Below is the letter that was sent to Senator Alexander, Chairman of the US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. I thought it was interesting to see a few Delaware State Senators signed onto the letter.
The next Secretary of Education has been named and again it is not an educator. Why does our Presidents and state leaders think it is ok to appoint someone as Secretary of Education who has never taught? Our Surgeon General is a doctor, the US Attorney General is a lawyer – so why is the Secretary of Education, one of the most important jobs, not required to be an educator? Every four or eight years a new federal education plan is introduced and the students are the experiment. We have no stability when it comes to our educational system here in the US. Things will never change when we keep appointing the wrong people. Things will never change when we have billionaires who do not normally send their children to public schools and who are making decisions about how to best serve our kids.
Click here to read Betsy DeVos Bio.
The federal government is proposing a change to a Title 1 regulation – Supplement-not-Supplant under Title 1 of the Every Student Succeeds Act. Click on the link to read more about the proposed regulation. Below is one part of the regulation that is concerning people:
- A formula that allocates resources including staff positions and non-personnel resources directly to schools, and that ensures each Title I school gets all of the funding it is entitled to, as measured by the sum of (1) the number of personnel in the school multiplied by the district’s average salaries for each staff category, and (2) the number of students in the school multiplied by the district’s average per-pupil expenditures for non-personnel resources.
In other words, districts could be forced to move staff from one building to another because of salary levels in buildings.
If you are interested in sending a comment to US DOE, click here. The comment period closes on November 7, 2016 at 11:59 pm.
CCSSO Executive Director Chris Minnich said, “It’s clear that the Department has listened and tried to incorporate feedback in this proposed rule. However, we are disappointed with the language we have seen in the proposed regulation. Schools would be forced to move resources around at the last minute each year to try to meet a federal mandate, rather than doing what is in the best interest of students. The Every Student Succeeds Act gives states more flexibility so we can create opportunities for all kids, and this proposed rule is not consistent with the law. Unfortunately, in the Department’s effort to ensure resources go to the students who need it the most, they have created a situation where the reverse is likely to occur in many places. We look forward to helping get this right before the rule becomes final.”
The first Governor’s ESSA Advisory Committee met last night. The first draft will be released to the committee in October and the second draft will be released in December. The final submission is due to US DOE in March 2017. Delaware has chosen to submit their plan in the first round which is in March, Delaware could have selected a July date but decided against it. Delaware selected the March date for a number of reasons – one being there is a 120 day window from when states submit their plan and US DOE responds back. Delaware thought it would be better to submit early so they could make any corrections or updates before the beginning of the next school year 2017-2018. If we waited until July to submit the plan, the response from US DOE would not be until November, the school year has already begun. The incoming president could delay the implementation of the states’ plan.
One interesting note: The advisory group will not be voting on the plan – just advising.
I was on the State Board of Education website today and found the State Board of Education Procedures Manual. On page 8 of this manual, it goes over how the State Board will be evaluated. They have no evaluation process, they apparently monitor themselves.
Evaluation The Board will monitor its own process and performance to ensure continuity of Board improvements, integrity of Board actions and progress toward Board goals. The Board will be accountable to the public for competent, conscientious, and effective accomplishment of its obligations as a Board. The Board may seek the input from others regarding the effectiveness or impact of Board initiatives as part of the evaluation process, and may utilize the services of an independent consultant in doing so.
I am a parent of two DE public school children, I am a former DE PTA president, a former Red Clay school board member, I am currently a DE State Representative and Vice Chair of the House Education Committee. I found this article to be quite interesting. The writers of this piece truly do not understand what is going on here in Delaware regarding the current state assessment and the ignored and meaningless data that is produced from it.
The Washington Post article states that opting out “undermines the collection of the needed data.” I find that sentence just fascinating! I wonder if the authors of this piece understand that the needed data comes after the student has moved on to the next grade level. The needed data arrived in the mail addressed to the parent after their child moved on to the next grade or moved up to another school. If the parent had questions about the needed data, who should the parent talk to -the student’s new teacher who just started teaching the student or last year’s teacher who is teaching new students? Do the writers understand that this test which produces the needed data does not measure growth?
