Delaware’s 14 Focus Schools & Who Knew There Was A 7th Priority School In Laurel?

2015FocusschoolsThere was a seventh priority school I didn’t know about, and this is the first I’ve heard about it nearly a year after the initial announcement.  According to the DOE’s ESEA Flex Waiver request submitted March 31st, 2015, Laurel Middle School was also labeled a priority school along with the other six in Red Clay and Christina school districts.

With 14 Focus schools, these could eventually become priority schools if they don’t show the necessary “growth” and “proficiency” on standardized test scores.  This is wrong on so many levels, especially since the 10 new focus schools are named based on data from over a year ago.  That’s right, old data is being used by the US DOE.  It doesn’t matter if two grades of students are no longer at those schools, they will label and shame whoever they can…

Delaware DOE To Name 10 Focus Schools By End of 2015, School Report Card Will Determine Future Priority Schools

The Delaware DOE will pick 10 new Focus Schools by the end of 2015 according to their ESEA Renewal document.  These Focus Schools will be in addition to four remaining Focus Schools from the prior year.  No priority schools will be picked this year, but be sure they will the year after!  In the Delaware Department of Education’s ESEA Flex Waiver request for 2015, they wrote the following:

Classification of Schools and Districts

The U.S. Department of Education requires Title I schools to be classified into three categories: Reward, Focus and Priority. Delaware has created a fourth category for Title I and non-Title I schools called Recognition. Moving forward, DDOE intends to use the Delaware School Success Framework (DSSF) to classify its schools within these categories.1 The U.S. Department of Education has indicated that using a state’s rating system is permissible so long as the state demonstrates that it has identified the required number of schools that meet the ESEA Flexibility definitions.

“For each ESEA Criterion there is a proposed way in which the DSSF will be used to identify schools.2 By the end of 2015, this methodology will be used for the identification of a new cohort of 10 Focus schools (with 2015-16 school year as a planning year),3 at least two Reward schools, and up to 15 Recognition schools for 2015-16. A new cohort of Priority schools will not be identified for the 2015-16 school year, but the proposed new methodology is included to indicate how future cohorts may be identified.”

with footnotes added:

2 “For the sections in Principle 2 on Reward, Recognition, Priority and Focus schools, unless otherwise noted, LEA references district public schools.”

3 “Four current Focus schools will not exit from that status at the end of the 2014-2015 school year, for a total of 14 Focus Schools”

This information can be found here, on page 9:

The US Department of Education defines a Focus school as:

“A Title I school that has the largest within-school gaps between the highest-achieving subgroup or subgroups and the lowest-achieving subgroup or subgroups or, at the high school level, has the largest within-school gaps in graduation rates (“within-school-gaps” focus school); or

 A Title I school that has a subgroup or subgroups with low achievement or, at the high school level, low graduation rates (“low-achieving subgroup” focus school).”

The DOE will use past data from 2013-2014 to pick these focus schools.

Making matters worse, the US DOE is making the Delaware DOE use their upcoming Delaware School Success Framework to be the guide for picking Priority, Focus, Reward and Recognition schools once it is approved by our State Board of Education and than the US DOE (see the Scribd document). Delaware MUST submit an approved request for this by October 31st.  Even more reason for the General Assembly to override Governor Markell’s House Bill 50 veto, otherwise opt-out could push a Title I school to priority schools status.