Today’s referendum: A case study in Optimism v. Nilhilism

Image result for optimism

So today we have the state’s 2 largest district seeking affirmation from their communities to take more taxes from them in order to strengthen and preserve the most sacrosanct public trust we as a state and nation have: the education of our children. It is the conclusion of much consideration from elected school boards and the sole way in which Delaware code permits its local share of education dollars to be modified: direct election.  I love democracy, and the vote. Today we receive our truth and I am A-OK with that; however, the General Assembly is directly elected and they control  taxes as well. Why not the school taxes? Perhaps they feel it is best to keep the decisions truly local and not burden their colleagues with provincial battles? Perhaps they are just enamored with selective direct voting? Perhaps they are cowards, afraid to preserve this public trust over their precious jobs? Honestly, we’ll never know what the feckless wonders who have presided over the destructive policies of the last 6 years have done to school funding because they don’t seem too interested in searching their souls nor revealing them.

Here’s what I know: this is a tough referendum for a ton of reasons. The economy is not what our Governor tells us it is: it’s tough, and people continue to struggle… so asking for more money is a difficult sell. The state has spent a tremendous amount of energy in the past six years making public education an arena for labeling, shaming, fighting. I’m talking about schools, students, teachers, parents, school boards, and even communities. Test driven accountability and the unfavorable coverage it’s “alleged” results begets has fractured the public trust in public education. We now bicker (yes, me too. Actually me first much of the time) constantly over results, salaries, tests, special education, elections, FOIA, charters, magnets, PZ schools, Priority Schools, Focus Schools, Common Core, DCAS, SBAC, educator evaluations, ELL/ESL delivery, class sizes, etc., etc.  All of these are important things and the opinions on these subjects vary greatly, but the opinions all gather into one place and become a cacophonous, out of tune, symphonic disaster that leaves many parents and taxpayers deeply skeptical of how the educational establishment in Delaware functions well, or even at all. They are right to be affected by the discourse in just this way.

All of this brings me to my argument for the referendum. I’m hearing the NO voters loud and clear: they seem to believe there is no accountability for results, pay is too high for administrators, kids are out of control behaviorally with no consequence (schools are not safe). When added to the reality of not being able to afford additional taxes, it leads them to a visceral NO vote.  I understand this position and why it is a very sincere belief despite not sharing it.

I also hear the YES voters: we cannot move forward without adequate funding, I value my child’s school and teachers, my school has a great community and I will do anything to support it.

In the middle, and who I hear loudest, are the MAYBE voters, or the I’M NOT SURE voters. They are drawn to the opinions of the NO voters because they see many of the same things, but they know that without adequate funding there is no hope for the future. It is a classic case of embracing the nihilism of saying I want to stick it to the schools to teach them a lesson in being better and I don’t care if my children, your children, charter children, TPS children, children with special needs, gifted children have no resources VS. the optimism of belief that we, as a state and community, must provide resources to this effort so that we can make better decisions tomorrow than we did yesterday.

I know this is a difficult decision. Only one vote, a vote for nihilism and the selection of NO will box Red Clay and Christina in a corner with our children. If you have deep and sincere reservations about how to move forward, but also deeply believe we have a moral obligation to do so, vote for optimism, vote YES.

That’s YES… and get involved. Come to board meetings, join PTA, vote in board elections, RUN for school board! If you want to have the money to allow your district to make change, vote YES.

If you want to force us to change in a way that reduces our ability to serve children while you make your point, then vote NO, and shrink back into your world and pretend you didn’t take money from schools, students, and literally fire your neighbors.

Dover’s inability to produce a school funding mechanism that is equitable or flexible has put us here, along with the Governor’s draconian cuts. If you want Red Clay and Christina to have chance of honoring this public trust, then join me at the polls. Without funds, there are no option to improve, only shrink, reduce, and comply.

I’m voting yes, because I have optimism and faith in public education, community, and the provision of opportunity to our students.

Who wrote the Common Core Standards? The Common Core 24

Originally posted on Seattle Education:


We have all heard stories about who decided on the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) that are now holding students and teachers hostage to a narrow curriculum and an endless testing regime.

Mercedes Schneider decided to find out who the twenty-four people were that determined the Common Core Standards.

Here is an excerpt from her post Those 24 Common Core 2009 Work Group Members:

NGA (National Governors Associaiton) and CCSSO (Council of Chief State School Officers ) (and, by extension, USDOE) undeniably meant for CCSS to be something done “to” teachers. NGA’s and CCSSO’s concentration of individuals versed in standardized assessment on their CCSS work groups speaks to the purpose of CCSS to both financially benefit education testing companies and usher unprecedented, nationwide standardized testing into the classrooms of those very professionals purposely excluded from the CCSS work group table.

2009 CCSS Development Work Groups

CCSS Mathematics Work Group


View original 2,800 more words

Newark city councilman Todd Ruckle gets his Tom Cruise Navy Lawyer on. #CSDreferendum

Todd Ruckle is voting no on the CSD referendum. That is most certainly his right. Here are some quotes from him:

Ok folks in the Christina school district, I along with 4 other citizens attended the referendum seminar at Christina high school and here is the results. The district wants 50 million dollars to maintain being almost the lowest ranking school district in new castle county. The superintendent was proud that Christina will not expel major problem students that completely disrupt student who want to learn. I highly recommend we vote this referendum down and get the community and local leaders together to create an major action plan to correct this ship before it sinks. 2/24 you need to vote or this referendum will pass without any action plan to bring this district back to being the best. It is truly time to get involved.

Since 2000, the district has held six referenda, four of which received favorable results.

Newark Councilman Todd Ruckle was one of only a handful of people who attended last week’s forum at Christiana High School. He voiced strong opposition to the proposed tax hike.

Much like the city’s financial planning, he said, an important part of crafting a budget is making cuts. He questioned what the school district has done to cut corners before asking the public to cough up more cash.

“Right now, I haven’t seen one cut,” he said. “I’ve seen expansions.”

Williams defended the proposal and argued that Christina is using all of its current available resources. If the referendum fails, he said, the district is prepared to make cuts.

“It’s not a scare tactic,” Williams said. “It would be painful, but it would be appropriate, and we would do it if we have to.”

Ruckle said he is worried how the tax hike will affect the senior citizens in his district, many of whom live on fixed incomes.

“I’m going to tell you right now, what I’m seeing, they’re not going to back it,” he said.

Mr. Ruckle is a supporter of Newark Charter School, where he has at least one child in attendance. Again, his choice, his right, no argument here. However, I think it is fair to make a few comments in response to his concerns:

  • Public education is a sacred social contract and is designed to work for all, not just those that win a lottery
  • Traditional school districts are not permitted to throw kids out of school indiscriminately or arbitrarily and have an obligation to educate all and keep our students in school in spite of behaviors than many feel warrant suspension/expulsion. We do not always do the right things along these fronts, but our calling demands we aspire to them, always.
  • CSD, along with many other districts are routinely victimized by DOE’s label, shame, and punish politics which erodes public confidence, like yours.
  • Proving a point to your local school system by not supporting it financially will only serve to further fracture our community and expose all schools, including NCS, to a weaker operational landscape and poorer opportunities for all children
  • NCS receives local share of funding for almost every single child from CSD. An increase in our funding will send MORE monies to NCS to further enhance their excellent programs.  Failing to support the referendum could mean less money for more children and cost NCS monies.
  • Back to the issue of Dr. Williams pride in serving children by refusing to kick them out: is that really a position you want to take as a public servant, that children be denied access to their schools, teachers,a nd ultimately their education? We are not NCS. We serve all children, no matter how they come to us, no matter where they come from, no matter what their parents don’t choose for them.

Your arguments remind me of a famous movie scene:

Mr. Ruckle, please support our students, programs, and schools on February 24th. Don’t continue down this dark road you are showing us.

Priority Schools BREAKING NEWS!!!!!!!

Interesting e-mail.

The most important thing NOW, NOW, NOW, is to let parents and students and teachers KNOW what these 3 schools will look like for 15-16 school year. CBA based deadlines and personnel decisions are imminent and our schools need stability and information to make good decisions…not the DEM House Caucus pounding their chests.

Do. Your. Job.

Sent: Thursday, February 12, 2015 4:48 PM
Subject: Memo on Behalf of House Leadership regarding Christina School District


To:                  House Democratic Caucus Members


From:             Representative Pete Schwartzkopf

                        Representative Valerie Longhurst

                        Representative John Viola

Date:              2/12/2015

Re:                  Christina School District Priority Schools

During the past two days, several caucus members have contacted leadership expressing concerns about the Department of Education’s letter to the Christina School District (which is attached). Thank you for contacting us. We wanted to update you on what actions we took and where the situation currently is.

