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Does your education department try to manipulate the public with false information and one-sided viewpoints?

They then are not on the up and up.

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Does your education department try to sneak things past you without you knowing?

They then are not on the up and up.

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Does your education department try to bypass your legislative process?

They then are not on the up and up..

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Does your education department establish rules and regulations with no public input or discussion, or does it appoint boards of people it holds close and keep out people with differing opinions?

They then are not on the up and up…

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Does your education department try to make you think things are really bad, but there is no evidence supporting them other than what they make up?

They then are not on the up and up….

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Does your education department cater to business while demeaning teachers, parents, and students?

They then are not on the up and up…. There are no businesses operating out of those undersized school desks in any of our classrooms. They have no part in the decisions being made by our school officials.

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If your education department does any of these, rest assured,

They are not on the up and up…. Something is wrong…. All of these things are non-democratic. Your education department is running a totalitarian operation in your state which is unconstitutional…

Think about it… If you were running an operation that would benefit the entire state, wouldn’t you want people to know?  Of course.  You would sell it, and sell it, and sell it, and sell it, and the people would buy it, and buy it, and buy it, and everybody would be on the same page.

But when you have to sneak things through as the only way to get it done, telling just a few people while leaving the rest in complete darkness… well, why ARE you sneaking something through except for the fact that it is bad overall and couldn’t get the votes required to make it into policy?  If something is that bad, why then, do we need it?

 

 

 

 

As we approach election season, we expect to hear those aligned along big business, begin in earnest to crucify our public schools.

While I believe some of these candidates may be well meaning, I expect their campaigns to be summed up as follows:

Delaware education is failing. Its teachers and students perform terribly. Let me (and my wealthy friends) fix it…..

Parents of the public school community are sick and tired of that narrative. We know it is not true.

Too often, the News Journal, WDEL, and others lead with the same lazy headlines: “Delaware Education is failing!” That same contemptuous narrative leads to chatter at water coolers, at dinner parties and in church parlors as well as comment sections.

Parents whose kids HAVE gone through Delaware’s public schools can say with certainty, no way have Delaware’s teachers failed in teaching our children. The vast majority of our kids’ classmates and their parents are not failing at all.

No, what is failing is Delaware’s support of public education. What is failing are toilets that overflow in kids’ schools. Bathrooms that don’t have soap. Roofs that leak. Understaffing. Overcrowded classrooms.

The narrative should be that Delaware is failing bigtime in its support of public education.

With such headlines our media feeds the blame game. Many families with excessive resources either leave the state or pay private school tuition of $22,000 or more, then proclaim “Yep, Delaware public education sucks” — even though Delaware functions at a fraction of that amount to educate a much more diverse population.

We are tired of the undeserved contempt.

We believe we have an outstanding citizens on our school boards and outstanding staffs manning all of Delaware’s Schools. So let’s all change the lazy and contemptuous narrative in the community. Change the media headlines. RE-invest in Delaware’s schools and make the wealthy pay 100% of the bill. It’s Delaware’s  parental responsibility to the future generation to continue what is working well now…

It’s outside big money that is screwing things up….

 

Some people think we have to live with having Charter Schools.. John Young just put forward a motion that was passed by the Christina School Board opening it up for charter applications 2017-2018.  Many members on that board have been anti-charter in the past so now might be a good time to examine the pros and cons for letting Charter Schools exist…

We’ll start with the perception.  Charter Schools have an overall decent perception for one reason.  When one looks at test scores rankings of a state’s schools, the top spots almost invariably are held by the same charters year after year.  Therefore that being the only acquaintance non school parents have with education, that remains their go-to opinion.

There is a reason that they lead.. These charters control who gets in; public school’s can’t and accept everyone. For the same reason it is why MIT is the smartest college/university in the nation; they select only from people who have perfect scores on their SAT’s.  So the reputation MIT has among colleges, is the best analogy to describe how most Delawareans unfamiliar with educational issues, view charters…

Not all charter schools are this good however. One charter is 103rd out of 106 schools. Another is 95th out of the same 106. Another is 92nd. Another is 90th…  So whereas we do have two good charters that lead the pack in state scoring, we also have at least 5 that have 90 public schools doing much, much better than them…

First lesson in dealing with charters is:  don’t generalize. Don’t think all charters are good.

When you say you want to get rid of charters, you never hear complaints from parents of those charters who have 90 public schools doing better than their child’s school. Those parents dream of a new entity coming in and taking over their charters.  No, you only hear from parents who support the two top schools, because having their child return to a public school, for them is a step down.

Charters take money from public schools.  Some quote this as a good thing and cite the scores of the top schools versus how much money they save the state.  They cherry pick their results and say, “see, we educate better for less”.  But charters also include those near the bottom. They educate worse for less.  And they take both money and children from public schools who ARE doing a better job at educating… and desperately need that money they are giving up.

When you look at the charter problem there are two ways to react.  One is emotionally. The other is rationally.

The emotional way is to say, “oh no, I love my kid’s charter; I’ll fight to keep it”.  It is not based on rationality at all, but an emotional bond one has with it because of one’s child…

The rational way is to say… ok, let’s look at the math.  One of every Delaware child is a charter students and some of those schools are great, and some are not.  (If curious you can go through here and peg them on their rank of all state schools).  But by default, 4 of every 5 Delaware students must remain in public schools.

So if you (assuming the charter is one of the good ones), take a child out of the public school and put him in a better charter school, you get a benefit.  Call it +1 student doing better than they would had they remained… But, that money leaving the school, means that there is less money now to be spent in the public schools. Christina leads the pack with $21 million flowing out of its district; $21 million which could otherwise be spent in its existing schools.  Therefore having the charter close by negatively impacts those 4 out of 5 remaining in public schools. Some cutbacks have to occur.

So when you look at programs, you have to balance the positives with the negatives. Charter supporters and charter lobbyists often use slight of hand to only show you the positives.  But one can’t accept only the positives and ignore the negatives if one is intent on making good policy. Therefore, despite the current myopia inside our DOE, the reality is that with Charters you could theoretically get a +1 benefit to one fifth of your students, but a negative -4  would occur for all those remaining in public school.

Bottom line of charter impact?  -04 + 01  =  -03…   Your net total if applying the impact of charters across all spectrums of your student body, is a negative number.  It is a negative number because you have to account for those hurt by an action as well as those helped.. For example if we only looked at those who are being helped, robbing banks would be a great career….

In every argument about charters… someone needs to bring up the question:  what is its impact on those remaining in public schools?

Balance could theoretically be leveled like this:

  • Charters have more student activities.  What is the impact of that on those remaining in public schools?
  • Charters have more going to college!  What is the impact of that on those remaining in public schools?
  • Charters have the top scores in the state!  What is the impact of that on those remaining in public schools?
  • Charters provide a choice. Parents should not be stuck.  What is the impact of that on those who are stuck in public schools?

This IS the million dollar question that must be considered for every positive a charter might have!   Because no matter how great that charter IS, it is hurting 4 others for every gain it gets putting society in the negative as far as learning goes.

This is not just an academic thought exercise.  Everywhere charters have entered a school district or system, the overall measurements of student achievements has dropped system wide.  Some schools develop to do well, but there are 4 times their number that are imploding from a gross lack of financial renewal.

To consider charters as a benefit, you have to close your eyes to the negative impact they create outside their four walls and simply just look at the inside parameters of that school.

A schoolmaster can well afford to do that. Same with a Charter school parent.  But no one at a district level, state level, or national level can responsibly ignore the harm that having charters around, does to a public school system…

So people can defend charters all they want. They can pretend that those against charters are pooh-pooh babies or whatever.  They can deprecate with slurs anyone who dares contest that charters are the sole white knight of education… (they are predominantly white)…

And if they are successful at swaying those in power, the entire system of education gets worse, and worse, and worse as time flies. Because you can’t go against math….

-4  +  1  =   -3……

There is absolutely no way you can win with an equation like that.

 

 

 

 

 

Kevin posted an RYP and here were some questionable points that need clarity or legislative safeguards to protect our children.

