Is Delaware Underserving High-Achieving Students?

September 14th, 2016

Category: News, Policy and Practice, Postsecondary Success, Student-Centered Learning

Last week, the Fordham Institute released a report examining the extent to which states’ current (or planned) accountability systems serve high-achieving students. Delaware earned a rating of 1 out of 4 stars, suggesting room for improvement. Here’s our take.

What does this mean for Delaware?

There *is* room for Delaware (and other states) to improve. Delaware placed in the bottom half of state systems rated along Fordham’s indicators. However, this isn’t just a matter of Delaware lagging behind other states. In terms of education and U.S. Global competitiveness, PISA results show the U.S. lags behind peer countries overall and in terms of top performers—the kids scoring at the highest levels of achievement on the PISA.blueprint

Delaware could do more to maximize the potential of all students through Personalized Learning. The Rodel Teacher Council has made recommendations on how Delaware could develop a world-class education system in which students’ instruction is tailored to their specific academic needs, personal interests, and distinct learning styles.

Don’t panic—Delaware got low marks, but not for its comprehensive accountability system. The Fordham Institute evaluated Delaware across four indicators, focused specifically on how Delaware’s accountability system prioritizes high achievers, in terms of student achievement—student performance and growth on the statewide assessment. The report did not set out to evaluate how states measure overall student success, including the growth of high-need students or other, non-test-based measures of student success (like student absenteeism, graduation rates, etc.).

How does Delaware measure student success?

No more “Adequate Yearly Progress” (AYP).  Delaware’s accountability system has evolved over the past decade, in accordance with federal law. Delaware no longer measures student success under the test-driven system that required “all students (100 percent) must meet standards on the state assessments in reading and math by 2013-14.”

Moving toward a more holistic measure of student success. A few years ago, operating under a federal waiver providing relief from the 100-percent mandate, the Delaware department of education began to develop the Delaware School Success Framework, focusing on indicators of academic achievement, growth, on-track-to-graduation, and college/career preparation.

Delaware School Success Framework (2015-16)

There are still opportunities to further refine the DE state accountability system. The new federal education law—the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) opened up new opportunities for stakeholder engagement and local leadership. As Delaware works to develop its state plan for ESSA, this is an opportunity to consider additional research-based indicators of student success (e.g. chronic absenteeism).

How can I get involved?

A few ways to provide input. As part of the Delaware Department of Education’s efforts to engage stakeholders across the state in providing input on issues such as how the state should measure school success and public reporting. Here are just two opportunities to provide input on how Delaware measures student success:

  1. Attend a Community Conversation in September or mid-November and share your thoughts
  2. Take the Survey and recommend measures of student success

Liz Hoyt



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