The Delaware Department of Education posted the following regarding the change in testing for 11th grade students. The original article can be found at: http://www.doe.k12.de.us
The SAT will replace the Smarter Assessment as the state test for high school juniors beginning this spring.
The change comes at the request of legislators and as the state continues to look for ways to reduce testing, particularly for 11th graders who already were taking both exams as part of Delaware’s state-funded School Day SAT program.
“Our students deserve an exam that helps them gauge their college and career readiness, and our teachers deserve an exam that provides them with the information they need to guide their instruction. This is one example of how we are reducing the testing burden on our students and teachers,” Secretary of Education Steven Godowsky said. “This is a smart solution that ensures our educators, students and families get the information they need while mitigating the over-testing concern many share.
The state will continue to administer the Smarter Assessment in grades 3 to 8.
Delaware has been administering a school-day SAT to all public school juniors at no cost to students since 2011. Godowsky said making the transition to use the SAT as the accountability test this year is based on the feedback of elected leaders, educators and families. Last week, 10 legislators sent a letter to Gov. Jack Markell asking to replace the 11th grade Smarter exam with the SAT.
“Our community was clear that this was in the best interest of our high school juniors and the sooner we could make the switch the better,” Godowsky said. “This decision is in response to that feedback.”
Gov. Jack Markell, who launched a statewide assessment inventory process last spring, said, “We believe that the concerns about the testing burden on our juniors are well founded. We also agree that this move is a smart, commonsense way to reduce the testing burden significantly without sacrificing our ability to understand whether we are serving our students well and whether they are making the progress they need to be successful. I have asked Secretary Godowsky to immediately designate the SAT as our 11th grade assessment and take all necessary steps to implement the change so that, beginning this year, juniors will no longer take Smarter Balanced. The department will seek federal approval for this change in our state assessment as quickly as possible and otherwise ensure that the transition goes smoothly in schools across the state.”
Under Delaware’s former state test, the Delaware Comprehensive Assessment System (DCAS), 9th and 10th graders were tested. When the state moved to Smarter in Spring 2015, 11th grade became the singular testing year for high school. But many said that proved overwhelming for juniors, who also take Advanced Placement exams, the SAT, SAT subject tests, the ACT and other tests during their 11th grade year.
New Castle County Vo-Tech Superintendent Vicki Gehrt, president of the Delaware Chief School Officers Association, said superintendents in the state are in support of substituting the SAT in lieu of the Smarter Assessment as the required assessment for high school students. This shift both gives teachers more time to provide necessary instruction and eases the load on our high school students with respect to the annual assessments they already must take.
State Board of Education President Dr. Teri Quinn Gray said students and families value the SAT.
“The redesigned SAT provides important information students, parents and educators want and need to understand students’ college, career and civic readiness. For that reason, it is already valued by parents and students. In addition, by using this test as the high school assessment for English language arts and math, we will reduce the amount of required testing and costs to the state,” Gray said.
Last spring, the General Assembly passed and Governor Markell signed into law Senate Joint Resolution 2, requiring an inventory and review of all assessments currently administered at the state, district and school level “with the goal of decreasing the testing burden on students and teachers and increasing time available for teaching.”
This work continues. Districts and charter schools, which were eligible for supporting state grants, submitted their assessment inventories, recommendations, and impact information to the state at the end of December. The department has convened an assessment inventory committee with representatives from the House and Senate education committees, Delaware State Education Association, state superintendents, civil rights community and parents to make recommendations. The state’s final report must be published by June 2016.
Sen. David Sokola, chair of the Senate Education Committee, and Rep. Earl Jaques, chair of the House Education Committee, lauded today’s announcement.
“This is the kind of change legislators were seeking when we approved SJR 2 to create a task force to fully review our student testing,” Sokola said. “This is a good first step toward removing burdens on our students and increasing instruction time for teachers, while also providing them with the important metrics needed to gauge student progress.”
Jaques agreed, “This decision eliminates duplicative testing and reduces over-testing while helping to ease student stress and parental concerns.”
The department has posted information and will continue updating its website with information, including resources for districts/charters and the public, regularly. Educators or families with questions may email email@example.com or call (302) 857-3391.
As students prepare for the spring SAT, they also have some extra help this year. A partnership with Khan Academy and the College Board offerspersonalized SAT preparation based on students’ PSAT results. Delaware also provides the PSAT free to all public school 10th graders.
With the end of the first semester approaching, final projects and final exams are around the corner. This time of the year can be stressful for our students. Please talk to your students about time management and their plan for finishing the semester strong. Ask which class they really need additional assistance in and discuss the benefits of attending our extra help program that runs from 3:00 – 4:00pm with their teachers on Wednesdays. In addition, our extended extra help program takes place in the library from 3:00 – 6:00 each Wednesday. Buses are available at 4:00pm and 6:00pm for those who attend the extra help program. Your support and encouragement are extremely beneficial. It has been my experience that many students don’t realize the importance of attending extra help before the end of the semester, so here are some pointers to go over with your students:
Please ensure that your child gets plenty of rest before each final and that they have a healthy breakfast and arrive to school on time. Final exams will be held on January 21 and January 22. Remember, finals count!