On Tuesday, Secretary of Education Mark Murphy sent a letter to Christina School District saying that the district’s Board of Education is not in compliance with the Priority School program. As a result, Secretary Murphy gave district leaders until February 27 to decide on one of following options for its three priority schools: closure or restructuring, either as a charter school or under an education management organization. The letter also detailed the Wilmington Education Advisory Group’s recommendation to redraw Christina’s school district lines and close the noncontiguous Wilmington portion of Christina’s district in the city. The suggestion was that doing so could have an effect on “the planning process for Christina’s Priority Schools moving forward.”

Caucus leadership held a conference call with staff to discuss this issue and the concerns that several of you raised about this letter. We had multiple conversations with the governor’s office about the issue and had decided to send a letter to the governor asking that the Department of Education to extend the fast-approaching February 27 deadline. In part, the letter would have noted that forcing a short turnaround for Christina to make a decision would not result in a productive outcome, and it could have a negative impact on school referendums that are taking place. We also planned to ask the governor to convene a group of district, DOE stakeholders to reach a decision on this issue. The letter would have requested that the Chairs of the House and Senate Education committees be included in the negotiations to help facilitate the discussion, and to ensure that each caucus received accurate accounts of the progress of the negotiations. 

Late Wednesday evening, we learned that the Christina School Board voted at its Tuesday meeting to support the Wilmington Education Advisory Group’s recommendation to close the Wilmington portion Christina’s district (a copy of that resolution is also attached). When they learned of this, the governor’s office told us that the February 27 deadline no longer applied because Christina had pledged to work with the state to implement the WEAC redistricting recommendation.

Currently, we are communicating with the governor’s office about what they foresee as the next steps. Here’s what we do know:

·         Any redistricting process will require action by the General Assembly.

·         Any redistricting process will take multiple years to implement.

·         Any redistricting process is a complicated process that will involve a lot of discussions about finances and revenue, and it may require a significant amount of state money to implement.

Most importantly, we need to recognize and remember that when we talk about redistricting these Christina School District schools, we are talking about not just the physical schools, but hundreds of teachers who will be unsure of their future, and thousands of students whose educational future is at stake. Whatever we do in the coming weeks and months, our focus must be on what’s best for all of them, as well as the state of Delaware.

Please do not hesitate to contact any of us in leadership if you have questions, concerns or suggestions.

A Free Bird

Originally posted on Minding My Matters:


I’ve been thinking over how to do this, whether to write this post with a tone, or overload it with facts and figures and research.

I think what is best is just to speak from my heart on this. I’m willing to provide data to support my assertions, but in many ways and in many places I already have. Please take a few moments to look it up for yourself, if you aren’t sure, or message me directly, and I’m happy to answer anything I can.

That said, here we go.

We are all having the wrong conversation. All we discuss is how we can improve student learning, and what impact all the different things in a student’s life have on the student’s ability to learn, and how we can respond to the needs of students to help them learn. And that is a beautiful thing, truly. I would…

View original 800 more words

Podcast of WDEL Interview w/Rick Jensen on Parent Opt Out of High-Stakes Testing

Originally posted on Exceptional Delaware:

I had an awesome time with Rick Jensen today talking about parent opt out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.   There was so much more I could have said, but I had an hour.  Some folks called in.  John Young from the Christina School Board, Delaware State Rep Sean Matthews and Delaware State Rep John Kowalko.  Rick and I talked about special needs children, the Delaware DOE, Smarter Balanced Assessment, and how it is not illegal to opt your child out in Delaware.  We talked about the “scare tactic” letter the DOE wants districts to give to parents when they opt their kid out and how it is based on state code that does not include parents at all.  I hope to do this again soon!

View original

Showdown 2.0. Let the DOE/Jack Markell union busting begin.


10.0 Process

10.1 The Department shall provide districts and schools with preliminary notification of a school’s identification pursuant to 7.0 no later than the end of July following the school year on which the identification is based, and final notice shall be given no later than August 1st.

10.2 Notice — A district that includes a school or a charter school identified as Under Improvement shall, at least 14 days prior to the start of the upcoming school year, provide the following notification to parents of students enrolled in that school:

10.2.1 Information regarding the school’s identification and reason for its identification;

10.2.2 For Title I schools, their right to enroll their child(ren) in a different school as prescribed by ESEA, and for non-Title I schools, information on the Statewide Choice program as prescribed in 14 Del.C.,Chapter 4;

10.2.3 For Title I schools, their right to have their child receive Supplemental Educational Services, as prescribed by ESEA, and for non-Title I schools, supplemental services if provided for in §103.7.0;

10.2.4 How they can be involved in addressing the academic issues that led to identification; and

10.2.5 Any other notifications required by the ESEA regulations.

10.3 Plan Development, Approval, and Modification

10.3.1 Schools receiving notice that they are identified as Under Improvement Phase I shall develop or revise their School Success Plan within three months of their notification. Schools identified as Title I shall also ensure that the ten (10) requirements for schools under improvement, as required in Section 1116(b)(3)(A) of the ESEA, are incorporated in the Success Plan. Schools shall provide the Plan to the district in which the school is located for approval or in the case of a charter school, to the charter school’s board. The district or charter school board shall, within 45 days of receiving a revised School Success Plan from a Title I school, establish a peer review process to assist with review of the Plan. The district or charter school board must promptly review the School Success Plan, work with the school as necessary, and approve the School Success Plan if it meets the ten (10) requirements for schools under improvement as required in Section 1116(b)(3)(A) of the ESEA. The Plan shall be implemented immediately upon approval.

10.3.2 Schools receiving notice that they are identified as Under Improvement Phase II shall modify their School Success Plan as necessary within three months of their notification.

10.3.3 Districts having schools that are identified as in Corrective Action Phase I and charter schools so identified shall develop their Corrective Action Plan within six weeks of their notification and shall provide the Plan to the Department for approval. Following submission, the Department shall collaborate with the school and the district and make any necessary revisions such that the Corrective Action Plan is approved within six weeks of submission. If the school, the district and the Department are unable to agree on the Corrective Action Plan at the end of the six week period, then the Department shall develop the Corrective Action Plan within 4 weeks of that deadline.

10.3.4 Districts having schools that are identified as in Corrective Action Phase II and charter schools so identified shall develop the Restructuring Plan required in 7.5 within three months of their preliminary notification and provide the Restructuring Plan to the Department for review and approval. Prior to the date of submission, the district or charter school shall have performed all necessary steps to ensure that the restructuring choice selected is viable and will be implemented, subject only to approval by the Department. The Department, in consultation with the State Board of Education, shall review and approve the Restructuring Plan, or make comment, and require revisions, if needed within 60 days of submission. If revisions are required, the district or Charter school must submit a final revised Restructuring Plan to the Department by April 30th of the Corrective Action Phase II year for final review and approval. The Department shall approve or disapprove the revised Restructuring Plan within 60 days of submission. If the Department disapproves the Restructuring Plan, the district or charter school submitting the Restructuring Plan shall make another selection from among the Restructuring options in 7.5.1. Department approval of the Restructuring Plan shall be subject to the results of that year’s accountability activities. Upon receipt of the final identification for that year, if results show that the school is in Restructuring, the district or charter school shall immediately implement the Restructuring Plan.

10.3.5 Schools that are selected by the Department for participation in the Partnership Zone shall be notified of such selection by September 1st. The district or charter school shall immediately begin negotiating the MOU required by 7.6.1. If the parties to the MOU are unable to agree on the MOU within 120 days, the district or charter school shall select from the Restructuring models found in 7.5.1, 7.5.2, or 7.5.3.

10.3.6 All plans submitted by schools and districts pursuant to 7.0 shall be developed with input from parents, teachers, and outside experts. Such plans shall establish measurable goals/benchmarks for the school. Once a plan is approved, information regarding the plan shall be provided to parents.

10.3.7 In evaluating School Success Plans, Corrective Action Plans, and Restructuring Plans, the Department shall ensure that each such plan satisfies applicable law, reflects input required in 10.3.6, includes measurable goals/benchmarks for the school, and is likely to result in the school improving its performance classification and exiting “under improvement” status.

10.3.8 Provisions in this section are in addition to, and not in lieu of, existing ESEA requirements for Title I schools.

