All The DOE Assessment Information Given To Districts In Delaware

On Wednesday, November 18th, the Delaware Department of Education had a meeting with all the district testing coordinators to go over all things assessment.  This includes the Smarter Balanced Assessment, the assessment inventory campaign, accommodations, and more.  It looks like the DOE’s Office of Assessment will be raiding monitoring visiting every single public school in the state over the coming months.  But who will lead this office now that Schwinn and Reyna are bidding adieu?

Smarter Balanced Update: No Scores Until After Labor Day! Are Charters Getting A Chance To Have Better Scores? #REFUSETHETESTDELAWARE

At the Delaware State Board of Education meeting last week, Dr. Penny Schwinn and Carolyn Lazar gave a presentation on preliminary Smarter Balanced Assessment participation numbers.  The blogger Kavips, based on the same report presented to the State Board that I published a couple weeks earlier, compared the number of students taking the Smarter Balanced Assessment to the school profiles section of the DOE website.  Kavips found, within a margin of error, that approximately 15% of Delaware juniors opted out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  However, Schwinn and Lazar explained this data only shows when the Smarter Balanced window was launched, meaning when the test actually started.  For all grades, with the exception of 11th grade, this was pulled at the end of the testing window.  For juniors, this was pulled in April, when many juniors were just beginning the test.  No explanation was given for why it was pulled then and not at the end.

The State Board was very curious about the participation rates, more specifically, if the 95% participation rates went below.  Both Schwinn and Lazar said it was too early to be able to accurately say if any subgroup went below the “required” participation rate.  Subgroups can be minorities, special needs students, early English learners, low-income, particular grades, and whatnot.

American Institutes for Research, the vendor for SBAC, has what is called the TIDE (Test Information Database Engine) database and according to Lazar this holds a “variety of student information” but didn’t go into details about what kind of data is stored there.  The purpose is to help define accommodations for individual students quicker so there aren’t as many technical issues, which was a huge problem last year.

Schwinn and Lazar went over the survey data given to assessment coordinators and testing administrators in each district, and they heard back from over 300 teachers.  Only 28% said they had no technical issues.  When asked if the other 72% came from particular districts, Schwinn and Lazar said they had not broken down that data yet but they will.

In terms of when the scores will be released, Schwinn said she anticipates all data to come back by Labor Day.  Schools and districts will receive their information before statewide results are released, which will occur at the September 17th State Board of Education meeting.  The reason for the delay on the scores is due to many SBAC states having a huge number of pen to paper parts of the assessment to score.

One thing that didn’t catch my attention before, but does now is when schools are starting the assessment.  Most local school districts started the assessment in March, but many charters didn’t start until late April or May.  I am basing this on the number of parents who emailed me or sent Facebook messages to me concerning opt-out, as well as many charter school board minutes I read where they talk about the Smarter Balanced Assessment testing.  Does this give charters a leg up on information that appears on the assessment?  Not to go all “conspiracy theory” here, but I’ve always predicted charters will somehow do “better” on these assessments than the local school districts.  This is just a theory, but definitely something to watch for…

In terms of next year’s testing window, the below “draft” was released by the DOE  office of assessment.  This does not give a schedule for each school or district’s exact testing window but rather the statewide schedule.  Board member Pat Heffernan did express a desire to see this window narrowed but understands there are issues of bandwidth and technical issues.

Brian Touchette No Longer Director Of Assessment at Delaware DOE

Brian Touchette, the former Director of Assessment at the Delaware Department of Education, has stepped down from the role but is still an employee.  Dr. Carolyn Lazar is serving as the Interim Director for the Office of Assessment.  This was confirmed with the Human Resources Department at the Delaware DOE.  Touchette is still listed as the K-12 lead on the Smarter Balanced website for Delaware, but I believe this information is outdated as well, as it has Touchette’s DOE Role in the Exceptional Children Resources Group, a role he had prior to the Office of Assessment.

I first noticed this when I went to look for any information on the letter Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy spoke of at yesterday’s House Education Committee meeting from U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan regarding potential federal funding cuts for Delaware in the event an opt-out law is passed.  I found no letter, which I have formally requested from the DOE, but I did find this:

Office of Assessment Contact Information

Carolyn Lazar, Ed.D.
Interim Director, Office of Assessment
Email:Carolyn.Lazar@doe.k12.de.us
Phone: (302) 857-3391
Fax: (302) 739-3092

I made a few calls and this has been confirmed.  While no details were given in regards to the change, which I would not expect, I have to wonder if Touchette is the fall guy for the opt-out movement in Delaware.  This is merely speculation on my part.

Delaware DOE Twisting The Opt Out Screws To Parents With Threat Of Funding Cuts Now, Getting Desperate…

In a document released yesterday by the Delaware Department of Education from the Office of Assessment, it appears the DOE is coming up with more threatening language for parents opting their child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  They are still sticking to this paragraph 173 which states schools and individuals can’t opt students out.  The rest is what the schools have to do, not anything about the parents.  I will say it one more time DOE before I go to the Attorney General with this tomorrow.  The “individuals” you write about is defined in the state code and parents aren’t a part of that!  It is not relevant.  You have been informed about this.  Stop with the bullying!  It is illegal to apply state code to a different part of the population the law does NOT apply to!  Read the latest Delaware DOE threat statement here:

Just stop with the pathetic “funding cuts” language. Half the states bagged out of this crap, and I don’t see them getting those cuts.  I don’t see New York and New Jersey where the vast majority of the population of parents want to opt out getting these cuts. Let’s cross that bridge when it comes to it.  Cause the US DOE has punked you into getting this stuff out there.  But don’t bark at to Delaware parents.  We will bite back…

Furthermore, you’ve been out of compliance with the Office of Special Education Programs for years, but I don’t see any IDEA funding cuts to Delaware.  Here’s what “may” happen.  You’ll get a warning the first year, second year you go on watch, and by then America will have come to it’s senses and banned both common core and this turd of a test.  So take your public punches and stop trying to bully and intimidate parents.

Bored With The Board of Ed! Welcome to Delaware Penny Schwinn! Please Read Up On Our State! #netde #eduDE #edchat @BadassTeachersA @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_DE

The Delaware Board of Education meeting yesterday was full of controversy and shock.

I attended about an hour and a half of the Delaware Board of Education meeting yesterday. When I arrived, a gentleman from the American Heart Association was thanking the Board for their support. I sat next to a familiar face who was cutting out items for his classroom with a pair of scissors. I introduced myself to Mike Matthews who I had been in contact with on social media recently. I asked if he was giving public comment, and he said I just missed it but to definitely listen to the digital audio recording when it is available. Throughout the meeting, Matthews and I had continuous looks of shock and awe with the comments coming from not only the Board, but members of the Office of Accountability and Performance.

Secretary of Education Mark Murphy seemed very upset about the recent report on how 0% of teachers in Delaware were not ineffective. He didn’t seem to think this was the reality in Delaware. But we all know this will change in a year when the Smarter Balanced Scores come out, which the state has already said they are aware student scores will plummet, and teacher evaluations will be based on these scores.

The Board went through their motions, and we arrived at the Performance and Accountability Presentation. Penny Schwinn is the new Chief Officer of Accountability and Performance for the Delaware DOE. After Assessment Director Brian Touchette gave his reasons for why there are gaps in performance testing between different subgroups, and why charters weren’t included in the Performance and Accountability Presentation (because they have their own performance framework arrangement with the state of Delaware), Schwinn gave a rather enlightening and distorted presentation of African-American students and students with disabilities.

