When you have many district superintendents and administrators saying “Don’t do it!”, you would think the Delaware Department of Education, the State Board of Education, and Secretary Godowsky would listen. If you heard folks saying “opt-out is only going to get bigger,” you would think a voice of reason would go off in their heads. But no, this is Delaware. The state where King Markell reigns on high, telling all the little minions what they must do. Below are the minutes from the final (for now) Accountability Framework Working Group meeting last week. Interesting news about Jeff Klein from Appoquinimink buried in here as well….
The State Board of Education finally put the Delaware School Success Framework update on the State Board of Education agenda for the meeting today. They have tweaked the opt-out penalty a little bit, but it’s still not good enough. It is still a harsh penalty that will hurt schools over parental choices that are beyond a school’s control. Nobody was allowed to give public comment about an action item. I didn’t. I talked about school transportation.
This is what I said:
So I’m driving my son to school this morning, at a private school with no Common Core and no Smarter Balanced Assessment. (Thank you God!) (look up) And ahead of me, there’s this school bus. In the other lane, a car swerves over the line in front of the bus, but the bus driver keeps going straight ahead. I watched in astonishment as the car noticed the danger and moved over, almost hitting a sidewalk on his side. I don’t know why the car swerved over the line, and I don’t know why the bus driver kept moving straight ahead oblivious to the danger in front of him. But it could have been a serious accident. I can imagine though. Perhaps the other driver had a disability and suffered a painful motor tic while driving. Maybe they were a student who comes from poverty and wasn’t able to eat the past few days. Maybe it was a teacher running late for school because they lost so much sleep worrying about their next evaluation. We just don’t know. Meanwhile, the bus driver who ignored an obvious danger, what were his motivations? I would assume a bit of arrogance. I can imagine the thought of “I’m not moving. I’m in the right.”
This is Delaware education in a nutshell. We have different bus drivers carrying the load of every single student, educator, and school in the state. Sometimes it is Governor Markell, other times it is Secretary Godowsky. It could be Dr. Gray. Or Pat Heffernan. Or any of you on this board. Sometimes it seems like someone not even allowed to be a bus driver, like Paul Herdman of Rodel , is driving the bus! I see the same mentality of that bus driver when I see the leaders of education in Delaware. I see them making changes and policies based on plowing ahead without knowing the dangers that are clearly in front of them. Sometimes they spend millions of dollars trying to find out why the other driver swerved over the line. For whatever reason, our leaders assign blame to people who weren’t even in the car. Sometimes we are so focused on the blame that we fail to realize the other factors that could be taking place.
Every time this board meets, you make decisions for the children of Delaware. You’ll do that today. You’ll decide how to prevent accidents even if you could be the ones causing them. But you will never take the accountability on yourselves and realize that you could be the cause of many of them. Because you are so focused on driving down that road and getting to where you want to be, that you fail to understand the other conditions of the road. And in your decisions, it never dawned on you that you are driving in the wrong direction on a one-way road that leads to heartache and devastation for hundreds of thousands of students, teachers, parents and communities.
I showed the State Board some pictures of my son since they have never had the opportunity to meet him in person. I advised them their collective actions have led to his situations in the Delaware public education system since the focus just isn’t on the kids anymore. Sabine Neal spoke about special education and the DOE’s failure to act, State Rep. Kim Williams talked about the State Board getting to more meetings and not just sending the same designee, Mike Matthews spoke about WEIC and his desire to see the State Board at all four of the public hearings for the redistricting effort in Wilmington, and Kendall Massett from the Delaware Charter Schools Network spoke about school choice and the upcoming Charter School Expo. Below is the Delaware School
Punishment Success Framework.
This is why you need to opt your child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment tomorrow on Wednesday, November 18th, 2015. And you need to send this message to every single parent you know who has a child in public school in the entire state. Use Facebook, Twitter, email, text and calling folks to let them know tomorrow is Opt-Out Day. Schools can not punish you or your child for your right to exercise your rights for what is best for your child.