13 DE Reg. 1064 (02/01/10)

14 DE Reg. 1353 (06/01/11)

DDOE Staff update from October 2014. They “know” the DSEA will mis-read the DPAS report. DSEA MUST READ


All Staff Monthly Update

October, 2014

Education Supports & Innovative Practices – Susan Haberstroh

Community Education Building  – National School Lunch Program

  • School Nutrition Programs has approved the Community Education Building (CEB) as a School Food Authority. As such, CEB will provide meals for the charters in its building. CEB had received “conditional approval” last spring pending completion of the procurement process and submittal of appropriate documentation.

Community Eligibility Program – School Nutrition

  • On July 1, 2014 the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) was made available to all qualifying schools that participate in the United States Department of Agriculture’s School Nutrition Programs.    In order to qualify for this Provision, a school must have at least 40% enrolled students directly certified to receive free meals in the School Nutrition Programs.  In Delaware, we have 91 schools electing to implement CEP for SY 14-15.  This means that in these 91 schools all enrolled students will be able to eat breakfast and lunch for free!

Annual Bullying Report for School Year 2013-2014

  • The DDOE will be publishing the required annual report on bullying in districts and charter schools within Delaware.  The report is a summary of district/charter data on reports of alleged and substantiated bullying incidents, and the number of bullying offenses within substantiated incidents which occurred during the 2013-14 school year.  It also includes a summary of reasons for bullying, as well as the results of the audit of random schools for compliance with certain aspects of Delaware’s bullying prevention law.  Compared to the previous year, the number of alleged bullying reports declined 33%.  Substantiated bullying reports and the number of students involved in those reports both declined 11% from the previous year.  The top three reasons for bullying, as reported by school administration, were: 1) Peer Attention; 2) Other; 3) Physical Appearance.  The bully audit data in the report is presented in a summary format for the selected schools.  Individual reports will be emailed to the respective district superintendents and school principals.  Questions regarding this report should be directed to John Sadowski, DDOE Education Associate for School Climate & Discipline, at or 302-735-4060.

Adult Education & Family Literacy Week – Student Leadership Institute

  • This year, Adult Education and Family Literacy (AEFL) Week will be celebrated from September 22 to 26th.  The purpose of this national event is to raise public awareness of adult education and family literacy, assist adult learners in need of literacy services, leveragelocal resources, and support increasedaccess to adult education and family literacy programs.  To celebrate adult education, Delaware is holding a Student Leadership Institute on September 20 at the Polytech Adult Education Building in Woodside. The event will focus on helping students develop strategies for making their “dreams” into reality.  The keynote speaker, “Coach D”, will conduct an interactive seminar with adult learners providing methods to identify goals, surmount obstacles, and triumph over challenges.  Participants will brainstorm a “game plan” that will make their “dreams work!” While having fun, adult students will learn about personal development and empowerment which is critical to success in further education and the workplace.  There is no charge to students, alumni, or programs that register with OAASIS, the adult education student support organization.

Free to See GED® Event

  • From September 22 to October 3, GED Testing Service will be offering free administrations of the GED® Ready Test (normally $8 a subtest) at all adult education programs and GED® community testing centers.  Passing GED® Ready subtests have resulted in a 94 to 96% pass rate on the GED® subtests.  In fact, anyone who does not pass the GED® subtest after passing the GED Ready ® will be able to retake the GED® subtest again for free (normally $30 per subtest). Adult learners that don’t possess a high school diploma or secondary credential can test their skills and attain a GED® credential for free!  The importance of education in attaining a good job, entering specific skills training, or college is a recognized fact.  This event will motivate those learners with financial barriers to test their skills and open doors to new and better educational and employment opportunities.

Delaware Health Alert #337:

  • On 9/15/13, the Division of Public Health released Delaware Health Alert #337 -Severe Respiratory Illness Associated with Enterovirus. The Alert has been distributed to school nurses.  Key information, from the Alert, on the “Current Situation in Delaware”:
  • In the past week, Delaware has seen an increase in hospitalizations for respiratory illness among children.  These hospitalizations were due to illness caused by an as yet unidentified virus.  Some of these children have required ICU care.  Public Health has worked with local hospitals and has sent samples to the CDC for testing to determine if these respiratory illnesses were caused by EV-D68.  Results of the testing are expected in the next 5-7 days Delaware Division of Public Health urges providers to remind their patients to take the following steps to prevent illness due to respiratory viruses:
    – Wash hands with soap and water frequently for 20 seconds, especially after changing diapers.
    – Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands, especially after coughing or sneezing.
    – Practice respiratory etiquette by covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue or coughing or sneezing into inner elbow.
    – Stay home from work or school when sick and do not return until 24 hours after a fever is gone.
    – Disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs, especially if someone is sick.
    – Contact their health care provider if they have any concerns.
    – Get their annual influenza vaccine to protect themselves from influenza, which is the most common virus causing severe respiratory illness.  At this time, there is no vaccine against EV-D68 infection)
  • Thank you for submitting your monitoring plans for the 14-15 school year. The information was compiled into a master calendar (attached) and then individual calendars were prepared for each district (see attached sample). The individual calendars were distributed to the districts at the Chiefs meeting on Thursday, September 25th. Please note that the master calendar is an internal document because district Levels of Support have not been made public at this point. Please also note that some submitted items were not included as it was determined that it would be more appropriate to list the items on the Department’s Data Acquisition Calendar.
  • Karen Field-Rogers distributed a copy of the Data Acquisition Calendar to the Leadership Team on Monday, September 22nd. She is requesting that changes to the calendar be submitted to Lisa Spence-Russ no later than Friday, October 3rd.
Accountability and Performance Management – Penny Schwinn
Office of Assessment – Brian M. Touchette

  • SAT – Rita Fry is collecting the necessary information from districts and charters for the College Board SAT.
    • SAT Online Course Access Codes to be released to schools.
    • Approximately 2-3 week turnaround for schools to receive their student access codes for the SAT Online Course.
  • Released DCAS-ALT 1 Tasks -Released tasks for DCAS-ALT 1 will be published during the first week of October.
    • A companion guide to the tasks will also be published, providing the grade band, content area, standard/extension, and other information about each released task.
    • Documents will be posted on the DCAS–ALT 1 portal.
  • DCAS-ALT 1 Training for New Test Administrators – Training webinar will be available in late October.
  • DeSSA Accessibility Guidelines Training – six, 2.5-hour, face-to-face sessions on September 25, 26, and 29.
    • Sessions cover supports for students with disabilities, English language learners, and general education students taking DCAS, DCAS-ALT 1, and Smarter assessments.
    • Three online training sessions will also be offered-one focused on students with disabilities, one English language learners, and one general education students with supports.
  • DeSSA Accessibility Guidelines Revision for 2014-2015 – A revision of the DeSSA Accessibility Guidelines for 2014-2015 will be posted on the DeSSA portal during the week of September 3, 2014.
  • Digital Library Workshop – Katia Foret recently travelled with curriculum department representatives to participate in a Digital Library workshop.
    • State Leadership Team (SLT) members from Delaware collaborated and received additional training along with other state SLTs.
  • NAEP – Rita Fry has been focusing efforts on preparations for this year’s administration of NAEP. Activities include:
    • State coordinator training and Open Lab
    • Preview of the Delaware District Site and NAEP webinar
    • A visit from the NAEP Ambassador
    • Participated in sessions addressing the NAEP 2015 Students with Disabilities and English Language Learner Inclusion Guidelines
  • Videotaping DCAS-Alt 1 Tasks – On October 20 and 21, the Office of Assessment will be videotaping selected Delaware DCAS-Alt 1 teachers administering released tasks to Delaware students.
    • Videos will be posted on the DCAS-Alt 1 portal
    • Videos will be used for training new test administrators
  • Technical Report Review – As a member of the Smarter Validation and Psychometric Work Group, Liru Zhang has reviewed chapters of the Technical Report prepared by CTB on the Smarter design, pilot study, and field test.
  • Assessment Security Regulations – Carolyn Lazar, Helen Dennis, Lisa Alexander, and Rita Fry have been working together to review regulations related to assessment security in preparation for test administration during the 2014-2015 school year.
  • DeSSA E-Newsletter – Office of Assessment published the first edition of the DeSSA E-Newsletter with important information regarding aspects of our state assessment system.
  • Survey on States’ Assessment Changes- Liru Zhang, Katia Foret, and Carolyn Lazar recently reviewed and completed the Survey on States’ Assessment Changes.
    • Information gathered by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) will be utilized to complete a report describing state assessment changes and results of the NAEP.
  • Brainstorming for Assessment Transitions – Lisa Alexander and Carolyn Lazar met with AIR representatives to brainstorm key topics related to assessment transitions.
  • Additional Analysis – Liru Zhang conducted additional analyses of the 2014 EOC, Algebra II and Integrated Mathematics III, for a better understanding of student performance and potential issues in administration.
  • Vertical Scaling – Liru Zhang participated in a conference call for Psychometric Leads regarding vertical scaling for Smarter.
  • Collaborative Efforts on Regulations – Helen Dennis and Carolyn Lazar have been gathering feedback and collaborating with other workgroups to review regulations in support of recent legislation.
  • DeSSA Updates Underway- Lisa Alexander, Helen Dennis, Rita Fry, and Carolyn Lazar continue to review, revise, and develop assessment materials necessary for the DeSSA transition.
  • Multistate Science Assessment Webinar- April McCrae is presenting information about current science assessment activities in Delaware via online webinar with state assessment supervisors.
    • Stimulate ideas and conversation around item types and summative assessment formats that may serve well under the NGSS format.
    • Scheduled on September 25, 2014.
  • Smarter Psychometric Discussions – Liru Zhang continues to collaborate with Smarter consortium staff and state representatives in preparation for the summative assessment via Smarter Psychometric conference calls.
  • Office of Assessment Planning – Quarterly meeting was held between the Office of Assessment and the state assessment vendor, AIR.
    • Primary topic was transition to the new DeSSA system.
  • State Leads Call – Carolyn Lazar, Helen Dennis, and Brian Touchette participated in a question and answer session with Smarter assessment staff, vendors, and other Smarter state representatives.
    • Implementation questions were discussed, feedback was shared, and planning forward occurred.
  • DeSSA 101 Session Planning – The Office of Assessment team began planning for the District Test Coordinators’ meetings and E-Newsletter topics scheduled for this year.
    • An overview was developed
    • In-depth planning for the October face-to-face session
  • Smarter Digital Library User Accounts – Lisa Alexander will be sending out notification about the set-up for Smarter Digital Library User Accounts.
  • Smarter Digital Library User Accounts – Lisa Alexander and Carolyn Lazar met with Renee Parsley, Theresa Bennett, and James Dick to plan and prepare for the transition from the Smarter Digital Library preview to the full release in October.

