Acting U.S. Secretary of Education highlights state work in visit
Acting U.S. Secretary of Education John King praised Delaware as an “inspiring” leader in education during a visit to Wilmington today as part of his Opportunity Across America Tour.
Following a visit to Kuumba Academy Charter School, King joined Gov. Jack Markell and Delaware Secretary of Education Steven Godowsky for a round table discussion with other education and state leaders about improving assessments and ensuring access to high quality education for all students.
District and state leaders talked to King about the ongoing work related to a statewide assessment inventory undertaken by the Delaware Department of Education and individual districts. A report from a state task force on the topic is due later this month.
The leaders discussed how teachers, families, and policymakers need objective measures to determine whether children are learning – before it’s too late to help them.
“Every child matters and we need assessments to measure student academic growth so that none of our kids fall through the cracks,” said Markell, who called for the assessment inventory last year. “But we also know that what determines whether our children get the education they deserve is how much high-quality instructional time they get – access to great teachers, curriculum, and the courses that will prepare them for college and careers.
“So we need to be smart about our approach, ensuring that we are not giving redundant, ineffective, or unnecessary tests so we can maximize time for our teachers to teach and our students to learn,” Markell said.
King, who noted his department soon will announce federal dollars to support assessment reviews and improvements, praised Delaware for its work. He emphasized the value assessments provide to educators and policymakers in understanding student learning. But he said leaders have a responsibility to ensure assessments are high quality, transparent, take up the right amount of time, and are one of multiple measures used to assess performance.
The district leaders discussed how beneficial the inventory process was for them at the local level. With the support of state grants, they reviewed their local and state assessments.
“We don’t want to be conducting assessments that are telling us the same things as other assessments,” Indian River Superintendent Susan Bunting said. “We want to make sure we are getting the most information out of the time we are investing.”
Colonial School District Superintendent Dusty Blakey said his district found through the review that it could reduce testing time for all students ranging from a one hour reduction for kindergartners to more than 13 hours saved for eighth graders.
“We can put that time back into informed instruction because those assessments remaining are really aligned to instruction,” he said.