Delaware Schools, Are You Ready To Be Graded A, B, C, D, or F?

In the move we all saw coming, the Delaware Department of Education is moving ahead with their school grade rating system upon approval of the State Board of Education at their March meeting.  A new article released today by WDDE reporter Larry Nagengast went over the specifics of the upcoming School Accountability System.

This is based on the infamous online survey the DOE conducted last Fall that generated 6500 responses.

Asked about what grading system to use, 46 percent favored letter grades; 32.8 percent favored performance ratings like “distinguished,” “meets expectations” or “on probation”; 13 percent preferred the traffic light and rest preferred symbols.

Many people who looked at the survey felt it was obvious which choices would be picked by respondents and argued the DOE did this on purpose to get the results they already wanted.  Many felt it was just another whitewash of the Delaware public by a state department that has been shrouded in controversy for over a year.

Frederika Jenner, president of the Delaware State Education Association, wasn’t impressed with any of the options. She says she would have preferred “none of the above,” and says many people she spoke with share her opinion.

Even DOE employee Penny Schwinn gave comment for the article:

Schwinn says that at least half of the weighting for Part A will be assigned to measurements of student proficiency and growth – how well they are meeting benchmarks set in the Delaware Comprehensive Assessment System (DCAS) tests, which were phased out last year, and in the new Smarter Balanced assessments, which are being used for the first time this school year. Graduation rates, career readiness, how well the school is closing the achievement gap between its regular population and high-need students, and some school climate data will also be factored into the scoring.

It is obvious from this article these “grades” will be utilized to punish schools that “don’t make the grade” so to speak:

Awards or sanctions based on ratings could take effect in the 2016-17 school year, Schwinn says. The awards could be financial or they could be “less paperwork” required by the state, she says. Schools falling into the bottom grouping could be subject to transformation remedies, like those used for “partnership zone” schools under the recent Race to the Top federal grant and currently being implemented for six “priority schools” in the Red Clay and Christina districts.

I would love to see what they do with this system when parents start opting their child out of the state assessments en masse.  What are you going to do then Mrs. Schwinn?  It also doesn’t look like many members of the Delaware General Assembly are to enamored with the ESEA Flexibility Waivers either…

The full WDDE article can be read here: http://www.wdde.org/72897-report-card-grading-delaware-public-schools-coming