DSEA Gives Strong Public Comment To Delaware Joint Finance Committee

The Delaware Joint Finance Committee listened to the Delaware Department of Education present their FY2020 budget presentation today.  The Delaware State Education Association made their public comment open to the public today.  Given by DSEA’s Director of Legislation, Kristin Dwyer, the public comment hit home on some areas.  In particular, the very heavy lift we are asking of our educators.  It is more apparent than ever that teachers can’t do it alone. Continue reading

State Board Of Education Postpones Special Education Strategic Plan Presentation

The Delaware State Board of Education has their monthly meeting today at 1pm.  On the agenda was a presentation by the Special Education Strategic Plan Officer Matthew Korobkin.  That presentation has been postponed.  Yesterday, the Delaware Department of Education, disability groups, and district and charter special education directors, along with other stakeholders, met to discuss progress on the strategic plan.  Delaware State Rep. Kim Williams also attended the meeting, along with many other meetings in this process.  The entire group realized there were still many things to iron out in the process.

Last month, citizens were invited to participate in public comment sessions for special education in Delaware.  Meetings were held in each county.  The Special Education Strategic Plan was inserted into the epilogue language for the Delaware State Budget for FY2015 and work began on the plan in November of 2014.  The plan was originally slated to be finalized at the end of this year.  After hearing the concerns of stakeholders, Secretary Godowsky opted to postpone the presentation and hear more from stakeholder groups to establish a defined plan represented by all voices.

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The Delaware DOE Accountability Monster Is At It Again

The Delaware Department of Education held a District Test Coordinators meeting on March 16th, 2016.  The full report is below.  The presentation covered all things testing: Smarter Balanced, DCAS Science, DCAS Social Studies, and the new SAT.  One of the most shocking finds in this presentation was the revelation the redesigned for the Common Core State Standards SAT will be used for accountability purposes this year.  For those who may not be aware, prior to this year, the Smarter Balanced Assessment was used as the 11th grade state assessment for high school juniors.  In late December last year, Delaware Governor Jack Markell and Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Steven Godowsky made an announcement that the College Board redesigned SAT would replace the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  While the legislation that allowed for the transition from DCAS to the Smarter Balanced Assessment did not specifically name Smarter Balanced in the wording of the bill, House Bill 334 does clearly state:

(b) The Department shall administer both accountability and growth assessments of student achievement for students in grades 3-8, provided that additional grades may be added by the Department. (c) The assessments referred to in subsection (b) of this section shall measure achievement in English language arts and mathematics for students in a minimum of grades 3 through 8 and high school, provided additional grades may be added by the Department

But here’s the kicker, this is a brand new test.  It has been reformulated (like New Coke and those who lived in the 1980s know how that went over) to align with the Common Core.  It took a long time for many states to get the scores from the PSAT this year.  Many are already saying the new SAT is horrible (just like they did with Smarter Balanced which is why I call it Smarter Balanced Junior).  At least with the regular Smarter Balanced the DOE gave a one year pause for accountability purposes.  But they must have a lot of faith in the new SAT.  Who made this decision?  Godowsky?  Markell?

My big question would be how you measure growth for the new SAT.  Furthermore, how do you even measure growth when students skip grades 9 and 10?  Or are they measuring growth between last year’s juniors who took the brand new Smarter Balanced or the old SAT?  I thought the DOE would get smarter (no pun intended) with Godowsky, but it looks like they are fumbling at the fifty yard line yet again.  The only reason they came up with this not-so brilliant plan to begin with was because too many juniors opted out of Smarter Balanced last year.  But they must test, label and punish, even with a new, unproven, and already controversial test.

All the latest testing news is in here, including the draft of next year’s testing windows.

Get A Chance To Find Out What The Delaware DOE Is Doing With Student Data!!!!

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This has been a huge question on my mind for the past six months: How secure is student data?  Next Tuesday, March 15th, Open Data Delaware is hosting a presentation with Atnre Alleyne and Shana Ricketts from the Delaware Department of Education to talk about data in the Department.  From the announcement on Meetup.com:

We’ll hear from Atnre Alleyne & Shanna Ricketts, both with the Teacher Leader Effectiveness Unit at the Delaware Department of Education.  Most recently Atnre has been the Director, Talent Management & Educator Effectiveness, while Shanna has worked as a Data Strategist.  They will be discussing how the DDOE uses data, what education data is currently available to the public, and what some high impact projects could be.

I really want to know what happens to the data once the DOE uses it.  How much is going to the Federal Learning Registry, the joint system shared by both the United States Department of Education and the Department of Defense?  What happens to data from algorithms in existing programs?  How much data from personalized learning and standardized assessments is going out to education vendors?  How much social-emotional student data is going out?  Will Delaware ever see the very frightening “data badges” Colorado is doing a pilot program for?

For those interested in these kinds of things (something ALL Delaware parents should really know about before it is too late), I highly recommend attending this presentation at 1313 N. Market St. in Wilmington on March 15th at 6pm.  If you are unable to attend, I plan on going and I will definitely let everyone know what I am able to find out.  Open Data Delaware is sponsored by 1313 Innovation and Zip Code Wilmington.

More Proof DOE Is Moving Ahead With Participation Rate Penalty With School Report Cards

I just came across this document.  This is a Delaware Department of Education presentation to the University of Delaware’s Delaware Academy for School Leadership (DASL).  Ryan Reyna with the DOE, along with Gerri Marshall from Red Clay and Jeff Klein with Appoquinimink presented the below to DASL on June 24th, 2015 with some very definitive statements about this participation rate…

We see the DOE telling DASL, Part A metrics are those that were submitted to USDOE as part of our ESEA submission.  This is very important because this is where they openly admit they submitted this to the US DOE like this.  But keep in mind, this is NOWHERE in the public draft for ESEA authorization that the State Board of Education approved for submission on 3/19/15.  It did not show up in the draft until their “redlined” edition on 3/31/15.

Delaware DOE Wants Special Education & Smarter Balanced Results To Have An Unholy Marriage

The Delaware Department of Education presented their State Systemic Improvement Plan for special education to the Governor’s Advisory Council for Exceptional Citizens on Tuesday evening.  As will all news coming out of the DOE these days, it’s all about the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  Indicator 17, one of the compliance measures states need to adhere to based on the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), is based on Standards-Based IEPs.  The DOE and the US DOE actually think they can come close to eliminating the proficiency gap between students with disabilities and their regular peers.

This is a foolhardy measure at best, and I have spoken at great length about this in the past.  Fixing special education in Delaware is going to take a lot more than this ridiculous compliance indicator!  I’m all for students with disabilities reading earlier and becoming more fluent in reading, but basing the goal based on performance on the Smarter Balanced Assessment is insane.  If the DOE has already said 70% of students won’t reach proficiency for a few years on Smarter Balanced, how the hell do they expect to lower this gap to 49% in three years?  The Delaware DOE needs to be shut down and built up again with actual logic and common sense.