Delaware Competency-Based Education, Part 2: Reinventing Schools & Dark Omens

Competency-Based Education

At the first official meeting for the Delaware Dept. of Education/Rodel created Guiding Coalition for Competency-Based Learning, an email went out to members to research an organization called Reinventing Schools.  Theresa Bennett with the DOE sent the following email:


Bennett announces that a Kim Hanisch from the Reinventing Schools Coalition will be facilitating their meetings.  The organization changed their name because of the initials, RISC, to Reinventing Schools.  This group received their start-up funds from the Gates Foundation.  A blog called Save Maine Schools gave a very detailed description of the man that runs Reinventing Schools, Dr. Joseph Marzano.  I imagine Rodel and Reinventing Schools have a lot in common since they are both lovers of competency-based education and personalized learning in a digital classroom.  Oddly enough, Reinventing Schools does not list Delaware in their map of schools and districts they work with.  I guess non-profits don’t count as true education centers of learning!  Save Maine Schools referred to Marzano as just another corporate education reform snake-oil salesman.  His ideas, according to the article and commenters, were nothing new but repackaged to further this modern-day Competency-Based Education mixed with Personalized Learning in a digital environment.

As I mentioned in Part 1 of this series, a lot was going on in Delaware education at this time.  The priority schools debacle was heating up.  On the same day as this first meeting of the “Guiding Coalition”, the Christina and Red Clay Consolidated Boards of Education were holding meetings to decide their next steps with the Delaware DOE and Governor Markell.  Red Clay indicated they would capitulate with the DOE, but Christina was defiant and insisted on writing their own Memorandum of Understanding with the DOE.  The priority schools MOU called for the firing of half the teachers and each school had to get a new principal.  As teachers and Delaware citizens seethed, a growing voice was calling for the resignation of Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy and a new employee at the DOE named Penny Schwinn, who led the Accountability & Assessment department, soon became the most hated person in the Delaware education landscape.  Many, including legislators, began wondering what the heck Delaware did with all the Race To The Top money and FOIAs started going out to the Delaware DOE.

As a result of this, the Wilmington Education Advisory Committee was born.  Governor Markell issued an Executive Order to come up with recommendations on how to deal with the rising Wilmington education crisis.  Bank of America Communications Chief  and Former Chair of the Wilmington Metropolitan Urban League, Tony Allen, was chosen to lead the committee.  Meanwhile, a certain blogger started talking about Delaware Opt Out more and more.  All of these were easy distractions for those who were very worried about what was going on with Delaware education.  Markell was taking a very hard stance on the priority schools.  Nobody saw what was going in with the back-door and secret meetings of the Guiding Coalition.

The Rodel Foundation of Delaware was busy preparing for their next Vision Coalition annual conference.  One of their guests at the conference was a company called 2Revolutions.  I did not attend the conference, but I followed along on Twitter.  I decided to look into this digital learning company and was shocked by what I found.  Pretty much everything I am current writing about with Corporate Education Reform 2.0 is covered in that link.  That was from almost two years ago.  The next day I received an email from the Governor’s Advisory Council for Exceptional Citizens (GACEC):


This email contained a copy and paste from the Rodel Teacher Council for their “Performance Learning” blueprint which I included in an article I wrote on this.  I was skeptical of Rodel based on everything I saw and read before that email from the GACEC.  But this horrified me.  It was obvious Rodel was facilitating the reinvention of Delaware education and nobody was paying attention.  Changes were taking place.  The Delaware DOE was not running the show.  It was Rodel.  I began to commit myself to finding out all I could about Rodel.  It was Halloween and nothing horrified me more than what I wrote about that dark evening.  I didn’t truly understand it all at that time.  There was a lot going on.  But this was the beginning of putting the puzzle pieces together.  However, the upcoming General Election in Delaware would cause things to change in the Delaware General Assembly that would provide very big distractions for many.

As everyone prepared for a potential takeover of the Priority Schools, the Delaware DOE and Rodel continued their secret meetings.  To be continued in Part 3: Rodel gets a surprise and a matter of civil rights…


UPDATED: Delaware Legislators Not Given Testing Schedule For Smarter Balanced Test!

