Tag Archives: DE DOE

The Accountability Framework Working Group Submitted Their Final Recommendations but the Group Has Been Called Back to Meet for One Last Time

The Accountability Framework Working Group will be meeting on November 17th – 10:00 – Townsend Building – Cabinet Room in Dover. The group submitted their final recommendations at the last meeting which was to be their final meeting. It is my understanding that certain folks are not good with their recommendations and they are going to try to convince the group to change their recommendations. It is my understanding there are issues with the recommendations surrounding the participation rate penalties. I am hopeful the group will stick to their final recommendations and not be swayed.

The group is going to be informed that  the 11th graders will no longer be required to take the Smarter Balanced test, instead the state will be replacing Smarter with the SAT. The SAT is given to all 11th graders throughout the state so no high school will drop below the 95% participation rate.

My issue is what about the other grades, what if participation drops below 95%, then what? How can you hold schools accountable for something they have no control over? If a parent wants to opt out their child, they have every right to and the school cannot do anything about it.

If the state does replace Smarter Balanced with SAT, I am glad that the 11th graders will have one less test to take. I guess before replacing one test with another, maybe some questions should be answered. What baseline are we going to use – what score will determine if a child receives a 1, 2, 3 or 4 or will the student have to score 1550 or more (college readiness score) to determine whether or not the child is proficient or not? How will the state measure growth if we are using the SAT as our state assessment for 11th graders? How will this test tie into evaluating our teachers and labeling our schools?

I am going to be honest here. I am going to be extremely disappointed if the new Secretary asks the Accountability Framework Working Group to change their recommendations. I know the Governor would like to see the recommendations changed as well as the State Board. I am hoping this is not the case, I will be attending the meeting on Tuesday and will report back on the meeting.

Why does the state continue to insist on punishing schools?

I have to say that I am very disappointed that the state may not take the recommendations of the Accountability Framework Working Group who met for over a year and a half. Instead, they are doing exactly what Donna Johnson with the State Board and the Governor’s Office wanted which was stronger penalties for schools who fell below the 95% Smarter Balanced state assessment participation rate.

I was at the last two meetings of the AFWG and I heard first hand what the Governor’s Office wanted; stronger penalties to be placed on our schools. Donna Johnson stated that the State Board was probably not going to approve the final recommendations that the group made. She indicated that the State Board would want stronger penalties as well. Really, how did the State Board come to that conclusion because they were not at the meetings. How would Donna know that they would not agree with these recommendations because the group just decided on the recommendations?

The AFWG recommended that if a school fell below 95 percent it would be required to submit a report explaining why that happened and how to improve participation and that school could not be named a reward school. The group decided on this penalty because it would cause the least amount of damage to a school. The group would have preferred not to put any penalties in place, but the state told the group it was mandated by the feds.

The group members consisted of school administrators from charter and traditional schools, the Delaware PTA , the Delaware State Education Association, and the State Board. The entire group, except for one, did not want to punish schools because the administrators at a school have no control as to whether or not a student takes the state assessment. If a parent wishes to opt their child out of the state assessment, a school has no control over that, so why does the state want to punish that school for something a school has no control over?

In an effort to ensure as many students as possible are taking the state standardized test, the state Department of Education is recommending schools lose points on a new “scorecard” if fewer students than expected take the exam.

That’s a harsher penalty for schools with low participation rates than a panel of administrators and teacher and parent advocates recommended.

Their plan, which the Working Group had previously rejected, would multiply a school’s score by its participation rate if that rate fell below 95 percent.

“The state feels this is a fair proposal that takes into consideration participation, crediting schools that work to ensure every child’s learning growth is considered,” May wrote.

Click here to read the entire Delaware Online article.

The Lack of Transportation for Choice Students Limits Many of Our Students From Actually Applying for School Choice, Agree?

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The lack of transportation for students does stop families from applying to schools through our state’s school choice program. School choice was suppose to give ALL families more choices and opportunities to attend schools in our state outside of their feeder school. With the way the system is setup only certain families can take advantage of choice. If Delaware is going to write laws to give all families more choice opportunities, then Delaware should provide transportation so all families can take advantage of school choice.

Has Anyone Heard of a Fitness Gram?

My kids all through elementary, middle and high school did something called a Fitness Gram. I believe it was through a grant. The state required this to be done. A report was supposed to be issued to the parents about their child’s fitness, the state was to provide the report. We only received one report from the state, that was it, after all the years of assessing one report.

The state added another assessment and teachers and kids did their part but the state never followed up with a continuous report. In my opinion, it was a waste of the students and teachers time. The teacher was required to test each child individually, on multiple items, which meant all elementary students sat there and had to watch which meant no PE for a few days. In elementary school, most elementary students only receive PE once a week, so how is sitting on the floor watching kids being assessed and not exercising helping anyone? PE teachers had to input all this data. One PE teacher in an elementary school with 600 kids, testing every student individually and then inputting all the data plus all their other responsibilities; I say just another useless assessment put upon our students and teachers.

Why Must Schools Choose Between Larger Class Sizes or Unified Arts Programs?

