State Board Passes Opt-Out Penalty Against Schools

Exceptional Delaware 2017

The Delaware State Board of Education just passed the Delaware School Success Framework with the opt-out penalty multiplier included.  This is a very sad day in Delaware: for students, parents, schools, educators, and citizens.  I feel sad for all the students who are going to be pressured non-stop to perform well on this test.  I feel sad for the parents who are going to face an enormous amount of pressure against opting out.  I feel sad for Delaware.  This is your legacy Governor Markell.  Shame on you.

The vote passed with four yes votes: Gray, Heffernan, Coverdale, and Rutt.  Bunting abstained.  Melendez and Whitaker were absent.  Can’t blame them, wouldn’t want this vote showing.

This fight has just begun.  The DOE obviously wants a war with parents, and they just got it.

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30 responses to “State Board Passes Opt-Out Penalty Against Schools

  1. Hypothetically speaking and just asking questions:
    1. If you eliminate state testing, how would the state or parents know if a school is presenting appropriate material for a given grade level?
    2. If there is no state testing, does the grade a student receives, reflect that the school is preparing the student properly? (i.e.: If a CSW student earns a “B” in a subject, is that equal to a “B” a student earns at McCain in the same subject? What would stop a HS or any other school from dumbing down the curriculum to have a higher pass rate?)
    3. If your child’s school has no state testing, how should the state address poor academic performance? How would they know there is poor academic performance? Are the teachers / admins going to step up to the microphone and tell parents and the state: “We suck at teaching” or “Our school’s kids aren’t that bright”. Should the State do anything since, if you have no metric to gauge the academic performance there would be no reason to investigate poor performance?

    I’m just posing these questions in light of the fact that the argument here is “Opting Out” is the correct thing to do to send what message?
    a.The test is bad? (yes, I agree SBAC is a bad test but the state and the other state education people shot holes in the other tests for non educational reasons) Unfair bidding, accountability system is unfair, yadda yadda yadda
    b. Kids shouldn’t take bench marking tests?
    c. Schools shouldn’t be graded or held accountable for grade appropriate material?
    d. Teacher performance can’t be graded by students’ test performance? (Which I agree with on some levels but what is the alternative? What method, if there is one, will adequately evaluate if a teacher is performing sufficiently? What should happen if they aren’t performing sufficiently.)
    e. The state shouldn’t be involved in district curriculum or District performance? Would that make education consistent throughout the state?

    What is the real message because saying “my kid shouldn’t take a corporate devised test” doesn’t take into any of the other issues pertinent to the problems in our educational system.

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  2. lastDEconservative

    Oh, my, our own ED sufferer of the blogosphere also suffers from history failure (while continuing to do well in histrionics).

    “This is your legacy Governor Markell. Shame on you.”

    Just like Sir Kwacko, Knight of the Round Foible, Frere Jacques, and countless other contemporary practitioners, Beldar/Curly/Marxell’s portion of this horrific “legacy” of failure is minuscule. As a rank amateur by comparison, his contribution to the destruction is only detectable by virtue of the hard work of generations of progressive predecessors. Five generations of drip, drip, drip later, the current destroyers don’t even have to get up in the morning to keep the ball rolling among the long since slumbering great unwashed masses.

    Witness the probable mumbling of “yeah, all that” to The Fred’s babble in the Sycophantic Journal today. How many don’t realize that she is the union boss, let along that that makes her life about anything but kids and learning and teddy bear posters in the lunch room. The Journal never fails to disguise her role. (Is this segue working?) If the populace was awake, unindoctrinated, etc., none of this would/could continue.

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    • Publius e decere

      From The Fred: “It is distressing to think that the schools which serve our most at-risk students receive the same funding as those schools with uniformly more affluent student populations.”

      Actually, it is distressing to see such a dearth of analysis from an educator. The schools receive the same “units”, not the same funding. A unit of a 30-year teacher is double the “funding” of a 5-year teacher. The union agreements allow for seniority to decide where employees work, and the more senior ones tend to choose to work at “those schools with uniformly more affluent student populations”. If we were to even reach the goal of equivalent spending — before trying to go beyond it for the benefit of at-risk students– then the union needs to support an end to unit-based funding and go to a dollar-per-student based funding. Doing so would end the opaque seniority distortion which, today, results in significantly higher spending in schools where senior teachers choose to teach. Which was reported recently by the News Journal — that the more senior teachers tend to teach in the suburbs. The site of “more uniformly affluent populations”.

