Delaware’s Assessment Inventory Final Report Is A Complete Waste Of Time

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.

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Delaware Assessment Inventory By District, Charter & State: What Is Good & What Is Bad

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.

TestStress

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 tina.shockley@doe.k12.de.us. Please type Assessment Inventory Comments in the subject line of the email.

All comments will be made public on the DDOE website and also provided to the SJR#2 Assessment Inventory Committee.
I would take FULL advantage of this Delaware parents!!!

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?

DISTRICTS

Appoquinimink

Brandywine

Brandywine Recommendations

Caesar Rodney

Caesar Rodney Recommendations

Cape Henlopen

Capital

Christina

Christina Recommendations

Delmar

Delmar Recommendations

Indian River

Lake Forest

Laurel

Milford

Milford Recommendations

New Castle County Vo-Tech

Polytech

Polytech Recommendations

Red Clay Consolidated

Seaford

Smyrna

Sussex Tech

Woodbridge

CHARTER SCHOOLS

Academy of Dover

Campus Community School

Campus Community School Recommendations

Charter School of Wilmington

Charter School of Wilmington Recommendations

Delaware Design-Lab High School

Delaware Design-Lab High School Recommendations

Las Americas ASPIRA Academy

STATE ASSESSMENTS

State English/Language Arts

State Math

State Science

State Social Studies

TIME CHART

Time Reducation Chart for Delaware mandated assessments

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…

Redlining The DOE Press Release On Acting Secretary John King’s Visit To Delaware

In God we trust, all others show data.

KingMarkell

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…

Predicting Delaware’s Assessment Inventory Report

SJR2DOE

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.

 

Who Is On The Assessment Inventory Committee?

I reached out to Delaware State Rep. Earl Jaques to see who is on the Senate Joint Resolution #2 Assessment Inventory Committee.  I received his response yesterday.  This is a very interesting list with a name I never saw before, but I was very familiar with the last name.  We shall see what comes out of this committee.  My guess: a massive reduction in district assessments which will lead to more Smarter Balanced interim assessments.  As well, official legislation getting rid of the Smarter Balanced for high school juniors since the SAT is going to become SBAC Jr. (my nickname for it).

Here are the members of the SJR #2 Assessment Inventory Committee:

Delaware Senator David Sokola

Delaware Senator Nicole Poore

Delaware Senator Ernie Lopez

Delaware State Rep. Sean Matthews

Delaware State Rep. Timothy Dukes

Delaware State Rep. Earl Jaques

Delaware State Education Association President Frederika Jenner

New Castle County Vo-Tech Superintendent Dr. Vicki Gehrt (filling the role of President of Chief School Officer’s Association)

Raina Allen (filling the role of “A representative of the civil rights’ community picked by the Governor”)

Equetta Jones (filling the role of “Parent picked by the Governor”, also a teacher in Red Clay Consolidated School District)

This is an interesting group.  With the legislators, it is right down the middle with who voted yes on the opt-out bill, House Bill 50, and  who voted no.  The “yeas” were Senators Poore and Lopez and State Rep.  Matthews.  The “nays” were Senator Sokola and State Reps Jaques and Dukes.  Both Sokola and Jaques are the head of their prospective education committees in the Senate and House.  Jenner is obviously represent the entire DSEA membership.  Gehrt, who also hails from the same district as our current Secretary Godowsky.   I have never personally met Equetta Jones, but I did see her speak at a Red Clay school board meeting last spring and she is very passionate.  The only person I wasn’t familiar with was Raina Allen, but a quick Google search let me know exactly who she was.

Filling roles from the Department of Education are: Secretary of Education Dr. Steven Godowsky, Chief of Staff Shana Young (which will be interesting given what I’m hearing), Tina Shockley, and Susan Haberstroh.  What I don’t see is anyone from the State Board of Education involved, anyone as just a teacher, and only one parent.  This is a very top-heavy group and they will be helping to make crucial decisions about the future of assessment in Delaware.  If this sounds reminiscent of the DOE’s recently defunct Accountability Framework Working Group (but no legislators were on this), where the recommendations of that committee were ignored by Godowsky and the State Board of Education, let’s hope the legislators can keep an eye on what is really important and not make this the usual Jack Markell dog-and-pony show.