The Delaware State Board of Education does not care about our schools and our students. These are unelected officials, along with the Secretary of Education, who serve at the pleasure of Governor Markell. Let’s get this out in the open for those who are not aware. They do not care about the path of destruction they leave in their wake with the excessive amount of standardized testing, interim testing for the standardized testing, labeling schools, and evaluating teachers based on those assessments. They do not care about the impact this has on children of poverty, race, and disabilities. They will do what they want, when they want, and how they want. They do not care if they are usurping the authority of the General Assembly. They do not care about the rights of parents and insist on having negative consequences for schools over opt-out, even if at the most the US DOE simply states in non-regulatory and non-Congressionally approved guidance that schools must have a “consequence” for opt-out. They do not care about the recommendations of the very committee they formed to give suggestions for this so-called “Delaware School Success Framework”. The only reason they even created this group is because it was required by the US DOE as stakeholder engagement. It is a charade and a sham, perpetrated on every single citizen of Delaware.
Delaware Parents: It is now your essential duty, as well as your fundamental right, to opt your child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment. The powers that be will not listen. They have made this crystal clear. The only way to stop this is to opt your child out now. Do not believe the lies and propaganda coming from the Governor, the DOE, the State Board of Education, and the Secretary of Education in Delaware. They will come up with any reason, any task force, group or committee to try to stop you from opting your child out. They will use other state agencies, such as the Governor’s Advisory Council for Exceptional Citizens to get you to believe the lies. They will throw civil rights in your face while violating the most basic tenets of civil rights in their test and punish environment. They are causing even more segregation over the shaming of schools over standardized Their latest attempt at mind control is getting rid of the Smarter Balanced Assessment for high school juniors. They are retooling the SAT to match the very same Common Core State Standards the Smarter Balanced Assessment already has. Last Spring, it was announced more than 850 colleges and universities dropping the SAT in the application process. Warped methodology is their best friend, and they utilize it without regard to the damage it does.
So please, tomorrow, give a letter to your child’s principal telling them (not asking) that your child will not take the Smarter Balanced Assessment. If they have opinions, questions, or attempt to talk you out of it, let them kindly know you respect their opinion but your decision is final. They will definitely tell you now how it will affect their school’s ratings and so forth. Let them know you understand that but you are the only one who can advocate for your child. Advise them you expect your child to receive an education while the other students are testing, and stand firm with your decision. The Delaware General Assembly could override Governor Markell’s veto of the opt-out legislation, House Bill 50. The ESEA reauthorization will most likely leave it up to states to handle opt-out, which the DOE and Markell are attempting to do with Regulation 103, which would become law 60 days after the State Board votes on this. This is why, if you are going to opt your child out, you need to do it tomorrow. The State Board meets on Thursday to decide on this. Let’s show them how ignoring parents will not end well for them. They disrespect us and underestimate us. Let’s show them who is really calling the shots!
This is for all traditional school district and charter school parents. We need to stand united with this and take back the conversation. We need to show the DOE and the State Board we will not stand for them punishing schools. In a sense, just making your child take the Smarter Balanced Assessment is a punishment in and of itself. Because it does not help your child and the DOE uses it as a punishment. That is the message they told every single parent in the state today. There are no positive consequences in the picture the DOE wants to paint. It is all about money, greed, and a severe lack of knowledge about what is truly best for students.
The Accountability Framework Working Group, the group tasked to provide recommendations for the Delaware School Success Framework is meeting now in Dover at the Townsend Building at the Delaware Department of Education. This should be very interesting!
Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Steven Godowsky appears to be leading the meeting, along with Ryan Reyna from the Accountability and Assesssment area of the DOE. Delaware State Representatives Paul Baumbach and Kim Williams are here as well.
I’m not sure if Penny Schwinn will be attending this meeting. She has been very quiet lately…
Avi Wolfman-Arent with WHYY/Newswork just walked in. So did State Rep. John Kowalko. Everyone is introducing themselves. John Carwell with the DOE Charter School Office is attending as a non-voting member.
