Delaware Students Are The Sacrificial Lamb For Penny Schwinn

Delaware School Success Framework, 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.

Red Clay Superintendent Merv Daugherty Hints Governor Jack Markell May Not Veto Parent Opt-Out Bill

Governor Markell, House Bill 50, Parent Opt-Out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment

Will Delaware Governor Jack Markell veto House Bill 50, the parent opt-out legislation in Delaware that passed the House of Representatives and Senate in the First State in June?  According to Red Clay Consolidated School District Superintendent Dr. Merv Daugherty, indications are pointing to him not vetoing the controversial bill.  At their board meeting on Wednesday July 8th, Daugherty said the district is preparing for the legislation to take place later in the summer.  He indicated the district may have to notify parents in both September and in the Winter so they are given the options at the start of the school year and prior to the next round of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.

Weeks later, and Markell has not even asked for House Bill 50 to be brought to his desk.  Once he does that, if he fails to do anything with the legislation, it passes into law in ten days.  The opt-out legislation would stop Delaware schools and the Delaware Department of Education from bullying and intimidating parents when they decide to opt their child out of the high-stakes assessment.  As well, it would stop the opt-out students from counting in the school’s accountability rating and would not count against teachers in their evaluations.  Sponsored by State Rep. John Kowalko, a Democrat, and State Senator Dave Lawson, a Republican, the legislation had a five month battle in many areas of Delaware: schools, Legislative Hall, the DOE, the Governor’s office, homes, and on social and print media.

In New York, New Jersey, and the state of Washington, many opt-outs went far below the 95% Federal threshold for test participation.  Threats of federal funding cuts have been just that: empty threats.  Despite all the posturing and bullying by both the US DOE and the Delaware DOE, no school has received funding cuts due to opt-out by parents.  While the Smarter Balanced Assessment scores haven’t been released yet in Delaware, it looks like high school juniors may have gone below the 95% mark.

Delaware DOE’s Report Card Survey: Very Interesting Bidders for This Contract….

Delaware DOE, School Accountability

“Information to be included on the Snapshot Report Card will be informed by feedback on a public statewide survey, statewide focus groups, and stakeholder committee feedback, with the final approval of the Secretary of Education.”

The Delaware Department of Education put out a bidder request for contract DOE2015-16 last month, and the bidding has already closed as of June 3rd.  The potential vendors for this school accountability initiative have been made public, and they are Diamond Technologies, Tembo Inc., and Public Consulting Group.

Diamond Technologies is used to working with Delaware state agencies, including work done with the Division of Unemployment Insurance, and even the Delaware DOE, under Secretary Lillian Lowery.  Their previous work with the DOE included an update to the DOE’s digital scholarship information.

Tembo Inc.’s last contract with the DOE was an effectiveness report on Teach For America in Delaware.  This controversial report drew the ire of State Rep. John Kowalko at a House Education Committee meeting last February.  The results of the report led to legislation already signed by Governor Markell extending Teach For America in Delaware for another three years.

Certainly no stranger to Exceptional Delaware, I wrote extensively about Public Consulting Group, otherwise known as PCG, last summer.  They are the contracted vendor with the DOE and the Department of Health and Human Services for the Medicaid reimbursement program.  This is a company with many controversial issues around data collection.

The Report Card Survey is based on the DOE’s ESEA Flex Waiver with the US DOE, which hasn’t even been signed off on yet by them.  This school accountability system would allow parents to see a letter grade for each Delaware school, just as students receive letter grades of A-F.  I will come right out and say I do not trust any survey the DOE creates or has a hand in.  Furthermore, this survey is based on standardized test scores in part.  If students are already expected to do bad on the Smarter Balanced Assessment, will parents know enough to differentiate the issues with standardized testing and how their child actually learns in school?

The main areas of the school report card will be the following: academic achievement defined by the DOE as standardized test scores and overall growth on these assessments, college and career readiness, chronic absenteeism, and how many students are on a graduation track.  That’s it.  Nothing about special education, community outreach, school climate, bullying, discipline, cleanliness, or anything else.  Just everything tied to the Smarter Balanced Assessment and throwing in chronic absenteeism just for kicks.

To view the DOE’s bid proposal, please go here:

To view the DOE’s list of bidders for this contract, please go here:

The DOE’s School Report Card & Accountability Scheme Wants “Community Input” For Their Predetermined Results

Delaware DOE

Melissa Froemming with the Delaware Department of Education wants community input on the School Report Card system at three different meetings, all in New Castle County. Which really helps the citizens in Kent and Sussex Counties. Thanks for that Melissa! This is all part of the agenda the DOE hatched last fall with their lame surveys. They purposely put horrible answers into the survey so their pre-selected answers would look like they were gaining feedback from parents and citizens. Then they had town hall meetings to feed the illusion of community input even more. Oldest trick in the book….

Grading schools from A to D is insanity. But what can we truly expect from the same state department that brought us Smarter Balanced, human capital, and priority schools? This latest venture is all part of the ESEA flexibility waivers. What happens when a school gets a D? Will they become a priority school based on this grade? Cause we all know how well the priority school initiative worked the last time DOE…

If you plan on going, please blast the DOE for this stupid and idiotic idea. And what’s the point of soliciting community input if you don’t have these meetings through the whole state? Just shows their lack of caring for parents, as usual….

Campus Community & Providence Creek Begging Parents Not To Opt Out Cause Of “Charter Renewal”

Parental Opt-Out of Standardized Testing

Both Campus Community School and Providence Creek Academy have been telling parents they really shouldn’t opt their kids out because their charters are up for renewal next fall.  Even though the Smarter Balanced Assessment scores will not count against their school’s accountability for this school year.  I’ve even heard Campus is telling parents who do opt their child out not to bring the child to school during testing.

Parents, please don’t be fooled by this latest excuse schools are giving.  While it is true both schools are up for charter renewal, the Delaware Department of Education will most likely go by the MAP scores or some equivalent assessment to determine school accountability.  I can picture parents succumbing to these threats.  “Where will I send my child to if this great school closes?  Oh my!”  House Bill 50 can’t pass fast enough!  All these schools that are still acting like this are merely arranging deck chairs on the Titanic AS the ship is sinking…

Exclusive: DOE Is Giving A Survey To Students After They Take The Smarter Balanced Assessment **UPDATED**

Delaware DOE

I have seen it all.  I’m so glad this was sent to me the evening before a Parent Press Conference on parent opt out and other education matters in Delaware.  Could the Delaware DOE be any more intrusive in children’s lives?  Now they are asking questions about parent involvement with their children, and very specific questions about curriculum and how often it is implemented in schools.  This is a joke, but what should I expect from this Department?  Parents, if you needed just one more thing to push you over to the side of opt out, please let this be the case!  Do you really think the DOE wants this data to help your child?  While the letter to districts states it is voluntary, the language on the actual survey which the teacher would give states it is expected all students take the survey.

Isn’t the actual test supposed to provide all the data the DOE needs?  Apparently not….

**UPDATED** with surveys for 3rd-5th, 6th-8th, and 11th graders, as well as the letter to school districts.







Full Presentation of DE State Board of Education to Public and Charter School Boards

School Accountability

On January 6th, the Delaware State Board of Education had a State Board Workshop with Local School District and Charter School Boards and other “stakeholders”.  Led by Executive Director Donna Johnson, this workshop went over the Smarter Balanced Assessment, the upcoming ESEA waivers, and school accountability.  Included is the entire presentation for the public to view.

I have to wonder exactly which schools had the Smarter Balanced Assessment Field Test last Spring.  How many of these schools and classrooms had “Vision Network” teachers administering these tests.  How many classrooms had a high population of minorities, low-income and special education students.  The parameters around the success of these field tests are only as good as the pool of test takers.

Once again, if students aren’t expected to do as well the first few years, how in hell can you blame any teacher or school for the results of a test you have already admitted is too hard and only provides a baseline?  This is a system that is pre-stacked against those who care more about education than this department.

As far as the “Common Themes” from the Town Hall meetings the DOE had in November with the public, I was at one of them, and the common themes were not so common at the one I attended.  It wasn’t all about “clear consequences for lack of performance” unless you counted complaints against the Delaware DOE.  If anyone needs to be measured to by that standard, it’s the DOE.  But they seem to have no consequences for their actions, whether they are legal or not.

Delaware parents, do not get sucked up into the Departments web of lies and coercion.  This is spin, and it only spins in their direction.  They want to hold entire school districts accountable for performance based on a test that has already been deemed to fail.  How is that right or just?  This is a corporate education reform agenda to privatize our public school districts and turn them into charter schools which have never been proven to be more effective than regular schools.  In point of fact, they have been proven in this state to have no transparency, financial mismanagement, and severe discrimination across the state to the most vulnerable of students.  Don’t drink the kool-aid they want you to drink public!  You are better than them.

President Obama & Waiver Program Under Attack In Wake Of Recent Elections @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de @RCEAPrez @Apl_Jax @Roof_O @ecpaige @nannyfat @DeDeptofEd @DelawareBats #netde #eduDE #edchat #Delaware

President Obama

Yesterday, the House Education and Workforce put President Obama on warning over waiver programs that they feel have made education worse in the USA.  And yet Delaware doesn’t hear this as they continue to take advantage of waiver programs to do the bidding of Rodel and Markell.  Most recently, they have used these waivers as a way to present a new school accountability system with “community input”.  This smoke and mirrors attempt is very obvious to people who are aware this system is already in place, and any community input will only be used to embrace this.  Comments going against the DOE, in my opinion, will not be used.

Hopefully, this group will be able to put a stop to the massive education reforms that have occurred during Obama’s tenure and stop Obama and US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan from further damaging public education in America.

Below is the press release from John Kline, the Committee Chairman of the group:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) issued the following statement after the Department of Education released new waiver guidance:

Last week, the American people sent a message to Washington: End the gridlock and begin addressing the challenges facing our country. It’s looking more and more like the Obama administration has not gotten the message. Our K-12 education system is broken and we’ve learned over the last several years the president’s controversial waiver scheme is not the answer. Instead of changing course, the administration is delivering more arbitrary rules, more regulatory burdens, and more confusion.

What we need is for policymakers and stakeholders to work together in crafting a new law. We have an opportunity to enact bold reforms that will help all students access the quality education they need to succeed. The president must decide whether he is willing to seize that opportunity. The House has demonstrated time and again we are ready to get this done, and I am pleased we finally have partners in the Senate willing to join us. It’s time for the president to join us as well.

Delaware DOE Town Hall Meeting Live Blogging Now @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de RCEAPrez @Apl_Jax @Badass TeachersA #netde #eduDE #Delaware

Delaware DOE

Only 11 people here!  What a turnout!  DOE looking for 25 people to expand efforts to get people to take survey.  They need more input from the community.  I’ve never seen these people from the DOE before.

Giving explanation about ESEA waiver renewals and new guidelines.  They are asking the public for input and only two items are set in stone.  They are 1) setting up the new accountability system for the state and 2) standardized assessment guidelines are what they are.  There will be stakeholder meetings during January.

Members of the public can go to the new DOE website and go under “New Accountability System” tab to find out more information.

I’m pondering whether or not to slam the DOE during their q&a portion of this kool-aid fest.  Greg Mazotta from Kilroys advising DOE about the Baldridge program recipients.  Another member of the public is asking about how low test scores can still generate high graduation rates.  He doesn’t realize he is talking about standardized testing scores.  Same man is saying in three years we will be having the exact same conversation.

Another parent asking how IEPs will fit into this school accountability system.  Asking how IEP and IDEA laws will conform with this.  DOE rep said that’s what this town hall is for to bring these issues up and work it out.

Previous member of public talking about social graduation rates again.  He is asking how students can get all F’s and still go to the next grade?  DOE rep said she talked to him in hall and that is local school district issue.

Teacher talking about how if a student does F work they don’t pass the class.  He stated problems working with regular students and students with IEPs.  He claimed it’s a double-edged sword, you help the regular students the IEP students suffer and vice versa.

I gave public comment based on standardized testing and corporate education reform.  I advised the DOE no matter how you present this, it’s not about students, teachers or parents.  It’s about making money off these individuals.  If Secretary of Education Murphy is basing school accountability on Smarter Balanced scores, and he expects 70% of schools to fail, how does that work?

Gentleman from DOE stated that is only one portion of the accountability framework.  I asked how many educators are on this group?  DOE rep said all of them.  Someone asked where all the Race To The Top money.  I said Rodel!  (They didn’t get all of it, but way too much in my opinion).

Parent asked why school districts aren’t giving parents this information?  Someone else said cause they don’t want to.  DOE Rep said he was giving flyers for survey to trick or treaters who came to his house on Halloween.  Really?  You’ve got to be kidding me.  How desperate are you?  Give the kids candy!

I advised the DOE reps using standardized testing scores only benefits what you do with that data.  I gave the very recent example of the Priority Schools in Wilmington as evidence of this.  Using testing data the state doesn’t even want anymore to take six schools within a mile radius of the empty Bank of America building designed for charter schools.  I advised they aren’t fooling anyone and parents are wising up to them.

What a train wreck that meeting was!  And yet the DOE doesn’t want to discuss the impact Common Core is having on students and teachers and parents.  I asked if only 1/2 of standardized testing is being included in these school accountability ratings, why is it used as the primary measurement for teacher effectiveness in DPAS II.  The DOE rep said that’s a separate group.  Well excuse me DOE, maybe you have too many damn groups conflicting with each other.

The reason school districts don’t want to promote the DOE’s monkey survey is because the DOE has screwed over teachers far too much the past few years.  Why would any school district give the DOE more ammo?  They would be out of their minds to promote this nonsense.  I advised the DOE reps tonight that this is ALL about standardized testing.  I told them “If Johnny comes home failing the Smarter Balanced Assessment, who is the parent going to blame?  The school and the teachers.  Not the fact that it’s a bad test.”

I did ask the DOE rep how many surveys he got back from his Halloween adventure, and he said he gave them to parents but he didn’t “mark” them so he doesn’t know.  The reason school districts don’t care about this stuff is because they know it’s all about making them look bad over stuff the state initiates.  It’s about making parents sick of school buildings so Markell and Rodel and 2Revolutions can push their agenda of kids attending school on their laptop from home and their personalized learning nonsense.  Enough DOE!  You will all be gone in a couple years, and like others said tonight, we will be having the same conversation under a new administration.

I can’t believe you pushed the IEP Task Force out of the room they have used for their past four meetings, opened the partitions between the two rooms, caused technical issues that delayed the start of the task force, double billed two important education events on one night, to have 11 people show up for it.  And two of them were reporters and another was a wife of a DOE employee and her son.  So you had 7 people from the outside public show up including 2 who drifted over from the IEP Task Force meeting.  Bravo!  Job well done!

Another parent (also a teacher) asked if anyone on this group is still teaching.  None of them are.  They all have their cushy jobs at the DOE and don’t care about the impact in the classroom the DOE is causing.  Who wants to have a DOE Accountability Town Hall meeting?