Many Delaware Parents Are NOT Happy With Smarter Balanced Results

As predicted, Delaware parents are not happy with the Smarter Balanced Assessment results.  Of course, the ones who scored proficient or above have not been vocal.  But the 49% of parents who are seeing English/Language Arts non-proficiency and 62% non-proficiency for math, are not too happy.  And parents of special needs children are horrified.  The Delaware DOE is going to put the maximum spin machine on this utilizing every possible source they can use.  The State Board of Education is having a workshop at Grotto’s Pizza in Dover next week to deal with the fallout.  Of course, they are going to talk about the myths and fallacies of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  Will they come right out and say “Don’t read Exceptional Delaware, Kavips, or any of the other Delaware blogs”? Or will they, for once in their professional lives, come out and say “You know what, we messed up.  This test is horrible.  We apologize, and let’s really work together to come up with a new test.  We want your help, and all the other stakeholders we didn’t include the last time.”

If they did the latter, and stuck to it, I would be utterly amazed and shocked.  Oddly enough, Governor Markell has been strangely quiet on the issue.  Of course, he went to Germany last week, and the Pope is coming to town this week.  But we are heading into election mode, and it wouldn’t shock me if every announced or potential candidate told his office they don’t want him talking about this test at all!

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The Exceptional Delaware Reward, Recognition, Priority, Focus and Focus Plus Schools of 2015

For the first ever Exceptional Delaware Honor Roll, I would like to congratulate the schools and particular grades that went below the 95% “mandatory” participation rate for the Smarter Balanced Assessment. With that being said, there could be a multitude of reasons for that participation rate, and it may not necessarily be because of parent opt-out. It could be because of medical reasons, expulsions, or in extreme cases, maybe a touch of the Bubonic Plague. I noticed a large trend in many districts where the participation rate was higher for ELA than Math. Sometimes it was the reverse, but mostly that. I have to wonder how many parents opted out after their child took the first test. For some districts, they would not have been recognized if it weren’t for many of their juniors saying “See ya” to the Smarter Balanced Assessment. These are the students who are paving the way for the younger ones.  My biggest question is what in the world happened with 4th graders at East Side Charter School?

Christina… all I can say is WOW! You far surpassed my expectations with opt-out. With all the smears and bad looks this district gets from the DOE and whatnot, I am proud to announce Christina School District as the winner of the Opt-Out Performance Fund! They will receive a special gift at their next regular board meeting in recognition of this honor. And Red Clay’s Conrad! Fantastic! Below 50% for 11th graders! You are an inspiration to all!

Under the United States Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the fine folks at the US DOE like to throw things called flexibility waivers at the states.  Under No Child Left Behind, enacted during the second President Bush years, all schools in the country had to be proficient by 2014.  If they weren’t, all hell would break loose.  So under President Obama and his Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, they threw states a bone called Race To The Top: adapt our Common Core standards, and make a big test based on it, and we will let you slide from the whole No Child Left Behind thing.  Then they started throwing more bones called flexibility waivers.  Hey, do this, and you are safe from No Child Left Behind.  This is what created the most severe school labeling system ever created.  But I am turning it around.

REWARD & RECOGNITION SCHOOLS

All of these schools and grades… I am so proud of them. Parents made a choice, and it showed. While these aren’t anywhere close to New York numbers, it’s a very good start. The ones that are 90% or below get to be REWARD schools. Yeah, it’s one grade, but they went below 95%!  All the Reward Schools got a special prize. The ones between 91-94% are recognition schools for any grade that caused the participation rate to go below 95%. Great job everyone!

Appoquinimink School District:

Appoquinimink High School, 11th Grade ELA: 93%

Appoquinimink High School, 11th Grade Math: 94%

Middletown High School, 11th Grade Math: 92%

Old State Elementary School, 4th Grade Math: 94%

Waters Middle School, 8th Grade Math: 93%

Brandywine School District:

Brandywine High School, 11th Grade Math: 92%

Concord High School, 11th Grade Math: 94%

Hanby Elementary School, 3rd Grade ELA: 94%

Harlan Elementary School, 3rd Grade Math: 89% 🙂 🙂

Campus Community School:

7th Grade Math: 93%

Cape Henlopen School District:

Shields Elementary School, 4th Grade Math: 92%

Capital School District:

Central Middle School, 7th Grade Math: 94%

Dover High School, 11th Grade Math: 92%

East Dover Elementary School, 3rd Grade Math: 94%

East Dover Elementary School, 4th Grade Math: 93%

Fairview Elementary School, 3rd Grade ELA: 89% 🙂 🙂

Fairview Elementary School, 3rd Grade Math: 90% 🙂

Christina School District:

Bayard Middle School, 6th Grade Math: 92%

Bayard Middle School, 7th Grade ELA: 92%

Bayard Middle School, 7th Grade Math: 92%

Bayard Middle School, 8th Grade Math: 92%

Brader Elementary School, 3rd Grade Math: 94%

Brader Elementary School, 5th Grade Math: 90% 🙂

Brookside Elementary School, 5th Grade ELA: 90% 🙂

Brookside Elementary School, 3rd Grade Math: 92%

Brookside Elementary School, 4th Grade Math: 86% 🙂 🙂

Brookside Elementary School, 5th Grade Math: 79% 🙂 🙂 🙂

Christiana High School, 11th Grade ELA: 84% 🙂 🙂

Christiana High School, 11th Grade Math: 88% 🙂 🙂

Elbert-Palmer Elementary School, 3rd Grade Math: 90% 🙂

Gallaher Elementary School, 3rd Grade Math: 93%

Gallaher Elementary School, 5th Grade Math: 93%

Gauger-Cobbs Middle School, 6th Grade Math: 94%

Gauger-Cobbs Middle School, 7th Grade Math: 92%

Gauger-Cobbs Middle School, 8th Grade ELA: 92%

Gauger-Cobbs Middle School, 8th Grade Math: 86% 🙂 🙂

Glasgow High School, 11th Grade ELA: 82% 🙂 🙂

Glasgow High School, 11th Grade Math: 82% 🙂 🙂

Keene Elementary School, 4th Grade ELA: 92%

Keene Elementary School, 5th Grade ELA: 92%

Keene Elementary School, 5th Grade Math: 93%

Kirk Middle School, 6th Grade Math: 94%

Maclary Elementary School, 3rd Grade ELA: 92%

Maclary Elementary School, 3rd Grade Math: 86% 🙂 🙂

Maclary Elementary School, 4th Grade ELA: 90% 🙂

Maclary Elementary School, 4th Grade Math: 90% 🙂

Marshall Elementary School, 3rd Grade ELA: 93%

McVey Elementary School, 4th Grade ELA: 89% 🙂

McVey Elementary School, 4th Grade Math: 87% 🙂

Newark High School, 11th Grade ELA: 55% 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Newark High School, 11th Grade Math: 56% 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Shue-Medill Middle School, 6th Grade ELA: 94%

West Park Place Elementary School, 3rd Grade ELA: 94%

West Park Place Elementary School, 3rd Grade Math: 93%

West Park Place Elementary School, 4th Grade Math: 83% 🙂 🙂

West Park Place Elementary School, 5th Grade ELA: 89% 🙂 🙂

West Park Place Elementary School, 5th Grade Math: 92%

Colonial School District:

Bedford Middle School, 8th Grade Math: 94%

Penn High School, 11th Grade ELA: 92%

Penn High School, 11th Grade Math: 89% 🙂 🙂

Pleasantville Elementary School, 3rd Grade ELA: 92%

Pleasantville Elementary School, 3rd Grade Math: 92%

Southern Elementary School, 3rd Grade Math: 93%

Southern Elementary School, 4th Grade ELA: 92%

Southern Elementary School, 4th Grade Math: 86% 🙂 🙂

Southern Elementary School, 5th Grade Math: 93%

Delmar School District:

Delmar High School, 11th Grade Math: 93%

East Side Charter School:

4th Grade ELA: 90% 🙂

4th Grade Math: 90% 🙂

Gateway Lab School:

3rd Grade Math: 90% 🙂

4th Grade ELA: 92%

4th Grade Math: 93%

7th Grade Math: 92%

Indian River School District:

Sussex Central High School, 11th Grade ELA: 93%

Sussex Central High School, 11th Grade Math: 92%

Laurel School District:

Laurel Senior High School, 11th Grade ELA: 94%

Laurel Senior High School, 11th Grade Math: 93%

Milford School District:

Milford Senior High School, 11th Grade ELA: 88% 🙂

Milford Senior High School, 11th Grade Math: 88% 🙂

Moyer:

7th Grade ELA: 88% 🙂 🙂

7th Grade Math: 88% 🙂 🙂

11th Grade ELA: 65% 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

11th Grade Math: 69% 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

New Castle County Vo-Tech School District:

Delcastle Technical High School, 11th Grade Math: 94%

Hodgson Vocational Technical H.S., 11th Grade ELA: 91%

Hodgson Vocational Technical H.S., 11th Grade Math: 90% 🙂

St. Georges Technical High School, 11th Grade ELA: 90% 🙂

St. Georges Technical High School, 11th Grade Math: 87% 🙂 🙂

Polytech School District:

Polytech High School, 11th Grade ELA: 94%

Polytech High School, 11th Grade Math: 92%

Positive Outcomes Charter School:

7th Grade Math: 90% 🙂

Prestige Academy:

7th Grade Math: 94%

Reach Academy For Girls:

4th Grade ELA: 75% 🙂 🙂 🙂

4th Grade Math: 75% 🙂 🙂 🙂

6th Grade ELA: 92%

8th Grade ELA: 78% 🙂 🙂 🙂

Red Clay Consolidated School District:

A.I. DuPont High School, 11th Grade ELA: 63% 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

A.I. DuPont High School, 11th Grade Math: 64% 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

A.I. DuPont Middle School, 8th Grade ELA: 94%

A.I. DuPont Middle School, 8th Grade Math: 94%

Brandywine Springs School, 8th Grade Math: 93%

Cab Calloway School of the Arts, 11th Grade ELA: 84% 🙂 🙂

Cab Calloway School of the Arts, 11th Grade Math: 92%

Conrad Schools of Science, 8th Grade ELA: 94%

Conrad Schools of Science, 11th Grade ELA: 40% 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Conrad Schools of Science, 11th Grade ELA: 47% 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Heritage Elementary School, 5th Grade ELA: 90% 🙂

Heritage Elementary School, 5th Grade Math: 89% 🙂 🙂

Seaford School District:

Seaford Central Elementary School, 3rd Grade Math: 92%

Seaford Central Elementary School, 5th Grade Math: 92%

Seaford Middle School, 6th Grade Math: 94%

Seaford Senior High School, 11th Grade ELA: 93%

Seaford Senior High School, 11th Grade Math: 89% 🙂 🙂

Smyrna School District:

North Smyrna Elementary School, 4th Grade ELA: 94%

The below schools…they didn’t go below the 95% participation mark in any grade for either ELA or Math on the Smarter Balanced Assessment. But there were quite a few that were right at the 95% mark in some grades, and also at 96%. So we can tip the scales by getting the word out. These are the 2015-2016 schools where there are some opt-outs, but we need a lot more. Some of the charters may have only had one or two opt-outs in one grade. But that one opt-out parent can spread the word! But these schools are the 2015-2016 Focus Schools or Focus Districts. If they are a charter school, they did not dip below 95% in any grade. For school districts, I just picked certain schools who hovered around the 99% mark. For one school, it just can’t ever get out of being labeled no matter what it does! This is your chance Stubbs! If it’s in red, it’s a Focus Plus school. That means they had maybe a handful of kids opt-out. Which is good, but not earth-shattering. We need those handful of parents who opted their kids out to spread the word!

NEED TO GET THE WORD OUT ABOUT OPT-OUT FOR THESE FOCUS AND FOCUS PLUS SCHOOLS
 

Allen Frear Elementary School (Caesar Rodney) (Focus Plus)

Banneker Elementary School (Milford)

Bunker Hill Elementary School (Appoquinimink)

Clayton Elementary School (Smyrna) (Focus Plus)

Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security

Delaware College Prep

Delaware Military Academy

Delmar Middle School (Delmar) (Focus Plus)

Family Foundations Academy

Hartly Elementary School (Capital) (Focus Plus)

Howard High School of Technology (New Castle County Vo-Tech)

Indian River High School (Indian River)

Kuumba Academy

Lake Forest School District

Lancashire Elementary School (Brandywine)

Las Americas ASPIRA Academy (Focus Plus)

Lombardy Elementary School (Brandywine) (Focus Plus)

Long Neck Elementary School

Lord Baltimore Elementary School (Focus Plus)

Maple Lane Elementary School (Brandywine) (Focus Plus)

MOT Charter School (Focus Plus)

Mount Pleasant Elementary School (Brandywine)

Newark Charter School (Focus Plus)

New Castle Elementary School (Colonial) (Focus Plus)

Oberle Elementary School (Christina)

Odyssey Charter School (Focus Plus)

Providence Creek Academy

Pulaski Elementary School (Christina)

Showell Elementary School (Indian River) (Focus Plus)

Silver Lake Elementary School (Appoquinimink)

Smyrna Elementary School (Smyrna) (Focus Plus)

Stubbs Elementary School (Christina)

Sussex Academy (Focus Plus)

Sussex Technical School District

Thomas Edison Charter School (Focus Plus)

W.B. Simpson Elementary School (Caesar Rodney) (Focus Plus)

W. Reily Brown Elementary School (Caesar Rodney) (Focus Plus)

Woodbridge School District

Below are the 2015-2016 Priority Schools. The three charters had NO opt-outs, along with the other schools. For the charters, one was on Formal Review and was probably scared that one opt-out would shut them down so they allegedly told parents it was not allowed. Another one has the lowest of minorities (aside from Asian), special education, and low-income students in the entire state. And the 3rd… their Head of School spoke out about opt-out at the House Education Committee meeting on House Bill 50 so this truly doesn’t shock me. Other Montessori schools I’ve spoken too were somewhat shocked and believe opposing parental rights like this goes against the whole Montessori model. If anyone from any of these schools did opt their child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment, please let me know cause that means something is seriously wrong. Because >99% is pretty damn close to 100%. And you can’t have 100% with one single opt-out.

If I had to guess, a lot of these schools are telling parents they can’t opt their kid out. Or the school has 100% drank the Kool-Aid the DOE gives them and gave it to all the parents. I know some of the leaders of these schools, and some are no-nonsense leaders. Some are known to be very tough. Don’t let them intimidate you. These are my extra special schools this year. Under priority status, they will be watched very closely. Unlike the DOE I won’t make them pick new leaders and fire half their teachers. And I won’t make them sign a Memorandum of Understanding that makes no sense whatsoever by a certain date. I won’t tell them comply or die either. But they are Priority Schools for opt-out, and this is a Code Red alert for Delaware! This is just plain unacceptable…  They get a very special label in recognition of two very special legislators who opposed House Bill 50 the loudest (and they were also the Chairs of the House and Senate Education Committee).

THE EARL JAQUES AND DAVE SOKOLA PRIORITY SCHOOLS OF DELAWARE

Academy of Dover 😦

Charter School of Wilmington 😦

First State Montessori Academy 😦

Lake Forest North Elementary School (Lake Forest) 😦

Lake Forest South Elementary School (Lake Forest) 😦

Richardson Park (Elementary School) (Red Clay) 😦

Star Hill Elementary School (Caesar Rodney)  😦

South Dover Elementary School (Capital) 😦

Sussex Technical High School (Sussex Tech) 😦

For our school principals and superintendents and charter leaders: I’m watching you. I’ve been watching you. The DOE is on the stage, putting on their show. You are all in the audience, and you are literally paying for their performance. Rodel and Vision and the Delaware Business Roundtable are providing all the lighting and special effects, with equipment bought from all the corporate education reform companies around the country. I see the State Board providing the symphony. The legislators are paying all the bills and making sure everything is up to snuff (or in some situations allowing the audience to be robbed blind).  And the director, none other than Delaware Governor Jack Markell. His assistant went exit stage left, but we are waiting to see what his new guy does. And me, I’m the guy up on the catwalk watching the whole thing unfold. I see all of it. I had to get rid of some of the cobwebs up there to see better, but I can see things very clearly right now.  And guess what, I’m not alone.  I’m inviting parents all the time to watch too.  And more and more are watching the play.  They are telling me “hey, you see that guy over there, he told me I couldn’t opt-out my son” or “they told me I have to get a doctor’s note” or sometimes it’s a parent/teacher telling me “our superintendent says only he gets to decide who opts out.”

As of this very moment, I am giving you all amnesty. You are pardoned if I wrote negative things about you concerning opt-out last year.  Some of you actually came through in a big way on the Accountability Framework Working Group and turned the scales on the DOE.  We have a clean slate.  Don’t get all offended if your school is on this list.  The DOE has this information up too, but I’m just reversing the labels for true accountability purposes.  The good news: if your school is a Focus, Focus Plus, or Priority School, you can easily get out of it in the Spring.  All of you will be hearing from me very soon.  But just so you know, all of us on the catwalk are watching…

To all the very brave parents who opted their child out last Spring, I want to say Thank You. You made a very brave decision, and I salute you. Your job now is to do the same this year, no matter what threats or bullying gestures are thrown your way. Hopefully House Bill 50 will be vetoed by the time Smarter Balanced rolls around again next Spring, but if not do what you did this year. While some may have looked down on you for that decision, stand by your convictions. Even if it was in a “high-performing” school. And spread the word. The doors of conversation will start to open up in the coming week when parents get their kids results. You don’t have to worry about that. Cause your child is a not-having-to-take-the-test rock star, and you made the right decision.

If your school isn’t on this list, you can check it all out here:

http://www.doe.k12.de.us/cms/lib09/DE01922744/Centricity/Domain/111/Attachment3%20SchoolandCharterPerformanceParticipationUpdated0917.pdf

Did You Get Your Child’s Smarter Balanced Results Today?

The Delaware Department of Education said they would be mailing individual student Smarter Balanced Assessment results yesterday, Friday September 18th, and on Monday, September 21st.  Depending on the mail system, some parents could be getting those results today.  This is the moment where many parents will get these scores and say “What the hell is this?”  And God forbid if ANY parent in this state who opted their child out gets actual results in the mail.

If anyone wants to share information about this with me, feel free to contact me at kevino3670@yahoo.com.  All is confidential, and if I write about the results, it will not include any information about YOUR child.  Unless that is something you want to comment on after the article is published.

This will be a very interesting week.  If you are very upset about this, I strongly suggest going to the State Board of Education workshop on the “Smarter Assessment” on October 5th at Grotto’s Pizza in Dover, DE at 5pm.  Light refreshments on the State Board (if they follow what they did at other Grotto’s State Board workshops).  This usually does NOT include free pizza!  Let the State Board know how you feel about this test they praise as the greatest thing since the Vega! (This is not quoted anywhere, nor was it ever said, but it will be the end result).

When you see these results, ask yourself…  “How did we get here?”  “What do I do?”  “Is this test really worth it?”  And take action.  All the fluff and stuff you get from DOE will say “Contact your child’s teacher if you have more questions.”  But which one? Their current teacher or the one they had last year when your child took the test?  I would say neither.  They don’t have the answers or any of the cut score information.  All they get is the overall results and their classes scores from the previous year.  But the cut score was an arbitrary number pulled out of a hat.  Another option to consider, if you haven’t already, is refusing the test for your child.  Opt them out.  Do it now.  Some schools will give you crap, but stand your ground.  The only way to make this go away is to ignore it.  Opt out is ignoring it.  It’s saying “Take your stupid test, your useless, untimely, not validated, not statistically normed, not internationally benchmarked, waste of time test and stop treating my child as data for your proficiency mongering.”

NBC Philadelphia Coverage of Delaware Parent Strike!

It’s not often NBC Channel 10 from Philadelphia comes to a Delaware State Board of Education meeting, but this happened yesterday after the Parent Strike press conference outside Legislative Hall in Dover.  You can watch the video here and see reporter Tim Furlong cover the events.

http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/video/#!/news/politics/Achievement-Gap-Remains-in-Delaware’s-New-Standardized-Test/328104041

Delaware Educator Brings Down The Roof On The State Board and the DOE!

I got the inside scoop on the biggest mystery of the Delaware State Board of Education meeting from yesterday.  At the end of a video the State Board aired on the Smarter Balanced Assessment for parents, a teacher who is also the President of the New Castle County Vo-Tech Educators Association let out a strange noise.  It was funny, but no one knew exactly what the noise was or where it came from.  Last night, Danny Rufo emailed several people in Delaware to share the origin of the noise.

Sent: Thursday, September 17, 2015 9:47 PM
Subject: Parent questions about SBAC scores

Hello everyone,
I was able to attend the Delaware State Board of Education meeting today in Dover.  They presented a video prepared by the State, used to explain student test scores to parents.  At the end of the video parents are directed to “contact your students teacher if you have any questions regarding test scores”.  This is not cool!  When I saw and heard the message I made a deep, “soul in pain” sound.  It was truly an alarming message.
Why should a Delaware teacher avail themselves to questions concerning students they no longer teach, and a test that they did not make, or grade, centered on the “common core standards”, of which they were never properly trained, and test scores that are being used improperly?
Delaware teachers should not have to answer questions that parents have about the Smarter Balanced test, but the Board of Ed. The Dept. Of Ed. And the Sec. Of Ed. Should! 

-Danny

Donato C. Rufo
NCCVTEA President



I complete agree with Danny’s assessment of the assessment!  I sent out a reply to the more than 60 folks included in the email that said:
Sent: Thursday, September 17, 2015 9:56 PM
Subject: Re: Parent questions about SBAC scores

 
And if I could add, Delaware teachers don’t see the answers either, so how in the world would a child’s current teacher be able to help with parent questions based on a test from last year with a different teacher who can’t see the answers either?  Furthermore, parents should consider these results recyclable material or save it for the winter and the firepit, in my humble opinion.
Kevin Ohlandt

I’ve met Danny a few times. He is a good guy who cares about education. He is very critical of the current administration and the DOE. He is like most of us! When I first saw this insane video I had the same thoughts. It’s like the DOE lives on a different plain of reality than everyone else. Come back to our world DOE!

The Complete Unembargoed Delaware Smarter Balanced Assessment Results

10% Proficiency in Math for Students With Disabilities

15% in English/Language Arts for Students With Disabilities

21% in Math for low-income students

35% in English/Language Arts for low-income students

22% in Math for African-American students

36% in English/Language Arts for African-American students

Delaware Governor Jack Markell: “Smarter Balanced is the best test Delaware ever made.”

Delaware High School juniors basically said “This test really doesn’t mean much, so whatever.”  God bless them!

Read the results and if you haven’t already, REFUSE THE TEST for your child.  Send the letter tomorrow.  It’s the only way they will truly understand…

Roughly 10% Of Special Education Students In Delaware Are “Proficient” On Smarter Balanced

I just heard roughly 10% of students with disabilities in Delaware were rated as proficient in Delaware for the Smarter Balanced Assessment administered last Spring.  I wish to God this test would just disappear.  Can you imagine the other 90% of these children’s parents getting the results of this assessment.  I really hope they strongly reconsider having their child take Smarter Balanced next year.  10%…

I feel a deep sadness for these children.  I picture them struggling on this test, with fewer worthwhile accommodations than they had on the prior DCAS state assessment.  The weeks they spent taking this horrible, horrible test.  This is a wake-up call for special needs parents.  Our children are more than ten scores.  I don’t care what their proficiency rate is.  They are 100% awesome!

When I have official numbers, I will update this.

DOE’s Own Accountability Framework Working Group Slams Regulation 103 At State Board of Education Meeting

At the State Board of Education meeting today, it was a packed house as several public comments were given in opposition to Regulation 103.  The Delaware State Educators Association slammed it, the Red Clay Educators Association slammed it, Delaware PTA slammed it, I slammed it, and parents slammed it.  One parent slammed DOE’s Smarter Balanced Assessment and their obsession with proficiency.  In my public comment, I advised the DOE and State Board of Education of the state and federal complaints I filed against them in the last week.  I could have gone on, but the clock ran out. State Rep. John Kowalko lambasted the State Board of Education on their regulatory practices when the General Assembly is not in session and vowed to fight DOE and the State Board on these matters.

One parent was denied the chance to speak.  Because of the huge crowd, and a regulation stating you must sign up for public comment 15 minutes prior to the meeting, several people were told they couldn’t speak.  Board President Dr. Teri Quinn Gray did give one last chance to sign up for public comment, but the sign-up sheet was at the Board table, not in the hallway like it usually is (even way after the 15 minute “regulation” mark).  After all the comments ended, I advised Dr. Gray there was one more speaker who didn’t hear her “last chance” comment.  Dr. Gray refused to let the parent give public comment.  This parent is going to be sending me her public comment today and I will post it on here.

The ParentStrike press conference went well.  NBC Philadelphia and reporter Tim Furlong were there, and will be airing a segment during their 5pm broadcast.  The News Journal, Dover Post, and others were in attendance between the Press Conference and the State Board meeting as well.   I spoke, as did Rep. Kowalko, State Senator Dave Lawson, and RCEA President Mike Matthews.  I had to leave the State Board of Education early to pick my son up from school, but I will be getting updates on their discussion of Regulation 103 and the Smarter Balanced Assessment results for all the sub-groups.

Any goodwill the Delaware DOE had is quickly evaporating as no one seems to be taking their side anymore.  The House of Cards has collapsed, but I did wish departing Secretary of Education Mark Murphy good luck in his future endeavors, as did others.  He was given a gift by the State Board so he could “write it all down”, which if I had to guess would be a future book???? Please don’t call it “Murphy’s Law” Mark…that would be too much…

Oh yeah, what about the Accountability Framework Working Group, otherwise known as AFWG?  Apparently, the notes from their meetings I published a few weeks ago, did not show the true story about what went on during these meetings.  It wasn’t all harmony and agreement like the minutes suggest.  DSEA member of the group, Deb Stevens, gave public comment.  She spoke as the representative for all of the non-DOE members of the group.  She indicated that this coalition from the AFWG wants the State Board of Education to defer a ruling on this until it can be flushed out even further and does not believe it is a final product at all and needs a lot of work.

I did find out former US DOE employee Deborah Delisle apparently sent a letter to the Delaware DOE indicating the participation rate MUST be used on the ESEA mandated school report card as a “consequence”, although there is nothing on the US DOE or Delaware DOE website with this letter or language.  I just emailed Penny Schwinn for a copy of this letter.  Even if it is in there, it is not regulation and the Delaware DOE is in way obligated to enforce a simple warning.

Delaware Students Are The Sacrificial Lamb For Penny Schwinn

Penny Schwinn is the most dangerous woman at the DOE.  I saw this firsthand yesterday at the State Board of Education retreat.  I wrote about this extensively last night.  This is a woman who pushed Red Clay and Christina to the breaking point over the priority schools last year.  She is the same person who said that violence in our most impoverished communities “isn’t necessarily a challenge to overcome” with how it affects students in the classroom.  And yesterday, she announced at a public meeting that Delaware is going to implement the most aggressive and difficult accountability plan for schools in the entire country.  And she isn’t willing to back down from this.

I’m sure nobody challenges the fact that our schools have issues in our state.  No state is perfect, and Delaware is no exception.  It’s not like we are the top-ranked state in the country where we can afford to push the bar so high for our students.  We have one of the highest per-student funding mechanisms in the country.  But our students are not advancing.  Not to the level of the DOE’s satisfaction, and certainly not to parents satisfaction either.

The elephant in the room is the test, the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  Everything is tied to this test.  I never hear the DOE or the State Board of Education EVER talk about students actual grades.  You know, the ones given by a teacher three or four times a year.  The ones that show, over a ten-week period, how our students are really doing.  Everything is in relation to the test: student growth, student proficiency, teacher effectiveness, school ratings, etc.  But if there is one thing I have learned in the past two weeks it is this: the Smarter Balanced measures schools based on labels.  In all the graphs released by this blog and Delaware Liberal in the past week, this test measures poverty and economic status.  And that is essentially it.  It recognizes the haves and the have-nots.

Regulation 103, also known as the Delaware School Success Framework, will punish schools severely over once-a-year test scores.  I truly don’t care what Penny Schwinn’s motivation is for all of this.  This is insanity at an epic level and our students will pay the most severe price for her madness.  It is past time our legislators and leaders took a step back and look at the effect all of this is having on education in Delaware.  Far too many citizens are measuring success based on one test.  It is wrong.  It is propaganda.  It is evil.  And it needs to stop.  Delaware parents, I implore you to refuse this test for your child.  It is now an essential and absolute urgency.  You hold in your hands, your voice, the ability to turn this around and get out of this toxic environment our children have been exposed to.  Please end it.  Now.

The Oxymoron At The State Board of Education Retreat Today **UPDATED**

The hardest part about writing this article was coming up with the title.  There were so many things I could have named it.  Such as “It could have been worse, it could have been rocket ships.”  Or “Vermont and Connecticut are really going to hate Delaware soon.”  Or “We gotta grow them.”  Or “Is it still an embargo if they reveal it at a public meeting?”  In any event, I attended part of the State Board of Education retreat today.  I arrived at 1:30pm, and I was the ONLY member of the public there.  I received some stares.  All but two members of the State Board of Education were present.  Those that were there were President Dr. Teri Quinn Gray, Vice-President Jorge Melendez, Gregory Coverdale, Pat Heffernan, and Nina Bunting.

When I got there, head of the Teacher/Leader Effectiveness Unit Christopher Ruszkowski was giving a presentation on, what else, teacher effectiveness.  There was a slide up which said TEF- 5 charters, TEF- 6 charters, Freire, Colonial, Aspira.  If I had to guess, these are schools or “collaboratives” that have or will have their own teacher evaluation system.    The Rus Man (sorry, spelling his last name is a huge pain!) said Lake Forest School District believes DPAS-II is more equitable.  Rus said “Districts not using the new evaluation methods are not as successful.”  He explained how some districts get “caught up in the structure” and “the rules”.  He said principals want more high-quality data, and they are having better conversations about Measure B in the DPAS-II system.

This was followed with a presentation by Dr. Shana Ricketts.  She explained how that state trained 125 principals over the summer, and there will be training sessions over the next two weeks, and DSEA will be holding workshops over the changes in the DPAS-II.  The Rus Man explained how Delaware has the “most decentralized system in the country for teacher evaluations and goals are different across the board.”  A question came up about assessments.  Discussion was had about reducing assessments even more.  “If we standardize chemistry exams why have teacher ones as well,” Rus Man asked.  “But some are teacher-created, which is good cause it shows growth.”  Dr. Gray responded with “Gotta grow them!”  Rus man explained how “teachers need to be empowered”, “our obligation to be world-class is students have to be proficient when they graduate”, and “We are trying to ask the right questions.”  Rus man also said “There is not enough rigor.”

At this point, Dr. Penny Schwinn came in, followed shortly by Ryan Reyna, who works under Schwinn.  Actually, I should say next to her as they are both easily the two tallest employees at the DOE.  While I was distracted, Rus Man said something about “Commitment to proficiency…mindblocks….set the target, work my way back” followed by something about the “culture of the building”.  To which board member Pat Heffernan responded with “We can’t put blinders on and have no idea.”  Gray responded with “We want growth AND proficiency!” followed by “We don’t set the goal based on average, we set it on growth.”  Rus Man responded by saying “We are to be compared to everyone.  Not Delaware, not other states, but everyone in the world.”  He stated our principals are aware of this.  Someone asked if our principals understand this.  He explained how the alternative is the “same way we’ve done for 100 years, mastery of standards to grade book…”  Gray burst out that “It should be proficiency based!”  Board member Nina Bunting thanked Rus Man for the presentation and said “It was very informative.”  Heffernan said we need to “encourage principals to encourage good data entry.”

The State Board took about a ten minute break at this point.  Dr. Gray asked how I was doing, and I proceeded to tell her all about my hernia and my operation.  She explained how her brother had that done.  I asked if it was stomach or groin.  She said stomach. I told her mine was groin.  She just kind of stared at me for a few seconds, unsure of what to say.

At this point the accountability trio of Dr. Penny Schwinn, Ryan Reyna, and Dr. Carolyn Lazar began to give a presentation on Smarter Balanced.  I actually asked if this meeting had any embargoed information I shouldn’t know about.  Donna Johnson, Executive Director of the State Board of Education, explained this is a public meeting.  Most of the information was already on the state DOE website.  Lazar explained how 21 states took the field test, and 17 Delaware districts participated.  All told, 4 million students took the field test in the USA.  Schwinn explained how elementary schools outperformed middle schools and high schools in both math and ELA.  Heffernan asked if this included charters on the data they were seeing, but Schwinn explained the charters were on a separate slide.  Lazar said there was a 15 point gap between Math and ELA, but the “claim area” was only 10 points.  At this point, Dr. Gray asked what the proficiency level was.  For the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  Lazar explained it is the students who score proficient or above.  That is good to know!  Next they went over slides showing how close or how far districts were between Math and ELA scores.  Donna Johnson commented how Capital School District’s proficiency lines attached which is very unique.  Schwinn responded that this “speaks to the rigor of assessment.”  Schwinn brought up the student survey and said that 7,000 students self-selected to perform the survey at the end of the test.  Dr. Gray said that isn’t statistically normed.  Schwinn explained it was not, but the survey will become automatic next year, like how it was on DCAS.

Michael Watson, the teacher and learning chief at the DOE, presented next on Smarter Balanced in relation to teaching and instruction.  He explained how we need international assessments so we can compare against India and China.  He explained how Delaware had “strong positive indicators with National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) trends.”  Watson proceeded to show the board a chart showing how Delaware compared to nine other Smarter Balanced Assessment states that released their data.  Delaware came ahead for literacy in third to fifth grade, but much lower in ELA for 8th grade.  Next, Watson gave a long talk about comparing Delaware to Connecticut with Smarter Balanced results and the two states NAEP results.  He found that Delaware trailed behind Connecticut in NAEP, but we were closer to their scores with Smarter Balanced.  I wanted to burst out “That’s cause SBAC sucks so I would expect most states to suck equally on it”, but I bit my tongue.  But as I thought about it, comparing two different states NAEP scores to SBAC is like comparing a clothing store to Chuck-E-Cheese.  There really isn’t a comparison as they are two different entities.  In talking about the states Delaware scored near the same as on SBAC, Watson actually said “Either Connecticut and Vermont didn’t take SBAC seriously or we are working harder.”  Bunting explained how in Indian River, “when state says jump we say how high!”

**At this point, Watson looked over at me and said the next slide is embargoed information but he presented it anyways.  So I can’t write about the embargoed information presented to me at a public meeting about a survey done showing that in Delaware, 88% of Superintendents feel we have implemented Common Core, followed by 87% of principals and 67% of teachers.  For some reason, this is top-secret embargoed information that won’t be released until next month or something like that. (**SEE UPDATE ON BOTTOM)

I had to leave to pick up my son from school.  I brought him home and checked my email real quick.  I did get an email from Yvette Smallwood who works for the state on the Delaware Register of Regulations.  She informed me, in response to my request they remove Regulation 103 from their September publication due to issues of non-transparency surrounding it, that they couldn’t remove it but the DOE did agree to extend the public comment period until October 8th, which would be 30 days after Regulation 103 was put on this blog!  I drove back to the State Board retreat and as I walked in I heard Dr. Gray talking loudly about parents needing to understand.  At which point Reyna pointed to a chair for me to sit in and Dr. Gray stopped talking about whatever parent thing she was talking about.

The infamous “toolkit” has been fully released on the Smarter Balanced website.  It includes a link to the DelExcels website, some other “very informative” websites called Great Kids and Be A Learning Hero.  The DOE is working with DSEA to get information out for parents to understand the Smarter Balanced results.  According to Donna Johnson, many districts are excited to get the information to parents, and are aligning curriculum and professional development in an effort to gain more awareness.  The DOE is working with superintendents, principals, social media, and their partners (Rodel).  The test results won’t be mailed out from the DOE until Friday, September 18th and Monday, September 21st.  Which is probably their way of screwing up my well-designed article from earlier today about education events this week…  But I digress.  Schwinn said the resutls will come out earlier in future years, but this is a transition year.  Johnson said “some districts are excited to dig in” with releasing data.  Lazar explained how teachers are getting “claim spreads” which are tied to “anchor data”.  At this point, it’s all Greek to me when they start speaking in that language.  The DOE is working with journalists (no one asked me, and I had already received embargoed information at a public meeting) to write articles on how to educate parents on “how to read reports and grade spreads”.  Because parents don’t know how to do that.  I don’t think parents are confused about the data.  They will be confused why Johnny is doing awesome with grades but he tanked the SBAC.  And no one will be able to present this to them in a way they will clearly understand so hopefully they will come up with the same conclusion as many parents already have: Smarter Balanced sucks!

At this point, Johnson wanted to play one of the new videos, just released Friday in an email blast to anyone the DOE has worked with (which didn’t include me, but I got it forwarded to me on Friday).  So here it is, the world premiere (if you haven’t been so blessed to be included in the email blast), of the Delaware DOE Smarter Balanced Guide For Parents Video 2015:

http://www.doe.k12.de.us/cms/lib09/DE01922744/Centricity/Domain/4/DE_REPORT_VIDEO_REVISED_MIX_1.mp4?_=1

*video may not be working, I will work on it…

This won’t be the last time you hear this video, because apparently some districts want to put this on their morning announcement! I kid you not…

This next part is actually somewhat frightening.  When asked how many hits the DOE website is getting for this, Johnson was unable to answer, but they can track the hits or work with partners on sites they don’t own to get that information.  Tracking plays a LARGE part later on in this retreat…

The final part of the presentation was my whole reason for coming: The Delaware School Success Framework.  A slide came up from the State Board of Education agenda for Thursday’s meeting, but it had attachments that said “embargoed”.  These links don’t appear on the public agenda.  There was a lot of whispering between Penny Schwinn, Shana Young, and Donna Johnson at this point, as if they could be discussing something they didn’t want me to hear.  I don’t obviously know this for sure, just a hunch! 😉

She went over the state’s new accountability system called the Delaware School Success Framework (DSSF).  I covered most of this last week in my Regulation 103 article and how much of a game-changer this system is, but I found out quite a bit of information on it today.  The DSSF will go live next month with what they are calling the “paper framework” until the full online system launches by June 2nd (a must date according to Penny Schwinn).  Schwinn said the reason they are including 4, 5, and 6 year graduation rates is because of special education students who may not graduate in four years.  She proudly said “Delaware is the first state to have college and career preparation” as part of the state report card (which is what the US DOE calls state accountability systems).  When talking about the Accountability Framework Working Group (AFWG), Schwinn stated Ryan Reyna is leading this group.  She said there is a lot of opinions in this group, and not everyone is going to agree, which makes it a good group.  She said no accountability system is going to have 100% agreement, so it took some compromising.

“Delaware has the most aggressive rate in the country for growth,” Schwinn said.  This was her explanation for the VERY high portion of the DSSF which has growth.  She said it “feels more appropriate with Smarter Balanced to set the bar high.”  She acknowledged they are “pushing it with US DOE” but feels they will be approved.  How this all works with the DSSF is this.  There is a Part A, which counts toward a school’s accountability rating, and Part B which will show on the DOE website and is informative in nature but has no weight on a school’s grade.  Part A includes proficiency (multiplied by the school’s participation rate on SBAC), growth to proficiency, college and career prep (for high schools), average daily attendance, and so forth.  The numbers have changed somewhat since I last reported on the weights of each category.  For elementary and middle schools, 30% of the weight will be proficiency, and high schools will be 25%.  For growth, in elementary and middle schools this will be 45%, and high schools 40%.  So in essence, 75% of a school’s accountability rating will be based on the Smarter Balanced Assessment in elementary and middle schools, and 65% for high schools.  The bulk of the rating system that will determine reward, recognition, action, focus, focus plus and priority status will be based on the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  Schwinn said this is very aggressive and is “not comfortable backing down on it.”  Not one word was said about the participation rate or Regulation 103 during this presentation.  The categories were presented for the ESEA Flex Waiver last March but the weights have to be submitted to the US DOE by 10/31/15.  So the State Board has to make a decision on it by their 10/15 meeting.

Reyna talked about proficiency and growth with some scatter graphs.  “We’re really valuing schools that are showing growth with students” he said out of thin air.  Schwinn talked about the school survey parents will receive (school report card).  They are going with the “5 Essentials Survey” for the non-accountability rated Part B.  The DOE is creating a survey working group which will start next month and will include the “usual stakeholders”.  They sent emails to all the superintendents to participate, just like they did with the AFWG.  The state is holding itself accountable as well, but there was no discussion about what they are measuring themselves against.  Schwinn explained that on the survey last fall, parents liked the idea of letter grades on the school report and teachers hated it.  So they won’t have that on the report.  In news I know many will like, THERE WILL BE NO ROCKET SHIPS, TRAFFIC LIGHTS OR TROPHIES on the Delaware School Success Report sent to parents.  There was a lot of discussion about design and different ideas.  Heffernan said DOE can tell parents “It could have been worse, it could have been rocket ships.”

Schwinn explained on the online report, parents will be able to map and graph data.  As an example, Dr. Gray said if a parent is looking for a school that has choir, they will be able to find that, to which Schwinn agreed.  Schwinn said “accountability is intended to be a judgment on a school.  But we want to make sure parents see other data as well.”  Schwinn said they WILL TRACK THE INFORMATION PARENTS SEARCH FOR ON SCHOOLS to see if they can let schools or districts know about needs in their area.  Or at least that’s what she said.

Schwinn had to leave to “feed her family” and Reyna took over.  They are resetting assessment targets for the state and each subgroup which must be done by 1/31/16.  At this point, the next slide Reyna presented had embargoed information at a public meeting (just love saying that!).  So I cannot, by threat of force or violence, tell you that the overall state proficiency for SBAC was a little over 51% and for the overall subgroups, it was 38.8% for SBAC.  But here is the real kicker.  Delaware has to pick their choice to hold the state accountable.  With a six year plan, the state must close the proficiency gap between the overall sub-groups (including low-income, students with disabilities, English Language Learners, and minorities) by 50% in six years.  This is what Delaware DOE wants.  Other choices were all schools are 100% proficient by 2019-2020, or “any other method proposed by state that is educationally sound and results in ambitious but achievable Annual Measurable Objectives for all schools and subgroups.”

Pat Heffernan was not a fan of DOE’s choice because of the impact on students with disabilities.  He even made a comment about how they won’t reach this goal either.  It was discussed how ALL students will be included in this state accountability rating.  The infamous “n” number won’t apply (when students are below 15 at a school in a sub-group, they are NOT counted towards the individual school’s accountability) on this state system since ALL students that are in a sub-group will be included in the state’s rating.  But students will not be double-counted.  So for example, an African-American student with disabilities will only count towards one of those sub-groups.  The DOE must increase the 38.8% for the sub-groups to 45% in six years to meet the state rating with the US DOE.

And with that, the meeting ended since they had already run over time for the meeting, and they used a room at the Duncan Center in Dover.

UPDATED, 9/17/15, 9:34pm: Michael Watson from the Delaware DOE spoke with me at the State Board of Education meeting during a break.  He informed me the slide he presented to me at the State Board Retreat was NOT embargoed information, but the name of the upcoming report is.  Since I didn’t remember it, it’s a non-issue but I do appreciate him letting me know.  As for Ryan Reyna, that’s another story.

Governor Markell Visits Germany During Crucial Education Week

Delaware Governor Jack Markell is in Germany this week initiating trade agreements with companies.  Meanwhile, Delaware education has A LOT going on this week.  Most important is the State Board of Education meeting on Thursday, September 17th.  But other big events are happening as well.  Today, the State Board of Education is having a retreat at the Duncan Center in Dover, tomorrow the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission meets for their regular meeting at William Penn High School in New Castle, and the Vision Coalition is formally announcing their next “big thing” on Wednesday at 10am at Del Tech in Dover.  Oh yeah, there is also the whole Parent Strike REFUSE THE TEST event on Thursday, with a press conference in front of Legislative Hall at 12:30pm.  And starting on Wednesday, the Delaware Department of Education will start mailing individual Smarter Balanced Assessment results to parents across the state.

With all this going on, I would probably skip town too Jack! 😉 But I’m sure this was scheduled way in advance.  The fallout from decisions made this week, and in the next few months, could change the education landscape in Delaware for a long time.  Will the DOE and State Board of Education change or will they be forced to?  How much will it cost Delaware taxpayers to redistrict Wilmington?  Will parent rage over the Smarter Balanced Assessment be enough to make an impact?

Here is a list of all things education this week:

Today, Monday September 14th:

Delaware State Board of Education Retreat, Outlook at the Duncan Center in Dover, 9:00am-5:00pm

Delaware STEM Council Quarterly Meeting, Dept. of Natural Resources Office, Lewes DE, 4:00-6:00pm

SCR 22 Educational Technology Task Force Meeting, DOE Townshend Bldg., Cabinet Room, 4:30-7:00pm

Red Clay Community Financial Review Meeting, Brandywine Springs Teacher’s Lounge, 6:30pm

Tomorrow, Tuesday September 15th

WEIC Funding Student Success Committee, William Penn H.S., Newcastle, 2:00-4:00pm

Wilmington Education Improvement Commission (WEIC), Regular Meeting, William Penn H.S. in Newcastle, 4:00-6:00pm

DPAS-II Advisory Sub-Committee Meeting, DOE Townshend Bldg., Cabinet Room, 4:30-6:30pm

WEIC Parent, Educator, & Community Engagement Committee, William Penn H.S. in Newcastle, 6:15pm

Christina School District Citizens Budget Oversight Committee Meeting, Gauger-Cobbs M.S., Newark, 6:30-8:30pm

Wednesday September 16th

Vision Coalition Student Success 2025 Launch, Del-Tech, Dover, 10am-12noon

Red Clay Consolidated School District Board of Education Meeting, Warner Elementary School, Wilmington, 7:00pm

Capital School District Board of Education Meeting, District Office, Dover, 7:30pm

Delaware DOE begins mailing individual results on Smarter Balanced Assessment to parents

Thursday, September 17th

Accountability Framework Working Group Meeting, John Collette Education Resource Center, Dover, 8:30am *no announcement of this meeting anywhere, is not a public meeting although it should be.

Parent Strike Press Conference, outside of Legislative Hall, Dover, 12:30pm

State Board of Education Meeting, Townshend Bldg, Dover, Cabinet Room, 1:00-5:30pm

Student Data Privacy Task Force, Carvel State Office Bldg,, 5th Floor, Wilmington, 2:00-4:00pm

Christina School District Board of Education Meeting, Sarah Pyle Academy, Wilmington, 6:30pm-8:30pm

Some parents start to get Smarter Balanced results in the mail, collective scream begins to emerge in Delaware

Friday, September 18th

More parents get SBAC results, the scream gets louder

Poverty Matters! The Smarter Balanced Impact: Capital School District

This series began with Delaware charter schools and the four Wilmington School Districts.  Now were going to the middle of Delaware, to the Capital School District in Kent County, home to our state capital, Dover.

CAPITAL SCHOOL DISTRICT
SBAC ELA & MATH RESULTS and LOW-INCOME PERCENTAGES

Capital-SBAC

The above graph shows some trends, but not as noteworthy as Red Clay and Christina School Districts.  Capital, like many other districts “south of the canal”, does not have more than one middle school or high school.  In fact, there “two” middle schools consist of William Henry which serves grades 5-6 and Central Middle, 7-8.  The true outlier in this graph is Dover High School and their very low Math Smarter Balanced results.

While this looks like no true trends exist, if we take out Dover High, Central Middle, and William Henry (where all three have all the Capital elementary schools converging into one building in all future grades), we are left with Capital’s elementary schools which only go up to 4th grade.  We can see an overall trend in the below graph similar to the Wilmington school districts and Delaware Charter Schools: low-income level is high, Smarter Balanced Scores are lower, and vice-versa.

CAPITAL SCHOOL DISTRICT ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS

LOW-INCOME & SBAC RESULTS

Capital-Elementary-SBAC

In the below graph, I threw in the true charter schools that primarily exist within the Capital School District, Campus Community School and Academy of Dover, just to see what would happen.  There isn’t too much change.

CAPITAL SCHOOL DISTRICT & LOCAL CHARTERS

LOW-INCOME & SBAC RESULTS

Capital-Charters-SBAC-PLI

In the below graph, I threw in the district’s special education and English Language Learner percentages for each school based on DOE School Profiles data on their website for the 2014-2015 year.  The grey special education area does show a slight downward trend in schools the higher the population gets for each school, with the exception of Booker T. Elementary School.  This school also houses the district’s talented and gifted program, so there numbers should be a bit higher given that.

CAPITAL SCHOOL DISTRICT

SBAC RESULTS, LOW-INCOME, SPECIAL EDUCATION & ELL

Capital-SBAC-ELL-SPECED

Sandwiched in the middle of the state, Capital is a unique district.  The more affluent areas exist within the Hartly area, which shows much higher scores than all the other schools in the district.  But I foresee Capital’s numbers drastically changing in the future as some schools are set up with the World Language Immersion program, and others are not.  Since special education students and “problem” students don’t usually enter into these types of programs, we could eventually see some Capital schools bottoming out on SBAC if it stays on the same course.  Hopefully Capital will self-correct their internal student population otherwise they could be looking at priority schools in 4-5 years time.  Of course, the grand hope is ALL of this high-stakes testing and accountability nonsense will be gone by then!

Like I said up above, the trends in Capital don’t exactly mirror the schools in Wilmington due to some of the unique nature of their district alignment with schools.  When my son attended an elementary school in Capital, he went to Booker T, even though we passed North and Fairview before we got there.  So there feeder patterns are a bit different as well.

One final graph I did want to point out, which doesn’t really have much to do with Smarter Balanced scores, but does show an interesting graphic is the correlation between low-income and special education within Capital.

CAPITAL SCHOOL DISTRICT

LOW-INCOME & SPECIAL EDUCATION

Capital-PLI-SpecialEd

The numbers on this fluctuate a bit, but there are some indications of a trend.  With that being said though, special education can be a very tricky beast and no school is the same.  We will have more of an idea how special education students fared on the Smarter Balanced in six days when the sub-group data is released by the wild bunch down at the DOE.

Poverty Matters! The Smarter Balanced Impact: Delaware Charter Schools

charterPovertyCorrected

According to Delaware Governor Jack Markell, throwing our hands up with poverty is a recipe for the status quo.  As we can see in the above chart, poverty had a tremendous impact in Delaware charter schools.  The higher the low-income status, the lower the Smarter Balanced Assessment scores.  There is no hiding this.  Even the highly-praised EastSide Charter School was not immune to the wrath of the high-stakes test.  Below is part of Governor Markell’s speech he gave at the Imagine Delaware Forum in March of this year:

One of the reasons that we often hear for the struggle of our kids in the inner-city schools is poverty. And it is absolutely true that poverty presents enormous, enormous challenges for many children across our state. They face barriers to learning that the rest of us can’t imagine. And that’s why we need to do everything in our power to lift our children and our families out of poverty and to reach these children from the beginning of their lives, to counter the effects of growing up poor. And we are committed to addressing the root causes of poverty, by increasing access to the best early-learning programs, by investing in economic development and reducing crime and battling the addiction epidemic, and more. But as we pursue these goals we can’t delay improvements to the education kids in these communities receive. I, and I know that many of you, refuse to throw up our hands and say that we can’t truly improve education in these schools as long as poverty exists. That’s a recipe for the status quo, a recipe for fewer of our most vulnerable children to get the skills they need to escape poverty.

What Governor Markell seems to lack insight into or just plain ignores is the impact of poverty on children’s education.  It isn’t something “rigor” and “grit” can fix.  It’s a matter of increasing the funding to these schools, and not under the guise of priority schools or focus schools.  It means lowering the size of classrooms, increasing special education funding, and judging children based on a once a year test the clearly shows how much poverty does matter.  The Smarter Balanced Assessment is not improving education. It is making it more difficult for schools to get the true reform they need.  The Delaware Department of Education will be releasing their school report cards with the Smarter Balanced Assessment carrying most of the weight for school grades.  This is highly destructive to schools that do not do well on this test.  With the Delaware DOE and the State Board of Education pushing Regulation 103 into state code, we need parents to see how that will affect all school districts in Delaware.

This is just the first of many articles based on the Smarter Balanced Assessment and how it affects students of low-income status, students with disabilities, and the most vulnerable minorities in our state.  In conjunction with Delaware Liberal, Exceptional Delaware will be publishing articles in the coming week on this high-stakes testing epidemic that is destroying schools in our state.  This very unique “blog crossover” will paint the picture the Delaware Department of Education doesn’t want the public to see.  But numbers don’t lie.  They present facts that cannot be disputed.  Please come to Delaware Liberal and here to see further articles “Poverty Matters! The Smarter Balanced Impact”.  Delaware Liberal will be covering New Castle County while Exceptional Delaware will be covering Kent and Sussex Counties.  We may cross reference each other here and there, and I highly recommend reading what they have to write, especially with all the potential redistricting in Wilmington and the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission.

A very special thanks to the always awesome Pandora and LiberalGeek from Delaware Liberal, Brian Stephan of the excellent blog Those In Favor, and Delaware State Representative Kim Williams for their assistance in the data collection and formation of the graphs in this series.  This is truly a collaborative effort on all ends, and Delaware is a better place for it!

Rodel Starts The Blame-Game Against Teachers While Praising Smarter Balanced Results

Yes, I do regularly read the Rodel blog on their website, but I never commented on one until I saw their post from Friday called 5 Data Takeaways From Smarter Balanced Test Scores, written by Rodel employee Liz Hoyt.  I’m always curious what the “opposition” writes about things like this.  I have been very vocal in my thoughts on the Rodel Foundation of Delaware.  They are a non-profit whose CEO happens to make over a quarter of a million dollars a year.  I do not believe they have students best interests at heart.  This article drove that point home for me with very clear and concise words.  I will go through the areas that bothered me the most.

“Aligned to the Common Core state standards, the new state assessment was designed to ensure students have the skills and knowledge they need in jobs and college.”

I think this has always been my biggest problem with the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  Please tell me how a 3rd grader taking this test is going to be in any way prepared for college based on how they answer questions on a test?  Even if they put them at a 5th grade level, there is no test in the world that can prepare any student at a young age for a career or post-secondary education.  The education reformers need to pick a side and stick with it: is the test meant to create data to see where students compare with each other or is it to prep them for a world they can’t even fathom until they are 15 or 16?  They can’t have it both ways.  Furthermore,.wasn’t the whole point of Common Core that a student in Alaska would get the same information and be assessed on the same information as a student in Louisiana?  Instead, we have 18 states taking Smarter Balanced, 11 or so taking the PARCC, and the rest developing their own state assessments.  It isn’t very common when states aren’t taking the “common” test.  Funny how life works out…

“While this year’s scores are lower than last year’s DCAS results, Delaware students outperformed estimates (based on the 2014 national field test) in both subjects for every grade with the exception of 11th grade math.”

Why does the DOE and Governor Markell keep trying to pump up the fact that students did better than expected?  Isn’t that the whole point of a field test, to find out what the kinks are and what problems might come up and strive to fix those issues?  How many rockets did Russia blow up before Sputnik launched? If students did worse than the field test, it would prove unequivocally that this was a bad test.  But since students did better than the field test, we are acting like this is the best test Delaware ever created (which Governor Markell did say at a speech for New America earlier in the Summer).  And this is my major issue with this statement.  We have nothing to measure this test by, and even the Feds wouldn’t allow states to compare any test scores to field tests for this very reason with their accountability frameworks.  It’s not often I agree with the US DOE, but anyone can see the fallacy in comparing a field test to the actual test.

Scores dropped as Delaware set a new baseline for student proficiency.”

Once again, how can scores drop when you are comparing apples to oranges?  This test didn’t set a baseline for student proficiency, it set a baseline for Smarter Balanced proficiency based on whatever arbitrary number the Delaware Department of Education set it at.  So what happens if by chance some miracle happens, and every student scores proficient on the test next year.  Would the DOE allow that?  They had a meltdown when the vast majority of teachers were rated as “effective”.  What happens to the baseline then?  I firmly believe they would change it because if everyone is proficient, the test is useless and has outlived it’s purpose.  On the flip side, if everyone scores at a non-proficient level, we can’t have that either, because that shows 1) the test is bad and 2) we need to make all our schools a priority and fire all the teachers.  So the baseline will ALWAYS be set somewhere so that anywhere from 30-70% of  students are proficient.  But that really doesn’t tell us what students need.  It tells us the DOE will do whatever they have to for certain results.

“Despite concerns about the opt-out movement’s potential impact on assessment, student participation remained strong.”

Concerns? How many times does Dr. Paul Herdman speak in public at Legislative Hall about pending legislation for education? He said it was the first time he ever came to an education committee meeting and gave public comment.  It wasn’t a concern for Rodel. It was a five-alarm fire!  I’ve said all along I expected opt-outs to be small the first year.  I also said once parents receive the scores, it will be another story in the second year of Smarter Balanced.  One only needs to look at New York and New Jersey to see the difference between the first and second year opt-out rates to gage how Delaware will be with this in the Spring of 2016.  This is a wake-up call for parents, and they will show how much they support this test with higher opt-out rates in six months.

“Scores varied widely across districts and schools, highlighting the hard work of educators implementing the Common Core State Standards and schools that may need additional support.”

Scores varied widely among low-income schools and higher income schools.  They varied between charters and magnet schools with selective enrollment preferences and those without.  They varied between the haves and the have-nots.  Are you telling us then that schools with low-income just happen to have teachers who aren’t good at “implementing the Common Core State Standards”?  Because that’s the way I’m reading this.  Are you saying that EastSide Charter School, who was publicly praised by Governor Markell for their incredible growth on DCAS has teachers that now are not implementing Common Core the right way?  Or is it because EastSide performed about the same as other schools with comparable low-income populations?  Don’t answer.  We already know.

“…learn more about the Smarter Assessment and the Common Core State Standards at DelExcels.org.”

Since we know Rodel provides invaluable help to Donna Johnson, the State Board of Education and Delaware DOE in getting resource material on the DelExcels website for parents, and Rodel is a non-profit, did Rodel get paid with tax-payer money to help get the material on the DelExcels website?  And how much of that money gets invested into one of the hedge funds Rodel invests in?  Can you please answer those questions?

Delaware State Rep. Sean Matthews Tired Of “Test And Punish” & “Cash In The Trash” Education!

Delaware State Rep. Sean Matthews has had enough!  Something I think many of us agree on!  As the Delaware DOE announced the long-awaited and much dreaded Smarter Balanced Assessment results, folks immediately started crunching the data to see what it all means.  On Delaware Liberal and Those In Favor, graphs were made showing the relationship between low-income populations in Delaware schools and the Smarter Balanced results.  These graphs were very telling, and show these high-stakes assessments are not doing any favors for low-income students.

This is what State Rep. Sean Matthews had to say about all this:

Enough already! The corporate education “reformers” keep pushing their “test and punish” agenda. It’s failed. It’s failing. It will continue to fail until we address the endemic poverty plaguing some of our students.

The millions we spend each year on standardized testing is nothing more than “cash in the trash.” If we just collected parent/guardian’s income levels, we would get the same data. There is a direct and enduring correlation between a family’s economic health and school performance.

Don’t believe me? Check out these 2 graphs. One from Red Clay School District and one from Christina School District. Keep in mind that within each district, the curriculum, teacher training and governing district polices are the same. The only major difference is the % of low-income students from school to school.

csd_sbac_pli

RedClayPovertyScores

Rep. Matthews hit the nail on the head!  None of this is about the kids.  It’s about other agendas which results in schools being labeled and punished.  We have seen this sad tale all over America, in Chicago, Philadelphia, New Orleans and New York City.  Why is it so necessary to turn public education into something it’s not?  These are the tough schools.  The ones where teachers go to, day in and day out.  They don’t have to teach in these schools, they want to.  They want to help these kids.  It’s not for a paycheck, or to have the summers off.  Their unions can’t protect them too much when a school is shut down over high-stakes testing results. They want to be, if they can, the difference in some of these students lives.  I hear so many stories from adults who came from poverty, and very often, they reference a teacher who made a difference in their lives.

When is America going to wake up and realize these kids don’t need the labels.  They don’t need companies and management organizations coming into their schools to “fix” them.  They need consistency.  They need compassion.  They need what they already have.  But the education reformers don’t think that’s enough.  They would rather test these children, all the while knowing the tests they are giving to them are designed for failure, so they can “turnaround” a school.  It all comes down to money, and it makes me sick to my stomach that anyone would use children in this manner.

Someone genuinely asked me if they should continue to send their child to a school like this or send them to a “high-performing” school.  Every time a parent makes a decision in favor of the latter, they are killing public education, one student at a time.  And that’s exactly what the reformers want.  The data in these graphs says one thing.  These tests are great for those with money and very bad for those without.  It’s not about the caliber of the school, or the teachers, it’s about the world these children live in.  The reformers can’t grasp the notion that if they spent their vast millions upon millions of dollars on actually improving communities and creating jobs, that would do far more for these children than any standardized assessment would ever do.  That would be the real reform our children need.

We keep hearing how the Delaware DOE needs this data, and that parents need it. What does it tell you?  You won’t see these graphs on the Delaware DOE website.  But they are more important than any amount of data they will ever put out.  Thank you Rep. Matthews for saying what so many of us are saying.  You have a powerful voice, and we need you to speak for a long time.

*Thank you to Delaware Liberal and Those In Favor for creating these graphs!

Delaware PTA Issues Statement On Smarter Balanced Assessment Results

The Delaware PTA just unveiled a press release to their members on their views of the recently announced Smarter Balanced Assessment results.  These are questions everyone in this state should be asking, especially our legislators.  They voted this into state code, and as far as I’m concerned, they can vote it right out!

DELAWARE PTA

9/8/2015

 

Smarter Balanced Results If Delaware DOE Understood Poverty Matters & Special Education Was Understood

As Delaware journalists, schools and parents dove into the Smarter Balanced data this week, Delaware Liberal and Those In Favor released two graphs. Both of them showed how low-income and Smarter Balanced results worked against each other fairly consistently in the Red Clay Consolidated and Christina School District.  Did the same hold true for charter schools?  The below information tells the tale.  As well, I went a step further and played with some different weights into what really matters in education data.

Statistically, schools with small amounts of low-income students had higher scores on the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  Those with high percentages of low-income students fared worse on the assessment.  Now if our Delaware Department of Education truly cared about factors affecting high-stakes testing, the results would be completely different.  The below chart shows all Delaware charters and their average Smarter Balanced results.  By simply adding ELA & Math and dividing by two, we see each charters average.  And this does include Positive Outcomes and Gateway for reasons which will become clear very soon.

As a guide, the following abbreviations are as follows:

LI: Low-Income

PF: Proficiency Factor (average proficiency for each school multiplied by low-income percentage)

SE: Percentage of special education students (having an IEP) at each school

PFSE: The proficiency factor multiplied by the special education percentage for each school


DELAWARE CHARTER SCHOOLS LOW-INCOME & SBAC PROFICIENCY RATES

Charter School of Wilmington- LI: 2.3% ELA: 97.5% Math: 96.3% Average: 96.9%

Newark Charter School- LI: 7.2% ELA: 93.1% Math: 84.1%, Average: 88.6%

Sussex Academy- LI: 7.8% ELA: 95.6% Math: 73.9%, Average: 84.75%

Odyssey Charter School- LI: 17.9% ELA: 77.7% Math: 69.5%, Average: 73.60%

MOT Charter School- LI: 5.9% ELA: 75.4% Math: 71.1%, Average: 73.25%

Providence Creek Academy- LI: 18.3% ELA: 66.0% Math: 43.3%, Average: 54.65%

Kuumba Academy- LI: 58.0% ELA: 44.6% Math: 39.9%, Average: 51.3%

Campus Community- LI: 38.3% ELA: 61.9% Math: 36.9%, Average: 49.4%

First State Montessori- LI: 10.0% ELA: 57.4% Math: 41.1%, Average: 49.25%

Las Americas Aspiras- LI: 25.0% ELA: 51.0% Math: 40.7%, Average: 45.85%

Delaware Military Academy- LI: 6.9% ELA: 54.0% Math: 27.6%, Average: 40.8%

Family Foundations- LI: 44.4% ELA: 36.5% Math: 28.9%, Average: 32.7%

Academy of Dover- LI: 64.8% ELA 35.7% Math 25.9%, Average: 30.8%

Thomas Edison Charter School- LI: 76.2% ELA: 33.7% Math: 20.9%, Average: 27.3%

Reach Academy- LI: 55.2% ELA: 31.2% Math: 17.0%, Average: 24.1%

East Side Charter School- LI: 77.3% ELA: 19.9% Math: 23.4%, Average: 21.65%

Prestige Academy- LI: 58.1% ELA: 17.6% Math: 13.4%, Average: 15.5%

Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security- LI: 27.0% ELA: 20.6% Math: 7.4%, Average: 14%

Gateway Lab School- LI: 20.8% ELA: 15.4% Math: 4.8%, Average: 10.1%

Positive Outcomes- LI: 31.7% ELA: 15.7% Math: 2.0%, Average: 8.85%

Delaware College Prep- LI: 77.8% ELA: 5.8% Math: 7.5%, Average: 6.65%

Moyer- LI: 73.1% ELA: 8.3% Math: 1.4%, Average: 4.85%

Of course, the highly-praised Charter School of Wilmington is on top and the recently closed Moyer is on the bottom.  The two special education charters are near the bottom of the list as well.  These are solid numbers based on DOE website data on low-income populations and Smarter Balanced results.


DELAWARE CHARTER SCHOOL SBAC RESULTS WITH LOW-INCOME WEIGHT ADDED IN

Kuumba Academy 58.0% ELA 44.6% Math 39.9%, PF: 24.5%

Thomas Edison Charter School 76.2% ELA 33.7% Math 20.9%, PF: 20.8%

Academy of Dover 64.8% ELA 35.7% Math 25.9%, PF: 20.0%

Campus Community 38.3% ELA 61.9% Math 36.9%, PF: 18.9%

East Side Charter School 77.3% ELA 19.9% Math 23.4%, PF: 16.7%

Family Foundations 44.4% ELA 36.5% Math 28.9%, PF: 14.5%

Reach Academy 55.2% ELA 31.2% Math 17.0%, PF: 13.3%

Odyssey Charter School 17.9% ELA 77.7% Math 69.5%, PF: 13.2%

Providence Creek Academy 18.3% ELA 66.0% Math 43.3%, PF: 10.0%

Sussex Academy 7.8% ELA 95.6% Math 73.9%, PF: 6.61%

Newark Charter School 7.2% ELA 93.1% Math 84.1%, PF: 6.38%

Delaware College Prep 77.8% ELA 5.8% Math 7.5%, PF: 5.2%

First State Montessori 10.0% ELA 57.4% Math 41.1%, PF: 4.93%

MOT Charter School 5.9% ELA 75.4% Math 71.1%, PF: 4.32%

Delaware Acad. Public Safety & Security 27.0% ELA 20.6% Math 7.4%, PF: 3.78%

Moyer 73.1% ELA 8.3% Math 1.4%, PF: 3.5%

Positive Outcomes 31.7% ELA 15.7% Math 2.0%, PF: 2.8%

Delaware Military Academy 6.9% ELA 54.0% Math 27.6%, PF: 2.8%

Charter School of Wilmington 2.3% ELA 97.5% Math 96.3%, PF: 2.3%

Prestige Academy 58.1% ELA 17.6% Math 13.4%, PF: 2.2%

Gateway Lab School 20.8% ELA 15.4% Math 4.8%, PF: 2.10%

Las Americas Aspiras 25.0% ELA 51.0% Math 40.7%, PF: 1.14%

Everything changes when you factor low-income and poverty into the equation.  But is that enough?  Many of the schools with high populations of low-income students also have high populations of students with disabilities.  What if we add that to the equation?


DELAWARE CHARTER SCHOOL SBAC RESULTS WITH LOW-INCOME AND SPECIAL EDUCATION WEIGHT ADDED IN

East Side Charter School 77.3% ELA 19.9% Math 23.4%, PF: 16.7%, SE: 14.8%, PFSE: 2.4716

Academy of Dover 64.8% ELA 35.7% Math 25.9%, PF: 20.0%, SE: 11.7%, PFSE: 2.3400

Positive Outcomes 31.7% ELA 15.7% Math 2.0%, PF: 2.8%, SE: 65.9%, PFSE: 1.8452

Campus Community 38.3% ELA 61.9% Math 36.9%, PF: 18.9%, SE: 8.3%, PFSE: 1.5687

Kuumba Academy 58.0% ELA 44.6% Math 39.9%, PF: 24.5%, SE: 6.3%, PFSE: 1.5438

Thomas Edison Charter School 76.2% ELA 33.7% Math 20.9%, PF: 20.8%, SE: 7.1%, PFSE: 1.4768

Gateway Lab School 20.8% ELA 15.4% Math 4.8%, PF: 2.10%, SE: 59.9%, PFSE: 1.2579

Moyer 73.1% ELA 8.3% Math 1.4%, PF: 3.5%, SE: 29.8%, PFSE: 1.0430

Reach Academy 55.2% ELA 31.2% Math 17.0%, PF: 13.3%, SE: 6.4%, PFSE: .8512

Family Foundations 44.4% ELA 36.5% Math 28.9%, PF: 14.5%, SE: 5.3%, PFSE: .7685

Las Americas Aspiras 25.0% ELA 51.0% Math 40.7%, PF: 1.14%, SE: 5.7%, PFSE: .6498

Delaware Acad. Public Safety & Security 27.0% ELA 20.6% Math 7.4%, PF: 3.78%, SE: 16.5%, PFSE: .6237

Odyssey Charter School 17.9% ELA 77.7% Math 69.5%, PF: 13.2%, SE: 4.4%, PFSE: .5808

Providence Creek Academy 18.3% ELA 66.0% Math 43.3%, PF: 10.0%, SE: 5.1%, PFSE: .5100

Prestige Academy 58.1% ELA 17.6% Math 13.4%, PF: 2.2%, SE: 22.0%, PFSE: .4840

Newark Charter School 7.2% ELA 93.1% Math 84.1%, PF: 6.38%, SE: 5.6%, PFSE: .3573

First State Montessori 10.0% ELA 57.4% Math 41.1%, PF: 4.93%, SE: 5.4%, PFSE: .2662

MOT Charter School 5.9% ELA 75.4% Math 71.1%, PF: 4.32%, SE: 6.1%, PFSE: .2635

Sussex Academy 7.8% ELA 95.6% Math 73.9%, PF: 6.61%, SE: 3.6%, PFSE: .2380

Delaware College Prep 77.8% ELA 5.8% Math 7.5%, PF: 5.2%, SE: 2.5%, PFSE: .1300

Delaware Military Academy 6.9% ELA 54.0% Math 27.6%, PF: 2.8%, SE: 3.0%, PFSE: .0840

Charter School of Wilmington 2.3% ELA 97.5% Math 96.3%, PF: 2.3%, SE: .2%, PFSE: .0046


PRIORITY SCHOOLS

Now where all of this gets really interesting is when you start comparing this to traditional district schools.  Since it would take me forever and a day to get all of them, I thought I would start with the six priority schools announced a year ago yesterday.

Bancroft- LI: 80.5% ELA: 11.0% Math: 6.9%, PF: 13.5%, SE: 24.2%, PFSE: 3.2670

Shortlidge- LI: 81.0% ELA: 20.9%, Math: 15.7%, PF: 14.8%, SE: 14.9%, PFSE: 2.2052

Highlands- LI: 65.2% ELA: 29.5%, Math: 17.9%, PF: 15.5%, SE: 12.2%, PFSE: 1.8910

Warner- LI: 82.6% ELA: 13.4%, Math: 10.6%, PF: 9.9%, SE: 14.2%, PFSE: 1.4058

Bayard- LI: 78.2%, ELA: 9.3%, Math: 3.2%, PF: 4.9%, SE: 27.2%, PFSE: 1.3328

Stubbs- LI: 86.5% ELA: 8.1%, Math: 7.1%, PF: 6.6%, SE: 11.6%, PFSE: .7656

Bancroft would have beat ALL the charters, and even Stubbs, at the bottom of this list, would have beat  over half the other charters.  So what is the reason we are judging schools on high-stakes assessment scores when so many other factors need to be considered?  Maybe we can get a new funding program based on these calculations, but please hold the SBAC!  But seriously, as these numbers prove, our “greatest schools” aren’t so great when they don’t have high populations driving a need for additional support and services that are not coming into those schools at the rate they should be.  This is Delaware’s #1 problem, not proficiency scores on a useless once a year test. Governor Markell, poverty does matter and special education plays a huge role in the overall dynamic in Delaware education.

 

Interim Delaware Secretary of Education Godowsky Needs To Learn From New York Superintendent Elia

State Education Commissioner Mary Ellen Elia says she won’t prevent parents who want their children to skip the state’s standardized tests from doing so.

Diane Ravitch is reporting New York State Education Commissioner Mary Ellen Elia will not try to stop parent opt-out.  This is a welcome relief for hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers I’m sure.  New York had the highest opt-out rates of any state in the country last spring, and all indications are pointing to these numbers increasing nationwide next year.  Bottom line: parents are fed up and sick of their children going through these state assessments.

In Delaware, we will find out how our state did tomorrow when the mighty Markell and the distorted DOE release the 2015 results for the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  Will they release the participation rate for the test?  Or will we have to wait for the State Board of Education presentation on September 17th for that?  Whatever the opt-out numbers are, they WILL increase in 2016.

I’m already hearing about how districts are bragging that they did better than they thought.  But there is no indication if this is better than the proficiency rates for DCAS from last year.  One common thing I am hearing in Delaware as well as the rest of the country: students with disabilities did very bad on the Smarter Balanced.  Really bad.  Single digit proficiency in a lot of cases…

Will Dr. Steven Godowsky, the Interim Delaware Secretary of Education do anything?  He has been very quiet since the “resignation” of Mark Murphy two and a half weeks ago.  Will he be a Markell puppet or his own man? One thing is for sure, if districts, charters and the DOE thought they had their hands full with opt-out requests this year, they might want to fasten their seatbelts, because REFUSE THE TEST DELAWARE is going to give them a long and bumpy ride!

Governor Markell & Delaware DOE Deny Freedom Of The Press With Smarter Balanced Results

I found out last evening about a press conference in which “credentialed journalists” were invited to a press briefing today at 2pm when the statewide results of the Smarter Balanced Assessment would be released.  This is happening right now at the Carvel Building in Wilmington and an undisclosed location in Dover.  I reached out to Alison May, the Public Relations Officer at the Delaware Department of Education, and Kelly Bachman, Governor Markell’s Press Secretary, to attempt, in good faith, to be allowed to attend this press briefing.  My request was denied.  The levels of collusion involving everything with the Smarter Balanced Assessment in Delaware have been egregious on levels unheard of, and my response to all of this, and everything surrounding it, will be swift and very public.  Below is a copy of the email that was sent out to “Members of the Press” (it was not sent to me originally) and the following emails which were sent by myself and the responses received from Alison May and Kelly Bachman.


NOTE FOR PRESS ONLY: Last year, Delaware schools transitioned to a new Smarter Balanced state assessment.  An embargoed briefing on the release of data from the first year of that assessment will be held for credentialed members of the press Tuesday, September 1, 2015 at 2:00 p.m. at the Carvel State Office Building in Wilmington. There is also an opportunity to receive the briefing from Dover.  If you have not yet done so and would like to attend, please contact alison.may@doe.k12.de.us for more information and to RSVP.

On Monday, August 31, 2015 3:45 PM, “Bachman, Kelly M (Governor)” <Kelly.Bachman@state.de.us> wrote:

Contact: Kelly Bachman, 302-299-9791

                                                                                        

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Bill Signing: Senate Bill 57, Senate Bill 101

What:   Governor Markell will sign Senate Bill 57, relating to the abbreviated title of Advanced Practice Registered Nurses, and Senate Bill 101, relating to a new Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Committee – Joined by primary bill sponsor State Senator Bethany Hall Long, other bill sponsors, members of the Delaware Division of Professional Regulation, as well as over 20 Advanced Practice Registered Nurses, the Governor will sign Senate Bill 57 and Senate Bill 101 into law.  Senate Bill 57 will modernize the title of Advanced Practice Nurse to Advanced Practice Registered Nurse, as well as update requirements for licensure and prescriptions.  Senate Bill 101 will create a new Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Committee to assist the Board of Nursing in regulation of nursing practice.

Who:     Governor Markell

State legislators

Regulation division leaders

Healthcare professionals

When:   Tuesday, September 1st at 12:30 p.m.

Where:  University of Delaware, STAR Campus, Atrium, 550 S. College Avenue, Newark

*****

NOTE FOR PRESS ONLY: Last year, Delaware schools transitioned to a new Smarter Balanced state assessment.  An embargoed briefing on the release of data from the first year of that assessment will be held for credentialed members of the press Tuesday, September 1, 2015 at 2:00 p.m. at the Carvel State Office Building in Wilmington. There is also an opportunity to receive the briefing from Dover.  If you have not yet done so and would like to attend, please contact alison.may@doe.k12.de.us for more information and to RSVP.

###


Editor’s note: I decided to contact Alison May to RSVP.


From: Kevin Ohlandt [mailto:kevino3670@yahoo.com]
Sent: Tuesday, September 01, 2015 7:38 AM
To: May Alison
Cc: Bachman Kelly M
Subject: Smarter Balanced Assessment Briefing Today
Good morning Alison,
I would like to attend the Smarter Balanced Assessment results briefing today through Governor Markell’s office and the Delaware Department of Education.  I would like to RSVP to hear the briefing through Dover.  Please let me know where I should go.  I completely and fully understand these are embargoed results and cannot be released until such time as designated through Governor Markell’s office or the Delaware Department of Education and I would be more than willing to sign any confidentiality agreement to that effect.  Thank you,
Kevin Ohlandt

Exceptional Delaware


From: May Alison <alison.may@doe.k12.de.us>
To: Kevin Ohlandt <kevino3670@yahoo.com>
Cc: Bachman Kelly M <kelly.bachman@state.de.us>
Sent: Tuesday, September 1, 2015 7:50 AM
Subject: RE: Smarter Balanced Assessment Briefing Today

Kevin,

Thank you for your interest, but this is an embargoed briefing for credentialed members of the media only.  The public release is at noon tomorrow.

Alison


From: Kevin Ohlandt <kevino3670@yahoo.com>
To: May Alison <alison.may@doe.k12.de.us>
Cc: Bachman Kelly M <kelly.bachman@state.de.us>
Sent: Tuesday, September 1, 2015 8:11 AM
Subject: Re: Smarter Balanced Assessment Briefing Today

Alison,
That’s a shame, because I am a member of the media and I happen to have a lot of street cred.  And I was willing to sign anything you folks would want to keep the embargo.  Now I have to blog that you won’t let me in, which kind of makes the DOE look bad.  It’s not like this is the Cuban Missile Crisis…
Kevin

Editor’s Note: It is at this point in time I called Governor Markell’s Press Secretary Kelly Bachman at approximately 9:10am this morning.  She heard my request, said she was just walking into work, and would get back to me.  By late morning, I received no response, so I emailed her directly.


From: Kevin Ohlandt <kevino3670@yahoo.com>
To:kelly.bachman@state.de.us” <kelly.bachman@state.de.us>
Sent: Tuesday, September 1, 2015 11:38 AM
Subject: Smarter Balanced Assessment Results Briefing Today
Hello again Kelly,
I had spoken with you this morning but you were just walking into work.  I was the blogger who wanted to be at the press briefing on the SBAC results today.  I haven’t heard back from you if I am able to attend.  I also want to add that I would certainly sign any confidentiality agreements due to the embargo until 12 noon tomorrow, 9/2/15.  I have (deleted due to personal information), so I was hoping to get the information today when I’m not (deleted due to personal information)!
Thank you for your consideration on this matter,
Kevin Ohlandt
Exceptional Delaware

From: Kevin Ohlandt [mailto:kevino3670@yahoo.com]
Sent: Tuesday, September 01, 2015 11:52 AM
To: Bachman, Kelly M (Governor) <Kelly.Bachman@state.de.us>
Subject: Re: Smarter Balanced Assessment Results Briefing Today
Hello once more!
With a readership of thousands of Delawareans every day, sometimes in the five figures, I would think the DOE and Governor Markell’s office would all want media representatives in attendance at this meeting.  To deny access to influential members of the media in the state is indicative of non-transparency which has been a strong issue the DOE has been facing for quite a long time now.  While it is not my wish to make this a bigger deal than it has to be, and my request is for this office to do the right thing, I have already had hundreds of messages expressing disappointment in both that I was not invited to this event since they get the bulk of their education news from Exceptional Delaware.  This is an effort to build a bridge here with an audience who views Delaware DOE as very secretive and not willing to work with the public, and I won’t be able to control the spin on that.
Thank you again,
Kevin Ohlandt
Editor’s note: The original email sent for this, in the first paragraph, did say “media representative media”, but I corrected it for clarification.


E

Editor’s Note: After an hour with no response, I once again called Kelly Bachman and left a message with much of the information I’ve already written about.



From: “Bachman, Kelly M (Governor)” <Kelly.Bachman@state.de.us>
To: Kevin Ohlandt <kevino3670@yahoo.com>
Sent: Tuesday, September 1, 2015 12:52 PM
Subject: RE: Smarter Balanced Assessment Results Briefing Today

Hi Kevin,
We appreciate your interest in covering this information. Unfortunately, given the high volume of interest, if we made exceptions for the embargoed press briefing, we’d open ourselves up to including other members of the public and we aren’t able to do that. The briefing today is for credentialed journalists representing news media organizations and is the same format used for releasing test score information as in years past. As stated previously, there will be a public release tomorrow.
Best,
 
Kelly M. Bachman
Press Secretary, Office of Governor Jack A. Markell
302.577.8495 | 820 N. French Street| Wilmington, DE 19801 |
cell: 302.299.9791


 From: Kevin Ohlandt <kevino3670@yahoo.com>
To: “Bachman, Kelly M (Governor)” <Kelly.Bachman@state.de.us>
Sent: Tuesday, September 1, 2015 1:12 PM
Subject: Re: Smarter Balanced Assessment Results Briefing Today

Hi Kelly,
So other members of the media, up to and including bloggers, are considered “members of the public”?  That is very insulting to be honest with you.  Bloggers reach out to audiences across the state and do it for free, for absolutely no financial benefit.  The levels of non-transparency with Governor Markell’s administration and the Delaware Department of Education have now reached epic levels.
I will be sure not to invite your office to my upcoming press conference when I announce several complaints I plan on filing with the Delaware Attorney General, the Delaware Public Integrity Commission, the Delaware State Auditor, the Federal Ombudsman at the US Department of Education, the US Department of Justice, and the US Office of Civil Rights.  These complaints will include Governor Markell, members of his administration, the Delaware Department of Education, the State Board of Education, and certain education committees or groups in this state for numerous violations of FOIA, State law, and Federal law.
I’ve tried playing nice with you folks numerous times, but it is more than obvious you have no intention of decreasing the level of lies, intimidation, and illegal activities that surround education in Delaware.  Please tell Governor Markell this could have easily gone another way when he asks why all of this is happening.
Thank you,
Kevin Ohlandt


So there you have it.  As anyone reading this blog knows, the Delaware Department of Education, the State Board of Education and Governor Jack Markell and members of his administration have been tampering with public education for several years.  It is past time we put an immediate halt to this.  And I am a man of my word, everything I told Kelly Bachman I would do will happen.  I have the evidence already.  These are not empty threats like we have been receiving from these liars for the past seven years.  This was their last chance to show an iota of transparency to Delaware.  If you would like to help contribute to the ever growing pile of pending complaints, please contact me immediately where you know how to reach me.  This is the game-changer.