Governor Carney Lets Teachers Get Pink Slips While Hiring New DOE Administrator

The optics are bad for Delaware Governor John Carney.  After telling us you were going to “trim” the Delaware Department of Education, you went and created a whole new division of the Department and placed them in Wilmington.  Yes, the new Office of Improvement and Innovation is just different letters for the same accountability machine.  Located in Wilmington, this new DOE division, led by former Brandywine Assistant Superintendent Dorrell Green, will “support Delaware’s most in need with a focus on Wilmington’s struggling schools,” according to a press release issued today.

According to Atnre Alleyne, a former Delaware DOE employee who broke this news yesterday, “It downgrades the work of the Teacher & Leader Effectiveness Branch and rebrands it as Educator Support and Collaboration (to be more palatable to those less interested in conversations about effectiveness).”  In fact, Alleyne’s post was mostly ripping on the Department he used to work for.

This is my real issue with this announcement.  With the FY2018 budget cuts, teachers are going to lose their jobs.  Carney’s response?  Create a new division of the Department that needs the biggest cuts of all.  Yeah, you can shrink down the TLEU and move people around, but setting up what will basically be a priority schools branch smack dab in the middle of Wilmington doesn’t show this DOE transformation.  It shows the DOE will be closer to schools they want to “monitor”.  While Carney says he wants the DOE to be more of a resource center for Delaware schools, who determines what resources are needed?  The schools, the Delaware DOE, or the US DOE?  I don’t picture this as a situation where schools say “we need this” and the DOE comes riding in on their white horse to save the day.  This is the same color, just a different kind of paint to make it look more pretty.

I don’t know the first thing about Dorrell Green, but it sounds like he has a great deal of experience in Wilmington schools which is always a good thing.  And I congratulate him on his new position, but now is not the time to be creating new divisions of the Department that most in Delaware want to see massive cuts.  You don’t do this the second the ink is dry on your budget signature and not expect the people of the state to raise a big old stink about it.  But, this is Delaware.  Where the people’s voice just doesn’t seem to matter anymore.

 

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The Wink

Last Thursday at the Delaware State Board of Education meeting, Chris Ruszkowski gave his last public appearance as the Chief of the Teacher Leader Effectiveness Unit at the Delaware Department of Education.  State Board President Dr. Teri Quinn Gray congratulated Ruszkowski on his departure to New Mexico.  As a few of us feverishly went to Google to find out what that was all about, a DOE employee informed me he was going to be the new Deputy Secretary of Education for New Mexico.  I put up a very short post about it right away.

Shortly after, Ruszkowski winked and smiled at me.  I have to wonder what that was about.  Was it his way of saying “You were right about everything but guess what, I’m moving up in the education world.”  Or was it “I can’t stand you, but I’m not going to let you know that.”  It could have possibly been “You were wrong about everything.  There you sit with your little blog while I’m off to New Mexico.”  I’ll probably never know.  Or there could have been other reasons.  Maybe he really liked the “Surfer Boy” nickname I gave him.  Perhaps he enjoyed the cat and mouse games myself and others played with him and it kept him on his toes.

It is my hope his replacement, Angeline Rivello, seizes the opportunity to make this area of the DOE more transparent and less judgmental about our teachers in Delaware.  Ruszkowski didn’t just burn bridges, he blew them up.

All I can say is good luck. New Mexico is going to need it!

Chris Ruszkwoski Is The New Deputy Secretary of Education For New Mexico

Today is Delaware DOE Chief of the Teacher/Leader Effectiveness Unit Chris Ruszkwoski’s last day.  It was just announced at the State Board of Education he will be the new Deputy Secretary of Education for New Mexico.  That’s all…

Delaware’s Teacher Hiring Report: What Do Districts Look For?

On April 11th, Dr. Shana Ricketts from the Teacher/Leader Effectiveness Unit at the Delaware Dept. of Education presented a report on Delaware’s Talent Practices to the P-20 Council.  This report showcases what districts look for when hiring teachers in Delaware.  It is a very interesting look into the key hiring decisions for educators.

Breaking News: Angeline Rivello Is The New Chief Of The TLEU At The DOE

Once a genie gets out of a bottle, it doesn’t take long for the rest of the news to follow suit. As I just announced, Chris Ruszkowski, the Chief of the Teacher/Leader Effectiveness Unit at the Delaware Department of Education, is leaving in a couple weeks.  I surmised if the TLEU would be rolled into another group, but as soon as I hit publish, several sources confirmed the title will be replaced by Angeline Rivello.  Some may recognize the name, but she is also Angeline Willen Rivello.

Rivello previously held the role of Director of Teacher & Administrator Quality Development, a subgroup of the TLEU. Prior to the Delaware DOE, Rivello was the manager of Human Resources in the Red Clay Consolidated School District from 2010-2012. So Delaware teachers, don’t get too excited yet. I would assume Ruszkowski’s departure is a good thing, but I truly don’t know much about Rivello aside from some FOIAs I published last year. Her LinkedIn profile shows she was a principal in New Jersey, Florida and New Hampshire from 2002-2001 prior to her Red Clay role.

Breaking News: Chris Ruszkowski Leaving Delaware DOE

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:

300Ruszkowski

Good luck in your future endeavors Chris! I hope they take you far, far away from the First State! Bon Voyage!

Shocking Find: Delaware DOE Reorganization Memo

After their first budget hearing with the Joint Finance Committee, the Delaware Department of Education knew it had to make some changes.  To that effect, Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Steven Godowsky crafted a memo to the Department employees.  I was able to get my hands on this over two-month old memo that has been shrouded in secrecy until today!  This isn’t something you can just find on the DOE website.  It doesn’t exist there.  It doesn’t exist anywhere on the internet.  Until now…

Since this memo came out, more DOE employees have left the organization.  Just this month, three major employees left the Department.  Atnre Alleyne, formerly with the Teacher/Leader Effectiveness Unit left. Michelle Whelan from the Charter School Office got a job over at the Attorney General’s Office.  And Brian Curtis, once with the Accountability area and most recently with the TLEU, attained a position as the Principal at Kirk Middle School in the Christina School District.  These are three long-time DOE employees, there since Race To The Top.  Out of the three, Whelan’s position is the only one that will be replaced.

I could tell you how I got my hands on this document.  But then I would have to…

 

One Of Markell’s Hand-Picked Education Top Dogs To Resign

Someone very big in the Jack Markell education world is resigning.  This is as close to the top as you can get.  This is someone Markell hand-picked for the position.  Who is it?  And more important, who will replace this person?  From what I’m hearing, the title won’t be replaced but the duties will be delegated to different people.  This is big folks!  This person has been around long enough to have an impact on how things go that this void will have an effect on things.  Of course, it was, is, and always has been Jack Markell’s show.  I can’t say I’m surprised by the exit, but I am surprised at the assignment of duties to other people.  Who is it?  Did you think it was going to be that easy?  If you are drawing a blank on this one, don’t fret.  Continue reading “One Of Markell’s Hand-Picked Education Top Dogs To Resign”

Governor Markell’s FY2017 Education Budget Gives Funds For WEIC, SAIL, Autism, & Early Childhood Education But Stiffs Basic Spec. Education For K-3 Students

Provide greater support and accountability to Priority Schools and ensure the State and districts collaboratively intervene in failing schools.

 

Once again we have the Delaware Governor and his Department of Education labeling schools as “failing”.  This is based on standardized test scores.  It doesn’t take into account the high number of low-income/poverty students, students with disabilities, and the students who bear witness to horrible violence which has a severe impact on their ability to learn.

Governor Markell put in $6 million for the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission redistricting plan and $1 million for the SAIL (afterschool) program.  Charters have the recommended $500,000 for their “performance” fund which is the same as last year.  $2.5 million would go towards “school improvement” funds (priority schools, focus schools).  The Governor is recommending $4 million for “teacher compensation reform”.  He nixed nearly $10.7 million in base teacher increase pays, but allowed for $5.3 million to cover inflationary costs.  This is a $57 million dollar increase from the FY2016 budget for personnel costs so I am a bit confused on that one.

From what I can see, it looks like the Teacher/Leader Effectiveness Unit at the DOE is losing some funds.  Secretary of Education Godowsky requested an increase from $1.8 million to $2.4 million, but Markell is recommending $1.75 million.  Godowsky also wanted to double the state funding for technology operations from $2.8 million to $5.7 million, but Markell is looking at $3.6 million in his budget.  SEED scholarships, which increase scholarships for Delaware students going to Community College, has a proposed $1.6 million increase.

What I do see is a $10 million increase in special needs programs.  Although it doesn’t explain the increase, I am assuming this is to cover the funding for Basic Special Education for Kindergarten to 3rd Grade students in Delaware.  Currently, there is no state funding for these students with disabilities.  This was one of the main recommendations from WEIC and is also pending legislation from State Rep. Kim Williams House Bill 30.  It looks like, upon inspection of Senate Bill 175, which breaks down everything in the budget, these funds are going towards early education.  Since the Race To The Top for Early Childhood Education ended, Markell is putting $11.35 million towards this.  So Basic Special Education funding doesn’t get funding, but we are going to pay for early childhood “intervention”.  I will have MUCH more to say about this one later.  Many other special education programs remain the same, including alternative settings.  Allocations for out-of-school placement, like Day Schools and Residential Treatment Centers looks the same as last year, even though costs for these programs have skyrocketed over the years.

On the Dept. of Health and Human Services budget, Markell is looking to increase funding for Autism by only $500,000.00, which is much less than the funds requested through Senate Bills 92 and 93.  Altogether, the fiscal notes for those two bills totaled $1.3 million.

Many of the increases from the previous year are based on inflationary measures.  In the below document, I’m not sure why the first page has all the black on it, but I will attempt to fix it later. Updated 4:58pm: I’m just going to put a picture of it in here…

DOEProposedBudget1stPage

And the detailed version, giving a full breakdown of where the money would go…

New DOE Organizational Chart Showcases Many Things In The Department

DOEOrganChart12516

The Office of Accountability and Assessment is gone.  Previously led by Penny Schwinn, who departed the DOE earlier this month, it is now part of the Teaching & Learning Branch but only as the Office of Assessment.  Dr. Carolyn Lazar is still listed as the Interim Director of The Office of Assessment, in the sub-section of the Teaching & Learning Branch which is still led by Michael Watson.  There is a sub-section under the new Deputy Secretary, Karen-Field Rogers, called Performance Management, but that is showing as vacant.  This is echoed with the Data Management office.  Former Deputy Secretary David Blowman has taken over Field-Rogers slot as Associate Secretary Financial Management & Operations.  It looks like he still oversees the Charter School Office.  Chris Ruszkowski is still running the show in the Teacher/Leader Effectiveness Unit.

It appears the DOE is in the process of updating their website, because if you look under their “leadership” tab, it still shows Penny Schwinn there, and Blowman as the Deputy Secretary.  There are many such errors on their website.  If you look under the Exceptional Children Resources group, it still shows Sarah Celestin listed even though she left the DOE last summer to become the Special Education Director at Red Clay Consolidated School District.

The DOE has seen some key departures and changes in the past few months since the new Secretary of Education, Dr. Steven Godowsky, took the helm.  With the amount of work the DOE receives based on the never-ending barrage of changes implemented by the State Board of Education and the feds, with more coming every day, on top of compliance issues, implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act, charter school issues always going on, priority schools, assessment changes, state budgets and everything else is the DOE staff reaching a point where they are actually understaffed?  Do they have too much on their plate?  In some areas I would say so, but in others there is a lot of wasted money and resources going out.  Like the TLEU.  Every time I look, they are paying someone to come up with the latest report on Educator Effectiveness.  Or the Office of Assessment, constantly regurgitating report after report about Smarter Balanced and everything that goes with it.  Figuring out the Rubiks Cube that is the Delaware DOE is always a challenge…

What Is The Dastardly Delaware DOE Up To Now With Teacher Evaluations?

300Ruszkowski

The Delaware DOE sure was busy two days before Christmas.  They managed to get yet another request for proposal (RFP) out.  This one is for a teacher credentialing assessment.  This is basically the DOE seeking a vendor to give assessments to folks wishing to evaluate teachers.  They have to pass the DOE’s rigorous standards to be able to evaluate teachers.  And it must align with “college and career readiness” standards.  That’s right, even if the evaluator is observing a Kindergarten teacher, the teacher must demonstrate the ability to make sure those Kindergartners are ready to go to Harvard University!

While the Department of Education has implemented procedures for both new observers (“initial credentialing”) and existing observers (“re-credentialing”) over the past two years, the state is now seeking more robust and streamlined versions of both assessments.

You can read the Teacher/Leader Effectiveness Unit’s request for somebody to do the work they should be doing themselves, but they just aren’t, ahem, effective enough…

Denn and Sokola School The DOE On Horrible New Teacher Regulation

…it should not eviscerate a tool that was instructed by law to create for the purpose of monitoring and maintaining an important teacher recruitment program.

And the hits keep coming!  In the latest round of “great and awesome regulation comment letters”, this one comes from Delaware Attorney General Matt Denn and Delaware State Senator David Sokola.  This is in regards to Regulation 775, which proposes to amend the state code on new teacher hiring date collection to align with the Teacher and Leader Effectiveness Unit at the DOE’s annual report.  Denn and Sokola BLAST the Delaware DOE over this regulation!  Good job DOE!  Keep ticking off Sokola!  I hope he is beginning to see the light at the end of the DOE tunnel like the rest of Delaware has!

