarter Balanced scores tying into their evaluations, they were told prior to this that the feds would never grant it, but they did.  A discussion came up about states that do not have to take assessments and were granted waivers.  The DOE explained there are seven states involved in something called the Innovation Network, which rang a bell in my head.  State Rep. Matthews asked why Delaware can’t try to join this group.  A vote was taken to get more information about these kinds of programs before they make their final recommendations.  It passed the committee.  Talk continued about the federal role, and Susan Haberstroh from the DOE said something to the effect of “Maybe the feds will let us do that”.  At this point, the Teacher Leader Effectiveness Unit leader Christopher Ruszkowski, who was sitting in the back, said “No they won’t.”  I said “Yes they will.”  We both repeated ourselves.  But the sad truth is Delaware doesn’t want to have anything to do with the Council of Chief State School Officers Innovation Lab Network.  Just ask the many teachers and citizens who are seeing this guinea pig experiment taking place in states like Maine, Colorado and New Hampshire.  I actually touch on one of the key parts coming out of these “Innovation Labs” later on in this article.  You will know it when you see it!  Scary stuff!

Teachers gave public comment about, you know, how bad SBAC is and how the test doesn’t give any useful information.  Red Clay Education Association President Mike Matthews complimented the Christina School District for giving a recommendation to dump the Smarter Balanced in their assessment inventory (Capital didn’t give it a ringing endorsement either).  He lamented Red Clay didn’t do the same.  But he did advise the committee his executive membership unanimously voted on a resolution to have Red Clay change their recommendation about SBAC and he questioned the transparency around Red Clay’s inventory process.

And then came my public comment.  To give some background, the meeting was already running late, and public comment was limited to two minutes.  One public commenter already went over their time (and continued), which didn’t bother me at all.  I knew exactly what I was going to say cause I wrote it out.

In 1992, the CEO of the National Center on Education and the Economy wrote an 18 page letter to Hillary Clinton. Bill was just elected, and the CEO, named Marc Tucker, took it upon himself to write Hillary his ideas for the future of America.  Tucker wanted America to become like Germany and Switzerland, where students are “apprentice-trained”.  This begins at a very early age.  As part of Tucker’s plan, public education must become standardized.  As well, career paths are chosen through the tests implemented through these higher standards.  This is all part of a much larger plan to merge the US Departments of Education, Labor, and the Immigration division of Homeland Security.  By crafting this agenda, children will be tracked and catalogued through massive data systems, tied to state longitudinal data systems.  These “pathways to prosperity”, or career tracks for children, are contingent upon data.  Data that is provided by every single state to a joint system shared by the US Department of Defense and the US DOE. 

In 1996, a company called Achieve Inc. was created by our nation’s governors, corporate leaders, and Tucker’s group. Achieve eventually created the Common Core standards, but gave the illusion it was created by stakeholders.  Yes, the very same company that assisted with the assessment inventory in Delaware and gave the matrix for districts to follow.  The same company that created the standards is now telling districts how they should utilize their own assessments.

Bill Gates, through his foundation, began funding this over 15 years ago. Delaware allowed this into our state with the Race To The Top grant.  Yes, Senator Sokola and Attorney General Matt Denn wrote Senate Bill 79 last year which passed the General Assembly and was signed by the Governor.  This bill, supposedly meant to protect student data, was heavily lobbied by companies such as Google, Microsoft, and Amazon.  There is a gigantic loophole in this.  Eventually, Smarter Balanced will be broken down into chunks through personalized learning.  Using a competency-based education model, students will advance based on how they do on these mini-standardized tests.  This data will flow freely to the feds which will in turn be shared with employers, non-profits (especially those who really push personalized learning), and corporate interests.  What Sokola and Denn allowed into the final bill appears, on the surface, to protect student data.  But whether it was intentional or not, the algorithms for personalized learning and state assessments are allowed to be shared.  We already see 7-8 Delaware districts using the BRInC Consortium’s “Blended Learning” models.  Every single time a student logs in or enters a keystroke, the data recording begins by the companies tracking all of this data.  All of the Smarter Balanced Assessment, through the algorithms created by American Institutes for Research, fall into this category as well.  Our Governor is one of the very early pioneers of this agenda in Delaware, along with the Rodel Foundation. 

