Based on the Delaware School Success Framework, well over half of Delaware’s charter schools are not meeting expectations. Tonight, the Delaware Charter School Office will present the 2017-2018 Charter School Annual Report to the Delaware State Board of Education.
The Delaware School Success Framework, based largely on the Smarter Balanced Assessment, shows that 57% of the charter schools authorized by the Delaware Department of Education, are below standard overall. While I will never agree with any form of measurement based on the very flawed state assessment, the charters love to brag about how they do less with more. But this clearly shows a plethora of reasons why they are just like most of Delaware’s traditional schools. In fact, the ones who do REALLY well on the not-so Smarter Balanced Assessment have demographics that are woefully skewed.
After months of waiting, I received an email from the Delaware Department of Education that their 2016-2017 Annual Bullying Report was completed and up on their website. While I am unable to take a deep dive into this and compare it to previous years, I did want to get it out there for folks to view. When I asked the DOE last week about the status of the report, they did explain the area that handles the report went through a leadership turnover in the past few months which is understandable for the delay.
Day programs for children with big behavioral issues stemming from disabilities are shooting up rapidly. This is a good thing. Prior to this year, most of these special needs students were sent to residential treatment centers which can result in separation from family and a large financial burden to the state. This is the most promising Interagency Collaborative Team report I’ve seen since I began covering these three years ago.
The unique challenges these students face is very difficult for families and schools. At times, extra intervention beyond the capacity of the local education agency is needed. The choice of sending a student to a day program or a residential treatment center is still a difficult one for a parent. But a day program, in the same state, is a better option for the student and their primary caregivers. While a parent doesn’t pay for these programs when it goes through the ICT, it costs the state much more for residential treatment. In most cases, a local school district pays 30% of the cost while the state pays the remaining 70%.
Most of the children, teenagers, and young adults are male, at roughly 80%. Over half of these students are teenagers. Around 3/4 of the students in residential treatment centers go out of state to receive those services. The number of students in these unique services has hovered in the low 140s for the past three fiscal years.
The Delaware DOE released their annual bullying report for the 2014-2015 school year, and reported and substantiated bullying did go down compared to the previous year. I would like to empathize the words “reported” and “substantiated” because I don’t always believe the reporting and substantiations actually occur as much as they should. Schools and districts in Delaware run the risk of being labeled a “dangerous school” if they have too much bullying and school crimes. This actually incentivizes schools NOT to report things, something Attorney General Matt Denn warned schools about last winter.
With the whole Wilmington Education Improvement Commission/Redistricting of Wilmington schools thing going on, I thought this would be an ideal time to look at both Red Clay and Christina. For 2014-2015, Red Clay had 106 substantiated bullying incidents where Christina had 65. Out of those, multiple students aren’t counted in those figures if it is the same incident. When you put in those numbers, Red Clay had 127 compared to Christina’s 74. When you take the charters in Red Clay out of their numbers for academic performance (which I don’t agree on based on standardized testing), Christina out-performs Red Clay. So why do we have this huge push to take Wilmington students out of Christina and into Red Clay? Culture and academics are better in Christina.
Once again, many charters and one district reported NO bullying incidents and some didn’t even have any reported incidents. Charter School of Wilmington, Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security, Delaware Military Academy, First State Montessori Academy, Odyssey Charter School and Sussex Tech reported no bullying incidents to the DOE. All told, 16 different charters and districts reported 5 or less bullying incidents. Reporting incidents to the DOE needs a lot of work. The DOE audited 11 different traditional district schools and one charter, and they found many instances of schools not reporting things to them within the required 5 business days of the incident.
The very loose “peer attention” was cited as the number one reason for bullying with 238 incidents with this as the cause. The even more loose “other” had 118. When it gets down to specific reasons, physical appearance had 76, age had 57, disability had 20, and race/color had 13. With 356 vague and unknown reasons serving 65% of the reasons for bullying, that really doesn’t help Delaware get to the heart of the reasons for bullying. I strongly suspect there are other reasons that could have been checked off but the school chose not to so they wouldn’t look bad.
I will be going into great detail like I did last winter on individual districts, schools and charters on these issues. And once again, I implore any parents who know of substantiated bullying incidents that occurred in schools where NONE were reported to let me know.