Delaware testing opt-out; the lies and hidden agenda

Delaware may eliminate some school testing Matthew Albright, The News Journal11:50 p.m. EDT March 12, 2015

Citing the stress that Smarter Balanced will put on their kids and schools, a small but vocal group of parents — some of them teachers — have chosen to “opt their students out” of the new exam.

Rep. Earl Jaques, who chairs the House Education Committee, said the state’s effort to eliminate tests should hopefully ease parents’ and teachers’ concerns. But he joined Markell in saying opting out isn’t the answer for students.

“Is there too much testing? Absolutely,” Jaques said. “And this shows we’re trying to do something about that. But to me, opt-out is admitting failure, and that’s not the American way.”

Many teachers have also expressed concerns about how the new test will be used in their personnel evaluations. This year’s scores on Smarter Balanced will not factor into those evaluations, but many educators have called for an extra year on top of that to transition to a regime for students.

Both Markell and Murphy both said they were “having positive conversations” with federal officials about that possibility.

Read between the lines! It it the Smarter Balanced Assessment causing all the stress on parent and students? Why would this test cause stress? It’s not used for student grading purposes, promotion or retention! The opt-out movement is seeded with educators and unions. But fair enough because the Smarter Balanced shouldn’t be used as a means to label school or teachers! Why isn’t the bench mark of holding high schools accountable based on the dropout rate, graduation rate, SAT scores , AP scores and college acceptance rates? As for middle schools, the 9th grade high school dropout rate could be used rating the middle schools where student previously attended. The there is elementary schools! He is where standardized testing can come into play and I am talking state / local test not tied to the feds testing mandate. Yes exit like testing for each grade level where parents must sign off if they want their child to advance to the next grade is results are borderline. The time to stop the “system” from pushing students through the the next grade needs to be now! Without addressing social promotion no test local, state or federal has any real relevancy. Pushing student through to the next grade is lying to parents and cheating children.

I am very proud of the recent events re: teachers calling out the system re: no confidence letter. However, look at the gloating going on and the pat on the back from DSEA for those teachers charging up the hill! Did PTA issue a president citation?  Yes we should be proud but a celebration of unions for just showing some balls long overdue is pathetic. It was DSEA and the local unions running to the corner like scared mice re: Race to The Top that set the stage for Common Core Standards and the Smarter Balanced Assessment. Judas sells-out  her peers but yet all cheers when she retired. And then there is Governor Markell the state ringleader in creating the mess! How does labor find a way to meet the objective of not being held accountable based on the Smarter Balanced Assessment with out kicking “Markell” in the balls or given him a black-eye (politically speaking)? They join together to agree to eliminated district level testing while keeping the Smarter Balanced Assessment intact or that’s what Markell thinks! The alignment of educators and parents in the push for testing opt-out is a bigger win for labor if successful. If enough parents opt-out their children the validity of the test results will be skewed and could be used in teacher evaluations. What do parents and students get out of the opt-out? Nothing tangible because testing anxiety will remain re: the school level test and assignments that count. But there is the big prize that is not getting attention.

At the heart of the opt-out momentum is; parents, educators and some legislators who are fed-up with federal intrusion in local school control. The opt-out movement is the banner for the call for the feds to end the intrusion on local control via manipulation of federal grants with accountability stipulation requested as part of the grant but decided at the state level.  It’s like the feds saying, here is the money but tell how you are going to hold your self accountable! As for Delaware, Governor Markell is an agent for federal intervention and he has sucker many Delaware legislators into his agenda. Markell is pushes reducing the number of “district” level test to create a smoke screen whereas to protect The Smarter Balanced Assessment. If parents and education were to push back the Smarter Balanced the federal intervention agenda would come unraveled. Markell is doing all he can to buy time for this unraveling not to happen on his shift. But it “will” happen after Markell leaves office! And guess what! Those legislator that supporting Markells agenda like Rep Hudson will have some explaining to do when the house of cards fall and all is revealed! In comes a new president and governor with yet a new education agenda and the people are going to go WTF not again!

I urge state legislators to support the op-out but pull their horn is on playing a part in reducing testing on the local level. At be encourage school districts and charter to streamline their testing in the best way as not to jeopardize student achievement but in a way to help increase instructional time. In other words, stay out of local control and be supported to the point your hands don’t get dirty! 

Rep Jaques, I enjoyed our sidebar chat after the combined board meeting. I know you mean well but now it the time to be a leader not a follower. Markell is playing legislators to save his own political ass. Work with the parents, teachers, schools and other legislators to plan for a future that will seen an implosion of the current wrongheaded Washington / Markell agenda. You represent the people not the governor ! Help delivery real transparency that includes record of board meetings of all traditional public schools, votech schools and charter school boards! Give parents and the local school communities the tools to be better watchdogs! H.B.#23 passed the house education committee and the House Appropriation Committee and was killed by it’s sponsor Rep Hudson who encouraged the Speaker of The House to not put it on the House Agenda for a full vote.               

  

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18 responses to “Delaware testing opt-out; the lies and hidden agenda

  1. One has to laugh out loud at Jacques.. Perhaps putting him in as the “official” source of Markell on the House Educational Committee was a blessing in disguise… Certainly one that keeps on giving…

    Rephrasing Jacques’ line: “If your children were lined up to be shot in a firing squad, using your parental authority to take them out would not be the answer.”..

    At least with a firing squad, once your child is dead the problem is done. With the Smarter Balanced, if taken, he is psychologically traumatized forever, every single day henceforth… As an adult, have YOU still not taken the test? Why not?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Publius e decere

      Maybe a child of an opt-out parent has been traumatized by the inner remote adverse location of that parent’s head.

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    • Not a good analogy. Whereas there is absolutely no data collaborating your assertion. there is data that almost 100% of child psychologists are for the opting out of the Smarter Balanced Assessments. 🙂

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    • Publius e decere

      Oh but there IS data “collaborating” my assertion. Despite your butchering of the language. Exhibit #1 is — your cheeky self. Your head is totally up there. As for “almost 100% of child psychologists”, well, you are statistically-challenged. Unless of course you mean “almost” as a range of zero to 99%.

      We get it that you ideologically hate the public schools which are in very high demand from the populace at large. So with that hand tied behind your back, you should at least try to appeal to logical reason to preserve — or in your case, create — a modicum of respect.

      Publius

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  2. Pearson is listening…or watching…or reading…or something.

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  3. Greg MAZZOTTA

    John,

    Pearson is not alone in capitalizing on the failure of Education to improve. Publishers, researchers, consultants, and experts remain vigilant to seize opportunities to bridge the gaps in teaching and learning. It’s how leaders design, build, sustain, these systems that
    provide levels of opportunities for these companies, I sense is the frustration in Delaware.

    In 1983, Dr. Deming and Dr. Ackoff articulated insights into :systems thinking” and in 1993 this manifested itself with the first
    pilot program for systems thinking in Education.

    The program deployed in Oklahoma under President Bill Clinton and later spread to six pilot states: MD, OH, IL, IN, TX, NM with national recognition realized and the trajectory set for over 2500 high performing schools.

    In 2010, Montgomery Cty Schools was a Baldrige/Education recipient and in 2014, Pewaukee, WI earned this internationally recognized distinction. Last week, over 500 education organizations convened
    in San Francisco to celebrate the past 15 years of progress, growth, and development by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

    Pearson, as publisher is not the villain in Delaware; it’s our own leadership for blocking the progress realized – 2000 to 2008 –
    as recognized by the Lt. Gov. Models of Excellence Program.

    Perhaps, with new leadership come new opportunities to see
    with new eyes, the aim of education. I support Dr. Ravitch,
    who I met in Pittsburgh while helping the school of Education
    introduce “systems thinking” to aspiring education leaders and
    remain eager to help those in Delaware as well.

    I find it interesting that our Higher Ed’s have shown little interest
    in this growing trend. If we do not support our education leaders with
    the new science of understanding how schools learn, we will continue
    to be dependent upon those intentions are in conflict with ours.

    I reviewed Dr. Deming’s YouTube video this afternoon and suggest
    others view this, as well as Dr. Ackoff; Quality is FREE.

    Like

  4. wait a minute Kilroy…you want to hold middle schools accountable for the 9th graders who drop out? i am a teacher. i am not raising the children. i do not raise them from birth. i do not instill in them a sense of right or wrong. i did not drop out myself, thereby creating a shining example for them to follow. i asked a student recently what her father did for a living. “nothing” was her response. i said, “where did he go to school?” she said, “he dropped out in the 7th grade”. want to know how motivated she is to work? not at all. she will probably drop out when she turns 16. not because of me. because of her father. there is nothing i can do in my 80 minutes per day with her (that she shares with 29 other students) that will change the way she was raised.

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  5. Kilroy, I don’t think there is any secret agenda to the opt out movement. Of course DSEA and local member organizations will want it. Their jobs will depend on it (unless the insanity ends). I don’t think this is for their own purposes. I have talked to several teachers in the past year, and the vast majority (over 99%) do not want it, not only for their own rating, but also what it does to children. With that being said though, I do think it is unwise for teachers to be SO vocal about it. Not because it’s wrong, but because I’m pretty sure they are being watched.

    My reasons for opt out are deeply personal, and they just happen to coincide with the many hundreds of parents currently doing the same. As anyone knows who is a regular reader of this blog, I have a special needs child, and he has had a difficult time as it is. I won’t have him taking this test, period. I’ve seen him struggle with the Common Core homework and curriculum, and it doesn’t make sense for him to spend an easy 12-15 hours (during multiple school weeks and with accommodations) and know that he will be very frustrated. People forget, teachers are prepping students for this test and schools are talking about it from the first day of the year. Everything rests on this one test. And it is projected, by the almighty Mark Murphy himself, 70% of kids won’t make proficiency in the first year. So what happens then? This test kids have been studying for ALL year, and close to 3/4 of the school won’t meet the standard. And as per DOE Director of Assessment, Brian Touchette, this will go on for a few years. I know, people will say, yeah, we went through this with DSTP and DCAS. It’s just a phase. Well, it’s time for the phase to stop. I firmly believe teachers are so busy following the curriculum (which they have to adhere to certain lesson plans pretty much every day), they are missing out on things. Like bullying, taunting, hitting, teasing, and so forth. The result is many kids (not just special needs) come home feeling like they went through hell. It’s not like it was even a couple years ago. I think with the full implementation of Common Core last year and this year, special education has become an unmitigated disaster, but we won’t see hard data on that for another two years because of the audit schedule with the feds.

    To say the whole opt out movement is a union seed may have some merit, but it is PARENTS who are making that seed bloom. I haven’t received the well over 500 hundred combined emails, facebook messages and phone calls from teachers. They are regular parents, just like you and I. Most want to know how to do it. They have already made up their own minds, and just need the method. Have I publicized the hell out of it? Definitely. I think all parents should know it is out there. This is from the top of the state, all the way to the bottom, public, vocational and charter. Even some of the “top” schools. I have called out superintendents publicly with some of their shameful methods of trying to convince parents to opt out. I have emailed some privately, and even talked to a few. One thing I will not abide by is parents being abused by school superiors because they are doing what they feel is right for their child.

    I’ve been vocal about this for almost a year now, and I’m glad others have jumped on. At the end of the day, opt out is not an attack on the DOE, protest, or someone just plain saying “I don’t feel like having my kid take a test”. These are intelligent, taxpaying citizens who have had enough of the test and drill going on in our schools and do not like the impact it is having on our children. And many of these parents have stated their child is very intelligent, but this test won’t measure that.

    Where I take extreme offense is the utilization of standardized test scores by the DOE and certain schools. When you do a “data dive” as the DOE love to say, there are usually certain factors that contribute to these praised schools, such as a high attrition rate between the cited years, or adding a talented and gifted program at that particular school in a district, or changing the zoning in a district so by osmosis scores will naturally rise. And with certain charters, boasting that you always have high scores when everyone in the state knows you have enrollment preferences that make that happen. When the National Association of Charter School Authorizers has to tell charters at an enrollment preference task force that they have it backwards: that specific interest should only be used to benefit students who need it the most, than you know there is some work to be done. The schools that are making the most noise about this are ones that have some mitigating factors going on that I won’t get into here, but let’s just say there are those who reside in the district and leave it at that. 🙂

    As for Earl Jaques… I understand your sidebars, cause you and I have had many. While we may not always agree, you have a demeanor about you that makes folks feel like they can come to you. But I would not mistake Jaques impression he left with you as he “means well”. His words about opting out have caused many parents to take this at a personal level. He is also the head of the education committee in the House, and he should try to be more objective before a bill on the whole matter is addressed during session. It has become painfully obvious during his press junkets with Markell on education that he is only interested in serving Markell and not the people of the state. I think it’s great he can have a sidebar conversation with you, but why isn’t he talking to the citizens of the state to actually get a good barometer on this. Isn’t that his job as a State Representative, to represent the people? Jaques does not get a pass from me, and I will continue the petition to have him removed from the House Education Committee. His loyalties are clear, and unless he does a complete 180 degree turn and apologizes to the parents and students of the state who have done what is best for their child and agrees to actually look into why parents are doing this, my obligations are clear.

    Sorry for the long post, but isn’t that how I started on all this blog craziness? Maybe for the anniversary I can write another 14 part series to drive Publius crazy again!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Publius e decere

      Kevin,

      You don’t — and can’t — drive Publius crazy. Although you are an inflexible flamethrower. You confuse your personal needs with the needs of the public at large. Good parent, not so good public policy advocate.

      “And many of these parents have stated their child is very intelligent, but this test won’t measure that.” I am pretty sure this covers 100% of parents. So? I’m sure my kids are more important than anyone else’s, as you are so sure about your children. The purpose of the standardized test is to measure — against a standard — academic achievement. At grade level. With the flexibility and robustness demanded — by a consensus of states — for the 21st century.

      What worries many people is the reaction of teachers who say “I don’t want to have to teach to a test.” To which I say “Well, What exactly ARE you teaching to? And why do you insist on doing it out of sight of public view and public accountability?” This kind of “leave me alone with your kids all day” should worry everyone.

      Kevin, you are advocating for you children and for children like them. Join the club, we all are. The point is that there is a large majority of kids in the system who are taken for granted while the attention of boards and politics and incremental monies are all lavished on the vocal minorities. Balance, bro, balance.

      Publius

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    • On your last paragraph, I’m actually going to agree with a lot of what you said there. We are going to have to agree to disagree on the merits of THIS “little test” as Jaques put it.

      I was speaking with someone pretty high up in the Townshend Building recently, and this individual said just about the same thing you said about the “benefits” of this test. No amount of convincing though can change my mind, as I respect that yours can’t be changed either. People came to me about opt out, I didn’t seek any individual out. Sure, I wrote about it, but let’s give parents credit for seeing things from different viewpoints. If anything can be said, more parents are paying attention to education these days. Let’s see what comes out of the wash.

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    • I’m still confused. Publius supports choice, except when the choice is to opt out? #hypocrite

      Liked by 2 people

    • If I confused my personal needs with the needs of the public Publius, would Governor Markell be talking about opt out? Sorry, but this isn’t about that. My personal needs, as well as many others, are becoming part of the public policy debate. I didn’t start this fire, but I sure as hell threw some gas on it.

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    • Publius e decere

      Kevin: Tunnel vision is not the same as confusion. As your many posts, and your original maudlin online name suggest, your strident outbursts are substantially about your personal needs rather than systemic ones. The fact that you can’t/won’t recognize it in your behavior and demeanor is patent proof of the tunnel. You are a fine advocate for students with special needs. Where you derail yourself is in subordinating the priorities of the vast remainder of the system.

      Publius

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    • I’m sorry Publius, I wasn’t paying attention. I was focusing on my article about cannibalism in Delaware charter schools which we all KNOW happens. What were you saying?

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  6. Pingback: Aside from Kilroy, has Earl Jaques responded to anyone else about his offensive comments? | Exceptional Delaware

  7. The whole problem in a nutshell is that no one can agree on the benchmarks especially when they want to apply the results to student progression or employee (teacher) compensation. Standardized testing as a basis of evaluating where students’ abilities fall and where schools are or aren’t performing is not an unreasonable process. Recognizing special needs students may not be at grade level brings into question should they be in the class and should a teacher be responsible for getting a student to a grade level they cannot attain. Add the the union’s aversion to identifying good and less good teachers and you have the perfect melting pot of good intentions and conflicted politics which result in our dysfunctional educational system. No agreed upon standards, no accountability, big money spent to justify more big money and the taxpayers/ parents trying to sift through rubble for something of value that that the system promised to provide but worked very hard to bury.

    Opt out is a byproduct of the convoluted tests created by governors suckling on the federal teat that the union and districts agreed to, knowing it would never fly. We the stupid and selfish parents just wanted good education, the state and federal machines just wants to keep eating tax dollars.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Publius e decere

      “Standardized testing as a basis of evaluating where students’ abilities fall and where schools are or aren’t performing is not an unreasonable process”. I agree. We should uses tests for these purposes, and can refine their design toward these objectives. In a nutshell, this is Jacques’ message.

      Publius

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