Education in the First State
November 28, 2018
45 buildings earn highest school rating for 2018

Associate Principal Irene Buscemi, Secretary of Education Susan Bunting and Principal Patrick Grant celebrate Smyrna School District's Sunnyside Elementary earning an Exceeds Expectations rating for 2018 during a visit by the Secretary this week.

Forty-five schools across the state have earned the highest rating on Delaware's new school accountability system. 

Secretary of Education Susan Bunting will be visiting each school in the coming months to observe instruction and deliver celebratory banners.

Of the 213 schools that received accountability ratings, 45 scored overall as Exceeds Expectations. The overall ratings are determined based on multiple measures in which the schools also receive sub-ratings, such as student proficiency and growth in key subjects, high school graduation rates and the progress of English learners. 

The Delaware Department of Education (DDOE) this month released results of the Delaware School Success Framework (DSSF) for the first time under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The DSSF is a statewide system for measuring how schools perform in key areas. This tool is designed to help the public understand the full spectrum of school performance and to identify each school's needs to best support students.

"In Delaware we recognize that all schools benefit from continuous improvement -- including those that earn our highest ratings - in order to best support all students," Secretary of Education Susan Bunting said. "The DSSF provides important information to help families, educators and community members understand how their schools are performing and in which areas they are excelling or need more support. Administrators and policy makers alike can use this information to learn from our schools' successes and to better direct resources where they are most needed."

The DSSF results have been published under each school's accountability tab of the school profile section of DDOE's website. In December, the state will release new online school report cards at the state-, district- and school-levels, which will include the data from today's release as well as more information in a revamped, more user-friendly format.

For more information on continuous school improvement in Delaware, see DDOE's website here.
Dover AFB Middle designs ornaments for national tree

Students from Caesar Rodney School District's Dover Air Force Base Middle display the ornaments they created for the 2018 National Christmas Tree Experience in Washington, D.C. Read what each student designed here.
Students from Dover Air Force Base Middle School in the Caesar Rodney School District designed one-of-a-kind ornaments for this year's National Christmas Tree Experience. 

Students created handcrafted ornaments to adorn one of the 56 trees surrounding the national Christmas tree. The 56 trees represent each U.S. state, territory and the District of Columbia as part of the America Celebrates display located in Washington D.C.'s President's Park.

Under the guidance of Amy Laslow, the Dover AFB Middle visual art and technology education teacher, more than 20 students decorated ornaments based on Delaware. Included in the national display will be ornaments featuring horseshoe crabs, Dover and the state drink (milk).

"Caesar Rodney School District is honored to have students from Dover Air Force Base Middle School selected to represent Delaware by creating ornaments that will decorate smaller trees surrounding our National Christmas tree in Washington D.C.," said Caesar Rodney School District Superintendent Kevin Fitzgerald.  "I know our students are thrilled to be going to Washington to see their ornaments on display and to see the lighting of the National Tree." 

Added Dr. Fitzgerald, "I am personally amazed and proud of the artwork created by Mrs. Laslow and her students. I am sure all of Delaware will be proud as well if they have an opportunity to visit and see Delaware's ornaments at the Washington Mall."

The National Christmas Tree experience begins this evening with the 96th Annual National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony.

Through a partnership with the National Park Service, the U.S. Department of Education worked with state art and education agencies to identify middle and high schools whose students would create the ornaments. The project is funded by the National Park Foundation.
Drivers: Remember 'Rules of Road' for bus stop safety

There have been several accidents at school bus stops in the national news lately, a good reminder for us in Delaware to make sure drivers are aware of the rules of the road. 

School buses are one of the safest forms of transportation on the road, and Delaware drivers can help ensure the safety of our students by paying special attention to school buses. Most of the children who lose their lives in bus-related crashes are pedestrians, many hit by motorists illegally passing stopped buses.  

In the spring, Delaware public school bus drivers conducted their eighth annual survey of vehicles illegally passing their buses while they were loading/unloading students with their overhead red lights flashing and lighted STOP arms extended. The survey, conducted on May 4, 2018, included 1,108 bus drivers who reported 572 illegal passes, 8 of which were by the right side of the bus. Almost 300 of the illegal passes (296) were drivers approaching from the rear of the bus. More than half of the illegal passes (294) occurred on the morning bus runs.

The Delaware Department of Education - in partnership with the Delaware Department of Safety and Homeland Security Highway Safety Office, Delaware Department of Transportation and Delaware State Police - reminds vehicle operators of the state's "Rules of the Road" to keep our children safe when they are getting on or off a school bus:
  • Bus drivers will turn on the overhead amber flashing lights to give motorists advance notice that they are preparing to stop to pick up or discharge students. Once stopped, the bus drivers activate the overhead red flashing lights and extend their bus STOP arms. 
  • When a bus is stopped on a two-lane road with the overhead red flashing lights illuminated and STOP arm out, the driver of any vehicle approaching the school bus from the front or the rear of the bus shall stop and remain stopped until the red lights are no longer flashing and the STOP arm is retracted. 
  • On a roadway with four or more lanes, the driver approaching the bus from the front shall not stop. 
  • Drivers should stop far enough from the bus to allow students to safely enter and exit the bus. 
  • Be alert. Children can be unpredictable.
Troops to Teachers helps vets transition to classroom

Click on the image to check out this recent Facebook Live to learn more about available support through Troops to Teachers.
Veterans and current service members of the Armed Forces are receiving support to transition to Delaware teaching careers thanks to a recent partnership between the Delaware Department of Education and New Jersey's Troops to Teachers.

Troops to Teachers, established in 1993, provides counseling and referral services to help those with military experience meet education and licensing requirements to secure teaching positions. More than 20,000 participants have successfully transitioned to careers in education since the program began.

"Teaching is a way veterans can continue to serve our country. Our students can benefit from the unique skills and life experiences military service members bring to the classroom," Secretary of Education Susan Bunting said

Troops to Teachers staff is currently reaching out to military installations, local veteran service offices, the Department of Military and Veteran Affairs and local s chool districts to increase awareness about the program's expansion to Delaware. 

Carney: 2019 kindergarten registration starts now

Editor's note: The following is an op-ed written by Delaware First Lady Tracey Quillen Carney, honorary chair of the state's new Kindergarten Registration Campaign. Also check out her video on November as Kindergarten Registration Month here.

This month, we launched the first ever Kindergarten Registration Campaign in Delaware. And I can hear families asking exactly what I would have asked in the hectic preschool years of our kids' lives: "You want me to think about next fall - now?"

Of course, students won't ever be turned away from attending their feeder pattern school. But families should know that kindergarten registration is not a one-step process, and there are advantages and opportunities that come with starting early-opportunities that can help give children the best possible start to the school year. A good start to kindergarten helps set kids on a path to future success, including the all-important benchmark of grade-level reading.

So yes, speaking to my fellow parents/caregivers, now really is the best time to start planning for next fall, and our schools are eager to help. We can help each other, too, by spreading the word and encouraging all parents/caregivers of children who will be age five by August 31, 2019, to learn about and complete kindergarten registration as early as possible.

First, families need to identify your home schools, even if you plan to look into choice or charter options, and learn exactly what each school requires for registration. No one should be wary of the documents requested; schools will work with all Delaware residents in consideration of family circumstances. But recognize that you might need time to make physical exam appointments and gather materials. Each school also has a number of forms for families to complete, and it's worth finding out early if you-or your family members, neighbors, or friends with rising K students-are going to need any help or additional information.


Other Good News in Delaware's Public Schools