Smarter Balanced Assessment Went Under A Peer Review In Delaware…Where’s The Report?

Smarter Balanced Assessment

On August 18th, the Delaware State Board of Education held a work session before their regular meeting.  At this session was Jon Cohen, the Vice-President of American Institutes for Research and Tony Alpert, the Executive Director of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium.


Question… if the test is computer adaptive for each student, then not every student receives the same test.  So how could there possibly ever be mean scores involved with a test that is never the same?  Is that why Delaware Governor Jack Markell called this the best test ever made at a New America conference last year?  Here is the presentation:

That was the presentation.  As you can see, our stalwart State Board of Education took very detail minutes of the work session…


Meanwhile, the Delaware DOE had a meeting with all the district test coordinators on 8/29/16.

Can someone please tell me how Component V from the DPAS-II teacher evaluation system is listed as a “Test Security Incident” for Smarter Balanced?  That seems kind of odd in my opinion.  In the below document, it states the Smarter Balanced Assessment went under a peer review as required by ESEA.  But who was this peer review submitted to?  They talk about “CFA consultants” in the document.  Upon searching for “cfa”, I believe this means “confirmatory factor analysis” based on this document.  Or is that the name of the company doing this “peer review”?  I hope it isn’t like Florida’s peer review that was making everyone ask “Will the real Slim Shady please stand up?”

If this report was due in August, how come we have yet to see a copy of this federally required peer review?  Sounds like a future FOIA!

Competency-Based Education & Personalized Learning Invaded Delaware…We Didn’t Even Realize It…

Competency-Based Education, Governor Markell, National Governor's Association, Personalized Learning

Delaware Governor Jack Markell, who has held the role of state leader in Delaware since 2009, also serves on the National Governor’s Association.  This collective of all the United States Governors has several different committees they serve on.  Governor Markell serves on the Education & Workforce Committee.  To any citizen of Delaware, this is not a shock.  Markell serves on this committee with the Chair, Governor Jay Inslee (WA), the Vice-Chair, Governor Robert Bentley (AL), Governor Pete Ricketts (NE), Governor Kate Brown (OR), Governor Tom Wolf (PA), Governor Dennis Daugaard (SD), Governor Bill Haslam (TN) and Governor Scott Walker (WI).  Four of these states, Delaware, Washington, Oregon and South Dakota all administer the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  None of these Governors represent the nine states where the PARCC assessment is administered.

From their website, the Education & Workforce Committee’s main goal is this:

The Education and Workforce Committee has jurisdiction over issues in the area of education (including early childhood, K-12 and postsecondary) as well as in the areas of workforce development. Members of the committee ensure that the governors’ views are represented in the shaping of federal policy.

The committee released a paper two and half weeks ago about “Competency-Based Education” from Kindergarten to college.  In a nutshell, the document (which can be read below), wants to completely gut what is currently done in education.  Instead of students going through grades K-12, this new model would have students advance when they are proficient in a subject.

CBE shows promise for helping more elementary and secondary students meet higher standards of learning and become better prepared for college or a career training program.  Once in higher education or job training, CBE allows older students (traditional-age college students or adult learners) to learn on their own time at their own pace.

While some envision personalized learning as the wave of the future, I think it is ripe for abuse.  If the goal of personalized learning is for each student to advance at their own pace, it presents a clear danger to students who are already behind to become even more so.  Even more frightening is the role of the teacher in this personalized learning environment:

In a CBE system, the role of the educator changes from an individual lecturing in a classroom to that of a coach or facilitator who guides learning.  In a CBE system, the training, certification, evaluation, pay, promotion, and leadership role of educators should all be reexamined.

The role of assessment plays a major part in this.  For those reading this and may be thinking none of this has happened yet, this is exactly what is going on right now in Delaware.  This is the Delaware School Success Framework.

Assessment is frequently tied to accountability in K-12; therefore, policymakers should rethink what their accountability systems measure and value.

The third big area with this revolves around student funding, which has become a hotbed issue in Delaware in the past year.

Altering structures to award funding based on learning could provide incentives for the wider adoption of CBE efforts and allow states to pay for the learning outcomes according to their value.

