Why Are So Many Charters In Delaware Starting Smarter Balanced After Traditional Districts?

This question came up last year and it is happening again this year.  Why do many Delaware charters get to begin Smarter Balanced testing anywhere from 3-7 weeks after traditional school districts take the assessment?  That is a lot more instruction students are getting.  That can make a large difference in the scores on SBAC.  It can make some schools look better.  Not that I think anything involving standardized test scores actually means anything, but our state and policy-makers do and they allow our DOE to judge schools based on the performance of these tests.  As well, schools are now getting rewarded based on their test scores and receiving financial awards.

I challenge all school districts and charters, or the parents thereof, to let me know when kids started taking the Smarter Balanced Assessment in your schools this year.  When the scores come out, it will be very interesting to see if that additional month makes a difference.  My feeling is that it probably does.  As well, how do we really know, since the tests are already out there so much earlier, that some schools aren’t given a heads up on what to expect on the tests and design instruction based on that?  I’m sure the DOE would respond “they can’t do that”.  But we all know the DOE does many things “they can’t do” but they do it anyway.

If there is one consistent thing I’ve heard this year about opt out it is that some schools are still sending out the -yawn- Delaware DOE template letter they sent to schools and districts way back in December of 2014.  The one with laws with … two times in the middle of the sentence.  The one where it cherry-picks certain words in the law without giving the full context, weight, or even the meaning of the law.  You know, the illegal letter.  The one that is about enforceable as a Resolution in the Delaware General Assembly.  I know the testing season is nearing the end for this year, but some schools haven’t begun testing yet, so it is important to continue to get the word out there for parents who don’t know this information.  Of course, this wouldn’t even be necessary to point out if our General Assembly did the right thing with House Bill 50.  But it appears that ship has sailed.  Please share on your Facebook pages and social media.

The DOE’s “Rules” For Participation Rate On Smarter Balanced

The Delaware Department of Education apparently has their “business” rules for participation rate on the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  While these are more technical, they do show an obvious ignorance of a parent’s right to opt their child out of the high-stakes assessment.  For those parents who are concerned about the data sharing aspect of the test, I would make sure you opt your child out well before the test window even opens up for your school.  Because if they answer six questions on either ELA or Math, they count as a participant.  There are a lot of tricky rules in this, so I would read each one very carefully to determine if your child or student will be counted as a participant or not.  Of course, none of this takes away from your ability to opt your child out.  I highly recommend doing it as soon as possible and ending this high-stakes testing madness!