      There is a reason why districts don’t report total spending by school. It would expose this perk of seniority which might be construed as adverse to the interests of high-risk students. Want to aspire toward equitable spending? Then end the unit funding system, replace it with dollar-per-student funding, and transparently report total spending per school building.

      Such transparency would resolve much of the fatuous rhetoric we hear. Then we could go about the business of discussing how to fund schools with all of the spending data clearly in front of us.

      Publius

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  3. For me, this is ALL about the Smarter Balanced Assessment. And what the State is doing with it. Wait until you see these school report card monstrosities come out next year. The bulk of the weight to measure schools is based on SBAC. And the state’s Annual Measurable Objectives for the next six years? Based on THIS test? It is a joke. If this is our “check-up” to see how kids are doing, we should just start training them all for McDonalds and teaching them how to say “Do you want fries with that?”

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    • Publius e decere

      Or we could start training them as a capella singers. I heard the entry bar is pretty low. All you have to do is carry a tune — in a bucket. And if you win a SBAC (singing badly, a capella) you will be barred ( 🙂 ) for life from performing as a real musician.

      Now THIS is the real deal:

      Ciao,
      Publius

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  4. “1. If you eliminate state testing, how would the state or parents know if a school is presenting appropriate material for a given grade level?”

    How does a test score answer your #1 question? Such a huge false assumption.

    I have/had kids in public schools. I know/knew exactly what they are learning because I talk with them. I check their homework, read their essays. I talk to their teachers. I am involved in the PTA. I use email. I am a parent.

    I have NO idea what their SBAC or DCAS scores were, and I don’t care. (and neither do their engineering professors).

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    • “I have NO idea what their SBAC or DCAS scores were, and I don’t care. (and neither do their engineering professors).”

      If your son or daughter is in engineering school based on grades from a low performing H/S you might? It’ll be quite the culture shock if they are at engineering school and under water because the H/S that they attended failed to provide grade level appropriate education. Parents might like to know that H/S “A” produces students with low standardized test scores and subsequently students who are not quite prepared for college.

      Isn’t the SAT a standardized test?????? I’m betting the engineering professors indirectly care about those scores since the college evaluates students based on them.

      I don’t assume anything. My point is if you base your opinion on what a given district “feeds” you, then you’re not being objective. If your son or daughter is “killing” it in school, is it because they have a great school with great educators OR that they dumbed down the curriculum? Right now there is NO reliable barometer used state wide to ascertain any level of consistency from school to school.

      You may think your child who played touch football in the backyard was awesome, until he tried organized football with pads and got steamrollered.

      Standardized tests give a much more broad-based assessment and comparison with other students, shitty test or not.

      I’m not pimping for SBAC, just identifying standardized tests (shitty or not) give a more accurate picture of where students are in comparison to their peers. I’m also not pimping to give the state carte blanche in using our kids data, or appease misdirected federal efforts. Not at all. But opting out may hurt schools where as the real meat IS to not vote for politicians like Markell and others who have aligned themselves with tax and spend, big government can solve your problems, Gates foundation school prep. supplies, Unions insure quality fallacy, Democratic party. Single party control has hobbled Delaware.

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  5. “The union agreements allow for seniority to decide where employees work, and the more senior ones tend to choose to work…”

    Such foolish nonsense. While factually correct, it contains no analysis nor understanding of the why. Your implication is that teachers should be told where to work. Great idea. Sure. And I’m sure you’ll work exactly where I tell you.

    One more note on the testing….if you had an understanding of the kind of information to be gleaned from the data, and the amount of money being spent (your tax dollars) per bit of useful information, you would join the ranks of the opt-out movement so fast, it would make Kowalko’s head spin. 1, 2, 3, or 4. The SBAC gives the kids a score. 1, 2, 3, or 4. Man, that’s some useful information. Billions of dollars to tell a parent that their kids is a 1, 2, 3 or 4 on Tuesday May 4th. Ask a teacher. He/she could have told you the very same thing for a starting salary of $39k (and a salary max’d out at 17 years experience).

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    • Publius e decere

      “Your implication is …”

      No implication, just — as you duly noted — the facts.

      Let’s assign $ per school based on units — at the average pay-and-benefits for a unit. This will take care of weighting for special needs as it does today, while leveling the step-field. Then the building leader can decide on the best mix of high- and low-experience faculty to draw from the pool in order to meet the needs of the building’s students. Sort of like a sports draft. That’s right, some people don’t get drafted. Then if you REALLY want to help schools in need, tilt the dollars-per-school in their direction. But let’s take baby steps first and see how painful it is to just level the field. Contrary to the “leader”‘s hype, we spend more in “affluent” schools precisely becuase of her affiliates’ contracts which fail to balance pay for teachers with discretion over assignments and the needs (however she seemed to define it) of schools

      My point was to call out the nonsense from the “leader”. She should spend more time on transparency of public education expenses (85% of which goes directly to her members and agency-payors) or mayvbe just come clean and admit that the current system is not about the students but rather is about the seniority of the adults.

      And there it is, the Big Idea. The big turkey for Thanksgiving. Right out in front on the platter. Chew and stew, we’ll pick up this bird after the holidays.

      Publius

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    • Publius e decere

      No escapng the facts. Hook, line, sinker.

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  6. The absurdity of the report card is that, for example, a high school will be graded upon its students K-8 education; something the high school has had nothing to do with. If you don’t think the first 9 years of a child’s education has anything to do with his success in high school….and don’t get me started on the first 5 years of his life and its effect on his success in elementary school (!).

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  7. M Ryder….. Um, you do understand tah a ‘B’ in one CSW trig class may not be the same as a ‘B’ in another CSW class, right? And of course you can substitute any institution private or public or charter and say the same thing..as for how do parents know? As another poster pointed out…PAY ATTENTION. How should the state address a poor performing school? LOCAL issue! YOU also stated SB is a shitty test..a question for you…why would you want kids taking a shitty test?

    Liked by 1 person

  8. John, aren’t you a teacher? Break are you?

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    • Publius e decere

      How would we ever tell? By their blog comments? 🙂

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    • Fact remains whether I teach or not a ‘B’ from one teacher may not be the same as a ‘B’ from another. That’s within the same institution or school to school. It’s a blind argument from the pro charter people. It’s one of their smoke screens .
      That said, I’m pro charter. I only ask that people who choose charters and magnets are honest with the public…. They choose them so as not to expose their kids to ‘the element’. This goes for just about every RC board member, most teachers, admins etc…. College profs who come on this site etc. People choose charter/magnets to avoid undesirables… Fine but let’s have an above board discussion about it.

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    • Publius e decere

      Sorry, Break-Baby,

      Choice is not about revulsion, your accusations are misguided. Choice is about — choice. Alternately stated: “I choose what is best for my student”.

      Try as you might to twist choice into a nefarious motive, choice is nothing more than a parent seeking the best situation for their child.

      Publius

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  9. The SAT and ACT have been used for ages as a measure for college readiness. And they should be. There is nothing wrong with using a test for a specific purpose. The fallacy of the never-ending testing environment is that the data taken from these tests might magically make some difference. Couldn’t be further from the truth. We all know where the higher performing students are, and where the struggling students are. And we know the reasons why. And it have very little to do with the teacher in the classroom (who all went to the same colleges, attend all the same professional development courses, have all the same advanced degrees….). If all other factors were in fact equal (outside of the classroom), then you could point to the teacher as the variable in the equation that results depend. But in reality, most teachers are nearly the same, within a few percentage points, give or take. There are lousy ones (and I’ve seen them fired, thankfully). And there are great ones, for certain. But the overwhelming majority of the teachers with whom I’ve worked in my career are very similar to each other in ability. They are very good at their jobs. But even if you disagree with that, the data shows otherwise. The factor that research shows, over and over again (hell, even your beloved test scores show this) is that a student’s socio-economic background is the single most influential factor in the measure his measure of success. There it is. Socio-economics. Not teachers. Not curriculum. Not amount of homework. Not extra-curriculars. Not activity fees. No charter versus traditional. Not public versus private. Socio-economics. The test scores show it…and always have. So I ask you….again….why are you advocating for more billions to be spent for you to get the same answer you got to the same question you got last year, and the year before, and the year before? It’s either insanity, or greed. Or just idiocy. The utter absurdity is that after 15 years of NCLB, not one measurable improvement has been made to Delaware public schools with respect to closing the achievement gap (please…don’t even bring up the ridiculous, unreal, stats on graduation rates). Zero measurable improvement. We’ve just moved the yardage markers back and forth a few times to give the impression of improvement…or failure…as necessary. We’ve claimed victory when it was convenient, and we’ve claimed failure when it was convenient. The achievement gap will not close….WILL NOT CLOSE…until the socio-economic gap closes. All the barking to the contrary is useless. When parents can’t help kids with homework, when parents can’t read to their kids, when parents can’t check assignments, when parents can’t proof-read essays, when parents can’t get to conferences….draw your own conclusions.

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    • I don’t believe the tests make a difference to educators and I don’t believe in the ludicrous amounts of $ to fund them. They’re only real usefulness is as barometers.

      As far as a purposeful test of readiness would you advocate to use standardized tests as a means to establish passage to the next grade? This would eliminate social promotion and insure teachers have only students that have displayed the aptitude and competency to be in the grade. What then happens to learning disabled?? What would happen is you would have “track” kids. Something the “self esteem above all else ” defenders would lose their mind over.

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    • Publius e decere

      John,

      If the “teacher-effect” is de minimus, then why should we continue to pay for step increases and premiums for education master/doctorate degrees? The premise behind step-increases and degrees is that they result in more effective schooling. No?

      Your nihilistic view of students as victims 0f socio-economic disadvantage is part of the dialog. But you have to own all of the implications of it.

      Or, as other people (not Publius) have advocated on these blogs, maybe society should just disallow child-bearing among the socio-economically downtrodden. The “People Republic of China” Chinese disallowed more than one child per couple and their cultural primogeniture and gender biases have resulted in astounding skew of far more males than females. So to YOUR point, if we were to only allow child-bearing among the socio-economically viable population what would be the skewed result?

      Or, said differently, what exactly should be society’s obligation if the socio-0economically non-viable produce children? It is YOUR point of debate, please weigh in.

      Publius

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    • John
      We require training and licenses to drive. We require you to be 21 to drink alcohol. We require background checks for gun purchases. We require ID’s to buy cold medicine and cigarettes but we have nothing that prevents children from having children or pre-certifies individuals for competency to raise children. The ACLU would be all over any restriction of reproductive rights, regardless of means or competency but “society” should insure and balance the socio-economic gap????? That’s not realistic or attainable.

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  10. Sorry for typos….

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  11. Before I answer all of your provocations, answer mine (that I posed first). What has the data from the testing over the last 15 years told you that you didn’t already know? So why do you need more data? Let’s be honest.

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    • I don’t know what it tells publius. It tells me that for all the redistributive efforts to balance the socioeconomic “imbalance, the expenditures haven’t changed a thing.

      So for me the only purpose of standardized tests is as a barometer of where students are demonstrating competency and where they are not. That tells me what schools have populations of competent staff and students and what schools don’t.

      If I am to be a good steward to my kids, I attempt to put them in environments/ schools where there are competent teachers and students. It means to send them to the local feeder pattern school, I would be putting my kids at a disadvantage and I would not know that without some of the information that is provided by standardized test results.

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    • Publius e decere

      I’ll go with M Ryder on this one. The test data gives us information on the net outcome of the school in achieving academic outcomes with the students who attend it. A parent wants this data in order to choose where to send their child to school. You insinuations to the contrary, John, it really is this simple.

      Since YOUR social theory is so dark and fatalistic, what exactly do YOU propose be done about it? And where should the accountability-buck stop?

      Publius

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  12. Read the results of the Red Clay parent/student/teacher survey on testing. This district is so fed up with the last decade of useless testing. Pay attention to the comments. Obvious common themes….too much testing…SBAC is terrible – waste of money and valuable time. If teacher creates the test, it’s for kids’ benefit. If a suit creates it, it’s for money and is pointless. Get with the program, gentlemen. The testing era has….peaked. With ESEA re-auth, the Duncan era is dead. Marmalard, dead. Niedermeier, dead. Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?? States are now, finally, responsible for oversight without fed overreach. Dover can’t fall back on lame excuse “well, the feds made us do it, or we’ll lose money” nonsense. Common sense is beginning to see the light. Sell Pearson.

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    • So you think those in Dover have the foresight and competency to effectively manage our educational system vs. Duncan and this self absorbed Obummer administration? Not saying they can’t do better, just questioning who to put faith in. My vote, stop voting Dem dumb and u might. Keep single party control and you might as well give ME your tax money. I couldn’t do worse.

      Kill sbac but let’s get some repeatable form of associative test that is practical and has teeth to remove unproductive teachers and admins.

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  13. a) How do you know how I vote? Trust me, you don’t. And it was GWB who brought us NCLB, so don’t bother with the politics card. b) Please come up with a system to keep great teachers (they retire too early – one stopped me at Acme me a while ago and said, “I’d still be there, for another ten years, but that test/punish environment killed it all.” She was a wonderful teacher – the best there is.), improve the good teachers, and get rid of bad teachers. Moreover, how about improving the quality of administrators who HIRE teachers in the first place. There is a higher percentage (in my experience) of poor leadership and management, than there is poor teaching. Moreover, how about improving the training of teachers in college. It is NOT an entry level job; yet our universities train our teachers as such, as if they are going to receive gobs of on the job training. I’m sorry. That just doesn’t happen. From day 1, you’re on. And you are evaluated like a veteran teacher of twenty years. Absurd. c) replacing SBAC with some repeatable form of associative test that is practical and has teeth will not give you the results you want. First there was DSTP. Then DCAS. Then SBAC. And along the way, we’ve had a myriad of other tests…MAP, SMI, SRI, Performance Plus. And NONE of them give you what you want. There is a better way to manage assets (teachers), and it is NOT through testing. 50% of the kids in the district live in poverty. Do you think they care, at all, about the SBAC, or it’s magical replacement when they live in a cold house, with little furniture, and no food in the kitchen? Wake up. So right there, your results are skewed, and useless. You’re looking for something that doesn’t exist – a test that will measure the quality of the teacher. That is like giving a driving test to measure the quality of the automobile manufacturer. There is a better way to measure teacher quality. Hire excellent administrators who understand people, pedagogy (they must be former teachers – we even hire SecEds in Delaware with very little classroom experience), the curriculum, the students, the community, technology, management, training…etc. You will never, ever, get the results you seek through the test of children, who live in poverty, on one day in May. How do I know this? Years and years and years of experience. I’ve seen great students do terribly on the test (DSPT, DCAS, SBAC). And don’t get me started on what do to with 8th graders who take an 8th grade test, yet haven’t learned very much 8th grade curriculum all year long, because they entered 8th grade on about a 3rd grade reading level. The public seems to think that kind of student is an anomoly. He’s not. So tell me, how do you measure a teacher’s effectiveness with these students, who are years and years behind their grade level (not because of poor teachers, but because of their socio-economics…that is a fact that you cannot refute), with a magic test that, by the way, requires them to read on the 8th grade level. Just trying to offer you a little perspective of reality. I want great teachers in classrooms. Just like you. I want outstanding schools. Just like you. I’m here to tell you, you’ve been sold a bill of goods that isn’t worth a bucket of spit. Any good principal ignores testing data when evaluating teachers.

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    • Publius e decere

      John,

      Recall that the most recent state-wide summary of teacher evaluations resulted in 99% (I kid you not) of all teachers being declared as good to great. Many people outside of the profession looked at that data as being akin to a U-8 soccer team’s practice of everyone getting a trophy for participation. In short, so what? A 99% attaboy doesn’t match the reality which most citizens perceive or experience.

      So what exactly is the “punish” part of the test-and-punish meme? Can you provide specific examples, without names but with real REAL examples (as opposed to “potential” possibilities)?? I hear the phrase alot, yet I don’t think I have seen anything in the way of “punisihment” other than a few bruised egos. Please enlighten us.

      As for your statement that some 8th grade kids turn up in September with a 3rd grade proficiency level, can we assume that you are a frustrated 8th grade teacher? That frustration would be entirely unerstandable. Or is this just a second- or third-hand story? Is this real or hypothetical? Please clarify for us.

      Most importantly, if a student truly did arrive in 8th grade with a 3rd grade proficiency level, how exactly did that student get there? Is it social promotion gone mad? Are “any” of the other eight teachers in grades K-7 at fault? Do you believe that students should not be advanced in grade until they demonstrate proficiency at the grade they attend? If you believe that students should be socially promoted, isn’t there a logical limit to such a social(ist) policy? Isn’t having a student arrive at 8th grade with 3rd grade capabilities an unequivocal indictment of the current culture within the schooling system?

      These are serious questions. You may be frustrated, but so is the public. Read the above carefully and help us, the public, to better understand how the system can be improved.

      Publius

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    • Publius e decere

      John,

      This is the blog comment you should respond to

      Pub lius

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    • lastDEconservative

      A. Don’t hold your breath, my friend.
      2. Don’t expect clarity or logic.
      D. Why bother asking at all? !!

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