Exceptional Delaware Is Looking For Parent Opt Out Reporters

As the Smarter Balanced Assessment kicked off yesterday for many Delaware schools, the drums of parent opt out are beating louder and louder.  This blog is looking for eyes in the schools and ears on the ground!  This non-paying, volunteer position is looking for folks who hear about parents opting out.  Whether it is their child’s school board taking a stand for or against parent opt out, or a principal denying an opt out letter (which they can do but you  are under no obligation to honor their denial), kids walking out of schools, a child being forced to take the test even after they have been opted out, or even just general testing anxiety.  I especially want to hear from parents where their child has started the test, but the parents want to opt them out after.  Because you can do that as well!

I can be reached at kevino3670@yahoo.com, or on Facebook, under Kevin Ohlandt.  Please send a message on Facebook.  Or there are opt out groups for every single school district in the state, and a page for all charter schools.  If anyone wants to become an admin on any of the Facebook opt out pages, please let me know that as well.

The opt out movement has come a LONG way in Delaware.  A year ago, if you mentioned those words, you would be told “Opting out is not an option.”  Now we have school honoring the requests, school boards passing resolutions to not penalize the students, and even the Delaware Department of Education has come to understand it is not going away and has said the state can not do anything legal to parents who opt their child out.  But don’t believe for one second they aren’t having closed conversations with the schools in our state about it.  It’s not something they want, but they are powerless to stop it.

Achievement Levels Set For Smarter Balanced Assessment…Who Cares, Opt Out Anyways

I don’t want to tick off the Smarter Balanced gods, so I can’t copy and paste directly from their website.  But today the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium announced the proficiency levels for the upcoming Common Core test.  I could care less because I already opted my son out, but for those still on the fence, read on.

I will share an email that was sent out today to selected education professionals:

Sent on behalf of Joe Willhoft

To NEA and AFT Teacher Ambassadors,

Attached is a press release that just went out earlier today.  It talks about the setting of four achievement levels on the Smarter Balanced assessments that our member states will start using in 2015.

The process and activities we went through to arrive at consensus on the achievement levels was extremely thorough.  We hosted nearly 500 individual panelists to assist us with these decisions, two-thirds of which were teachers from Smarter Balanced states, with another 20% or so being non-teaching educators (principals, curriculum directors, etc.), about 10% college faculty, and about 5% parents/business leaders.  These panelists spent several days going through test items, the Common Core, and our descriptions of knowledge and skills that teachers told us students needed at different levels of performance.  These panelists submitted recommendations to our chief school officers in member states.  The chiefs gave primary consideration to the content-based recommendations from our in-person panelists, but also took into account other external data on what we currently know about high school student readiness to enter into credit-bearing college courses.  In the end, we had unanimous agreement (18-0, with 2 abstentions) on new and rigorous performance standards on the Smarter Balanced assessments.

Feel free to visit our website​ for more information.  Thanks,


No, thank you Joe!  Now I know who the big guy is at the top of the group.  Sounds like they had all these stakeholders meeting to decide the assessment achievement levels, but at the end of the day it was up to the state school chiefs.  I dread thinking about Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy having any input on these recommendations.

The Consortium (love that word, makes them sound so sinister) sent out the following press release today:

Smarter Balanced States Approve Achievement Level Recommendations

<!– 11/17/14 – Smarter Balanced –>

OLYMPIA, WASH. (November 17, 2014) —Members of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium have voted to approve initial achievement levels for the mathematics and English language arts/literacy (ELA) assessments that will be administered in 17 states and one territory this school year. The vote marks an important milestone in the development of the assessment system.

“These initial achievement levels were developed with input from thousands of educators and community members, reflecting a diverse cross-section of views on education. Moving forward, the achievement levels, along with scale scores that also will be reported, will help teachers and parents understand student performance and needs for support,” said Smarter Balanced Executive Director Joe Willhoft.

The achievement levels serve as a starting point for discussion about the performance of individual students and of groups of students in mathematics and English Language arts. There are other measures that students, teachers and parents can also use to help evaluate the academic progress of students and schools, such as scale scores, growth models, and portfolios of student work. The states also unanimously approved a position paper to provide broad guidelines for how the scores and achievement levels can be used and interpreted by state officials, parents, teachers and other stakeholders.

Since Smarter Balanced is offering assessments for both ELA and math for grades 3-8 and high school, the recommendations include achievement level scores for both subject areas and at each of those grade levels. The attached charts display the threshold scores that distinguish four achievement levels and display the estimated percentage of students across all Smarter Balanced states who would have scored at each level based on data from the Consortium’s spring 2014 field test. Smarter Balanced estimates that the percentage of students who would have scored “Level 3 or higher” in math ranged from 32 percent in Grade 8 to 39 percent in Grade 3. In English language arts, the percentage of students who would have scored “Level 3 or higher” ranged from 38 percent in Grade 3 to 44 percent in Grade 5. See the charts for further details.

“Because the new content standards set higher expectations for students and the new tests are designed to assess student performance against those higher standards, the bar has been raised. It’s not surprising that fewer students could score at Level 3 or higher. However, over time the performance of students will improve,” said Willhoft.

Willhoft added, “It’s important to note that the figures released today are a Consortium-wide estimate based on the spring 2014 Field Test. Once the operational assessment is administered in 2015, states will have a much clearer picture.”

To create the achievement levels, Smarter Balanced organized an unprecedented level of educator and public input, involving thousands of interested constituents, using a rigorous process known as the “bookmark procedure.”

During an in-person panel, held in Dallas, Texas, close to 500 teachers, school leaders, higher education faculty, parents, business and community leaders reviewed test questions and determined the threshold scores for four achievement levels for each grade and subject area. Member states had representatives at each grade level for grades 3 through 8 and high school. Educators with experience teaching English language learners, students with disabilities and other traditionally under-represented students participated to help ensure that the achievement levels are fair and appropriate for all students.