So really, who are we kidding with this nonsense?  This IS about students: cataloguing them, tracking them, and allowing the government to decide what they should be based on data.  But for students with disabilities, they will remain on the bottom of all things concerned with education.  Something Delaware fully allows by not granting these students funding in Kindergarten to 3rd grade unless they are so impaired the state doesn’t have a choice.  Meanwhile, Governor Markell is getting ready to go down to D.C. to hobnob with yet another education foundation instead of taking care of his own state.  

As I mentioned earlier, Senator Sokola did not attend the meeting but his Legislative Aide did.  I’ve met him a few times and he is a nice guy.  During my public comment, at the second mention of “Sokola”, he picked up his things, had a VERY angry face, and stormed out of the meeting.  I certainly hope it wasn’t anything I said, but he looked very troubled.  I have talked to Matt Denn about this bill, along with the representative from his office who wrote the legislation, and I don’t know if they are even aware of the “algorithm loophole” that is causing student data to go out like a burst dam.  But, and I am only guessing here, it bothered Sokola’s legal aide.  I could be wrong and something else was going on that I was not privy to.   As well, when I got my two minute flag, I did keep going.  I was almost done!  As I got into the part about students with disabilities somebody said “Kevin…” like I was saying something bad.  Or perhaps it was my angry tone.  But I already had to speed through my public comment due to a ridiculous two minute time limit.  I’m not a big fan of being cut off over parliamentary rules and procedures (which is why you don’t see me on these committees, task forces, or public office).  Or maybe some people didn’t like what I was saying and it cut a little to close to the bone for them.  Either way, I got it out.  And I have a ton more to say about all that.

Delaware PTA President Dr. Terri Hodges gave public comment about the Smarter Balanced Assessment that echoed many of the opponents of the test throughout the evening.  (As an aside, the DOE actually gave out the National PTA’s position statement against parent opt-out to members of the committee and the public).  Finally, State Rep. Kim Williams, https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2016/02/25/state-rep-kim-williams-slams-state-board-exec-director-donna-johnson-at-weic-meeting-tonight/ again questioned where the parent representative of the assessment inventory committee was.  She informed them this parent rep came to the first meeting and not the other three.  She was not happy the DOE hasn’t responded to her about this issue and that parents are once again being shut out of the process.  With that the meeting adjourned.  And I am left with the same conclusion I have always had about the Achieve Inc. Party Assessment Inventory Committee: it will get rid of the good diagnostic district tests that give immediate feedback and allow teachers to help students in lieu of more interim Smarter Balanced Assessments (which will eventually be broken down into mini-tests at the end of units).  More data.  More tracking.  More pre-determined “pathways” for every single student in Delaware.  Unless you opt out now.  Out of Smarter Balanced AND Personalized Learning.  Unless you are okay with your child’s social-emotional, academic, behavioral, and personal data going out to Education Inc.  In that case, keep on opting in!

Assessment Inventory Committee Meeting Tomorrow Night At DOE In Dover

The Assessment Inventory Committee will hold a meeting tomorrow night at the Delaware Department of Education office at the Townsend Building in Dover at 4:30pm.  The meeting will take place in the Library Conference Room.  The agenda, as shown below, will go over the DOE’s role in summative assessments.  The agenda does not show public comment, but it is a public meeting and public comment was allowed at other meetings so I’m sure this is just an error.  Please try to attend and give public comment!  Governor Markell’s former Education Policy Advisor assured members of the public the Smarter Balanced Assessment would be a part of the conversation around assessments last June.  I have yet to see anything serious from the SJR #2 Assessment Inventory Committee addressing this absolute waste of a test.

