The shot heard round Delaware went off yesterday, and most citizens don’t know what the hell any of this means! Half the kids aren’t proficient in English/Language Arts and 61% aren’t proficient in Math. But they did better than what they expected, or at least that’s what the Delaware DOE and Governor Markell are spouting. But here’s the crucial truth: nobody knew what to expect with any of this. I’ve heard from more than one source the DOE just kind of picked a number for proficiency and above. But this is the nature of standardized testing.
With high-stakes assessments like this, not everyone can be proficient. And not everyone can be failing. There will always be that bar. It is set up like that for a reason. The DOE can’t label and punish if everyone is doing great. With all the talk of poverty schools, which are Title I schools, the system is specifically designed to punish those schools. The ones who promote getting these schools the resources they need to succeed (Markell, DOE, Rodel, Delaware Business Roundtable, etc.) are the exact same ones pushing the standardized testing agenda. And parents and citizens buy into it hook, line and sinker. The State Board of Education and Rodel have reached the point where it is hard to distinguish one from the other. In an email sent out today from Donna Johnson, the Executive Director of the State Board, she cites Rodel’s huge help in getting resource material on the State Board website to “help” parents. Dani Moore is the Administrative Secretary for the State Board of Education. The key part is bolded for emphasis.
Sent: Thursday, September 3, 2015 8:15 AM
To: Moore, Dani L. (K12)
Cc: Johnson, Donna R (K12)
Subject: Additional resources available on SBE website, please feel free to link to your site and share with others
Dear Educational leaders, Policy makers, and Community Partners:
In recent weeks we have developed and finalized additional materials to assist with the Smarter Assessment Score release and continue to provide information and resources to our educators, parents, and community partners.
Our website (www.destateboarded.k12.de.us) has several new tools and resources that may be of interest to you.
1) Two one page documents that provide an overview of Smarter Assessments as well as an big picture overview of the shift to new standards and assessment. I have also attached them here as pdf’s. (I greatly appreciate the help from our SBAC partners in WA, CT, OR, and WV as well as the huge assistance from Rodel and DOE in pulling these together)
2) Two short videos – one is a 30 second overview of why we shifted to these assessments and what it means for students, the other is a little over 1 minute description of the Smarter Balanced assessment suite and how it can be used as well as some big ideas about the summative assessment
3) A link to a table of resources that provides additional tools and resources for educators, parents, and the community (this is also given as a word document so that others can utilize it directly in case that is more useful)
You will see throughout all of these resources we prominently link and direct people to the DelExcels.org website, which is the existing partner site for information regarding Standards and Assessments. That site is a partnership of DOE, DSEA, PTA, and Rodel.
We have an additional video that should be available soon. It is a narrated Prezi, in video clip format, that talks you through the components of the Smarter score report and basically verbalizes much of what is explained in written form within the Parent guide that will accompany the report. I will post this to our website as well as provide a direct link when it is ready to go live.
Here are links to the videos directly that are posted on our home page:
I hope these resources are helpful to you, again please do not hesitate to give me feedback or suggestions that could improve upon these items and again please feel free to share these with others.
All my best,
In terms of the DelExcels website, I have heard from quite a few people the Delaware PTA does not have an active role in this and haven’t for a long time. But the DOE will get their name out as much as they humanly can just to attach Smarter Balanced with the Delaware PTA. The PTA was very active in getting House Bill 50 to pass, and were instrumental in the legislative sessions surrounding it.
The key part of all this is the scores this year don’t matter…for this year! They will be huge NEXT year though. This is what all the growth measurements will be based on, this year’s scores and next year’s. For a school like Eastside Charter School, who performed horribly on this test (if you count SBAC as a valid measurement of student performance which I don’t), they are pretty much set up to show huge growth gains based on their scores this year. Most schools are, especially the Title I schools.
What is very telling is the fact DOE did not release the sub-group data. They have it, because all states do. States like Connecticut already released their statewide sub-group information. There is no reason the DOE could not have. I’m sure they will come up with some reason, like they are still aggregating the data and whatnot, but I believe they did not want this information out yet. The DOE and the State Board are masters at using timetables to their advantage. They will only release information on their timing, so it can serve them best, not the true stakeholders: students, teachers, parents, schools, districts. But you better believe Rodel was probably one of the FIRST organizations to see the Smarter Balanced data.
The State Board of Education meets next on September 17th. They will release the sub-group data and come up with a shock and awe strategy to cover up the simple fact that the Smarter Balanced is a BAD test. It’s what they do. Meanwhile, schools don’t know what to do with all of this. Parents are wising up faster than I anticipated them to and are asking if we even need this. Yesterday, 105.9 covered the Smarter Balanced results and asked the audience if they felt Governor Markell should reverse his House Bill 50 veto. When we are at that point, and the entire state knows what a colossal waste of time, money, energy and resources this has been, all involved in this assessment need to suck it up and say “Yeah, we need to admit failure and move on for what’s best for Delaware students.” But that won’t happen, instead they will keep trying to fix what is irreversibly broken. I’ve said this before, and I’ll keep saying it. Last year, at a Christina School District Board of Education meeting, member John Young said “You want to know who needs great leaders? The Delaware DOE needs great leaders.” Never has this been more true!
And DOE, stop calling it Smarter. It sounds stupid, because we all know now the test is DUMBER than any test ever created!