Archive for the ‘Delaware Schools’ Category

Quick Reactions to Disappointing NAEP News

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The latest results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)—known in our world colloquially as the “Nation’s Report Card”—were released this week. Across the nation, scores remain mostly flat. This is disappointing as we’ve now gone nearly a decade in this country without any strong growth in either reading or math, with the slight exception of eighth grade reading.

 

But for Delaware, the news is even more disappointing.

 

As Mike Petrilli from the Fordham Institute highlighted, Delaware is one of just a small handful of states that saw scores decline across the board—in fourth grade math and reading, and eighth grade math and reading—from 2013 to 2017. The gap in achievement between white students and black and Hispanic students widened.

 

The state-level data tell us that in math, only 36 percent of fourth-graders and 28 percent of eighth-graders are at or above proficiency. In reading, 36 percent of fourth-graders and 33 percent of eighth-graders are proficient. The Smarter Assessment, Delaware’s state assessment for grades three through eight, also measures ELA and math through different measures and with different cut scores. Smarter shows that 54 percent of fourth graders proficient in reading and 52 percent in eighth grade. In math, 50 percent of fourth graders are proficient, and 38 percent in eighth grade. Achievement gaps across student subgroups (high-need students and students of color) follow national trends, showing that these students are more likely to fall behind than their peers.

 

As Petrilli notes, figuring out the “why” is difficult at this early stage. The economic downturn, which crunched school spending at the state level and negatively impacted the home lives of many children and families, certainly didn’t help. There could be changes in demographics or it could be a function of our kids simply not taking the test seriously since it didn’t have any implications for them.

 

Whatever the reasons, this is not the news we wanted to hear. We keep a close eye on NAEP because it’s one of the few nationally comparable, long-term measures of student learning available.

 

However, while we need to take it as a serious data point, we also need to keep it in context. The test isn’t universal—it touches only two subjects in two grade levels—and there is no incentive for students or teachers to perform well on the test.

 

Big picture, NAEP is just a single snapshot amid a sea of other measures that provide us with a holistic picture of how our students and schools are performing. Here are some other data to keep in mind –

  • We’ve made great strides on early learning.
  • Our high school graduation rates and college enrollment rates are all heading north.
  • The number of young people entering career pathways grew from 27 to over 9,000 in just four years.
  • And youth unemployment for young adults age 20-24 has largely been in cut in half since 2013, from 12 to 7 percent in 2016.

 

Education doesn’t exist in a silo. We need to look at these data in a broader context, but we should also use these results as a call to action to address our achievement gaps and as motivation to keep pushing forward with our community partners to make sure our young people get the support they need to succeed in a world that is increasingly complex.

Making Sense of the Federal Education Budget

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On March 23, Congress approved, and President Trump signed, a $1.3 trillion appropriations bill that will fund the federal government through September 30, 2018.

 

This funding bill wasn’t easy to come by—it took several short-term extensions to fund the government, as well as a two-year deal on the overall budget caps.

 

The Rodel team combed through the budget lines pertaining to education and considered what it might mean to Delaware.

 

 

In Early Care and Education:

 

Federal budget: A $2.4 billion increase to Child Development Block Grant (for a total of $5.2 billion)  

 

What it means for Delaware: This will mean about $6.4 million in flexible spending to Delaware. The Delaware Early Childhood Council will inform how it gets spent.

 

Federal budget: A $610 million (or seven percent) increase of to Head Start (for a total of $9.9 billion)

 

What it means for Delaware: Early childhood programs that help low-income families access daycare will get a boost.

 

 

 

In K-12 Wraparound Supports:

 

Federal budget: A $700 million increase for Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants (for a total of $1.1 billion)

 

What it means for Delaware: Additional funding will be available through Title IV block grants. The grants developed under ESSA provide states with a flexible way to spend federal dollars to help students receive a well-rounded education. Funding could be used to improve school climate and culture, promote effective use of technology, to support school counseling, mental health, and safety. In Delaware’s ESSA plan, the state aims to use Title IV Part A funds to offer technical assistance and training to districts and charters for academic enrichment and student support programs.

 

Federal budget: A $20 million increase for 21st Century Community Learning Centers (afterschool programs) (up to $1.2 billion)

 

What it means for Delaware: Delaware will be eligible for additional grant funding to support things like homework assistance, meals, and academic enrichment activities. Delaware has a number of these programs running across the state, providing before- and after-school activities, including remedial education, tutoring services, counseling, and programs for at-risk students.

 

 

In Higher Education: 

 

Federal budget: Sufficient funding to increase the maximum Pell Grant award by $175 for a total of $6,095; $107 million (10-percent) funding increase for Federal Work-Study and the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (for a total of $840 million)

What it means for Delaware: These increases will help make college more affordable for low-income students, helping to address inequities.

 

Federal budget: $60 million increase for TRIO, for a total of $1.01 billion and $10 million increase for GEAR UP college preparation programs for a total of $350 million

What it means for Delaware: Delaware will be eligible for additional competitive funding available for programming designed to support low-income, first-generation college students, and individuals with disabilities to progress from middle school through postsecondary and career.