Yeah, let’s take something that works and has no problems and turn it upside down so we can align with the maligned Delaware Department of Education!!!  And the actual proposed regulation…

Delaware DOE Keeps 8 Race To The Top Positions From General Fund “Vacancies” With Salaries Over $800,000

The below emails say it all.  The DOE was supposed to cut 10 positions funded from Race To The Top when it expired on June 30th, 2015.  The DOE is allowed to use any remaining funds until the end of this calendar year.  But those are federal funds, not state funds.  When the Delaware Joint Finance Committee cut the budgeted $7.5 million down to $3.75 million, the remaining funds were only supposed to be used for initiatives, not positions.  But instead, the DOE is using state taxpayer funds from the state’s General Fund to pay for positions earmarked by a federal initiative.  State Rep. John Kowalko advised DOE and the State Board of Education he wasn’t going to stand for this.  Thank you to Rep. Kowalko for getting these answers as it is something that has crossed my mind lately.  Race To The Top is over, but it seems the Delaware DOE didn’t get the memo on this…


From: Kowalko, John (LegHall)
Sent: Sunday, October 4, 2015 7:09 PM
To: Morton, Michael (LegHall); Jackson, Michael A. (DSCYF)
Cc: Bennett, Andria (LegHall); Baumbach, Paul (LegHall); Lynn, Sean M (LegHall); Matthews, Sean (LegHall); Williams, Kimberly (LegHall); Kowalko, John (LegHall); Osienski, Edward (LegHall); Potter, Jr, Charles (LegHall)
Subject: information urgently needed

Gentlemen,

I need an explicit breakdown of the use, actual or intended, for the remaining $3.75 million (of the original $7.5 million Governor requested) RTTT money that was authorized with the budget passage. Most importantly, I am requesting a specific listing of all paid positions that were created, extended, filled or funded by the $3.75 million. Originally it was presented that approval of the full $7.5 million would allow for ten positions to be either funded or made permanent and they were specifically listed in our briefing papers and synopsis. I am requesting the specific titles and names of the employees that were funded due to the passage of the $3.75 million budget item listed under RTTT. I hope you will send me this information forthwith.

Respectfully,

Representative John Kowalko (25th District)


From: Jackson, Michael S (LegHall)
Sent: Monday, October 5, 2015 1:54 PM
To: Kowalko, John (LegHall)
Cc: Bennett, Andria (LegHall); Baumbach, Paul (LegHall); Lynn, Sean M (LegHall); Matthews, Sean (LegHall); Williams, Kimberly (LegHall); Osienski, Edward (LegHall); Potter, Jr, Charles (LegHall); Morton, Michael (LegHall); Jackson, Michael S (LegHall)
Subject: RE: information urgently needed

Rep. Kowalko – –

Here is the breakdown of the $3,750.0 included in the FY 2016 Budget for Race to the Top Initiatives:

1.       $2,550.0 was allocated to the Professional Accountability and Instructional Advancement Fund for educator preparation and development such as pre-service training for future teachers and leaders; educator recruitment platforms and tools for school districts and charters; evaluating teacher effectiveness; and supporting teacher-leadership opportunities and professional learning networks.

2.       $600.0 for common core resources for school districts and charter schools and funding of professional development and instructional materials for the transition to the Next Generation Science Standards; and

3.       $600.0 for the maintenance of the Educator Insight Portal  that provides a dashboard of data, pulling from several technology systems, for student, class, school, district and state performance statistics. All districts use portal for various information, such as a teacher reviewing performance data for incoming students to his/her classroom.

Regarding the positions, there was no new funding or positions included in the budget for any of the 10.0 positions and budget epilogue prevents the allocation of any of the $3,750.0 in funding to be used towards positions. Below is the language:

Section 301.  Section 1 of this Act appropriates $3,750.0 for the following school based initiatives: Next Generation Science Standards/College Readiness/Common Ground, teacher preparation initiatives and technology support for the Educator Insight Portal. These funds shall not be used to hire or retain positions in the Department of Education.

The Department of Education used existing General Fund vacancies to retain 8 of the 10 people who were in Race to the Top positions. Below are the salaries, names and titles of the 8 people:

Assessment, Accountability, Performance and Evaluation Branch

Chief Officer for the Branch (Penny Schwinn) $134,337

Director, Office of Assessment (Ryan Reyna) $110,551

Chief Performance Officer, Office of Performance Management (Katherine Villari) $116,419

Deputy Officer, Office of Performance Management (Elizabeth Jetter) $85,020)

Teacher and Leader Effectiveness Branch

Chief Officer for the Branch (Christopher Ruszkowski) $134,337

Director, Educator Effectiveness and Talent Management (Atnreakn Alleyne) $110,551

Deputy Officer, Talent Recruitment and Acquisition (Tasha Cannon) $99,750 (this position has become vacant)

Chief of Staff for the Branch (Shana Young) $116,000

The remaining 2 positions that were not retained were vacant positions in the Assessment, Accountability, Performance and Evaluation Branch. 

Mike Jackson

Seven Delaware Charters Bow Out of DPAS-II Teacher Evaluation System

Last month at the State Board of Education meeting, former Secretary of Education Mark Murphy announced he approved many charter schools for a minor modification involving their Teacher Evaluation system.  The schools are Positive Outcomes Charter School, Family Foundations Academy, Las Americas ASPIRA, Academia Antonia Alsonso, Early College High School, First State Military Academy, and The Delaware Met.  Oddly enough, the only school I knew that applied for this does not have anything listed on the Delaware DOE website about this.  But Freire Charter School of Wilmington is still on probation status.  Family Foundations Academy had their probation lifted at the same State Board of Education meeting. Family Foundation’s alternate teacher evaluation system will fall under the Delaware Charter Collaborative system that already includes East Side, Prestige Academy, Kuumba, and Thomas Edison.

By Delaware law, the Secretary of Education does not need the assent of the State Board of Education to approve a minor modification, nor are formal meetings of the Charter School Accountability Committee or formal Public Hearings.  But here’s my thing with all this.  One of the questions on the application for a minor modification request is this:

The authorizer will review your most recent Performance Review Reports as part of your application. Discuss the school’s academic performance, compliance with the terms of its charter, and financial viability as measured by the Performance Framework.

Four of these charters have NEVER had a Performance Review since they either opened last year (Academia Antonia Alonso and Early College High School) or this year (First State Military Academy and The Delaware Met).  Granted, the first two charters will have a performance review in the next month or so, but my point is this- should we be changing an established system in favor of an alternate system for charters that have never been put through a performance review?  In my opinion, this should be reserved for schools that have some data behind them to back this up.  One only has to look at the horror show of the past month and a half with The Delaware Met to know they should not be approved for an alternate system for teacher evaluation when they can’t even prove they know how to run a school!  Below are all the school’s applications and the section of Delaware code that allows for this.

9.9 Minor modifications

9.9.1 A minor modification is any proposed change to a charter, including proposed changes to any condition placed on the charter, which is not a major modification. Minor modifications include, but are not limited to:

9.9.1.1 Changes to the name of either the charter school or charter holder; or

9.9.1.2 The first extension of any deadline imposed on the charter school or charter holder by thirty (30) working days or less (or by 15 calendar days in the case of the First Instructional Day); or

9.9.1.3 In the case of a charter school which is open with students in attendance, offering educational services at a site other than, or in addition to, the site approved as part of the school’s charter, when use of the approved site has unavoidably been lost by reason of fire or other casualty as that term is defined in Black’s Law Dictionary; or

9.9.1.4 An increase or decrease in the school’s total authorized enrollment of more than 5%, but not more than 15%, provided further the minor modification request must be filed between November 1st and December 31st and, if approved, shall be effective the following school year; or

9.9.1.5 Alter, expand or enhance existing or planned school facilities or structures, including any plan to use temporary or modular structures, provided that the applicant demonstrates that the school will maintain the health and safety of the students and staff and remain economically viable as provided in 4.4 above; or

9.9.1.6 Any change in the school’s agreement with an educational management organization other than as set forth in 9.4.3 and 9.8.1.1 above; or

9.9.1.7 A change to the current authorized number of hours, either daily or annually, devoted to actual school sessions. Regardless of any proposed change, the school shall maintain the minimum instructional hours required by Title 14 of the Delaware Code; or

9.9.1.8 A change in the terms of the current site facilities arrangements including, but not limited to, a lease to a purchase or a purchase to a lease arrangement; or

9.9.2 The Secretary may decide the minor modification application based on the supporting documents supplied with the application unless the Secretary finds that additional information is needed from the applicant.

9.9.3 The Secretary may refer a minor modification request to the Accountability Committee for review if the Secretary determines, in her/his sole discretion, that such review would be helpful in her/his consideration of the application. If the Secretary refers a minor modification application to the Accountability Committee, she/he may decide the application based on any report from the Committee and the supporting documents related to the application. The applicant for a minor modification shall be notified if the minor modification request has been forwarded to the Accountability Committee. The applicant may be asked to provide additional supporting documentation.

9.9.4 The Secretary may deny a minor modification request if the supporting documentation is incomplete or insufficient provided the applicant has been advised additional information was needed

9.9.5 Upon receiving an application for a minor modification, the Secretary shall notify the State Board of the application and her/his decision on whether to refer the application to the Accountability Committee.

9.9.6 The meeting and hearing process provided for in Section 511(h), (i) and (j) of the Charter School Law shall not apply to a minor modification application even where the Secretary refers the application to the Accountability Committee.

9.9.7 Decisions for minor modifications to a charter may be decided by the Secretary within 30 working days from the date the application was filed, unless the timeline is waived by mutual agreement of the Secretary and the applicant, or in any case where the Secretary, in the sole discretion of the Secretary, deems that it would be beneficial to either refer the matter to the Accountability Committee or to seek advice from the State Board prior to deciding the matter.

Nowhere in this part of Delaware code is there anything about teacher evaluation systems.  But that is covered under the very loose “Minor modifications include, but are not limited to” part of this in 9.9.1.  That is a very major change to a school’s operations, and should be a major modification.  When these schools apply, the applications go to the Teacher Leader Effectiveness Unit at the Delaware DOE, led by Chris Ruszkowski.  Once they approve it, it goes to the Secretary of Education.  But I’m not surprised the DOE and Secretary Murphy would play fast and loose with state code to get what they want with charters…

The Oxymoron At The State Board of Education Retreat Today **UPDATED**

The hardest part about writing this article was coming up with the title.  There were so many things I could have named it.  Such as “It could have been worse, it could have been rocket ships.”  Or “Vermont and Connecticut are really going to hate Delaware soon.”  Or “We gotta grow them.”  Or “Is it still an embargo if they reveal it at a public meeting?”  In any event, I attended part of the State Board of Education retreat today.  I arrived at 1:30pm, and I was the ONLY member of the public there.  I received some stares.  All but two members of the State Board of Education were present.  Those that were there were President Dr. Teri Quinn Gray, Vice-President Jorge Melendez, Gregory Coverdale, Pat Heffernan, and Nina Bunting.

When I got there, head of the Teacher/Leader Effectiveness Unit Christopher Ruszkowski was giving a presentation on, what else, teacher effectiveness.  There was a slide up which said TEF- 5 charters, TEF- 6 charters, Freire, Colonial, Aspira.  If I had to guess, these are schools or “collaboratives” that have or will have their own teacher evaluation system.    The Rus Man (sorry, spelling his last name is a huge pain!) said Lake Forest School District believes DPAS-II is more equitable.  Rus said “Districts not using the new evaluation methods are not as successful.”  He explained how some districts get “caught up in the structure” and “the rules”.  He said principals want more high-quality data, and they are having better conversations about Measure B in the DPAS-II system.

This was followed with a presentation by Dr. Shana Ricketts.  She explained how that state trained 125 principals over the summer, and there will be training sessions over the next two weeks, and DSEA will be holding workshops over the changes in the DPAS-II.  The Rus Man explained how Delaware has the “most decentralized system in the country for teacher evaluations and goals are different across the board.”  A question came up about assessments.  Discussion was had about reducing assessments even more.  “If we standardize chemistry exams why have teacher ones as well,” Rus Man asked.  “But some are teacher-created, which is good cause it shows growth.”  Dr. Gray responded with “Gotta grow them!”  Rus man explained how “teachers need to be empowered”, “our obligation to be world-class is students have to be proficient when they graduate”, and “We are trying to ask the right questions.”  Rus man also said “There is not enough rigor.”

At this point, Dr. Penny Schwinn came in, followed shortly by Ryan Reyna, who works under Schwinn.  Actually, I should say next to her as they are both easily the two tallest employees at the DOE.  While I was distracted, Rus Man said something about “Commitment to proficiency…mindblocks….set the target, work my way back” followed by something about the “culture of the building”.  To which board member Pat Heffernan responded with “We can’t put blinders on and have no idea.”  Gray responded with “We want growth AND proficiency!” followed by “We don’t set the goal based on average, we set it on growth.”  Rus Man responded by saying “We are to be compared to everyone.  Not Delaware, not other states, but everyone in the world.”  He stated our principals are aware of this.  Someone asked if our principals understand this.  He explained how the alternative is the “same way we’ve done for 100 years, mastery of standards to grade book…”  Gray burst out that “It should be proficiency based!”  Board member Nina Bunting thanked Rus Man for the presentation and said “It was very informative.”  Heffernan said we need to “encourage principals to encourage good data entry.”

The State Board took about a ten minute break at this point.  Dr. Gray asked how I was doing, and I proceeded to tell her all about my hernia and my operation.  She explained how her brother had that done.  I asked if it was stomach or groin.  She said stomach. I told her mine was groin.  She just kind of stared at me for a few seconds, unsure of what to say.

At this point the accountability trio of Dr. Penny Schwinn, Ryan Reyna, and Dr. Carolyn Lazar began to give a presentation on Smarter Balanced.  I actually asked if this meeting had any embargoed information I shouldn’t know about.  Donna Johnson, Executive Director of the State Board of Education, explained this is a public meeting.  Most of the information was already on the state DOE website.  Lazar explained how 21 states took the field test, and 17 Delaware districts participated.  All told, 4 million students took the field test in the USA.  Schwinn explained how elementary schools outperformed middle schools and high schools in both math and ELA.  Heffernan asked if this included charters on the data they were seeing, but Schwinn explained the charters were on a separate slide.  Lazar said there was a 15 point gap between Math and ELA, but the “claim area” was only 10 points.  At this point, Dr. Gray asked what the proficiency level was.  For the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  Lazar explained it is the students who score proficient or above.  That is good to know!  Next they went over slides showing how close or how far districts were between Math and ELA scores.  Donna Johnson commented how Capital School District’s proficiency lines attached which is very unique.  Schwinn responded that this “speaks to the rigor of assessment.”  Schwinn brought up the student survey and said that 7,000 students self-selected to perform the survey at the end of the test.  Dr. Gray said that isn’t statistically normed.  Schwinn explained it was not, but the survey will become automatic next year, like how it was on DCAS.

Michael Watson, the teacher and learning chief at the DOE, presented next on Smarter Balanced in relation to teaching and instruction.  He explained how we need international assessments so we can compare against India and China.  He explained how Delaware had “strong positive indicators with National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) trends.”  Watson proceeded to show the board a chart showing how Delaware compared to nine other Smarter Balanced Assessment states that released their data.  Delaware came ahead for literacy in third to fifth grade, but much lower in ELA for 8th grade.  Next, Watson gave a long talk about comparing Delaware to Connecticut with Smarter Balanced results and the two states NAEP results.  He found that Delaware trailed behind Connecticut in NAEP, but we were closer to their scores with Smarter Balanced.  I wanted to burst out “That’s cause SBAC sucks so I would expect most states to suck equally on it”, but I bit my tongue.  But as I thought about it, comparing two different states NAEP scores to SBAC is like comparing a clothing store to Chuck-E-Cheese.  There really isn’t a comparison as they are two different entities.  In talking about the states Delaware scored near the same as on SBAC, Watson actually said “Either Connecticut and Vermont didn’t take SBAC seriously or we are working harder.”  Bunting explained how in Indian River, “when state says jump we say how high!”

**At this point, Watson looked over at me and said the next slide is embargoed information but he presented it anyways.  So I can’t write about the embargoed information presented to me at a public meeting about a survey done showing that in Delaware, 88% of Superintendents feel we have implemented Common Core, followed by 87% of principals and 67% of teachers.  For some reason, this is top-secret embargoed information that won’t be released until next month or something like that. (**SEE UPDATE ON BOTTOM)

I had to leave to pick up my son from school.  I brought him home and checked my email real quick.  I did get an email from Yvette Smallwood who works for the state on the Delaware Register of Regulations.  She informed me, in response to my request they remove Regulation 103 from their September publication due to issues of non-transparency surrounding it, that they couldn’t remove it but the DOE did agree to extend the public comment period until October 8th, which would be 30 days after Regulation 103 was put on this blog!  I drove back to the State Board retreat and as I walked in I heard Dr. Gray talking loudly about parents needing to understand.  At which point Reyna pointed to a chair for me to sit in and Dr. Gray stopped talking about whatever parent thing she was talking about.

The infamous “toolkit” has been fully released on the Smarter Balanced website.  It includes a link to the DelExcels website, some other “very informative” websites called Great Kids and Be A Learning Hero.  The DOE is working with DSEA to get information out for parents to understand the Smarter Balanced results.  According to Donna Johnson, many districts are excited to get the information to parents, and are aligning curriculum and professional development in an effort to gain more awareness.  The DOE is working with superintendents, principals, social media, and their partners (Rodel).  The test results won’t be mailed out from the DOE until Friday, September 18th and Monday, September 21st.  Which is probably their way of screwing up my well-designed article from earlier today about education events this week…  But I digress.  Schwinn said the resutls will come out earlier in future years, but this is a transition year.  Johnson said “some districts are excited to dig in” with releasing data.  Lazar explained how teachers are getting “claim spreads” which are tied to “anchor data”.  At this point, it’s all Greek to me when they start speaking in that language.  The DOE is working with journalists (no one asked me, and I had already received embargoed information at a public meeting) to write articles on how to educate parents on “how to read reports and grade spreads”.  Because parents don’t know how to do that.  I don’t think parents are confused about the data.  They will be confused why Johnny is doing awesome with grades but he tanked the SBAC.  And no one will be able to present this to them in a way they will clearly understand so hopefully they will come up with the same conclusion as many parents already have: Smarter Balanced sucks!

At this point, Johnson wanted to play one of the new videos, just released Friday in an email blast to anyone the DOE has worked with (which didn’t include me, but I got it forwarded to me on Friday).  So here it is, the world premiere (if you haven’t been so blessed to be included in the email blast), of the Delaware DOE Smarter Balanced Guide For Parents Video 2015:

http://www.doe.k12.de.us/cms/lib09/DE01922744/Centricity/Domain/4/DE_REPORT_VIDEO_REVISED_MIX_1.mp4?_=1

*video may not be working, I will work on it…

This won’t be the last time you hear this video, because apparently some districts want to put this on their morning announcement! I kid you not…

This next part is actually somewhat frightening.  When asked how many hits the DOE website is getting for this, Johnson was unable to answer, but they can track the hits or work with partners on sites they don’t own to get that information.  Tracking plays a LARGE part later on in this retreat…

The final part of the presentation was my whole reason for coming: The Delaware School Success Framework.  A slide came up from the State Board of Education agenda for Thursday’s meeting, but it had attachments that said “embargoed”.  These links don’t appear on the public agenda.  There was a lot of whispering between Penny Schwinn, Shana Young, and Donna Johnson at this point, as if they could be discussing something they didn’t want me to hear.  I don’t obviously know this for sure, just a hunch! 😉

She went over the state’s new accountability system called the Delaware School Success Framework (DSSF).  I covered most of this last week in my Regulation 103 article and how much of a game-changer this system is, but I found out quite a bit of information on it today.  The DSSF will go live next month with what they are calling the “paper framework” until the full online system launches by June 2nd (a must date according to Penny Schwinn).  Schwinn said the reason they are including 4, 5, and 6 year graduation rates is because of special education students who may not graduate in four years.  She proudly said “Delaware is the first state to have college and career preparation” as part of the state report card (which is what the US DOE calls state accountability systems).  When talking about the Accountability Framework Working Group (AFWG), Schwinn stated Ryan Reyna is leading this group.  She said there is a lot of opinions in this group, and not everyone is going to agree, which makes it a good group.  She said no accountability system is going to have 100% agreement, so it took some compromising.

“Delaware has the most aggressive rate in the country for growth,” Schwinn said.  This was her explanation for the VERY high portion of the DSSF which has growth.  She said it “feels more appropriate with Smarter Balanced to set the bar high.”  She acknowledged they are “pushing it with US DOE” but feels they will be approved.  How this all works with the DSSF is this.  There is a Part A, which counts toward a school’s accountability rating, and Part B which will show on the DOE website and is informative in nature but has no weight on a school’s grade.  Part A includes proficiency (multiplied by the school’s participation rate on SBAC), growth to proficiency, college and career prep (for high schools), average daily attendance, and so forth.  The numbers have changed somewhat since I last reported on the weights of each category.  For elementary and middle schools, 30% of the weight will be proficiency, and high schools will be 25%.  For growth, in elementary and middle schools this will be 45%, and high schools 40%.  So in essence, 75% of a school’s accountability rating will be based on the Smarter Balanced Assessment in elementary and middle schools, and 65% for high schools.  The bulk of the rating system that will determine reward, recognition, action, focus, focus plus and priority status will be based on the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  Schwinn said this is very aggressive and is “not comfortable backing down on it.”  Not one word was said about the participation rate or Regulation 103 during this presentation.  The categories were presented for the ESEA Flex Waiver last March but the weights have to be submitted to the US DOE by 10/31/15.  So the State Board has to make a decision on it by their 10/15 meeting.

Reyna talked about proficiency and growth with some scatter graphs.  “We’re really valuing schools that are showing growth with students” he said out of thin air.  Schwinn talked about the school survey parents will receive (school report card).  They are going with the “5 Essentials Survey” for the non-accountability rated Part B.  The DOE is creating a survey working group which will start next month and will include the “usual stakeholders”.  They sent emails to all the superintendents to participate, just like they did with the AFWG.  The state is holding itself accountable as well, but there was no discussion about what they are measuring themselves against.  Schwinn explained that on the survey last fall, parents liked the idea of letter grades on the school report and teachers hated it.  So they won’t have that on the report.  In news I know many will like, THERE WILL BE NO ROCKET SHIPS, TRAFFIC LIGHTS OR TROPHIES on the Delaware School Success Report sent to parents.  There was a lot of discussion about design and different ideas.  Heffernan said DOE can tell parents “It could have been worse, it could have been rocket ships.”

Schwinn explained on the online report, parents will be able to map and graph data.  As an example, Dr. Gray said if a parent is looking for a school that has choir, they will be able to find that, to which Schwinn agreed.  Schwinn said “accountability is intended to be a judgment on a school.  But we want to make sure parents see other data as well.”  Schwinn said they WILL TRACK THE INFORMATION PARENTS SEARCH FOR ON SCHOOLS to see if they can let schools or districts know about needs in their area.  Or at least that’s what she said.

Schwinn had to leave to “feed her family” and Reyna took over.  They are resetting assessment targets for the state and each subgroup which must be done by 1/31/16.  At this point, the next slide Reyna presented had embargoed information at a public meeting (just love saying that!).  So I cannot, by threat of force or violence, tell you that the overall state proficiency for SBAC was a little over 51% and for the overall subgroups, it was 38.8% for SBAC.  But here is the real kicker.  Delaware has to pick their choice to hold the state accountable.  With a six year plan, the state must close the proficiency gap between the overall sub-groups (including low-income, students with disabilities, English Language Learners, and minorities) by 50% in six years.  This is what Delaware DOE wants.  Other choices were all schools are 100% proficient by 2019-2020, or “any other method proposed by state that is educationally sound and results in ambitious but achievable Annual Measurable Objectives for all schools and subgroups.”

Pat Heffernan was not a fan of DOE’s choice because of the impact on students with disabilities.  He even made a comment about how they won’t reach this goal either.  It was discussed how ALL students will be included in this state accountability rating.  The infamous “n” number won’t apply (when students are below 15 at a school in a sub-group, they are NOT counted towards the individual school’s accountability) on this state system since ALL students that are in a sub-group will be included in the state’s rating.  But students will not be double-counted.  So for example, an African-American student with disabilities will only count towards one of those sub-groups.  The DOE must increase the 38.8% for the sub-groups to 45% in six years to meet the state rating with the US DOE.

And with that, the meeting ended since they had already run over time for the meeting, and they used a room at the Duncan Center in Dover.

UPDATED, 9/17/15, 9:34pm: Michael Watson from the Delaware DOE spoke with me at the State Board of Education meeting during a break.  He informed me the slide he presented to me at the State Board Retreat was NOT embargoed information, but the name of the upcoming report is.  Since I didn’t remember it, it’s a non-issue but I do appreciate him letting me know.  As for Ryan Reyna, that’s another story.

Read The Survey DOE Sent To Focus School Teachers To Prep Them For DOE Intrusion

The Delaware Department of Education is naming 10 Focus Schools (think Priority Lite) in addition to 4 Focus Schools which will become Focus Plus.  This is in addition to the 7 Priority Schools in Delaware.  And it doesn’t look like the soon-to-be-voted-on by the State Board of Education Regulation 103 will ease this plethora of schools the Delaware DOE wants to punish in the future.

As part of their prep work for the new Focus Schools, the DOE sent a survey for teachers to fill out.  They gave them a lot of time too.  They got it today and it has to be done by Monday.  Yes, I said Monday.  It is all voluntary, but I digress…

To say some of these questions are very intrusive would be an understatement.  The DOE is disturbing me on more levels than ever before.  And that’s just in the past two months.  What they are doing to education is going to have damaging effects on students, teachers, schools, parents, communities, and themselves.  It’s one thing to follow Federal mandate, but to do what they are doing is way beyond what any Federal mandates or even non-regulatory guidance suggest.  It’s like poor schools are the DOE’s lab rats and they keep wanting to change the catalysts to completely destroy them.  It is a sickening thing to report on, and I hate it.  The DOE has no concept of human dignity anymore, and it is shameful.  But what can I expect from a state agency that refers to educators as “Human Capital”.  But someone has to report this stuff so the public knows what is going on behind all the press releases they send out.  “Who watches the watchmen?”

Below is the survey sent to the teachers at these 10 Focus Schools.  Did this come from the mind of Penny Schwinn or Christopher Ruszkowski at the DOE?

