Delaware Maintains C+ Average As a Few States Pass Us By

January 17th, 2012

Category: News, Policy and Practice

Delaware maintained our C+ average while falling three places from last year to 25th among states according to Education Week’s recently released Quality Counts report, which measures states’ progress across six categories (chance for success, K-12 achievement, transitions and alignment, school finance analysis, the teaching profession, and standards, assessments, and accountability).

Key findings from the report include:

  • Delaware ranks 11th nationally in 4th grade reading while being outscored by over half of states in 8th grade reading and 4th and 8th grade math;
  • Delaware has lower achievement gaps in math (8th grade) and reading (4th grade) between our affluent and low-income students than over 30 states;
  • Delaware is one of 26 states that does not currently implement a school/district rating system other than AYP – for example, New Mexico gives all schools an A-F grade; and
  • Delaware is one of 17 states that do not officially define college readiness while being one of 35 states that do not align high school assessments with college readiness expectations, which is a primary goal of the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium.

These findings and rakings shouldn’t come as a surprise to any of us.  It’s hard to rationalize being near the top when you spend more than half of all states (adjusted for cost-of-living) on public education yet only score better than barely 10 states in 4th grade math.  However, numerous indicators that pushed us further down the rankings have been previously advocated for in Vision 2015, the LEAD Committee, and Governor Markell’s Blueprint, demonstrating a broad coalition anxious to move forward.  These include providing additional funds to students based on various characteristics (ELL and low-income), compensating teachers based on classroom effectiveness, and holding educator preparation programs accountable for their graduates’ effectiveness.  

One caveat to consider, however, is that through Race to the Top, we received substantial funds to implement programs and policies that aren’t accounted for in the report since it is not permanent state practice – bringing up the obvious question: what will the state and/or districts sustain once funding is removed after the 2014-2015 school year?  Items that we didn’t receive credit for but are currently implementing include incentivizing highly-effective teachers to take their talents to struggling schools, creating an alternative leader pipeline that will place principals in a year-long residency to learn from other highly-effective leaders before assuming responsibility of their own campus, and paying teachers based upon their impact on student learning.

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Brett Turner



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