The format of this meeting was a panel discussion. The general topic was education of children with special needs. The panel disussion was moderated by BSNPTA Co-President, Alex Rittberg. The agenda listed these general discussion topics:
- DSTP and children with special needs: Is this the right test? Should special needs kids be tested? What about diplomas?
- DSTP and school accountability with regard to the special needs population: How does it work now and what will House Bill 349 change?
- Improving life outcomes for special needs students: How do we address the academic performance gap between regular ed and special ed students? What should be done to improve the high drop out rate for special ed students?
- Funding: How limiting is it? How can we address it? Can local tuition tax dollars be used for a variety of purposes or only for private tuition placements?
- Speech language pathologists: We don’t have enough to meet needs. Workloads vs. caseloads need to be considered.
The panelists were:
- Sen. Cathy Cloutier
- Sen. Charlie Copeland
- Sen. David P. Sokola
- Rep. Greg Lavelle
- Rep. Diana McWilliams
- Rep. Bob Valihura
- Nancy Doorey
- Martha Toomey
- Brian Touchette
- represents the 5th Senatorial District and serves on the following Senate Committees: Children, Youth & Families; Combat Drug Abuse; Energy & Transit; Joint Finance; Highways & Transportation; Public Safety. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 577-8517.
- represents the 4th Senatorial District and serves on the following Senate Committees: Administrative Services; Education; Energy & Transit; Insurance & Elections; Public Safety; Small Business; Sunset. He may be reached at email@example.com or 577-8716.
- represents the 8th Senatorial District and serves on the following Senate Committees: Administrative Services; Banking; Community/County Affairs; Education; Insurance & Elections; Small Business; Sunset. He may be reached at David.Sokola@state.de.us or 577-8719.
- represents the 11th Representative District and serves on the following House Committees: Capital Infrastructure (alt); Business/Corporations/ Commerce; Transportation, Land Use & Infrastructure (Vice Chair); Judiciary; Economic Development, Banking and Insurance (Vice Chair); Housing and Community Affairs (Chair); Revenue & Finance; Sub-Committee on Manufactured Housing. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 577-8723.
- represents the 6th Representative District and serves on the following House Committees: Natural Resources & Environmental Management; Agriculture; Education; Health & Human Development; Business/Corporations/ Commerce. She may be reached at email@example.com or 577-8476.
- represents the 10th Representative District and serves on the following House Committees: Judiciary (Chair); Housing & Community Affairs; Revenue & Finance (Vice Chair); Economic Development, Banking & Insurance; Sunset (Vice Chair); Sub-Committee on Manufactured Housing (Chair). He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 577-8723.
- has been a member of the Brandywine School Board since 1999, serving as President of the Board for several years. Prior to her service on the Brandywine Board, she served on the State Board of Education for six years. She also serves on the board of directors for the Delaware Science and Mathematics Education Foundation and for the Metropolitan Wilmington Urban League. She can be reached at email@example.com or 764-9030.
- heads the Delaware Dept. of Educations Exceptional Children and Early Childhood Education Curriculum & Instructional Improvement Branch. She began her career as a special education teacher in 1974. She joined Delawares Dept. of Education in 1992 and became the state director of special education services in 2005. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 302-735-4210 ext. 4211.
- is an Education Associate in the Dept. of Educations Exceptional Children and Early Childhood Education Curriculum & Instructional Improvement Branch. His areas of responsibility within the department include DSTP accommodations, alternate assessment, IEPs, deaf-blind liaison and hearing impaired liaison. He can be reached at email@example.com or 302-735-4210 ext. 4218.
Martha Brooks, Associate Secretary of Curriculum and Instructional Improvement from the Dept. of Education, attended the meeting and although she was not a panelist, Dr. Brooks did speak on behalf of DOE on a couple of topics.
There were 75 people in attendance other than the panelists.
Alex Rittberg introduced the topic of DSTP testing by calling attention to the poor performance Brandywine’s students in special education relative to the State averages for students in special education students in reading and math.
There was a general consensus that all students must be tested and that the DSTP is the current test. However, many panelists and audience members expressed concern that the DSTP may not be the best test.
There was considerable discussion and interest in the North West Evaluation Association (NWEA) Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) tests. These computer adaptive tests begin with grade level questions and can match the student’s level of proficiency by “adapting” to the student’s level so that the majority of the testing time is spent honing in on each individual student’s performance. Some students end up with questions above grade level and some with questions below grade. Some audience members believed this kind of test was less frustrating for students in special education.
Delaware is considering this test – or similar ones, as a replacement for the current DSTP but there is considerable work to do before that can happen. Whatever test is adopted as the Delaware State assessment must be well aligned with the State curriculum and must be recognized by the Federal DOE as an appropriate assessment. Both of these steps take time and money so the DSTP will not be replaced in the short term – according to the panelists.
Nancy Doorey indicated she had a presentation on the NWEA pilot program in which she has been involved. We’ve posted a copy of Ms. Doorey’s NWEA Pilot presentation that she gave at the Feb 22 Legislative Dessert meeting
The proposed Delaware’s House Bill 351 discusses replacing the current DSTP with a test like the NWEA MAP assessment.
The proposed Delaware House Bill 349 proposes easing the accountability of geographic home schools for students who attend classes elsewhere. Martha Toomey quoted briefly from a letter to all legislators from Valerie Woodruff, Delaware’s Secretary of Education on this topic. The Dept of Education, does not support waiving the accountability for geographic home schools.
Brian Touchette passed out the Delaware State Diploma Requirements for discussion. Given the fact that less than 10% of Brandywine’s students in special education passed the math portion of the DSTP, there was concern over this document which stipulated diploma eligibility will be based on DSTP scores.
Several reporters attended. The meeting had coverage in the following media: