New DOE Organizational Chart Showcases Many Things In The Department

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The Office of Accountability and Assessment is gone.  Previously led by Penny Schwinn, who departed the DOE earlier this month, it is now part of the Teaching & Learning Branch but only as the Office of Assessment.  Dr. Carolyn Lazar is still listed as the Interim Director of The Office of Assessment, in the sub-section of the Teaching & Learning Branch which is still led by Michael Watson.  There is a sub-section under the new Deputy Secretary, Karen-Field Rogers, called Performance Management, but that is showing as vacant.  This is echoed with the Data Management office.  Former Deputy Secretary David Blowman has taken over Field-Rogers slot as Associate Secretary Financial Management & Operations.  It looks like he still oversees the Charter School Office.  Chris Ruszkowski is still running the show in the Teacher/Leader Effectiveness Unit.

It appears the DOE is in the process of updating their website, because if you look under their “leadership” tab, it still shows Penny Schwinn there, and Blowman as the Deputy Secretary.  There are many such errors on their website.  If you look under the Exceptional Children Resources group, it still shows Sarah Celestin listed even though she left the DOE last summer to become the Special Education Director at Red Clay Consolidated School District.

The DOE has seen some key departures and changes in the past few months since the new Secretary of Education, Dr. Steven Godowsky, took the helm.  With the amount of work the DOE receives based on the never-ending barrage of changes implemented by the State Board of Education and the feds, with more coming every day, on top of compliance issues, implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act, charter school issues always going on, priority schools, assessment changes, state budgets and everything else is the DOE staff reaching a point where they are actually understaffed?  Do they have too much on their plate?  In some areas I would say so, but in others there is a lot of wasted money and resources going out.  Like the TLEU.  Every time I look, they are paying someone to come up with the latest report on Educator Effectiveness.  Or the Office of Assessment, constantly regurgitating report after report about Smarter Balanced and everything that goes with it.  Figuring out the Rubiks Cube that is the Delaware DOE is always a challenge…

Smarter Balanced Update: No Scores Until After Labor Day! Are Charters Getting A Chance To Have Better Scores? #REFUSETHETESTDELAWARE

At the Delaware State Board of Education meeting last week, Dr. Penny Schwinn and Carolyn Lazar gave a presentation on preliminary Smarter Balanced Assessment participation numbers.  The blogger Kavips, based on the same report presented to the State Board that I published a couple weeks earlier, compared the number of students taking the Smarter Balanced Assessment to the school profiles section of the DOE website.  Kavips found, within a margin of error, that approximately 15% of Delaware juniors opted out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  However, Schwinn and Lazar explained this data only shows when the Smarter Balanced window was launched, meaning when the test actually started.  For all grades, with the exception of 11th grade, this was pulled at the end of the testing window.  For juniors, this was pulled in April, when many juniors were just beginning the test.  No explanation was given for why it was pulled then and not at the end.

The State Board was very curious about the participation rates, more specifically, if the 95% participation rates went below.  Both Schwinn and Lazar said it was too early to be able to accurately say if any subgroup went below the “required” participation rate.  Subgroups can be minorities, special needs students, early English learners, low-income, particular grades, and whatnot.

American Institutes for Research, the vendor for SBAC, has what is called the TIDE (Test Information Database Engine) database and according to Lazar this holds a “variety of student information” but didn’t go into details about what kind of data is stored there.  The purpose is to help define accommodations for individual students quicker so there aren’t as many technical issues, which was a huge problem last year.

Schwinn and Lazar went over the survey data given to assessment coordinators and testing administrators in each district, and they heard back from over 300 teachers.  Only 28% said they had no technical issues.  When asked if the other 72% came from particular districts, Schwinn and Lazar said they had not broken down that data yet but they will.

In terms of when the scores will be released, Schwinn said she anticipates all data to come back by Labor Day.  Schools and districts will receive their information before statewide results are released, which will occur at the September 17th State Board of Education meeting.  The reason for the delay on the scores is due to many SBAC states having a huge number of pen to paper parts of the assessment to score.

One thing that didn’t catch my attention before, but does now is when schools are starting the assessment.  Most local school districts started the assessment in March, but many charters didn’t start until late April or May.  I am basing this on the number of parents who emailed me or sent Facebook messages to me concerning opt-out, as well as many charter school board minutes I read where they talk about the Smarter Balanced Assessment testing.  Does this give charters a leg up on information that appears on the assessment?  Not to go all “conspiracy theory” here, but I’ve always predicted charters will somehow do “better” on these assessments than the local school districts.  This is just a theory, but definitely something to watch for…

In terms of next year’s testing window, the below “draft” was released by the DOE  office of assessment.  This does not give a schedule for each school or district’s exact testing window but rather the statewide schedule.  Board member Pat Heffernan did express a desire to see this window narrowed but understands there are issues of bandwidth and technical issues.