SJR2#4

Delaware DOE Responds Positively To My Request For More Transparency On The Assessment Inventory

I emailed several folks at the Delaware Department of Education about more transparency surrounding the current Assessment Inventory initiative taking place in Delaware.  Since then, they have added a tab on their “Announcements” section on their front page calling for public comment on the assessment inventory.  They have also added the minutes, agendas, and other presentations from the Senate Joint Resolution #2 Assessment Inventory Committee on a new page: Delaware Assessment Inventory Senate Joint Resolution #2.  To be sure this wasn’t always there, I right clicked on the page and checked properties which said it was created today, 2/5/16.  Thank you to the Delaware DOE for doing the right thing and making this information more transparent for concerned parents up and down Delaware!

Delaware Assessment Inventory By District, Charter & State: What Is Good & What Is Bad

Timeliness is a huge problem.  Couldn’t use the data as needed.  No teacher reports that gave insight that was meaningful.  Math items were very difficult.

Non-relevant information in a timely manner, not adaptive and doesn’t measure achievement ability at the grade level.  Not valid yet.  Lost instructional time.

TestStress

The above quotes came from two Delaware school districts’ assessment inventories.  Care to guess which assessment they are talking about?  The one everyone wants to be eliminated from Delaware assessments (in most cases) but will likely be the last assessment standing when all is said and done.

Governor Markell asked for an assessment inventory less than a year ago.  The Delaware Department of Education started moving on this prior to Markell’s announcement, with the help of Achieve Inc.  Achieve Inc. and Delaware go way back.  As far back as 2000 when the Assistant Secretary of Education Michael Cohen helped Delaware to “define their standards”.  In 2004, Cohen became the CEO of Achieve Inc. From 2007-2009, Achieve Inc. was instrumental in designing the new Common Core standards.  How ironic that they are now riding to the rescue in Delaware’s Assessment Inventory.  Not only did they set the standards that would be measured by state assessments, now they are determining which assessments are important and which are redundant.  Nothing like setting up the whole game in your favor…

Senate Joint Resolution #2 put the assessment inventory into law.  The Assessment Inventory Task Force is now meeting to decide the next steps.  All districts and charters who participated in the assessment inventory had to have their information submitted to the DOE by December 31st, 2015.

The Delaware DOE is accepting public comment on the assessment inventory:

Persons wishing to present comments on the assessment inventories or recommendations by the district, schools or state may do so in writing or by email by the close of business on or before February 21, 2016 to Tina Shockley, Education Associate, Department of Education, at 401 Federal Street, Suite 2, Dover, Delaware 19901.  Email is tina.shockley@doe.k12.de.us. Please type Assessment Inventory Comments in the subject line of the email.

All comments will be made public on the DDOE website and also provided to the SJR#2 Assessment Inventory Committee.
I would take FULL advantage of this Delaware parents!!!

Below are links to every single part of the Delaware Assessment Inventory.  Interestingly enough, only five of the Delaware charter schools participated in this inventory.  All 19 school districts in the state took part.  Also included is the state assessment inventory and their estimated time chart showing how they plan to reduce testing time but with no details explaining the how.  Care to take a guess which district’s assessment inventory was over 500 pages long?

DISTRICTS

Appoquinimink

Brandywine

Brandywine Recommendations

Caesar Rodney

Caesar Rodney Recommendations

Cape Henlopen

Capital

Christina

Christina Recommendations

Delmar

Delmar Recommendations

Indian River

Lake Forest

Laurel

Milford

Milford Recommendations

New Castle County Vo-Tech

Polytech

Polytech Recommendations

Red Clay Consolidated

Seaford

Smyrna

Sussex Tech

Woodbridge

CHARTER SCHOOLS

Academy of Dover

Campus Community School

Campus Community School Recommendations

Charter School of Wilmington

Charter School of Wilmington Recommendations

Delaware Design-Lab High School

Delaware Design-Lab High School Recommendations

Las Americas ASPIRA Academy

STATE ASSESSMENTS

State English/Language Arts

State Math

State Science

State Social Studies

TIME CHART

Time Reducation Chart for Delaware mandated assessments

Acting US Secretary of Education John King recently praised Delaware for it’s “important role” in defining how an assessment inventory should be done.  As if it was planned from the very beginning…

There is more than meets the eye with this assessment inventory…

Assessment Inventory Task Force Meeting Tonight, Don’t Opt Out Of This One!!!!

I strongly encourage everyone in Delaware to go to the Assessment Inventory Task Force meeting tonight at the Delaware Dept. of Education Townsend Building in Dover at 5:00pm.  The transparency surrounding this task force has been horrible.  When Senate Joint Resolution #2 was discussed during the Senate Education Committee meeting last June, the audience was told these would be public meetings with full transparency.  We are now seeing that isn’t the case at all.  I’m really not sure where the minutes are for this because there are none.  We can thank Senator David Sokola for this.  Tonight’s meeting is the third meeting and no minutes have been listed on the SJR #2 page.  You would think the DOE would also put minutes for this group on their website since it was their idea anyways, but no.  Unless you go to these meetings, we have no idea what they are doing.

For those thinking “Why should I go?  It’s not like they care about my input anyways!”, you are probably right.  But we need all eyes on this.  When asked if the Smarter Balanced Assessment would be a part of this conversation, Governor Markell’s Education Policy Advisor Lindsay O’Mara said:

“Absolutely, yes, all assessments will be the subject of discussion.  We were all invited together to have a discussion about assessments.  Hopefully those discussions will be grounded in the reality of the cycle of state legal requirements around assessments.  But were happy to have any conversation around any assessment that any member of this group would put on the table.”

Time to live up to that promise Lindsay!  If we want this task force to Achieve it’s original promise, then we need to start making sure it is wide open to all.

Updated 15 minutes later.  The minutes for the second meeting are out there, but I could only find them on the Delaware Public Meeting Calendar in draft form:

So I ask again: where is the conversation about Smarter Balanced being put on the table?  Or is the Smarter Balanced the power brokers behind this that want to eat up all the other assessments unless they support SBAC?  And I see a whole let of Achieve Inc. mentions in these minutes.  Speaking of power brokers…

Predicting Delaware’s Assessment Inventory Report

SJR2DOE

By June 30th this year we will all know what is in the final report from Delaware’s Assessment Inventory Committee.  This is when it is due to the General Assembly.  I have made predictions in the past about the end result: that district assessments will go the way of the dinosaur in favor of more interim assessments for the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  When Senate Joint Resolution #2 was announced, it was at the height of the 2015 opt-out movement.  Governor Markell spoke about it at Howard High School last March.  I immediately saw it as a response to opt-out.

A week before the legislation hit the General Assembly, I had the opportunity to see a DOE email stating that Senate Joint Resolution #2 was the answer to opt-out.  The House and Senate Education Committee Chairs in Delaware sponsored the legislation.  During the Senate Education Committee meeting in June, it was brought up before House Bill 50, much to the consternation of several people.  Governor Markell’s Education Policy Advisor, Lindsay O’Mara, when asked at the meeting, said the Smarter Balanced Assessment could be a part of the assessment inventory but it depends on state and federal regulations.  The Assessment Inventory Committee officially began in November.

To date, no minutes have been posted on the General Assembly website or the DOE website.  The group first met on November 16th and then again on December 16th.  The only place it shows up is on the Delaware Public Meeting Calendar and it must be put there seven days before the meeting as per Delaware state code.  In looking at that website, there are no scheduled meetings showing up anywhere in 2016.  In fact, on the list of committees and task forces in a different section of the General Assembly website, there is no listed Chair of this committee.  No meetings show up on the Department of Education calendar part of their website either.

I am going to predict now that the Smarter Balanced Assessment will definitely be a major topic of discussion at this task force.  It will not be a part of the assessment inventory to be kept or removed.  But someone will say something to the effect of “We need to do an evaluation of this test.”  It may even be one of the few members on the task force who has vocally opposed it.  Politics is often suggesting something to someone and making it seem like it was their idea.  Someone will whisper it into their ear and they will think it is a great idea.  When it comes to education, great ideas can seem like a good thing but they are loaded with snares and traps.  Like I said before, this committee is top-heavy with Markell sympathizers.