So we have this competency-based education that turns teachers into facilitators of a computer program, students who either advance fast or fall even further behind (and we all know who that will be: minorities, low-income students, and students with disabilities), and funding that translates to which companies will get very rich very fast off this initiative.  And let’s face it, anytime we hear the word “incentives”, it is more “waivers” where nothing really gets waived except an antiquated No Child Left Behind standard that nobody can meet and forces states to comply with Federal standards.  And when they say “wider adoption” that means comply or you get nothing, just like they did with the Common Core State Standards (developed by this group and the Council of Chief State School Officers) and Race To The Top.  Lest we forget, none of this means Common Core and the current crop of state assessments are going away, because the whole reasoning for this is based on 1/3rd of children in America were proficient on the state assessments.  Which allows them to complete the vicious cycle all over again for their next initiative, Competency-Based Learning.

Imagine, if you will, you are an education-tech company and your personalized program gets picked in this CBE world.  You are instantly rich!  And you will align with all the other companies to make sure you stay that way.  You will join consortiums and committees, and as your company grows, you will own employees in the US DOE and all the State DOEs as well.  But guess what?  This has already happened!  Things in Delaware like BRINC, Schoology, Student Success 2025, the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission, and the DOE/State Board led Statewide Review of Educational Opportunities are all about this.  Even the Assessment Inventory Task Force will make sure assessments are designed towards this model.  We blinked, and personalized learning already infiltrated over half the state.  I warned folks a year ago how this would be a special education killer and competency-based education will do exactly that!

If you don’t think Delaware has been planning ahead for this for a long time, take this piece of information in the paper which talks about New Hampshire and their role in the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium:

New Hampshire is working with other states on a task force as part of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium to describe how the assessments can comprehensively support a CBE-aligned system.  The task force will recommend enhancements and changes to the assessment components to provide more precise information to teachers that they can use to improve students’ learning within a CBE system.

In other words, the teacher facilitator will simply switch the module in the personalized learning computer system that some Fortune 500 company created so the student can do better on the assessment which is designed to show how much we need this new system based on the amount of students not scoring as proficient.  It is a vicious cycle which rewards students who come from a better economic background and drags the students who struggle through a proficiency nightmare.  If the goal is to challenge “smarter” kids and to make proficiency the goal for “not as smart” kids, what happens when the “not as smart” kids get tired of waiting to become proficient?  If there is no challenge for them and they go over the same material over and over again, they will quickly become very bored and will start to act out in this CBE classroom.  And what is a CBE classroom?  Will it have inclusion for students with disabilities?  How does discipline work with this new working class of facilitators?

There are more questions than answers with all of this, but it is painfully transparent how the stage was set for all of this.  The Common Core was developed to set the “standard”, the state assessments were developed to set the “proficiency”, the accountability systems for teachers and schools (not the students) were set up to “destroy” the public education system as we know it, all leading to this: students getting even more screen time all day in school and getting brief amounts of time off the computer to hear a facilitator summarize or say “time for lunch”.  This is also why we see such a huge push for charter schools.  They have no teacher unions for the most part, and their “models” are based on this type of environment.  As more and more charters choke the traditional school districts, the path to this get-rich future becomes even more clear.  And our Governors seem to be okay with all of this!  Why?

The promise of such a system is that it can adjust the methods of instruction and assistance to provide deeper, more personalized learning and help ensure that all students meet or exceed the high expectations of rigorous and relevant standards.

Or, you can believe this will further separate the haves from the have-nots.  Can anyone stop this train which left the station years ago?  Or is the future already here?  Parents across the country are actually making a difference in stopping this runaway train by opting their children out of the state assessment.  While the motivation is to look out for their child’s well-being, they are also throwing a wrench into this massive machine and stopping it dead in its tracks.  We just need much higher opt-out numbers to blow the whole thing up!

The full document is below:

DOE Responds To My Not A FOIA Request On SBAC Achievement Levels With Names

Delaware DOE, Smarter Balanced Assessment

Holy smokes!  I guess if you respond to a DOE email and include tons of people on the response, you might just get a response.  I got real live actual information regarding Smarter Balanced without making four mortgage payments!  State Rep. John Kowalko was included on this as well.  Below is the email from Alison May at the Delaware Department of Education with answers to all my questions (just for this request, they know I still have TONS of other questions).  I did take the liberty of doing some minor edits by adding a colon after each of my questions instead of the comma Alison May used.  As well, her answers had red, so I will do that which got lost in the copy.  I just wanted to make it prettier, but if anyone wants to see the REAL email, let me know.

From: May Alison <>
To: “‘'” <>; Kowalko John <>
Sent: Monday, October 12, 2015 4:22 PM
Subject: FOIA response

Mr. Ohlandt and Rep. Kowalko,

This is in response to your recent requests for information. Quoted below are Mr. Ohlandt’s original questions with respective answers in red.
1)     I would like to see a list of the individuals from Delaware who participated in the Smarter Balanced Achievement Level Setting.  This would include both the In-Person Panel and the Cross-Grade Review Committee:  The below spreadsheet lists the Delaware in-person participants.  Also, it identifies the cross-grade review committee participant from DE —-this process was also called Vertical Articulation Committee (VAC).  This was Karen Clifton.
The following represented Delaware as in-person panelists. TBL indicates the person served as a table facilitator. VAC indicates the person also participated on a vertical articulation committee.
SBAC Achievement Level
2)     As well, I would like to know who from Delaware represented the final achievement level settings: The state representatives participated in reviewing and making recommendations, which also took into consideration the online recommendations, etc.  There was then a final cross-grade or vertical process on the last day to make final recommendations from this group to pass forward.  These recommendations also went through external review, TAC, and Governing States chiefs for discussions.  Then they went to states for additional discussions and possible adoption. Karen Clifton from Delaware stayed for the final day of achievement-level setting. Carolyn Lazar of DDOE’s Assessment Office also was there for observation/auditing the process.  Former Secretary Mark Murphy participated in the Governing States discussions.
3)     Which higher education leaders participated in the 11th grade achievement level setting:  Faith Muirhead
4)     And anyone from Delaware who served on SBAC’s Technical Advisory Committee: There were no Delaware reps on Smarter’s TAC—this is not designed to be a state representative group but a professional group of assessment authorities.
5)     And if anyone from Delaware participated in the audit process for this:  Carolyn Lazar participated as a state observer/auditor for the process.  Each state was allowed to send one representative for this.
Alison May
Public information officer
Delaware Department of Education
401 Federal Street, Suite #2
Dover, DE 19901-3639

I do know or have heard of some of these teachers and general public participants in this.  Yvonne Johnson is THE Yvonne Johnson.  There can only be one!  At least on the Delaware PTA.  I know Yvonne was involved in many facets of the Smarter Balanced Assessment in Delaware as it was being developed, but don’t signal this as Yvonne has gone DOE on us.  She does not like this test AT ALL!  Don’t forget she was one of the major voices for opt-out and House Bill 50.

Some of these teachers are or have been involved with Rodel and the Vision Coalition of Student Success 2012, er uhm, 2015, er uhm. 2025.  The bottom line, we will all be dead and Dr. Herdman’s great grandson will be talking about Vision 2105.  And Alison:


Delaware Children Are Pawns To American Institutes for Research & Not Just For The Smarter Balanced Assessment

American Institutes for Research, Smarter Balanced Assessment

“When you are using the test for accountability, you’re not really using it to measure the kid, but you are using it to measure the school or the teacher or the district.” Jon Cohen, President of Assessment at American Institutes for Research

Today we find out the Smarter Balanced Assessment results for Delaware.  This test was designed by American Institutes for Research.  They also created DCAS.  Known as AIR, they are everywhere.  Your child is a mere data point to them so they can help states hold schools and districts accountable for their own tests.  I first wrote about them at the end of April, and what I found shocked me then.  Watch this video, and think of your child taking this assessment.

This is a company who promises Delawareans they will keep your child’s data safe.  Which is interesting, considering they can’t do the same for their own employees so how safe is your child’s information?  This is a company that proudly boasts on their own website how they delivered 60 millions tests to students this year, including 12 million Smarter Balanced Assessments.  But they aren’t just satisfied with American students, they have their paws in international organizations as well with their project called “International Development, Evaluation, and Research”:

IDER is developing a benchmarking tool as part of the World Bank’s System Assessment and Benchmarking for Education Results project that will allow countries to analyze their progress in implementing curriculum based learning standards. The tool will be developed in conjunction with extensive research on the conditions and policies needed to promote standards-based education systems.

