Polls: Do You Think Smarter Balanced Is Effective? Do You Think Parents Should Have The Right To Opt-Out?

If Smarter Balanced Is Part Of “Assessment Inventory”, Why Are DOE and Del. Colleges & Universities Forming Groups To Have It Tie Into High School Courses & College Decisions?

Another DOE Trojan Horse.  Smarter Balanced is not going anywhere.  I’ve received lots of feedback the past couple hours in regards to my public lashing of DSEA and the events from yesterday’s Senate Education Committee meeting.  But were you aware that behind the scenes, the Delaware Department of Education and the University of Delaware are in the process of forming groups to “study the impact” of Smarter Balanced on what types of high school courses students take, college decisions and the overall success of higher education?

This is happening with no one the wiser.  From what I understand, University of Delaware will conduct the research, the DOE will be in charge of most of the  “policy-making”, and an advisory board will be constructed with relevant “stakeholders”.  And we all know how that usually tends to go with these types of things.  So before anyone makes assumptions on what is going on with the games being played, take a look at the Trojan horse the DOE and Governor Markell are about to launch on us again.

Top Ten Delaware DOE Rejected Ideas For Naming Smarter Balanced

In a never seen FOIA from the future, an important memo concerning the Smarter Balanced Assessment will come to light.  Back in the fall, the DOE was tossing around ideas to rename the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  This was the top ten list:

1) Murphy’s Law

2) Smarter 2.0

3) Student Capital Assessment

4) Charter Builder

5) Rigor, Not Vigor

6) Rodel & Friends

7) The GBDJ (stands for Governor, Barbieri, Dukes & Jaques)

8) Penny For Your Thoughts

9) It Doesn’t Matter What We Call It, We’re Still Gonna Take Your Schools And Fire Your Teachers

10) Duncan’s Donuts

And yet, somehow, they stuck with “Smarter” as the hipsters down there like to call it… Happy Mother’s Day to all the awesome Moms out there!  We would all be nothing without you!

Doc Holodick’s Letter About Smarter Balanced Sent To Parents

Brandywine Superintendent Mark Holodick sent a letter to parents dated February 10th.  Some parents just got the letter this week with a Texas postmark.  Way to educate parents about a huge test over two months later Dr. Holodick!

LetterP1Holodick

Hey, I want to know which Delaware educators helped create this train wreck!  Can we get a list of names?

FlyerP1

How many will reach the bar?  Not many.  Only 30% from what the DOE says.

FlyerP2

This ELA sample could be very subjective, but the human grader may not be objective.  This is a disaster waiting to happen!  Wait, it already is happening…  Delaware Parents: Please support House Bill 50 and opt your child out if you feel this is not the test for your child.

Smarter Balanced Contract With State of Washington, Lead State In Consortium

Good fortune has allowed me to receive the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium Contract with the State of Washington.  Washington is the lead state in this consortium of states involved with this standardized assessment.  The usual vendor for the Smarter Balanced Assessment is American Institutes for Research.  Read this contract very carefully to see exactly what is involved in all of this.  From what I understand, this contract is applicable to any state within the consortium….including Delaware…

My Conversation With Penny Schwinn Today About Smarter Balanced & SATs

After I wrote about the State Board of Education meeting last night, I thought I would reach out to Penny Schwinn, who publicly stated there is talk about replacing the SAT with Smarter Balanced in 11th grade.  I emailed her this morning, and I wasn’t really expecting a response, but I did make sure to include the Public Information Officer at the DOE, currently Tina Shockley (since Alison May is out on maternity leave).  This is the exchange that happened:

Clarification on State Board of Education SBA Presentation Yesterday 

  • Today at 10:32 AM
To:  penny.schwinn@doe.k12.de.us
CC:  Tina Shockley

Good morning Mrs. Schwinn!

I attended the State Board of Education meeting yesterday in which you gave a presentation on the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  At one point, you discussed the possibility of the Smarter Balanced Assessment replacing the SAT in 11th grade.  I wanted to reach out to you to get some more information on this and what the motivation behind it might be.  In my opinion, the SAT is a long-term, proven and effective measurement test, while the Smarter Balanced Assessment is new and unproven.  This will be for an article on my blog, Exceptional Delaware, so any comments you make would be made public.  Thank you very much,

Kevin Ohlandt

I received the following response 24 minutes later!  I bolded one part of her response for effect.

To:  Kevin Ohlandt
CC:  Shockley Tina

Good morning,

As part of the 5-year Assessment Plan, we are currently soliciting stakeholder feedback and welcome any and all comments. Specific to 11th grade testing, we discussed reducing the number of summative tests, which may include students not being required to take two summative assessments at the end of the year. At this point, the SAT is not a test we would consider cutting.

Please let me know if you have other questions.

Best, 

Penny Schwinn

Sent from my iPhone

Of course, this didn’t really answer my question, so I sent another email:

To:  Schwinn Penny

DOE Considering Replacing SAT With Smarter Balanced Assessment, Markell’s “Assessment Reduction” Plan Has Been In The Works For 6 Months, & School Turnaround News

Chief Accountability and Performance Officer Penny Schwinn, at the Delaware Department of Education, gave a presentation on the Smarter Balanced Assessment to the State Board of Education today.  Schwinn indicated the Smarter Balanced Assessment may potentially be considered to replace the SAT in 11th grade for Delaware students.  She claimed that other states are doing this already.

The main part of the presentation was the five-year Smarter Balanced Assessment plan.  Schwinn and Dr. Carolyn Lazar, another associate at the Delaware DOE, talked about the recent “assessment reduction” initiative that had some rather revealing and shocking acknowledgments.  The DOE has spent the past six months reviewing state assessments and found there is a lot of replication across the state.  Their goals in this review have been to make sure assessments align to the state standards, yield valuable reports on student progress, adhere to best practices statewide, and align with the system in place.  Schwinn said “We all want as much instruction time as possible,” and in speaking about the community’s role in this initiative, “We want to be respectful of community input.”