Office of Accountability – Penny Schwinn

  • State Accountability SurveyThe Office of Accountability will be kicking off the State Accountability Survey over the next three weeks. We are currently looking for 20-25 people who would be willing to serve as regional survey representatives. This role would be to give and collect surveys of the representative population within assigned areas. Each representative would be responsible for:

*          Giving and collecting surveys with a set goal

*          Inputting survey data (if collected by paper and not online)

*         Working with local districts, community organizations, and events to target

representative populations

*          Use weekly analytic results to drive strategic survey collectionThese representatives will be paid for each survey collected and this information will be used to inform a portion of the State Accountability System. If you have names or recommendations for these State Survey Representatives, please send them to Chantel Janiszewski at

Focus Schools


  • The Turnaround Department celebrates the exit of 4 Focus Schools who met their exit criteria in advance of the goal date:
    • Banneker Elementary School
    • Booker T. Washington Elementary School
    • Fairview Elementary School
    • Newark High School.

Performance Management – Kate Villari

USED/ Race to the Top

  • APR is open! You should have been contacted already if your input is needed.
  • Amendment from last month: there ARE monthly calls from October through at least January of 15.
    • Calls are 90 minutes each (up from the usual 60) and will be Thursday afternoons.
    • Calls will cover both No Cost Extension sub-criteria and RTTT Closeout procedures.

Consolidated Grantsà processing well underway, progressing as anticipated.

  • Status:
  • 8 grants are approved & scheduled for payment in September (4 district, 4 charter)
  • 3 grants are approved & scheduled for payment in October (2 districts, 1 charter)
  • 28 grants still in processing

SEA Routines

  • Upcoming Stocktakes:
  • TLEU – 9/30
  • Communications – TBD, November
  • Upcoming Memos
  • November = first memo: CCR1
  • December = CCR2
  • New work plans under development
  • Communications – complete date TBD
  • Accountability & Assessment plan complete by 11/30
  • LEA Routines
  • SY13/14 Routines: All LEA Root Cause analyses have been submitted to DDOE, with the exception of Christina who only recently received their EOY memo and has additional time to complete.
  • SY14/15 Routines
  • District classifications & notifications provided.
  • Note: these are not made public, and some districts were upset about their classifications changing.
  • Breakdown as follows:
  • Minimal: Sussex Tech, Appo, Cape, Lake, NCCVT, Poly, C. Rodney
  • Moderate: Smyrna, I. River, Brandywine, Red Clay, Capital
  • Intense: Delmar, Milford, Christina, Colonial, Laurel, Woodbridge, Seaford
  • Scheduling of all LEA routines has commenced, and meetings will not begin until November.
  • Additional detail aboutSY14/15 routines will be provided at your branch prep meeting.
Financial Reform & Resource Management – Karen Field Rogers


Human Resources

  • If you have positions in your workgroup supported in full or in part by federal funds, please make sure that you are going into the Time Management System and completing the Time & Effort process.  This needs to be done bi-weekly, after pay day.
  • If you currently have staff on Improvement Plans, please forward the plans and your regular updates to the HRO.  The Human Resource Officer is available to assist in this process if support is needed.
  • Please be aware that OMB is now requiring that all positions go through the Hiring Review Process, including casual/seasonal, internal postings, temps, and professional contracts.  In addition, positions requested that are not yet vacated will most likely not be approved unless we can identify extenuating circumstances to post an anticipated vacancy.
  • When providing justifications for filling positions and/or contract information, please remember that our requests have to be to OMB at least 3 business days prior to the 1st and 15th of each month.  OMB will not consider late submissions.


  • Positions in Hiring Process
    • FA, ELC, Exceptional Children, Re-Posted, closes 10/10
    • Financial Secretary, Finance, Posted, closes 10/3
    • Secretary, EDLR, Posted, closes 10/10
    • EA, Performance Management, closes 10/10
    • EA, CTE, Business, Re-posted, closes 10/10
  • New Hires
    • Michael Grossman, EA, Prison Education, effective 10/5
    • Ryan Reyna, Director, Office of Accountability, effective 10/6
    • Atnre Alleyne, Director, Talent Management, effective 10/6
  • Promotions
    • Kristi King, Teacher/Supervisor, SCI, effective 10/5
  • Resignations
    • John Goodwin, Technician, IT, effective 10/1 (wants no public announcement)
    • Kelley Tetrick, Teacher/Supervisor, JTVCC, effective 10/8
  • Retirements
    • Hilda Davis, Secretary, CTE, Effective 10/1
  • Vacant Positions with OMB Approval to Fill
    • EA, Office of Accountability
    • EA, Curriculum Instruction & Professional Development
  • Vacant Positions included on 10/1 OMB Hiring Review Request
    • FA, CNP, SSS
    • Secretary, Curriculum Instruction & Professional Development
    • Technician (FA), IT
    • Teacher/Supervisor, JTVCC
  • Vacant Positions to be included on 10/15 OMB Hiring Review Request
    • ED, Prison Education, SCI
  • Vacant Positions w/o OMB Approval to Fill
    • Secretary, Exceptional Children Resources
    • Secretary, CTE


  • New Hires
  • Dwight BoNey, Teacher/Supervisor, BWCI, effective date TBD
    • Retirements
    • Steve Ballard, DCET, effective 1/5/15


  • Attached please find the Delaware Associate of Educational Office Professionals newsletter, which includes information on professional development days and information on their annual Fall Banquet.  Please feel free to distribute to your administrative staff as appropriate.
  • New federal funding opportunities – All new federal funding must be processed through State requirements; workgroups should build those processes into submission timelines.  Additional points to remember include:
    • Once a new funding opportunity has been identified as a viable option to pursue, fill out the Approval for New Grants, Federal Contracts and Private or Foundation Funding form and submit to Karen Field Rogers.  Agency review from finance and human resources is mandatory especially if positions, funding match or maintenance of effort are required.  Additionally, by notifying Finance of the new funding opportunities, technical assistance can be provided for completing mandatory state requirements.
    • All grants that require submittal through need to be arranged with Eulinda DiPietro.  Please contact Eulinda at least 2 weeks before the due date to review the budget section, and to schedule an appointment to upload the grant at least 2 days prior to the due date.
    • While working on the funding application, submit a completed Director’s Overview via email to the appropriate federal funds manager (Cathy Wolfe or Eulinda DiPietro) at least four months prior to the start date of funding.  All funds must be approved by the Office and Management Budget and Delaware State Clearinghouse Committee (DSCC).  To have a grant scheduled for review, Cathy or Eulinda must enter application information into FSF and then the grant will be scheduled two months later for review.  Once the grant is reviewed by the Clearinghouse Committee, the processing in FSF can be finalized.
  • Continuous funding – grants that we receive ever year, such as IDEA, Title I, Title II, etc. have to be reviewed by DSCC.
    • Four months prior to the start date of your new award, submit a Director’s Overview electronically to Eulinda or Cathy (Child Nutrition grants have a slightly different process).
    • If you receive the grant award notice, please forward a copy to Cathy or Eulinda.  The grant award notice is required to complete the process of loading grants in FSF.
    • Funding cannot be spent until approved by Clearinghouse and processed in FSF.

