Former Delaware Governor Jack Markell was supposed to go biking into the sunset. That was an honorable move on his part. But in the past week, Markell has been on a tear in the education world. If he isn’t joining the board of Graham holdings with their very huge education ties, he is pimping for Campbell Brown’s ridiculous education outfit. Continue reading “Shut Up About Education Already Jack Markell, We Don’t Care About Your Failed Policies Anymore”
This makes me sick. All that time, wasted. What did this assessment inventory accomplish? Not a heck of a lot. That’s for sure. Just another notch in the DOE’s bedpost sucking away money from public education, yet again. A bunch of people got together, but at the end of the day we still have Smarter Balanced and districts still have assessments. So what was the point of all this? Oh yeah, it was the “antidote” to opt out. We still have the Smarter Balanced Assessment. Let me reiterate. We still have it. Even though everyone NOT affiliated with the DOE and Markell’s pals in the General Assembly said “Get rid of it”.
I don’t remember all the talk about computer-based assessments as a best path forward. How about those who attended a lot of these meetings? Do you remember that? And I’m sorry. I don’t know Equetta Jones at all aside from a public comment she gave at a Red Clay board meeting. But the “parent” representative was picked by Governor Markell and she showed up to one meeting, the first one. I don’t know her circumstances, but if she was unable to commit to being on the committee, she should have resigned. All that time was wasted when a parent (who is not also a teacher) could have been giving worthwhile feedback. State Rep. Kim Williams noted in public comment at one of the meetings that she reached out to the Delaware DOE about this without any response. Once again, parents were completely shut out as if our opinions don’t matter at all. The usual kick in the back by those who know best.
Here is the final report folks. I predicted months ago nothing of great importance would come of it. It was a distraction, pure and simple.
I just wrote about how the Christina School District is not backing up their promise to restore librarians cut last year. But the district seems to have $200,000 to spare for a new assessment suite. Last night, the Christina Board of Education approved a contract with Curriculum Associates for new district assessments to replace two other district assessments. The contract would give the vendor $200,000, of which $181,200 would come out of local funds. Local funds are what the district gets from the taxpayers. Call me crazy, but I don’t remember seeing a new assessment package as part of the referendum promises. In fact, the state has been actively pursuing an agenda where districts have less assessments (although the one assessment that needs to go, the Smarter Balanced Assessment, wasn’t even considered by the Delaware assessment inventory committee). My question would be how valid are these new assessments compared to the two ones they are replacing, DIBELS and Amplify. While I am certainly not a fan of either DIBELS or Amplify, I don’t see too many other districts using this I-Ready made by Curriculum Associates, designed to make kids better at Common Core.
I have to say shame on you Robert Andrzejewski twice in one day. What is this guy thinking? He needs to go! Paving the Way to a New Christina? Hardly. Paving the Way to a revolt by taxpayers is more like it. So let me get this straight. They lie about rehiring librarians but they bring in new, untried testing? And the board approved this crap?
See the board action item in all its glory:
The Wilmington Education Improvement Commission is having a full commission meeting tonight at the Community Education Building in Wilmington. The meeting on the 2nd floor in the teacher’s lounge begins at 5:30pm. Many big education meetings are going down Monday afternoon with overlapping times, thereby ensuring no one can possibly make all three meetings. As well, the very odd-sounding EFIC group has another meeting and the candidates for the Capital School Board are having a question and answer night! But first, the WEIC agenda:
I would imagine the group is a bit nervous since no legislation has been introduced to move forward on their redistricting plan. If I were a betting man, it is coming but not until late June. Tomorrow, one of the WEIC sub-committees is having a meeting: The Charter & District
mud fight Collaboration Committee.
But next Monday is where a lot of the action is as groups meet about the assessment inventory, student data privacy and the Every Student Succeeds Act. It is possible to make all three if you drive REALLY fast and miss portions of two of the meetings. But if you want free soda and pizza on the taxpayer’s dime, go to the last meeting!
The first one, which I’m most interested in given that I write a lot about student data privacy all the time these days, is the
Data-Mining Club Student Data Privacy Protection Task Force. They canceled the last meeting because they knew they wouldn’t have a quorum. I would have put the agenda in, but of course the link doesn’t work. I guess they want to make it private! 😉
In the next episode of “We Hate Parents so we are going to trick them out of opting out by making it look like we are getting rid of the bad tests”, the committee meets to discuss testing in Delaware. Someone on the DOE side will talk about how essential the Smarter Balanced Assessment is and someone from the “good guys” side of the table will question what the hell we are even doing. Audience members will give public comment overwhelmingly on the side of “Smarter Balanced sucks”.
To see the wonderful world of the Every Student Succeeds Act through the eyes of
Corporate Education Reform Cheerleader State Board of Education Executive Director Donna Johnson, come to Grotto’s Pizza at 5:30pm. Keep in mind, everyone is still trying to figure out what the hell this mammoth law even means so anything Donna talks about will be subject to change. Expect many “I don’t know”s and “We don’t know yet”s coming from the microphone for this one. We can expect a lot of the same people to show up to this one. Last time I went to one of these I got to take part in a table discussion with Kendall Massett from the Delaware Charter Schools Network and Melissa Hopkins from the Rodel Foundation. Talk about awkward! But it was all good…
And then on Tuesday, the Education Funding Task Force is meeting again to finalize their
pre-determined potential education funding plan for the General Assembly to squeeze in during the last days of their legislative session.
But THE most exciting education event next week will actually take place at Central Middle School on Wednesday May 4th at 7pm. Candidates running for the Capital School Board are having a debate!!! Shameless plug: I am one of the candidates. Come and find out what our priorities, ideas, and concerns are and what our plans are to improve the district. And don’t forget, no matter what district you live in, the school board elections are only two weeks away, on May 10th.
The Delaware Assessment Inventory Committee met in February, and the meeting was very controversial! It is interesting how the Delaware Dept. of Education spun what happened in their meeting notes. The minutes, written by Susan Haberstroh with the DOE, do show a lot of discussion around the Smarter Balanced Assessment and its effectiveness. In the above link with my perception of the meeting, I have, verbatim, what I said in my public comment. Never once was the word “weasel” used!
The next meeting of the Assessment Inventory Committee is on the Delaware Public Meeting Calendar for May 2nd at 4:30pm at the Townsend Building in Dover.
The Assessment Inventory Committee for Delaware finally has a date scheduled for their next meeting. It will be on April 26th, from 4pm-6pm, at the main Department of Education Building in Dover. The meeting will be held in the Cabinet Room where the State Board of Education meets on a monthly basis. No agenda has been set for the meeting at this point in time.
I highly encourage parents and teachers to attend this meeting and give public comment. This is the time and place to make your voices heard where it could potentially have some sort of impact. At the last meeting, I sensed some hesitation from State Rep. Tim Duke. Prior to this meeting, I perceived Dukes as a pro-standardized testing, anti-opt out legislator. He talked about walking through schools and really listening to teachers and hearing their concerns. I would have not thought this was possible a few months ago.
This is a committee that is largely controlled by the DOE. There is a parent representative on the group, but she only attended the first meeting. I find this to be unacceptable. State Rep. Kim Williams has emailed the DOE several times about this glaring hole on the committee without any response from them. The Delaware PTA has also been very vocal about the lack of parent representation on the committee.
It is very important for parents and teachers to give their opinion on these matters to those who have the ability to make a difference. While you may think your voice does not matter, it does. It always has. Don’t be afraid to use it. The timing on this meeting is crucial given that the Every Student Succeeds Act is in the process of issuing regulations that could dictate how much control states have over high-stakes testing. Our children need you to speak up. They need you to be their voice. Do not let them down! The Smarter Balanced Assessment must go. But we also need to make sure it is not replaced by something comparable or worse. As well, the data output from the state assessment and personalized learning must be protected so children are not tracked and used as guinea pigs for testing companies or other corporate entities. This is a non-negotiable in my opinion!
The United States Department of Education wrote a fluff piece today on Delaware’s assessment inventory. There were obvious flaws in their article. But they did get one thing right, which certainly applies to “the best test Delaware ever made” (quote attributed to Governor Jack Markell), the Smarter Balanced Assessment:
Done poorly, in excess, or without clear purpose, they take valuable time away from teaching and learning, draining creativity from our classrooms.
The Smarter Balanced Assessment is finally defined!
Here are some of the other fallacies in the article:
Following up on its commitment to be a part of the solution, the Department recently released guidance to States on how they can use federal funds under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) to reduce the testing burden and improve the use of high-quality assessments so that educators and families can better understand student learning needs and help them make progress (read the letter to States).
Hello! Part of the solution? You created the problem! How can educators and families help children make progress when they don’t see the answers the child gave? This is all designed to get rid of the tests that give REAL information to better understand student learning needs and help them make progress.
“It’s important for us to know where we have achievement gaps. It is important for us to know where our students are making progress,” King said. “But there are places around the country where there is too much assessment and the assessments are not the quality we want.”
Key words from Acting Secretary John King (and I stress the word “acting”): “…not the quality we want.” Yes, you don’t want them because the whole mechanism by which schools are labeled and shamed, the high-stakes standardized test, is the quality you want. Based on the Common Core standards, these tests are horrible. And you know it John King! You are deluded if you think parents aren’t waking up to this more and more!
All district and charter schools in Delaware were required to complete an inventory of their assessments and submit their findings to the Delaware Department of Education by December 31, 2015.
Who checks the facts at the US DOE? Or did the Delaware DOE give them this information? All districts and charters were not “required” to participate. Many did and many of them got grant money for doing so. And a couple of them recommended getting rid of Smarter Balanced!
A committee of teachers, administrators, and parents from across the State is reviewing the assessment inventories, recommendations, and impact information.
Actually, there is ONE parent on this committee (acting as both a parent and a teacher). She has been to one of the four meetings. There are six legislators on the committee, one of which is also a teacher (but I put him in the camp of the “good guys”). The President of the Delaware State Educators Association is on the committee and one administrator: the superintendent of one of our vocational districts. There is also a representative from the civil rights community on the committee. And that’s it, aside from the Delaware Department of Education members who weren’t part of the original legislation but threw themselves on. Oh yeah, it’s moderated by a woman from the University of Delaware. I love how they make it seem like this is a huge group with an “s” added on at the end of each of the members.
“Our educators, our students, and their parents all deserve the benefits of effective assessments that show when students are excelling and when they need extra support,” said Governor Jack Markell. “At the same time, tests that don’t add meaningfully to the learning process mean less time for students to receive the instruction and support they need. We are committed to finding the right balance, and this initiative is an important part of that process.”
Notice the use of the words “the right balance” in the Governor’s statement? Is this some kind of Jedi mind trick? He is right though. We do deserve the benefit of effective assessments. Too bad “the best test Delaware ever made” isn’t one of them. This initiative was started because Jack Markell didn’t know how to handle the opt out movement in Delaware. He was arrogant enough to think it wouldn’t hit Delaware, but it did. He said all sorts of stuff between February and December of 2015 without putting a lot of thought into what it actually meant. My favorite was when he said the Smarter Balanced results could be used for Delaware universities so students wouldn’t have to take remedial classes. Then he took away the Smarter Balanced Assessment for high school juniors in lieu of the revamped Common Core aligned SAT because too many Delaware juniors opted out last year. Then the University of Delaware announced a pilot program announcing they weren’t going to use the SAT as part of their admissions process.
Brandywine’s assessment inventory found that many of these assessments were not aligned to the State’s standards, did not measure the depth of knowledge required by these new standards, nor included a variety of item types.
Kudos to Brandywine!
In particular, there was limited use of performance tasks that measure students’ critical thinking skills. The district is working with its teachers and school administrators to review, revise, and in some cases, eliminate these assessments. In their place will be high-quality formative assessments, tests used throughout the year by educators to assess whether students are learning content, aligned to the State’s standards that will be given throughout the district.
Oops! Never mind. They are getting rid of what are most likely the good tests but don’t help the students to do well on the Smarter Balanced Assessment, which is the only test that matters to Governor Jack and his band of merry persons at the Delaware DOE! And now we have to go through ten months of the new buddy team of Jack and John. I may be running for the local school board, but I can’t help writing about the utter nonsense in this article. And I am glad my local school district is one of the districts that said the Smarter Balanced Assessment is not a good assessment.
Meanwhile, the world keeps spinning as it has for billions of years, before Common Core and the Smarter Balanced Assessment made children feel stupid…
To read the complete nonsense in full, please go here if you have the stomach for more of this…
I was thinking about this a lot the past two days. Since I posted the National PTA “Comply Or We Will Make You” letter to the Delaware PTA, something didn’t feel quite right. Was it the absolute absurdity and gall of National PTA, or the timing of it?
The Delaware PTA heavily advocated House Bill 50, the Delaware opt-out legislation that our cowardly weasel of a Governor vetoed last July. When an attempt to have our legislators do the right thing and override Markell’s veto, the Delaware PTA staged a rally outside of Legislative Hall in Dover. This was a month and a half ago. The very next week, the Delaware PTA announced National PTA would be coming out with a position statement against opt-out very soon. They did so in the beginning of February.
Let us flash forward to last Wednesday. The Wilmington Education Improvement Commission has their post-State Board meeting where State Board of Education President Dr. Teri Quinn Gray is grilled and served on a plate by Wilmington school districts and members of the Commission. State Board Executive Director Donna Johnson is most likely highly embarrassed about the allegation she advised State Board members how to vote on the WEIC plan. The very next day, President of Delaware PTA Dr. Terri Hodges gets the comply or die letter from Laura Bay, the President of National PTA. Right before the assessment inventory meeting at the Delaware Department of Education. Right before. As she walks into the meeting, handouts are provided to the committee and members of the public. One of them is the National PTA position statement on assessment and opt-out. It was a very odd choice for a hand-out. Especially since it was NEVER discussed at all during the meeting. Dr. Hodges attended the previous meeting, and I’m sure the DOE knew some type of Delaware PTA representation would attend the meeting. I’m not coming right out and saying this, but I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this.
Yes, the National PTA did issue the position statement against opt-out. For what reasons, I absolutely cannot fathom. But Kilroy’s Delaware did present something very interesting today in regards to National PTA President Laura Bay. It turns out she is the coördinator for assessment and instruction in her Washington school district. And she essentially runs National PTA. But was there some outside influence to have Bay pull a sword on Delaware PTA?
We have January and February of 2016 as two key months with a lot of Delaware PTA/National PTA/State Board of Education/Delaware DOE/WEIC activity. All involving some very key players in this very bizarre game of Russian Roulette with parental choices. Add in some referendums, priority schools, and redistricting and we have a huge mess on our hands!
In the backdrop of it all: a very power-hungry Delaware Governor Jack Markell and John King, the very controversial figure at the US Department of Education who is hoping to become the next US Secretary of Education instead of Acting. Surrounding all of this is the massive tome called the Every Student Succeeds Act. The mammoth legislation that has not been clearly defined but will in the coming months when the US DOE begins issuing regulations around it. To make matters more complicated, this will be going on during most state’s testing windows for their state assessments, including the Smarter Balanced Assessment in Delaware. Also during an election year.
The bridge between Delaware PTA and National PTA has one person on both sides: Yvonne Johnson. She serves as the Vice-President of Advocacy for Delaware PTA and is a board member of National PTA. The Governor was not pleased with the Delaware PTA’s defense of House Bill 50 at all. The Delaware PTA has some choices ahead of them. Fight, submit, or secede. None will be easy decisions. Secession is not an easy thing. Fighting could result in major issues for them. Submit will assuredly permanently scar the organization that has made a name for itself over the past year by supporting a parent’s right to opt their child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment in Delaware. Dr. Hodges is not one to surrender quietly. This will definitely be something to watch over the coming months. Perhaps a little push is in order…
The Delaware Department of Education submitted their participation rate plan to the United States Department of Education on 2/11/16. Less than 24 hours later, the “plan” was approved by US DOE. In my opinion, this is all smoke and mirrors. The Smarter Balanced Assessment window opens next week. I have no clue what opt-out numbers will be this year. I know many of the same parents who opted their child out last year plan on doing it this year as well. The big factor is going to be the replacement of the Smarter Balanced Assessment with the Common Core aligned SAT for high school juniors. Many of the opt-outs last year were high school juniors.
I love how the Delaware DOE talks about how some communities balked about over-testing which resulted in the Assessment Inventory. The ironic part is parental choice to have their kids not take the Smarter Balanced Assessment. Parents didn’t opt their kids out of the SAT, AP exams, or any of the other tests: just Smarter Balanced. Much of the over-testing discussion for lower grades was around the DCAS which was administered two to three times a year depending on how the student did on the first Spring test.
Okay Secretary Godowsky, the DOE will send letters to Superintendents and Principals if the numbers are too low. What do you expect them to do at that point? The parents have already opted their child out. Do you expect them to threaten or cajole the parent into having their kid take the Smarter Balanced Assessment? Bribe them? Or even worse, have the kid take it without the parent’s knowledge? That isn’t a plan! The plain simple fact is the DOE cannot and should not make an opt-out plan. It is something the DOE, school districts, and charter schools have no control over. It’s a parental decision that should not be tampered with in any way! And I love how you can’t use the participation rate penalty in the Delaware School Success Framework this year because the US DOE didn’t approve it because of the Every Student Succeeds Act!
But let’s look at the US DOE response:
Alrighty then, that’s a plan! Cut the Title I administrative funds for the state assessment? Yes! Please do it! Cut it all! Bankrupt the federal funding for state assessments? Sounds like a plan to me! Delaware parents, opt your kids out TODAY! Or better yet, REFUSE THE TEST DELAWARE!!!! And while your at it, all American parents need to contact their US Representatives and Senators and tell them to vote NO on confirming Acting US Secretary of Education John King!
The Assessment Inventory Committee will hold a meeting tomorrow night at the Delaware Department of Education office at the Townsend Building in Dover at 4:30pm. The meeting will take place in the Library Conference Room. The agenda, as shown below, will go over the DOE’s role in summative assessments. The agenda does not show public comment, but it is a public meeting and public comment was allowed at other meetings so I’m sure this is just an error. Please try to attend and give public comment! Governor Markell’s former Education Policy Advisor assured members of the public the Smarter Balanced Assessment would be a part of the conversation around assessments last June. I have yet to see anything serious from the SJR #2 Assessment Inventory Committee addressing this absolute waste of a test.
I emailed several folks at the Delaware Department of Education about more transparency surrounding the current Assessment Inventory initiative taking place in Delaware. Since then, they have added a tab on their “Announcements” section on their front page calling for public comment on the assessment inventory. They have also added the minutes, agendas, and other presentations from the Senate Joint Resolution #2 Assessment Inventory Committee on a new page: Delaware Assessment Inventory Senate Joint Resolution #2. To be sure this wasn’t always there, I right clicked on the page and checked properties which said it was created today, 2/5/16. Thank you to the Delaware DOE for doing the right thing and making this information more transparent for concerned parents up and down Delaware!
Timeliness is a huge problem. Couldn’t use the data as needed. No teacher reports that gave insight that was meaningful. Math items were very difficult.
Non-relevant information in a timely manner, not adaptive and doesn’t measure achievement ability at the grade level. Not valid yet. Lost instructional time.
The above quotes came from two Delaware school districts’ assessment inventories. Care to guess which assessment they are talking about? The one everyone wants to be eliminated from Delaware assessments (in most cases) but will likely be the last assessment standing when all is said and done.
Governor Markell asked for an assessment inventory less than a year ago. The Delaware Department of Education started moving on this prior to Markell’s announcement, with the help of Achieve Inc. Achieve Inc. and Delaware go way back. As far back as 2000 when the Assistant Secretary of Education Michael Cohen helped Delaware to “define their standards”. In 2004, Cohen became the CEO of Achieve Inc. From 2007-2009, Achieve Inc. was instrumental in designing the new Common Core standards. How ironic that they are now riding to the rescue in Delaware’s Assessment Inventory. Not only did they set the standards that would be measured by state assessments, now they are determining which assessments are important and which are redundant. Nothing like setting up the whole game in your favor…
Senate Joint Resolution #2 put the assessment inventory into law. The Assessment Inventory Task Force is now meeting to decide the next steps. All districts and charters who participated in the assessment inventory had to have their information submitted to the DOE by December 31st, 2015.
The Delaware DOE is accepting public comment on the assessment inventory:
Persons wishing to present comments on the assessment inventories or recommendations by the district, schools or state may do so in writing or by email by the close of business on or before February 21, 2016 to Tina Shockley, Education Associate, Department of Education, at 401 Federal Street, Suite 2, Dover, Delaware 19901. Email is email@example.com. Please type Assessment Inventory Comments in the subject line of the email.
Below are links to every single part of the Delaware Assessment Inventory. Interestingly enough, only five of the Delaware charter schools participated in this inventory. All 19 school districts in the state took part. Also included is the state assessment inventory and their estimated time chart showing how they plan to reduce testing time but with no details explaining the how. Care to take a guess which district’s assessment inventory was over 500 pages long?
Acting US Secretary of Education John King recently praised Delaware for it’s “important role” in defining how an assessment inventory should be done. As if it was planned from the very beginning…
There is more than meets the eye with this assessment inventory…
In God we trust, all others show data.
Putting a new spin on the words appearing on US Currency, State Rep. Debra Heffernan’s words above shot the smoke and mirrors involving testing, as quoted by Newsworks/WHYY. My response to Rep. Heffernan: What in God’s name are you even talking about?
On the cusp of the biggest blizzard to hit Delaware in Governor Markell’s 2nd term as Governor, Acting US Secretary of Education John King came to Wilmington yesterday and the biggest topic was tests. More specifically, standardized tests. What came out of this visit highlights this insanity inflicted on our children. Below is the press release with my comments on this in red. After that, a quote from a State Representative showcases the growing frustration parents, teachers, and legislators are having with this environment.
ACTING U.S. SECRETARY OF EDUCATION HIGHLIGHTS STATE WORK IN VISIT
Acting U.S. Secretary of Education John King praised Delaware as an “inspiring” leader in education during a visit to Wilmington today as part of his Opportunity Across America Tour.
“Inspiring”! Now that’s a funny word. I would say complete surrender to everything former Secretary Arne Duncan wanted. Governor Markell bowed at his feet and left Delaware wide open for corporate invasion in every single one of our schools.
Following a visit to Kuumba Academy Charter School, King joined Gov. Jack Markell and Delaware Secretary of Education Steven Godowsky for a round table discussion with other education and state leaders about improving assessments and ensuring access to high quality education for all students.
And who were all of these education and state leaders? In various pictures I see a lot of the usual suspects: Indian River Superintendent Susan Bunting, State Rep. Debra Heffernan, State Rep. Earl Jaques, State Board Member Pat Heffernan, US Senator Tom Carper, US Representative John Carney, State Board Executive Director Donna Johnson, Markell’s Education Policy Advisor Lindsay O’Mara, State Senator Greg Lavelle, State Senator David Sokola, State Senator Margaret Rose-Henry and rookie State Representative David Bentz. With the exception of Bentz, who I haven’t seen enough of to accurately judge him, many of these folks are Markell cheerleaders when it comes to education. Where was DSEA and Delaware PTA? We can’t have the people who actually know more about what goes on with these tests than most of these people. We can’t have them asking King the really important questions. Instead, we get this “roundtable” hand-picked by Governor Markell.
District and state leaders talked to King about the ongoing work related to a statewide assessment inventory undertaken by the Delaware Department of Education and individual districts. A report from a state task force on the topic is due later this month.
I thought it wasn’t due until June 30th. Are they now rushing the report before the Smarter Balanced Assessment window opens in March? And they are having a meeting on February 22nd. Little confused here DOE!
The leaders discussed how teachers, families, and policymakers need objective measures to determine whether children are learning – before it’s too late to help them.
And I thought I was Dr. Doom… “before it’s too late to help them”… I think if we get rid of the assessments that will help them and keep more of the garbage like Smarter Balanced than we are throwing them to the wolves.
“Every child matters and we need assessments to measure student academic growth so that none of our kids fall through the cracks,” said Markell, who called for the assessment inventory last year. “But we also know that what determines whether our children get the education they deserve is how much high-quality instructional time they get – access to great teachers, curriculum, and the courses that will prepare them for college and careers.
Far too many of our kids are falling through the cracks because of this testing obsession of yours Governor Markell. One more year. That’s what I keep telling myself. One…more…year…
“So we need to be smart about our approach, ensuring that we are not giving redundant, ineffective, or unnecessary tests so we can maximize time for our teachers to teach and our students to learn,” Markell said.
In other words, time for more teaching to the Smarter Balanced Assessment! Play it up for the press Jack, play it up…
King, who noted his department soon will announce federal dollars to support assessment reviews and improvements, praised Delaware for its work. He emphasized the value assessments provide to educators and policymakers in understanding student learning. But he said leaders have a responsibility to ensure assessments are high quality, transparent, take up the right amount of time, and are one of multiple measures used to assess performance.
Of course they will. It isn’t corporate education reform without federal money pouring into it. People didn’t buy his beliefs in New York, but the gullible of Delaware are probably hailing him as a hero…
The district leaders discussed how beneficial the inventory process was for them at the local level. With the support of state grants, they reviewed their local and state assessments.
Things are always beneficial when you get free money! Where did that money go? Were employees paid more for this review?
“We don’t want to be conducting assessments that are telling us the same things as other assessments,” Indian River Superintendent Susan Bunting said. “We want to make sure we are getting the most information out of the time we are investing.”
The key word in Bunting’s statement is “investing”. It always comes back to the money. She can talk about time, but time is money. And Bunting is all about the Smarter Balanced Assesssment… and Rodel… and Vision Coalition… and Student Success 2025…
Colonial School District Superintendent Dusty Blakey said his district found through the review that it could reduce testing time for all students ranging from a one hour reduction for kindergartners to more than 13 hours saved for eighth graders.
This is truly frightening in many aspects, but I’ll let a State Rep’s quote take care of this one…see below…
“We can put that time back into informed instruction because those assessments remaining are really aligned to instruction,” he said.
Shouldn’t all assessments be aligned to instruction Dusty? Are you saying the Smarter Balanced Assessment has no benefit for instruction? What an absolute shock! Assessments should be based on the instruction already given and should measure what the students retain. Common Core and Smarter Balanced are a whole different animal. Common Core forces teachers to teach outside of their comfort zone, all for the glory of the state assessment. That’s not school, that’s brainwashing and manipulation.
State Rep. John Kowalko issued a statement based on this press release:
Colonial School District Superintendent Dusty Blakey said his district found through the review that it could reduce testing time for all students ranging from a one hour reduction for Kindergartners to more than 13 hours saved for eighth graders”. Please note a one hour “REDUCTION” in testing time for Kindergartners. For God’s sake how many hours of testing have they been torturing these children with and how many will they continue to torture them with for absolutely no purpose? Additionally a REDUCTION of 13 hours for eighth graders leaving ???? hours of useless testing. All parties from the federal DOE down through Governor Markell and Delaware’s DOE and others should be ashamed of themselves, stop this insanity and apologize to all of the children and parents in Delaware.
Representative John Kowalko
I can’t picture that apology coming anytime soon Rep. Kowalko!
Nichole Dhobo with The Hechinger Report also wrote about King’s visit to Delaware in an excellent article. My only beef with it was the continued fallacy that House Bill 50 “allowed” parents to opt their child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment. But it showcased King’s absolute lie about district tests compared to federal.
Local tests required by individual states, districts and teachers are more time-consuming, King said, than federally mandated tests that some parents around the country have rallied to “opt out” of taking.
When you put them all together, they are still less time than Smarter Balanced. Because so much instruction is geared towards Smarter Balanced, as well as the interim assessments, and then the test itself. We all know why King wants them gone… because they are more important than “Smarter” as the hipsters at the DOE call it. And if we actually have tests that do help students, we can’t have that. Look through the mirage Delaware. See the reality. As the education reformers gasp their last rigorous breaths, far too many fall for the lies. Don’t do it…
I strongly encourage everyone in Delaware to go to the Assessment Inventory Task Force meeting tonight at the Delaware Dept. of Education Townsend Building in Dover at 5:00pm. The transparency surrounding this task force has been horrible. When Senate Joint Resolution #2 was discussed during the Senate Education Committee meeting last June, the audience was told these would be public meetings with full transparency. We are now seeing that isn’t the case at all. I’m really not sure where the minutes are for this because there are none. We can thank Senator David Sokola for this. Tonight’s meeting is the third meeting and no minutes have been listed on the SJR #2 page. You would think the DOE would also put minutes for this group on their website since it was their idea anyways, but no. Unless you go to these meetings, we have no idea what they are doing.
For those thinking “Why should I go? It’s not like they care about my input anyways!”, you are probably right. But we need all eyes on this. When asked if the Smarter Balanced Assessment would be a part of this conversation, Governor Markell’s Education Policy Advisor Lindsay O’Mara said:
“Absolutely, yes, all assessments will be the subject of discussion. We were all invited together to have a discussion about assessments. Hopefully those discussions will be grounded in the reality of the cycle of state legal requirements around assessments. But were happy to have any conversation around any assessment that any member of this group would put on the table.”
Time to live up to that promise Lindsay! If we want this task force to Achieve it’s original promise, then we need to start making sure it is wide open to all.
Updated 15 minutes later. The minutes for the second meeting are out there, but I could only find them on the Delaware Public Meeting Calendar in draft form:
So I ask again: where is the conversation about Smarter Balanced being put on the table? Or is the Smarter Balanced the power brokers behind this that want to eat up all the other assessments unless they support SBAC? And I see a whole let of Achieve Inc. mentions in these minutes. Speaking of power brokers…
The Delaware State Education Association’s executive board voted on an official stance on the House Bill 50 Veto Override and released this information today publicly:
DSEA’s position on opt-out is the same as it has always been, we support a parent’s right to opt their child out of excessive state mandated standardized testing. At the same time, we believe that the state, with direction from parents and educators, must reduce the time dedicated to standardized testing. More importantly the state must ensure the tests that are taken are valid measures of student progress in the given subject area, and provide clear direction on how to improve student growth. As an organization, DSEA will continue the push to eliminate excessive, invalid testing and tying the results of these tests to educator evaluations. With that being said, we will respect the individual decisions made by legislators regarding whether or not to override the Governor’s veto of House Bill 50.
The Delaware State Education Association needs to speak up. Many parents have fought for teachers rights for many years. It is past time you stepped up and did the same for parents. We thank you for supporting House Bill 50, but as I’m sure you are well aware, the battle is not over. The Governor vetoed the bill. I know I ticked you off when I didn’t agree with your support for the assessment inventory legislation, and we are seeing exactly why I didn’t support it now. Legislators, the Governor, and testing supporters are using this as a defense against the override. The plan isn’t even due until June 30th which does nothing for parents this year. We both know Smarter Balanced won’t be a serious part of this conversation. We both know House Bill 50 and opt-out are parent’s reaction to the Smarter Balanced Assessment.
Delaware Parents need your full support in our effort to have Governor Markell’s veto of House Bill 50. Please help us to make this happen. Thank you.
The Washington Post, owned by the owner of Amazon, just published an editorial about the potential override of Delaware Governor Markell’s veto of House Bill 50, our opt-out legislation passed overwhelmingly by the Delaware House of Representatives and Senate last Spring. They are very much against the override. The owner of The Washington Post, Jeff Bezos, is a very well-known charter school supporter. Many feel the true purpose of tests like the Smarter Balanced Assessment and the PARCC tests is to label and shame traditional public schools to the point where they are put in “turnaround” status and then become charter schools.
I found the editorial staff’s column to be absolutely wrong on so many levels.
Credit to Delaware Gov. Jack Markell (D), then, for standing up for accountability in vetoing a bill that would encourage parents to exempt their children from state tests.
The accountability where he made our Delaware Department of Education impose harsh opt-out penalties on our Delaware School Success Framework after our Secretary of Education said it would most likely not happen? Accountability where students with high populations of minorities, low-income and poverty students, and students with disabilities don’t perform well on “the best test Delaware ever made”? But yet Jack Markell can’t be accountable to the legislators that voted overwhelmingly in support of parental rights. He dishonored them and parents with his cowardly veto.
In fact, parents can already prevent their children from taking these tests. But the legislation would give an imprimatur of state approval that would lead more parents to think it’s okay, even desirable, for children to duck these tests.
The legislation says absolutely nothing about that whatsoever. It merely codifies a parental right and stops school districts and charter schools from strong-arming parents when they opt their children out. If parents can already prevent their children from taking these tests, than why is our state not doing anything to stop school districts and charters from intimidating and bullying parents? And yet, this editorial says absolutely nothing about the protections offered to students: they are to have alternate educational activities and they will not be punished by the school for the parent’s decision.
That, as Mr. Markell told us, would be bad policy. “Assessments are an important tool for teachers and families to have,” he said. Backing his decision are civil rights groups that fear minority and other at-risk students will slip through the cracks if there is no objective measure of performance and business groups that believe results should be measured when billions of dollars are spent on schools.
The same civil rights groups that get massive donations from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation? They are full of it and care more about their own bottom line than the students they claim to represent.
