Daily Archives: April 3, 2014

Why did the Delaware State Legislators surrender powers to Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy ?

Teachers seek evaluations moratorium Matthew Albright, The News Journal

Secretary of Education Mark Murphy said in a statement it would be unwise to halt the evaluations.

“While we are seeing positive results in the classroom and teachers are receiving more feedback, we are committed to continuing to work with our educators to improve,” Murphy said. “However, placing a hold on the use of student growth would move us backward and would deny everyone in our system the feedback that will help them ensure our students graduate ready to succeed in college or career.”

Murphy said the Department of Education has taken steps to improve the evaluations after listening to “hundreds of educators.” He also pointed out that the state has provided multiple ways to measure student growth and offered “hundreds of training and support opportunities to school leaders.”

State officials are already planning on removing the Smarter Balanced Assessment, the complex new state-wide test that starts next year, from teacher evaluations for the next school year.

When did the Delaware State Legislators amend to law to allow The Smarter Balanced Assessment to replace DCAS a three times a year assessment test?

§ 151 State assessment system; rules and regulations.

(b) Beginning with the 2010-2011 school year, the Department shall begin to administer both accountability and growth assessments of student achievement for students in grades 3 through 8, provided that additional grades may be added by the Department. One assessment shall occur within 30 school days of the beginning of the academic year, the second assessment shall occur at a time established by the Department which will allow its results to guide education of students within the current school year. In addition, the Department shall administer end of course assessments in appropriate high school grades.

The law specifies “the Department shall”. 151 (b) clearly indicates “One assessment shall occur within 30 school days of the beginning of the academic year, the second assessment shall occur at a time established by the Department which will allow its results to guide education of students within the current school year. In addition, the Department shall administer end of course assessments in appropriate high school grades.” Which means three times a year. The Smarter Balanced is a once a year standardized assessment test not a growth model based test as “intended” by the intent of this legislation.

State officials are already planning on removing the Smarter Balanced Assessment, the complex new state-wide test that starts next year, from teacher evaluations for the next school year.

All fine for teachers however, state law requires a growth model based assessment to be administered by the Delaware Department of Education three times a year. Also, this was “one” of the means “agreed upon” with teachers to evaluate them. Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy pulled a game-changer by supporting the elimination of DCAS and replacing it with The Smarter Balanced Assessment a test that was not developed by Delaware to fit the needs of students and teacher assessment and evaluations.

What authority does state law give the Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy the means to move forward with The Smarter Balanced Assessment and end DCAS? The Smarter Balanced Assessment is not a growth model assessment test to measure student growth “within” a given academic year. During the November 2014 New Castle County Combined School Boards Meeting,   Secretary of Education Murphy commented that “district” student assessments will serve as part of the growth model baseline. He acknowledged that districts use assessment tools that are not identical across districts. One could argue any state reports using local district data and The Smarter Balanced Assessment will be skewed and unreliable. DCAS assessment are aligned with each other using the same “consistent” baseline means. Murphy proclaims DCAS is out dated at the sometime he steps backwards in creating an assessment system with many variables.

As far as teachers whether individually or collectively through their local unions or DSEA they take issue with changes being made with the means to evaluate them. I accuse them of kicking the can down the road to avoid wanting to be held accountable. I am told this is no the case and they are willing to be held accountable base on appropriate measurements. O.K. fair enough! However, in this world of smoke, mirrors and politics at best there needs to be a collective voice calling out the governor and his incompetent secretary of education. Yea I know, that would be very unprofessional! But yet it obscene we put our students and parents through changes in such a disruptive way! We’ve told them how important DSTP was, how important DCAS was and will do the same with The Smarter Balanced Assessment. Honestly with this new test, I seen nothing smarter nor balanced is the way of assessing students or as a means to factor-in teacher evaluations. However, all the political posturing dancing around the fact remains we have very poor leadership at the Delaware Department of Education that does not serve the best interest of children and caters to the like of Rodel. And OMG damn right I am pissed at DSEA “organization” for joining an organization aligning themselves with Rodel and wrongheaded goal! DSEA ” organization” you are sending mixed message to the community and parents. You want our understanding and support but yet it “appears” you have abandon us and crawled deep in bed with Markell and Rodel. 

Governor Markell wants you to believe he is on a mission to provide Delaware’s children with high quality education delivered by the high qualified educators but yet he appoints the least qualified Delaware Secretary of Education and Delaware’s children and teacher deserves better.

I am urging Delaware State Legislators to stop The Smarter Balanced Assessment and maintain DCAS as the means to “asset” students academic needs in efforts to provide “timely” intervention needs and bring the goals of teacher accountability back in line to what was agreed to and “reality”. Also, I am urging our legislators to call for the removal of the Delaware Secretary of Education by the end of this school year 2012-2014. Legislators honestly, this entire education reform process tied to a tactful federal intervention movement is tainted and is very harmful to our children and local control in Dover and at the school level. Many of you are busy serving you communities with vast needs and demands. However, though you cannot effectively devote 100% of your time to education, the fact remains there is a cancer eating at the foundation of public education morphing into a profit based cancer shifting needed funds to serve tangible needs of the  classroom to serve profit needs of testing companies, education supply companies, expanding unneeded administrative positions at the school level, district level and DE DOE. Also this reform movement feeds individuals like Jack Markell and Arne Duncan sowing $$$ seeds for future endeavors. This is being done on “your” watch Delaware legislators.   

Again, legislators when did “you” the people who write the laws approve modification to TITLE 14, Education, Free Public Schools, CHAPTER 1. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION Subchapter III. State Public Education Assessment and Accountability System § 151 State assessment system; rules and regulations that deviates from the intent of the law? And when did you give the Delaware Secretary of Education and /or the governor authority to modify such laws that undermines the intent within those laws? And when did you give the keys of Delaware’s public schools to the likes of Rodel?