SBAC: Test, Label, and Punish

After the President of the Delaware State Board of Education, Dr. Teri Quinn Gray, was quoted in different media sources about House Bill 50 and opt-out,  former blogger and current teacher and President of the Red Clay Educators Association Mike Matthews shot out an email to Dr. Gray and several others in response to Gray’s comments.  With Mike’s permission, I present his email:

  • Gray Teri
  • Johnson Donna R
  • Murphy Mark
  • Markell Jack
  • Sokola David
  • Townsend Bryan
  • Jaques, Jr Earl
  • Williams Kimberly
  • Matthews Sean
  • Kowalko John

Dr. Gray:

Delaware General Assembly May Produce Bill To Ban Charter Enrollment Preferences

“I don’t know how much longer we can talk about the high-performing charter sector if there’s an asterisk next to some of them” because of the preferences, she (Jennifer Nagourney) says.

Jaques says the House Education Committee may consider legislation this spring to remove preferences from the admissions process.”

According to this article from Larry Nagengast on WDDE, the 148th General Assembly may see a bill introduced to get rid of charter school enrollment preferences in Delaware.  Discussion in the article was around the whole charter school environment in Delaware, but this shocker towards the end caused my jaw to drop.

I think it’s great that Jennifer Nagourney with the Charter School Office at the Delaware Department of Education is taking a hard look at the reality of charters in Delaware, specifically Wilmington.  With a pending ACLU complaint being looked at by the US DOE’s Office of Civil Rights, as well as clarification from a leading national charter school organization, the writing is on the wall.

At the last meeting of the Enrollment Preference Task Force, which stemmed out of House Bill 90, Alex Medler with the National Association of Charter School Authorizers told the task force any specific interest enrollment preference should only be used if it would allow needed students into the school, i.e. low-income, minority, special needs, etc.

Finally, Delaware State Rep. Earl Jaques says something that makes sense!  One thing is for sure, this would change the conversation about choice in Delaware.

To read the full article, please go here:

Delaware Schools, Are You Ready To Be Graded A, B, C, D, or F?

In the move we all saw coming, the Delaware Department of Education is moving ahead with their school grade rating system upon approval of the State Board of Education at their March meeting.  A new article released today by WDDE reporter Larry Nagengast went over the specifics of the upcoming School Accountability System.

This is based on the infamous online survey the DOE conducted last Fall that generated 6500 responses.

Asked about what grading system to use, 46 percent favored letter grades; 32.8 percent favored performance ratings like “distinguished,” “meets expectations” or “on probation”; 13 percent preferred the traffic light and rest preferred symbols.

Many people who looked at the survey felt it was obvious which choices would be picked by respondents and argued the DOE did this on purpose to get the results they already wanted.  Many felt it was just another whitewash of the Delaware public by a state department that has been shrouded in controversy for over a year.

Frederika Jenner, president of the Delaware State Education Association, wasn’t impressed with any of the options. She says she would have preferred “none of the above,” and says many people she spoke with share her opinion.

Even DOE employee Penny Schwinn gave comment for the article:

Schwinn says that at least half of the weighting for Part A will be assigned to measurements of student proficiency and growth – how well they are meeting benchmarks set in the Delaware Comprehensive Assessment System (DCAS) tests, which were phased out last year, and in the new Smarter Balanced assessments, which are being used for the first time this school year. Graduation rates, career readiness, how well the school is closing the achievement gap between its regular population and high-need students, and some school climate data will also be factored into the scoring.

It is obvious from this article these “grades” will be utilized to punish schools that “don’t make the grade” so to speak:

Awards or sanctions based on ratings could take effect in the 2016-17 school year, Schwinn says. The awards could be financial or they could be “less paperwork” required by the state, she says. Schools falling into the bottom grouping could be subject to transformation remedies, like those used for “partnership zone” schools under the recent Race to the Top federal grant and currently being implemented for six “priority schools” in the Red Clay and Christina districts.

I would love to see what they do with this system when parents start opting their child out of the state assessments en masse.  What are you going to do then Mrs. Schwinn?  It also doesn’t look like many members of the Delaware General Assembly are to enamored with the ESEA Flexibility Waivers either…

The full WDDE article can be read here:

Delaware Charter School Network’s Kendall Massett says ACLU Complaints are “Myths”


Kendall Massett, the director of the Delaware Charter Schools Network, has a lot to say about the ACLU complaint. A lot more than the DOE. In an article on WDDE, she gave a lot of comments to them about these charter school issues.

Delaware Charter Schools Network executive director Kendall Massett says many of the issues raised in the complaint have been heard before. “These complaints are not new to any state that has a charter school law. These allegations, myths – we actually call them myths – are actually talked about all over the United States,” said Massett.

Are the minority, low-income and special education statistics on the Delaware DOE School Profiles website myths Kendall? Yes, this is talked about all over the United States. Want to know why? Because organizations like yours and the Delaware DOE allow it to happen and ignore it by calling them myths.

Massett adds charters in the First State face plenty of scrutiny and oversight under the state’s law…

But it takes a complaint by the ACLU to the OCR for these types of issues to be addressed…

…and there are examples of charters that serve large minority, low income and special needs student populations and are succeeding – including EastSide Charter in Wilmington and Positive Outcomes in Camden. Massett says Delaware has a number of charter schools, including Wilmington’s EastSide Charter School and Kuumba Academy Charter Schools, and ASPIRA Academy Charter School in Newark that enroll a majority of African American and Hispanic students, and low-income students, and these schools are doing well or have seen improving test scores.

Aren’t you kind of throwing a grenade on defending these schools against this complaint with these comments Kendall? If this does go to trial, I’m sure the ACLU attorneys would love to get you on the stand!

She also pointed to Positive Outcomes Charter School in Camden which serves at-risk children with physical, mental, and emotional challenges and is meeting state standards, based on their Academic Framework.

You still can’t say the words special education, can you Kendall? I know I was banned from your Twitter account for saying this exact same thing last summer. Too bad you can’t ban me on my own blog! How is that other special needs charter school in Delaware doing? The one you didn’t mention in the article? The one your organization has stabbed in the back by not standing up for them against the DOE? It’s called Gateway Lab School.

Massett says its simply untrue parental involvement issues or fees and costs are a barrier to a student attending a charter. “Our schools are not allowed by law to prohibit any child [from attending] based on an inability to fundraise or pay for a uniform – just like any public school,” said Massett.

Just because a school is not allowed by law to do something means they are following the law. Otherwise you wouldn’t be commenting on allegations that these schools are breaking the law. Interesting how you never brought up the actual applications these charter schools have.

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