I wrote last week about how these assessment developers really operate, and the very dangerous implications it can have for students, especially those with disabilities.  But did you know AIR’s founder, John Flanagan, was heavily involved in eugenics experiments to help the “superior” race.  You can read about this very sordid past with the practice of eugenics which is defined as:

Eugenics: the science of improving a human population by controlled breeding to increase the occurrence of desirable heritable characteristics. Developed largely by Francis Galton as a method of improving the human race, it fell into disfavor only after the perversion of its doctrines by the Nazis.

In a sense, what the corporate education reformers are doing with education isn’t really different than what the eugenics movement attempted.  They are trying to improve the student population by controlled standardization to increase the occurrence of desirable outcomes: the complete destruction of a particular “race” of education: public education.  What companies like AIR do is create the conditions and situations for our schools to be seen as “failing” and then set up the method by which to prove it, tests like Smarter Balanced.  As seen in the accountability matrices for Delaware, and the fact that future priority and focus schools will be based on these measurements, and they are all based on the Smarter Balanced Assessment, is it any wonder our schools aren’t improving?

Even when states like Florida, who withdrew from the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, still used AIR to implement their state assessment, major problems still occurred.  So much so that their own Governor issued a findings report on AIR’s psychometric practicalities and the bungling of the test last Spring.  That report just came back, but unfortunately Florida’s Governor used education reform companies who are well-connected with their Governor to issue the report.  Furthermore, the analysis was done using AIR employees as part of the state’s Technical Advisory Committee.  You can read it all here:

This is a company who has their hands in every aspect of education: assessment, turnaround schools, discipline, achievement, academic standards, accountability, teacher evaluation, and more.  Aside from a few states, I have not seen AIR mentioned as one of the chief education reform companies, but in my eyes, as well as thousands of others, they are at top of the list.  They have received over $1 billion dollars from the US DOE, and in just five years, $38 million from Delaware.  What are the results of this companies assessments in our state?  What progress has been made?  We all know the answer to that.  Remember this company and the above video when you hear so much about the Smarter Balanced Assessment today and in the coming weeks.  Remember their dark history and their very influential present.  Remember they’ve had their hands on Delaware student data for over five years now.  And ask yourself, why does this company know EVERYTHING about my child?  After you finish reading this article, go to AIR’s website.  Peak around, check them out.  See how many countries they are involved in.  See how many different areas of everyday life they have a direct hand in.  Do the research yourself, and if you still don’t have that queasy, unsettling feeling in the pit of your stomach, if you aren’t horrified by this company, then do some more research.  Look into all these companies.  And ask yourself, how in the world did education ever become about this…

Smarter Balanced Assessment Ammendment Approval Letters

Smarter Balanced Assessment

The below two documents are approval letters from the US Department of Education for budgeted amendments of the Memorandum of Understanding with  the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium.  Money just keeps flowing into this endeavor!

US DOE Award Letter To Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium From 2010

Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium

Below is the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium award letter from the United States Department of Education, dated 9/28/2010.  It was addressed to the Governor of Washington since they were the lead state in the consortium.  And what state is Bill Gates from?  How much money did the US DOE give the high-stakes testing state cabal?  Find out below!

Forget SBAC, It’s The Smarter Charter Assessment! Will You Be Proficient?

Smarter Charter Assessment

Since charters dominate education news these days (like oxygen being sucked out of a room), I thought we could replace Smarter Balanced with the Smarter Charter Assessment.  This will be a multiple choice assessment, and if you fail you go to jail (not really, but everyone will think you should but you will probably settle down the road).

Okay, here we go:

1. This charter was close to having it’s charter pulled over financial issues…

a) Academy of Dover

b) Family Foundations Academy

c) Brandywine Springs

d) All of the above

2. This charter spread the Kendall Massett love on their website cause their interim principal also sits on the board of the Delaware Charter Schools Network

a) Campus Community

b) Friere

c) Toyota Academy of The Marsh

d) Providence Creek Academy

3.  This charter was shut down by the DOE

a) Reach Academy For Girls

b) Moyer

c) Pencader

d) All of the above

4. Which State Rep. sat on the board of a failed charter application this fiscal year?

a) Trey Paradee

b) John Kowalko

c) Mike Ramone

d) Mike Matthews

5. This charter school recently had a pool donated to them by Schell Brothers…

a) Charter School of Wilmington

b) Kilroy’s Blogging Academy for Disgruntled Republicans

c) Newark Charter School

d) Sussex Academy

6. This charter’s enrollment was so low it went on formal review

a) Delaware Design Lab

b) one above and two below

c) Freire

d) Prestige Academy

7. This charter had their Christmas Party board meeting far away from the school so no parents could attend…

a) Legislative Hall

b) Odyssey Charter School

c) Academia Alonso

d) Prestige Academy

8. Tragedy struck when the sign outside their school was destroyed..

a) Gateway Lab School

b) East Side Charter

c) Positive Outcomes

d) Our Lady of Perpetual Labor Montessori Academy for Boys Charter School of Wilmington Lab of Zero Tolerance

9. This charter should probably not label an out of state residential treatment center as “employee recognition” on Delaware Online Checkbook

a) Early College High School

b) Reach Academy for Girls

c) MOT Charter School

d) Academy of Dover

10. Seven charter schools were or are under investigation by the State Auditor’s office.  We know three.  Which ones do you think are the other four?

a) Odyssey Charter

b) Thomas Edison

c) Rodel Foundation’s Vision of Schools That Lead Through Innovative Rigor

d) Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security

11. Which charter school managed to have an employee do something bad

a) Family Foundations Academy

b) Providence Creek Academy

c) Academy of Dover

d) all of the above

*Bonus-Which of these had someone arrested?

*Bonus 2nd round-Which of these did I apply for their school board?

*Bonus 3rd round-Which of these was a blue ribbon school?

13) In Kendall Massett’s “Please don’t pass House Bill 186 cause I will have to actually do some work to do damage control” video, she mentioned three charters to use as an example of which school to pick on her online demonstration of how to use a dropdown menu (yes, this really happened..).  Of the three schools she mentioned, which has NOT had a State Auditor report come out on it?

a) Delaware Military Academy

b) Academy of Dover

c) Family Foundations Academy

d) The Mark Murphy Military Academy of No Confidence

13. This Charter Head Of School/Principal/Headmaster actually spoke in opposition of House Bill 50 at the House Education Committee meeting.  Which one was it?

a) Positive Outcomes

b) First State Montessori

c) First State Military

d) Great Oaks

14. This charter school had their head of school resign after he ruffled up a citizen outside their building:

a) Great Western

b) Dover School of Transparency & Financial Trickery

c) Freire


(look, I pulled a DOE move.  I put three dumb answers in a multiple choice question so everyone will answer the “right” one giving me the results I want.  It’s like a Jedi mind trick…these aren’t the answers you’re looking for…oooo…cool!)

Okay, now that you went through this, you can consider yourself college and career ready.  Cause you won’t get your score until September 31st! But only on that day, and you have to go to the place where Governor Markell signed House Bill 50 to look at the report!  You can now compete with all the kids in Singapore because you maybe might possibly be proficient on the Smarter Charter.  I’ll give you 3 to 10 odds!  But only for the first few years…

Red Clay Lays Down The Opt-Out Rules For Teachers!!! The Propoganda Continues Without Board Approval!!!

Parental Opt-Out of Standardized Testing

No sooner do I write an article about sources and information I receive, when I get this bomb the Red Clay Consolidated School District is sending to principals to then sending to teachers.  Can we all see this district policy Merv?  Was this policy approved by the Red Clay Board?  Below is what was sent, and the red parts are my responses…


Please share with staff as we have had questions from teachers.

Like “Why am I telling students they will get a zero on the assessment and the district is telling us that but they aren’t putting it in writing?”

Update on Smarter Parent Refusals (“Opt Outs”)

The district’s position on refusals (“opt outs”) has been, and continues to be, respectful of both federal and state law, as well as parent decision. 

Your board passed a resolution supporting it but you continue to try to talk parents out of it and have teachers give false information to students.  I don’t see a whole lot of “respect” there.

The district would like to thank teachers for directing parent concerns relating to state testing to the school principal. Having principals as the primary contact for refusals (“opt out”) was set in place in December and explained to administrators and test coordinators.

I’m glad you have a policy for this.  Not that it’s been followed, but good to get out there.  Was this conveyed to parents to let them know this policy? No.  Can’t have parents even thinking this is an option, can we?

March’s district eNews also explained this was district protocol, as it was intuitive for parents to address concerns with the principal. This is important so each parent’s concern can be addressed with the individual student in mind. For example, some concerns can be addressed by requesting a medical exemption, by putting certain accommodations or supports in place, or by strategizing other solutions.