In the article Governor Markell states, “Assessments are an important tool for teachers and families to have.” I would agree, if these assessments were a useful tool. If the assessment gave meaningful data to a teacher immediately on individually students, I would agree. My question to the writers, how is this a useful tool if the test comes seven months later, after the student has been promoted to the next grade? What are we learning from this needed data? Is the state developing educational programs from this needed data or are we just going to continue to label schools with this needed data? Are we going to continue to tell communities that your school is failing with this needed data? Are we going to tell these communities that we are going to continue to collect the needed data for another 20 years ignoring what we already know that we do not properly fund what the needed data has been telling us for years -that there is no funding for ELL students, we do not fund Basic Special Education Kindergarten through 3rd grade, and that we have been ignoring poverty since the needed data has been collected? So why would anyone continue to support this state assessment when the needed data has been screaming at us for years what our state needs? These are the questions these folks from The Washington Post should have asked the Governor instead of telling Delaware parents it is not ok to opt out!
Is this a great move or not, I really do not know because there has been no discussion and I have many questions that have not been answered. We do not know the unintended consequences that will come from this announcement. While I support removing all testing from a junior’s plate, I am not sure I am comfortable using SAT as a way to measure student success, teacher success, a school success or a district’s success. How will we measure growth? Also, who is going to continue to pay for this when the State of Delaware decides they can no longer afford to pay for this. This initiative was originally funded through the Race to the Top grant.
Last year, the Governor announced that Delaware colleges agreed to use the Smarter Balance Assessment as a way to measure college readiness as Delaware students entered college. Students would be able to opt out of remedial courses if they were to score at a certain level on the Smarter Balanced Assessment, what happened to that great idea?
I feel like we just keep jumping from one idea to another, never really looking into the pros and the cons. This is not the best way to run government.
This, in my opinion, is just another way for the Governor to stop House Bill 50, the bill he vetoed, from being overridden.
Below is the press release from the Governor’s Office.
The SAT will replace the Smarter Assessment as the state test for high school juniors beginning this spring.
The change comes at the request of legislators and as the state continues to look for ways to reduce testing, particularly for 11th graders who already were taking both exams as part of Delaware’s state-funded School Day SAT program.
The College Board, the nonprofit that administers the college entrance exam, is launching a redesigned SAT this spring that is aligned to the Common Core State Standards, the academic expectations for what Delaware students should know and be able to do at the completion of each grade level. The changes to the SAT also include a move away from obscure “SAT vocabulary words” to the use of relevant vocabulary words in context, an in-depth focus on essential areas of math and the elimination of the guessing penalty.
“Our students deserve an exam that helps them gauge their college and career readiness, and our teachers deserve an exam that provides them with the information they need to guide their instruction. This is one example of how we are reducing the testing burden on our students and teachers,” Secretary of Education Steven Godowsky said. “This is a smart solution that ensures our educators, students and families get the information they need while mitigating the over-testing concern many share.
The state will continue to administer the Smarter Assessment in grades 3 to 8.
Delaware has been administering a school-day SAT to all public school juniors at no cost to students since 2011. Godowsky said making the transition to use the SAT as the accountability test this year is based on the feedback of elected leaders, educators and families. Last week, 10 legislators sent a letter to Gov. Jack Markell asking to replace the 11th grade Smarter exam with the SAT.
“Our community was clear that this was in the best interest of our high school juniors and the sooner we could make the switch the better,” Godowsky said. “This decision is in response to that feedback.”
Gov. Jack Markell, who launched a statewide assessment inventory process last spring, said, “We believe that the concerns about the testing burden on our juniors are well founded. We also agree that this move is a smart, commonsense way to reduce the testing burden significantly without sacrificing our ability to understand whether we are serving our students well and whether they are making the progress they need to be successful. I have asked Secretary Godowsky to immediately designate the SAT as our 11th grade assessment and take all necessary steps to implement the change so that, beginning this year, juniors will no longer take Smarter Balanced. The department will seek federal approval for this change in our state assessment as quickly as possible and otherwise ensure that the transition goes smoothly in schools across the state.”
Under Delaware’s former state test, the Delaware Comprehensive Assessment System (DCAS), 9th and 10th graders were tested. When the state moved to Smarter in Spring 2015, 11th grade became the singular testing year for high school. But many said that proved overwhelming for juniors, who also take Advanced Placement exams, the SAT, SAT subject tests, the ACT and other tests during their 11th grade year.
New Castle County Vo-Tech Superintendent Vicki Gehrt, president of the Delaware Chief School Officers Association, said superintendents in the state are in support of substituting the SAT in lieu of the Smarter Assessment as the required assessment for high school students. This shift both gives teachers more time to provide necessary instruction and eases the load on our high school students with respect to the annual assessments they already must take.
