Delaware

State Policy Report Card 2013 State Policy Report Card 2012

State Rank: 11

ovERAll A B GRAdE State Rank: ovERAll A B GRAdE

GPA

1.75

C– C

D F
D F

Delaware has made strides to identify excellent teachers and principals, but it must do more to ensure these educators are retained. Even with the adoption of better educator evaluations, seniority is still allowed to be too prominent a factor in layoff decisions, and districts are not required to link performance with compensation or tenure revocation. The state should also offer teachers a more robust, portable retirement option. Delaware can also empower parents with meaningful school performance information so they can make better-informed decisions about their children's education. Public charter schools in Delaware receive comparable funding, but access to facilities is limited. The state must improve its weak accountability system for public charter schools. Finally, Delaware should create additional governance options that allow the state and mayors to intervene in low-performing schools and districts.

GPA

State Momentum Builder
As one of the first two states to win a Race to the Top grant, Delaware embraced reform in multiple policy areas, including teacher quality. The state has adopted a meaningful evaluation model for teachers and principals and ensures that ineffective educators are removed from the system. Additionally, Delaware is taking an active state role in turning around low-performing schools.

Elevate Teaching Elevate

State Rank: 9

State Rank: 4th

A B

Teaching

C+ D F A B C D F GPA 2.36
GPA

Empower Parents Empower

State Rank: 20

State Rank: 4th

A B C

Parents

A B C D GPA
GPA

F 0.76

D–

F

Spend Wisely & Spend Govern & Wisely Well Govern

State Rank: 10

State Rank: 4th

A B

A GPA

B C D F 2.11

C

D F

Delaware has made positive strides when it comes to ensuring effective teachers and principals are recruited, identified, retained, and rewarded by districts, and it must continue on this path to strengthen its efforts even more. Notably, Delaware requires districts to annually evaluate educators in a meaningful way. Measures of student achievement and growth are predominant determiners of an educator's overall rating. Evaluations are used to drive personnel decisions, including teacher placement, budget-related layoffs, and tenure. But more can be done: The state can set a higher bar for admission into alternative certification programs; explicitly prohibit seniority from factoring into layoffs; eliminate pay increases solely for advanced degrees; revoke tenure based on ineffective performance; and require a statewide performancepay system.

All families should have the information and access they need to choose high-quality schools for their children, and no student should be forced to attend a low-performing school or be taught by a lowperforming teacher. Therefore, Delaware must empower parents to take action by providing meaningful information on school performance and more high-quality school choice options. Delaware should grade schools using an A-F letter system based on student achievement data, require parental notification if a student is placed with an ineffective teacher, and grant parents the power to petition local school boards to turn around failing schools. The state should take additional steps to ensure parents have high-quality school choice options through more accountable public charter schools and a publicly funded scholarship program for low-income students in chronically failing public schools.

Well Delaware has taken several positive steps to ensure

GPA

that districts use resources wisely, but additional work is needed. Notably, the state requires a fiscal recovery team to provide assistance or take over spending decisions for districts in financial distress; and it encourages cost efficiencies through joint contracting. However, requiring districts to link spending to student outcomes would improve transparency. The state should also establish more aggressive accountability measures for academically underachieving districts; in addition to state-assisted turnaround efforts, full state and mayoral control should be allowed. Delaware also needs to reform its outdated teacher pension plan and move to a portable plan that provides career flexibility and retirement security for all teachers.

Delaware Fast Facts

Michigan Fast Facts total Students, 2010–11
Stats, 2010–11 129,403
StudENtS School diStRictS of Education, NCES, Sources: U.S. Department
Common Core of Data (CCD), and 2011 National SchoolS Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).

NAEP Scale Score Rank, 2011
MAth REAdiNG 4th NAEP Scale 28 Score Rank, 2011 12 GRAdE MAth REAdiNG MAth REAdiNG 4th 8th GRAdE GRAdE 30 25 MAth REAdiNG 8th GRAdE

NAEP Proficiency, 2011
61% 4th Grade NAEP Proficiency, Math

2011
65%

39%

4th Grade Reading Math Reading

35%
36% Advanced

64% Below Basic Basic

Proficient

Public chARtERS

Below Basic

68% Basic

Proficient

29% Advanced

Delaware

State Policy Report Card 2013
Momentum Builder: State has made recent progress in this policy area. Anchor Objective: Foundational policy for meaningful education reform. Gold Standard: Exemplar state policies that prioritize bold reform and put students first.

Elevate Teaching
Comprehensive Evaluation
A

B

C D F

GPA

3.14

Strong evaluation systems are foundational to improving teacher and principal quality; evaluations recognize excellence, support development, and address ineffectiveness. They must be meaningful, objective, and fair. Delaware has created meaningful educator evaluation systems, including multiple measures for both teachers and principals. Half of the evaluation is based on student achievement measures, including significant weighting of a student growth measure; in every rating, student growth is a controlling factor. Educators are evaluated according to a four-tier rating system. Teacher evaluations include classroom observations, and principals are evaluated in part based on their effective management of teachers. Delaware must continue to maintain the weighting and significance of student growth in its evaluations, and it should also incorporate student feedback in teacher evaluations. The state's evaluation criteria are not subject to contract negotiations, ensuring that districts have the authority to maintain meaningful systems.

Objective
Teacher Evaluations Principal Evaluations Evaluations & Contracts

Score (0–4)

3 3 4

Use Evaluations for Personnel Decisions
A B

GPA

2.00

C

D F

Basing personnel decisions on performance is critical to building schools that retain effective teachers and make student achievement paramount. Delaware has made positive development in this area, but it must do more to prioritize teacher effectiveness. The state requires that teachers with more than two consecutive ineffective ratings be dismissed; yet districts can still assign teachers through forced placement. Furthermore, when teachers are forced to be laid off during a budget-induced reduction in force, the state does not prohibit seniority or require performance as a factor, leaving effective teachers at risk. Teachers receive tenure status after serving a short three-year probationary period. While attainment of tenure is based on performance, revocation is not. Delaware must continue taking steps to establish a system that prioritizes students and great teachers, using teacher performance as the driving influence for all personnel decisions.

Objective
Ending Forced Placement Staffing Decision Tenure Attainment & Maintenance

Score (0–4)

3 1 2

Value Effective Teachers
A B C

GPA

1.50

D+

F

To encourage a high-quality, diverse workforce, professional pay should be based on performance rather than other non-classroom factors such as seniority or degrees held. Delaware sets a statewide salary schedule for teachers based on years of experience and the number of educational credits attained; measures of effectiveness of are not taken into consideration. However, the state does allow additional pay for teachers who gain skills and knowledge that lead to more effective instruction, but the criteria for making this determination is not cited in the law. To best support and reward effective teachers, Delaware should eliminate automatic pay increases for teachers with master's degrees alone and require all school districts to implement performance-based pay systems that prioritize student outcome measures.

Objective
Reward Performance with Pay Reform Salary Schedules

Score (0–4)

2 0

Alternative Teacher Certification
A B

GPA

2.50

C+

D F

Delaware offers multiple alternative routes to certification. Any degree holder in high-needs secondary subjects and music/art is eligible. Those enrolled in teacher residency programs such as Teach For America may teach any subject area contingent on passing a content-area exam. Delaware permits non-university providers and requires candidates for certification in each pathway to pass a general knowledge exam. Delaware should increase candidate selectivity by instituting a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA, or 2.5 with five-years relevant experience, and replace the major requirement with a content exam. Delaware is a leader in authorizing, evaluating, and decommissioning alternative certification programs. Providers enter into a three-year contract, and program performance is linked to teacher effectiveness based on student performance data. Their five-year renewal is dependent on a Department of Education or external review.

Objective
Alternative Certification Pathways Alternative Certification Accountability

Score (0–4)

2 4

Delaware

State Policy Report Card 2013
Momentum Builder: State has made recent progress in this policy area. Anchor Objective: Foundational policy for meaningful education reform. Gold Standard: Exemplar state policies that prioritize bold reform and put students first.

Empower Parents
Empower Parents with information
A B C D

GPA

0.00

F

Currently, parents in Delaware do not have access to meaningful information that enables them to engage in their schools and make informed decisions for their children. Delaware can take a number of steps to address this. First, the state must require that every PK-12 school receive an annual report card that includes an A-F letter grade based on student achievement. Delaware could more effectively provide parents with information if state law allowed parents access to teacher evaluation information and required that schools notify parents when their children are placed with an ineffective teacher. Also, Delaware should require parental consent for placement of a student with an ineffective teacher. Delaware should empower parents by establishing a parent trigger law that allows a majority of parents to band together at the grassroots level and petition to turn around low-performing schools throughout the state.

objective
School Report Cards Parent Notification Parent trigger

Score (0–4)

0 0 0

increase Quality choices
A B C D

GPA

0.29

F

Delaware must ensure its students are not trapped in failing schools by increasing the number of high-quality school choice options for parents. Delaware allows for unlimited growth of public charter schools, but it does not require a high threshold for charter expansion. Additionally, Delaware should require charter schools to enter into a performance contract and create a clear trigger to close persistently underperforming public charter schools. Authorizers must be held accountable for school performance. The state should also create a publicly funded scholarship program for low-income students in chronically failing public schools to attend a private school and require the private school to adhere to certain accountability provisions.

objective
opportunity Scholarship charter Establishment & Expansion charter Accountability

Score (0–4)

0 2 0

Provide comparable Resources for All Public options
A B

GPA

2.20

C

D F

Children stuck in chronically failing schools should have an option to attend another school of their choice without being punished by the state through reduced funding. Delaware public charter schools generally receive funding comparable to traditional public schools. Although its law contains no reference to authorizer fees or the mandatory purchase of services, Delaware should specifically prohibit these forms of skimming to ensure public charter schools have comparable resources. Delaware provides good access to tax-exempt bonds for charter school construction. However, Delaware should strengthen charter schools' access to unused facilities and provide per-pupil facility funding or other facility financing programs.

objective
Fund Fairly Enable Equitable Access to Facilities charter Facilities Financing

Score (0–4)

3 0 2

Methodology
State policies were analyzed and assigned an individual score from 0 to 4, with 4 representing the strongest lever for reform and the most common sense policy for students. Anchor policies were assigned a 3x weight. Grade point averages (GPAs) were calculated based on grouping policies by category. For the full methodology, evaluation rubric, and detailed analysis of each policy, please visit the website at reportcard.studentsfirst.org.

GPA Sample calculations Score
Objective 1 Objective 2 Objective 3 3 2 4 x x x

Weight
3 3 1 7 = = =

Subtotal
9 6 4 19

GPA = Subtotal ÷ Total Weight GPA = 19 ÷ 7 = 2.71

Delaware

State Policy Report Card 2013
Momentum Builder: State has made recent progress in this policy area. Anchor Objective: Foundational policy for meaningful education reform. Gold Standard: Exemplar state policies that prioritize bold reform and put students first.

Spend Wisely & Govern Well
Promote Governance Structures that Streamline Accountability
A B C

GPA

1.00

D

F

The ability to turn around failing schools is often hampered by bureaucratic red tape and politics. Delaware allows for limited governance flexibility at the state level but not the local level. The state can designate persistently low-achieving schools as Partnership Zone schools. These schools then work with the Department of Education and with the district to implement plans for improving achievement. To create more flexible governance options, the state should allow for full state control of low-performing schools and districts. Delaware should also consider allowing mayoral control in low-performing districts.

objective
Mayoral & State control

Score (0–4)

1

Spend taxpayer Resources Wisely to improve outcomes for Students
A

B+

C D F

GPA

3.33

Given the limited resources available for public education, states must ensure that districts spend as many dollars as possible in the classroom rather than in bureaucracy and that the dollars invested drive the greatest change. Delaware permits staffing flexibility because it does not mandate less effective class-size limits past the third grade. However, Delaware should provide greater spending flexibility to school districts by removing restrictions that limit districts' ability to reallocate resources to their greatest needs. Moreover, the state should empower data-driven decisionmaking by linking the spending data it collects to academic achievement. Delaware should enable governance changes when resources are mismanaged.

objective
Fiscal transparency Management Alternatives class Size

Score (0–4)

2 4 4

Make teacher Pensions Portable and Fair
A B

GPA

2.00

C

D F

Attracting a high-quality workforce will require a competitive retirement plan. Portable retirement options, such as 401(k) plans, are an essential component of compensation packages and make the teaching profession more competitive. It is a classic win-win for teachers and districts. Under current policy, Delaware requires employees of traditional schools and certain charter schools to participate in its defined benefit plan. The state also offers a voluntary deferred compensation plan and provides a limited matching contribution. To provide the most career flexibility and ensure sustainability of the existing system, Delaware should establish a more robust, portable employer-sponsored retirement plan, such as a defined contribution or cash balance plan, and continue to allow public charter schools to opt in.

objective
Pension Reform

Score (0–4)

2

StudentsFirst is a bipartisan grassroots movement of more than 2 million members nationwide, working to focus our education system on what’s best for students. Today, too many of America’s children are not getting the quality education they need and deserve. StudentsFirst is helping to change that with common sense reforms that help make sure all students have great schools and great teachers. We are working to ensure educators are valued for the critical role they 825 K Street, 2nd Floor Sacramento, CA 95814 Website: reportcard.studentsfirst.org Email: reportcard@studentsfirst.org play in kids’ lives, families have high-quality school choices and a real say in their child’s education, and our tax dollars are spent wisely on what works for kids. Launched by former Washington D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee in December 2010, StudentsFirst has successfully helped pass more than 70 student-centered policies in 17 states, and our movement continues to grow. © StudentsFirst 2013