Secretary Godowsky stated there will be public comment, but he wants to relay the purpose of the committee. There were 16 meetings prior to this. He said he was confirmed as Secretary on October 28th. The ultimate goal of the AFWG was to get a level of commitment from all stakeholders. He appreciates everyone coming back for this meeting. He said he has watched from the outside the past couple years and wants everyone to work together to build a level of trust. He recognized there were changes to the AFWG’s recommendations. He is talking about his reversal on the opt-out penalty now. The first factor was the State Board’s position on the opt-out penalty. The consequences on the plan were not consequences. The State Board sets policy. They have a duty to look at students first and this influenced his thinking on this matter. As well, he said they are investigating the policy of getting rid of Smarter Balanced for juniors and replacing it with the SAT.
Godowsky said they met with the Chief School Officers and the State Board on 11//5 to discuss this transition. They came up with the possibility of perhaps doing this as early as Spring 2016 but there are a lot of details to sort out. He wants to be optimistic about that. Participation rate is key to their thinking and claims this is a civil rights issue and they have to test students in need. As they looked at their evidence higher performing students had not taken the test. On 11/7 there was an op/ed in the News Journal about achievement gaps and how protections need to be used to prevent a moral discrepancy. He met with the Governor’s Advisory Council for Exceptional Citizens and will speak with that group this evening. They respect their opinion but not the thousands of parents in Delaware.
They see more benefits for schools using the participation rate multiplier for schools in Delaware. This is also used to implement priority and reward schools. The priority schools will not be identified for another three years. They have already named these schools this year. The new framework will not be used this year and there will be no consequences this year. Now he is addressing schools that purposely left students out of the test. The New Castle County Vo-Tech District, of which Godowsky used to lead, was one of the first to recognize this. Now we know why Governor Markell picked him as Secretary of Education. He is talking about how Howard High School went from 56% to 80% proficiency. When you can control who gets in… The State Board raised these concerns in 2004 with students not being tested. Godowsky is stating the US DOE wants this as well. Where is the proof Dr. Secretary?
The consequences are significantly positive according to Godowsky. No, they are not. Now it is time for public comment. State Rep. Kim Williams gave public comment and said no superintendents are in agreement with the opt-out penalty. State Rep. Paul Baumbach said this is not gaming the system but empowering our parents. State Rep. Kowalko said there were several meetings without the AFWG that influenced his decision. The civil rights issue is not applicable to this situation. There are hidden fears perpetuated by the Federal Government and the State Board of Education regarding funding and a dismantling of the education system. RCEA President Mike Matthews said his membership voted against this penalty. He is talking about testing and punishing schools and giving more resources to high-needs schools. Hilary Clinton, according to Matthews, said teachers should not be evaluated. I gave public comment advising the State Board, the DOE and Secretary Godowsky they have no place determining parental rights. Especially over a flawed test that gives no immediate feedback or direct instruction for students. As well, they have provided no solid mandated proof of this opt-out penalty by the feds. Greg Mazotta is talking about the Baldridge Program.
AFWG member Bill Doolittle, representing the Delaware PTA, stated the federal intent was for schools excluding students from the test. The new ESEA reauthorization will have very little support for this and it will be up to the states. This was not a child-centered decision based on real world logic. This is a political decision. The AFWG’s recommendations gave the best outlook for students and will initiate confrontation. This decision will accelerate the opt-out movement in Delaware. With IDEA, they have used the NAEP standards giving parents the right to choose. We should do what they recommend. By agreeing to this it will distort data and the schools and DOE will not have clean data. SAT has a long history of discriminating against students with disabilities.
Deb Stevens with DSEA said she is very concerned about the State Board’s insistence on having negative consequences for schools in regards to participation rate. She supported the AFWG’s recommendations, but from what she is hearing it is not negative enough for the State Board. The State Board members have never had an opportunity to meet with the AFWG. She doesn’t understand the rationale of meeting with the State Board for 3 minutes a month before they act (as public comment at the State Board of Education meetings). This will not improve the student gaps and will not help with getting resources to schools. There is no confidence in this test based on the first-year results. They don’t know how valid or reliable the test is and it is foolish to attach consequences for a test with no track record. She will not change her vote that AFWG provided to the DOE.
Caesar Rodney Superintendent Kevin Fitzgerald is thanking Ryan and Penny for their guidance with the group as well as the members of AFWG. He said poverty was a major concern with this group. Schools with high poverty will be punished the most with this. AYP, or adequate yearly progress, does not work. The AFWG thought the consequences they decided on were good. He thinks moving towards the SAT is good because students are tested too much, especially in 11th grade. He has concerns with the disability questions with the SAT. There is no reason for the AFWG to change their recommendation because the Secretary and State Board will decide what they want. He hopes they put a great deal of thought into the changes.
Ken Hutchins with Capital School District said parents got back the scores and students who were once proficient are no longer proficient. He doesn’t think Delaware has hit their peak with the opt-out movement. This will cause opt-out to increase. He is a data guy.
Joe Jones with New Castle County Vo-Tech said the schools already know what supports and resources they need. He doesn’t think an assessment should drive that change. Delaware needs to work together to get these supports and not under the lens of a consequence. He said nothing came as a surprise and always knew these were just recommendations. He would love to see it one day come to fruition where assessment is not driving change.
Heath Chasanov, the Superintendent of the Woodbridge School District, thinks this will cause opt-out numbers to rise. He went out and visited all four of the schools in his district (laughter in the room) and the comment a top senior in his class said they don’t take the SBAC as seriously as the SAT. In terms of reading, the student said, the SBAC has flaws with the passages in the test.
Indian River’s Jay Owens supported the AFWG’s recommendations but he is excited about the possibility of the SAT and getting rid of SBAC for juniors. They have the ability to monitor the participation rate. They can take action as a district when the test is not being pushed by the schools.
Donna Johnson, Executive Director of the State Board of Education, is thanking the members of AFWG. It is no easy feat to come up with a framework like this. The State Board has publicly met outside of State Board meetings nine times over the Delaware School Success Framework. Dr. Gray heard the comments of this group. They are very clear about what the group’s recommendations are. The State Board did not believe developing a “plan” for opt-out was a good decision. “The State Board would prefer to see a consequence that is positive and negative.” Fitzgerald is stating there are no supports and resources to deal with the consequence. Is the State Board able to make a decision on that, Fitzgerald asked. Johnson said this was not a discussion at the State Board Retreat. Fitzgerald asked if any of the supports and resources are different than ones that currently exist to which Johnson said no.
Doolittle said some members who couldn’t make it submitted comments. He said the State Board has their own perception and this decision was not driven by Federal requirements and was driven by a desire from the State Board to have negative consequences. Stevens said the name and blame game is driven by Federal decision. But this does not provide the resources needed to move the needle and change the achievement gap. Johnson, in response to Doolittle, said schools should have a plan anyways if they don’t meet the 95% participation rate. I asked Johnson if Governor Markell advised the board to do this, wouldn’t they agree? She said no, they are their own board. She said I am entitled to my opinion. I responded I am, and many agree. I really need to check on my complaints with the DOJ today…
Godowsky is thanking the group. The comments were appreciated. Kowalko is asking what the exact negative consequence is from the State Board. He said the State Board did not specifically answer this. Johnson said the State Board did not suggest negative and punitive consequences. Doolittle said the AFWG was not given the right guidance from the Feds.
This Thursday at 1pm, the monthly State Board of Education meeting is happening. This will be a BIG meeting! They are voting on the Delaware School Success Framework and the whole opt-out penalty thing. We already know Secretary Dr. Steven Godowsky is all about the harsh punishments, despite telling reporters a few weeks ago he didn’t think that was going to happen. Of course, he had an incentive to say that since he was going to have his Senate Confirmation a week later…but I digress…
This is all the agenda has for this portion of the meeting:
Presentation of the Delaware School Success Framework and other any revisions to the ESEA Flexibility request per the prior conditional approval from USED.
The State Board will hear and act upon the request from DOE for approval of the ESEA Flexibility Application revisions.
Aside from that, what else is on the agenda? We have the obligatory WEIC portion which has been going on the past couple months. But this is not a formal presentation, so we should not hear Dan Rich explain the whole thing for two hours again. But the State Board is going to discuss what they will need to make their decision:
The WEIC should create a record that the SBE can review, which includes:
- Minutes from the WEIC meetings and subcommittee meetings, which may be accessible through the WEIC website.
- Correspondence with WEIC from the public, including written and electronic comments from the public during the notice period. (November 17 – January 14) These should be posted publicly on the WEIC website and submitted as electronic pdf files to the Board for posting on the Board website.
- A record of the public hearings from which a verbatim transcript is prepared for presentation to the Board and posting on the Board website.
- Exhibits, documents and testimony presented at the public hearing. These should be submitted to the Board in pdf format in conjunction with the Hearing transcript.
- Any findings and summaries of the hearings prepared by the WEIC.
- Any proposals or reports developed by WEIC that address the actions established in SB 122 of the Board.
Public Comment in written or electronic form on the proposed plan received between 11/17/15 and 1/14/16 will be compiled and included in the official record for review and consideration by the SBE.
The public hearings where oral comment will be received will be held as described below. Each will be an hour and a half each and a verbatim transcript will be prepared of each hearing and included in the official record for review by the SBE.
- Monday, November 30, 2015 at 6:30 p.m. Brandywine Public Hearing at P.S. duPont Middle School, 701 W. 34th Street, Wilmington, DE 19802.
- Tuesday, December 1, 2015 at 6:30 p.m. Colonial Public Hearing at William Penn High School, 713 E. Basin Rd, New Castle, DE 19720.
- Wednesday, December 2, 2015 at 6:30 p.m. Christina Public Hearing at Bayard Middle School, 200 S. duPont Street, Wilmington, DE 19805.
- Tuesday, December 8, 2015 at 6:30 p.m. Red Clay Public Hearing at Warner Elementary School, 801 W. 18th Street, Wilmington, DE 19802.
Which now gives us a January vote by the State Board of Education for the whole Christina/Red Clay Wilmington redistricting.
What else is on the agenda? The usual regulations (but not Regulation 103). I guess they have to get US DOE approval first or something like that. I can’t keep track of this stuff (I do, but it is not healthy for the mind). There will be an “Educators as Catalysts” presentation regarding STEM and Computer Science. DOE is doing a College Access Initiatives presentation. The Charter School Office will do their monthly update, where they will talk about Campus Community, MOT, and Providence Creek Academy coming to them in December for charter renewal. Maybe some talk about Delaware Met, but not too much. It may come out that Mapleton withdrew their major modification and they have to start over in the application process. I can’t picture any new disciplinary action against any other charters. We get to find out the winners of the School Bus Safety Contest, brought to you by the Charter School Transportation Slush Fund. Not really. It looks like DOE hired a few people but one person is leaving. No major announcements (I’m sure they are to the people who got hired). Some appeal with Brandywine. The State Board will go over the September 30th count numbers and the private school numbers and the other placements Delaware students might be in (prison, residential treatment centers, and so on).
If you plan on attending, just remember, due to the State Board’s lame regulations, you can’t give public comment about an action item on their agenda, which the Delaware School Success Framework is. I highly recommend going and telling the State Board about why you are opting your child out this year and what kind of reaction the school is giving parents. Let them hear it from you personally. I’m sure they are sick and tired of hearing from me. You can’t give public comment about Delaware Met or the charter renewals since they are under a “public comment period”. Which makes about as much sense as New Coke, right? We can’t taint the State Board of Education’s thoughts with actual thoughts and feelings on these kinds of matters! It’s not like they don’t already have their mind made up on most things cause Governor Markell holds the marionette strings, right?
Penny Schwinn is the most dangerous woman at the DOE. I saw this firsthand yesterday at the State Board of Education retreat. I wrote about this extensively last night. This is a woman who pushed Red Clay and Christina to the breaking point over the priority schools last year. She is the same person who said that violence in our most impoverished communities “isn’t necessarily a challenge to overcome” with how it affects students in the classroom. And yesterday, she announced at a public meeting that Delaware is going to implement the most aggressive and difficult accountability plan for schools in the entire country. And she isn’t willing to back down from this.
I’m sure nobody challenges the fact that our schools have issues in our state. No state is perfect, and Delaware is no exception. It’s not like we are the top-ranked state in the country where we can afford to push the bar so high for our students. We have one of the highest per-student funding mechanisms in the country. But our students are not advancing. Not to the level of the DOE’s satisfaction, and certainly not to parents satisfaction either.
The elephant in the room is the test, the Smarter Balanced Assessment. Everything is tied to this test. I never hear the DOE or the State Board of Education EVER talk about students actual grades. You know, the ones given by a teacher three or four times a year. The ones that show, over a ten-week period, how our students are really doing. Everything is in relation to the test: student growth, student proficiency, teacher effectiveness, school ratings, etc. But if there is one thing I have learned in the past two weeks it is this: the Smarter Balanced measures schools based on labels. In all the graphs released by this blog and Delaware Liberal in the past week, this test measures poverty and economic status. And that is essentially it. It recognizes the haves and the have-nots.
Regulation 103, also known as the Delaware School Success Framework, will punish schools severely over once-a-year test scores. I truly don’t care what Penny Schwinn’s motivation is for all of this. This is insanity at an epic level and our students will pay the most severe price for her madness. It is past time our legislators and leaders took a step back and look at the effect all of this is having on education in Delaware. Far too many citizens are measuring success based on one test. It is wrong. It is propaganda. It is evil. And it needs to stop. Delaware parents, I implore you to refuse this test for your child. It is now an essential and absolute urgency. You hold in your hands, your voice, the ability to turn this around and get out of this toxic environment our children have been exposed to. Please end it. Now.
THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT ARTICLE I HAVE EVER WRITTEN AND ACTION NEEDS TO BE TAKEN NOW!!!!
Now Exceptional Delaware has yet another place to look for information and changes the Delaware Department of Education are trying to squeak into state regulation. I have found the actual regulation for the Delaware School Success Report in the monthly Delaware Register of Regulations for September. It is still a proposed regulation but the deadline for public comment is 10/1/15. I’m glad I found yet another source of information for me to be on top of in this state. I’m going to have come up with some kind of parent guide to navigate through all this stuff in case I ever become incapacitated or die or whatever.
Yes, this regulation already has the participation rate penalty as part of the regulation, even though it was never on the actual ESEA waiver the public was able to view and comment on. For the calendar of events/public hearing notices in the registrar, it has a listing of what the options are for the public to comment on a regulation or any hearings to attend based on the regulation. For all of them EXCEPT Regulation 103, it states what the regulation is and what the public can do. For Regulation 103, all it says is:
I just came across this document. This is a Delaware Department of Education presentation to the University of Delaware’s Delaware Academy for School Leadership (DASL). Ryan Reyna with the DOE, along with Gerri Marshall from Red Clay and Jeff Klein with Appoquinimink presented the below to DASL on June 24th, 2015 with some very definitive statements about this participation rate…
We see the DOE telling DASL, Part A metrics are those that were submitted to USDOE as part of our ESEA submission. This is very important because this is where they openly admit they submitted this to the US DOE like this. But keep in mind, this is NOWHERE in the public draft for ESEA authorization that the State Board of Education approved for submission on 3/19/15. It did not show up in the draft until their “redlined” edition on 3/31/15.