Yes, get the parents in with the principal who can attempt to coerce the parent into rescinding their opt out request.  Nothing like adding pressure to a parent!  Red Clay is walking a very fine line here…

Principals are also sharing DDOE’s document Requirements to Test Students on Statewide Assessments and a district letter. If, after the discussion with principals, parents still do not want their students to test, we are honoring their requests.

You should be honoring their requests the second you receive a letter and call it a day right then and there.  This coercion tactic is not only immoral and unethical, but gives the impression you know what is best for a child more than their own parent.

Additionally, principals have been provided information to help address common misconceptions. Many people in our community are not aware that the test items were written by educators, not a testing company.

Really? Please name these educators.  Since the schools and the state pay for the test, were these educators paid for their work by UCLA or the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, and will they be given credit on the assessment?

Many people are not aware Common Core State Standards were developed at the request of the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), not federal DOE.  

We all know this, but they were not written by educators.  The educators in the initial phases of this dropped out of the design of the standards.  But the Federal DOE certainly intruded into local control numerous times with the Race To The Top and their current enforcement of their regulations and codes and their ESEA waivers.

Others were not aware of the data privacy in place.

Yeah, it’s so private teachers can’t even see the questions ahead of time or the results.  Just a number or score.  That will help the students…NOT!  And FERPA guidelines in terms of corporations receiving this data are nothing short of a joke!

Many are not aware that students will receive subtest scores, and scaled scores to measure growth over time.

Growth over time for the next grade, or for the next round of say, 3rd graders with the same teacher?  It makes absolutely no sense.  And I can’t wait to see all these scores that will measure “growth”.  It’s going to be a blogger bonanza on that day!

Others were not aware that the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium is managed by UCLA, not a testing corporation. 

Yeah, cause the Federal grant money ended and they had to do that starting January 1st of this year, but the consortium has been around for about five years and those testing corporations, like American Institutes for Research, call the shots on the test.  I’ve seen many contracts and I beg to differ.

Many are not aware that Smarter assessments were piloted and field tested for two years.

And based on those results, Mark Murphy said 70% of Delaware students won’t make proficiency.  Echoed by former Director of Assessment Brian Touchette that this will go on for “a few years”.

If you have unanswered questions about the test please refer to the FAQ posted on the district DeSSA Intranet page, or speak with your principal.

Or read Exceptional Delaware or the other Delaware blogs or the many national ones like Diane Ravitch and Deutsch29 where you will get a more realistic perspective about what this test really is.

Currently under 2% of our students eligible for testing have had parents request that their students not test.

And what is the coercion percentage?  How many parents were talked out of opting their child out?

The district will notify DOE at the end of the window which of its non-participants were due to parent refusals.

But you will announce the percentages to Newsworks without hesitation to make the movement seem small.  Let’s see if you are so willing to release those numbers a year from now, after parents see the atrocious scores their children received on this year’s test!

As a reminder, teachers are to direct all parents with questions on state testing to the school principal.”

Because we know better than teachers and the Delaware DOE told us to do it like that!

Delaware DOE Does NOT Want Smarter Balanced & AIR Contracts Released, FOIA Response Is Ugly!!!!


On March 6th, I sent a Freedom of Information Act request to the Delaware Department of Education.  Read below to see what I asked for and what the response was, and then my thoughts on this.