I believe every school in our state should have technology, pe, art, music, library and talented and gifted programs. I know it costs lots of money. Our class sizes should not have to suffer because of these programs. Schools should not have to choose between class size and the arts. These programs are just as important as reading, math, social studies and science.

My daughter participated in Youth in Government, she wrote a bill called the Mandatory Unified Arts. I am proud to say, she won best Senate Bill that year. Just a shout out to Melissa Tracy at Conrad for running a fabulous program and Beth Blohm for chaperoning every year.

Thoughts? Do you agree or disagree with me? Very interested to hear what folks have to say.

Would you support replacing Smarter Balanced with NWEA?

If we must have a state assessment, I would support NWEA over Smarter Balanced. Both of my children have taken NWEA.  NWEA provides teachers with immediate feedback on each student which is a valuable tool. Districts can use NWEA data to make instructional decisions. Parents receive information that they can understand and they receive their child’s scores during the school year; not after the school year is over. It is aligned with the standards. It is a growth model. NWEA is a non-profit organization.  To learn more about NWEA, click here.

 

School Choice is not an Option for Some Kids Because of Enrollment Preferences

Students typically attend their assigned feeder school unless a parent choices their child into another school. School choice is an option that many families in New Castle County use. A member of the community had concerns about the preferences being used by First State Montessori School. This school is located in the city of Wilmington and one of the preferences is a 5 mile radius. The issue with this preference, it is last on the preferences being used which means children who live within the 5 mile radius may not get into this school before other children who may live outside the 5 mile radius. In the Montessori charter application it states: “To achieve a vibrantly diverse and active community of staff, students, families, and friends of the school.” Why is the five mile radius preference last if this is their goal?

Below are First State Montessori Academy admission preferences.

  1. Children of FSMA founders (up to 5% of the school’s population)
  2. Children of staff employed 20 hours or more a week by FSMA
  3. Siblings of children currently enrolled at FMSA this school year (2014-2015)
  4. Applicants who have demonstrated an interest in the Montessori teaching philosophy
  5. Children whose primary residence is within a 5-mile radius of FSMA on the date of the lottery.

Preference #4 could be a roadblock for families living in the city who would like to send their children to this school but cannot because their child did not previously attend a Montessori school or a Montessori camp. Private Montessori schools charge tuition and how many private Montessori schools are currently located in the city? Other options for showing an interest at this school: the family could participate in a teleconference with FSMA administrators or board member and discuss the educational philosophy, attend a session, tour or educational program sponsored by FMSA or submit a 100 word essay on FSMA’s teaching philosophy. Again, these are ways for a school to pick the students who seem to have a better fit and to deny access to others.

For more information about FSMA, click here.

Why was Delaware Met approved to open in the first place?

When a building is scheduled to open, there is a punch list of items that need to be completed before the building is issued the Certificate of Occupancy, this is for the safety of the occupants of the newly, constructed building. Why is this not the same when it comes to approving charter schools here in Delaware? Our children will become the occupants of the newly, constructed charter and we as a state should be making sure all that was promised in the original charter application is in place before the doors even open.

Delaware Met originally submitted their charter application December 2012 . Delaware Met was scheduled to open their doors for the 2014-2015 school year. They requested a charter modification for a year delay which was granted April 2014 and they were placed on formal review. Delaware Met opened their doors in August 2015.  Delaware Met has only been opened since August 2015, they were placed on formal review for a second time and DOE issued a punch list of items that have not been completed, see below document.

SJR #2 – Directing the DOE to Study Student Assessment Testing – Update

Appointments from the House and Senate were completed in August and September.

View the entire bill, click here – SJR #2.

The amount of testing required of our students and educators has grown significantly in recent years. While the General Assembly recognizes the need to administer assessments that provide valid and reliable data about how Delaware’s students are growing academically, it is also committed to maximizing time in the classroom for our educators to teach, and our students to learn.

The Department of Education is already coordinating an inventory of all assessments required at the state, district, and school level. This Joint Resolution requires the Department of Education to report the inventory results, and any assessments that districts or the state propose to eliminate, to the public and to the House and Senate Education Committees of the General Assembly. It also requires the Department to convene a group, consisting of members of the General Assembly and the public, to conduct an in-depth review of the inventory results and make recommendations for consolidation or elimination of assessments.

Membership Information 

Membership: Appointing Authority:
Three House Members of the House Education Committee (two members of the majority party and one member of the minority party) Speaker of the House
Three Senate Members of the Senate Education Committee (two members of the majority party and one member of the minority party) President Pro Tempore
President of the Delaware State Education Assoc. or designee
President of the Chief School Officer’s Assoc. or designee
A rep. of the civil rights’ community Governor
A parent Governor

Appointee Information 

Appointee: Appointed by: Appointment Date:
Rep. Earl Jaques Speaker of House 08/21/2015
Rep. Sean Matthews Speaker of House 08/21/2015
Rep. Timothy Dukes Speaker of House 08/21/2015
Sen. David Sokola President Pro Tempore 09/15/2015
Sen. Nicole Poore President Pro Tempore 09/15/2015
Sen. Ernesto Lopez President Pro Tempore 09/15/2015