Super Merv Stops Red Clay Board From Violating State Law

In the matter  of replacing former board member Mike Piccio’s seat last evening, the Red Clay Consolidated Board of Education came very close to breaking the law.

A motion to appoint a replacement came up.  Delaware state law dictates that a school board shall replace a vacant board seat with an appointee until the next regular school board election.  Piccio’s former seat expires in 2019 so the new appointed board member would only serve on that seat for nine months.  The vote came…

Three board members voted yes and three voted no.  A tie vote meant the motion failed.  But it really shouldn’t have come up for a vote because of what exists in state code.  As well, it is also board police in conformity with state law.  State Rep. Kim Williams, who was in attendance at the meeting, immediately recognized the glaring error and immediately notified Superintendent Dr. Merv Daugherty.  As she wrote on Facebook at the time:

The Red Clay Board vote was 3 no to 3 yes to fill the vacant school board seat in District E. The motion failed because of a tie vote. The policy states the following: A vacancy for any reason other than the expiration of a term shall be filled by appointment for the remainder the fiscal year. A new member shall be elected at the next regular Board Election to fill the remainder of the previous member’s term.  They did not follow the board policy.

Daugherty forced the board to rescind their vote.  At this point, the Board is accepting letters of interest from those who reside in the Wilmington nominating district.

The board voted for the President and Vice-President titles.  Martin Wilson is the new President and Faith Newton is the Vice-President.  The board will vote on the appointee for Piccio’s seat at their October board meeting.

Delaware Senate Bill 75 Would Put The Hammer On Pimps Who Use Craigslist And Backpage For Human Sex Trafficking

Delaware Senator Bryant Richardson and State Reps Helene Keeley and Mike Ramone brought forth legislation today that could curtail many activities with human sex trafficking in Delaware.  In a sense, it could severely limit the ability of pimps to use websites such as Craigslist or Backpage to pimp out their victims.  Senate Bill 75 would strengthen Delaware code by including key words such as “advertising”, “patronizing”, and “soliciting”.  This is going after those kind of websites.  This language is already written into federal law so it is adding to what should have already been in Delaware state code.

I’m very happy to see our legislators jumping on these common sense laws to protect children and even adults who are sucked into these crimes of humanity!  For far too long, these pimps have used websites to lure johns into prostitution with people who are truly victims of the worst abuses humanity has to offer.  By adding this wording, an alleged pimp could be prosecuted for using those websites in their despicable crimes.

 

Federal Role In Opt-Out Will Be The Same, John King Ignores The Intent Of ESSA

The United States Department of Education will continue to exert authority in regards to parents opting their child out of state assessments through regulations.

Congressman Jared Polis from Colorado asked Acting Secretary of Education John King, during the “Next Steps for K-12 Education: Upholding the Letter and Intent of the Every Student Succeeds Act” hearing, about opt-out and participation rates.

By stating “we all know states have a historically checkered record of making sure all vulnerable sub-groups are served,”  Polis referenced Oklahoma’s State Superintendent as saying “While a state is  welcome to pass bad laws as relating to opt-outs, we have Section 4-C-E of ESSA that says states must assess 95% of students.  That means all means all.”

Polis quoted US DOE as responding “While it is up to states to determine the consequences of failing to assess students, the Department will provide oversight and enforcement to ensure that states are assessing all students, regardless of what the states laws are and how opt-outs occur.”  He then asked John King what steps he plans to take to make sure “all means all” with participation rates.

King responded: “I take that responsibility quite seriously to ensure that all means all.  This implementation of the law advances equity in excellence.  I think we have an opportunity in the regulations and guidance that we help to provide guardrails that will ensure that states use their new flexibility around accountability and interventions to advance equity.  For example, as we begin the negotiated rule-making process around assessments, the kind of questions we’ve been getting have been questions around the participation of students with disabilities, the participation of English learners, the implementation of computer adaptive assessment, in a way that protects equity.  And so as we move forward, that negotiated rule-making, a central question will be how do we ensure that regulations we do on assessment protect civil rights of students.  And we’ll take a similar approach to the work on the on our negotiated rule-making for supplemented non-supplant and we continue to review, comment, and feedback from stakeholders to define other areas where we need to move forward with regs and guidance.”

Polis went on…. “And while the consequences of meeting the requirements are left up to state law, do you feel that you have sufficient leverage to ensure that those consequences are meaningful and not meaningless?”

King replied: “We do, and I will say it will require vigilance from the part of the Department, especially as states implement their first round of interventions and identify whether or not those interventions are helping to achieve progress, particularly for at-risk sub-groups.  We’re gonna have to be vigilant to ensure that states continue to move forward to shift strategy, if a strategy is not working for the highest-need students.”

Define vigilance John King!  This violates parental rights at a massive scale.  Opt-out is an individual parent choice for their child, not a school’s responsibility to make sure it does or does not happen.  It is our right that we choose to exercise.  This law gives parents, teachers, and schools absolutely no protection from the iron fist of the federal government.  We are back to square one…

ESSA Part 2: Assessments & Opt-Out

The Every Student Succeeds Act is very clear about expectations for state assessments as well as participation rates in those assessments.  Some of this may surprise you, including the mechanism by which every single student can be opted out in certain conditions!!!

ESSA13

Once again, no social studies requirement.  Are these assessments the same as the current wave including the Smarter Balanced Assessment and the PARCC tests?

ESSA14

If you thought standardized tests were going to disappear from this legislation, you were wrong.  They are still there.  Who needs to take them?  The below language clearly defines the expectation on the school or school district’s part:

ESSA15.1

ESSA15.2

There is a lot thrown into these two sections.  The word “all” does not mean all students have to take the assessment.  This law stipulates schools must give the test, but it does not define the responsibility of the student to actually take the test.  The words coherent and timely need to be more defined in my opinion.  One of the biggest arguments against SBAC and PARCC was they did not provide either, nor were they considered valid and reliable.  Having the results come out after the school year ends, or even into the next school year does nothing for students who advance to the next grade.  By the time parents see the results, most have long since moved on from the prior year’s assessment.

ESSA18.1

This is the big one.  This is the heart of the legality of opt-out.  Those two words define what the school has to do, not the student.

ESSA18.2

The above defines what the school needs to do with assessments.  They must “provide for”.  I can provide chocolate-chip cookies at a bake sale, but I can’t make everyone buy them.

ESSA19

Welcome to stealth testing!  This is where personalized learning rears its head in this legislation, but not overtly said.  The future of standardized assessments will be embedded into end of unit modules on student’s computers.  Instead of the “once-a-year” assessment, or even 2-3 times like in the past in some states, these will be constant assessments.  This law allows schools to come up with a summative score based on all these little assessment.

ESSA27.1

ESSA27.2

Yes, adaptive assessments.  What we currently have in the once  a year assessment, but set up for personalized learning and competency-based education.

ESSA28.1

Here is the loophole, and one of the reasons these tests are so dangerous.  The adaptability allows corruption in the data.  The programmers of the assessment can manipulate them in a way that certain students have a disadvantage.  When a student gives an end-of-unit test, all students are given the same questions.  Why should a standardized assessment be any different?  But this law allows that!

ESSA29

Here is the snake in the grass.  How can a student be determined proficient for current school year instruction if they are given items on a test that are above the grade level?  I can understand items below the grade level.  If a student is behind, you would want to know what level they are at.  I get that.  But to go above like that…it leads to all sorts of issues.

ESSA30.1

This is the clincher!  And I love they put the words “local law”.  Does a district board of education policy honoring a parent’s right to opt-out of the state assessment count as local law?  If a state’s accountability system has opt-out penalties which could harm a school’s rating, would this not completely contradict this part of the legislation?  And if it is a state law to honor opt-out and not punish, then there is nothing anyone can do about it!  Which is why the legislators in Delaware need to override Governor Markell’s veto of their opt-out legislation as soon as possible!!!!

ESSA30.2

Another big thing going on right now is “assessment inventory”.  I believe this will wipe out many of the district assessments in favor of the state assessments.  Especially if the future will be stealth mode on assessments…

Governor Markell Will Have State Board Of Education Do His Bidding

The future of the Delaware accountability system for its school is now in the State Board of Education’s hands.  Despite having the Accountability Framework Working Group meet 16 times for over a year.  Despite whatever the Delaware Education Support System (DESS) says tomorrow at their 1pm meeting.  Despite what the people say.  If Governor Markell wants things a certain way, it will happen.

Despite my telling Penny Schwinn and the Accountability Framework Working Group that there is no Federal law stating there must be a consequence for participation rates on standardized assessments dipping below 95%, the AFWG group voted to pick one of the following consequences.

  1. Go down one level on the performance rating, but use the average proficiency rate over a two-year period so that a school is not penalized for a one-year dip or anomaly.
  2. School must write a plan for how they will address low participation rates and then do not have access to supplementary federal grants.
  3. Use the multiplier for schools that are below 95% only.  Essentially we would have 100% on a 95 point scale, so that if a school had 93% participation and 60% proficiency, the multiplier would be (93/95)*(60%).  Any school at 95% proficiency or above would get full credit.
  4. School would automatically not be able to be a reward or recognition school and automatically be placed on the list as a potential Focus school.
  5. For federal designation calculations ONLY, the school would have all non-participants count as a zero score.

The group voted for part of Option #2 and part of Option #4: School would write a plan and could not be a reward school.

I don’t think there should be any participation rate penalty at all.  The Delaware DOE has not sufficiently provided evidence with exact code.  It’s easy to look at words and cherry-pick what applies.  It’s easy to treat guidance as mandatory, or a letter from an Assistant Secretary who no longer works at US DOE.  But here is the part of the recipe the public doesn’t know about.  On Friday, Penny Schwinn and Interim Secretary of Education Dr. Steven Godowsky met with Governor Markell.  They presented the options to him, and he wants #3.  The very same penalty that the non-Delaware DOE members of the AFWG voted unanimously to remove at their last meeting.  When asked why they changed their mind on this, Gerri Marshall from the Red Clay Consolidated School district thought it would be a moot point because nobody thought the opt-out numbers would be as high as they were in many schools and districts.

When asked if the legislators override Governor Markell’s veto of House Bill 50, Donna Johnson stated “Federal law trumps state law.”  But once again, they are cherry-picking parts of the law that suit their needs.  Because the Smarter Balanced Assessment doesn’t allow for a human reader under many circumstances even though his IEP stated he should be given this accommodation during testing.  I told the DOE the same words, federal law trumps state law.  I never received a response from them or anyone at the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium about that.  Ever.  But back to a potential veto override, if the DOE submits their ESEA waiver and it is approved by the Federal Government, through the US DOE, House Bill 50 could not have the line about opt-out not being included in a school’s accountability ratings.  This is IF the State Board of Education chooses Governor Markell’s #3 option with participation rate.

The Delaware DOE admitted they actually rounded up the participation rates as much as they could for schools in Delaware.  Why would they do that?  Was the same metric for this rounding up applied to ALL schools?  I would love to see the actual data on that.

The Governor doesn’t want the Delaware School Success Framework to publish a school’s overall rating.  But it will be subject to FOIA, the State Board will announce it at their meeting, and media will write about it.  This is the part that leaves me feeling very perplexed.  Why put yourself in a position where you have to get a FOIA when you can just choose to make it public knowledge?

The AFWG, after much discussion, agreed to use points as a school’s calculation based on a 500 point scale.  So if a school gets total points of 70 based on the calculated weights for each category, on this scale their score would be 350.  Whatever the school gets it will be heavily tied to their overall Smarter Balanced Assessment.  The DOE publishes the Smarter Balanced results, and since 90% of an elementary and middle school’s score will be based on either proficiency, growth, or growth to proficiency (all based on SBAC), that other average daily attendance is not going to make that much of a difference.  For high schools, 70% will be based on the same SBAC criteria, with other measurements of 30% tied to college and career preparation and “on track to graduation” levels.

Delaware State Rep. Kim Williams asked the AFWG many tough questions concerning charter school enrollment preferences, Governor Markell’s position on the participation rate penalty, and the need for the group to have a united front on these issues.

Tomorrow, the DOE will present the Delaware School Success Framework based on the recommendations by the AFWG to DESS.  But even Penny Schwinn said Governor Markell is her boss.  He selected her for the position of Chief Officer of Accountability and Assessment at the DOE and it is her job to do what he says.  Jack hates parents who opt-out, for all of the obvious reasons.  And if Jack doesn’t like, that must mean Rodel doesn’t like it.

The AFWG’s work is done, unless the DOE has to get another month extension from US DOE if needed.  But most of the members of the group know they can’t really discuss this any further.  Their thoughts are known, and many members of the work group wish they could just blow it up and not have to worry about this insane school report card to begin with.  I echo that sentiment.