* 1. Teachers at my school follow an established curriculum and appropriate pacing.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 2. Teachers at my school routinely differentiate instruction based on data and the needs of students.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 3. Teachers at my school have a strong understanding of the academic content standards that make-up the curriculum.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 4. Teachers at my school are aware of effective instructional strategies to promote student engagement.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 5. My school has a formal process or model for designing lessons.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 6. Teachers at my school utilize various formative assessment strategies.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 7. Student progress at my school is monitored regularly.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 8. Individual teachers and/or teams of teaches set academic goals related to student achievement.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 9. School or district developed benchmark assessments are effectively used at my school.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 10. Teachers at my school review and analyze data together.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 11. Teachers at my school have easy access (electronically or hard copy reports) to student achievement data.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 12. I feel comfortable using data to inform my teaching practices.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 13. There is an effective process to identify academically struggling students at my school.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 14. Our school’s RTI or intervention system is effective.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 15. Teachers new to my school are given an appropriate amount of support.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 16. Our school has a difficult time getting good candidates to apply for openings at our school.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 17. School sponsored professional development activities address my needs.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 18. I receive feedback on my teaching practices at least once per month.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 19. There is a process for teachers at my school to receive assistance and coaching when needed.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 20. Our school has a functional building leadership team.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 21. Teachers are often asked for input on school matters at my school.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 22. My school’s most critical priorities are known by most staff.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 23. Teachers participate in setting school-wide achievement goals each year.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 24. This year my school has implemented effective strategies to engage parents.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 25. I feel comfortable talking with school leaders (administrators or teachers) about instructional practices.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 26. Our school does a good job of utilizing resources (time, money, personnel).

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 27. Established school rules are followed by students at my school.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 28. School leaders at my school monitor student discipline data and implements effective systems to promote positive student behavior.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 29. The teaching-learning process in my classroom is frequently made more difficult because of poor student behavior.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 30. My school has implemented effective strategies to promote student attendance and punctuality to school.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 31. My school has effective resources in place to support students’ social and emotional needs.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 32. Students at my school are expected to achieve and conduct themselves at a high level, and students are recognized for doing so.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 33. Teachers at my school believe students’ backgrounds are major barriers.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 34. Teachers at my school often stay after school or work on weekends.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 35. I am excited about the future of my school.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 36. I believe most of my students are capable of pursuing post-secondary education.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 37. Teachers at my school are committed to supporting new educational initiatives.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree
Prev Done

Redlining The Delaware DOE Inner-City Teacher Bash Round 5,238,964

Hip-Hop Hooray! The Delaware Department of Education got federal kudos for spending millions of dollars on a teacher report that took three years and lots of human capital research work.  What’s next?  Arne Duncan coming to Delaware to visit the same school again and say “Delaware is really awesome, keep up the good work guys.”  In any event, here is the usual mud the DOE likes to sling at teachers in low-income and poverty schools.  Along with my comments…

State educator equity plan earns federal approval, praise

Delaware’s plan to improve equitable access to excellent educators for every child received approval from the U.S. Department of Education, federal officials announced today.

What the hell is equitable access?  Does this mean any teacher of any race, religion, disability level and whatnot can teach in our schools?  Do you morons even know what you write anymore?

The First State’s plan was shaped by six months of public engagement and input from more than 200 parents, educators and other community members.  Delaware’s stakeholders collectively developed seven strategies for greater focus over the next decade: improving school leadership and retaining the best leaders; strengthening educator preparation programs; enhancing educator recruitment and selection; improving induction and mentoring programs; enhancing professional learning; rethinking compensation and career pathways; and considering school climate and working conditions (through the ongoing administration of the TELL Delaware survey).

Oh, was that the TELL Delaware Survey the State Board of Education and the Rodel Foundation wouldn’t run this year because they didn’t like the changes teachers wanted in THEIR OWN SURVEY?  I swear, if Rodel and the State Board collectively had one more brain cell it would be lonely…

“The trends in the data are clear: Low-income and minority students in Delaware are more likely to go to schools with less experienced educators and more likely to have turnover among their teachers,” Secretary of Education Mark Murphy said. “This plan is about ensuring any student in any classroom in any public school in Delaware has the same opportunity as any other student to be taught by a great educator who is supported by a great leader.”

In other words, Murphy said “We are going to threaten and intimidate and bully those schools as much as we can by testing the kids with rigor and grit, label the schools and then punish them.  Who cares about job security!  We got TFA ready to come in. And if they don’t want it, we have Relay right around the corner!”

The U.S. Department of Education asked each state educational agency to submit a new state educator equity plan in accordance with the requirements of Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA).  As required by ESEA in its plan, each state had to, among other things, describe the steps it would take to ensure that “poor and minority children are not taught at higher rates than other children by inexperienced, unqualified, or out-of-field teachers.” Each state needed to analyze what its stakeholders and data had to say about the root causes of inequities and craft its own solutions.

So this means TFA and Relay should not step one foot into those schools!  I know, I know, it’s not all TFA teachers.  And they are nice people, blah blah blah…

Delaware data show clear educator equity gaps:

Based on DOE research which they designed to show clear educator equity gaps!

The state’s high-need schools have significantly higher teacher turnover rates than schools not designated as high-need. Teachers are also much more likely to transfer from high-need schools to non-high-need schools than to transfer in the opposite direction.

See my third red-line paragraph in this idiotic press release!

  • Turnover rates in Delaware schools with the highest proportion of minority students were close to 20 percent compared to 11 percent in the Delaware schools with the lowest proportion of minority students.
  • Oh, like Christina, where they get beat up by the DOE all the time and give them a black eye in the media so they wind up losing referendums cause the DOE are a bunch of thugs?  Yeah, we know your game…
  • 39 percent of Delaware teachers that left high-need schools transferred to a non-high need school; 5 percent of teachers that left a non-high need school in Delaware transferred to a high-need school.
  • Nothing to do with taking a lot of those “high-needs” schools out of partnership zone status?  Way to use your own data to manipulate a submission to the Feds there Delaware DOE!  As well, you changed ALL the low-income numbers, so there may not APPEAR to be as many high-needs schools.  Bravo you David Copperfield wannabies!

Early career teachers are more likely to teach in schools with high proportions of low-income and minority students.

  • 14 percent of teachers in Delaware’s highest poverty schools (top quartile) are early career teachers compared with 10 percent in schools with the lowest proportion of low-income students (bottom quartile).
  • But they tend to be some of the best teachers Delaware has because they deal with stuff, as Governor Markell said, “You and I can’t imagine”.

Low-income and minority children also were less likely to be taught by teachers who received the highest ratings for student growth on their educator evaluations.

Because children in poverty don’t do well on high-stakes testing.  Haven’t you read any graph published on a non-DOE website in the past week?  If not, it’s called my blog and Delaware Liberal.  You might learn something!

  • A quarter of math/English teachers in the highest-poverty schools earned the highest rating, “exceeds,”  based on their students’ growth on state tests. But in the most affluent schools, almost 40 percent of math/English teachers earned “exceeds” ratings based on their students’ growth on the same tests.
  • What is an “affluent” school?  All you are saying is money makes kids do better on tests with that statement.  Seriously, who writes this stuff?  How can you talk about equitable access when you are labeling schools based on income?
  • These ratings are based on growth only, which takes into account the proficiency level at which students started. However, additional analyses also found promising counter-examples to this trend with several high-poverty schools having the majority of teachers earning “exceeds” ratings based on their students’ growth on state tests, demonstrating that teachers and students can and do thrive in such schools.
  • Yeah, when they get “grants” and “donations” from places like the Longwood Foundation, Rodel, and all those other pro-charter school organizations.  When you are talking about these select high-poverty schools, you are talking about charters.  You aren’t fooling anyone here.  And with all that growth, I’m sure you wrote a lot about EastSide Charter School and their last DCAS “growth”, but failed to mention attrition rates there.  Say, how did they do on Smarter Balanced?

Delaware’s Plan to Ensure Equitable Access to Excellent Educators for All Students outlines a course for 2015-2025 by detailing the state’s equity gaps, stakeholder engagement, root cause analysis, potential strategies and solutions, plan for ongoing monitoring of strategies and results, and plan for reporting progress to stakeholders and the public.  Delaware’s stakeholder engagement efforts were heralded by USED.

A ten year plan?  Why doesn’t the Department of Education just change their name to the Rodel Vision Foundation of Education in Delaware?  I guess RVFoEiD would be too complicated?  Did you say “heralded”?  The only time I hear the word “herald” anymore is when I go to midnight mass and hear “Hark The Herald Angels Sing” or the Marvel Comics planet-eater named Galactus gets a new herald, like the Silver Surfer. 

The department now will work on the state initiatives outlined in the plan and provide support to districts and charter schools in their next steps addressing the key areas of the plan, ranging from leadership development programs and examination of mentoring programs to improved recruitment efforts.

In another words, we have zero clue, but we’re going to put it in our plan to the feds and then put it in our press release to make it sound like we know what the hell were doing but really, what does it matter, we still get paid better than teachers!

“This plan will allow us to better analyze the root causes of why instructional inequities may exist around our state. Additionally, it should encourage all stakeholders to have the tough conversations needed regarding these existing inequities and lay out a plan to address them,” said Dr. Dusty Blakey, superintendent of the Colonial School District and a member of the Educator Equity Working Group.  This group, comprised of participants from earlier stakeholder engagement sessions, met to review the final plan prior to submission and will continue to meet quarterly to shepherd implementation.

Wait, isn’t the plan to get better teachers, not to keep examining the same thing.  Dr. Blakey, I’m a tad bit confused here.  Oh yeah, that’s right, it’s a DOE group: data, dive, data, dive, data, dive, action, back to data, dive, data, dive, robust discussion, action, data, dive, data, dive…time for a new plan!

“It’s all about providing every student across Delaware with access to outstanding teachers without regard to where you live,” Blakey said.

But graphs are graphs Dr. Blakey, you can’t ignore them!

Background

The data presented in Delaware’s Plan to Ensure Equitable Access to Excellent Educators for All Students (Educator Equity Plan) builds on almost a decade of dedicated efforts to improve data quality as it pertains to educator effectiveness in Delaware. In 2006, the department submitted an educator equity plan to USED that detailed the steps that the state would take to ensure that students were instructed by a “highly-qualified” teacher (HQT). At that time, roughly one quarter of Delaware schools and more than a third of classes were instructed by teachers who did not meet the federal definition of HQT. Today, the vast majority of educators in core academic subjects meet that definition.  Via Race to the Top (RTTT), an updated statewide plan for building a more complex understanding of the state’s educator effectiveness landscape was charted in 2009-2010 (see Section D of Delaware’s RTTT Plan).

“We spent lots of money thanks to the taxpayers and all those who signed the in your face RTTT memorandums of understanding.  The rest is just our hipster little ways of making us sound smarter (get it, Smarter, Smarter Balanced…)”

In 2012, the department partnered ( and paid tons of money too as well, thanks taxpayers!  All of us at the DOE pray we can get jobs with all these companies we gave money too when the new Governor napalms this building!) with Harvard University’s Strategic Data Project to increase the state’s analytic understanding and capacity relating to issues of educator effectiveness.  This three-year partnership has allowed Delaware to conduct sophisticated analyses relating to equitable access (educator equity).  In April 2013, the state released the Educator Effectiveness Diagnostic after more than a year of data analysis. The diagnostic, which covered topics ranging from educator experience to retention to performance, provided the foundation for the educator equity gap data presented in Delaware’s Educator Equity Plan.

“And then we got the legislators to turn all of this into state law and they passed it!  But we can’t rest on our laurels! The Human Capital Reich must move on! Damn those teachers!” said some surfer looking dude.

Alison May alison.may@doe.k12.de.us (302) 735-4006

Update On Freire Getting Their Own Teacher Evaluation System

I reached out to Alison May at the Delaware Department of Education about Freire getting their own teacher evaluation system and I was informed this will be announced at the September 17th State Board of Education meeting.  Apparently, Freire Charter School of Wilmington jumped the gun a bit in announcing this at their July board meeting.

As May explained to me, if a charter school request this, it is considered a minor modification which means it does not need State Board of Education assent, just Secretary of Education approval.  It first goes through the Teacher/Leader Effectiveness Unit (TLEU) at the DOE, and then to the Secretary.  The TLEU approved it in July, which was announced as an approval at their board meeting, but Secretary Murphy had not approved it at that point.  He has since, and this is what will be announced at the meeting next week.

I am curious though, with all the emphasis the DOE puts on teacher effectiveness, why this would only be considered a minor modification.  Something that big SHOULD have State Board approval as well.  What do you think?  Not that the unelected State Board ever differs from a Secretary suggestion!

Presentation from Penny Schwinn To The State Board of Education, Also Common Core & Great Leaders Presentations

The following were put as attachments on the State Board of Education website for the agenda on yesterday’s meeting.  Schwinn’s presentation says nothing about the bomb she dropped yesterday concerning the DOE considering replacing the SAT with Smarter Balanced, but the audio released Monday or Tuesday will confirm that one!

It Came From The FOIA File! DOE’s TPA Report & How Does Pearson Fit In?

No, this isn’t Office Space.  That was a TPS report.  But it sure does feel like the Delaware Department of Education runs just about the same!  Did you ever wonder how the DOE gets all their wonderful knowledge about teachers?  They get it from other corporate education reform companies like Pearson!  This file is from the infamous FOIA that another individual received early last month.  This may shed some light on some things for teachers in Delaware and why the DOE always seems like they are out to get them.  Remember, Pearson had a hand in this!  Chris Ruszkowski, the director of the Teacher Leader Effectiveness Unit at the DOE, must salivate when he gets reports like this.