Technology Resources and Data Development

*           Education Insight Dashboard – We released version 4.0 of the Ed-Insight performance dashboard this month.  This new school year release integrates data structures for Ed-Fi 1.2 and early learning extensibility as well as reporting functionality from within the interface.   The dashboard now contains over 100 different performance metrics to help our educators make informed data decisions for their students.   Administratively, we also finalized and executed appropriate contracts with vendors to maintain support structures for the coming year.

*           We are in final testing of our second joint Sungard development opportunity with NHDOE surrounding RTI functionality within the Performance Plus individualized learning plan module.  We expect to release this new functionality as soon as this completes.  This is the second joint state development opportunity chartered on this project.   Additionally, new test item styles have been released within the Performance Plus suite this month increasing functionality.

*           We continue to facilitate coordinated discussions between LEA’s, Charters, GSS, and vendors to begin the statewide hardware replacement process for DCAS/SBAC test hardware.  Most districts have received their second year hardware allocations this month.

*           Early Learning ELI Dashboards – This project has is currently in development and on schedule.  We continue to work on data loads and verification of test data for the dashboards.  We also worked on development tasks, stakeholder interviews, and are actively working on inter-agency MOU’s to establish our data relationships.

*           Website Redesign Project – We are in final QA and edits of the site functionality.  Most content has been migrated into the new system and it is fully operational in our test environment.  We hope to release the product within the coming weeks.

*           Parent Choice Portal – Work continues in earnest on the project and we are quickly approaching a public launch.  Final enhancements and quality assurance work is underway in the Great Schools Interface.  We also signed and will execute state-wide online choice processing for LEA’s and Charters through the Data Service Center.  This important administrative function is provided free of charge to all the districts and charters.

*           Microsoft Office 365 Implementation – This project is nearing completion as we continue to work with individuals to migrate and merge mailbox resources.  We’ll be continuing with configuration and training surrounding use of SharePoint on the web within our environment.

*           DSC Absence/Personnel/FTE Reporting Migration – This project is fully implemented within the DOE environment and operational..

*           Regular top level management discussions continue between our SIS, LMS, and Special Education vendor (SunGard) related to Delaware strategic direction and product integration/planning/direction.  We are actively looking at new enhancement work in two areas: one related to RTI functionality within Performance Plus and eSchool Plus as well as some needed enhancements to SDE electronic transcript functionality.

*           Statewide LMS Evaluation – A cross-departmental and district resource team have been evaluating vendor offerings in the learning management system space.  We are nearing the end of the evaluation period and will be making a recommendation to senior management on a statewide offering we can make available to all LEA’s and Charters for use in personalized learning environments.

Teaching & Learning Branch – Michael Watson
Career and Technical Education – Luke Rhine


Delaware’s Culinary ProStart:

  • There are thirteen schools that currently participate in ProStart, which is a national high school program that unites the classroom and industry to develop the best and brightest talent in the restaurant and foodservice industry. These programs work cooperatively with the National Restaurant Association, the Delaware Restaurant Association, and the University of Delaware (UD) to develop curriculum, instructional supports for students, plan internships, and work-based learning experiences. Additionally, the UD Hospitality and Restaurant Institutional Management College provides professional development to teachers to further develop their career skills. This work represents the foundation to transition locally developed programs to a state-led model for Career and Technical Education (CTE).

Computer Science Program-of-Study:

  • The Career and Technical Education (CTE) office is working with the Delaware Technical Community College to develop a computer science program-of-study for high school students that articulates to both two- and four-year institutions of higher education. The program begins with an inquiry approach to computational thinking and problem solving (Exploring Computer Science-ECS) and pushes students to then complete two Advanced Placement (AP) courses (Computer Science Principles-CSP and AP Computer Science A) developed and sponsored by the College Board.  The suggested curriculum is offered through, and is currently being used in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), Utah, Maryland, and many other states and districts across the country.
  • This effort is designed to enhance CTE and STEM education programs at comprehensive high schools and to increase the number of nontraditional students who are interested in exploring STEM careers.  For example, of the ~4,000 students taking the ECS course in the LAUSD last year, nearly 50% were female and more than 25% of the population was students of color.  The curriculum is developed to entice all students, including special population students, to pursue STEM careers.

National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity (NAPE):

  • The CTE and STEM Office has partnered with the National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity (NAPE) to support staff in the Lake Forest School District and the Polytech School District to improve nontraditional student participation and completion in Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs. School teams from each district will participate in an on-going professional development model to:
  • Analyze district and school gender gaps in CTE programs by reviewing student performance and participation among schools, student populations, and programs over time;
  • Determine root causes of performance gaps to inform improvement strategies and specific solutions; and
  • Explore practical and rigorous methods and tools for evaluating solutions before full implementation and develop plans to implement research-based interventions for program improvement.
  • This work is part of a long-term effort to ensure that all students have access to rigorous academic and technical courses so that they are career and college ready. NAPE is a consortium of state and local agencies, corporations, and national organizations committed to access, equity, and diversity in education and careers.

Curriculum, Instruction & Professional Development – Shelley Rouser


  • A key activity in the 3-year NGSS Implementation Plan is the NextGen Teacher Leader project.  The focus of the project is to ensure that teacher leaders drive implementation by providing NGSS professional development early and on an ongoing basis and that NGSS aligned instructional resources get in the hands of all science teachers for the 2015-2016 school year.
  • 100 teachers from across the state were selected by their districts to work on aligning professional development, curricular materials and assessment to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).  This is a two part orientation that began this spring and continuedthis summer at the NextGen Teacher Academy.
  • On September 16, the NextGen Teacher Leader Program will be held at Delaware State Trooper’s Association from 4:00 – 8:00 pm. The focus of this meeting will be the sharing of each district’s NGSS implementation plan on how they will communicate and implement the new standards to all stakeholders. Teachers will share, critique and give feedback on each other’s grade level unit templates that are aligned to the performance expectations of NGSS. Teachers will focus on missing performance expectations and will be assigned to write lessons and assessments to fill in those gaps.
  • DE ArtsLab Conference, a collaboration among the Delaware Arts Alliance, The Delaware Art Education Association, Delaware State University and the University of Delaware, is slated for Friday, October 3, 2014 at DSU. The focus of the event will highlight the need for meaningful interaction among artists, arts advocates, funders and educators. Participants will identify barriers and propose possible solutions for increasing arts audiences in Delaware. Delaware Teachers of Art will be included to underscore the value of arts education to cultural and economic sustainability. This event is open to the public. Registration is available at
  • Response to Intervention (RtI) training for Reading and Math Cadre – RtI Training will be offered for both elementary and secondary schools in September. Training for secondary schools will be delivered by Paul Farmer on September 16, 2014 at the Delaware Fire School, and will focus on structures and systems of implementing RtI. Laurie Robinson-Sammons will present to elementary Cadre members at Del Tech Terry Campus on September 26, 2014. Her focus will be on refining the RtI process and improving the data driven cycle for student results.

Registration for both courses is on PDMS:

Secondary – Course #23341, Section #38033

Elementary – Course #23294, Section #37928

For more information contact Theresa Bennett or Michelle Duke

·          Common Ground for the Common Core 2.0 begins September 23; convening sessions will run from September 23-25th. All Common Ground participants have received a Blackboard communication with the first newsletter, to include registration information, and the catalog, to include outcomes for all three convenings and bios on each Solution Tree facilitator.

·          There are 550 participants from 15 districts, 10 charters, and 12 partner organizations currently registered for Common Ground.

