The Time For Incremental Change is Over

August 2nd, 2010

Category: News

The Delaware Department of Education released school accountability ratings last Friday that are not promising. Delaware had 20 percent fewer “Superior” schools and half as many “Commendable” schools as last year with a simultaneous rise in the number of schools under “Academic Review” and “Academic Progress.” In addition, 89 schools (43 percent) made Adequate Yearly Progress while 103 schools did not (57 percent). These ratings result from the accountability structure enacted under No Child Left Behind. In order to reach the NCLB-mandated goal of 100% proficiency by 2014, we are required to make specific academic gains each year. Because student performance in the past was far above target(s), there were a limited number of schools not meeting expectations. Now, however, a constantly increasing number of schools will be impacted unless stakeholders address stagnant or declining student proficiency averages on the DSTP assessments.


In addition to woeful DSTP scores, we still are not making significant progress in closing the gap between our state proficiency scores and those of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Only about half as many Delaware students meet the proficiency standard on NAEP as met it on the DSTP, showing the gap between where our students are and where they need to be in order to graduate high school college and/or career ready. With more than half of our schools underperforming, the First State has a lot of work to do to ensure every student is given a chance to succeed.


Delaware is ideally positioned with both unparalleled support and substantial funds from Race to the Top to engage in transformative reform efforts. First, three to five Partnership Zone schools will be provided with significant resources this school year to plan and implement policies and practices aimed at breaking the cycle of failure that for too long has limited students’ ability to reach their academic potential. These schools will join a movement aimed at addressing chronically underperforming schools nationwide. Second, the School Improvement Grants will provide significant funds to school districts that propose bold plans to address low student achievement within their lowest-performing schools. Third, Race to the Top, DPAS II, and DCAS will provide a wealth of data and support to help districts and schools recruit, train, identify, compensate, and retain highly-effective teachers in schools where they are needed most.


As demonstrated by data, the time for incremental change is over. It’s time to address the fundamental problems within our public education system that consign too many kids to mediocre schools that fail to prepare them for active participation in the global economy.

Brett Turner



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