Date of Request: Friday, March 06, 2015

Name: Kevin Ohlandt

Records Requested: This is a request under the Delaware Freedom of Information Act, § 100001 et seq. I ask to obtain copies, preferably in digital format as PDF files, of the following, which I understand to be held by your Department. I ask that correspondence regarding this request be sent via email to Information Requested: I request the Delaware Department of Education’s contracts (whether they are awarded contracts, cooperative contracts, set aside contracts, sole source contracts, or recently closed contracts, including any and all RFPs, addendums, award letters, and change orders) agreements, pacts, communications (whether in email or written correspondence, email should be in To: formats and cc: formats between any DOE employee with the below companies or consortiums) with the following companies or consortiums: American Institutes for Research (or if they are listed under AIR or Amer Institutes for Research), Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (or if they are listed under SBAC, SB, Smarter, Smarter Balanced, or Smarter Balanced Assessment), and Data Recognition Corporation. If available, I ask that this information be provided in a PDF format for the contracts, and a database format with a delimited text file for the communications. If you have this information in an existing report, that may suffice. I would prefer that this information (be sent) by e-mail, but the records can also be mailed to: Kevin Ohlandt (took out my address).  If you deny any or all of this request, please cite each specific exemption you feel justifies the refusal to release the information and notify me of the appeal procedures available to me under the law. I am a reporter and the sole writer for Exceptional Delaware, a blog about education in Delaware and the United States of America. This blog is widely read in Delaware and the USA. This request is made in the routine course of newsgathering. As such, I request a waiver of all fees for this request. Disclosure of the requested information to me is in the public interest because it is likely to contribute significantly to the public understanding of operations or activities of the government and is not primarily in my commercial interest. If the communications part of the request takes longer to obtain than the contract portion, please provide the contracts and all aforementioned parts of those contracts with undue delay. If you wish to discuss this request, I can be reached at (302) xxx-xxxx. My e-mail address is I prefer to be reached by e-mail or phone. Sincerely, Kevin Ohlandt, Exceptional Delaware Writer/Creator/Reporter 

Contact if cost greater then: 0.00

After some back and forth with the DOE FOIA representative, Tina Shockley, and making it well-known that if the emails took longer, to go ahead and send the contracts first since I thought this would be the easiest thing to do.  On the date of the designated 15 business day response time, March 27th, I received nothing.  I sent a very stern email advising they were out of compliance with Delaware FOIA laws.  Today, I received this email from Tina Shockley:

From: Shockley Tina <>” <>
Sent: Monday, March 30, 2015 8:48 AM
Subject: FW: FOIA request Comprehensive Estimates

Dear Mr. Ohlandt:

Thank you for your email on Friday. I did acknowledge your email request (see attached) on March 9, 2015, but I mistakenly sent it to the wrong email.  Please accept my apologies for that.  Likewise, I had this email ready to go on Friday, but forgot to send it before I left the office.

This email correspondence is to advise you that per your request for public documents under the Delaware Freedom of Information Act, 29 Del. C. Ch. 100, the Delaware Department of Education will need more than 15 days to fill your request because the request is for voluminous records, requires additional legal advice and the request includes one or more records that are in storage or archived.  DDOE estimates that the records requested from your FOIA request will be provided on or before June 1, 2015.   Because this is a large request which includes records dating back many years, we have contacted the Division of Public Archives.  They advise it will take at least 6 weeks to gather the information you are requesting. We will advise you if it will take longer than that.

You also noted that your FOIA was in the routine course of newsgathering, and you requested a waiver of all fees for this request.  I believe you may be confusing the provisions of the federal FOIA with the Delaware one.  Unfortunately, there is no state exemption or waiver for media.  If the review takes more than one hour, administrative costs are assessed.  Given that, I am providing you several options/cost estimates based on your request.  Please advise which portion of work you would like to pay and have us proceed with. Note work cannot start on your request until we receive payment.

The searches and administrative costs are:

Search 1 – $300 for DTI email search – this is for email correspondence between staff members.   You are welcome to send a check now made payable to DTI to get this work started.

Search 2 – $718.16 for DDOE to do email search, review and redact – this is based on 6 hours of work for the IT person to go through all the old records @ a rate of $45.46/hr., plus 20 hours of work at $22.27 hourly rate (of lowest rate for person able to perform the work) for the administrative processing, review/redaction of the files.

Search 3 – $5,359.20 for DDOE to search and pull contract information for the duration of the contracts, agreements requested – this is based on 220 hours of work at the $24.36 hourly rate (of lowest rate for person able to perform work)

Copies – You have the choice to come in and publicly view the information, or if you wish to have a copy of the materials gathered, we’d estimate that cost to be $191.50 = 1935 pages – 20 pages free x .10 

If you would prefer to put a timeframe on your request, that may reduce the costs and time to fulfill your request.    If you do so, I can provide you with an adjusted estimate.

Likewise, if you’d like to request and pay a specific amount, we can collect and copy and provide you with the documents reflective of the cost you pay, however, any work after that would not continue unless further payment is received.

Please advise which searches you would like to proceed with at this time.

In the meantime, I would encourage you to review the following public link  from our website which does provide some RFPs and contracts:
Tina ShockleyEducation Associate – Policy Advisor Department of Education – Secretary’s Office, 401 Federal Street, Suite 2Dover, DE  19901

SLC:  D370B


 In what world does going through contracts take 220 hours?  These should all be available on the State of Delaware bid website, but they are not.  It is not a requirement, but they do so with every other contract.  Why don’t they with anything regarding standardized testing?  I expected the outrageous email costs, but over $5,300 for going over contracts?  That are already in PDF format I’m sure somewhere in the DOE computer system?  And here is how I know they are full of it because last summer I submitted a FOIA request to the DOE for the contract between the DOE and Public Consulting Group.  I got it back in a few days.

I can only assume they do not want this information to get out.  And if that is the case, they are hiding something.  But what?  The DOE has also been working with American Institutes for Research for a long time.  They created DCAS!  Taking away all the emails, how many contracts are set up with these companies?  Or is it so secretive it would put them in a very bad position if it ever got out?  I will be talking to the Delaware Department of Justice and Delaware Attorney General Matt Denn on this matter!

This is the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  What could be so controversial the DOE does not want the public to see?  Children are taking this test right now in Delaware.  If I were a Delaware parent, I would be very concerned about this lack of transparency in regards to, as State Rep. Earl Jaques put it, a “little test”.

In other FOIA news, if State Rep. John Kowalko’s FOIA to Governor Markell’s office is answered with the release of alternative emails of the Governor, does that mean they are going to go back and release all the other emails I did not receive from my January FOIA for all emails between the Governor and Paul Herdman, Joel Klein, Michelle Rhee and Arne Duncan?  I would think they would have to since it was part of an official FOIA request…

Read The Memorandum of Understanding Between UCLA & Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium

Smarter Balanced Assessment

Who owns the rights to the Smarter Balanced Assessment?  If you thought it was the governing states, you are wrong.  They belong to a university, UCLA.  Read the MOU between California, UCLA, and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium.  I would assume every state involved in Smarter Balanced has a similar MOU with UCLA.

Attorney General Legal Opinion For Delaware Requested On Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium Court Ruling

Smarter Balanced Assessment

I have submitted a request for a formal Attorney General Legal Opinion based on the Missouri Circuit Court ruling yesterday on the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium.  I have been told these types of requests by a citizen of Delaware are denied on the basis of standing, so I would welcome any elected official in Delaware to take up the baton in the event my request is denied.


  • Denn Matthew (Attorney General)


  • Williams Kimberly (LegHall)
  • Siegel Kim (Lt Governor)
  • Lawson Dave
  • Kowalko John (LegHall)
  • Murphy Mark
  • Johnson Donna R.
  • Matthew Albright
  • Avi Wolfman-Arent
  • Paul Baumbach
  • Townsend BryanM
  • Markell Jack
  • John Young
  • Kilroy’s Delaware
  • Kavips World Press Blog
  • Nancy Willing
  • Pandora DeLib
  • Terri Hodge
  • Mike Matthews
  • Jackie H. Kook
  • O’Mara Lindsay (Governor)
  • May Alison


  • Sauer v. Nixon – Judgment.pdf

Breaking News: Court Rules Smarter Balanced Assessment Violates The U.S. Constitution

Smarter Balanced Assessment

“The Court finds that the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium is an unlawful interstate compact to which the U.S. Congress has never consented, whose existence and operation violate the Compact Clause of the U.S. Constitution”

The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium has been ruled to be breaking many laws in our country according to Judge Daniel R. Green of the Circuit Court of Cole County in Missouri.  The most important of which is the fact that it was never passed by Congress.  The Court also found that taxpayer money must not be given to this unlawful compact.

The Missouri Coalition Against Common Core, led by Frank Sauer, filed suit against Missouri Governor Jay Nixon last year.  Judge Green, on November 26th, ordered a two week restraining order against any taxpayer dollars going to the SBAC.  Yesterday, he gave his final ruling against Governor Nixon and essentially invalidated the very premise of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium.

For my own state of Delaware, I will be forwarding this case to our Attorney General Matt Denn for an official legal opinion on this type of arrangement within our own state.

Special thanks to the awesome Delaware blog Minding My Matters for bringing this to my attention.

Updated, 11:33am, 2/25/15: Diane Ravitch has written a post on this as well based on an article in the Missouri News Tribune which can be read here and gives more details on the case: