Opt Out Wins Big In Delaware

After more than two years of the Delaware Dept. of Education holding an opt out penalty against Delaware schools, the moment of victory for advocates of opting out of the state standardized test came in a big way last night.  Not with a bang, but what appeared to be a conciliatory moment for the Delaware DOE.

At the final meeting of the Governor’s ESSA Advisory Committee last evening, the group met for what appears to be the last time before the DOE submits their Consolidated State Plan to the United States Dept. of Education.  The DOE acknowledged they have no idea what to expect in regards to approval of their plan by the feds.  Deputy Secretary of Education Karen Field Rogers stated they knew what to expect from the feds under the Obama Administration but under new U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos they are in unchartered territory.

For advocates of opt out, an unexpected but meaningful change to the Delaware School Success Framework, the Delaware accountability system, signaled a clear shift in thinking from the Department.  Under the former framework, if a school went below 95% participation rate for the Smarter Balanced Assessment or other state assessments, an opt-out penalty would kick in.  Schools could have their final accountability rating lowered if the opt out penalty kicked in.

The opt out penalty saga began over two years ago, under former Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy.  At that time, the very controversial House Bill 50 was raging through the Delaware legislature.  The bill would have codified a parent’s fundamental and constitutional right to opt their child out of the state assessment.  The bill passed in both houses of the General Assembly but the corporate education reform leaning Governor Jack Markell vetoed the bill.  Shortly after, the Accountability Framework Working Group recommended not going ahead with the opt out penalty in the framework but were overturned by Markell and the new Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Steven Godowsky.  When Delaware began working on the state plan for the Every Student Succeeds Act, the opt out penalty remained.  Even though advocates spoke out against it, many did not predict the Department would remove it.  But under Governor Carney and current Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting, there appears to be a change in thinking.

Field Rogers said the penalty is gone and they will be going with the recommendations from the AFWG, whereby a school must submit a letter to the Department on how they will work to get the participation rate back up to 95%.   She did mention that if they see the same schools with high opt out rates a few years in a row that they may seek “interventions” for those schools but nothing was specifically named.

To see the final Delaware ESSA plan, please see below.  There might be some tweaks here and there based on the final meeting last night, but for the most part, this is it.  I’ve heard quiet rumors concerning the Smarter Balanced Assessment in Delaware.  We could see a change in that area but nothing official has been announced.  We shall see…

 

Schools In Delaware Get Ugly By Using SBAC Scores Or Opt Out To Deny Student Access To AP Classes

In the past week, I have heard from several parents in our state that their children are not getting into AP or advanced classes based on either their Smarter Balanced scores or the fact that their parents opted them out of the test.  This is a horrible idea.  Some of these students are straight A students.  What the hell is wrong with these Principals and Superintendents who are making these foolish decisions?  While I won’t name schools or districts due to the privacy of these families, I think these actions are abusive on unheard of levels.

Depression

When did Smarter Balanced become the barometer of student success in Delaware?   The sole purpose of this test is to understand where our children compare to each other, so we can reduce the so-called achievement gaps.  Now it is turning into a punitive measurement tool and it is affecting many lives.  What kind of sick and twisted crap is this?  Who is mandating this?  Is it the Delaware DOE or the districts themselves?  The Smarter Balanced Assessment is a fraudulent test.  It is horrible and how anyone can think this test in any way should decide what classes a student takes needs to take a look at what true education is all about.

Thecryingboy

We are gearing our kids toward this ridiculous notion of “rigor” at a very early age in Delaware.  I get that children need to read at earlier ages.  But the way we are going about it, by taking away play time and stripping these innocent children from the very creativity which allows them to grow as a human being is truly sad.

UpsetTeenager

Every single parent of a Delaware student this is happening to needs to be very loud and vocal.  They need to tell the school Principal this is unacceptable.  If the Principal doesn’t bend, go to the Superintendent.  If the Superintendent doesn’t bend, go to the School Board.  Go to the State Board of Education.  Go to the media.  Write letters to the editor of your local newspapers, Delaware State News, and the News Journal.  Spread this to everyone you know on Facebook and other social media.  Email your friends and family about this.  Nothing in Delaware ever changes unless the people speak.  And on this issue, parents MUST speak.  And for those parents who don’t have kids in AP classes, if they are doing this to those students, just imagine how they are classifying other kids.  The best thing you can all do is opt out in mass numbers to make this waste of a test invalid.  That is the greatest option to end the destruction of public education.  You need to advocate for your child.  You are their parent.  If they are a victim of this insane testing abuse, you have to speak up for them.  Do not believe the lies far too many schools, districts, education non-profits like Rodel, and certain legislators are telling you.

It’s bad enough the Delaware DOE endorses ethical trickery with parents who try to opt their kids out.  It’s bad enough the Smarter Balanced Assessment students take isn’t the same test for every student (which in my mind makes this test worth less than fools gold).  But now we have this.  This is a state assessment.  Not a district mandated, or even school related assessment.  It was created by the state for state usage.  It should have absolutely no bearing on a student’s classroom progress.  Using Smarter Balanced as a competency-based model of student achievement is not a good idea at all.

crying-girl1

Can you imagine how students feel, who try their best in school, only to be victimized because of a once a year test?  The heartbreak they feel, like they just aren’t good enough.  This is what Delaware education has become, a travesty of epic proportions.  We have turned the Smarter Balanced Assessment into the center of education.  If it isn’t data walls, it’s accountability.  If it isn’t libraries closing for weeks at a time, it is teacher evaluations based on this wretched test.  If it isn’t state special education ratings from the feds, it’s standards-based IEPs designed to “help” kids do better on this test.  If it isn’t reshuffling of classrooms to have high-performing SBAC students help low-performing SBAC students, it’s fighting parents when they don’t want their kids taking the test.  If it isn’t students with disabilities being forced to take this test for 2-3 times longer than their peers, it’s the State Board of Education passing opt-out penalties in their school report card accountability joke.  This is NOT the best test Delaware ever made, despite Governor Markell’s comments to the contrary.

ChildCrying

When the 149th General Assembly reconvenes in January, their top priority needs to be setting firm laws dictating what this test can and can’t be used for.  They also need to finish the job with opt out and codify a parent’s right to opt their child out of these punitive tests without penalty to the student in any way, whether it is AP classes, graduation, summer school, standards-based IEPs, abuse by administration, or denying a student the ability to choice to another school.  This could have been written into law last January.  I warned them then this issue was only going to get worse.  My advice was unheeded by the majority of them.  Those that supported the override attempt know the real deal.  Those who didn’t need to seriously rethink their position on this.

And for any school in this state that has any type of data wall up in classrooms or anywhere in your schools with student names on them, take them down now.  The days of shaming students for a state assessment are done.  If any parent sees these data walls in any school, please take a picture of them and send them to me at kevino3670@yahoo.com and I will file a Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) complaint the very same day.  I will need to know the name of the school and the district.  I am in the process of filing a few of these today.

The abuse of students in this state needs to stop.  These are children, not testing guinea pigs for the data freaks.  Is this really what education is about?  Mental torture of children?  All in the name of progress and accountability.  I don’t think so.  People wonder why I am so passionate about education.  This is the main reason.  What we are doing to kids.  We are destroying the future.

NotGoodEnough

 

Hey Terri & Yvonne! DE PTA Needs To Get Back On The Opt Out Bus! If NY PTA Can Do This, You Should Too!

As part of the Every Student Succeeds Act, the United States Department of Education is required to issue regulations associated with the new law.  Of course U.S. Secretary of Education John King saw this as his big chance to make his national mark for his corporate education reform buddies, so he stuck with the accountability script and harsh rules about opt out of high-stakes tests.  The New York Parent Teacher Organization wrote a letter to King as part of their public comment for the regulations.

Something to keep in mind is the National PTA’s bizarre stance on parent opt out.  They are against it and don’t want the state PTA’s advocating it either.  Last February, they threatened Delaware with severe sanctions if they continue to advocate for a parent’s right to opt out.  This caused a complete shutdown with Delaware PTA on the issue.

Here is the letter the NY PTA sent to King:

There are a few other things readers need to be aware of when it comes to this issue.  Sanctions against the NY PTA would not be as damaging as ones against Delaware PTA.  If even ten percent of NY parents belong to their PTA, that is still at least ten times the amount of members as Delaware PTA.  Which means they have a lot more cash and pull with National PTA.  Plus, New Yorkers are a hell of a lot fiestier than Delawareans.  That doesn’t mean I would seriously mess with the Dynamic Duo of Dr. Terri Hodges and Yvonne Johnson.  I wrote a few articles about this issue last winter, as well as poking a bit at Johnson’s involvement with the Christina School District.  I caught holy hell for that.

