Education in the First State
July 31, 2019
National Teacher of the Year leads Delaware workshop
Delaware's 2020 District/Charter Teachers of the Year are in Dover today for a day-long workshop led by 2010 National Teacher of the Year Sarah Brown Wessling.
Wessling, a high school English teacher from Iowa, is helping the educators sharpen their messages as they prepare their applications for State Teacher of the Year - and ultimately for one of them, National Teacher of the Year.
Five former Delaware Teachers of the Year also joined the session to share their insights.
The 20 local teachers of the year are spending the summer preparing their state applications. This fall, one of them will be named the 2020 Delaware Teacher of the Year. Meet the 20 teachers here.
Today's professional development was made possible thanks to the support of Voya Financial.
Delaware Pathways program prepares the whole child

Video: Delaware Pathways supporters discuss their commitment to preparing the whole child.

After speaking to more than 4,000 people across the state on what a well-educated workforce should be able to know and do, Delaware Pathways has increased its emphasis on social-emotional wellness alongside its traditional focus on career and technical education (CTE). 
This marriage of CTE skills with whole-child support results in students who can better communicate with patients and customers, handle tough situations, engage in self-care and more. Developing students grounded in who they are positively impacts schools and results in thriving communities. 
"Together we are learning from one another and sharing resources to support the creation of social and emotional learning competencies for self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision making," said Delaware Secretary of Education Susan S. Bunting.
Delaware Pathways is a joint effort between state agencies, employers, higher education and nonprofit organizations that offers programs for students to continue their education and pursue careers while in high school. Through Delaware Pathways, students can prepare for thousands of new, great-paying jobs in healthcare, engineering, manufacturing and more.

Literacy plan coordinates state, partner supports
Delaware's new literacy plan is designed to unite schools and the public/private sector to better focus on and meet students' literacy needs. 
The Delaware Department of Education has released the Delaware Literacy Plan, a framework that outlines strategies to improve the literacy proficiency of Delaware students.

The work of the plan is focused on four strategic intents:
  • Align core instruction to the standards
  • Implement curriculum using high quality instructional materials
  • Enhance early literacy instruction
  • Support educators through institutes of higher education
Key activities within these strategic intents are provided for teachers, school leaders and partners with family resources included in each area. Additional educator and family resources to support children's literacy are available on the department's website here.

"Students spend their earliest years learning to read. They need strong literacy skills to absorb information in math, science, social studies, the arts, and every other subject. Having a strong literacy foundation is crucial for Delaware children's success in school and life," Secretary of Education Susan Bunting said. "That is why improving third-grade literacy has been a key education initiative of Governor John Carney since before he took office. Recognizing how critical literacy skills are for our young learners, he has directed focus and resources to this work."

Forcucci: Students sharing their truths impacted me
Video: Jinni Forcucci discusses confronting her own privilege to confront institutionalized racism in the classroom.

Video: 2018 Delaware Teacher of the Year Jinni Forcucci discusses confronting her own privilege to confront institutionalized racism in the classroom.

In this TED-Ed Educator Talk, 2018 Teacher of the Year Jinni Forcucci talks about two moments that transformed how she views herself and her role as an educator. Each involved a student of color sharing his or her truth and has led her to wrestle with two questions: How can she dismantle the barriers to learning she creates as a white educator, ensuring that race doesn't dictate a child's education? And how do we hold space in the classroom for those whose voices have been systemically silenced?

A new way of delivering common assessments

Editor's Note: This guest post is written by Karen Ammann and Courtney Kalbach, instructional technology coaches in the Red Clay Consolidated School District.

Red Clay Consolidated School District has taken a different approach to assessment. Common assessments in several content areas now are being delivered to all students in grades 4-12 via the Schoology Assessment Management Platform (AMP). Schoology AMP provides more district-level control and access to student data. From this platform, district administrators can design, align and assign assessments to Schoology courses. Teachers administer the assessments for each of their classes. District-level and school-level administrators as well as classroom teachers view student data to make informed decisions guiding future instruction.
Through Schoology AMP, teacher teams along with district administrators create the common assessments. They add questions to the assessments using enhanced question varieties like drag-and-drop, matching, highlight passage, highlight image and more. These enhanced question types mimic the types of questions students interact with on the Smarter summative assessment. The teams align each question to a learning standard. The teams also decide on test settings, such as giving students the ability to highlight text, eliminate answer choices or use a calculator. 

District administrators add the common assessments to the teachers' already existing Schoology courses. Teachers then administer the assessment to the students. Because Schoology AMP assessments simulate Smarter, students get more practice in taking online tests resulting in feeling more confident when taking Smarter in the spring. