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New federal Ed. Sec. talks student testing with Delaware officials

Eli Chen/Delaware Public Media

Acting Secretary of Education John King met with Delaware policymakers and educators on Friday morning in Wilmington.

Gov. Jack Markell, Sen. Tom Carper and representatives from several school districts participated in the the roundtable discussion, which focused almost entirely on student assessments.

Educators spoke of cutting down on overtesting and the need to make results from the Smarter Balanced Assessment more useful for students throughout the school year.

King believes that the First State’s ongoing conversation about school testing will lead to better use and implementation of assessments.

“What parents want is to make sure they have good information on how the students are doing

but that assessment doesn’t crowd out instruction," said King. Conversations like this one, about getting that assessment balanced right, is the path forward for our schools.”


One of the ways King thinks Delaware’s assessments can be improved is by blending them in with the classroom curriculum.


“Most folks would say if my child is doing a science experiment in science class and then doing a lab report about that science experiment. And then writing about different science experiments they’ve done in class and the concepts that they’re learning through that, that’s good assessment," said King. "And it’s not necessarily what people are thinking of when they think of a traditional standardized test. There’s an opportunity to make sure assessments are designed in a way that makes them a part of the instructional process.”

Last summer, Markell vetoed a bill, sponsored by Rep. John Kowalko, to let parents opt their children out of taking the Smarter Balanced Assessment. Kowalko attempted to override the veto last week but was unsuccessful.

But starting this year, high school juniors in Delaware no longer have to take the Smarter Balanced Assessment. The SAT - which is now aligned with Common Core standard - replaces that requirement.

A committee of students, parents and others in the education community are currently reviewing assessment inventories and recommendations. The state Department of Education will release a report sometime this year.

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