Smarter Balanced Assessment

Updated, 9/11/14, 2:06 pm: Based on recent information obtained by Kavips, and a commenter on this very article, the Fall Smarter Balanced Interim is optional and at the discretion of the school districts.  When I saw this information, I was actually looking at accommodations for students with disabilities.  The schedule I saw just happened to be on there.  I reached out to a few legislators on this, and none of them were aware of there even being a possibility of a Fall interim test, so obviously they weren’t given the schedule either.  The calendar can be found here:

I apologize for any concern this may have created, but I would also let the DOE know that if they are going to put links up with this type of information, they need to be consistent across the board.  I’m sure I’m not the only parent who has seen this and had questions about it.  Based on this, I have changed the title to “Delaware Legislators Not Given Testing Schedule For Smarter Balanced Test” instead of “Breaking News: Delaware Legislators Lied To About Smarter Balanced Test”. 

I still think House Bill 334 should be repealed, simply on the basis that the Federal Government bought the tests from Pearson and the SBA Consortium, and then “gave” it to the states.   The US Government is not supposed to interfere with public education, and they have been doing that non-stop for a long time now.  I will never change my mind on that!


Delaware Legislators were not given the testing schedule when they voted on the bill, according to a few legislators, therefore they were not aware of a fall interim Smarter Balance test.  And if they didn’t know about it, they would not have known it was optional according to recently found schedules on the DOE website.  given false information about the Common Core dictated Smarter Balanced Assessment which affected their vote.  In a shocking look at the Accessibility Guidelines Inclusion document released by the Delaware Department of Education it clearly indicates there will be two testing windows for the Smarter Balanced Assessment, but the legislators were promised it was a once a year test.  Many legislators indicated they voted for it because parents were tired of tests given to students more than once during a school year.

In this link, it shows there will be two SBA tests, an interim test in the fall, and the main one in the Spring.  Page 8 of the document, which shows when the tests will be administered, clearly shows a Fall interim test.

Table 1. Delaware’s System of Student Assessments in English Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies (2014-15 School year) Name of Assessment Content Area Time of Year Grade levels
Smarter Interim ELA-Reading Fall 3-8 & 11
ELA-Listening Fall 3-8 & 11
ELA-Writing Fall 3-8 & 11
Mathematics Fall 3-8 & 11
To Be Determined ELA Fall 9 & 10
To Be Determined Mathematics Fall 9 & 10
Smarter ELA-Reading Spring 3-8 & 11
ELA-Listening Spring 3-8 & 11
ELA-Writing Spring 3-8 & 11
Mathematics Spring 3-8 & 11

As recently as last week, one Delaware legislator, who wished to remain anonymous, said he voted for HB 334 because he thought the kids would only be tested once.  He said many other legislators listened to their constituents and voted for what they wanted.  House Bill 334 passed the DE House of Representatives fairly easily, but the Senate was another story.  The bill failed when it was first voted on, by a 9-12 vote.  But Governor Markell sent his team in and told the Senate it didn’t matter how they voted because the governor would use executive power to make sure the test was going to happen.  Four Republican Senators flip-flopped on their original vote, and Smarter Balanced officially replaced DCAS as the state standardized test.

If the legislators were given false information which swayed the vote, then the vote should be repealed.  While the 147th Assembly ended on July 1st, they can still meet in emergency session.  Even any reps who may have lost in yesterday’s primaries are still elected officials until January 2015.  Parents need to call their representatives and senators and demand House Bill 334 is repealed based on false information being given to them about their children’s testing schedules.  because the Smarter Balanced Assessment just plain sucks and a legislator couldn’t make heads or tails of it when he took it.

Teacher accountability and effectiveness is also being measured by the test, so that bill should also be as well, which was passed around the same time.

Updated with link to House Bill 334 and what was passed by both the Delaware House of Representatives and Senate:$file/legis.html?open

The part of the bill which indicates the amount of testing tells the tale:

This bill provides for the transition of the statewide student assessment system, the Delaware Comprehensive Student Assessment (DCAS), to the Smarter Balanced Assessment System (Smarter). Specifically, the bill removes references to multiple assessments