New Interim Student Standards Approved

by Dave on September 16, 2010

To better measure the ability of Delaware’s children to succeed in a global economy, the Delaware State Board of Education today voted to implement new interim standards that require greater mastery of core subjects to achieve a rating of “proficient.” The new scoring system will replace previous measurements that were reported each year as part of the Delaware Student Testing Program (DSTP).

“Delaware had statewide measurements and standards in place for many years but it was clear they needed to be stronger to be meaningful,” Secretary of Education Lillian Lowery said. “The previous standards delivered higher scores because there was a lower bar. The new standards and new expectations will better measure what we need to do to compete and win against schools and students around the country and around the world.”

Because the new standards raised the level of what constitutes “proficiency,” initial scores under this new system will likely be significantly lower than years past. Looking at fourth grade reading proficiency, for example, 76% of students have been rated proficient under the DSTP 2006 standards but based on Delaware Comprehensive Assessment System field testing results, only 48% would achieve that rating now. In math, 78% of fourth graders under the former standards would have been rated proficient but only 53% would be now (see attached chart for more details). The new standards are the result of recommendations made by over 150 Delawareans who volunteered hundreds of hours to develop more rigorous expectations and measurements.

“From the educators and parents, and from private sector managers and public sector school administrators in the group, there was real agreement that we should not continue to keep standards lower or less competitive simply so we could point to higher scores,” Lowery said.

Parents, students and teachers alike should understand that these lower scores do not mean students know less than they did the year before, or that they are somehow “doing worse in school,” just that the new interim standards require a higher level of mastery of information and concepts. Just like the traditional DSTP scores, the new scores will not impact a student’s grades or be reported to any colleges where a student is applying. Nor will teacher effectiveness ratings drop because of the expected drop in test scores under the new, higher standards. The scores will, however, serve to better inform parents, teachers and students of the areas that need focus for improvement.

“The new proficiency standards and new scores will also give our students, parents and teachers an accurate roadmap for improvement so that, when they graduate, Delaware students will truly be ready to “take on the world,” Lowery said.

To help provide parents, students and schools some context and continuity as we move forward with this more informational rating system, the new scores using the higher proficiency standards will be accompanied by information that demonstrates how the student would have done against the old proficiency standards that were in place with the DSTP.

This new effort is an important step to ensuring Delaware’s long-term economic impact and will be an important signal to companies considering Delaware as a place to expand or locate.

“The most important thing we can do to ensure our state’s economic future in the long-term – and the greatest gift that we can give to our children now, to ensure their future success – is to make sure we are on our way to having some of the strongest schools in the country and that our students graduate ready and able to compete and win. That means being more open about where we start and where we need to go,” Governor Jack Markell said. “When talking with national and international business leaders responsible for creating jobs, they want their companies to be in places with great schools or schools that are on their way to being truly great. They want to be able to hire and provide careers to students who graduate prepared to succeed. To be clear, our competition in this regard is no longer just our neighboring states; it includes countries around the world seeking to bring those jobs to their shores.”

release from Delaware Department of Education

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