Delaware Enrollment Preference Task Force Final Report Released Today

Coming in at 489 pages, this is a mammoth report!  I know Delaware State Representative Kim Williams has worked on this for a long time.  Congratulations to all the members of the task force for their hard work with this group.  I only managed to get to one of the meetings, but I really wish I could have gone to all of them.  This task force came out of Delaware House Bill 90.  Its mission was to take a very hard look at how Delaware charter schools, vocational schools, and magnet schools select their students.  I haven’t even been able to come close to finishing this, but it is well worth the time.

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Science & Social Studies State Assessments Up For Bids By Delaware DOE For 5 1/2 Year Contract With No General Assembly Legislation

The Delaware DOE wants to remove the DCAS Social Studies and Science State Standardized Assessments and have new ones implemented by the 2016-2017 school year.  They currently have a Request for Proposal (RFP) with final bids due by 11/30/15.  You have to love this part of the bid proposal:

The initial term of the resulting Contract(s) will be from the Contract’s effective date, on or about December 31, 2015, through June 30, 2021. The DDOE reserves the right to extend any contract awarded as a result of this Competitive Sealed Proposal (CSP) for as many as five additional annual contracts if it is deemed to be in the best interest of the State of Delaware.

I imagine these new tests will be “more aligned with the Common Core State Standards” and the RFP already states these tests will be a part of the Delaware School Success Framework.  So where does the DOE have the authority to do this?  And where is the oversight?  Look no further than this part of the proposal:

Funding for Contract(s) resulting from this Competitive Sealed Proposal (CSP) is contingent upon approval by the Delaware General Assembly each year of appropriations, limitations, or other expenditure authority.

The DOE estimates the “winner” will be announced around 12/18/15 with a start date of 12/31/15.  While this bid proposal was created on 9/29/15, note at the bottom of page 2 and page 3 what the accountability measures are for proficiency.  Yes, the old participation rate multiplier is in full effect on here even though the Accountability Framework Working Group voted against it and the State Board has yet to make a decision on this.  Couldn’t that affect the bid process somewhat?

And what is the DOE requiring for these tests from a vendor?

require students to demonstrate a range of higher-order, analytical thinking and performance skills in reading, writing, and research based on the depth and complexity of Delaware Social Studies Standards, Common Core State Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies (grades 6-10 only) and/or Next Generation Science Standards allowing robust information to be gathered for students with varied levels of achievement. A significant portion of total score points come from items that demonstrate a deeper level of knowledge (e.g., represent the high complexity levels designated by taxonomies of cognitive demand).

And which students will be taking these tests?  Currently the DCAS Science assessments are for grades 5,8, and 10 and the DCAS Social Studies is grades 4th and 7th with a High School End of Course for U.S. History.  By the 2019-2020 school year, these tests will be for all students from 3rd through 10th grade, in both Science and Social Studies.

Now if the 147th General Assembly had to approve the Smarter Balanced Assessment as the State Standardized Assessment and the bids for this are due while the General Assembly is out of session (like they did with Smarter Balanced), is this even allowed?  Some legislators in the 147th General Assembly stated they voted yes for the Smarter Balanced legislation (House Bill 334) because Mark Murphy and the DOE already bought it.  Can the 148th General Assembly prevent the very same mistake from happening again before a contract is signed and sealed?  Especially when the plan is to have even more students taking these assessments?

To read the whole contract, see below:

Updated: I read through the text of House Bill 334, which allowed the Smarter Balanced invasion in Delaware (even though  the DOE already signed a contract with American Institutes for Research to be the test vendor and joined the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium).  For Science and Social Studies, House Bill 334 states the following:

(c) The assessments referred to in subsection (b) of this section shall measure achievement in readingEnglish language arts and mathematics for students in a minimum of grades 3 through 8 and high school, provided additional grades may be added by the Department. Science and social studies shall be assessed for students at least once in the elementary grades, at least once in the middle grades, and at least once in high school.

It looks like the DOE is taking the “at least once” and running with it.