Delaware Comes In 16th Place In EdWeek Ranking, Academics Get A D+

It seems like many websites are putting out education rankings these days.  The latest comes from EdWeek with their quality counts ranking system.  For Delaware, we came in 16th place, but this truly isn’t anything to rave about.  Delaware’s overall grade on this ranking was a C+.  A student’s “chance for success was also a C+, K-12 achievement got a D+ and school finance got a B.  I assume this report didn’t factor in all the charter school fiascos with financial fraud and abuse, but like I have said about ranking systems overall, I don’t give them much weight because they can be extremely subjective and biased.

The top three states were Massachusetts, New Jersey and Vermont.  I think we can say, based on this and the Niche.com charts I listed the other day, our overall Smarter Balanced Assessment scores, the opt-out movement in Delaware, a pending ACLU lawsuit against the state and our biggest district based on charter school enrollment practices, a funding system that makes no sense, SAT scores at the bottom of the list based on every single student taking it, falling NAEP scores, and special education chaos throughout our state that Governor Markell’s education initiatives have landed our state into a position of abject failure when it comes to education.  Governor Markell’s education legacy won’t be looked on favorably in the years to come.

Our surrounding states did better than Delaware, with New Jersey coming in at #3, Maryland at #4, Pennsylvania at #7, and Virginia at #12.

GACEC Letter of Support for Gateway Lab School Contradicts Opposition Letter re: House Bill 50

In reviewing GACEC and their modus operandi, I was curious if they gave public comment concerning Gateway Lab School.  This is a charter school designed for students with disabilities that was threatened with non-renewal of their charter in late 2014.  Thankfully, the State Board of Education and Mark Murphy did renew their charter.  Public support was massive for this school.  The GACEC wrote a letter of support for their charter renewal which can be found on pages 6 & 7 of the below document.  My take on this below that.

It comes down to one statement in their letter: “In conjunction with our role as the state advisory panel, we would like to share our concerns on the recent decision by the Charter School Accountability Committee to recommend the State Board of Education revoke the charter of the Gateway Lab School based on assessment data.”

Assessment data should not be the sole factor in making a policy decision as per the GACEC.  But in their letter of opposition to House Bill 50,  President Robert Overmiller with the GACEC writes “the validity of overall test results will be undermined if large numbers of students do not participate in the assessment.”  So GACEC can determine when data should and should not be used.  The main issue with Gateway Lab School was academic performance.  I completely agree with the GACEC, standardized test scores should never make or break a school.  But they can’t play both sides on this balance beam.  Because “Avoiding the unpleasant reality of assessments and their place in public education is not a viable response to relatively poor overall performance by Delaware students” as Overmiller wrote in the opposition letter, completely goes against their reasoning for supporting Gateway’s charter renewal.

In the case of Gateway, Overmiller actually went to the school to observe and see how their students were doing with the school and if they were showing academic interest and their special education was offering a rewarding environment.  He found it was.  But in the case of parent opt-out, Overmiller did not reach out to parents who are opting out, or try to understand the motivations behind their decisions.  Has he talked to teachers or the DOE about  the technical accommodation issues affecting students with disabilities?  Did he observe how these children are doing on the test?  This council is meant to look at issues with citizens with disabilities, but in their opposition letter, they never once say the words “special education” or “disabilities”.  Once again GACEC, you can’t have it both ways.  I truly believe the GACEC should rescind their letter of opposition to House Bill 50 until they have truly educated themselves on this issue.

Prestige Academy Formal Review Notification & Timeline

Prestige Academy needs to get their enrollment up very fast!  No excuses.  This school has been open for a while now.  Whatever issues they are having, they need to fix them if they want to stay open!

 

Prestige Academy: Formal Review for Enrollment & Academic, Academy of Dover: Academic & Financial, Freire & DE Design Lab: Low Enrollment

The four Delaware charter schools being considered for formal review have a multitude of reasons for this potential designation.  Prestige, Freire and Delaware Design Lab all had very low enrollment figures by the April 1st deadline.  Prestige had 59%, Freire had 35%, and Delaware Design Lab had 46%.  Prestige Academy is also under the hot seat for academic performance.  Academy of Dover is in trouble because of both financial reasons and academic performance.  From the Delaware State Board of Education Agenda for tomorrow’s board meeting:

Details

The Department of Education will request the Assent of the State Board of Education to place the following charter schools on formal review

Academy of Dover:
The issues for the formal review include concerns relative to compliance with their charter, financial management, financial oversight, and academic performance.

The Secretary will announce his decision, and if necessary, will seek the assent of the State Board of Education to place the charter school on formal review. If the State Board assents, the formal review will be referred to the Charter School Accountability Committee for review and report.


Delaware Design Lab High School:
As of the April 1 enrollment deadline, the charter school had enrolled only 137 out of 300 students, or 46% of the approved enrollment. The issues for the formal review include concerns relative to compliance with their charter and financial viability.
The Secretary will announce his decision, and if necessary, will seek the assent of the State Board of Education to place the charter school on formal review.   If the State Board assents, the formal review will be referred to the Charter School Accountability Committee for review and report.

Freire Charter School:
As of the April 1 enrollment deadline, the charter school had enrolled only 78 out of 224 students, or 35% of the approved enrollment.  The issues for the formal review include concerns relative to compliance with their charter and financial viability.
The Secretary will announce his decision, and if necessary, will seek the assent of the State Board of Education to place the charter school on formal review.   If the State Board consents, the formal review will be referred to the Charter School Accountability Committee for review and report.

Prestige Academy:
As of the April 1 enrollment deadline, the charter school had enrolled only 186 out of 315 students, or 59% of the approved enrollment. The issues for the formal review include concerns relative to compliance with their charter, financial viability, and academic performance.
The Secretary will announce his decision, and if necessary, will seek the assent of the State Board of Education to place the charter school on formal review.  If the State Board assents, the formal review will be referred to the Charter School Accountability Committee for review and report.

The Probationary status of: Academia Antonia Alonso – All conditions have been met, and the school has demonstrated financial viability.

The Secretary will announce his decision, and if necessary, will seek the assent of the State Board of Education to discharge the charter from probation.   If the State Board assents, the charter school will be removed from probationary status and restored to good standing.