Schwinn’s office feels end of year assessments (finals) are repetitive and they are starting to see a reduction on these tests in districts.  The five-year assessment plan will cover Smarter Balanced Assessments, DCAS for Social Studies and Science, Alternate Assessments, and the following tests: PSAT, SAT, ACCESS and NAEP.

Schwinn explained the grant funds involved with this assessment review available to the “largest districts” as she put it, and it would amount to $5.00 a student for a total of $80-90,000.  Lazar explained, contradicting Schwinn’s earlier statement, that the grant is available to all the districts in Delaware and that the DOE initiated this process two years ago but became a focus six months ago.  The grant funds became available for the districts in early April, and the districts have until the end of the April to deliver a list of their assessments to the DOE.

A company called Achieve is the DOE contractor involved in this, and their role is to provide a user-friendly model and to develop an action plan to execute on the findings of the review.  The DOE is planning to develop a communications and community engagement process, and they are pleased at the level of educator involvement already taking place with this review.

The DOE has already provided the districts with a template of the grant form to ease the burden on the districts.  They suggested the districts use an outside consultancy firm, like Achieve (which they specifically mentioned for a 2nd time).  The review plan has three steps: Phase 1: review, Phase 2: develop action plan, and Phase 3: implement action plan.  The goal, according to Lazar is “teaching more, testing less.”  The plan will ask “Why assess?” which they feel is necessary and State Board of Education President Dr. Teri Quinn Gray agreed.  “We are all consumers of data,” Lazar said.

The DOE will be more than happy to provide technical assistance to the districts that they may consider part of their budget, with the help of Achieve (3rd mention of this company), who may want other contractors to come in and assist.  But the districts can be creative with the funds (based on a DOE designed grant template and the able-bodied assistance of Achieve).

Gray restated the earlier statement that the grant is optional to the districts, but Schwinn stated they are committed to doing this for all of the districts.  Board member Pat Heffernan asked if there is a rubric for this initiative, to which Lazar said that is something they are looking to implement but nothing exact like a specific rubric (after they already designed the grant template).

They expect the district assessment tally in mid-May and an action plan by December.  During the gap in time, they plan to utilize focus groups (with no definition of who would be on these focus groups).

Schwinn indicated teacher created assessments used in the classroom are not a part of this review, but some of the Measure B and RTI interventions used by the districts, according to Gray, are repetitive.  Schwinn stated these are the universal assessments that all students must take and determining the validity of them.  Schwinn stated Common Core alignment with the SAT would be ready by next year with a transition in the next two years and full implementation in the next 3-5 years.

The next part of their presentation concerned the current implementation of the Smarter Balanced Assessment in districts and charters in Delaware.  Schwinn said she is “very excited” about the results they have seen so far.  As of April 10th, 15,000 students have taken part in the summative ELA Smarter Balanced Assessment, and 9,000 for the math.  When asked about the different in numbers, Schwinn indicated it was because of how the districts and schools implement the testing scheduled during their testing windows.  There was a long discussion about “chunking”.  Heffernan asked if there have been situations like the schools thought a section would take four days but it took six to which Schwinn answered they haven’t received that feedback at this point.

In terms of problems, the biggest problem which was on the screen, but not even discussed during the meeting was the issue of accommodations.  The screen indicated “ACCOMMODATIONS DATA TRANSFER EXPERIMENTING ISSUES-unresolved, students incorrectly appearing as “custom” for accommodations in the test administration interface.  Work-around requires test administrator to employ additional efforts to validate accommodations for every student.”  American Institutes for Research (AIR), the testing vendor is “working on the issue.”  Nothing was discusses about any financial impact to the state or the districts to resolve these issues.  The DOE has an internal system they use to monitor the Smarter Balanced called PBMS.  Schwinn indicated the first year of DCAS had similar issues (another state assessment designed by AIR).

Executive Director of the State Board Donna Johnson asked how many districts were doing the interim assessments and Schwinn answered this is decided by the actual schools, and in some schools, only certain grades.  For the hand-scoring they are using a new technical system for curricular assessments and collaborating with the State of Washington and Air for training.  This is posted on a portal called the Teacher Hand-Scoring System.

There has been an inconsistent display of resources but conference calls with other states in the SBAC, the staff at Smarter Balanced and AIR is allowing for collaboration and sharing of resources like sources, prompts and materials deployed.

Schwinn indicated students like “Smarter” (a recent Facebook commenter said all the DOE hipsters like to call it “Smarter”) better than DCAS and are showing more interest because it has listening and is more realistic (with not even 1/5th of the students in the state taking the test, they are already making this assumption without all the end-of-assessment surveys).

Here is my take on all this, and the whole “reduction of assessments” initiative is not to actually reduce testing, but because the DOE wants more Smarter Balanced interim assessments.  The DOE and Governor Markell want everything tied to the Smarter Balanced Assessment: college course placement, standards-based IEPs, SATs, and even those pesky little “other” assessments that provide real and valuable data in many cases.  My big question is this: how much did the legislators know of these plans with this test when the majority voted to approve it last year with House Bill 334?

While this question is being pondered, who is Achieve?  According to their website, their agendas (not making this up, they actually have a tab called “Our Agenda”) include standards, graduation requirements, data & accountability and assessments, with sub-groups in this category called sample student assessment reports, ADP assessments, measures that matter, and what a coincidence, one called Student Assessment Directory for School Districts.  And look at that, they just completed a huge guide for districts on 3/20/15!

And from their website, which can be found at just another corporate education reform link:

Below is a brief history of Achieve:

1996: Achieve is founded at the National Education Summit by leading governors and business leaders.

1998: Achieve begins its Academic Standards and Assessments Benchmarking Pilot Project.

1999: Achieve sponsors a National Education Summit.

2001: Achieve sponsors a National Education Summit; Achieve joins the Education Trust, Thomas B. Fordham Institute and National Alliance of Business to launch the American Diploma Project (ADP) to identify the “must-have” knowledge and skills most demanded by higher education and employers.

2004: The American Diploma Project releases “Ready or Not: Creating a High School Diploma That Counts.” This groundbreaking report – the result of over two years of research – identifies a common core of English and mathematics academic knowledge and skills, or “benchmarks,” that American high school graduates need for success in college and the workforce. Education Week later named “Ready or Not” one of the most 12 influential research studies.

2005: Achieve co-sponsors a National Education Summit on High Schools, with the National Governors Association; the American Diploma Project Network is launched with 13 inaugural states.

2006: Achieve releases its first annual report on the ADP college- and career-ready policy agenda: “Closing the Expectations Gap: An Annual 50-State Progress Report on the Alignment of High School Policies with the Demands of College and Work.”

2007: The ADP Assessment Consortium launches to develop common Algebra II end-of-course assessment, which was, at that time, the largest multi-state effort to develop assessments to date.

2008: Achieve releases “Out of Many, One: Toward Rigorous Common Core Standards from the Ground Up,” a report that found that individual state efforts to set college- and career-ready standards for high school graduates actually led to a remarkable degree of consistency in English and mathematics requirements.

2009: Work begins on the development of the Common Core State Standards; Achieve partners with the National Governors Association and Council of Chief State School Officers on the Initiative and a number of Achieve staff and consultants serve on the writing and review teams.

2010: The final Common Core State Standards are released; Achieve begins serving as Project Management Partner for the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC).

2011: Achieve begins managing the state-led development of the K-12 Next Generation Science Standards.

2013: The final Next Generation Science Standards are released.

 

So now that we know the who, what, where, when and how, my big question is WHY?  This is just another waste of money so the DOE can pay another corporate education reform company.  Is there just this huge and massive network of these companies that comes into states and “transforms” everything education related?

Well, at least now we know Penny Schwinn does more than worry about priority schools.  Wait a minute… I take that back.  I found this on the Delaware Contract Bid website, just placed two days ago in fact…

 

But let’s all hope Delaware Secretary of Education Mary Murphy’s sniffles get better.  The poor guy either has a bad cold, or allergies, or something.  Hope you feel better Mark!

 

 

Details About The Delaware Universities & Colleges Using Smarter Balanced Scores

This was just released by the Delaware Department of Education:

PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT:   Susan Haberstroh

PHONE:  735-4003

April 14, 2015

 DELAWARE COLLEGES SAY SMARTER BALANCED ASSESSMENTS ARE GOOD MEASURE OF COLLEGE READINESS

Students who do well will not have to pass placement tests and can take credit-bearing courses

Dover– Four institutions of higher education in Delaware—the University of Delaware,  Delaware Technical Community College, Delaware State University and Wilmington University—all have said students’ scores on the state’s new 11th grade Smarter Assessments are a good measure of college readiness and will be accepted in lieu of a separate placement test, Gov. Jack Markell announced today.

High school juniors started taking the Smarter English language arts (ELA) and Smarter Mathematics assessments Monday and all students will complete them before June 4. The colleges’ decisions mean that students who score 3 or better on the tests’ 4-point scale now will be able to enroll in credit-bearing English and mathematics classes, as long as they meet certain other conditions, and can avoid taking costly remedial classes that not count toward graduations. They also will not need to pass a separate placement exam.

Those placement exams are offered during the summer before students’ first year in college, at a time when they have not been engaged in studying the subjects, meaning they may be more likely to be placed in remedial courses that they do not need.

The criteria colleges used for accepting students are not changing. Admitted students will still have the option to choose to take placement tests to qualify for credit bearing courses.

In 2012, more than half the Delaware public school graduates who enrolled in in-state colleges had to take remedial classes because they were determined to be not ready for college-level work, according to Delaware’s State Report: College Enrollment, Remediation, and Performance (https://www.delawaregoestocollege.org). National data shows that less than 50 percent of students who take remedial classes will complete the class hindering their ability to receive a college degree. 

“Today’s announcement marks another important step toward giving Delaware students the best chance to succeed in continuing their education beyond high school,” Governor Markell said. “Delaware’s colleges and universities are not only sending our high school juniors a clear signal that the Smarter Assessments are a valuable tool. They are also showing a commitment to preventing students from taking unnecessary remedial courses, which too often put students off track before they even start their college education.

Smarter Assessments emphasize the importance of a deep understanding of subject matter, critical-thinking, problem-solving, writing and reading more complex materials—all skills necessary for success in college. Those skills are stressed in the Common Core State Standards that Delaware teachers have used in their classrooms in recent years. The standards are not a curriculum but are a set of clear, consistent guidelines for what students should be able to do at each grade level in math and ELA. 

Secretary of Education Mark Murphy said the colleges’ decisions “show that they believe the Common Core standards are rigorous and that the Smarter Assessments provide a good measure of college readiness.” 

Delaware State University Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Alton Thompson agreed. “Delaware State University supports the use of the Smarter Balanced Assessments for placement because we think it’s a great idea to give students incentives to master the Common Core State Standards,” he said. “If they master those standards, as measured by the assessments, we feel confident that they’ll be able to handle college-level work. We have to demonstrate that our students are learning in order to be considered an effective institution and this will help us do that.”

Dr. Mark Brainard, the president of Delaware Technical Community College, said, “Our focus at Delaware Tech has always been to provide access to higher education and we view the Smarter Balanced assessment as an additional means to demonstrate college readiness and facilitate students’ transition to college. We will continue to collaborate with the Department of Education and the school districts on this and other initiatives to prepare students to be successful.”

The Governor announced the agreements with the colleges at the University of Delaware.

“The K-12 school system is working hard to prepare students to enter college and the workforce and the Common Core State Standards help chart a path that students can follow to reach those goals,”  University of Delaware President Patrick T. Harker said. “By setting policies around the Smarter Balanced Assessments, we can be sure that students are ready for our entry-level courses. That’s good for the school system. It’s good for institutions like UD. And most of all, it’s good for students and their families, who will know—early and often—where they stand on the path toward college or work.”

Wilmington University also will use Smarter Balanced assessment scores in making placement decisions but is working out details of the new policy. Jim Wilson, Wilmington University’s Vice President of Academic Affairs, said accepting the scores “is in line with our mission of providing opportunities for higher education to students of varying ages.”

 In addition, Wesley College is considering how it will treat students’ Smarter Balanced assessment scores. “Wesley College is enthusiastic about exploring options to help our Delaware students transition successfully to college,” Dr. Patricia M. Dwyer, Wesley’s provost and vice president for academic affairs, said.

Delaware is one of 19 states and territories that are members of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, which created the assessments. “This is a game changer,” said Tony Alpert, Smarter Balanced Executive Director. “In the past, most state tests had no linkage to higher ed. Smarter Balanced has worked with states and higher education to give meaning to high school exams.”

Alpert noted, “Reducing students’ need for remediation can go a long way toward meeting state and national goals for increased degree attainment, as research has consistently shown that students who enter college without need for remediation are far more likely to complete a degree.”

 ####

Colleges Policies

University of Delaware

English

Score of 3

·         Eligible for credit-level coursework.

Score of 4

·         Eligible for credit-level coursework.

·         Recommend that students consider dual enrollment in English 110 in their senior year of high school.

Mathematics

Score of 3

·         Students who take Algebra II or a higher level mathematics course in their senior year and earn at least a B, may enroll directly in Math 113 (Contemporary Mathematics) or Math 114 (College Mathematics and Statistics).

·         Students who take Algebra II or a higher level mathematics course in their senior year and who earn at least a B, may take the University of Delaware’s Placement Examination (ALEKS) to be placed in Math 115 (Precalculus), Math 117 (Precalculus for Scientists and Engineers), or higher.

Score of 4

·         No developmental courses are necessary.

·         Students place directly into any Math course whose prerequisite is Math 010. That is, entry into Math 113, 114, 115, or 117 is guaranteed.

·         Students who take Precalculus or a higher level mathematics course in their senior year, and score a 75% or above on their University of Delaware Placement Examination (ALEKS) may enroll directly in Math 221 (Calculus I) or Math 241 (Analytic Geometry and Calculus A).

·         Recommend that students consider dual enrollment in a mathematics course in their senior year.

Delaware State University

English

Score of 3

·         Eligible for credit-level coursework.

Score of 4

·         Eligible for credit-level coursework.

·         Recommend that students consider dual enrollment in English 101 in their senior year.

Mathematics

Score of 3

·         Students who take Algebra II or a higher level mathematics course in their senior year and earn at least a B, may enroll directly in MTSC 101 (Survey of Mathematics I) or MTSC 102 (Survey of Mathematics II).

·         Students who take Algebra II or a higher level mathematics course in their senior year and who earn at least a B, may take the Delaware State University’s Placement Examination (ACCUPLACER) to be placed in MTSC 121 (College Algebra and Trigonometry), MTSC 131 (Precalculus), or higher.

Score of 4

·         No developmental courses are necessary.

·         Students who take Precalculus or a higher level mathematics course in their senior year, and who earn at least a B, may take the Delaware State University Placement Examination (ACCUPLACER) to be placed in MTSC 251 (Calculus I) or MTSC 225 (Calculus for Business and Social Sciences).

·         Recommend that students consider dual enrollment in a mathematics course in their senior year.

Delaware Technical Community College

English

Score of 3

  • In conjunction with a “B” or higher in senior English, student would be eligible for credit-level coursework

Score of 4

  • Eligible for credit-level coursework
  • Recommended that student consider dual enrollment English in senior year

Mathematics

Score of 3

·         No developmental or remedial courses necessary

·         Students place into any college level math course with a pre-requisite of Review of Math Fundamentals (MAT012) or Elementary Algebra (MAT015)

·         Students who take Algebra II or a higher level math course in their senior year, and earn at least a B, can take DTCC’s Precalculus (MAT185)

·         Students can also retake the Smarter Balanced assessment or take DTCC’s Accuplacer to be placed in Precalculus (MAT185) or higher

Score of 4

·         No developmental or remedial courses are necessary

·         Students place directly into DTCC’s Precalculus (MAT185)

·         Students who take Precalculus or a higher level math course in their senior year, and earn at least a B, can take DTCC’s Business Calculus (MAT261) or Calculus I (MAT281)

Breaking News: Delaware Colleges & Universities To Use Smarter Balanced Scores For Acceptance Credentials

In about 15 minutes, Governor Markell will be giving a speech indicating Smarter Balanced scores will be used for acceptance credentials at the four major Delaware colleges and universities: University of Delaware, Delaware Technical College, Delaware State University and Wilmington University.

This decision was made without any input from members of the 148th General Assembly.  Once again Governor Markell and the Delaware DOE are operating without any stakeholder input whatsoever.  The test hasn’t even completed and the scores won’t be out until the summer, so how can this be used as a measuring indicator for students when we don’t even know how effective the test is?

The email regarding this was sent out earlier today:

From: Haberstroh Susan Keene <susan.haberstroh@doe.k12.de.us>
Sent: Tuesday, April 14, 2015 11:57 AM
To: Haberstroh, Susan (K12)
Subject: Smarter Balance Assessment and Delaware Higher Education Institutions Announcement
 

Dear Legislator,
We wanted to provide you with a heads up of an announcement being made today regarding the Smarter Assessments and how four of our institutions of higher education have agreed to use these assessments. A press event is happening at 1:00 today where the Governor will announce that the University of Delaware, Delaware Technical Community College, Delaware State University and Wilmington University all have said students’ scores on the state’s new 11th grade Smarter Assessments are a good measure of college readiness and will be accepted in lieu of a separate placement test.

A press release with the full details will be sent to you later today.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions.
Best,
Susan

Susan Keene Haberstroh, MPA, Ed.D.

Chief, Policy and External Affairs

Delaware Department of Education

Townsend Building

401 Federal Street, Suite 2

Dover, DE  19901

susan.haberstroh@doe.k12.de.us

P: 302-735-4035; F:302.739.4654

Read The Memorandum of Understanding Between UCLA & Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium

Who owns the rights to the Smarter Balanced Assessment?  If you thought it was the governing states, you are wrong.  They belong to a university, UCLA.  Read the MOU between California, UCLA, and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium.  I would assume every state involved in Smarter Balanced has a similar MOU with UCLA.

Attorney General Legal Opinion For Delaware Requested On Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium Court Ruling

I have submitted a request for a formal Attorney General Legal Opinion based on the Missouri Circuit Court ruling yesterday on the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium.  I have been told these types of requests by a citizen of Delaware are denied on the basis of standing, so I would welcome any elected official in Delaware to take up the baton in the event my request is denied.

To

  • Denn Matthew (Attorney General)

 

CC
  • Williams Kimberly (LegHall)
  • Siegel Kim (Lt Governor)
  • Lawson Dave
  • Kowalko John (LegHall)
  • Murphy Mark
  • Johnson Donna R.
  • Matthew Albright
  • Avi Wolfman-Arent
  • Paul Baumbach
  • Townsend BryanM
  • Markell Jack
  • John Young
  • Kilroy’s Delaware
  • Kavips World Press Blog
  • Nancy Willing
  • Pandora DeLib
  • rick@wdel.com
  • Terri Hodge
  • Mike Matthews
  • Jackie H. Kook
  • frederika.jenner@dsea.org
  • O’Mara Lindsay (Governor)
  • May Alison

Attachments

  • Sauer v. Nixon – Judgment.pdf

Breaking News: Court Rules Smarter Balanced Assessment Violates The U.S. Constitution

“The Court finds that the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium is an unlawful interstate compact to which the U.S. Congress has never consented, whose existence and operation violate the Compact Clause of the U.S. Constitution”

The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium has been ruled to be breaking many laws in our country according to Judge Daniel R. Green of the Circuit Court of Cole County in Missouri.  The most important of which is the fact that it was never passed by Congress.  The Court also found that taxpayer money must not be given to this unlawful compact.

The Missouri Coalition Against Common Core, led by Frank Sauer, filed suit against Missouri Governor Jay Nixon last year.  Judge Green, on November 26th, ordered a two week restraining order against any taxpayer dollars going to the SBAC.  Yesterday, he gave his final ruling against Governor Nixon and essentially invalidated the very premise of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium.

For my own state of Delaware, I will be forwarding this case to our Attorney General Matt Denn for an official legal opinion on this type of arrangement within our own state.

Special thanks to the awesome Delaware blog Minding My Matters for bringing this to my attention.

Updated, 11:33am, 2/25/15: Diane Ravitch has written a post on this as well based on an article in the Missouri News Tribune which can be read here and gives more details on the case:

http://m.newstribune.com/news/2015/feb/25/green-blocks-state-common-core-payments-smarter-ba/#.VO3zYbl0zIV

Smarter Balanced Assessment System Is Having Many Issues, A Good Sign!!!!

Teacher, Red Clay Educators Association President and ex-blogger Mike Matthews put a post up on Facebook after fighting with the Smarter Balanced Assessment “proctor” system throughout the day.  In response, many teachers complained about the issues as well today.

Apparently, you can only get to the training system through Firefox, something the Delaware Department of Education told Matthews today after emails and tweets to them.  But that didn’t stop the problems.

Teachers of Delaware: Do you have any horror stories to tell about your attempts to get certified to proctor the Smarter Balanced Assessment via the PDMS system? Please share your stories here or private message me.

And the teachers responded!

I tried to do it yesterday and couldn’t get it to open

I’ve tried multiple times and keep getting a message that says too many on the system – try again later…

doesn’t bode for when when thousands of kids are accessing the test simultaneously.

Tried at home. I could register but not complete the course. Will try tomorrow at school. (uhm, no you won’t.  You won’t have school tomorrow.  Calling it now, snowmageddon on the way!)

I just tried as well. This. Is. Not. Working. I’ve sent an email to the District test coordinator and I put Delaware Department of Education (DDOE) on blast on Twitter. LOL

Have to wait 24 hours before viewing. Pain in the butt to find the assessments (at top of pp headings) and the paperwork admin wants is on page 5 bottom PDF. Took me three hours!!!

 I am registered but was not able to access from home, though I have been able to access from home on PDMS for other courses.

I registered Friday. Tried today. No luck.

I wonder how this is going to work when everyone in the state is taking this! (that’s actually the part I can’t wait to hear about.  I’m so glad my son won’t be taking part in this horrorfest since I OPTED HIM OUT!!!!  DELAWARE PARENTS, DO NOT LET YOUR CHILD TAKE THIS TEST! If they can ever get it running!  This should be fun.  Not for the teachers, but for the kids!)

I took it on Friday- at first it said there were too many users, but then it let me in. After the first presentation, I thought I was done, but there were 2 more. Took me the whole afternoon session of PD. Luckily, I put it on the smart board and was able to work.

Too many sections, especially for coordinators; interims training not good for “regular” assessment so you have to take double the training; separate sections for ELL, disabilities, & general accommodations- why can’t this all be in a single training???

My fave part: We’re suddenly “experts” after sitting through this ONE TIME. *sigh*

I have been trying at home since Friday = nightmarish! Weird errors, NO presentation, NO pdfs, I can only print the final “scary” completion sheets. So many pop-ups! I definitely have latest Adobe. I am using Chrome. With distaste, I opened it in Explorer – and also became too frustrated. I call myself slightly computer savvy and came to the conclusion that the “course” is crazy. I was going to try after school one day this week. grrrrrr

I’ve had trouble with PDMS at home before (on my Mac)- always works better for me at school!

Wonder what they’d say if I taught my kids this way: “Here, read this PowerPoint. Instant mastery!”

 Registering wasn’t bad. Accessing the training was and still is a nightmare

This was the point where I chimed in!

Why are you all complaining about this? This is a good thing! Maybe the whole system will explode and all the SBA files will disappear. It’s a good omen I say!  I think I’m going to write an article about this!

Please do. Include this, Kevin: Why can’t DoE do appropriate UAT to ensure that their (expletive deleted) training programs work on something other than Firefox?! They are a mess.

I tried on Firefox and it did not work on that either

All teachers should boycott this certification. (and the test and Common Core)

I figured if I’m going to write about this I should know what UAT and PDMS stand for!

Can anyone tell me what UAT and PDMS stand for?

UAT means user acceptance testing. In other words, testing all their systems and programming (ie PDMS) to ensure it can be used by all browsers and all operating systems. Clearly, this training on PDMS (Professional Development Management System) did not go through any UAT.  PDMS is the system teachers use to receive certain professional development courses.

Can we also vent about the fact that the district provided zero training, as far as I know, for the student training link or administration of SB???

Oh, is that what the DOE gave all that money to Amplify for? (that was me, I’ll admit it!)

That’s right.  That’s our honorable DOE.  I hope all these teachers working on this today get a floater or two for working on a holiday!  If the Smarter Balanced system is causing THIS many problems and it hasn’t even started yet, I’m going to predict chaos and mayhem when this thing rolls out.  It’s a shame schools don’t have free wi-fi.  Parents could sit outside the school during the test and hog up all the bandwidth watching Netflix!

 

 

 

Smarter Balanced Field Test Scores: Most IEP Students Will Fail!

According to a report released by The Advocacy Institute, students with IEPs had a wide gap against their non-disabled peers in the category of 1, the lowest level you can score on the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  The gaps show an average of well over 30 points in English/Language Arts and Math.

The largest gaps, over 40 points, seems to occur in the 7th grade.  The lowest, at 28 points is occurring in 3rd grade.  The IEP students who scored a 4 on the field test averaged well below 5% of the entire IEP student population.  With an average somewhere between 65-70% for all students with special education scoring at a 1 on this Common Core test, and an average for ALL students scoring at a 1 or 2 around 60%, the facts are undeniable.  This test sucks.

So I will say once again: Opt Out Now!  It doesn’t matter if your kid has an IEP or not, because the odds are in favor your kid will fail this test.  This test he/she has been preparing for since the beginning of the school year.  What a colossal waste of time and money and resources.

For more information about these percentages for each grade level, please go to: http://www.advocacyinstitute.org/blog/?p=582

Regulation 101: DOE Tweaking State Code For Smarter Balanced & Special Needs

On Thursday, at the Delaware State Board of Education meeting, there will be talk about the Smarter Balanced Assessment (among MANY other things).  How will the DOE score this wonderful awesome test?  They really have no idea.  In fact, they have to hire an outside contractor to do all that!  But for now, let’s see how they do with what the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium sent them!

Yes, you read that right, Big Brain Brian Touchette actually said that:

Because the new standards set higher expectations for students–and the new tests are designed to assess student performance against these higher expectations–our definition of grade level performance is higher than it used to be.

As a result, it means that fewer students will meet grade level standards, especially for the first few years.

It starts with Mark Murphy saying he doesn’t expect more than 30% of the students to meet proficiency in the first year.  Then I start to hear two years.  Now it’s a few.  But the kids aren’t failing!  No, the schools will be and you will judge them and close them.  Even though you have said what you just said.  And maybe the test will never work, but we will use the data from it to close all of you nasty, filthy public school districts!  Sorry, I turned into Murphy there.

And then there are the special needs kids.  How about we change some laws to make it tougher for them AND their IEP Teams!  Let’s put some really vague wording in some areas, then ignore what is sent to us about it by the agencies that probably know more about these things than we do.  Even if they are filled with a bunch of filthy, nasty parents and union reps.  Sorry, morphed into the Murph man again!

Yada yada yada, opt out now, blah blah blah!  Just do it already parents! NOW!  Cause guess what, they didn’t even bring up the topic of parent opt out in this regulation, and we already know they either don’t how to read their own state’s code, or they purposely misinterpret it to scare parents.

Smarter Balanced: Lacking Smarts; Precariously Balanced

Mercedes Schneider dissected the Smarter Balanced cut scores. This “consortium” actually managed to make their scoring system more confusing than the actual test. Which just proves my theory all along: they know the test is crap, but they will push it through anyways so they can use data from it to push their own agenda. Parents: You don’t need the Delaware PTA to advise you what to do. Opt your child out now from this farce of an educational assessment. If our children have suffered from Common Core for this, than we all need to get together in every state and demand our politicians and state DOEs abolish this ridiculous idea.

deutsch29: Mercedes Schneider's Blog

In this time of  “public-education-targeted boldness,” the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) has made the American public one whopper of a “bold” promise:

The standards were created to ensure that all students graduate from high school with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in college, career, and life, regardless of where they live. [Emphasis added.]

There is neither now nor never has been any empirical investigation to substantiate this “bold” claim.

Indeed, CCSS has not been around long enough to have been thoroughly tested. Instead, the above statement–which amounts to little more than oft-repeated advertising– serves as its own evidence.

However, if it’s on the *official* CCSS website, and if CCSS proponents repeat it constantly, that must make it true… right?

Keep clicking your heels, Dorothy.

Now, it is one issue to declare that CCSS works. It is quite another to attempt to anchor CCSS assessments to the above cotton…

View original post 1,316 more words

Achievement Levels Set For Smarter Balanced Assessment…Who Cares, Opt Out Anyways

I don’t want to tick off the Smarter Balanced gods, so I can’t copy and paste directly from their website.  But today the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium announced the proficiency levels for the upcoming Common Core test.  I could care less because I already opted my son out, but for those still on the fence, read on.

I will share an email that was sent out today to selected education professionals:

Sent on behalf of Joe Willhoft

To NEA and AFT Teacher Ambassadors,

Attached is a press release that just went out earlier today.  It talks about the setting of four achievement levels on the Smarter Balanced assessments that our member states will start using in 2015.

The process and activities we went through to arrive at consensus on the achievement levels was extremely thorough.  We hosted nearly 500 individual panelists to assist us with these decisions, two-thirds of which were teachers from Smarter Balanced states, with another 20% or so being non-teaching educators (principals, curriculum directors, etc.), about 10% college faculty, and about 5% parents/business leaders.  These panelists spent several days going through test items, the Common Core, and our descriptions of knowledge and skills that teachers told us students needed at different levels of performance.  These panelists submitted recommendations to our chief school officers in member states.  The chiefs gave primary consideration to the content-based recommendations from our in-person panelists, but also took into account other external data on what we currently know about high school student readiness to enter into credit-bearing college courses.  In the end, we had unanimous agreement (18-0, with 2 abstentions) on new and rigorous performance standards on the Smarter Balanced assessments.

Feel free to visit our website​ for more information.  Thanks,

Joe

No, thank you Joe!  Now I know who the big guy is at the top of the group.  Sounds like they had all these stakeholders meeting to decide the assessment achievement levels, but at the end of the day it was up to the state school chiefs.  I dread thinking about Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy having any input on these recommendations.

The Consortium (love that word, makes them sound so sinister) sent out the following press release today:

Smarter Balanced States Approve Achievement Level Recommendations

<!– 11/17/14 – Smarter Balanced –>

OLYMPIA, WASH. (November 17, 2014) —Members of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium have voted to approve initial achievement levels for the mathematics and English language arts/literacy (ELA) assessments that will be administered in 17 states and one territory this school year. The vote marks an important milestone in the development of the assessment system.

“These initial achievement levels were developed with input from thousands of educators and community members, reflecting a diverse cross-section of views on education. Moving forward, the achievement levels, along with scale scores that also will be reported, will help teachers and parents understand student performance and needs for support,” said Smarter Balanced Executive Director Joe Willhoft.

The achievement levels serve as a starting point for discussion about the performance of individual students and of groups of students in mathematics and English Language arts. There are other measures that students, teachers and parents can also use to help evaluate the academic progress of students and schools, such as scale scores, growth models, and portfolios of student work. The states also unanimously approved a position paper to provide broad guidelines for how the scores and achievement levels can be used and interpreted by state officials, parents, teachers and other stakeholders.

Since Smarter Balanced is offering assessments for both ELA and math for grades 3-8 and high school, the recommendations include achievement level scores for both subject areas and at each of those grade levels. The attached charts display the threshold scores that distinguish four achievement levels and display the estimated percentage of students across all Smarter Balanced states who would have scored at each level based on data from the Consortium’s spring 2014 field test. Smarter Balanced estimates that the percentage of students who would have scored “Level 3 or higher” in math ranged from 32 percent in Grade 8 to 39 percent in Grade 3. In English language arts, the percentage of students who would have scored “Level 3 or higher” ranged from 38 percent in Grade 3 to 44 percent in Grade 5. See the charts for further details.

“Because the new content standards set higher expectations for students and the new tests are designed to assess student performance against those higher standards, the bar has been raised. It’s not surprising that fewer students could score at Level 3 or higher. However, over time the performance of students will improve,” said Willhoft.

Willhoft added, “It’s important to note that the figures released today are a Consortium-wide estimate based on the spring 2014 Field Test. Once the operational assessment is administered in 2015, states will have a much clearer picture.”

To create the achievement levels, Smarter Balanced organized an unprecedented level of educator and public input, involving thousands of interested constituents, using a rigorous process known as the “bookmark procedure.”

During an in-person panel, held in Dallas, Texas, close to 500 teachers, school leaders, higher education faculty, parents, business and community leaders reviewed test questions and determined the threshold scores for four achievement levels for each grade and subject area. Member states had representatives at each grade level for grades 3 through 8 and high school. Educators with experience teaching English language learners, students with disabilities and other traditionally under-represented students participated to help ensure that the achievement levels are fair and appropriate for all students.

In addition, an online panel was open to educators, parents and other interested members of the community to provide unprecedented input on the achievement levels. More than 2,500 people participated in the online panel. A cross-grade review committee composed of 72 members of the in-person panels then took the results of the online and in-person panels into account to develop recommendations that coherently aligned across grades and that reflected student progress from year to year.

As an additional step, Smarter Balanced engaged an external auditor, an Achievement Level Setting Advisory Panel and its standing Technical Advisory Committee to review the recommendations before they were presented to the states for approval. The auditor and both advisory panels certified that Smarter Balanced conducted a valid process that is consistent with best practice in the field.

In approving the Achievement Levels, Smarter Balanced member states relied primarily on the recommendations from the Achievement Level Setting process. Members also gave consideration to other sources of information about the general content readiness of high school students to engage in credit-bearing college-level work. This included a comprehensive body of research on college academic preparedness of high school students conducted by the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB), the oversight body for the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

Over the coming months, member states will present these achievement level recommendations to the policy-making entities that have the authority to formally adopt achievement levels in each state. This authority most typically rests with the state board of education.

And we all know how the Delaware DOE loves to abuse their authority on behalf of a pro-Common Core Rigor Standardized Test Charter Loving Governor and his other puppet masters at Rodel.  Parents, just opt your kids out now!  Until I did, I was stressed just thinking about my son taking this (choose your own expletive) of a test.  Now, I feel a calm knowing he won’t have to deal with this, and a 50% to 70% chance of him being labeled a failure because of this (choose your own expletive again) of a test.

Write the letter, hand deliver it to the school, join one of the many Facebook groups I created for opt-out in each district, charter and vo-tech in the state, and call it a day.

DE DOE Apocalypse: Smarter Balanced Field Test Scores or How To Spin Failure @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de @dwablog @Apl_Jax @ecpaige @nannyfat @DelawareBats #netde #eduDE #edchat

And there came a pale rider, and his name was Smarter Balanced. Next month, or maybe never (my fondest hope), the DOE will release the Smarter Balanced Assessment field test scores. Three million students in 22 states took the test last Spring. The purpose of these field tests was to see how the test actually went. If I had to guess, since it’s taken five months to determine the scores, there was a lot of tweaking with the test.

Last month, I submitted a Freedom Of Information request for the unreleased scores. I received a response from Alison May, the public information officer for the Delaware Department of Education, that the month of October would be used to determine achievement levels. In early November, each state will vote on the chosen achievement levels. I’m guessing this voting group will be members of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. According to May, the Delaware DOE does not know the release date of the actual field test scores since they haven’t been determined yet. But she did assure me they will be released publicly. ‘

One tidbit I did notice in May’s email was she didn’t respond to the test as the Smarter Balanced Assessment. She called it Smarter. I don’t care either way what it’s called, cause either way it’s just Dumber.

