Direct from the State Board of Ed

September 17th, 2010

Category: News

For those of you who couldn’t make it to the State Board of Education Meeting yesterday, here is a quick update on what you missed.

Race to the Top Update:

Secretary Lowery updated the Board on the progress the department is making on implementing Race to the Top.  She stressed that the state has spent the last 18 months in the planning phase and now is moving to the “doing” phase.  She and her team met recently with the US Education Delivery Institute to start a conversation on how we can effectively and efficiently deliver on the commitments we have made to the US Department of Education.  She also spoke about the recently identified Partnership Zone schools and gave an update on the planning process that they will be going through over the next few months.

DCAS Update on Standards Setting:

This summer a working group of teachers, administrators, and community members spent a week setting new cut scores for the Delaware Comprehensive Assessment System (DCAS).  These new cut scores, the score that a student must receive to be considered proficient, were informed by the DCAS pilot that 85% of students participated in this past year as well as by Delaware’s performance on the NAEP and PISA tests, and will be considered interim until we have another year’s worth of DCAS data.  The new cuts, approved unanimously by the State Board, will substantially increase the rigor of our state assessment, but do not quite reach the same level as the NAEP or PISA.  Bottom line is that next spring we are likely to see a significant decrease in the number of students that are meeting proficiency targets, but our test will be a more accurate reflection of what students really need to know in order to be ready for careers, and college.

Advanced Placement Update from the College Board:

The College Board presented on this past year’s AP performance statewide, and they brought a cake!  Over the past 10 years the number of students taking AP exams in Delaware has more than doubled, and the number of students receiving at least a 3 on those exams has doubled as well.  Delaware ranks 7th in the nation on the availability of AP courses in core content areas (Maryland is 1st and New Jersey is 3rd).  That said, AP courses are still considered “elite” and as available to only certain students, and only 14% of high school students take and pass an AP exam even though over 66% of students are college bound.  The College Board estimates that 1,200 to 1,300 additional students should be taking AP exams in Delaware, and is planning to work with DEDOE and the State Board to find ways to make sure those students have access to the classes and tests. (The 2010 data isn’t posted on College Boards site yet, or on the Delaware School profiles, but it will be soon.)

District Accountability:

Following up on the school accountability information that was released earlier this summer, DEDOE released the 2010 district accountability results yesterday.  Only two districts — Sussex Tech, and Poly-Tech — made AYP last year, and only one district — Sussex Tech — was rated as Superior.  All other districts failed to meet their targets and are either under Academic Review or Under Improvement.  There seemed to be a bit of skepticism that these ratings really prompt districts to make substantial changes, as there are few significant consequences for a district that does not make AYP. (The 2010 data is not yet posted on DEDOE website.)

Teacher Hiring report by Dr. Jeff Raffel:

Dr. Raffel (UD) presented his updated Teacher and Administrator Supply Survey analysis.  Big takeaways here are that we are hiring more and more of our teachers (about 60% this past year) in August or later.  The perception is that because of this late timeline, we are missing out on the best and the brightest teachers, who are picked up by other states with earlier job offers.  The hardest positions to fill are still those for high school math and science teachers and speech therapists, but it appears that it is also becoming more difficult to find building principals.  The economy was seen as a prime factor in this year’s data, with uncertain state and district budgets forcing districts to delay hiring and causing more teachers to delay retiring.  The Lt. Governor’s recently convened task force will be tackling this issue over the fall and we will continue to track progress.

The meeting minutes will be posted here soon should you want to dig a little further.

Michael Rasmussen



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