Mike Matthews doesn’t have to teach for the next three school years! Instead, he will be taking over from Frederika Jenner as the President of the Delaware State Education Association beginning July 15th. Today, Mike got his final evaluation before he takes off to Water St. in Dover. He reflected on this evaluation and much more in his Facebook status earlier this afternoon. I’m going to say right now, I expect a lot out of Mike the next three years. My expectations are very high. Are we going to agree on everything? Hell no. I expect we will have our fair share of disagreements. I also want to wish the very best to the outgoing President, Frederika Jenner. I never really had the opportunity to get to know Frederika, and I will regret that. I was very tough on her a couple of years ago, and once again, I apologize to Frederika for that. But back to President Matthews…
I finish my year at Cooke Elementary with a totally different worldview. I had an excellent Component V conference with my administrator this morning. Now, that’s not to say I’m a fan of Component V. I’m still 100% absolutely against using standardized test scores of students on an educator’s evaluation.
The meeting was productive because it laid bare and confirmed my thoughts over the last few years. Whereas students at my other schools often showed lower proficiency, but high percentages of growth, my students at Cooke showed amazingly high proficiency at the beginning of the year, but some of the Smarter Balanced growth goals set by the state were so high, that a handful of my students didn’t meet them. Consequently, I was one student away from getting an “Exceeds” rating on my Measure A Component V.
It’s a different world at Cooke, with different challenges and successes from what I experienced at Warner and Richardson Park. But my resolve remains: I feel that our educators should not be judged based on a system that has never been shown to be a valid or reliable measure of teacher effectiveness.
I’ll miss being in the classroom next year, but will certainly be fighting like hell with the awesome DSEA team and educators and professionals throughout the state to lobby and advocate for a teacher and specialist evaluation system that respects the work they do.
Dr. Steven Godowsky had quite a year as the Delaware Secretary of Education! As he sails off to distant shores (across the canal), away from the Townsend Building in Dover, Delaware, let’s look back on 2016. And stay tuned for the end of this article where I may or may not reveal a VERY BIG secret about Godowsky.
A former Delaware Department of Education employee is now a Principal at a Delaware school district. As part of their evaluation, for the DPAS-II teacher evaluation system, they are measured on five components. In Component V, it states the following:
If an administrator is not assigned to supervise and/or lead at the grades levels assessed for the Statewide ELA/Math Assessment, he or she shall use Part B1 & B2 to calculate the Student Improvement Component which will be weighted at 50% each, unless administrator and evaluator agree that Part B1 will include 100% of the Student Improvement Component during the Goal-Setting Conference.
A Principal has to be certified to supervise the administration of the Smarter Balanced Statement. This ex-DOE employee who is now a Principal at a Delaware middle school, and actually worked in areas around accountability, is exempt from having Part A apply to this Princpal’s evaluation because this Principal is NOT certified in this area. Talk about a complete hypocrisy and the ultimate irony! So we can consider any DOE employee who enters the school system as a Principal, looking at this through a history lens, as BC, while others who actually do the work and get certified as AD. Incredible!
And for teachers, the very damaging Component V is still a part of their evaluation. Even though House Bill 399 passed the General Assembly in the wee hours of July 1st, Governor Markell has yet to sign the bill. The original recommendation from the DPAS-II Advisory Committee Sub Group was to have teachers and the Principal choose which measures to use and not have Smarter Balanced be an automatic 50% of their evaluation. But Senator David Sokola turned the bill into a pilot program for three schools and added controversial amendments. Remember that on Election Day folks! Markell has given no indication whatsoever if he is even going to sign HB399. His public schedule is blank this week. And school starts on Monday for most students. Way to go Jack! He is probably out there pimping for Blockchain or some other ludicrous education get rich scheme.
In news that will surely cause tears and heartache, Christopher Ruszkowski is leaving the Delaware Department of Education. He gave his two week notice yesterday. Ruszkowski came to the DOE shortly after Race To The Top kicked off and quickly catapulted to the top of the Teacher/Leader Effectiveness Unit. Ruszkowski had a huge impact on many teachers in the state. As the main driver behind the DPAS-II Component V for teacher evaluations, many teachers felt getting evaluated on the Smarter Balanced Assessment scores of students was a horrible idea.
I’m not sure what this means for the rest of the TLEU, but as an area that should have gotten the chop after Race To The Top ended, I wouldn’t be surprised to see it integrated into some other area the way the Accountability area was after Penny Schwinn left in January of this year. The DOE won’t be the same without Ruszkowski. It should be better!
Ruszkowski’s departure follows other big exits like Penny Schwinn, Ryan Reyna, Shana Young, and who could forget, Mark Murphy!
Without further ado, I give you one more time, the Surfer Boy himself, the DOE hipster, none other than Christopher Ruszkowski:
Good luck in your future endeavors Chris! I hope they take you far, far away from the First State! Bon Voyage!
This may very well be the most important article I have ever written on Exceptional Delaware. Parents, teachers, and citizens need to know what is going on and how perceived absolute power corrupts and serves to belittle and demean those who don’t have it. Those of us who have been fighting for every student’s education in this state can’t do it alone. You need to TAKE the power from those who would punish our children, teachers, and schools. You need to let everyone in the state know about THIS article, because the fate of our children’s future depends on it. Continue reading →