No doubt there is frustration with what some see as excessive testing, but the solution is not a knee-jerk boycott. Instead, there needs to be, as is being done in Delaware, a thoughtful inventory of tests to eliminate those that are redundant or otherwise unnecessary.
That thoughtful assessment inventory where the ONLY parent on the task force is one appointed by the Governor? And stacked up with many of his education go-to legislators? The one that will most likely get rid of assessments that actually do help students and will give rise to more Smarter Balanced interim tests? That thoughtful process?
If they want to continue to have bragging rights in improving education, they need to preserve accountability and not give in to interest groups that oppose a clear view of how their schools are performing.
Trust me, the only ones bragging about Delaware education are the Governor and our DOE. We know how our schools are performing, thank you very much, and it is all based on a lie called standardized tests used not for their original purpose but to test, label, and punish our schools. They are socio-economic in nature and all they do is tell us what a child’s zip code is in many cases.
Here we go again! The opt-out movement is back! And smack dab in the middle of it all is Delaware’s 62 legislators in the House and Senate. Matthew Albright with the News Journal wrote about the Veto Override of House Bill 50. There are some great quotes in here… and then there is Earl…
“If you’re a Democrat, and the governor’s a Democrat, you have to think long and hard, ‘Do I want to override my governor?” said Rep. Earl Jaques, D-Glasgow, chairman of the House Education Committee. “It has to be a really big issue for you to do that.”
Jaques was one of five representatives who voted against House Bill 50. He says parents already have the right to opt out, so he doesn’t understand the need for a new law.
Earl, Earl, Earl… when are you going to get what this is all about? I’ve already put Earl in the no column on this. I don’t expect him to change his vote at all. There is no law when it comes to parents opting out, thus House Bill 50!!! It protects the parents, but it is more than obvious Earl wants to side with the Governor. Luckily, State Rep. John Kowalko is able to comment on this insanity with a breath of fresh air”
“If it’s a good policy, you voted for it because it’s a good policy,” Kowalko said. “That policy does not change its makeup just because the governor has decided that he doesn’t like it. If we start considering another branch of government as dictating to us how our decisions should be made, we are seriously compromising our rights as an independent body.”
State Rep. Mike Ramone is once again thinking this is all about the amount of testing kids take. Mike, I’m going to tell you right now I have never once heard from any parent about any other test but the Smarter Balanced Assessment. Parents don’t want to opt out of any other test but the Smarter Balanced. Once again, those who are pro “assessment inventory” are missing some basic facts. When DCAS was around, it was taken two to three times a year depending on how the students did on the first Spring test. If they didn’t hit proficiency, they had to take it again. That’s when parents were talking about “too much testing”. But what happens when we do get rid of the assessments that do matter in favor of SBAC and the interim assessments that accompany it? Then you will have opt-out and NO assessments that give good feedback. I am not anti-assessment. Like the PTA, I support assessments that give timely feedback with a validated test. I already gave my predictions on the final results for the Assessment Inventory Committee. But Ramone… does he realize what House Bill 50 actually is?
Ramone also said he wants to see a statewide process for opting out, since the current rules are a patchwork of district-by district rules.
A statewide process for opting out? It’s called House Bill 50. It specifically states when schools would receive letters from parents and that students who are opted out need to receive another form of instruction. Does he want us to do it through the DOE? That would be a never-ending nightmare! Let’s not muddy the waters any more Mike. House Bill 50 is what it is. You are either for parental rights or you’re not. At the end of the day, this is what it all boils down to. Something Delaware PTA President Dr. Terri Hodges agrees with:
“The message we’re trying to send is that parents and teachers and the community have spoken,” said Terri Hodges, the PTA’s president. “We are hoping our legislators honor the will of the people and follow their original vote.”
I am already hearing the DOE is talking about Smarter Balanced results coming in before kids leave school for summer. I saw that one coming a mile away! This will be another one of their attempts to dissuade legislators from voting for the override. “Look, parents said they wanted quicker feedback. We’re going to make that happen.” But no matter when the results come in, we have to face facts. The Smarter Balanced Assessment is a BAD test. Period. I am all for getting rid of SBAC for high school juniors. But I am also for getting rid of it for ALL Delaware students. Until that happens, parents will opt out, and there isn’t a damn thing anyone can do about it. Yes, the legislators do need to look at the reasons why. I won’t disagree with that. But talking about it doesn’t do anything for parents. The legislators who voted for the Smarter Balanced Assessment knew there were issues with it. But they voted it in anyways. This is the consequence of that action. Yes, Murphy already bought the test. We all know that. But look at the results. Has it changed anything for our students? Not really. It has brought disruption and chaos to our children’s education. The only ones who support this assessment are the very ones who seem to profit, whether financially or through an illusion of success by having “great scores”.
As for the infamous letter the ten Democrats sent Governor Markell about the SAT replacing the Smarter Balanced Assessment, this is NOT their idea. The Delaware DOE has been talking about this publicly since last May. The College Board is redesigning the SAT to be more like the Smarter Balanced and make it all about the Common Core. So guess what, it’s not like it will be that much of an improvement. Can’t wait to see those SAT scores on top of Delaware’s already horrible scores.
This is a bill that comes down to basic and fundamental parental rights. Meanwhile, over 200 parents have already signed the Delaware PTA Petition. More will sign as well before it is all said and done. This is a battle parents aren’t giving up on. We won’t stop until our rights are protected. I am frankly shocked that some legislators would rather see parents fighting with schools than overriding a ridiculous veto by a Governor who is so entrenched in corporate education reform he can’t see the forest from the trees.