This is my theory: the students did really bad. Say there’s a 100 questions. Secretary of Education Mark Murphy has already said he expects 70% of students in Delaware to fail the test next Spring. What are you basing that belief on Mr. Murphy? I’m sure you’ve seen some of the results already. So I’m guessing the average score was 30 out of 100. How in the world do you make benchmarks out of a test most students failed?

Governor Markell, this is the jewel on top of your common core crown. This is your big achievement? A failing test? When all of this goes south, and it will, who will be the fall guy? Murphy? The DOE? The schools? The teachers? Or maybe it should be you. You were the one who praised common core like it was the second coming. Even President Obama is saying enough with all the testing. Let’s face it, you passed your peak as Governor of Delaware a while ago. Now everyone is just counting the days until someone new comes in. It’s called a lame-duck for a reason Governor Markell. I’m not sure what your next step is after you leave office, but please do not go to DC hoping to be the next Secretary of Education. The proof of your tenure here can be seen everywhere in the state, but most noticeably our schools.

No state legislature should ever be subjected to voting on a test that was already bought by the Governor and the DOE. And then when you vote on it in your Senate, stick to your original vote.

Very Interesting Chat With Delaware State Representative Last Night re: Mark Murphy and Smarter Balanced Assessment @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de @dwablog @nannyfat #netde #eduDE

Last night, the Kent County League Of Women Voters held a public debate for the Kent County candidates running for office in the election on November 4th.  The event was held at the Modern Maturity Center in Dover, DE.  Several candidates declined the debate, and some were unable to attend.  Under debate law, if one party in a particular race does not show up, the other party is unable to debate.

For the Delaware House Representative candidates, the parties that debated were District 30 candidates Libertarian Gordon Gene Smith and Republican Jonathan E. Gallo (current Democrat House Rep. William Outten declined the debate) and District 11 candidates Democrat Lynne Newlin and current Republican House Rep. Jeffrey Spiegelman.  For the Senate, the only attending candidates were from the 17th Senate District, current Democrat State Senator Brian Bushweller and Republican candidate Dr. Kim Warfield.

A two-part question asked of the candidates on their position on standardized testing and allowing parents to opt out of standardized testing.  Senator Bushweller said he does not believe parents should have the option to opt their children out of standardized testing because he felt students need to be measured for their proficiency.  He also added his belief there have been too many changes in the tests in Delaware, and when the Smarter Balanced Assessment comes out “in a couple years” this will be the third test.   House Rep. Jeffrey Spiegelman felt there should be a consistent set of standards for the country, but parents should have the right to opt their children out of standardized testing.  Both of these elected officials voted for House Bill 334 which allowed the Smarter Balanced Assessment to replace DCAS as the state standardized test.

After the debate, I had the opportunity to speak with House Rep. Jeffrey Spiegelman, and I asked him why he voted for the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  He said his wife is a teacher, and most teachers hated DCAS because it was administered to students three times a year.  I explained to him that I believe the Smarter Balanced Assessment is worse than DCAS.  He replied that for House Bill 334, it was a choice of the lesser of two evils, and what made it very difficult for the vote was the fact that Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy had already bought the test for the state.  He felt it put the legislators in a no-win situation.  He gave me permission to publish this opinion.

As for Senator Bushweller’s statement about the Smarter Balanced Assessment during the public debate, where he said it was coming out in “a couple years” it showed an ignorance of the current education climate in Delaware based on the fact that the test will first be administered in the Spring of 2015, not two years from now.  It really makes me wonder based on the two current legislator’s comments how much information they were given about the test before the vote.  Neither of them served on the Education Committee for their respective branch.

I posed a question in an article last month in regards to the testing schedule, but I was given some confusing information about the possibility of interim tests and the DOE document I first saw did not indicate it was optional for the school districts.  As well, two Delaware House Reps, who wished to remain anonymous, informed me they were not aware of an interim test at all and didn’t recall even an option being presented to them.  Neither of them served on the Education Committee for the House either.  In comments on that article, someone who seemed to have insider knowledge of the legislative process behind this bill, and was present, wrote this:

This was passed out at the House and Senate joint education committee meeting in May- that was (t)he first place I saw it, thus legislators had this graphic before voting on the bill as well.

But this commenter assumed the legislators had all information available to them prior to voting on the bill.  Was this the case?  Does anyone in Legislative Hall who was NOT on the education committee want to give an official comment about what exact information was given to them before their vote?

 

The Smarter Balanced Assessment Field Test Scores…Where Are They Delaware DOE? @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de @dwablog @nannyfat @ecpaige @TNJ_malbright @DeStateBoardEd

Select students across Delaware took the Smarter Balanced Assessment field tests last Spring.  But where are the scores?  Here we are five months later, and nobody is even asking.  Could it be students performed so bad on the tests, that the Delaware Department of Education can’t even put appropriate levels for ratings on them?  This is what I’m hearing from multiple sources.  The DOE knows this, but they are holding on to this information.  For some reason December is coming up as a release date for this information.  Would they really wait to release them until Christmas break?

Of course they would.  They will not release these scores before Election Day.  Too many of the current legislators in the state voted for making the Smarter Balanced Assessment a reality, and the DOE knows it could potentially affect the votes.

Because of the priority schools, the Delaware education blogosphere is talking about that crazy initiative as as their main focus.  What happened to the good old days pre-September 4th when this was all we were talking about with Delaware education?  They are taking advantage of this distraction and planning and plotting over there at the Townshend Building in Dover.  But don’t let the smoke and mirrors fool you citizens of Delaware.

The DOE knows this, and they are loving it!  They know they will eventually have to release the test scores on the Smarter Balanced Assessment field tests.  They know what the public will say when this happens.  They can lessen the impact if they release the information during a slow education time period.  What if someone beats them to the punch?