Penny Schwinn’s Exact Words At The State Board of Education Meeting Last Week Regarding Smarter Balanced Vs. SATs

The digital audio recording of the Delaware State Board of Education Meeting on 4/20 is up on the State Board website, so of course I had to go back and carefully listen to exactly what Penny Schwinn did say in regards to the controversy over the Smarter Balanced Assessment and SATs.

You can listen here: http://www.doe.k12.de.us/site/default.aspx?PageType=3&ModuleInstanceID=4505&ViewID=E324842B-E4A3-44C3-991A-1E716D4A99E3&RenderLoc=0&FlexDataID=13683&PageID=1770

I went ahead and transcribed the key part, which occurs about three to four minutes into it (the recording doesn’t show a time stamp if you pause it).  The areas in bold are what jumped out at me.

Penny Schwinn: So this is the five-year assessment plan.  Were gonna pass around a copy.  I know you’ve received the copy before.  There’s been a minor change.  We can just talk broadly about what’s going into that.  So for the five-year plan, uhm,  this, we will be doing over the next several months, we’ve distributed this to, uhm, several stakeholder groups, obviously given out on December 1st.     There’s been a pretty big robust discussion on our science and social studies test, specifically making sure we are aligned to our state standards, that we also have computer adaptive tests in a way that, uhm, we know measures student learning and thinking as much as it does content.  Uhm, we have seen pretty strong feedback in regards to reduction in end-of-course exams because they tend to be repetitive, and then also looking at 11th grade assessment.  Looking at 11th grade assessment, obviously with the transition to Smarter Balanced it does increase the amount of tests our 11th graders are taking, uhm, including Smarter, SAT, uhm, APs, etc.  That’s been a really big piece of feedback as well.  So I wanna give you a minute in case there’s any initial questions but what we’re asking from this group is people to write any feedback over the next two months around what you see when you look through these assessments and any potential reductions or changes you  would like to see coming out of the office of assessment.  But those are the big ones.  Again, science and social studies, uhm, the reduction in end-of-course exams, and then reduction in the amount of assessments that are required for 11th graders.

Dr. Teri Quinn Gray: So what was the change again?

 Schwinn: So what you saw before did not include the, just a little bit of asterisk on the bottom.  We hadn’t committed to, uhm, looking specifically at SAT versus Smarter in 11th grade.  There are several states that are moving in that direction and so what we would be looking at is an either/or potentially in the coming years as opposed to a both.  It would be a big change and we would want a lot of information on that specifically. 

Other conversation occurs at this point with board member Jorge Melendez showing his confusion over the whole assessment inventory process.

Pat Heffernan: I don’t know if you were asking anything, but in terms of the SAT, uhm, in 11th grade, I know as SAT becomes more aligned with Common Core and Smarter, you know, we should sort of know where kids are, going through the continuum.  There is value in taking the SAT for kids who might not otherwise.  So, you know, just factor that into your thinking.  I think it’s a, there’s a value in that, and how you want to… it’s a part of the big picture, right?  An overall sense of strategy, but more than that, the SAT per se, has value in and of itself that needs to be consider when you’re reviewing.

Schwinn: And that’s where we’re, that’s the direction we would be heading, so as the SAT becomes Common Core aligned, it would be a reduction in 11th grade Smarter but the SAT is not something that would be on the tableSo it would be SAT, and then not Smarter Balanced.  It’s not the other way around. 

Gray: What’s the timeframe for Common Core alignment of the SAT?

Schwinn: So we’re, I, there’s two parts to that question.  So we’ll have that through next year, but what we’re looking at is we wouldn’t want to make a decision until we have a couple years of data to be able to match the 11th grade Smarter with SAT, so we can see what the alignments with the test are and certainly see student scores.  We wouldn’t want to make any decisions on the transition within the next two years.  It would be something that would happen over the next 3-5 years once we had more robust data sets.  Uhm, but certainly, if that’s on the table, we would want to be able to fit capacity towards a really deep study and make sure we’re making a responsible decision that truly captures student achievement.   

Sorry Penny, but hearing your actual words, as well as Pat Heffernan publicly commenting about the transition for the SAT to Common Core AND Smarter, confirms that even if you call it the SAT, it will be the Smarter Balanced Assessment with a name change.  Which is what all the corporate education reformers want.  But the DOE and Governor Markell can certainly call it a “reduction” in assessments, but you would do away with the SAT as it is now.  And that’s exactly what Heffernan was talking about, there is value in the SAT.  Sure, people have their beefs with the SAT, but compared to Smarter Balanced, it is infinitely better.  I noticed all your “uhms” in the conversations.  Having told a fib or two in my life, I have certain mannerisms in my speech when I’m not being entirely truthful.  I do believe I, uhm, found yours…

For those listening to this recording, did you notice how fast Penny Schwinn speeds through her topics, with LONG drawn-out sentences that go on forever?  Heffernan does the same, but not fast at all.  You can tell he is thinking while he is talking.  And Schwinn loves the word “obviously” as if we should all agree with her line of thought…

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