The Sham Behind The USAFunds Grant Racket & Governor Markell’s Announcement Today

Delaware Governor Jack Markell announced another initiative tied to grants to prevent students from taking remedial classes in college.  This whopping $250,000 grant is coming from USAFunds, a non-profit think tank that promises to “fix” education along with the other million or so companies that promise to do the same.  Funny how none of them have, despite all their big talk and reports.  What causes me to shudder is some things I found on USAFunds website.

This company is big on community colleges and associate degrees.  Which must make them very attractive to a guy like Jack Markell.  But they go a step beyond and promote “Students Futures as Investments”.  This is the ultimate goal.  Not only will companies decide what you want to be when you grow up, they will also earn part of your future earnings!  These income-share agreements would have investors fund student’s college education and in return they would get a share of your earnings.  We pretty much already have this with student loans.  USAFunds linked to a company called American Enterprise Institute (AEI) on their website.  AEI has a pdf of the “promises and challenges of Income-Share Agreements“.  While this organization likes to use pretty words and all-out statements to support their “cause”, it also talks about human beings as investments.  First we were Human Capital, now we are Human Investments.  When do we get to be just human?  Add in social impact bonds to gamble on special education outcomes in pre-schools, and this is just another step to the privatization of American education.

The funds from this nearly $250,000 grant will go to select schools that participate in the Allied Health and Technology pathway as part of Governor Markell’s big “Pathways to Prosperity” push.  Care to guess which college in Delaware specifically has an Allied Health and Technology program?  Delaware Tech.   And I’m sure any school in Delaware that offers this field as one of their career pathways is already salivating to jump onboard for this free money.  Until the grant runs out, and then they make it a part of district costs, thus elevating the huge amount we already pay for education in Delaware.

But for Governor Markell, the lame-duck quacking has ended.  All we hear now is the beck and call of corporations and Governor Markell selling our children out.  It doesn’t matter if they are conservative, liberal, or just greedy.  Markell will sell out Delaware students for any reason.  But try to get an audience with the guy about his future plans or actual plans that would improve student outcomes, and we just get more of this:

“We have too many students that have worked hard to meet the requirements of college entry and yet when their coursework begins, they find themselves in need of remediation and additional supports,” said Markell. “I’m thrilled that as a result of our partnership with USA Funds, we can now take another step toward ensuring that our students enter our colleges prepared to earn credits and make progress toward a degree on day one.”

Hey Jack, if our students are still having this problem after eight years of your education reforms, perhaps the problem isn’t the students.  Perhaps it is YOU.  If you weren’t always trying to make money for companies, maybe our students would have a chance.  Add in Common Core, and how it really doesn’t work, and we have another self-made recipe for corporate greed.  I was wrong about you running for Congress today Jack, but this just tells me you are banking on a Hillary win so you can get your greedy paws into ALL of American education.  You really have no shame…

John King Blames Remedial Classes On His Failure As NY Commissioner Of Education

I don’t think anyone intended for science or social studies or art or music to get less attention when No Child Left Behind was adopted. -John King

When asked by New York Rep. Elise Stefanic at last week’s Every Student Succeeds Act hearing what lessons he learned and what mistakes were made during his time as Commissioner of Education of New York State, John King blamed remedial classes and circumvented giving a direct answer to Rep. Stefanic.  He refused to take any personal blame for what many in New York see as a very flawed Commissioner.  For someone who wants “Educational Excellence”, or in other words, more accountability for “failing schools” based on very flawed high-stakes testing scores, King is unable to be accountable to himself or his own actions.  If the Common Core standards were as great as King believes, it would not take this long to implement them.  King didn’t even address Rep. Stefanik’s comments about some schools in her district having 80% opt-out rates.

Delaware College Report Gives Mixed Message On Remediation Rates

RemedialMeme

The Delaware Department of Education released the Delaware College Report for 2016.  Basing the information off the Class of 2014, the report shows remediation rates, students taking classes when they enter college, to still be high.  Nine districts lowered their numbers between 2012-2014.  Say, wasn’t the Smarter Balanced Assessment supposed to eliminate all these remedial classes?  Oh yeah, they took it away from high school juniors in lieu of the revamped SAT.  So much for that anti-opt-out idea!  But seriously, are these rates higher because of Common Core or in spite of it?  I guess we will know the answers to these questions in the next 8 years when the class of 2024 graduates.  This class would be the first to have Common Core from Kindergarten to 12th grade.  Provided it doesn’t become extinct by then.  We can all say a prayer for that!

The Delaware DOE also provided a press release with the announcement:

State Report: High student remediation rates remain

Of Delaware public high school graduates entering an in-state college or university, 42 percent will begin their post-secondary education behind their peers, according to the state’s 2016 College Success Report released today.  

 
Students who do not score well on college placement tests may be forced to take and pass non-credit, remedial courses before entering the college-level courses required for their degrees. These courses often cost the same as credit-bearing classes but don’t count toward a student’s degree.  

 

In Delaware – as is the case across the country – many students are graduating high school unprepared for the level of rigor necessary in a college course. Acceptance to college does not guarantee readiness for college. The Delaware Department of Education report released today — which includes school- and district-level data — outlines recommendations for schools, districts, and the state to better prepare all students for college success.  

 

“We already know that there is a strong correlation between the classes that students are prepared to take, the supports available to different students to succeed in those classes and student outcomes after graduation,” Secretary of Education Steve Godowsky said.
“We need to ensure that students are prepared to succeed in college before they enter the 12th grade. Some districts and schools are already seeing progress. We need to continue this good work and seek additional ways to better support our students.”  

 

Early signs of progress  

 

Over the last few years, districts have increased access to college-level courses such as dual-enrollment and Advanced Placement classes. In addition, the state began a pilot course in the 2014-15 school year called Foundations of College Math to serve as a bridge course for students likely to require remediation in college.   

 

These efforts are showing signs of early progress and the state has seen an overall reduction in remediation rates since 2012, the report found. Nine Delaware schools and districts have also started to reduce student remediation rates through changes to their curriculum and targeted student supports.   

During her senior year at Woodbridge High School, Katelyn Harding, 18, took Foundations of College Math.  

 

Now a freshman at Wesley College in Dover, Harding says her first-semester math course was a “breeze” because of the strong math groundwork she received at Woodbridge.

 

“With the teacher I had and just the atmosphere of the class, it made everything I had already learned come to life,” Harding said.  

 

Foundations of College Math provided Harding with the introduction to algebra equations and quadratic functions that she needed to ace her Wesley class.  
 
“In my first semester I was learning how to find vertexes and things I could not even imagine,” Harding said. ““I liked that the course in high school was mainly just basics because without them, I would probably not be doing so well now.”   

 

This year’s College Success Report makes specific recommendations for all Delaware schools and districts to follow as they work to improve student preparedness for college and continue the successes they have already seen.   

 

Woodbridge High School in the Woodbridge School District is among a handful of districts receiving recognition from the state this year for its reduction in student remediation rates.   

 

“We are excited by the fact that a higher percentage of our students are entering Delaware colleges without the need to take remedial courses.  This can be attributed to the hard work of our staff and the continued belief that our students are capable of achieving at higher levels,” Superintendent Heath Chasanov said. “Although, we certainly aren’t satisfied with our current percentages, we believe that this reduction in remedial rates will be a trend and not simply a one-time occurrence.”  

 

POLYTECH Principal Jason Peel credited the dedication of his school’s math teachers, who have “embraced Common Core and the need for more rigorous math instruction.”  

 

The school stopped offering pure remedial math in ninth grade and instead enrolled the students in Algebra I with an extra period of supports. Year-long geometry and Algebra II courses were created for struggling students with extra support classes (double periods). Enrichment period supports also were instituted during the day for struggling math students, Peel said.   

 

Special education supports in math were aligned so that co-teachers work together and have the same planning period on a more consistent basis. And POLYTECH quadrupled its AP Calculus enrollment and added an AP Statistics course.  

 

Other districts recognized for reducing remediation rates between 2012 and 2014 include: Colonial, Delmar, Indian River, New Castle County Vo-Tech, Red Clay Consolidated, Smyrna and Sussex Tech.  


Two different college experiences  

 

After a concentrated review of student remediation data from 2012 through 2014, Delaware’s 2016 College Success Report highlights that 42 percent of all public and charter school graduates enrolling in a Delaware college are unprepared to successfully complete a college-level course. These students require remediation classes before their first-year college courses.   Remediation classes yield zero credits and are often offered at a significant cost to students. Nationally, less than 50 percent of students enrolled in remedial courses actually finish them. Furthermore, 3 in every 10 students who require remediation in college never graduate with a bachelor’s degree.   

 

Students taking remedial courses must take additional courses that their peers aren’t required to take. They can’t successfully enroll in their college courses until they have completed the remedial courses. For some students this can set them a full semester or more behind. For students depending on financial aid to cover the costs of college, this can increase their overall debt as many scholarships will not cover these courses.   

 

Several states across the country are starting to examine the remediation issue as more students are dropping out of college, taking longer to complete their degrees or graduating with significant debt.   
Remediation numbers are also significantly higher for students of color, students with special needs, English language learners (ELLs), and students from low-income families. 

 

 

Eliminating remediation  

 

For students, the path to remediation begins early. Each year more students make the decision to enroll in college. A college acceptance letter marks a significant milestone in a student’s educational journey and the path to the career of their dreams; however, the decisions and goals achieved prior to the college acceptance letter determine a student’s first year college experience.  

 

As students and parents work with their schools to select classes each year, they may not realize that not all classes will equally prepare students for success in college. The difference between an Advanced Placement course or a college prep course may ultimately mean a student graduates less prepared for college-level English, for example.    

 

Similarly, students taking less rigorous courses in math will find themselves more likely to be placed in remedial courses. This means that a student placed in Algebra II over calculus is also at a disadvantage and more likely to need college remediation than if the student had been given the opportunity to enroll in more-difficult classes.    

 

“We’re not just suggesting that schools place students in the more rigorous courses, such as calculus or Advanced Placement,” Shana Payne, director of the department’s Higher Education Office, said. “Our systems must be designed to prepare students to succeed in these courses. The data show that the more advanced courses a student takes before graduating high school, the less likely the student is to need remediation in college.”             

 

The department is calling on educators to use the data from the 2016 College Success Report alongside other measurements, such as the 10th grade PSAT and the 11th grade SAT, to provide targeted interventions to students as soon as they are identified as not yet meeting the college-readiness benchmark.   

 

Using this data, schools have the opportunity to identify when students are falling behind and provide the supports and access to more challenging courses so they can be ready for those first-year college courses.   

 

Additionally, evaluating curriculum and instructional practices in all classes can help to reduce and eliminate these knowledge gaps students are demonstrating before students reach the 12th grade.   

 

“The shift from 12th grade to college should be as simple as the shift from eighth grade to ninth grade or kindergarten to first grade,” said Michael Watson, the department’s chief academic officer. “Every student with a college acceptance letter and a Delaware high school diploma should be prepared to succeed in the college he or she chooses to attend.”
 
 
Alison May
alison.may@doe.k12.de.us
302-735-4006

SAT Development Shows Delaware DOE & Markell Have No Clue What They Are Doing, Opt-Out Has Them Flustered

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The Delaware Department of Education and Governor Markell are finding the very traps they set to stop the opt-out movement are coming back to bite them in the ass.  Irony is an awesome thing sometimes.  At the beginning of 2015, the DOE was riding high.  They thought they had Christina and Red Clay in their crosshairs, the Smarter Balanced Assessment was coming out, and they were winning.  A funny thing happened on the way to their victory lap.  Parents.  They said no to the almighty DOE and Markell.  This set off a litany of announcements from the DOE and Markell.

The Governor announced the Assessment Inventory as opt-out was gaining a lot of traction.  He foolishly believed that parents wouldn’t opt-out if they just reduced the amount of tests students take.  In April, the DOE and Markell announced University of Delaware, Delaware State University, and Wilmington University were going to accept Smarter Balanced scores in lieu of students taking remedial classes.  Meanwhile, the SAT was retooled to align with Common Core.  In December, the Governor and Secretary Godowsky announced the SAT would replace Smarter Balanced for high school juniors, which killed the press announcement in April about Smarter Balanced.  Yesterday, https://delawarefirststate.wordpress.com/2016/02/05/university-of-de-faculty-senate-will-vote-on-an-admission-requirement-making-sat-scores-optional/ revealed the University of Delaware will be voting on whether or not to make SAT scores a factor in their admission process.  Several universities around the USA have already cut the SAT out entirely.

This whole experiment of Governor Markell’s to try to squelch the opt-out movement has been a miserable failure.  It was so obvious to myself and others that each move he was making was from a clumsy and defensive posture against parents.  In a way, his whole assessment inventory plan helped to set up a national argument against too much testing.  As a result of that, Delaware is now postponing their new science and social studies assessments because of the whole assessment inventory.  Another example of “be careful what you wish for”.  These were the unintended consequences of opt-out.  The DOE and Markell looking like fools on the Delaware stage.  By switching from the Smarter Balanced to SAT, the “best test Delaware ever made” has now become much less than what Markell professed it to be.  And now the SAT, with all the insanity the College Board has gone through switching the test to Smarter Balanced Junior, is redundant as well.

Meanwhile, parents are still opting their kids out of Smarter Balanced and there is nothing anyone can do to stop them.  The 148th General Assembly still has a shot at redemption with parents by allowing a vote for the veto override of House Bill 50.  Will Schwartzkopf continue to ride the Markell train that is about to derail and fly off a cliff?  Or will he do the right thing and put it up for a vote?  In the meantime, we can put the pressure on Schwartzkopf by gaining over 20,000 signatures on the Change.org petition: https://www.change.org/p/delaware-speaker-of-the-house-pete-schwartzkopf-put-hb50-on-the-agenda-for-a-full-house-vote-on-the-veto-override