Daily Archives: February 10, 2013

More DE DOE errors in handing Pencader’s distress! #netDE #edude

I would appreciate those commenting please refrain from making personal attacks towards each other. The intent of this post is not to be negative towards Pencader but to highlight errors on the Delaware Department of Education in procedures  associated with Pencader’s formal review. As for you Pencader folks, though there are errors on you part I want to point out errors on DE DOE’s part and how it relates to DE DOE being a disservice to Pencader.

I personal feel a DE DOE FRT should have been ordered for Pencader due to concerns of possible financial stress definded

Delaware Code Title 14, Chapter 18, Subchapter I, Subsection 1802 which declare a public school or charter being in financial destressed based on one of the following provisions. In this case (1)(c)  

§ 1802. Financial Recovery Team.

Upon the recommendation of the Secretary of Education (“Secretary”) that a school district or charter school is in financial distress as provided in paragraph (1) of this section, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (“Director”), with the consent of the Controller General, may appoint a Financial Recovery Team (“Team”), and the Department of Education is hereby authorized to secure technical assistance and other resources as necessary to ensure the effective operations of the Team.

(1) For the purposes of this section a local school district or charter school shall be considered in financial distress when 1 or more of the following criteria are met:

Notice “shall” re: 1 or more.

a. The district financial position report required to be submitted on May 1, pursuant to § 1507(a) of this title, projects less than 1 month’s carryover; or

b. It is projected at any time during the course of the fiscal year that local payroll expenses will exceed projected local revenues; or

c. The charter school has been placed on formal review based, at least in part, on concerns regarding the charter school’s finances; or

d. Whenever a school district or charter school projects that it cannot fund 1 or more scheduled payroll disbursements.

(2) During any period of time when it is determined that a school district or charter school is in financial distress, the Financial Recovery Team shall be empowered to exercise, subject to the approval of the Secretary, control over the expenditure of funds appropriated to a school district or charter school as deemed necessary by the members of the Team. Control shall include, without limiting the foregoing, the right to approve the school district’s or charter school’s annual budget and any subsequent material amendment thereto, the right to approve district tax rates, the right to request drawdown of state financial assistance if applicable, the right to approve financial reporting to the local board of education or charter school board, the right to approve accounting policies, procedures and reports, the right to require a Financial Responsibility Committee be established by the local school board or charter school comprised of 1 or more members of the said board and/or residents of the district or, in the case of a charter school, parents of students attending the school. The Committee shall examine and report on the financial status of the district or charter school and shall have the right to pre-approve any obligation or contract that would require the expenditure of funds by the school district or charter school. Notwithstanding any provision of either this Code or any applicable rule or regulation to the contrary, the authority extended under this section shall apply to the expenditure of all funds received by a school district or charter school.

(3) The Financial Recovery Team shall report at least monthly to the Governor, the General Assembly, Director and the Controller General regarding the district’s or charter school’s current and projected financial position.

(4) The district or charter school shall reimburse the State for all salary and related costs of the Financial Recovery Team.

(5) Upon the recommendation of the Secretary that a school district or charter school is no longer in financial distress as defined in this section, the Director, with the consent of the Controller General, may elect to remove the members of the Financial Recovery Team.

The following has been taken from DE DOE Pencader’s Final Report Charter School Accountability Committee Report dated January 11, 2013 See my comments following the attached:

Criterion 8: Economic Viability
This criterion was deemed as “met” during the Preliminary Meeting; however, considering a new curriculum and organizational structure, the Committee had concerns about how these changes affect the school’s budget.

The Committee noted the following.
 The school’s response did not describe how the new curriculum, organizational
structure, the AVID program (Advancement Via Individual Determination), and summer programs will impact the budget.
 Litigation concerning special education issues is being settled and Pencader may need funds for additional services to students; however, the school could use existing teachers instead of out-sourcing these services.
 The Board ought to have provided a new budget; have been more proactive; and made certain to communicate any new data.
 There is not a clear plan for student recruitment. Considering recent events, Pencader needs a very clear process to recruit students and thus increase revenue to the school. 

The Committee concluded that Criterion Eight is met with a condition. In the event that the charter is not revoked, Pencader shall provide a revised budget to clearly delineate how the school will remain financially viable based on existing costs, projected additional costs, any changes to the staffing structure, as well as a realistic appraisal of student recruitment efforts to increase student enrollment.

Though DE DOE notates, “The Committee concluded that Criterion Eight is met  with “Condition” those conditions compounded by DE DOE comments in the first paragraph, “This criterion was deemed as “met” during the Preliminary Meeting; however, considering a new curriculum and organizational structure, the Committee had concerns about how these changes affect the school’s budget”, does raise “concern” cited in Title 14, Chapter 18, Subchapter I, Subsection 1802, (1)(c) “The Charter School has been placed on formal review based, at least in part, on concerns regarding the charter school’s finances”. Furthermore, supporting this “concern” the DE DOE Charter School Accountability Committee notate financial concerns in their initial notification to Pencader of being put on “formal Review” dated September 25 ,2012. In my opinion DE DOE did cite a reasonable amount of “concern” that it warranted the trigger to call in a DE DOE Financial Recovery Team.

Stay with me folks! Pencader Board President Frank McIntosh actually served and the chair for Christina School District’s Financial Review Committee in association when Christina went into financial recovery where DE DOE did assigned an FRT. And yes Franl McIntosh serve Christina quite well!  

Remember folks my mission is driven by transparency and damn right I am pissed because I feel Pencader has been dragging ass in getting all the $$$$ cards on the table. I am hear to say “if” DE DOE assigned an FRT as required by law the FRT could have actually helped Pencader as it did Christina School District. DE DOE did provide “loans” to Christina as the FRT with Frank McIntosh’s help put Christina back on solid financial footing. And yes that was a compliment to Frank McIntosh.

Part of the Delaware Department of Education’s mission is to provide “technical assistance” to all Delaware public schools. DE DOE is also required to adhere to the laws governing Delaware’s public schools. DE DOE Charter Accountability Review Committee opened ended decision to suggest Criterion 8 was met was more about not putting DE DOE in a position to be required to call in the FRT whereas they would be boxed in a corner to offer Pencader financial assistance via a “loan” as they did Christina School District and Red Clay School District fell into financial distress on a much more serious note than Pencader. However, the fact remains and is supported by DE DOE own reports there is “concerns” with Pencader state of finances.

I am very disappointed that representatives from the Charter Schools Network of Delaware and Pencader’s lawyer didn’t see the gray area that has great “merit” in the defense of Pencader charter school. Traditional school districts ae too big to fail which is why DE DOE will $$ bail them out. But do make note, the law did include charter schools in those provisions. Also, the “F” in FRT is for “Financial” and the “R” is for “Recovery”. It is quite obvious the intent of the law and the FRT is to assist distressed public and charter schools to get them back on their financial feet. Here is another case of the imbalance between charter schools and traditional public schools that cuts into “assistance”. Sure let charter schools fail so say! However, the law is defined charging DE DOE the same responsibilities toward charter schools and traditional schools. Hold charter schools under water by their head and pull traditional public schools out of the water by their heads doesn’t seem equal. Remember I do support charter schools as a choice parents and students demand but I demand the same transparency for charters and traditional public schools.

Personally, with the other conditions not met by Pencader I think my concern is moot! Pencader is a bit of a mess but let’s take a look at DE DOE the state agency that is charged with providing technical assistance. Sure let’s hold Pencader accountable but why not do the same with DE DOE? 

Again, this post in no way is meant to downgrade Pencader and is more representative of highlighting real fractures in the way Delaware public schools are governor and the lack of capacity on many parties especially DE DOE’s charter school office.

To Pencader parents, I am sorry I can’t go to battle with you like I did last time. I just wish the Pencader board was more forthcoming with financial data such an board approved financial budget, an in-depth financial positioning report and the required IRS 990 forms. Your voices may not carry any weight unless the board produces evidences they met the condition set by the DE DOE review committee.

Folks please not personal attacks on each other because they will be deleted.             

Smarter Balanced Assessment,”Item difficulty based on student responses” WHAT ? #netDE #edude

Smarter Balanced Assessment, Summative and Interim Use of  Computer Adaptive Technology see page page 9 ” Item difficulty based on student responses”

I get it, as the student takes the test and is able to answer the question they’ll be challenged re: difficulty of questions. Somewhere built-in is the break-point re: meeting the standards. So the standardize test isn’t like test of yesterday where all student are handed the same grade appropriate test with same questions for all to answer. So now we have true “assessment’ test that measure what a student knows along with the growth model via multiple yearly testing. Now we get into how the student “assessment” tests is used to measure the teacher’s effectiveness.

In Delaware’s case. DCAS is the assessment test used and it did not start-off aligned to the state adopted Common Core Standards. Therefore, there is a good argument that DCAS data from year to year is not apples to apples. Starting next year Delaware is shifting into gear to use the Smarter Balanced Assessment that is aligned to the Common Core Standard but has a cut-score defined be the consortium of states who adopted the Common Core Standards and it’s sister the Smarter Balanced Assessment. Not the individual states because if that were the case the assessment test who be severely skewed and would have no validity in contrast to measurements against other states. Also, if Delaware is not allowed to apply state level cut-scores there is a possibility of a short-term downward trend in student achievement data and a distortion in the means to use data to hold teachers accountable. In my opinion, I feel we need five full years of Smarter Balanced Assessment results to consider using data results to hold teachers accountable. Let’s call it the Obama Factor. It has been four complete years Obama has been president but yet all the problems are still being blamed in George Bush. And the same could be said about Markell vs Minner. So what I am saying is, we need to be going is the right direction with stable reliable data before we can turn the screws on teachers. We also must find a way to correctly weigh the impact of disengaged parents and students moving to the next grade level not proficient at previous grade level. Social promotion needs to end or be readdressed. 

The world is evolving into this so-called competitive global economy where at no fault of teachers who didn’t set standards and curriculum and who where wired to produce a post World War II blue-collar workforce are being held accountable. If structurally we need to change our education system let’s do it and realistic. Parental engagement is and always will be the key factor of the academic success of their children and must be a serious part of reform.

The teacher survey TELL is CRAP and an acknowledgement that egotistic education managers do retaliate against teachers teacher and administrators who dare question the system structurally. Something is seriously wrong when we formulate teacher surveys in a way to protect teachers from repercussions for being honest and concern.