State Board of Education President Dr. Teri Quinn Gray said students and families value the SAT.
“The redesigned SAT provides important information students, parents and educators want and need to understand students’ college, career and civic readiness. For that reason, it is already valued by parents and students. In addition, by using this test as the high school assessment for English language arts and math, we will reduce the amount of required testing and costs to the state,” Gray said.
Last spring, the General Assembly passed and Governor Markell signed into law Senate Joint Resolution 2, requiring an inventory and review of all assessments currently administered at the state, district and school level “with the goal of decreasing the testing burden on students and teachers and increasing time available for teaching.”
This work continues. Districts and charter schools, which were eligible for supporting state grants, submitted their assessment inventories, recommendations, and impact information to the state at the end of December. The department has convened an assessment inventory committee with representatives from the House and Senate education committees, Delaware State Education Association, state superintendents, civil rights community and parents to make recommendations. The state’s final report must be published by June 2016.
Sen. David Sokola, chair of the Senate Education Committee, and Rep. Earl Jaques, chair of the House Education Committee, lauded today’s announcement.
“This is the kind of change legislators were seeking when we approved SJR 2 to create a task force to fully review our student testing,” Sokola said. “This is a good first step toward removing burdens on our students and increasing instruction time for teachers, while also providing them with the important metrics needed to gauge student progress.”
Jaques agreed, “This decision eliminates duplicative testing and reduces over-testing while helping to ease student stress and parental concerns.”
The department has posted information and will continue updating its website with information, including resources for districts/charters and the public, regularly. Educators or families with questions may email email@example.com or call (302) 857-3391.
As students prepare for the spring SAT, they also have some extra help this year. A partnership with Khan Academy and the College Board offerspersonalized SAT preparation based on students’ PSAT results. Delaware also provides the PSAT free to all public school 10th graders.
NCSL (National Conference of State Legislatures) sent a summary of the Every Student Succeeds Act and I thought I would share it with all of you. It breaks down the ESSA highlighting important parts of the legislation.
The House of Representatives passed a compromise bill – the Every Student Succeeds Act – by a bipartisan vote of 359-64. The Senate will vote on this next week and they will most likely pass this bill. This has been a long time coming. No Child Left Behind left us with labeling our schools, over testing our students, setting goals of obtaining 100% proficiency by certain dates and evaluating our teachers using test scores. No Child Left Behind did the opposite of what was the original intent of the bill; NCLB left many students behind. While teachers were teaching to an unrealistic test, teachers could not focus on the individual child, they lost control of their classrooms and the feds and the state dictated what teachers needed to do in order to be successful in their classrooms instead of letting teachers do what they already knew, how to teach our students!
I am happy that this bill has passed the House and we will have more local control, my question is how will our state use their new control? We already know what is needed here in Delaware and what is lacking in our classrooms; additional resources to address poverty, more resources in special education, especially kindergarten through 3rd grades, and funding for our ELL students. We know how important it is for our children to be able to read proficiency by third grade. We know how important it is for our children to have excellent early learning opportunities. I am hopeful our state will provide these things.
I read the Delaware Online article this morning about “Rare consensus in Delaware over federal education reform,” click here to read. In the article the Governor’s Office provided a statement. In the statement it states the following:
“The Every Student Succeeds Act preserves some of the most important elements of our existing system, including annual testing requirements in 3rd-8th grade and in high school, which ensure that every student counts,” the statement said. “We would have liked to see stronger requirements for timely intervention in schools where students are struggling, but overall, the Every Student Succeeds Act is an important step forward that will give states more flexibility to meet their students’ needs.”
The last sentence where the Governor’s Office noted they would have liked to have seen stronger requirements for timely intervention in schools where students are struggling. Honesty, we do not need the Feds placing requirements on us. We, as a state, can provide timely intervention by providing the necessary resources that we need -ELL funding, Basic Special Education funding for our students kindergarten through 3rd grades where the students need to be developing their reading skills to become proficient readers and finally addressing our students of poverty. This is what needs to be done. I will be listening closely to the Governor’s State of the State and I am hopeful these very important funding items will be mentioned and funded in the Governor’s proposed budget.
I am hopeful Delaware will take this opportunity to do what is needed and has been needed for many years provide the necessary resources needed to make sure all our students are successful.