In addition, an online panel was open to educators, parents and other interested members of the community to provide unprecedented input on the achievement levels. More than 2,500 people participated in the online panel. A cross-grade review committee composed of 72 members of the in-person panels then took the results of the online and in-person panels into account to develop recommendations that coherently aligned across grades and that reflected student progress from year to year.

As an additional step, Smarter Balanced engaged an external auditor, an Achievement Level Setting Advisory Panel and its standing Technical Advisory Committee to review the recommendations before they were presented to the states for approval. The auditor and both advisory panels certified that Smarter Balanced conducted a valid process that is consistent with best practice in the field.

In approving the Achievement Levels, Smarter Balanced member states relied primarily on the recommendations from the Achievement Level Setting process. Members also gave consideration to other sources of information about the general content readiness of high school students to engage in credit-bearing college-level work. This included a comprehensive body of research on college academic preparedness of high school students conducted by the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB), the oversight body for the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

Over the coming months, member states will present these achievement level recommendations to the policy-making entities that have the authority to formally adopt achievement levels in each state. This authority most typically rests with the state board of education.

And we all know how the Delaware DOE loves to abuse their authority on behalf of a pro-Common Core Rigor Standardized Test Charter Loving Governor and his other puppet masters at Rodel.  Parents, just opt your kids out now!  Until I did, I was stressed just thinking about my son taking this (choose your own expletive) of a test.  Now, I feel a calm knowing he won’t have to deal with this, and a 50% to 70% chance of him being labeled a failure because of this (choose your own expletive again) of a test.

Write the letter, hand deliver it to the school, join one of the many Facebook groups I created for opt-out in each district, charter and vo-tech in the state, and call it a day.

DOOM Guide: Facebook Opt-Out Groups For All Districts In Delaware & More

I’ve taken the liberty of creating Facebook groups for each school district in Delaware.  This way parents can get together and plan opt-out strategies together.  I suggested going to the school board meeting in your district, speak for 20 seconds about who your child or children are, that you want them to opt out, and give an opt out letter to the school board president.  The original article for that from a week ago was here:


What do you need to do?  Join your district opt out group on Facebook, and SPREAD THE WORD. Tell your friends, tell your neighbors, tell your enemies, tell anyone who will listen!  Just talk about it.  If you want to be really radical, tell people at church, put flyers on windshields at your local grocery store, give them to parents at school sporting events, just do SOMETHING!  Because if you do nothing, nothing will happen.  Share this link on Facebook, put it on Twitter, Instagram, wherever you can!  Make opt out cupcakes for kids at Halloween!

To get a quick link to all the Facebook groups for each district, just go to this list:

Appoquinimink: https://www.facebook.com/groups/811176278901676/

Brandywine: https://www.facebook.com/groups/750657841672044/

Caesar Rodney: https://www.facebook.com/groups/330217710494265/

Cape Henlopen: https://www.facebook.com/groups/659590697473347/

Capital: https://www.facebook.com/groups/capitaloptout/

Christina: https://www.facebook.com/groups/739051449503566/

Colonial: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1492448737676855/

Delmar: https://www.facebook.com/groups/659590697473347/

Indian River: https://www.facebook.com/groups/343734129141847/

Lake Forest: https://www.facebook.com/groups/328549060664391/

Laurel: https://www.facebook.com/groups/375501729267620/

Milford: https://www.facebook.com/groups/578841975553978/

New Castle County Vo-Tech: https://www.facebook.com/groups/703996539678113/

Polytech: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1491857177767603/

Red Clay Consolidated: https://www.facebook.com/groups/290247144492167/

Seaford: https://www.facebook.com/groups/557562024345929/

Smyrna: https://www.facebook.com/groups/640600302723389/

Sussex Tech: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1522571074626892/

Woodbridge: https://www.facebook.com/groups/556125087864842/

All Charter Schools in Delaware: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1477351309213561/

If you want to know all the reasons why Common Core is bad for your child, I highly recommend joining this group:

Delaware Against Common Core: https://www.facebook.com/groups/157115501116902/

If you are against what the Governor Markell, Secretary of Education Mark Murphy and the Delaware Department of Education are doing with the “priority schools”, please join this group:

Delaware Parents Against Priority Schools: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1474847392802505/

I will also keep this in my menu guide with links below the title of this blog.

It’s past time parents started taking their children’s education back and helped to get rid of Common Core and standardized testing once and for all.  It will never happen if you do nothing.  It is controversial, and it will piss people off, but if enough of us do it, things will change.

Capital School District in Dover has a board meeting Wednesday night (October 15th) and already has this on their agenda for discussion.  They want and need parent support.

3.10 State Assessment Parent Opt Out (Resolution No. 15-041)

Parents aren’t the only ones thinking opt out is a good choice, so you are not alone on this if you are already leaning towards it.  It’s a big choice, I understand.  Some may ask if I’ve opted my own son out.  Yes I did.  I did it through a letter to the editor in the Delaware State News, which posted on October 7th.  But if that isn’t sufficient, I will be at the Capital Board meeting, and I will do what I am asking every parent of a student in Delaware to do at a board meeting.  It is actually a relief once you do it, like a great weight has been lifted.  Yes, you will get grief for it, but your kid won’t have to take the test. It may start small and you will feel like a voice crying out in the wilderness.  That’s okay, I feel like I’ve been doing that sometimes for the past six months!  Whatever your differences, where you come from, what you do, who you are- none of that matters.  It’s what’s best for our children.

Please go and join the Facebook page for your district.  I will stay on as admin until things get up and running, and then if you want to be an admin just let me know!  Thank you Delaware parents, and please do the right thing for your child.