 

Federal budget: $350 million for a new discretionary relief fund for borrowers to receive public service loan forgiveness

 

What it means for Delaware: This temporary expansion of the relief fund program is intended to reach individuals who would have otherwise been eligible for the program (which allows eligible borrowers to earn loan forgiveness by working in public service and by making 120 qualifying payments) but were not enrolled in a qualifying repayment program.

 

 

 

In Workforce Development:

 

Federal budget: $75 million increase in career and technical education (CTE) state grants under the Carl Perkins Act

 

What it means for Delaware: This increase to support CTE programs will be allocated to states based on the federal-to-state formula.

 

Federal budget: $145 million for Apprenticeship Grants, a $50 million increase

 

What it means for Delaware: These dollars represent competitive funding that Delaware could apply for, which would help expand the types and availability of registered apprenticeship programs available for Delaware residents.

 

Federal budget: $2.8 billion for Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Grants to states, an $80 million increase

 

What it means for Delaware: Additional funding will be available through state formula grants for adult programs, youth programs, and dislocated worker programs. The in-school and out-of-school youth funds can be used to support youth with one or more barriers to employment to prepare for post-secondary education and employment opportunities, attain educational and/or skills training credentials, and secure employment.

Rodel’s Latest Data Guide and Our Priorities for the Year

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Welcome to the 2018 edition of Delaware Public Education At A Glance, Rodel’s annual snapshot of data and trends from our public schools. In the spirit of unveiling, there’s no better time than now to share our priorities for the coming year—the areas where the Rodel team will spend our time and energy with our partners in the community.

Our three big priorities for the year:

  • Keep the Student Success 2025 plan moving
  • Double down on college and career success
  • Deepen social and emotional learning in Delaware

So, what does this mean?

  1. Keep the Plan Moving. We help support the Vision Coalition move Student Success 2025 This plan provides the state with well-informed guideposts for uplifting public education to new heights between now and 2025. The 47 policy recommendations spread across six core areas (below) serve as our roadmap. When it comes to implementing those recommendations, we see our role as a partner with policymakers, educators, and community members to bring ideas into action.

 

More specifically, we will advocate for several targeted budget or policy issues over the next several months:

  • On early learning, we support the administration’s budgetary ask of $3.8 million to support quality early learning.
  • On funding, we have argued for more than a decade that our current funding system is unfair, inflexible, and opaque. So, we, in concert with the Education Equity Delaware coalition, will support efforts to modernize the system so that it works for our kids now and into the future.
  • On system governance, we will speak up to make sure that the state’s federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan is implemented with fidelity. In particular, we want to see clear graphics that are accessible to parents and the public in the state’s soon-to-be-released school report cards—including school-level financial reporting and a great deal more student information. Just like everyone else, we want to see positive change for the students in our Wilmington schools. We support the recent MOU that was recently signed by the Christina School District and the Carney Administration, and we realize that this is just the beginning.  We will do our part to help move this work forward and we believe the progress we collectively make here could have major implications for not only the thousands of children in the five schools being discussed, but for our highest need children throughout this state.

 

  1. Double Down on College and Career Success. Another big goal is to help even more young people prepare for life after high school. We think we can chip in by identifying and shepherding even more local and national resources to postsecondary programming.
  • We recently worked with a range of public and private sector leaders to produce Supporting Postsecondary Success in Delaware: A Landscape Analysis of Student Opportunities. While we uncovered some great assets, we also found that there’s a lot of work to do to help our young people make smart decisions post high school. This year, we’ll discern where (and with whom) we can partner to get some concrete work done to move this analysis to action.
  • We’re proud of the state’s collective work to date on career pathways—expanding from 27 participants in 2014 to over 9,000 in 2018—but we have a lot more on our minds, particularly in helping students connect to meaningful work-based experiences. At Rodel, we collaborate with local businesses to help facilitate growth, educate the public about why this is important, and bring the needed resources to accelerate the work on the ground.

 

  1. Deepen Social and Emotional Learning in Delaware. The world is changing fast, and if we want our young people to thrive in it, we need to rethink how we equip them. The North Star at the center of Student Success 2025 is all about the nonacademic skills—like creativity, communication, empathy—that will be vital for young people entering the real world. While the Rodel Teacher Council and the district members of the BRINC Consortium have dedicated time and energy on personalized or blended learning, there is a groundswell of interest in the social and emotional factors that affect how kids learn, particularly those in our most challenged neighborhoods.
  • A study is underway—in partnership with Nemours, Christiana Care, Arsht-Cannon Fund and others—to assess what’s underway in social and emotional learning, what’s working, and where there are gaps and alignment opportunities. In our view, SEL is not an add-on, it’s foundational to, and should be embedded in, academic learning.
  • The Rodel Teacher Council is working to redefine what the next generation of learning will look like. Groups of teachers are exploring how our local colleges and universities can accept “competency-based” transcripts from students, allowing students to showcase their subject mastery, rather than a letter grade or test score. They are advocating for an annual review of broadband connectivity in schools, making the case for innovative professional development for teachers based on competency versus credit hours, and connecting districts and charters interested in collaborating to develop social and emotional competencies.

I’m inspired by the passion I see in our teachers and the commitment I see our public and private sector leaders dedicated to doing whatever it takes to improving the lives of our young people.

If you are interested in learning more about these issues, email us at info@rodelfoundationde.org. Change is hard, but when we work together, we can make big things happen. Our children deserve nothing less.

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