For children with disabilities, she claimed the reasons for the performance gaps in DCAS scores was attributable to the following factors: Litigation at a district level distracted teachers from being able to give adequate special education accommodations, high teacher turn-over and a limited hiring pool in Delaware for quality special education teachers compared to other states. She did say there is a new strategy of looking at IEPs in Delaware, and that is to target the performance of students with disabilities. Which is, as we all know, the coming standards-based IEPs in Delaware. She did recognize that dual credentials for special education teachers provide “expertise and knowledge” in the classroom. What she failed to mention, in Delaware and across America, many special education teachers are leaving the profession due to upcoming teacher evaluations which will be based on student test scores. Many special ed teachers fear losing their jobs, so they are leaving the profession. Who will replace all these teachers with this expertise and knowledge when they are driven out or quit?

Schwinn expressed her interest in Student-Based Plans, which are IEPs, but for regular students. This is one of the goals of Rodel’s Vision 2025, to do away with special education and all students get their own version of IEPs. This just supports my fear and theories of the future of special education. See https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2014/07/28/special-education-in-america-where-is-it-going-spread-this-link-all-over-reblog-netde-edude-delaware-usedgov/

Schwinn went on to talk about African-American student performance in Delaware. She said they expect high performance from all students, and this is driven through PLCs and site leadership. PLC is Professional Learning Community, which emphasizes shared leadership, community-based work groups, and learning over teaching. Schwinn wants to create strategies to prevent downward trends among African-American students in Delaware. She said there is a low expectation for African-American students from teachers “across the board”. At this point, Board of Ed Member Gregory Coverdale asked Schwinn if she felt the rising violence and murders in Wilmington was causing an impact in classroom environment in that area, to which she responded “That isn’t necessarily a hurdle to overcome”. For the three African-American members of the Board of Education, the looks on their faces said it all immediately after her response.

Dr. Teri Quinn Gray, the President of the Board of Education, said the following based on an article from WDDE today: “From those of us who are in under-represented groups, we deal with this often,” said Gray, who is African-American. “I’m not quite sure what to say about low expectations and cultural mindset,” she said. “How do you address that? A shift of culture takes 20 years, as they say, at least 10.” – See more at: http://www.wdde.org/66555-state-education-officials-seek-reasons-lack-progress-narrowing-achievement-gap#sthash.ii0NJYD3.dpuf

It is obvious Schwinn, who has been in her role for two months after leaving Sacramento, CA, needs to do a bit more research on Delaware. To think the issues of crime in Wilmington won’t have an impact on the classroom is foolish and naïve. To insult issues of poverty, crime and discrimination shows an apparent lack of the true reality in Wilmington. This is definitely a hurdle to overcome Penny Schwinn, and to continue to ignore this reality will only make the problem worse. As the Chief Of Accountability and Performance in Delaware, you need to look at ALL aspects of environment and how they impact the classroom.

For students with disabilities, Schwinn needs to recognize why special education teachers are leaving the profession, and that is mainly due to forced compliance with Common Core standards being shoved down their throats. Children are more than test scores, and the sooner the DOE realizes that, the better education and special education in Delaware will be. Litigation is rising in Delaware because of this education reform, not in spite of it.

The fact that charter schools in Delaware were not included in this presentation speaks volumes. To not include them ignores the impact charter schools have had on students with disabilities and minorities in Delaware, especially in the Wilmington area. Certain charter schools in our state have specific enrollment requirements that discriminates against low-income minorities and special needs children. The easy excuse for this by ignorant people is that children with disabilities are “low performers”. I think the Exceptional Children Group in the DOE is on the right track in correcting this position, but they need to realign their priorities in how to go about this.

But I can see how you would come to those conclusions based on your resume: http://transparentchristina.wordpress.com/2014/08/01/meet-the-new-chief-accountability-and-performance-officer-for-the-delaware-doe-more-choice-accountability-and-tfa-straight-up-gap-closing-bullshit/

And yet, your one tweet twitter account from 2010 tells a completely different story: “@EnchantmentAZ As a teacher, role model and advocate for kids from low income communities, my mom inspired me to teach and be a foster mom.”

You are not currently advocating for these children. You may want to recheck your roots and be a part of the solution, not the problem.