The Vendor shall develop the interfaces with the DDOE’s Student Information System
(Delaware Student Information System – DELSIS), the DDOE Code Library, and DDOE’s Identity Management System……..Interfaces must include data transfer capabilities from DELSIS and the Delaware Code Library…  PAGE 16

Comment:  one can see transfer to, but why from?  Why would the DOE want to be able to manipulate data involving specific children and their specific test scores?
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The proposed system must support collecting and maintaining records for students as they move through the school system, and archived until four years after graduation from high school or the student’s 22nd  birthday, whichever occurs first…. PAGE 15
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Vendors must describe in their proposal:
  • The mechanism for detailed test results (test history) to be archived in off-line storage
  • The normal time period for maintaining historical on-line information
  • The process to archive data off-line through user-controlled purge criteria
  • The process to restore archived data into current system, use it, and then purge it in a controlled manner, retaining the archived data off-line. PAGE 16

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Data files containing scores must be available at the DDOE within forty-five (45) calendar days after a student completes the assessment. Assessment results files must provide both student level and item level data.  PAGE 19

Comment: which means they must have the scores by July 15th if last test was before June 1st.

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Vendor must provide a method for:
  • Changing the SID associated with a test without having to end the test.
  • Ending a test event in cases where the test results are likely invalid
  • Changing an Institution Identifier associated with a test
  • Restarting a test from the beginning and while not incrementing the total number of opportunities used by a student
  • Restarting or resuming a test after a student moves to another location within the Delaware public schools, based on the SID.  PAGE 19

 

Comment: being able to change ID’s of either the student or school in the middle of the test from a central office does not instill confidence in this test.
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The Vendor shall propose procedures for monitoring the accuracy of readers’ (grader’s) scores throughout the scoring process using papers from the benchmarking sessions. The readers (graders) should be unaware they are scoring papers with pre-established scores.  PAGE 24
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The Vendor shall propose a reader quality control reporting system for hand-scoring and indicate how they will use that system to ensure quality scoring. The Vendor shall include the following items in that system:
  •  tracking of reader scores/discrepancies;
  •  use of training reports that show reader performance during training and qualifying;
  •  inter-reader reliability reports;
  •  recalibration reports that show reader scores on the recalibration sets;
  •  troubled paper identification in which papers with extremely personal and/or offensive content are flagged and forwarded to DDOE along with the necessary identifying information;
  • and other reports and/or procedures as deemed necessary by the Vendor to ensure a quality scoring  PAGE 24

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The DDOE would prefer not to use any materials that need copyright permission.  PAGE 25

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Saturday:  News Journal publishes hit piece on Kathleen Davies, auditor of accounts working under Tom Wagner.

Sunday:  kavips  and Kevin glean from the article’s writing that no wrong doing was behind the removal and this was done to hush up a politically sensitive scandal which Kathleen had uncovered.

Sunday:  Kim Williams comments auditor Tom Wagner told her he pulled the audit, and sent letters to the charter schools.

Monday:  kavips points out that something at Newark Charter School scared someone and caused the audit to be pulled and Kathleen to be sidelined.

Tuesday:  Using the Delaware Checkbook,  kavips does a piece showing the inequities of education between Bancroft where teachers have to pay out of pocket for pencils for their kids, and Newark Charter which spends almost .5 million alone on student activities.

Wednesday:  Several Charter parents call out kavips saying they pay for those trips, the state did not.

Saturday:  Kevin posts an expose on Newark Charter showing that they did not use the money given by parents for the trips, but charged all those trips to the state, and instead used the parent’s money for two capital projects which are not paid for by the state.

In one week, we now know why Kathleen Davies was put on administrative leave. Ironically, this would still be undercover if they had just removed Kathleen without trying to slam her in the press without having anything to slam her with…

What we know…

Newark Charter School does not file an IRS 990 as required by law… VIOLATION

Newark Charter Collects money from parents for field trips and uses it for capital projects.  VIOLATION

Kathleen was removed from the audits and put on leave; Tom Wagner, State Auditor, stopped the audits and sent letters instead to charter schools.  VIOLATION

 

 

I stated in a comment that if one took Newark Charter and Wilmington Charter and put them back under Christina’s watch and care, they would have the highest scores in the state….

I now want to test that hypothesis to see how correct that statement was…

Here is the data we used.

Newark Charter has 2140 students.
Charter School of Wilmington has 972 students.

The entire Christina District lists 15,553.

Average Proficiency Scores for Newark Charter in ELA were 95%.. (That means 95% were tested as proficient.)

(Rats! No data) For now will have to fake Wilmington Charters’. Tack in with 99%, they’re smarter than Newark.

Christina District averaged at 39%.

So to figure the cumulative weighted theoretical for all combined, our equation would look something like this…..
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15553 (39) + 2140 (95) + 972 (99)   =   X/ (15553+2140+972) or X/18635 = Average Score

606567  +  203330  +  96228  =  906125/18635  =   48.62

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48.62 would be Christina School Districts cumulative ELA score if there were no charters to siphon of top students and the district was then tested as a whole….  How does that compare?

It would be statistically tied with 7 other schools for spot 9 ….. (courtesy of Exceptional Delaware)

District Scores SBAC 2016

Those others which would be tied with Christina would be Capital, Colonial, Seaford, Woodbridge, Milford, and Red Clay (hmmm. which would drop lower by losing Wilm Charter.).

None of which give away the bulk of their top students as does Christina…. 

When people (some think Dave Sokola is an alien; just ask Sigourney Weaver) scoff and say Christina is failing as a district and that these charters are there only because the public schools can’t teach a bag of beans, it would be very appropriate to remind them that 1) beans are inanimate and have no brains, and 2) it is only because Christina has to give up its top students to charters, that it scores average so low in comparison.  In other words it is doing as well as both of the other inner city districts (Red Clay and Colonial) as well as the poorer districts down south.  It is definitely not failing as a district.

This is like blaming someone for running a slow race after you cut off their leg… Sew the leg back on, and there is NO problem…

This again, is one more piece of daily mounting evidence as to why Delaware needs to remove Charter Schools from the entire state’s education system  The whole “education is failing scenario” has been a gross misrepresentation.  All they did as to just move smart people around to raise some schools scores, and lower others, that’s all.

“Let’s take those smart one and put them here… and lets leave the impoverished ones right there…”

Then,

“Holy Crayola!!! Look how bad this district is doing!!!… such low scores!!!.  We have to take it over (and put our friends in to run each school at $160,000 a pop..)!!!”

 

 

giphy1

Crime is relative. Stealing land from native Americans was not a crime. Exhorting registered Delawarean businesses to pay back interest on unclaimed property that didn’t exist, was not a crime.

So this guy walks onto a subway car with a friend and there were 4 other late night riders on board…

He pulls a gun and robs the 4 passengers between stops. Then he give the money to his friend and runs….

As his friend goes up the escalator, a cop grabs him at the top and makes an arrest. The friend says, I did nothing wrong, Sir, someone just gave it to me…..

Moral of story.

The four passengers represent students in public school.
The friend represents charter schools.
The gun belongs to the STATE….

Did a crime happen or no? Parents with students in Newark Charter, want you think no crime happened here. In the lottery of life, someone just gave them money. People in the DOE want you to think no crime happened here. Dave Sokola, Earl Jaques, and Jack Markell want you to think no crime happened here…

So how do four passengers have all their stuff unloaded off of them, and everyone says no crime occurs?

Because all crime is relative…..

Remember this.

As you view the results posted saying how Common Core has improved our teaching over the past year between the first taking and second taking of the tests…. these tests are graded on a curve…

Math 2016

ELA 2016

One cannot compare one year’s test to another because the curve is set each new year to show a different result..

In plain language, this means the level of proficiency is NOT set by the number of right answers…. but is set by how your right number of answers compare to everyone else…

I have seen nothing regarding the cut scores setting remaining consistent between 2015 and 2016. Being changed by the committee overseeing them,  results in better scores (although we can see they were not set much better)…

This was predicted when we first debated Common Core and the Smarter Balanced. It has now come to pass.

Secondly.

If this overall program were working, we should have seen far greater positive results than what we did. There are political reasons as well as financial reasons for this slow improvement… (If you show too much improvement too fast, no one will invest to gain greater improvement..)

Showing one or two percentages of people doing better is not glowing results. Not after two full years of teaching to the test…

The real result is how these same children will do on the next NAEP, the nation’s report card. Overall in both Delaware and the nation, ever since Common Core was affected, those scores (which since the 80’s had always climbed), have gone down…

If you brag about increased Smarter Scores, yet your real report card score goes down, you are no better than those teachers denigrated as passing people into the next grade who failed to meet the expectation…

In conclusion, all of this is completely meaningless. The scores show us nothing for they are arbitrarily made up. The tests show us nothing because they too are made up. The grading shows us nothing because it is made up… Only the NAEP shows us anything now, because it is a test not curved which has been consistent for years… If it shows improvement then this program is indeed working; if it doesn’t, then we need to pull the plug and return to what once worked so well.

What we DO have (since these tests do not show us anything) is a big waste of money… Make that a huge waste of money…. Money that could have been spent on???

Something like an 11:1 student teacher ratio in all schools over 50% poverty levels….

So do not be persuaded by appeals that improvement is at hand.. For the data included has some rather darkening and troubling implications… The Science and Social Studies DCAS scores have dropped consistently since Common Core was invented and put into practice…

Our Delaware kids ARE becoming dumber and dumber..Our solitary focus on math and ENGLISH has eclipsed time for civics and science. Everyone knows how to understand and speak English, even if they don’t know what an indecent participle is. But science and social studies are the determiner of an ignorant society or a knowledgeable one.. Delaware is becoming more and more ignorant the more we embrace Common Core… readily seen because those two scores are not arbitrarily set on a curve; they are based on the number of right and wrong answers. More Delawareans are getting the answers wrong consistently every year since Common Core was enacted.

So let’s grade Markell’s administration….

Our English(reading) scores have gone down over his administrations (due to test change).
Our Math scores have gone down over his administration (due to test change).
Our Social Studies scores have gone down over his administration.
Our Science scores have gone down over his administration….
Our NAEP scores have gone down over his administration….

How can that be called a success?

For Mike O:  http://www2.ed.gov/policy/elsec/leg/essa/nprmaccountabilitystateplans52016.pdf

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States can choose their own indicators of school quality or student success that move beyond traditional accountability measures based on test scores and graduation rates.

Regulations do not prescribe an “n-size,” or minimum number of a particular group of students at a school, for that group of students to be included for accountability purposes.

If a school is scoring at the lowest-possible level on any academic indicator, it has to get a different summative rating than a school that’s getting top marks on all the indicators.

The regulations state that, “To ensure that differentiation of schools is meaningful, the accountability system should allow for more than two possible outcomes for each school.”

For each accountability indicator, there must be three distinct levels of performance assigned to schools that are “clear and understandable to the public.”

Regulations do not dictate how states must deal with schools that assess less than 95 percent of all their students.States find the solution themselves.

States now have these four options to address an individual school’s low test-participation rates: (below 95%)

(1) assign a lower summative rating to the school;

(2) assign the lowest performance level on the State’s Academic Achievement indicator;

(3) identify the school for targeted support and improvement.

(4) switch to a different test and vendor.

States must identify schools with subgroups that, based on the state’s indicators, underperform over two or more years.

Of the weights that must be used for different accountability factors, the academic factors would have to have a “much greater” weight than the measures of school quality or student success in accountability systems.

Schools identified for “comprehensive support” can’t get that label removed on the basis of progress in that indicator, unless it is making sufficient progress on other indicators.

Each subgroup of students (like economically disadvantaged students and those in special education) must be considered separately for accountability.  (“super subgroups” or the big groups combining several different subgroups of students that proliferated under waivers from No Child Left Behind, can no longer be used in place of an individual subgroup of students.)

Schools in need of comprehensive support include: the bottom 5 percent of Title I schools in the state; high schools with graduation rates below 67 percent for all students based on the four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate; and Title I schools with chronically low-performing subgroups that have not improved after receiving additional targeted support.

Schools in need of targeted support include schools with a low-performing subgroup performing similarly to all students in the bottom 5 percent of Title I schools

The end of the “pass/fail” era of No Child Left Behind: “Proposed regulations clarify ESSA’s statutory language by ensuring the use of multiple measures of school success based on academic outcomes, student progress, and school quality, thereby reinforcing that all students deserve a high-quality and well-rounded education that will prepare them for success.”

 

 

Like every new idea, ones defenses go up… “Whoa there, buddy…. ”

Except for sports careers, it kinda does make sense….

We ask children who’ve finished learning, emotionally, psychologically, (and for the most part) biologically, to stay on-board for two years of “extra” curricular activities which when we reflect back on our years, all of which we learned academically in those two years, rarely get used today…. (sex is a different story).

Before you jump the shark, recognize this:  that if we keep the final two years optional… (by making them years to opt-in on), we also make them preferential which tends to allow discipline to be internally enforced by each student who chooses to continue onward ( ie, the reality of being kicked out is a real negative; it is no longer something to brag about)…

Here’s why. The issue I hear from High Schools today, and this involves input from students, faculty, parents and administrators, boils down to this:  that a lot of young adults in the upper grades do NOT WANT TO LEARN….  Every negative aspect stems from that single ubiquitous elephant in the room:  discipline problems, lack of personal respect, work ethic, mental alertness, focus, fights, productivity, lack of motivation, etc. …

And every time a round table discusses how to improve high school performance, someone (this is true) inevitably says:  if only we could cull those who don’t want to be there, most of our problems would go away… Sigh:  but that will never happen……………………………….”

So what I’m asking:  is…. why can’t that happen?

Rule 1:  Every child must be in school till age 18.

In society, this is a relative new rule.  When there is no solid structure supporting society adulthood entry levels move downward, usually settling around somewhere in the low teens, correlating with puberty for the most part…  Romans married off their children at 13. That was also the age of dissolving parent-child bonds in the Middle Ages on the continent of Europe.   Native Americans, both North and South, also became adults then…

Obviously there must be precedent: our own Common Core Standards stop measuring before reaching the upper grades.

So, instead of forcing people who for multiple reasons do not want to continue schooling to go against their will through the motions of being schooled, what if we provided an alternative?

For example what if we allowed them to work at something on the scale of our military, which was the template for the CCC, Civilian Conservation Corps?  Those men like the military, stayed in camps, had discipline structure,  meals and lodging provided, and worked hard (physical labor) for a dollar a day…  When they were ready to leave, they had a nest egg on which to begin. Today, we should do $20 a day.

Yes. It would take planning to iron out details.. We would need input from a variety of societal perspectives to discover just the right mix.

But, a 16 year old could be given the option, based on his past feeling over his 11 years (counting kindergarten) of public schooling, to decide whether or not they wanted to start work, or go to college… Their growing brain would continue learning, just not stuff that was irrelevant to them…

And if someone ever made the wrong choice by staying in classes inappropriate for them, and became consistently disruptive or violent, there would be a ready option available outside of public schooling into which we quickly place them.

After all for our first 200 years, most of America’s success was built on the backs of Americans who did not finish high school…

This solution would solve or at least dilute many of high school’s problems.

  • Disruptive Classes
  • Fewer Discipline events
  • Poor Work Ethic
  • Disrespect for Authority
  • Low test scores (that are meaningless to those who care not.)

 

And there is a model. In a corporation when one has a division of ones company that is not adding to the bottom line but taking from it, one sells it off.  As soon as the transaction occurs, ones results improve…

Why not use that same model in high school and make grades 11 and 12 elective? By simply having an alternative, most students will choose to continue to opt-in, willingly continuing their free public education because is serves in their best long-term interests to do so…

Once they’ve gained this realization, their whole attitude changes….

Because the entire problem with High Schools today is that we force them to deal with people who DON’T want to be there (like prisons)…  And I don’t know about you, but my High School was not like that. That type of element was just not around.

I’m proposing we make this happen in our schools …

 

 

 

 

 

 

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