Teacher’s Sarcastic Letter To Delaware DOE Is The Win Of The Week!

Even though this made the rounds on social media, my guess is many of you have not seen it. I am also keeping the teacher’s name anonymous. But in reality this could have been written by just about any teacher in Delaware. It is something they all think. They all believe the façade of standardized testing is a complete and utter waste of time.  Here we are, three years after the Smarter Balanced Assessment came out, and we are still putting children through this ridiculous dog and pony show.  The needle hasn’t moved.  But now the Social Studies and Science assessments based on these almighty standards are here.  Praise the corporate education Gods!  We now have more data to give to the hedge fund managers and those who seek to profit off children!  Yes, let us all bow down to the phony corporations that have taken over state governments with their lobbying and dollars to have kids treated like cattle being led to the slaughter.  Because this is progress…

Delaware Department of Education:

As I sit here contemplating my umpteenth week of testing, and I am not halfway through, I wanted to take a minute and thank you.

Here are the reasons.

1. I want to thank you for understanding that my students need an education and only forgiving one of the snow days, instead of all four. I am quickly planning engaging lessons that my students will be very involved in during those final three days of school.

2. I want to thank you for testing an entire year’s worth of content beginning in the third marking period, when the content has not been completely covered. I truly love a challenge.

3. I want to thank you for making the last two months of school routine-less as my students are testing for this and that and being pulled at all times. I don’t often have a whole class with me to cover new material, but as I said before I love a challenge.

4. I want to thank you for taking away the Social Studies standardized test last year as a gift and then providing us with another test this year. I was worried we were going to be down a test.

5. I want to thank you for testing Social Studies again because with all of the mandatory extra reading/math interventions I rarely have time for teaching it. (I also want to say thank you for creating a test that doesn’t technically cover the curriculum we teach in class; that is ingenious!)

6. I want to thank you for spending many dollars on tests that make my students cry and get angry and frustrated. I want to thank you for spending this money on tests that make me doubt myself as an educator.

7. I also want to thank you for realizing that it is completely acceptable to lose weeks of instructional time due to time-consuming testing but simply wrong to accept nature as an excuse to lose instructional time.


So Who Bid On The Social Studies And Science State Assessments In Delaware?


The Delaware DOE is getting ready to pick a vendor for their high-stakes rigorous grit-worthy state assessments for Science and Social Studies.  Some of these were the companies I expected to see and some I never heard of before in my life!  This is the world of corporate education reform.  Every time you think you have a good handle of what companies are out there, a few more rise to the surface.  All bids were due to the Delaware Department of Education by November 30th.  The DOE is giving an estimated date of 12/18 for the recipient of the contract to be announced.

So let’s start with the obvious suspects: American Institutes for Research (AIR) and Pearson.  AIR is the vendor of choice for the DOE on the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  They were also the vendor for DCAS.  They also implemented state assessments in Florida and Utah that did not go over well with the public.  Pearson, the father of the PARCC assessment, is taking a huge hit after their bungled test.

Strategic Measurement & Evaluation Inc. comes from Lafayette, IN.  Coincidentally, they have as one of their clients the Indiana Department of Education, along with the Michigan counterpart.  But what is really fascinating is the testimonial section of their website.  There are only two names on there.  One is John King, the upcoming US Secretary of Education.  It turns out he used this company when he ran schools in New York City.  Another woman worked in NYC around the same time.  She was the Vice-President of School Supports for the NYC Charter School Center.  We in Delaware know this woman by her current title, Chief Executive Officer of the Community Education Building in Wilmington, none other than Aretha Miller.  Yes, I noticed their website address is “escoreny” as well.  Turns out they have a revamped website coming soon called “smeasurement.com”.

The other company, MetriTech is something of a mystery.  Not for the obvious reason.  If you go to their website, you better bring a magnifying glass or zoom to 150% or greater.  Not that I’m impressed with any of these companies, but at least have a good website!  Their list of clients includes Chicago Public schools and a couple state DOEs, but in looking at their product, it seems geared towards ELL students.  But they are based out of Champaign, IL.  So maybe they have some political connections or something.

So who will win the big contract?  If I had to guess, I would go with Strategic Measurement and Evaluation.  Pearson and AIR are becoming toxic names associated with the Smarter Balanced Assessment and PARCC.  MetriTech looks like they need financing to get a good website going.  But then again, SME has an old website.  Who knows!  I’m sure whoever it is, kids will hate it, teachers will prep students for it, and parents will want to opt their kids out of it!




All The DOE Assessment Information Given To Districts In Delaware

On Wednesday, November 18th, the Delaware Department of Education had a meeting with all the district testing coordinators to go over all things assessment.  This includes the Smarter Balanced Assessment, the assessment inventory campaign, accommodations, and more.  It looks like the DOE’s Office of Assessment will be raiding monitoring visiting every single public school in the state over the coming months.  But who will lead this office now that Schwinn and Reyna are bidding adieu?

Science & Social Studies State Assessments Up For Bids By Delaware DOE For 5 1/2 Year Contract With No General Assembly Legislation

The Delaware DOE wants to remove the DCAS Social Studies and Science State Standardized Assessments and have new ones implemented by the 2016-2017 school year.  They currently have a Request for Proposal (RFP) with final bids due by 11/30/15.  You have to love this part of the bid proposal:

The initial term of the resulting Contract(s) will be from the Contract’s effective date, on or about December 31, 2015, through June 30, 2021. The DDOE reserves the right to extend any contract awarded as a result of this Competitive Sealed Proposal (CSP) for as many as five additional annual contracts if it is deemed to be in the best interest of the State of Delaware.

I imagine these new tests will be “more aligned with the Common Core State Standards” and the RFP already states these tests will be a part of the Delaware School Success Framework.  So where does the DOE have the authority to do this?  And where is the oversight?  Look no further than this part of the proposal:

Funding for Contract(s) resulting from this Competitive Sealed Proposal (CSP) is contingent upon approval by the Delaware General Assembly each year of appropriations, limitations, or other expenditure authority.

The DOE estimates the “winner” will be announced around 12/18/15 with a start date of 12/31/15.  While this bid proposal was created on 9/29/15, note at the bottom of page 2 and page 3 what the accountability measures are for proficiency.  Yes, the old participation rate multiplier is in full effect on here even though the Accountability Framework Working Group voted against it and the State Board has yet to make a decision on this.  Couldn’t that affect the bid process somewhat?

And what is the DOE requiring for these tests from a vendor?

require students to demonstrate a range of higher-order, analytical thinking and performance skills in reading, writing, and research based on the depth and complexity of Delaware Social Studies Standards, Common Core State Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies (grades 6-10 only) and/or Next Generation Science Standards allowing robust information to be gathered for students with varied levels of achievement. A significant portion of total score points come from items that demonstrate a deeper level of knowledge (e.g., represent the high complexity levels designated by taxonomies of cognitive demand).

And which students will be taking these tests?  Currently the DCAS Science assessments are for grades 5,8, and 10 and the DCAS Social Studies is grades 4th and 7th with a High School End of Course for U.S. History.  By the 2019-2020 school year, these tests will be for all students from 3rd through 10th grade, in both Science and Social Studies.

Now if the 147th General Assembly had to approve the Smarter Balanced Assessment as the State Standardized Assessment and the bids for this are due while the General Assembly is out of session (like they did with Smarter Balanced), is this even allowed?  Some legislators in the 147th General Assembly stated they voted yes for the Smarter Balanced legislation (House Bill 334) because Mark Murphy and the DOE already bought it.  Can the 148th General Assembly prevent the very same mistake from happening again before a contract is signed and sealed?  Especially when the plan is to have even more students taking these assessments?

To read the whole contract, see below:

Updated: I read through the text of House Bill 334, which allowed the Smarter Balanced invasion in Delaware (even though  the DOE already signed a contract with American Institutes for Research to be the test vendor and joined the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium).  For Science and Social Studies, House Bill 334 states the following:

(c) The assessments referred to in subsection (b) of this section shall measure achievement in readingEnglish language arts and mathematics for students in a minimum of grades 3 through 8 and high school, provided additional grades may be added by the Department. Science and social studies shall be assessed for students at least once in the elementary grades, at least once in the middle grades, and at least once in high school.

It looks like the DOE is taking the “at least once” and running with it.