The Districts include:

  • Capital School District
  • Woodbridge School District
  • Lake Forest School District
  • Appoquinimink School District
  • Brandywine School District
  • Milford School District
  • Laurel School District
  • Colonial School District
  • Polytech School District
  • Seaford
  • Sussex Tech
  • Cape Henlopen
  • Red Clay
  • Smyrna School District

The Charters include:

  • First State Montessori
  • Positive Outcomes Charter
  • MOT Charter
  • Newark Charter
  • Odyssey Charter
  • Reach Academy
  • Family Foundations
  • Early College High School
  • Sussex Academy of the Arts and Sciences
  • Campus Community
  • The Partner Organizations include:   DASL, Literacy Coalition, Social Studies Coalition, Science Coalition, Math Coalition, Science Coalition, DSEA, Southern Delaware Professional Development Center, Reading Assist, UD Professional Development Center for Educators, DE Council of School Libraries, Teach for America and DE Teacher Center.

Delaware Higher Education Office  – Shana Payne

  • Financial Aid: Last year, 76% of college-ready students completed the FAFSA. Our state’s goal is for every family that requires financial aid and is eligible for federal aid will complete the FAFSA application. This form opens access to both state and federal scholarships, grants and loans for students and families to reduce the overall cost of college. This year, the state’s goal is to reach 80%. To support this goal, the Higher Education Office has solidified a partnership with StandByMe to provide extensive supports to schools, families and students in the financial aid process. The partnership includes: development of financial aid marketing strategies for each high school, financial coaches for college ready students to develop a personalized financial aid plan, state-wide marketing campaign including social media, press and collateral materials about paying for college, and train the trainer sessions for school staff to build capacity at all schools in advising students in the process of paying for college. This partnership will help ensure students and families understand how they can afford college and more families complete the FAFSA application in time to receive essential financial aid to pay for college. Most importantly this partnership will equip schools to provide stronger supports to students and families regarding financial aid.
  • College Application Month will be held from October 13-November 21st this year. The extension into October provides schools with greater flexibility in how to structure the event to meet student needs. We now have College Application Month dates for 33 high schools. Schools are taking greater ownership of the process this year and identifying the best way to integrate this into their college advisement process. This includes spreading their event over multiple days and scheduling make up dates for students who make their decisions to apply later in the month. In addition, our college access partners have formed a committee to support the volunteer recruitment process this year. Department of Education is once again partnering with College Board to send packets with information about college applications and fee vouchers (for income-eligible students) to the state’s college-ready students. There will be two types of packets: High Achieving Low-Income students (HALI) and the On Track Students. HALI packets will be sent to 49 students and On Track packets will go to 671 across the state.
  • College Application Month Promotion Tour: Starting, in all high schools, September 2nd, the Governor’s Office and DOE will visit senior classes across the state to promote awareness about the importance of applying to college and resources available to support students as they finalize their post-secondary education plans. The first school to host College Application Month this year will be Glasgow on October 6-9th.
  • Continuing our efforts in Getting to Zero, FAFSA completion is a core element to ensure students can afford college. Last year, 76% of college-ready students completed a FAFSA by April 15th. Through a newly formed partnership with DOE and StandByMe, all high schools will have access to supports from financial aid coaches in developing strategies to educate families on financial aid, increase FAFSA completion, and help students and families develop financial aid action plans. All college ready students will be expected to complete a Financial Aid plan by Jan 1st. A template will be included with the email including the list of college-ready students in mid-September.
  • Leveraging the college access fund created this year, DOE will allocate $300,000 to increase access to dual enrollment courses for students from low-income households. Districts with courses meeting DOE’s established criteria will receive notification about the amount for allocation in mid-September to help off-set the costs of increasing access for these college-level courses.

Early Development Learning Resources – Kelly Hunter

  • New Federal Preschool Development Grant Opportunity: The U.S. Department of Education has unveiled a new grant opportunity to partner with states and local communities to expand the reach of high-quality preschool. The $250 million grant competition will provide thousands of additional 4-year-old children across the country with a high-quality preschool education. The Preschool Development Grants competition supports States to (1) build or enhance a preschool program infrastructure that would enable the delivery of high-quality preschool services to children, and (2) expand high-quality preschool programs in targeted communities that would serve as models for expanding preschool to all 4-year-olds from low- and moderate-income families. These grants would lay the groundwork to ensure that more States are ready to participate in the Preschool for All formula grant initiative proposed by the Administration. The EDLR and OEL workgroups will be reviewing this opportunity for Delaware which, if funded, will add approximately $10M/year to preschool funds.

Exceptional Children Resources  – Mary Ann Mieczkowski


State Systemic Improvement Plan:

  • Exceptional Children Resources is actively engaged in developing a State Systemic Improvement Plan (SSIP) which focuses specifically on improving results for students with disabilities.
  • In order to accomplish this work, an SSIP Phase 1 Advisory Council has been established including representatives from stakeholder groups such as the Governor’s Advisory Council for Exceptional Citizens, Developmental Disability Council, parents, Special Education Directors, school psychologists, ELL teachers, State Board of Education and the Lt. Governor’s Office.   The purpose of this council is to provide guidance and feedback throughout the development of the SSIP. During council meetings the group engages in analyzing data, identifying a focused area for improvement, analyzing the infrastructure of the state system, conducting a root cause analysis, developing a Theory of Action, and creating an improvement plan.
  • On September 15th the council conducted an Infrastructure Analysis. Council members worked in “job-alike” groups providing feedback on the following components: governance, quality standards, monitoring/accountability, professional development/technical assistance, data, fiscal, and cultural responsiveness.

Information regarding these meetings including the agenda, handouts, and minutes, can be found at the following link:

TASK FORCE: SCR 63 – IEP Task Force Update:

·          The IEP Task Force held their kick-off meeting on Thursday, September 4th; over 40 legislators, parents, districts, DOE and disability related organizations were represented.  Lt. Gov. Denn is the Chairman of this task force.

·          The major outcome of this task force is to improve the IEP process for parents, students and districts. Some major areas of focus in this work include: allowing parents the opportunity to provide input during all stages of the process, flexible scheduling for parents, developing an IEP FAQ document and giving all teachers access to student IEPs.

·          The next meeting is scheduled for September 23rd.

TASK FORCE:  HR 24–Statewide Services for Deaf, Hard of Hearing and Deaf-Blind Students Task Force:

·          This Task Force was established to study and make recommendations regarding implementing an independent entity to coordinate and provide statewide services and professional development for students who are deaf, hard of hearing, and deaf-blind.

The Task force will:

  • Use the report and recommendations from HR 20 to further study and make new recommendations regarding:
    • Possible administrative structure and authority of entity.
    • How the entity would be funded.
    • Entity staffing (transition from current positions, compensation and benefits, and development of high-qualified standards for teachers and related professionals.

·         Update: All members of the task force have been appointed. We are in the process of scheduling a kick-off meeting.

Statewide Personnel Development Grant (SPDG)-Behavior/Social Emotional Initiative:

·         The Delaware Positive Behavior Support Project, in collaboration with Delaware Department of Education under the State Personnel Development Grant (SPDG), hosted Dr. Elizabeth Laugeson. Dr. Laugeson, from UCLA, presented the PEERS Curriculum for School-Based Professionals. A total of 56 people from eight school districts were in attendance. In addition, outside agency personnel attended from Autism Delaware and the Center for Disabilities Studies. Participants are now fully trained and certified to implement the curriculum.

·         PEERS is an evidence-based curriculum developed for higher functioning adolescents that focuses on skills related to making and keeping friends, including managing peer conflict and rejection. Lessons include topics such as having two-way conversations, electronic forms of communication, choosing appropriate friends, managing arguments with friends, and handling teasing and bullying. PEERS teaches social skills using concrete rules and systematic steps of social behavior utilizing the Socratic method, role-play demonstrations, coaching with feedback, and homework assignments.

·         There are currently seven schools participating (listed below) in the PEERS pilot program which involve group facilitators receiving ongoing coaching and professional development provided by the DE-PBS Instructional Coach, Susan Veenema over the next two years. Memorandums of Agreement are being executed with each pilot school.

Pilot Schools:

  • Appoquinmink School District (Louis. B. Redding Middle School)
  • Brandywine School District (Mt. Pleasant High School, PS DuPont Middle  School)
  • Capital School District (Dover High School)
  • Seaford School District (Seaford High School, Seaford Middle School)
  • Gateway Lab Charter School

Title I, C Migrant Education Program

  • A Comprehensive Needs Assessment was conducted for the migrant program in August by Dr. Robert Fanning, an independent Migrant Education consultant, and will be used to develop a State Service Delivery Plan to improve services to migrant students and families.

·         The migrant re-interviews were completed for quality control purposes related to the identification and recruitment of migrant students. This is a federal requirement that must be completed every three years by an outside agency. The results are used to verify migrant student eligibility which impacts federal funding.

Title III, English Language Acquisition Program

  • On September 5th, The Mexican Consulate of Philadelphia, PA, in conjunction with the Title III office, introduced the use of the Binational Transfer Document, including an overview of Mexico’s educational system. Secretaries, registrars and counselors statewide were invited to attend for information on placement and scheduling of incoming students from Mexico. This document is similar to a transcript which explains the courses the students have taken and the grades received.

·         A calendar of professional development and technical assistance opportunities, designed and delivered by WIDA, has been created for 2014-15. These SEA-sponsored events are a part of Delaware’s continuing corrective action in response to the 2011 USED Monitoring report which cited the SEA’s failure to provide professional development and technical assistance to districts/charters.
Delaware Center for Educational Technology - Wayne Hartschuh

eLearning Delaware – Online Professional Development

The eLearning Delaware (eLDE) Summer 2014 session concluded with 118 educators successfully completing online courses. This is an 81% completion rate. Each of these educators will receive 30 clock hours of professional development credit for the six-week course.

  • “Examining the Common Core: Math Content Standards” was offered for the first time and 26 educators successfully completed the course.
  • “Implementing ELA-Literacy Common Core: Focus on Reading” was offered for the second time and 20 educators successfully completed the course.

“Introduction to Personalized Learning” was offered for the first time with 20 educators successfully completing the course.

ParTech -The News Journal: Article on Sunday, August 17, 2014

·          The article, “‘Computer graveyard’ a gold mine for schools: State warehouse for donated gear helps schools keep pace,” appeared in The News Journal on Sunday, August 17. Reporter Matthew Albright from The News Journal visited the Collette Center on Wednesday, August 6 and interviewed Wayne Hartschuh and Tom Black for an article on ParTech. On Friday, August 15, a photographer visited Collette and photographed Steve Ballard as he worked in the warehouse.

·          The article highlighted that ParTech placed 2,655 computers in K-12 schools over the past year and the total value of equipment placed in our schools was almost $1 million. The only thing he “missed” in the article was that he stated “along with things like mice, keyboards, and monitors.” I wish he would have also included printers, servers, server racks, memory, and hard drives in that list because those also were included in the total value number. All in all, a very good article.

Article can be found online at

TLEU – Christopher Ruszkowswki
JDG: Licensure/Certification Status in 2014-15

JDG has been notified since 2004 to get their school-based participants credentialed as educators as required by state law.  A June 2009 letter from Dr. Lowery indicated to Dr. Lee that DDOE would allow for a one-year extension of certification requirements. The TLEU now plans to take action against those not eligible for licensure/certification (we previously reported doing this in 2014, but then extended another six months).  20+ “members” will no longer be allowed to serve schools.  The first letter went out last week.

DPAS-II Advisory Committee: 9/25 (First of Four this year)

Under revised state law, the DPAS-II Advisory Committee is now required to meet four times per year, select a Chair/Co-Chair, and advise on regulations, federal policy, TLEU implementation, etc.  This is a significant change in tone and oversight.

The TLEU convened the meeting and prepped materials for the first meeting, which took last Thursday.  Under code, there is a representative from the Governor’s Office on the committee in addition to the Chair of the House & Senate Education Committees.  Both DSEA and DASA have selected three representatives each for this year.  Final committee membership will be public.

As you know, the public release of DPAS-II was at last month’s State Board meeting (8/21).  51% of educators were rated “Effective” and 48% “Highly-Effective” this year (of the approximately 5,500 who received full evaluations).  The TLEU also recently published a two page data-set on educator perceptions/feelings about the system.  It’s posted here:

DSEA will focus heavily on the results from the survey, and not the outcomes of the system itself, over the next several months.

Credentialing Assessment Update: For 100+ Principals/APs who DID NOT PASS

This past summer, the TLEU delivered ten (10) Summer “Base-Camp” trainings for all of the state’s 500+ APs & Principals.  At the end of each training, all APs/Principals completed a “Credentialing Assessment” that measures their ability to execute, calibrate, and critically think their way through the DPAS-II system.

There was a 76% passing rate.  Those who didn’t pass were required to return in September for a second opportunity.  Of the 106 individuals who need to return in September, only 50 have signed-up.  The TLEU will also offer a third-and-final opportunity if necessary in October.

DASA has started a “boycott” effort and sent letters to the Department, informing the TLEU that these 100+ people are not required to be re-credentialed under state regulation.  Further, both DASA and the Chiefs told APs/Principals that did not pass the assessment to not return in September.  Based upon turnout and passing rate, the TLEU will chart a path forward in response to this on 10/15.

Relay Graduate School of Education–OPENING

Relay GSE is opening its Delaware campus in October.  Dean Christine Rowland has begun building a team and meeting with LEA leaders regarding programming.

The White House recently cited Relay in a press release on innovation in Teacher Prep:

To learn more about Relay, there’s a four-minute video on “The Relay GSE Approach” that can be found here (the video also features current Delaware Leadership Project candidate, Rachel Valentin, who will be in-residency at Harlan Elementary this year):

This launch will mark the first significant pressure point since the passage of SB 51, and will raise the ire of every Delaware higher-education institution.  Ultimately, Teach For America will likely partner with Relay GSE rather than Wilmington University, for instance.  And Relay’s “practice-based” model will challenge the foundation of UD’s “theory-based” model.

Professional Learning Community (PLC) Support System–w/ Amplify

The TLEU is continuing to work with Amplify to offer the “PLC Support System” to LEAs across the State.  Currently, the bulk of the work is around the review of the “Benchmark Assessments” being developed by Amplify.  Through the PLC Support System initiative, participating LEAs will have access to two benchmark assessments in both Math and ELA in grades 3-12.  Four of the participating LEAs are included in the review process (Brandywine, Milford, Campus Community, and Woodbridge), and all LEAs submitted “scope & sequence” materials as part of the assessment development process.

These assessments are being designed to provide standards-level feedback to educators so they can discuss student progress in PLCs and make necessary modifications to their instructional practices to better meet the needs of their students.  38 schools are currently signed-up to participate in this year’s system, which includes “PLC Coaches” working directly with Principals & Teacher-Leaders.

Other TLEU Headlines

  • Over the past four months, the TLEU (alongside co-funder Rodel) has embarked upon a deep-dive review/analysis of the Delaware Leadership Project.  Cohort 5 recruitment is scheduled to begin in October/November.  The TLEU is gathering all contract/metric data on performance-to-date and developing a path forward to ensure that this leadership pathway is sustained.  DLP graduates currently serve at Howard, Harlan, Glasgow, Central, and other high-need schools across the state.
  • “The Charter Collaborative” (Edison, Eastside, Kuumba, Prestige) was approved to utilize an alternative teacher evaluation system in 2014-2015.  Dr. Browne presented to the State Board on the Teaching Excellence Framework (which includes a different rubric) last month.  Here is link to that presentation and rubric:

  • Delaware’s partnership with national talent recruitment leader Education Pioneers ( has officially kicked-off .  Nine Fellows from around the country will start next week, and partners include the Rodel Foundation, Colonial School District, Teach For America, Innovative Schools and the Office of Early Learning.  A welcome event was held the evening of 9/29 with Secretary Murphy.  Here is the list of placements:

DOE (Accountability), Penny Schwinn, Christopher Tate,,

DOE (Higher Ed), Shana Payne, Nicole Klues,,

Office of Early Learning, Nancy Widdoes, Eldrin Deas,,

TFA DE, Laurisa Schutt, Allison Smith,,

Colonial School District, Lori Duerr, Hope Moffett,,

Innovative Schools, Teresa Gerchman, Keina Hodge,, TGerchman@innovativeschool

DECharter School Network, Kendall Massett, Al Dunn,,

Rodel Foundation, Rex Varner, Sivitri Boodram,,

Rodel Foundation, Rex Varner, Lida Zlatic,,

  • The TLEU is launching working groups focused on Superintendent Evaluation (DPAS-II for Chiefs) and District Leadership Evaluation (DPAS-II for LEA Leaders) in October/November.  If you would like to participate in this effort, please contact Shannon Holston.
  • PSB continues to wrestle with requirements of Special Education Certification (1571).  They will again take up the matter at their 10/2 evening meeting.
  • The state’s recruitment website, has now received nearly 400,000 visits.  By 2015, the TLEU will also be tracking advanced analytics on number of hires, type of hires, etc.  Meanwhile, the campaign to cultivate aspiring educators continues…
  • The TLEU’s partnership with the Harvard Strategic Data Project continues, with two new Data Fellows joining the TLEU on 10/1 to focus on advanced human capital analytics work.  Doug Gagnon & Shanna Ricketts both come to the Department with extensive background in quantitative and qualitative research, and both have recently re-located to Delaware.  The Rodel Foundation continues to support this work.  Delaware is consistently featured on the SDP website:
  • The Delaware Talent Cooperative will hold its 3rd annual event the evening of November 12th.  The event will recognize 100+ educators making substantial contributions to 18 high-need schools across the state.  This past summer, the TLEU conducted monitoring visits in all eighteen participating schools.  Educators earning a rating of “Highly-Effective” in those building qualify for membership, which includes financial rewards, recognition, policy voice opportunities, and Teacher-Leadership professional development.  Ten “Highly-Effective” educators also transferred into Co-Op schools this year, falling far short of the Department’s goal for “talent attraction”/”equitable distribution”.
Charter Schools – Jennifer Nagourney


2014-15 Renewal Process

  • Seven charter schools will have terms that expire in June 2015, making them eligible to apply for renewal this fall.
  • The renewing schools are: DAPSS, East Side, Family Foundations, Gateway Lab, Las Americas ASPIRA, Odyssey, and Reach.
  • On April 28-30, the Charter School Office team members visited each of the renewal schools to deliver and discuss the Charter School Renewal Reports and the Renewal Application & Renewal Application Guidance.
  • On September 30 the Renewal Application & 2013-14 Annual Report are due to CSO.

Charter School Compliance Calendar & Meeting Calendar

  • The Charter School Office is very grateful to all the individuals and workgroups that added dates and meetings to the calendars.
  • We ask all the workgroups to continue updating the calendars to ensure that they are up-to-date.
  • On behalf of the charters, we also ask that before your workgroup adds any items to the compliance calendar, or requires any additional items from the charter schools, that you contact Jennifer Carlson in the Charter School Office before emailing the schools. The Charter Office wants to understand the full scope of the request, help message the request to the charters, and help get the information as quickly as possible.

Moyer Formal Review

  • On July 17, 2014, with the assent of the State Board of Education, the Department of Education placed the Maurice J. Moyer Academic Institute charter school on Formal Review, pursuant to Title 14 Delaware Code § 515(b), to determine whether the charter holder is violating the terms of its charter and, if so, whether to order remedial measures.
  • Last month, the Charter School Accountability Committee recommended the revocation of Maurice J. Moyer Academic Institute’s charter at the end of this academic year.
  •  On October 9, the Secretary will announce his decision with respect to the charter at the State Board of Education meeting.
 Regulation Review – Tina Shockley 
  • The Regulation Review Schedule is attached.
  • The  Legislative Calendar for 2015 is attached.

Why Am I Always Picking On Delaware Charter Schools?

Originally posted on Exceptional Delaware:

The obvious answer to my title would be “because it’s easy”.  It’s not like I create these stories.  They do it themselves.  I just bring them to light for all of Delaware to see.  Take Prestige Academy, and their board meeting at a tavern where they didn’t have a quorum and voted on stuff anyways.  I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried.  I knew Jack Perry was “resigning”, so I thought I would see what their board minutes say.  I wasn’t looking for anything sinister.  By the time I got to their board minutes, and I saw what I saw, it was just another example of a Delaware charter school doing whatever the hell they want, regardless of the law.

I get a great deal of flack on Kilroy’s Delaware in the comments section when I say something negative about charters.  There’s one guy named Publius.  You would…

View original 1,739 more words

Reality Strikes

Originally posted on Factionista Files:

Bullying Teachers

A recent staff meeting was interesting. We had been asked by our principal to take a PARCC practice test (at least part of one) ahead of time so that we, as a staff, could have a discussion about it at this staff meeting. My principal is someone who I would not consider to be a drinker of corporate reform Kool-Aid, but who also seems to be, in my opinion, only somewhat aware of the larger issues involved in corporate education reform. He is the kind of person who doesn’t like to dwell on what he has “no control over.” That is an amiable quality in most cases and has helped us focus more on what we can and should do much of the time, rather than get overly frustrated with the nonsense that has been flooding into our daily existence as teachers. But this time, it was hard to focus…

View original 1,594 more words

Will @GovernorMarkell permit DE Chief for Change of @DEDeptofED to straight up bust a union CBA?

Hmmm, I wonder what this all means. For schools at which a collective bargaining agreement governs its employees, a further agreement between and among the district or charter school, the collective bargaining unit, and the Department addressing those subjects, if any, that may inhibit the schools’ successful implementation of its model, including but not limited to: Limitations on hiring, reassigning and transferring covered employees into and out of the Partnership Zone school, such as seniority limitations; The methodology for determining which teachers will be transferred or reassigned as part of the model; Work rules relating to the educational calendar and scheduling of instructional time and non-instructional time, Instructional reform; Professional development requirements and other specialized training; Retention and employment incentives, including performance incentives for effective teachers and principals; and Any other subject required by these regulations to be addressed in the Partnership Zone school’s selected model. In the event the parties are not able to reach the agreement required by within seventy-five (75) days of notice as a Partnership Zone school, each party shall present its last best offer on the areas of disagreement along with a draft agreement, to the Secretary of the Department, who shall accept one of the last best offers, or reject all of them. Should the Secretary reject all offers, the parties shall have thirty (30) days to confer and present the Secretary revised offers for re-consideration pursuant to this section.
Could be quite a few weeks coming up.

The Principal: The Most Misunderstood Person in All of Education (Kate Rousmaniere)

Originally posted on Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice:

Kate Rousmaniere is Professor and chair of the Department of Educational Leadership at Miami University (Ohio). Her most recent book is: The Principals’ Office: A Social History of the American School Principal, (Albany: SUNY Press,2013). The following article appeared in Atlantic Online, November 8, 2013.

A few years ago when I walked the hallways of a high school with my five-year-old niece Evie, she remarked, without prompting: “There’s the principal’s office: you only go there if you are in trouble.” As an educator and an aunt, I wondered how the office of an educational professional had come to be symbolized in such a decisive way in the mind of a child, particularly a child who had yet to enter formal schooling. As I scanned popular representations of the school principal, I found that Evie’s impression was hardly unusual. Across popular and professional cultures, the figure of the school…

View original 1,478 more words

The Governor Markell FOIA Release: Rodel, Herdman, RTTT, Common Core, and guess who’s coming to town…

John Young:


Originally posted on Exceptional Delaware:

For those who may not be aware, I requested a Freedom of Information Act request from Delaware Governor Jack Markell’s office on December 3rd, 2014.  I received it today, January 12th, 2015.  My request was for all emails between Markell and the following individuals: US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Michelle Rhee, Joel Klein (of Amplify) and Paul Herdman of The Rodel Foundation of Delaware.

Some things are obvious from this FOIA release.  Governor Jack Markell does not communicate big education matters via email.  At least not his official state email.  For a Governor that pushes education so much, you would think there would be more communication with his partner on the Education Blueprint.  Some questions that are answered in this:

1) How did Paul Herdman get into Rodel?

2) What charter chain may be filing a charter application this month and how could this possibly have something to do…

View original 40 more words

Peter Greene: Are All the Teachers of Poor Children Really Bad Teachers?

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

Peter Greene poses a question in this post. If poor children get low test scores, does that mean that all those who teach poor children are bad teachers?

Peter is always funny in the way he presents the “a-ha!” moments in educational research, which are usually either obvious or dumb. Here he looks at a study in Education Next that considered a teacher evaluation program in Chicago. It worked best for the reading scores of advantaged children. It had zero effect on the reading scores of impoverished children. One conclusion might be that poverty matters. But the researchers instead reach a different conclusion.

Peter writes:

“Even though the data points to poverty as the big flashing neon sign of “Hey, here it is!” Steinberg and Sartain walk right past the blinking brightness to select again the teachers and principals as the cause. This is not so much mis-reading data as…

View original 85 more words

Kristen Buras: The Truth About Néw Orleans

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

Kristen Buras recently published a book about the dissolution of public education in Néw Orleans and its replacement by privately managed charter schools, staffed largely by inexperienced Teach for America recruits after the abrupt dismissal of 7,500 veteran teachers. Her book is titled “Charter Schools, Race, and Urban Space: Where the Market Meets Grassroots Resistance.”

In the current issue of “The Progressive,” Buras explains what happened in Néw Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. The story is different from what the major media say. It is important because so many public officials and civic leaders want to turn struggling districts into another Néw Orleans. Beware.

It begins like this:

“Within days of Hurricane Katrina, the conservative Heritage Foundation advocated the creation of a “Gulf Opportunity Zone,” including federal funds for charter schools and entrepreneurs. Slowly but surely, the narrative of disaster turned to one of opportunity, even triumph. We were told that…

View original 98 more words