Yesterday, Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Steven Godowsky sent a memo to all Delaware public school teachers. This message reiterates existing Delaware law about Component V of the DPAS-II teacher evaluation system. In other words, Smarter Balanced counts in teacher evaluations this year.
It was supposed to “count” last year, but legislators from the 148th General Assembly persuaded the Delaware Department of Education to submit an ESEA flexibility waiver in 2015 to extend the exemption period another year. The US Dept. of Education approved that request. Beginning this year, for almost every single public school in the state, the highly controversial high-stakes test will be a major part of Component V.
House Bill 399 will start a pilot program in select Delaware schools where the teacher and the administrator can choose another type of assessment for Measure A of Component V, but the administrator has final say in the event of a deadlock. Governor Markell is expected to sign the legislation in the coming weeks.
Back in the spring of 2015, at a Common Core for Common Ground event, Governor Markell unwisely told a room full of educators to be prepared because he was:
Giving you another year before consequences kick in.
That was before the US DOE approved the flex waiver. In 2015, the Governor very condescendingly told WHYY/Newsworks:
We know that some people don’t agree with higher standards and accountability.
When those “higher standards” and “accountability” are rigged from the get-go, it is hard to take the Common Core loving Jack Markell seriously. It is very convenient for Markell to be okay with Component V hitting teachers after he leaves office. Just yet another example of our “education” Governor creating destruction and leaving it for others to clean up the mess.
In the meantime, the dynamic due of Senator Sokola and Atnre Alleyne all but assured House Bill 399 was morphed into something from the corporate education reform playbook when it passed the Delaware General Assembly on July 1st. Sokola’s amendments added a student and parent survey to the pilot program which enraged teachers across the state. Newark Charter School has these types of surveys and it is something the DOE has been planning for a lot longer than we think…
In June of 2014, Atnre Alleyne worked at the Delaware DOE in the Teacher/Leader Effectiveness Unit under Chief Christopher Ruszkowski. He contacted a company called Panorama Education Inc. since they administered surveys to schools in New Haven, Connecticut public schools. They provided information to Alleyne showing what these parent and student surveys could look like in Delaware:
And here are examples of the surveys this company wrote:
Student Perception Surveys for 3rd-5th Grade Students:
Student Perception Surveys for 6th-12th Grade Students:
For those who may be wondering how I was able to uncover these documents, they came from a FOIA request a Delaware teacher received from the Delaware DOE over a year and a half ago. While looking back at the emails in this FOIA a few weeks ago, I found this. It didn’t mean a lot at the time I initially reviewed the FOIA material, but in context of the Sokola amendment added onto House Bill 399, it is huge. As an exclusive bonus, here are the emails that allowed Ruszkowski, Alleyne, and Laura Schneider (still with the TLEU at the Delaware DOE) to begin looking at student surveys over two years ago:
The problem with any survey is how it is worded. Surveys can very easily slant towards a very specific purpose. There are a multitude of factors that can cause surveys to be tainted. For students, there are many reasons why they could bash a teacher in a survey. But Sokola and the DOE seem to want these surveys, along with parent surveys. For what purpose? I think we can all figure that one out: to label more teachers as ineffective in their path to destroy teacher unions.
For the Delaware DOE, they have already paid a very large chunk of money to Panorama this year. What were the services Panorama provided for the DOE? I can only imagine it was for the implementation of surveys into DPAS-II. Note the date on the below picture. This was before House Bill 399 had the Sokola amendment added to it. Almost two months before…
I firmly believe the original intention of House Bill 399 was hijacked from the Delaware DOE and Senator Sokola even before it was introduced. They knew exactly what the outcome of this bill would be. I would almost prefer Governor Markell does not sign it because of the Sokola amendment and the potential damage this could do to the teaching profession in Delaware.
In terms of Atnre Alleye, he is a nice guy. But I have serious “heartburn” as Senator Sokola frequently says, about his role as a founder of TeenSHARP and the work they do while he was an employee of the Delaware Department of Education. I believe there was a clear conflict of interest. While he did leave the DOE in February of this year, he was very involved with House Bill 399 and what became of it.
Going back as far as 2010, Alleyne’s motivations were very clear for what he wanted in education:
I don’t believe a company he co-founded should in any way benefit from policies he helped contribute to as an employee of the Delaware Dept. of Education. There is a blurring of the lines so to speak. In fact, when you look at Alleyne’s Twitter account, it is filled with love for corporate education reform companies.
For Delaware teachers, this year will be the true test for them on the absolute damage one high-stakes test will do to their careers. But is this a smokescreen for something even worse coming to all of education in America? I believe it is. I think the very loud protest coming from teachers in this state will lead to an elimination of the Smarter Balanced Assessment as we know it. The test will evolve into weekly or bi-weekly tests in a personalized learning/competency-based education environment where the role of the teacher will be reduced to that of a glorified moderator. Now, more than ever, teachers in Delaware need to not only fight what is here but what is coming. And prepare now!