Delaware DOE’s Report Card Survey: Very Interesting Bidders for This Contract….

“Information to be included on the Snapshot Report Card will be informed by feedback on a public statewide survey, statewide focus groups, and stakeholder committee feedback, with the final approval of the Secretary of Education.”

The Delaware Department of Education put out a bidder request for contract DOE2015-16 last month, and the bidding has already closed as of June 3rd.  The potential vendors for this school accountability initiative have been made public, and they are Diamond Technologies, Tembo Inc., and Public Consulting Group.

Diamond Technologies is used to working with Delaware state agencies, including work done with the Division of Unemployment Insurance, and even the Delaware DOE, under Secretary Lillian Lowery.  Their previous work with the DOE included an update to the DOE’s digital scholarship information.

Tembo Inc.’s last contract with the DOE was an effectiveness report on Teach For America in Delaware.  This controversial report drew the ire of State Rep. John Kowalko at a House Education Committee meeting last February.  The results of the report led to legislation already signed by Governor Markell extending Teach For America in Delaware for another three years.

Certainly no stranger to Exceptional Delaware, I wrote extensively about Public Consulting Group, otherwise known as PCG, last summer.  They are the contracted vendor with the DOE and the Department of Health and Human Services for the Medicaid reimbursement program.  This is a company with many controversial issues around data collection.

The Report Card Survey is based on the DOE’s ESEA Flex Waiver with the US DOE, which hasn’t even been signed off on yet by them.  This school accountability system would allow parents to see a letter grade for each Delaware school, just as students receive letter grades of A-F.  I will come right out and say I do not trust any survey the DOE creates or has a hand in.  Furthermore, this survey is based on standardized test scores in part.  If students are already expected to do bad on the Smarter Balanced Assessment, will parents know enough to differentiate the issues with standardized testing and how their child actually learns in school?

The main areas of the school report card will be the following: academic achievement defined by the DOE as standardized test scores and overall growth on these assessments, college and career readiness, chronic absenteeism, and how many students are on a graduation track.  That’s it.  Nothing about special education, community outreach, school climate, bullying, discipline, cleanliness, or anything else.  Just everything tied to the Smarter Balanced Assessment and throwing in chronic absenteeism just for kicks.

To view the DOE’s bid proposal, please go here:

To view the DOE’s list of bidders for this contract, please go here:

While The DOE Has Everyone Distracted By Legislation, Watch For What Is Coming…

While everyone is looking at House Bill 50 and other legislative matters, the Delaware Department of Education is just driving right past it without stopping to reassess themselves.  For example, two MORE contract bids have been put out as RFP’s by the DOE.  These are both for the upcoming school accountability initiative, the School Report Card.

and then there is this:

What is truly frightening is when these surveys will take place.  If it is during the summer, before standardized test scores come in, that would be one thing.  But if it is any time after, as in one to two months, that would be very bad.  It would have to be at some point during the summer in my estimation, otherwise how can you really judge a product until it is finished?

I see severe danger with these “School Report Cards”.  It will depend on what kind of questions are asked to the students, parents and teachers.  If it is anything like recent surveys I’ve seen by the DOE, it will be dangerous because of the nature of the choices giving a best possible result.

If you really dig into these RFP’s, the DOE wants the vendor to make sure when someone puts the school and report card on a search engine like Google or Yahoo, it comes up on the first page of the search.  They are very eager for the three stakeholders to take these surveys and for the public to see them.  There is still some time to figure out what the DOE’s intentions are with these, but I don’t trust it.  This is part of their ESEA waiver requirements, but I don’t trust any of the ESEA Flex Waivers…

The devil is in the details, and it will be very interesting to see who the contracted vendor on these two contracts will be…

Full Presentation of DE State Board of Education to Public and Charter School Boards

On January 6th, the Delaware State Board of Education had a State Board Workshop with Local School District and Charter School Boards and other “stakeholders”.  Led by Executive Director Donna Johnson, this workshop went over the Smarter Balanced Assessment, the upcoming ESEA waivers, and school accountability.  Included is the entire presentation for the public to view.

I have to wonder exactly which schools had the Smarter Balanced Assessment Field Test last Spring.  How many of these schools and classrooms had “Vision Network” teachers administering these tests.  How many classrooms had a high population of minorities, low-income and special education students.  The parameters around the success of these field tests are only as good as the pool of test takers.

Once again, if students aren’t expected to do as well the first few years, how in hell can you blame any teacher or school for the results of a test you have already admitted is too hard and only provides a baseline?  This is a system that is pre-stacked against those who care more about education than this department.

As far as the “Common Themes” from the Town Hall meetings the DOE had in November with the public, I was at one of them, and the common themes were not so common at the one I attended.  It wasn’t all about “clear consequences for lack of performance” unless you counted complaints against the Delaware DOE.  If anyone needs to be measured to by that standard, it’s the DOE.  But they seem to have no consequences for their actions, whether they are legal or not.

Delaware parents, do not get sucked up into the Departments web of lies and coercion.  This is spin, and it only spins in their direction.  They want to hold entire school districts accountable for performance based on a test that has already been deemed to fail.  How is that right or just?  This is a corporate education reform agenda to privatize our public school districts and turn them into charter schools which have never been proven to be more effective than regular schools.  In point of fact, they have been proven in this state to have no transparency, financial mismanagement, and severe discrimination across the state to the most vulnerable of students.  Don’t drink the kool-aid they want you to drink public!  You are better than them.