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State ESSA plan nears completion, concerns about 5-star rating system linger

Delaware Public Media

Concerns remain as Delaware’s Department of Education works to finalize its Every Student Succeeds Act plan for the federal government.


Those concerns center on the proposed use of a 5-star system to rate schools.

Advocates for the five-star system include DelawareCAN’s Atnre Alleyne who says it would make school data and performance measures more transparent for families.


Alleyne cited a similar star-rating program – Delaware Stars - available for First State early childhood learning centers.


“And as a parent I know that was meaningful for me – when you’re navigating the system of looking for the right opportunity and setting for your child," Alleyne said.


Opponents of the system argue it won’t provide a fair comparison of schools with different populations – especially those serving more low-income and students and those with high levels of trauma.


Those opponents include the state’s largest teachers’ union, the Delaware State Education Association.  DSEA’s Kristin Dwyer says the system is not in the best interest of students - and simple labels could lower the morale of teachers working with high-needs groups.


“The federal government has said it needs to be meaningful above all else," Dwyer said. "And we don’t believe that a five-star rating is a meaningful label of what’s going on in that school.”

Rating system aside, both groups agree the accountability standard the state uses should provide as much information as possible about contributing to each school’s success or struggles.


They both want even more information reported out about comprehensive support and improvement schools (those with the performance levels across the state) and targeted support and improvement schools (those with other significant gaps in performance).


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