But I do wish Delaware would follow New York’s lead on this.  They are basically telling John King AND National PTA “We don’t care what your stance on opt out is.  We are going to tell parents what their rights are.”  New York leads the way with opt outs, followed by New Jersey.  Yes, Delaware’s PTA could get into a heck of a lot of trouble with National PTA if they get back on their opt out positions, but who cares?  This a PARENT-TEACHER organization, not Laura Bay and Friends.  If the former district testing coördinator wants to hate on opt out, let her.  But she should not get a whole parent organization to stop doing what they feel is best for parents.  It’s kind of what they are there for Ms. Bay!

In the meantime, the next few months will be very interesting, not only in Delaware, but across the country.  As these regulations go forward, I predict a lot of pushback from many states, teacher unions, parents, schools, and advocates for public education.  Hopefully, the members of Congress who like to call out John King on a monthly basis will continue to do so.  If they don’t, John King gets his way, and the punitive mandates of Race To The Top will still be here.

Delaware Opt Out Numbers By School District: Who Rose? Who Fell? And What About The Charters?

Thanks to the always faithful Delaware Department of Education for their obsession with data.  It makes my job a lot easier!  As I announced earlier today, opt out numbers went up this year for Delaware students in 3rd to 8th grade.  Despite whatever flawed data system the accountability gurus at the DOE are using.  Because they seem to think opt out went down this year.  But in my eyes, they went up:

2014-2015 ELA: 1,269

2015-2016 ELA: 1,375 (+106)

2014-2015 MATH: 1,116

2015-2016 MATH: 1,267 (+151)

These numbers do play games with my head.  Why are some parents just opting kids out of ELA and not Math, or vice versa?  I believe any increase is good.  That means more parents are wising up to the high-stakes testing regimen and telling schools they don’t want their kids to be a part of this nonsense.

So which districts saw more students opted out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment?  Which saw less?  And where the heck are the charter schools actual participation rate numbers?  I guess since charters are “special” and have “autonomy” we can’t see their numbers….  But we can see Prestige Academy and Gateway Lab School definitely didn’t make the 95% overall participation rate, Family Foundations Academy is questionable, and 4th graders at Kuumba missed the mark.  Great job charter parents at those schools!  Too bad the document only has ELA numbers…whoops!  I can say I was able to determine that 161 students in the combined charters were opted out of the Smarter Balanced ELA and 111 were opted out of Math.  I am basing this on the total of the below numbers for this year subtracted from the overall numbers for this year in both ELA and Math.

OPT OUT NUMBERS BY DELAWARE SCHOOL DISTRICT 

Appoquinimink:

15-16 ELA 101 (+14)

14-15 ELA 87

15-16 MATH 138 (+45)

14-15 MATH 93

Brandywine:

15-16 ELA 167 (+90)

14-15 ELA 77

15-16 MATH 138 (+55)

14-15 MATH 83

Caesar Rodney:

15-16 ELA 56 (+5)

14-15 ELA 51

15-16 MATH 41 (-7)

14-15 MATH 48 BOO

Cape Henlopen:

15-16 ELA 60 (+17)

14-15 ELA 43

15-16 MATH 75 (+25)

14-15 MATH 50

Capital:

15-16 ELA 118 (+62)

14-15 ELA 56

15-16 MATH 83 (+30)

14-15 MATH 53

Christina:

15-16 ELA 246 (-77)

14-15 ELA 323 BOO

15-16 MATH 231 (-52)

14-15 MATH 283 BOO

Colonial:

15-16 ELA 92 (-15)

14-15 ELA 107 BOO

15-16 MATH 86 (-28)

14-15 MATH 114 BOO

Delmar:

15-16 ELA 6 (+5)

14-15 ELA 1

15-16 MATH 7 (+6)

14-15 MATH 1

Indian River:

15-16 ELA 34 (-45)

14-15 ELA 79 BOO

15-16 MATH 39 (+16)

14-15 MATH 23

Lake Forest:

15-16 ELA 27 (+4)

14-15 ELA 23

15-16 MATH 31 (+6)

14-15 MATH 25

Laurel:

15-16 ELA 15 (+9)

14-15 ELA 6

15-16 MATH 9 (+5)

14-15 MATH 4

Milford:

15-16 ELA 27 (+3)

14-15 ELA 24

15-16 MATH 28 (+9)

14-15 MATH 19

Red Clay:

15-16 ELA 198 (+1)

14-15 ELA 197

15-16 MATH 175 (+26)

14-15 MATH 149

Seaford:

15-16 ELA 20 (-8)

14-15 ELA 28 BOO

15-16 MATH 26 (0)

14-15 MATH 26 SORT OF BOO

Smyrna:

15-16 ELA 49 (+6)

14-15 ELA 43

15-16 MATH 37 (+3)

14-15 MATH 34

Woodbridge:

15-16 ELA 13 (-9)

14-15 ELA 22 BOO

15-16 MATH 12 (-1)

14-15 MATH 13 BOO

It looks like Christina and Colonial shed a lot of opt outs this year.  There could be different reasons for that.  8th graders who were opted out last year wouldn’t count for this year.  And by my recollection, those were the second highest opt out numbers last year behind juniors.  Those 2014-2015 8th graders are not represented in opt out numbers now that they (luckily) don’t have to take the test anymore.  Which also eliminated the vo-tech school districts from these kind of comparisons.  How convenient it was for a former vo-tech Superintendent to become Secretary of Education for Delaware and one of the first major things he does is get rid of the “opt-out problem” for the vo-techs.  I never made that connection until just now… you do learn something new every day!  I did have to help a few parents in Christina with regards to opt out even though their board passed a policy honoring a parent’s right to do so.  But never underestimate a principal who just won’t have that in their school.  While they may have felt powerful at the moment, I’m sure they didn’t by the time I advised the board.

In terms of gains, it looks like Appoquinimink, Brandywine, Cape Henlopen, Capital, Indian River (Math) and Red Clay (Math) were the biggest gainers.  But Indian River is weird cause they lost 45 opt outs for ELA.

There is one district listed on here I am very happy to see the numbers on.  And I know one mom in that district who is as well.

No man is alone who has friends.

As always, my door is always open for any parent who has questions about opt out or is having issues with a district about it.  There are Opt Out Delaware: (Insert District Name) Facebook pages for all districts and one for all charter schools.  Now that I have opt out baseline data, I know what I have to do next year and which districts I need to reach out to.  In the meantime, I encourage all Delaware parents to really question these scores when you get them in the next couple of weeks.  What does it tell you about a test where only 41% of Delaware students were proficient last year and only 44% this year?  Considering the cut scores for these things, and how a lot of schools fell on those cut scores, within a 200 point range in the mid 2000s, what are we really using this test for?  When you get the scores in late July or early August, how is that going to help your child next year with a new teacher and new classes?  Not to mention the data going out like the Hoover Dam just burst to education “research” companies?  You do realize your kid is just a guinea pig for companies, right?  No matter what the DOE or the district or the school tells you, you know in your heart what your kid can and can’t do.  Does this test tell you the same thing?  Does it change anything?  Will it make your child “college and career ready” just because someone tells you it will?  Only you can answer these questions.  But if your heart has that nagging feeling that you know this test is bad, opt your kid out next year.  I got your back, and so do 1,375 other parents in Delaware.  Maybe Governor Markell doesn’t, but he will be gone in six months.  Hopefully the next Governor will care more about parents than this one does.

Opt Outs Rise in Delaware for 2015-2016 School Year!

The Delaware Department of Education released preliminary scores for the Smarter Balanced Assessment administered this past spring in public schools.  Below is the official press release from the DOE.  In comparing students in their grades last year and the grade they are in this year, it looks like opt out actually increased for most grades, from 5th to 8th graders in Math and 6th to 8th graders in English/Language Arts.  The opt out numbers are a bit misleading if you compare them to last year.  In the 2014-2015 school year, high school juniors took SBAC.  776 of those juniors were opted out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  In comparing the 3rd to 8th grade levels from last year to this year, we actually see an increase in opt out.  Last year, 1,269 students in 3rd to 8th were opted out whereas this year that number increased to 1,375.  So as predicted, opt out did go up this year!

Here is the official numbers and kudos from the DOE:

2016 state test results show progress across the board in English language arts, mathematics

Delaware students across the board are performing better in mathematics and English language arts, according to preliminary 2016 state test results for grades 3 to 8 released today. The gains are in almost every grade and subject and across almost every student demographic, including students with disabilities, English learners, students from low-income families and those of most racial and ethnic subgroups. Students reaching proficiency levels increased by 2 to 5 percentage points in nearly all grade levels in both subjects.

 

“We are pleased with the progress and look forward to continuing gains,” Governor Jack Markell said. “This progress reflects hard work by children and educators to meet higher standards as we aim to ensure every student is prepared for success in the next grade and, ultimately, after graduation. We know a lot more must be done to reach our goal and that means reaffirming our commitment to giving all students, and their teachers, the support they need to reach their potential.”

 

This is the second year Delaware administered the Smarter Assessment. Statewide, nearly 55 percent of students in third through eighth grades were proficient or better in English language arts this year compared to 52 percent in 2015 for the same grades. In math, almost 44 percent scored at the proficient level or higher, up from 41 percent in 2015.

 

“What is most exciting about this year’s results is the strong progress made by students across the board, including those from groups that traditionally have performed at lower levels than their peers,” Secretary of Education Steve Godowsky said.

 

State assessments measure students’ progress toward the academic goals laid out in Delaware’s Common Core academic standards, which are designed to ensure students have the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in jobs and college. The standards, which were established by a diverse group of educators and others in the education community through a national initiative Markell co-chaired, set learning expectations for what students should know or what skills they should master at the completion of each grade level. Individual districts or charter schools determine their own curricula and decide how those skills and knowledge are best taught.

 

The state assessments ask students to demonstrate and apply their knowledge and skills in areas such as critical thinking, analytical writing, and problem solving. By focusing on skills most important for students to succeed in college and the workplace, the results provide teachers and families with a snapshot of children’s progress, helping to identify school and student strengths and determine subject areas in which students need support.

 

While no single test can provide a complete picture of achievement, annual assessments give families and educators important information about student progress and areas for improvement, especially when combined with student grades and teacher reports.

 

This year, Delaware educators are able to access deeper-level Smarter score information than last year through the state’s Smarter Analytics system. Using Smarter Analytics, teachers have the ability to determine each student’s understanding of specific items taught in English and math classes, which helps them better serve individual student needs.

Scores for multiple other standards-based assessments, including SAT and in-class assessments, are available in Smarter Analytics as well, providing a more-comprehensive look at student assessment scores and demonstrating the importance of an entire assessment system over any one test to help guide instruction.

Preliminary state and district/charter-level results were released today. Final results, including school-level, will be released in August.

 

Families will receive enhanced family score reports for their children in the mail beginning next week. The redesigned reports include detailed information about how students scored on different parts of each subject test and also show how students are progressing through the standards and across grades. Also new this year, families are receiving guides in advance of the score reports that outline how to support student learning at home. The guides include resources for understanding what students should learn at each grade level based on the academic standards. For each grade, families are given lists of what students should have learned last year and what students should be able to do this year and corresponding ways to support student learning at home.

Smarter ELA
Smarter math

On the Smarter Assessment, students earn an overall score on a four-point scale with at least a three required to be considered proficient.

Statewide change in percent proficient for 2015-16 for ELA by subgroup

table1

Statewide change in percent proficient for 2015-16 for mathematics by subgroup

table2

Almost every school district saw gains in English language arts and mathematics, with the greatest gains made in Woodbridge, Seaford and Laurel, respectively.

district ELA

district math

Woodbridge Superintendent Heath Chasanov, whose district saw 13-percentage point increases in both English language arts and math, credited his staff for their dedication and hard work.

 

“We are extremely excited about the growth that we have obtained across the district on this year’s assessment. It’s a testament to a group of educators that believe in the abilities of all children and are dedicated to their success,” he said. “We are proud of how hard our students have worked and continue to be excited for their future success.”

 

In Seaford, the average proficiency was up 11 percentage points in both subjects.

 

“These types of gains become possible through the combined efforts of our school board, administration, staff, students, parents and school community. Our district has been on a course to have all of our stakeholders internalize the expectation that all students will be successful,” Superintendent David Perrington said. “While we are appreciative with these gains, we also recognize this is not an end point, but a measure of the dynamic process that is necessary to provide our students with the greatest opportunity to be successful.”

 

Laurel also saw great gains: 9 percentage points in mathematics and 8 in English language arts.

 

Superintendent Shawn Larrimore said Laurel refocused last August with a mission of “People. Practices. Performance.” for the district and “Rigor. Relevance. Relationships.” as the instructional mission for the schools.

 

“We knew we’d have to work very hard this year, but we’d also have to have a laser-like focus on the initiatives that would make the biggest impact – and not waver from them – if we were going to have a shot at increasing student achievement across our district,” Larrimore said. “We started on Day 1. Our teachers and our administrators came together for our first week back to school … and outlined where we were as a district and where we wanted to go.

 

“Mission statements alone don’t cut it, but they must serve as a lens through which you gauge every decision for your district and for your school,” he said.

 

Several districts, including Appoquinimink and Caesar Rodney, that already were above the state average also saw strong gains.

 

 

SAT

 

The Delaware Department of Education today also released preliminary statewide results for the state administration of the SAT in 11th grade: 53 percent proficient or above in English language arts and 31 percent or above in mathematics. Since 2011, Delaware has provided the SAT to all public high school juniors during the school day. This year marked the first time the SAT also served as the state’s high school accountability test, replacing the Smarter Assessment used for this purpose last year. This spring also saw a redesigned SAT from the College Board. Because this year’s redesigned SAT is different than previous years’ and on a different score scale, a comparison with 2015 scores is not provided.

 

The statewide results presented today are preliminary and based on proposed cut scores that must be approved by the State Board of Education. That decision is expected to come at the board’s August meeting. District- and school-level results also will be released at that time.

 

 

Other assessment results

 

Today’s release also included the preliminary Delaware Comprehensive Assessment System (DCAS) assessment results for science and social studies as well as the DCAS-Alt1 test for students with severe cognitive disabilities in all subjects.

 

For science, DCAS measures the progress of students in grades 5, 8, and 10. In social studies, DCAS measures grades 4 and 7. This year’s DCAS assessment results are consistent with last year across all grade levels for which the assessment is administered.

 

Percent Proficient on DCAS Science

science

Percent Proficient on DCAS Social Studies

ss

The DCAS-Alt1 is an assessment designed to measure what students with the most significant cognitive disabilities know and are able to do in reading and mathematics in grades 3 through 11; science in grades 5, 8, and 10; and social studies in grades 4, 7, and 9.

Percent Proficient on DCAS-Alt1
alt

Find more results here. For more information about the state’s standards and assessments, families should visit www.DelExcels.org.

Alison May
alison.may@doe.k12.de.us
(302) 735-4006

A Time For Promises Fulfilled And A Restoration Of Honor: The General Assembly’s True Test This Week

The worst time I ever had blogging was last January.  Once I heard the Governor was rounding up his posse of legislators to vote no on the override of his veto on House Bill 50, I knew it wasn’t going to happen.  There were events that day I didn’t count on, but they happened.  But it is time for State Rep. Mike Ramone to live up to the promise he made to me that day.

To give a quick refresher, the Delaware House and Senate passed House Bill 50 last year, a parent opt out bill honoring their right and preventing schools from giving parents a hard time.  Governor Markell vetoed the bill.  On the third day the General Assembly was back in session this year, State Rep. John Kowalko brought HB50 back.  But first, a suspension of rules had to happen to get it on the agenda for a full House vote.  The majority of the legislators voted no on the suspension of rules.  For whatever reason, many of them didn’t want to vote on overriding the veto.  To make matters worse, many House Republicans introduced new opt out legislation.  One was a House Resolution, which passed, directing Secretary Godowsky to come up with uniform policies for opt out.  This report was due by May 1st.   Another was a bill to remove opt out from any accountability ratings.  The accountability bill was never heard from the House Education Committee.

Secretary Godowsky did honor the resolution.  I’ve heard two different stories with this report.  One was that it was submitted to State Rep. Joe Miro, the sponsor of the resolution.  The other was that it was submitted to State Rep. Earl Jaques, who is also the Chair of the House Education Committee.  That would mean Jaques has been sitting on this for well over a month and a half with no intention of doing anything with it.  Either way, this was never made public.  Miro told me well over a month ago the report was “vanilla”, meaning it didn’t do anything.  I’m not sure what the real story is, but I don’t really care.  Nothing happened with either of the bills the House Republicans introduced.  And now it is time for State Rep. Mike Ramone to keep his word.  On January 14th, when the House refused to suspend the rules, Ramone promised me they would bring back House Bill 50 if nothing happened with the new legislation they introduced that day.  Guess what Ramone?  Nothing happened.  And I don’t want to hear one word about next January.  You made a deal with me and I expect you to honor it.  There were enough people that overheard you say this.  Now only Kowalko can put forth a suspension of rules for it as the bill’s sponsor in the House.  But I expect Ramone and the House Republicans to fully support the suspension of rules and the override of the veto.  House Bill 50 is on the ready list.  But this can happen.  It has to.  It is time.  There is no more House Bill 50 after June 30th.

The Senate can’t vote on an override of a veto on the same day, but I hope if the House does the right thing, the Senate will have it up for a vote the next day.  If not, I fully hope Senator Dave Lawson will request a suspension of rules as the Senate co-sponsor of the bill.  I’ve waited patiently, along with countless other parents, for our General Assembly to do the right thing here.  They unanimously passed a bill in the House that would make the Smarter Balanced an option in teacher evaluations.  This is it General Assembly.  You have three days to do this.  Elections are coming up for a lot of you.  Parents and teachers are a large portion of your voters.  Are you really going to keep disrespecting parents like this?  This is your chance to make up for past mistakes.  It’s up to you.  The only reason the Delaware PTA isn’t pushing this is because they were cut off at the knees by National PTA.  But trust me, the people still want this.  All you have to do is truly listen.

 

DOOM 2016 Strikes Delaware As Parent Rights Month Begins

finger-prints-optout-large

If it is February, DOOM will strike Delaware again this year.  It just so happens that I am declaring this month Parent Rights Month.  This works out perfectly because it is also Delaware Opt-Out Month!  This is the month where you should really opt your child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  The test window begins at the beginning of March.  Different schools will take the test at some point between March and the first week of June.  These are the things you may hear.  Ignore them…

  1. We will get our funding cut if you opt your child out.
  2. Our school will get a bad rating.
  3. No.
  4. Don’t listen to that blogger.
  5. But House Bill 50 got vetoed and never passed.  You can’t opt out.
  6. It’s against the law to opt your child out.
  7. We should talk about this first.  Can we arrange for a meeting?
  8. Why don’t you give the test a chance.  It really isn’t that bad.
  9. Only I decide who opts out of the test.
  10. It is a civil rights violation to opt out.

Whatever the Principal or Superintendent says, ignore it.  If your child is in the Capital, Christina, or Red Clay school districts, they shouldn’t be giving you any flack at all.  Their boards already voted and said it is okay and they will not punish your child.  You have every right to opt your child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  There is no law that says you can’t.  It is not against the law for you to opt out!!!!  Could the feds pull funding?  It is remotely possible.  But it is also an election year.  The feds can threaten all they want, but I would love to actually see them play that card.  It’s never happened before.  And No Child Left Behind officially ends at the end of July.  After that, states are allowed to determine their own opt out rules.

Tomorrow, I’m going to make a list of all the district and charter board meetings this month.  If you haven’t opted your child out before, here is how you do it.  Write a letter to the Principal of your child’s school.  State you do not want your child taking the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  As well, let the Principal know you want your child to receive instruction while the other kids are taking the test.  Hand deliver a copy to the principal.  As extra insurance, I would also write an acknowledgement letter and have the principal sign it.  If you can, bring a witness.  While these precautions may seem overboard, it is for your own protection as well as that of your child.  If the principal or primary school leader refuses to accept your information, yells at you, or acts in a way that in any way appears to be intimidating, please let me know.  My email is kevino3670@yahoo.com or you can join the Refuse The Test Delaware page on Facebook.

Tomorrow, I will put down every single district or charter school board meeting for February.  Others opted out at board meetings last year.  It sends a clear message to the decision makers.  These are public meetings.  You can sign up for public comment when you get to the board meeting.

February is also Parent Rights month.  Throughout the month, I will write articles on why your rights matter.  In most situations, a parent knows what is best for their child.  Our voices are ignored a lot when it comes to education.  We are treated as “guests” at many of our schools and that is unacceptable.  The Supreme Court recognized the rights of parents many times.  It is YOUR child, not the school’s child.  Some will tell you when your child walks into school, they are no longer your child but the school or the principal’s child.  This is completely false, and actually very damaging.  If you don’t want your child to take the Smarter Balanced Assessment, they can’t make your child take it.

I believe in my soul this test has no purpose other than to feed data to outside companies to which they will profit greatly off your child.  It won’t help your child.  It will cause them anxiety.  Some schools are attempting to coerce kids into taking the test by offering some type of reward.  A charter school is thinking of giving the top performers tickets to an amusement park.  What kind of message does that send?  Some children don’t do well on these types of tests no matter how smart they are.  Some children have disabilities.  How does that make a child feel?  Some who take this test will try very hard and they still won’t be proficient.  Do we reward the top and tell the others they have to watch as others get awards and rewards?  That does far more damage than anything else.  Don’t let your child be a pawn in these adult games.  Let your child be child.  Opt your child out as soon as possible.

*The above photograph was used on the Edubloggers.org website.

US DOE’s Threat Letter To Delaware DOE About Opt-Out Is Ridiculous

The United States Department of Education sent letters to 12 states about issues with lower participation rates for either all students or sub-groups of students on the state assessment.  Delaware’s letter, from the US DOE Director of State Support Dr. Monique Chism, has all the intimidating and bullying language we have grown to expect from these federal intrusionists.  So much for the Every Student Succeeds Act and the clause about states determining how to handle participation rates.  The US DOE has learned nothing about standing up on the bully pulpit and telling states what to do.

So what bully lingo do we see in this letter about Delaware not meeting the 95% participation rate for English Language Learners and high school students?  The biggest “threat” is turning a school that has multiple years of low participation rates into a priority or focus school.  There are the usual funding cut threats.  But Delaware already addressed this in their last ESEA Flexibility Waiver edit sent to the US DOE on November 30th.  You know, the one where they have the participation rate multiplied against a school’s participation rate.  The one that nobody but the DOE, Godowsky, State Board of Education, Rodel, and the Governor’s Advisory Council for Exceptional Citizens wanted.  DSEA, Delaware PTA, district and charter superintendents and heads of school opposed it.  Parents opposed it.

The timing on this couldn’t be better.  As the Smarter Balanced season begins next year, opt-out will become a huge conversation.  Our legislators have an awesome responsibility to override Governor Markell’s parent disrespecting veto of House Bill 50.  This final vote from the legislators over this issue will decide once and for all who they stand with: a departing Governor’s absolutely horrible education legacy or the constituents who elect them.  The Delaware DOE is probably emailing this letter to every single legislator as we speak.  But guess what?  I am calling the US DOE’s bluff.  Let them try to cut funding.  Let them try to interfere with a parent’s God-given, fundamental and constitutional rights to dictate the best interests of their children.  We will fight them all the way to the United States Supreme Court if need be.

Every single parent of a public school student in Delaware needs to make a choice for their child if they haven’t already: do they continue to let corporate education reform allow our children to be in huge classes with little funding going to support and resources in favor of a once-a-year test that dictates everything about their child, teachers, and school?  Do they allow our Governor, DOE, State Board, Secretary and the US DOE continue to take away local control from our schools and spend our taxpayer dollars on tests that do not give immediate feedback, do not impact the level of instruction an individual student receives and actually tramples the civil rights of every single sub-group of students in our state?  These are the questions parents need to ask.  Parents can and have made a difference, and their voices are growing stronger every single day.  Say no to the US DOE.  Say no to Governor Markell.  Say yes to your child.

State Board Audio Of Opt-Out Penalty Decision Is A Confusing Mess, Godowsky Stays Quiet Most Of The Conversation

Lord help me, I have transcribed the biggest part of the State Board of Education meeting from yesterday.  Once again I am numb from hearing the State Board try to figure out what the hell they were even voting on.  This is long, but there are very key and integral parts of this conversation which illuminate the State Board and Godowsky’s warped view of the whole opt-out penalty mess.  This whole decision, and the bulk of the weight on the Delaware School Success Framework, is based on the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  The State Board also discussed the DOE’s Annual Measurable Objectives, which caused a huge outcry yesterday among parents of students with disabilities.  Here it is, but stay tuned at the end for a very special announcement with some, in my opinion, shocking news.

State Board audio transcription of the presentation on Delaware School Success Framework, 11/19/15

Players:

Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Steven Godowsky

Dr. Teri Quinn Gray, President of State Board of Education

Board Members: Nina Bunting, Gregory Coverdale, Pat Heffernan, Barbara Rutt, (absent: Vice-President Jorge Melendez and board member Terry Whitaker)

Donna Johnson,  Executive Director of the State Board of Education

Penny Schwinn, Chief Officer Accountability and Performance

Ryan Reyna, Officer of Accountability

 

Dr. Teri Gray: The next topic for us is the presentation of the Delaware School Success Framework and any other revisions to the ESEA flexibility request.  Welcome.  Please state your name for the record.

Penny Schwinn: Good afternoon, Penny Schwinn, Director of Assessment, Accountability, Performance and Evaluation.

Ryan Reyna: and Ryan Reyna, same office as Penny.

Schwinn: Well good afternoon.  Glad to be here to present the final revisions to our ESEA Flexibility request.  Today what we’ll be going over is the specific recommendations for the Delaware School Success Framework, or DSSF.  The recommendations for the rating performance thresholds, in essence each category a (?) system, and our annual measurable objective.  Just for a little bit of context, we have an approved ESEA Flexibility Waiver through the end of this school year, through 2016.  We can extend that through the end of the 2017-2018 school year contingent upon the following: we need to submit an amended request to incorporate some of the final modifications to the DSSF, and we also need to demonstrate that the DSSF will allow Delaware to name the required number of priority, focus, and reward schools moving forward in the future.  Again, just to be clear, we’ve already named our priority and our focus schools, we will not be naming anymore for at least three years as they move through that process but we still need to demonstrate that this system would do so.  We also need to provide the technical documentation for the DSSF.  We’ll be provided a Spring workbook, later, once that is approved, so that will let them know what the business rules and metrics will be.  We are also requesting an approval and support from the State Board on the final annual measurable objectives, or AMOs.

So just to provide a very brief overview, I know you are probably getting sick of this graph, you’ve seen it so many times.  But we have our DSSF and this is the whole system. So we haven Part A, and in essence that is the components  that are rated.  The versus proficiency, and that is the proficiency in ELA, Math, Science, and Social Studies.  We also have growth in ELA and Math.  And just to reiterate the points we brought up before. We have one of the most progressive growth measures in the country in terms of the weighting on our system in growth.  So as a state we’ve taken a very strong philosophical stance to really prioritize growth in student achievement as opposed to proficiency which I think is exciting.  Attendance, this is for elementary and middle school only, for school it is looking at on-track (to graduate) in 9th grade and again giving extra points for the catch-up work for those students who are in the bottom quartile in performance, catching up by the end of 9th grade.  The 4, 5, and 6 year graduation rates, which is a big change for the state.  And then finally, for elementary and middle schools we have growth to proficiency in ELA and Mathematics, for high school it is college and career preparation which we’ve spoken about includes more than just one test, it also looks at career and dual education etc.

Part B is the components that are presented.  Transparently but not rated.  Right now that is specifically to surveys, student and parent, teachers may be optional, some post-secondary outcomes, we also know that every school in the state outside of one has provided a narrative report.  And in the future we’re hoping to include social and emotional learning.

So these are the recommendations that are outstanding for the DSSF.  And again these are the Secretary’s recommendations of what we should move forward with in terms of final business rules and components.  The AFWG (Accountability Framework Working Group) has not revised their recommendation from last month so I want to be clear about that.  For the participation rates for 2015-2016’s accountability year which is based on the 2014-2015 data, essentially if a school falls below 95% participation rate, in either Math or ELA, the school will need to create a plan.  That plan will be monitored by the Office of Assessment in terms of implementation.  Moving forward, so starting 2016-2017, based on data from this school year, all schools will divide their participation rate by 95% and multiply that by the proficiency to generate an adjusted rate.  What that allows for is both positive consequences, so if a school for example if a school is higher than 95% in essence they get bonus points for testing more of their students.  Again, it is the same multiplier we will be applying to schools that fall below 95%.  We are also reporting on disaggregated participation rates which is required federally.  So I want to stop there to see if there are any questions before I move onto performance ratings.  (No questions).  Ok, great.

So for performance ratings, we have the aggregate performance so each metric area will get their own aggregated performance.  We will not do an overall rating.  We will have that information but it will not be presented on the PDF so that is consistent with what you saw last month and what we presented at the last retreat.  It will be on a 5 star scale, based on the total points available and we’ll talk about what those cut points will be in a bit.

Gregory Coverdale: So I guess, to make a comparison, that’s why we’re dividing by 95%?

Schwinn: 95% is the threshold in terms of what our expectation is for participation.  So we don’t want to do that out of 100% because if you get 96% you are above that level so 95 is our top point so in essence we are saying that as long as you are at 95% you get a 100% of the points, anything above that is extra credit.  A positive consequence so to speak.

One of the things we did want to highlight, specifically, is just the number of schools who are increasing their ratings in terms of 3, 4, and 5 Star.  We compared that to AYP (Annual Yearly Performance-created through No Child Left Behind).  One of the things we looked at was in the AFWG, our working group, was to make sure that we weren’t just seeing the performance of schools specifically related to income, so what we looked at were the number of 3, 4, and 5 star schools that were Title I schools or had a large proportion of students who were low-income and what we found was that 52 of 124 elementary and middle schools were a 3, 4, or 5 star school under this system so we’re seeing that actually 42% of the schools are high-rated even when they have large proportions of low-income students.  That is not consistent with what we’ve seen with AYP which is a lower percentage of students who did not meet AYP.  So again, while we want to see more of our schools, and many of our schools perform at the highest levels, we see that this system more accurately represents the information, specifically the growth that a lot of our schools are seeing over time.

The last point we want to bring up before we move on is looking at the number of schools who would have dropped their ratings because of the participation rate.  That was an outstanding question we had.  I’ll look to Ryan (Reyna) to double-check on some of those specifics, but no school dropped a rating in the overall based on the participation rate multiplier (important note: they did not include high schools in this information, which would have shown schools like Conrad in Red Clay take a massive drop with their 40% participation rate in math).  We did have one school that would have increased based on this multiplier.

Gray: Based on the 14-15 data?

Schwinn: Based on the 14-15 data, that’s right.

Reyna: Which is not in effect as you see on this slide.  Hypothetical, as the board presented a question to us.  So again, in confirmation of what Dr. Schwinn just said, overall no schools would have decreased their overall rating.  One school actually did improve its overall rating as it was right on the cusp.  In the area of academic achievement alone, there were three schools that improved their ratings and one school that decreased their rating, again, because it was sort of on the cusp of where the cut points are set and we will show you that in one slide.

Gray: So again, what we were trying to clarify with that question, we appreciate that follow-up, was that multiplier applies just to the proficiency component, not the overall rating.

Schwinn: Yes, it’s just the proficiency which is just one component of the overall.  So we did see more schools having positive impacts based on the multiplier.  We did want to provide that information as requested.

Reyna: 141 out of the 149 elementary schools increased as a result, would have increased as a result of this.

Gray: One question about the plan that’s in effect for this accountability year, right, so what happens if a school has to develop a plan, or a template for a plan?  So what happens to the plan?

Schwinn: The school will be given a template.  We are trying to keep it compacted based in the information we have shared earlier which is essentially: what was your participation rate, what were either your theories or proof that would constitute being below 95%, there’s a variety of reasons why that might have occurred.  Then we ask the schools to break that down so we can really get to the heart of why students aren’t participating and we have them break that down by sub-groups so that we are sure we are all appropriately testing all our subgroup students and then from there that plan is submitted to our branch.  The Office of Assessment specifically will be the ones following up on that.  This is the first year the Office of Assessment staff will be visiting every single school in the state to help support how they will be giving assessments this year.  We know there were a lot of things, a lot of questions that came up last year.  We talked about that with the Smarter presentation so our office will actually be visiting every school and we’re doing monthly visits to every district in order to support that.  So those schools that require a plan will have that direct support from our office.

Gray: And is the plan in effect?  Just for the 14-15 year?

Schwinn: It’s a one year plan.

Coverdale: Is there some sort of matrix that categorizes why a student wouldn’t have taken the test?

Schwinn: That will be a part of the plan, and we’ll be happy to supply that to the board.  You would be able to see the reasons assigned to each school where students didn’t participate and we will be doing that overall and by sub-group, for this year.

So looking at performance thresholds, I want to start with elementary and middle school.  Again, this is the similar weights we submitted in draft form in the Spring submission and then brought back to you earlier in the Fall.  But what you’ll essentially see is what the weights are for elementary and middle and the points assigned.  We didn’t…the AFWG recommended a 500 point scale but we used that scale and essentially used the multipliers with the weighting provided to get straight point allocation.  Ryan will talk a little bit about what the cut points will be so you’ll see that with elementary and middle, and then again with the high schools which is slightly different weights.

Reyna: So in setting the performance thresholds for each of the metric areas, again that’s where our focus is, not necessarily on the overall numerical score, the recommendation is that those metric thresholds, those performance thresholds, must be broken up equally across the five different categories to represent 1 through 5 stars.  We would roll up those scores in terms of rounding.  If a school is at 29 ½ for instance on academic achievement, they would be rounded up into the 2 star category so that we are recognizing that benefit, to a half point difference may not be a significant one.  So the table at the bottom of the slide is an example of what those star ratings would be for elementary and middle school with the similar rating structure for high schools as well.

We also wanted to discuss the Annual Measurable Objectives, the AMOs, as has been required since NCLB.  The US Department of Education, in the transition, recognizing the transition that many states made to ESEA adjustments has allowed states to reset their AMOs, create a new baseline.  And so this process is one in which the US DOE has requested that we submit , our process for doing so as well as the actual AMOs by January of ’16.  This is specifically for public transparency for being clear about what the state’s goals are and not necessarily as it has been in the past for determining whether or not a school met AYP or accountability.

Coverdale: How are the weights determined?

Reyna: Sure, this was the recommendation of the AFWG in how they would like to see, or how they believed, the different metrics should be weighted across the full system.  So as Dr. Schwinn mentioned, there was a firm belief amongst the AFWG members that we should place the heaviest weight on growth and the growth metrics.  And that weighting system is what was submitted in draft form in our March submission.  And then after reviewing the data, the AFWG confirmed that they wanted to stick with these weights as a recommendation and we took the weights into a direct translation of that 100 point scale.

Coverdale: The growth is weighted higher on the high school level than it is on the elementary and middle school levels.  I would think that might be reversed?

Reyna: So it is a good question.  Growth directly is weighted higher at the high school level.  But if you take into account growth to proficiency at the elementary and middle school, sort of, if you take that as another sort of growth measure, than it actually becomes more in elementary and middle.  So you see a total of 60% growth metrics between elementary and middle, we have the growth category as well as college and career readiness category.  And then high school we have growth, just the growth category.  That’s 45%.  So 60% growth metrics in elementary and middle, 45% in high school.

Schwinn: I want to reiterate this is the submission to US DOE in terms of what our proposal is.  We’ve been on calls with them multiple times cause this is a very aggressive submission in terms of growth.  But the AFWG felt strongly that these were the right weights.  Though we are pushing pretty hard to make sure this gets approved as is.  And we sent those weights in our proposal and didn’t get any pushback.  They are waiting to see the full DSSF submission in terms of some of the data from Smarter Balanced and that stuff has come in so we can run some of the numbers with DCAS and Smarter.  That being said, they are very aware this is our number one priority in terms of this system.  The group felt incredibly strongly about weights and our responsibility to advocate for that as much as possible.

Reyna: As in previous submissions, the US DOE allowed for three different options for the process which a state would set its AMOs.  Delaware has used #2 in its previous submissions and the recommendation is to stay with that.  The process being, focused on decreasing the numbers of students who are non-proficient in six years.  So that business rule would be allocated equally amongst those six years moving from a baseline to six years in the future as a way to close those gaps.  And on the next slide, you will see what, using that process, what the draft targets would be for ELA, so movement in the state from approximately 50% to 75% by 2021.  Also recognizing that some of our subgroups who start lower behind are required to make improvements at a faster pace just given the process.  And you can see that visually in the next slide where you see, I know this is difficult to read, and I apologize, but you do see that some of the subgroups are starting further behind and are catching up to the rest of the state.

Donna Johnson: And this is the same methodology that was used before in our current ESEA flexibility?  I went ahead and pulled up our existing AMOs to kind of look at them side by side and we set the baseline in 2011.  And so now this is based on a baseline of 2015 scores?  And using that same methodology moving forward?

Reyna: That’s correct.

Pat Heffernan: How close did we come to meeting it the first three years?  My recollection, vaguely, is that we weren’t really, that these are pretty aggressive targets based on what we’ve been able to do.

Johnson: I think some subgroups…

Reyna: Some subgroups have not…

Schwinn: I think that they are certainly aggressive for those subgroups that are starting out low.  Students with disabilities, for example, going from 19.3% to 59.6% is certainly incredibly aggressive.  And I think that internally, and as a state we want to be rational and reasonable about what we would expect for students or schools to grow their students on an annual basis.  If you look at other subgroups such as students either white, or Asian, there is much less growth that needs to occur.  So I think it absolutely depends, but I think they are incredibly aggressive for some of our subgroups.

Reyna: The rule is, the calculation is going to consistently…

Heffernan: Right, yeah, yeah, yeah, sure, sure, and I mean , it’s certainly our stated goal, to increase those gaps and move them, bring them together.  I just, I’m certainly not one for dropping the bar too low, but I don’t want to, get in a thing where, we know that the problem with 100% proficiency, right, is that everybody says “We can’t get that anyways, it’s all hooey”, so I, however we do this, however we monitor it, I don’t want us to get too discouraged because someone like, I don’t think…

Schwinn: I think we have a responsibility on that note to the supports provided to schools.  So the state’s responsibility to provide supports specifically to those subgroups that have a tremendous amount of growth, and the districts the same, to be able to provide support to their schools.  We’re not going to meet these goals if we don’t provide really targeted and comprehensive support to a lot of our subgroups.  Cause there is a long way to go, especially since we have that new baseline with Smarter Balanced.

Johnson: Are there opportunities as we collect more data to revisit our AMOs based upon data and student performance?

Schwinn: We always have the opportunity to resubmit or submit amendments to this flex waiver.  We also know that it is highly likely that the new ESEA bills that is going currently will be passed before the new year.  Let’s call that 60-40.  But there’s a good chance that could happen.  That creates a lot of change, potentially, to how we address this.  For now, this is consistent with what we’ve done in the past.  We felt like it was probably the most appropriate way to move forward given a new assessment, and we also recognize that there may be opportunities, especially after the second year of Smarter Balanced, to revisit based on the data we get in year two.

Gray: I think it’s important, I think that, I guess, the methodology is as good as we can probably get it, but I think the consistency in terms of monitoring is “Are we making progress?” and the conversation should be on are we moving in that direction or not and the endgame is always for us to try to go back cause the baseline has been reset given that we are using the Smarter data versus where we were with the 2011 baseline, which I think is DSTP data.  I’m sorry, DCAS data.  The reality check there is that we had a higher baseline, actually, right?  And we were probably giving, really, a falsehood in terms of where we really were actually at with students proficiency relative to where we want them to be for the  college readiness perspective, right, so a 64% opposed to a 50.5% for all students, so that shift needs to be a reality check for us.  The other piece is, this method does say that we will close the gaps, right?  It’s not closed as in no gap, but we are closing the gaps.  That is the intent.  Cause I keep looking at almost by half in some cases.  If you look at the white students versus African-American students it goes from 25.7% to I think 12.9% or something, so that in itself is a very appropriate goal for us to go for, it shouldn’t be any less than that.  It shouldn’t be less than that.

Schwinn: We certainly always want to see gaps close because our lower performing sub groups are doing significantly better as opposed to seeing our highest performing subgroups doing either worse or (?) we want to get better.

Gray: And I think that formula allows for (? mumbles) I think the challenge, Ryan has given this to us a few times, is there enough methodology approach to say this is better.  We have yet to figure that out.  Maybe that’s a trust we need to try to bring in.  But I think it’s a reasonable one, but I don’t think the goal should be any less, regardless of…

Heffernan: I hear you, and again, some of these make more sense than others.  I just don’t want us to feel like, and to Dr. Gray’s point when she said, making progress or moving in the right direction, I don’t, I don’t buy that really.  It’s not just getting a little bit better, we’ve gotta make appropriate, I, if we set something that’s impossible to reach its just discouraging.

Gray: And then the other piece that’s tied into monitoring.  There are gonna be some individual schools and/or aggregate of schools, that will do much better than this.  And I think we need to make sure we always highlight that relative to the aggregate.  There will be some schools that we know, they have literally closed the gaps within their buildings, it’s not…

Heffernan: They’re not even here now…

Gray: I think that’s part of the conversation, it is possible, right?  If one or two schools can do it, many schools can do it.

Heffernan: Right, I totally agree with that.

Coverdale: I just, big question is how do you close a gap without having more on the upper end, the echelon of, flat money? (not sure, Coverdale speaks very low and it is hard to hear him in the audience so the audio recording isn’t a shock).  If one or two aren’t learning than it just become a perpetual gap.

Gray: I’ll let the experts speak on that.

Heffernan: Everybody has an upper trend on that graph.  It’s just some are steeper slopes.

Schwinn: Yeah, so you’re going to have a steeper slope for those students who are currently lower performing, specifically, our students with disabilities, low-income, African-American, Hispanic-Latino, are starting at a much lower baseline so they are gonna be required to jump by 5,6, or 7 points each year as opposed to our Asian and white students who are gonna be required to jump 1 to 2 points each year.

Coverdale: So is there someone in the classroom saying “Hey, African-American student, this is what you’re gonna have to deal with?”  Is there like an African-American student group?  Do you know what I mean?  That’s the kind of granular focus that we need to happen in order for some of this to come to fruition by 2021.

Schwinn: I think we are seeing with our districts, we just finished our end of year meetings with our districts, we are starting our middle of the year meetings with our districts, a lot of the conversation is really focused on how are you allocating your resources to really target those groups that need additional supports, and how as a state can we provide you with even more supports, whether that’s financial, or capacity, to target some of your lower performing subgroups.  So those are ongoing conversations and what we’re seeing is a lot of districts are really looking at school level and even student level data around how to target more efficiently their dollars and resources.

Heffernan: But are we sending mixed messages?  So that we looked at how we are splitting up the growth and weight, all those things, right, is the growth reflecting these slopes?

Schwinn: The growth on DCAS?

Heffernan: The growth targets that we’re giving people, growth proficiency and all those things, right, this isn’t growth proficiency, that’s not even growth, right?  So on one hand we’re saying the school is growing, we’re going to give you credit for growth, but on the other hand we say these are what our system goals are for growth and I suspect that they’re not really aligned.  You could give us a school that is doing reasonably well in growth targets and are not living up to this.

Schwinn: This is essentially improvement, right, so we’re looking at just a standard baseline improvement for something like an AMO, but I think when we’re looking at growth it’s a much more complex function.  We’re taking into account prior test history, we’re looking specifically at cohorts of students, this is,  essentially, we have to create a straight line of slope as we’re looking at an improvement from year to year as opposed to looking at aggregate growth.

Heffernan: But the cohorts are included in here, a successful cohort growth is much more based on our historical…which we’re not doing anywhere near this, so we would be exceeding our growth targets and coming nowhere near meeting our AMOs.

Schwinn: Yeah, I think it’s gonna vary pretty significantly by school, but I that is absolutely a possibility.

Johnson: The AMOs are something that we report for all subgroups but I did not see that the AMOs were specifically referenced in the DSSF.  So this is a separate report than the DSSF.

Schwinn: Schools will not be rated based on this.  This is something that we are required to publicly report, but they won’t have any of their ratings based on the DSSF impacted whether or not they meet these targets.

Heffernan: I guess the feds are making us do this, but I don’t really buy into it, and we’re not really growing on this goal.  Because the whole system isn’t pointing towards this, we’re not driving this at all, it’s completely separate conversation, we did what we did, sort of, our growth targets are based on what we’ve always…, this is one of my big beefs.  Our growth targets are what we’ve always done, right?  My growth target would be based on, kids like me, how much did I grow, and how much did they grow last year, and if I grow that same amount, if I grow less than that same amount, than I can still easily meet the targets, right?  But overall we’re saying that we gotta bring the targets, the bar, we would never, I just don’t think the system is geared towards producing these results.

Coverdale: (mumbling again) How would the growth trajectory for African-American students be different, and I’m in the same class as these whites, and Asians, and everyone else.  I’m doing the same thing but I grow more, at a higher growth rate than everyone else.

Schwinn: I think that would get into some of the differentiation and instruction that teachers have to do and I think that teachers are, their job gets harder more and more every year, and things are being asked of our educators and they are doing a tremendous job in meeting the needs of individual students, but you’re right, there’s gonna be different growth expectations for different students in your class, and I think, I would say that we are happy to publish these targets, and separately say that we really stand behind the work of the AFWG in terms of really prioritizing growth in a more meaningful way than some of our subgroups formally…

Coverdale: (mumbling) by 2021…

Gray: I think the aggregate conversations are difficult, like this AMO one, and so, federal mandate or not, I think in the spirit of multiple measures, these should be trending in the same direction.  From a growth to proficiency, or a DSSF perspective, centered around that, or these aggregates, but we look at this whole population of 130,000 kids, where with the DSSF were really targeting accountability in our schools in terms of that calculation.

Barbara Rutt: But I would say still, in this conversation and not to get philosophical, but when you talk about multiple students in one classroom this whole concept of personalized learning and how do we get out of that expectation gap.  Cause we have evidence that the gap is closed at certain buildings and at certain at-risk schools so all of this is really possible.  It’s just a matter of how you close the expectation gap as well as actually put the personalized learning into play, and how you give more ownership with that learning, or shared learning, at the student level.  So I think that’s part of the conversation we’re struggling with and half of it is as much to do with policy as it is what is actually the relationship that is happening in the classroom.  Cause we have buildings, we have gaps close, we have schools around this country where there are no gaps, right? So we know that it is possible even if we got these aggregate AMOs or whatever, we got the DSSF which is getting down to the next granular level, like this is what needs to happen at that more intimate level, we got class change, so it should all be going in an upward direction.  As a pass point, it’s going to be very difficult for us to get our actual measures to line up with something at the Federal level cause its hard to serve millions of kids at the personalized level that you need to do, right?  Versus what we would do in Delaware.  So that’s where I am, and let me know if the measures are doing good.  I think it’s really worth the conversation.  They’re all doing that, even if…

Heffernan: The growth measures doing this, there’s no slope…

Gray: AMO? Is that what you’re looking at?

Heffernan: No, I’m talking about the growth of the DSSF.  How about a zero slope, right?  We’re talking about low growth targets or what we did last year, aren’t they?

Gray: No, I see why you’re confused.

Reyna: We moved away from the growth targets at the school level.  Its focused on the aggregate of student growth , there’s no longer a target of other than growth to proficiency is are you…

Heffernan: Growth to proficiency, I got that, yeah

Reyna: The growth targets that are part of the teacher evaluation system are slightly different than the way in which growth is calculated on the DSSF and we plan to discuss that, I believe…

Johnson: Yeah, so we’re not looking at student growth target, as we used to look at when we had the DCAS broke down, but we are looking at that Spring to Spring growth model and looking at it as a school level growth rather than…

Heffernan: But what is the goal of growth?

Johnson: Then you’re looking at the aggregate of, you know, with the conditions around it, did it grow more than the expected growth value of ones like it, and that’s where we use multiple levels of data.  That’s what you’re getting at, in terms of saying, are we seeing growth expectation based on multiple years of prior data, but we are looking at prior years of test data, not just prior years of that grade, which is what we have done before.  Ryan can explain it much better.

Heffernan: I won’t , but I guess, if the target is going to be aggressive in some cases, but on the other hand I think, well, I’m looking specifically at students with disabilities so that’s…

Gray: I gotcha…

Heffernan: We don’t want the target to be what we’ve always done. But I think we understand we need continuous improvement.  If we feed that correctly in there, if we align…I was just questioning that.

Gray: I agree with you.  I think that students with disabilities has always been one of the painful, realistically “How are we going to figure out that one?”  Not only realistic…

Heffernan: Not that we don’t need to do it.  You’re not going to see anyone think we need to do it more than I do.

Gray: I think it’s also worthy, cause it’s confusing Ryan, around the growth targets, and I think I have it in my head, I think that’s really where we were a few cycles back?  So we will always need to refresh our…

Reyna: Happy to do that…

Gray: Growth model.

Nina Bunting: Would you bring me up to date please, cause I wasn’t here in the Spring.  I just have to ask if there are stakeholders out there that feel their recommendations have been dismissed, what about this plan addresses that?  Have their recommendations been dismissed?  Or have you actually addressed those recommendations and incorporated them into the plan?  Because there are people who are very, very concerned.

Schwinn: Are you speaking specifically about the participation rate piece of the DSSF or the AMOs?  I can address both actually.

Bunting: Yeah.

Schwinn: Great.  So one specifically, and I should have probably stated this earlier, the pieces on the AMOs have not gone to DESS, they will go to DESS, a lot of the changes made, will go to DESS in December.  So they have not looked at that specifically.  We are looking at this participation rate discussion.  The recommendation of the AFWG has not changed.  Their recommendation was to do a plan as a primary consequence.  After discussion, and meeting at the retreat, from last month and this month, the recommendation of the Secretary is to use the mulitiplier.  I want to be clear that was the recommendation of the AFWG.  I know that in conversations we were looking at a multitude of input, and the recommendation put forth by Secretary Godowsky in terms of the participation rate.  The AMOs are put forth by the State and we decided because it was a new assessment we should move forward with what has been consistent in prior years.

Reyna: The rest of the plan with all the rest of the DSSF is based on the recommendations of the AFWG.

Schwinn: And the refresher from the Spring, around what kind of stakeholder engagement has been, the other big conversation has been how do you represent the data?  And one of the things we did, we did a series of focus groups that were facilitated by the University of Delaware, and then did a very brief, very fun, pick your framework that you like, the layout that you like.  The feedback that we got was that people didn’t like the layout, any of the options.  There were rocketships, and I think, grades, etc.  So we went back and looked at stars and that’s how we got the star system which was a compromise on that.  We have taken the majority of the feedback, especially from the AFWG, which has met over 16 times over the last 15 months…

Bunting: So you did take their recommendations?

Schwinn: We’ve taken a majority of their recommendations.  I just want to be very specific that there were the recommendations that were on the previous slides where they wanted the plan as the consequence for participation rate.  That was the recommendation, the recommendation in front of you is the multiplier.  But we’ve definitely been…it’s been a lively and engaged group in terms of the recommendation, but the majority of the recommendations have been taken.

Heffernan: What that process was, the group made a recommendation and not a decision, just as often we do with the Secretary around charter schools or whatever it is, the groups come in, and at the end of the day somebody weighs multiple views …

Schwinn: And there are many groups who provide that input and feedback.  The AFWG is the organized group that meets regularly but I certainly know that there are a variety of emails that have been sent to our Accountability email address and all that information is provided as part of the record.

Gray: Yeah, part of this conversation, I think we were 9-10 times on record having this discussion from the very first presentation, which was in March, April, I don’t recall, and much later in the year, so the DSSF component presented in the earlier charts, that kind of outline of A and B and the weights, that has not changed over time, and that came directly from the conversations.  And the whole participation rate, which has been the most robust conversation, that did come back to us initially last April, May (it was March Dr. Gray), it may have been earlier, March, April, the participation rate.  And then what came after was at the end of the AFWG conversations and that was probably the last, if not, one of the next to last sessions I was able to sit in around the conversation of having ratings, and the stars, that came out of that deal, and now we are at stars, versus having an overall rating, and the compromise around having stars as overall ratings, so that was the big one.  And the participation rate, what we actually said in that conversation, and now with the recommendation from the Secretary, was that, you know, the participation rate really does, we wanted a balance of that conversation, so at 95%, left at 95% with the multiplier, we also asked for the upside of that, so if when were above 95%, they get the same upside, an uptick, so we really wanted that balance…

Heffernan: And more schools were given the uptick than the down…

Gray: More schools were given an uptick, cause we really did not want to have a conversation as a one-way consequence, the actual definition of consequence, positive and or negative, is actually the conversation…

Dr. Steven Godowsky: I want to make some comments.  On November 17th, last Tuesday, we had a meeting of the AFWG to discuss the rationale for the modification of the plan so we did bring the group back to their 17th meeting to have that discussion.  I also want to say that the AFWG did, in my opinion, settle on the most important measurable outcome, and that’s the whole idea of a rated growth.  And that is probably the fairest to all schools, and the best measurement for a direct effect of teaching.  That’s where we can make a difference and that’s where we have control over that.  So I think they did absolutely the right thing on that.  And so the fact that has the most value, it belongs there, in my opinion.

Gray: I agree, and I appreciate that, cause growth is where we think the conversation should be, you know, for struggling students and those that are excelling, if we have them in our midst of a K-12 place, we want to see growth.  And  you talked about, there couldn’t have been more alignment, between where the Board is, and the Secretary, and where the AFWG is on that.

Reyna: So last, and you have the Math targets.  Similarly, it’s in process.  Last piece is next steps.  As Dr. Schwinn mentioned, we’ll be submitting, upon assent of the Board, so upon submitting final documentation to the US Department of Education next week, essentially before Thanksgiving, and then would wait for their response.  Certainly our expectation is, there is a lot of transition at the US DOE right now and with the holidays coming, I don’t necessarily believe we would be able to get that before Christmas for instance, but sometime in the early 2016 timeline and then from there the commitment is, again, to update and resubmit Regulation 103 within sixty days of approval by the US Department of Education, with public comment, at which point would then come  back to this Board for discussion and ultimately, action.

Gray: And when do we expect to hear back from US Ed?

Reyna: It would be great if it was before the end of the year, but likely, January, February timeline.

Schwinn: They committed to four weeks, but I don’t think that is taking into consideration that we’re going to have a new Secretary of Education (at the US DOE) there, so our expectation is sometime around the week of January 10th.

Johnson: And then once final approval is received, the Department would then begin re-revising Regulation 103 and we would have sixty days to promulgate those revisions and bring that back before the board for discussion and ultimate action.

Gray: Okay.

Schwinn: Are there any questions?

(none)

Gray: So the Department of Education seeks approval of the ESEA Flexibility Waiver application revisions as outlined in this presentation.  Is there a motion to approve DOE’s ESEA Flexibility application revisions?

Coverdale: So moved.

Gray: I do need a second.

Heffernan: Second.

Gray: Thank you.  Any further questions or discussion?

(none)

Gray: All in favor, indicate by saying aye.

Gray, Heffernan, Coverdale Rutt: Aye.

Gray: Any opposed? (none) Abstentions?

Bunting: Abstention please.

Gray: Motion carries.  Alright.

Johnson: Could we elect to do a roll call?

Gray: Sure

(roll call given, same result, Whitaker and Melendez absent)

 

And with that, the Delaware State Board of Education passed the opt-out penalty in the Delaware school report card.  What makes this all very interesting is the fact that two of the participants in this whole conversation will not even be at the DOE by the end of the year.  Two of the individuals are resigning from the DOE.  Penny Schwinn and Ryan Reyna are leaving.  A very important fact to make note of here is the timing on approval of this ESEA waiver application.  The DOE can not submit Regulation 103 until they get approval from the US DOE on this.  At that point, they have to redo Regulation 103 and it won’t be voted on by the State Board for at least sixty days.  Which gives the 148th General Assembly more than enough time to override Governor Markell’s veto of House Bill 50!  And with that, I will bid you good night.  Stay tuned (literally) tomorrow for the most offbeat post of the year, possibly my lifetime.  I know one person who will definitely want to see this!

 

Capital School District Parents: Go To The Board Meeting Tonight & Give Dr. Shelton Your Opt-Out Letter

This is a special announcement for all parents of students in the Capital School District: Please go to their board meeting tonight, at 7:30 pm at the District Office, and give Superintendent Dr. Dan Shelton your opt-out letter.  And then give public comment about why you are opting your child out and your desire to have the Capital board pass a parent opt-out policy like the Christina School District board did two months ago and the Red Clay board is going to vote on tonight.  The Capital Board did pass a resolution honoring a parent’s right a year ago, but a policy would make sure this is ironclad in Capital.  This is a public service announcement brought to you by Exceptional Delaware.  Thank you!

Parent Opt-Out Is Now Policy In Christina School District After 6-1 Vote, Board Member George Evans Hates Parents!!!!

At the Christina School District Board of Education meeting tonight, the board passed their opt-out policy in a 6-1 vote.  This policy closely mirrors House Bill 50, the vetoed but still on life support parent opt-out legislation that Delaware Governor Jack Markell kicked to the curb in July.  The same board passed a resolution earlier in the year, but this now makes opt-out a policy in the district.  I sincerely hope George Evans takes some time to assess his decision not once, but twice this year, to disrespect parents this way.  Hopefully he can come to terms with this before he loses his next school board election and enjoys his last term on this board.

Congratulations to Christina School District for becoming the first district in the First State to have an official opt-out policy! Perhaps others will join in and stop fretting over what the DOE will do.  The worst they can do is knock your school down on their ridiculous school report card a grade or two.  This is great news is for parents, who should care far more about opt-out then some silly little crappy and hastily designed report card they get from the DOE.

I’m sure this will give the DOE and Markell one more reason to hate the Christina School District, but for parents across the state who are going “Why the hell doesn’t my school district do this”, they will be very envious.  Christina needed a big win, and this is it!  Stew on that Jack!

Breaking News: Parent Opt-Out House Bill 50 On The Agenda For Full Senate Vote Tomorrow!!! **UPDATED**

Delaware Senator David Sokola just emailed a constituent of Delaware that House Bill 50 will be placed on the agenda for tomorrow, Wednesday June 17th!  More details as they emerge.  It is not on the official  legis.delaware.gov  website as of yet, but once it is I will post it.  It looks like a lot of those last minute emails today may have helped!  Thank you to all who did so!

From: “Sokola, David (LegHall)” <David.Sokola@state.de.us>
To:
xxxx
Sent:
Tuesday, June 16, 2015 5:28 PM
Subject:
RE: HB 50

xxxx,
 
I apologize. I have placed the bill on the agenda for tomorrow. Dave.
 

The Delaware legislator website is not working for me.  Maybe we crashed the server!  No word yet on any proposed amendment by Sokola either, but I imagine if it is introduced he would do so at the time of the introduction of the bill for a vote.

I just got the same email from Senator Sokola myself, and it is officially on the agenda!  All the way at the bottom, but it is on there!  Ignore today’s date, they are already done for the day so this puts it on the agenda for tomorrow.

Today’s Date: 06/16/2015

Legislation Sponsor Status Title
Hide details for Senate Agenda Senate Agenda
HB 102 w/HA 1, HA 2 Barbieri (Henry) Out of Committee AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 11 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION.
SB 116-(SA 1) Bushweller Out of Committee AN ACT TO AMEND CHAPTER 17 OF TITLE 18 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO THE LICENSING OF INSURANCE PROFESSIONALS.
HB 15 (3/5) (F/I) B. Short (Bushweller) Out of Committee AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 18 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO CAPTIVE INSURANCE.
HB 127 B. Short (Bushweller) Out of Committee AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 18 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO THE PLACEMENT OF CERTAIN TYPES OF INSURANCE WITH NON-ADMITTED INSURERS.
HB 110 w/HA 1 Barbieri (Hall-Long) Out of Committee AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 16 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO COMMUNITY-BASED ATTENDANT SERVICES.
SB 83 Henry Out of Committee AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 10 AND TITLE 11 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO DOMESTIC VIOLENCE.
SB 118 Hall-Long Out of Committee AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 25 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO THE RESIDENTIAL LANDLORD TENANT CODE.
SB 71-(SA 1) McDowell Out of Committee AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 18 OF THE DELAWARE CODE CREATING THE “LIFE INSURANCE FRAUD PROTECTION ACT.”
HB 50 w/HA 1 Kowalko (Sokola) Out of Committee AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATION ASSESSMENT.