There will be some other carrots in this final report.  One teachers will love will be a recommendation that standardized tests not be used for the purpose of teacher evaluations.  Teachers will support this emphatically and will then support anything the committee recommends.  If Governor Markell doesn’t sign an executive order or no legislation passes prior to this report, there will be a very strong recommendation that high school juniors not take the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  This is something ten Democrats in the House of Representatives wrote to the Governor about three days ago.  The reduction in district assessments will not specifically say “get rid of this or that”.  There will be a recommendation that no student receives any type of “interim assessment”, whether it is the Smarter Balanced Assessment or something like SRI, SMI, MAPS, DIBELS, or any of the other assessments districts use in Delaware more than once in any given marking period.  There may be certain assessments ditched, but for the most part it will be up to the local districts.  There will most likely be language either requiring or strongly suggesting the Smarter Balanced Interim Assessment be given at least once during the first or second marking period.

The evaluation of the Smarter Balanced Assessment will be done by a third corporate cousin of one of the many vendor companies the DOE utilizes for pretty much anything that generates a report.  The evaluation will come back and find that the Smarter Balanced Assessment is effective.  Bloggers and teachers will rip it apart and say the report is not valid.  The state will most likely pay this vendor anywhere from $50-$100,000 for this report which will show some issues with the test but not enough to render it invalid.  When all is said and done, we will pretty much have what we’ve always had but a little bit less of the district assessments.  Smarter Balanced will still be here.  Parents will still opt-out.  The big question on everybody’s mind will be if our legislators honor that right by overriding Governor Markell’s veto of House Bill 50 or if they side with the test and punish corporate backed privateers who are hell-bent on continuing their agendas.

 

All The DOE Assessment Information Given To Districts In Delaware

On Wednesday, November 18th, the Delaware Department of Education had a meeting with all the district testing coordinators to go over all things assessment.  This includes the Smarter Balanced Assessment, the assessment inventory campaign, accommodations, and more.  It looks like the DOE’s Office of Assessment will be raiding monitoring visiting every single public school in the state over the coming months.  But who will lead this office now that Schwinn and Reyna are bidding adieu?

Exceptional Delaware Apologizes To The DOE

Yesterday, I wrote a post about the Senate Joint Resolution #2 Assessment Inventory Committee.  I wrote how they did not give sufficient public notice for their meeting last night.  Delaware law demands all public meetings be given a week notice with a posted agenda.  The DOE did get this out there on November 3rd, and I must have missed it somehow.  The DOE did act in full transparency in this situation.  This does not mean I am a DOE cheerleader, but I will point out when I make a mistake.  I emailed the powers that be over there just now about this with a heartfelt apology.

Smarter Balanced & Assessment Inventory Presention By Delaware DOE Shows CLEAR Issues

On 6/17/15, the Delaware DOE had a working lunch regarding the Smarter Balanced Assessment Survey, issues with the testing, data incidents, number of technology issues, a timeframe for the release of the scores, how the report will look, and accommodations.  The most obvious horror I see is the ability for the DOE to edit/access accommodations.  The accommodations they already have are not in full compliance with IDEA law.  If it is an IEP, they need to be able to let the students have the same accommodations they would for any other test.  The fact they don’t, and don’t even seem to care along with the US DOE, shows a blatant disregard for Federal law as passed by the U.S. Congress and signed off by then President Bush.  I can’t wait to see the opt-out figures!

Sokola & Jaques Behind Assessment Inventory “Discussion Group”

That was quick!  I should have checked yesterday on the General Assembly website, but they are on recess, so it was out of sight out of mind.  But anyways, what is the point behind Senate Joint Resolution #2, “Directing the Department of Education to study student assessment testing”, when the DOE started this initiative last year?  Oh yeah, to get what is essentially a task force going with key positions picked by the education reform Kool-Aid drinking Governor Markell!  But this task force won’t have any authority or oversight for the initiative but we can create it anyway to give the illusion this has legislative input!  Delaware legislators, STOP, just STOP with the DOE influence within your own ranks.  State Senator Dave Sokola and State Rep. Earl Jaques are the chairs of their prospective education committees.  This initiative came from Governor Markell in an attempt to thwart parent opt-out.  The DOE ran with it, got it going over six months ago and now the two education leaders of the General Assembly want to put this out?  Who are we kidding?  Read the resolution below: