Delaware DOE Doesn’t Trust Science Teachers To Create End Of Unit Tests! Check Out This Contract RFP!

Stealth testing.  A state assessment, given 3 to 4 times a year to all students in Delaware public schools from 3rd to 10th grade.  On top of the end of year state Science assessment given to students in 5th, 8th, and 10th grade.   Wasn’t the goal to have students receive less assessments?  Or is the goal to have outside companies create the tests teachers used to create based on their college training and years in the classroom?  This is stealth testing.

These tests will be online.  They will be “embedded”.  The following describes Delaware’s science assessment goals.  When I say Delaware, I am not speaking for ALL of Delaware.  I would like to know how these decisions were vetted with the General Assembly and the public for consumption and digestion.  From the request for proposal:

Delaware envisions a comprehensive science assessment system in grades 3 to 10, consisting of three distinct types of assessment. Under this system, throughout the academic year students will take teacher developed, Embedded Classroom Assessments to provide information on learning in real time. Primarily for instructional use, these Embedded Classroom Assessments will be numerous, short, and administered at the discretion of each teacher. Students will also take End-of-Unit Assessments shortly after the completion of each instructional unit. In each grade, the academic school year is divided into three to four units, each of which is aligned to a specific disciplinary content domain1 (see Appendix B for more detail). Each End-of-Unit assessment is meant to provide information on student learning of the NGSS content in each unit for the purposes of instruction (e.g., determining if additional instruction on previously instructed topics is needed, to be used in place of a classroom assessment for grading purposes) and evaluation (e.g., informing curriculum adoption, adaptation, and modification) at classroom, school, district and state levels. Finally, students in grade 5, grade 8, and high school biology will also take an Integrative Transfer Assessment (whereas the Embedded Classroom Assessments and End-of-Unit Assessments are taken by students in every grade, 3 to 10). These Integrative Transfer Assessments are meant to capture students’ learning of the content instructed during the entire year, in greater depth than on the End-of-Unit Assessments. That is, the Integrative Transfer Assessments are meant to capture the ways that students integrate, transfer and apply science knowledge and skills learned during the year. The integrative transfer assessments will be used to meet federal requirements under the Every Student Succeeds Act.

So the only thing I see here, which is required by Federal law, is the end of year assessment given in 5th, 8th, and 10th grade.  To be clear, end-of-unit assessment is the same as stealth assessments.  Don’t kid yourself on this!  Why are we hiring a company for, what will surely be a very expensive project costing hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions, to create assessments that go beyond the scope of what is required?  In the below RFP, the Delaware DOE talks about this science coalition that represents 25% of Delaware science teachers that have agreed to this.  Did local school boards and charter school boards approve this complete change to the way students are tested in THEIR schools?  Did the General Assembly pass laws to allow the Delaware DOE to completely change methods of assessment?  Why does the Delaware DOE need End-of-Unit Assessment information?  Isn’t the End-of-Year Assessment given to students in certain grades good enough for you anymore?  Why do you need all this data?  You don’t.  Stop testing our kids incessantly.  Parents, opt out of these end-of-unit assessments as well!

I’ve been warning about these stealth tests for well over a year and a half.  Here they are.  This IS competency-based education in a personalized learning environment.  It is a simple formula- testing = data = speculative investment.  They need to test to get the data so our students become investments.  Those that do well.  Those that don’t, keep testing them until they either get it or don’t.  The Delaware DOE will NEVER tell you this, but that is what these companies want.  The workforce of tomorrow!  What a grand plan!  Except, they forgot a few things.  This flies in the face of everything legislators have been wanting: less testing.  How much do teacher created tests cost compared to these “end-of-unit” assessments?  When did we stop trusting our teachers to create tests?  This is a big reason why Delaware has a huge budget deficit.  We have allowed the Delaware DOE to do whatever they want with very little oversight.  And we ALL pay the price, one way or another.  This is what the folks at Rodel want, not what Delaware wants.  At least be honest about that Delaware DOE!

 

Pearson Awarded Vendor Status For Delaware Social Studies State Assessment

Pearson has officially entered the world of Delaware standardized tests.  On November 10th, NCS Pearson officially signed a contract with the Delaware Department of Education for a five-year contract worth $6 million to create and deliver the Social Studies state assessment.  This contract will expire on December 31st, 2021.  You won’t find any official news release from the Delaware DOE on this.  I imagine many history teachers across the state will not be too happy to see this news.  The Delaware DOE has used Pearson in the past as a vendor, but never for an official state assessment.  With American Institutes for Research as the Smarter Balanced Assessment vendor for English Language Arts and Math, along with WestEd as the recent awarded vendor for Science, Pearson joins the Delaware state assessment crew.

The Social Studies state assessment will be given to students in 4th, 7th, and presumably 10th grade.  This would follow the former Social Studies DCAS testing delivery method.  Upon reading the contract, it looks like the field tests would begin next year with full implementation in those grades by the 2018-2019 school year.

I was not able to determine whether this test will be a once a year test or a “stealth test” based on the below contract.  Delaware Secretary of Education Godowsky did mention the possibility of this assessment being a “stealth test”.  Those kind of tests are delivered throughout the year in competency-based education environments.  Until a student is considered to “master” the content, they do not move on until they do.

There has been recent talk in Delaware concerning the future of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  Sources have indicated newly elected Governor John Carney may want to move away from the Smarter Balanced standardized test and may want to engage NWEA for the assessment provider for ELA and Math.  But no matter who the vendor is or what kind of test it is, it would still be based on the Common Core State Standards.  The Every Student Succeeds Act gives states the flexibility to choose their own standards for education, but the Delaware DOE already decided (without any input from stakeholders whatsoever) that Common Core is the way to go.

Pearson beat out American Institutes for Research, Measured Progress Inc., and Strategic Measurement and Evaluation, Inc. to win this contract.

The Bidders For The Delaware Social Studies And Science State Assessments

The Delaware Dept. of Education put out a request for proposal for their Social Studies and Science state assessments.  For Social Studies, the bidding ended on 9/9 and for Science, 9/23.  This is the second time the Delaware DOE put out requests for these two tests and some of the same companies bid again.  I went into detail about some of those companies last December.  The last time both the state assessments were included in one big lump.  This time, they separated them.  I had a lot to say about the Social Studies request for proposal last month and how this could lead to embedded stealth testing in a constant online competency-based personalized learning environment.

Delaware System of Student Assessment in Social Studies

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Next Generation Science Assessment for Delaware Learners

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The new bidders for these assessments are Measured Progress Inc. and WestEd.  Measured Progress is just more of the same according to Save Maine Schools.  They were the Smarter Balanced vendor in three states last year, but they couldn’t even handle the data capacity and had to shut down testing.  WestEd, though, is no stranger to Delaware.  This is a company that thinks online digital learning games with Curious George are just great for preschool.  They also have an extensive list of clients with some very familiar names.  Ironically, the Delaware DOE hired facilitators from WestEd for their Every Student Succeeds Act Community Conversations, along with Research In Action.  They even went into a partnership recently with NewSchools Venture Fund to expand small business data technology companies in K-12 classrooms.  How ironic that they received grant money from the Small Business Administration to fund ed tech start-ups while they are bidding for contracts that would measure the effectiveness of ed tech instruction with state assessments.  No conflict of interest there!  Strategic Measurement still has the same website as last year.  Both AIR and Pearson are still the lead players in the high-stakes testing arena.  None of these bidders signal Delaware ending the high-stakes testing arena any time soon.