Beginning at the end of the first marking period, ninth and tenth grade students with a 2.75 grade point average or better can attend the Delcastle College Access Program, Project WIN (What I Need). The purpose of Project WIN is to provide students with a comprehensive post-secondary plan to properly prepare them for college life. The goal of the program is to improve the post-secondary success trajectory for all students. The Project WIN team uses a number of best practices to promote higher student achievement through the use of technology, SAT prep, test taking strategies, mentoring, and a host of practices associated with “college readiness” reform. Project WIN sessions are held every Monday from 3:00 – 5:45pm in the library. A snack is provided for all those who attend as well as a 6:00 bus for students who do not drive.
Allen Sylvester, our new Teacher of the Year, is an outstanding Social Studies Instructor, an advocate for students, a gracious humanitarian and a huge team player. He stated, “Observing my peers is how I learned about teaching. I saw greatness is various mentors that were the keystones to my success as an educator.”
Mr. Sylvester was adamant in wanting to express his utmost respect and admiration of his peers, particularly Delcastle’s amazing Teacher of the Year Nominees, Marty Baeriswyl, Brian Heeney, Bonnie Lane, Tara Saladyga and Whitney Singer. Allen feels that each of the six candidates for T.O.Y. were equally deserving and are essential to Delcastle’s critical mission to provide high quality education and to support our students on their pathways toward excellence.
Throughout his reign as T.O.Y., Mr. Sylvester wants to use this opportunity to foster teamwork in our building as we all are faced with the tremendous challenges that are a result of the changing landscape of education including our growing student population and increases in class sizes, accepting and meeting the challenges of the Common Core
and increasing rigor and fostering critical thinking along with competing not only in the local and regional educational markets, but moreover, competing in a global educational market. Mr. Sylvester envisions teamwork and confidence as integral to our future as educational leaders.
In the classroom, Mr. Sylvester focuses on providing all of his students with strong foundations and he believes that hooking students into understanding the value of education is crucial; in this way, Mr. Sylvester is able to channel his students’ energy in a positive manner that allows the students to continuously improve academically. Allen is already planning professional development sessions for Delcastle correlated to each season that he believes will make a positive impact on the Delcastle culture. Allen doesn’t believe that he has all the answers, but he does believe that by sharing ideas and remaining positive, Delcastle, as a team, can continue to grow and to make a huge impact on our students and our profession. Mr. Sylvester stated, “It is my philosophy that you can learn from everyone in the building.” In closing, Mr. Sylvester believes that all educators at Delcastle can be their best selves contributing 100% of their efforts by being open to growing professionally and sharing our talents.
Congratulations, Mr. Allen Sylvester, 2015-2016 Teacher of the Year!
Over the summer, 26 students represented Delcastle as part of Team Delaware at the National SkillsUSA Leadership Conference in Louisville, Kentucky. In addition, our students competed against nearly 6,000 students from around the country. We are most proud to report the top 10 national finalists for SkillsUSA 2015:
In addition, students traveled to Anaheim, California to attend the national Business Professionals of America (BPA) competitions and Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) competitions. Jamie Garcia, Sophomore, won 1st place in Keyboarding and Victoria Campos, Sophomore, won 5th place in Keyboarding! Also, Joselis Gonzales made it to the second round of her HOSA competition.
All of the students spent hours of preparation to compete, and their success is a reflection of their hard work. Congratulations to all!
HOBY, Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership, is an organization that promotes leadership, service and innovation among America’s youth. Students who are selected to participate in the program receive unique training in leadership, service-learning and motivational-building experiences. Eddy Sainmervil, an 11th grade Chem Lab student, was one of four students chosen to represent HOBY at the National World Leadership Congress in Chicago this summer.
The Delaware Health and Social Services Division recently sent recognition certificates verifying that five Delcastle students have served 90 hours volunteering outside of school in their communities. Their service efforts with non-profit organizations that are not affiliated with advocacy or political programs have earned the students a credit. Dr. Hayes recognized the students: Tamia Abuwi, Brianna Greenlea, Christopher M. Leago, Inayzha Wallace and Keuiana Walls.
If you have students interested in this volunteer program visit www.volunteerdelaware.org for information about state approved volunteer opportunities. Congratulations to the students for their selfless efforts and dedication to their communities.
For the forth-consecutive year, Delcastle Technical High School has been awarded a national Bronze raking by U.S. News and World Report. Delcastle is one of eight Delaware schools that received this national recognition and the only school in the NCCVT District to be recognized. U.S. News calculates these rankings based on student performance on state assessments in English and Mathematics as well as student to teacher ratios and evidence that the schools are serving diverse student populations. The ranking, according to U.S. News, is based on two principles. “… that a great high school must serve all of its students well, not just those who are college bound, and that it must be able to produce measurable academic outcomes to show it is successfully educating its student body across a range of performance indicators” (Perera, 2015, p. 1). Our staff should be very proud of our successful efforts in educating a diverse student population many of whom are on free and reduced lunch as well as encouraging all of our students to continuously improve academically.