By June 30th this year we will all know what is in the final report from Delaware’s Assessment Inventory Committee. This is when it is due to the General Assembly. I have made predictions in the past about the end result: that district assessments will go the way of the dinosaur in favor of more interim assessments for the Smarter Balanced Assessment. When Senate Joint Resolution #2 was announced, it was at the height of the 2015 opt-out movement. Governor Markell spoke about it at Howard High School last March. I immediately saw it as a response to opt-out.
A week before the legislation hit the General Assembly, I had the opportunity to see a DOE email stating that Senate Joint Resolution #2 was the answer to opt-out. The House and Senate Education Committee Chairs in Delaware sponsored the legislation. During the Senate Education Committee meeting in June, it was brought up before House Bill 50, much to the consternation of several people. Governor Markell’s Education Policy Advisor, Lindsay O’Mara, when asked at the meeting, said the Smarter Balanced Assessment could be a part of the assessment inventory but it depends on state and federal regulations. The Assessment Inventory Committee officially began in November.
To date, no minutes have been posted on the General Assembly website or the DOE website. The group first met on November 16th and then again on December 16th. The only place it shows up is on the Delaware Public Meeting Calendar and it must be put there seven days before the meeting as per Delaware state code. In looking at that website, there are no scheduled meetings showing up anywhere in 2016. In fact, on the list of committees and task forces in a different section of the General Assembly website, there is no listed Chair of this committee. No meetings show up on the Department of Education calendar part of their website either.
I am going to predict now that the Smarter Balanced Assessment will definitely be a major topic of discussion at this task force. It will not be a part of the assessment inventory to be kept or removed. But someone will say something to the effect of “We need to do an evaluation of this test.” It may even be one of the few members on the task force who has vocally opposed it. Politics is often suggesting something to someone and making it seem like it was their idea. Someone will whisper it into their ear and they will think it is a great idea. When it comes to education, great ideas can seem like a good thing but they are loaded with snares and traps. Like I said before, this committee is top-heavy with Markell sympathizers.
There will be some other carrots in this final report. One teachers will love will be a recommendation that standardized tests not be used for the purpose of teacher evaluations. Teachers will support this emphatically and will then support anything the committee recommends. If Governor Markell doesn’t sign an executive order or no legislation passes prior to this report, there will be a very strong recommendation that high school juniors not take the Smarter Balanced Assessment. This is something ten Democrats in the House of Representatives wrote to the Governor about three days ago. The reduction in district assessments will not specifically say “get rid of this or that”. There will be a recommendation that no student receives any type of “interim assessment”, whether it is the Smarter Balanced Assessment or something like SRI, SMI, MAPS, DIBELS, or any of the other assessments districts use in Delaware more than once in any given marking period. There may be certain assessments ditched, but for the most part it will be up to the local districts. There will most likely be language either requiring or strongly suggesting the Smarter Balanced Interim Assessment be given at least once during the first or second marking period.
The evaluation of the Smarter Balanced Assessment will be done by a third corporate cousin of one of the many vendor companies the DOE utilizes for pretty much anything that generates a report. The evaluation will come back and find that the Smarter Balanced Assessment is effective. Bloggers and teachers will rip it apart and say the report is not valid. The state will most likely pay this vendor anywhere from $50-$100,000 for this report which will show some issues with the test but not enough to render it invalid. When all is said and done, we will pretty much have what we’ve always had but a little bit less of the district assessments. Smarter Balanced will still be here. Parents will still opt-out. The big question on everybody’s mind will be if our legislators honor that right by overriding Governor Markell’s veto of House Bill 50 or if they side with the test and punish corporate backed privateers who are hell-bent on continuing their agendas.
Both of the Seans in the Delaware House of Representatives have a lot in common. They are both Democrat, they are both named Sean, they both voted against the budget last June, and they both began their first terms as State Representatives this year. They both supported House Bill 50 in a big way. They brought in a much-needed amount of fresh young blood to the General Assembly. They are both up for re-election this year. Both of them dealt with some controversial issues in 2015.
Sean Lynn’s biggest moment came during the debate of Senate Bill 40, the legislation designed to repeal the death penalty in Delaware. According to Delaware Liberal, Lynn plans to attempt a suspension of House rules to bring the bill back from its own form of death: not coming out of the Judiciary Committee. This could happen as early as January according to the article. The death penalty is one of those issues in Delaware that keeps coming back, draws the ire of both sides, and doesn’t move forward. Will Lynn’s attempt to reanimate the bill be the difference? Time will tell.
Sean Matthews sponsored or co-sponsored many education bills in the General Assembly. He enjoyed moderate success with these bills, which helped to land him a slot on the assessment inventory task force stemming from Senate Joint Resolution #2. As one of the key players in this group, Matthews will be the voice of reason in a group filled with many who lean toward Governor Markell’s way of thinking with state assessments. Time will tell if this group can get rid of the Smarter Balanced Assessment, but I doubt it.
Both of the Seans will have their hands full with the rest of their own party. As part of the “Six” who voted against the budget last year, along with State Reps. Baumbach, Bennett, Kowalko and Williams, many in their party felt it was a mighty bold move for two legislative rookies. It was. I would rather see legislators vote with conviction and belief than going along to get along. I fear there could be retribution of a political sort this year by the House leadership. The easiest targets are the new guys. But both Seans are a mighty stock and I have faith they will deal with any fallout from their decision last year with grace.
With an election year looming, many are assuming no matter what the Democrats will keep their power in Legislative Hall. But there is a growing feeling of discontent in Delaware. After years of questioned policies and agendas coming from Governor Markell and the leadership in Legislative Hall, many Delawareans are willing to vote out of party this year. I predict both of the Seans will be safe because they are among those questioning what is really going on in Delaware. The key to all of this will come in January when Governor Markell releases his budget proposal for Delaware. We will get a very firm idea on where Delaware stands in terms of a budget deficit.