Exclusive: Governor Markell Letter To General Assembly, DOE Freaking Out Over Opt Out

Parents are opting out.  Teachers are crying foul.  Legislators are demanding accountability from the Delaware DOE.  Schools are overwhelmed.  Students are walking out of schools across the country.  We are in test overload as a country.  So what is the DOE, members of the 148th General Assembly, and Governor Markell’s response?  Ease the problems by taking away what is surrounding the Smarter Balanced Assessment but by all means keep the test intact.

So who is this “small group” of legislators who have had closed-door meetings with the Delaware DOE?  Why is there no transparency with these discussions with parents or other stakeholders aside from DSEA or the Delaware PTA?

This is what you are going to see: more “extensions” for teacher accountability, a push to decrease the other tests students get during the school year, downplaying the parent opt out movement by making the Smarter Balanced Assessment less than what it is, turn the movement into a political thing, and education leaders voicing objections to the objections as if they are speaking for everyone they represent when they are not.

This is becoming dirty politics in every sense of the word.  I imagine many closed-door conversations are occurring down at Legislative Hall without authority or transparency.  This is the Delaware Way.  When things get out of hand and the people actually speak out about something, let’s get dirty.

What makes this situation different though is parents are finally starting to see through the smoke and mirrors.  I told the legislature last week in an article that parents will hold them accountable, and the response has been less than stellar.  There are a handful trying to do the right thing for students, but the vast majority either won’t address it or the ones that do are making the situation worse.

Yesterday, we had State Rep. Jaques refer to Smarter Balanced as a “little test” in an attempt to diminish the impact.  This was quoted in an article about potentially getting rid of some of the other tests for students which give actual useful data and in a timely manner.  Donna Johnson, executive director with the State Board of Education echoed this sentiment overtly at the Delaware PTA Kent County Parent Opt Out Town Hall last night.  Now we have this article from WHYY/Newsworks: http://www.newsworks.org/index.php/delaware/item/79167-delaware-lawmakers-unions-want-delay-on-tying-new-test-to-teacher-evaluation with this direct quote from the President of the Delaware Educators Association:

“Jenner said she’d support tying test scores to teacher evaluations beginning in the 2016-17 school year.”

But not so fast, Jenner is denying on Twitter that this was the context of what she said.

In everything I’ve heard from numerous members of DSEA and the various education associations with each district, they did not support this, and overwhelmingly were against Component V in the DPAS II teacher evaluation system.  In Delaware DOE surveys given to teachers last year, they consistently said they lack faith in the systems as they are.  In fact, DSEA voted on a moratorium on Component V.

State rep. John Kowalko said in a conversation with Exceptional Delaware this afternoon,

“This is a Trojan horse, and DSEA members need to think twice before they approve a stall tactic designed to lessen the impact of an intrusive and damaging test to children.”

More details on this continuing story as they emerge…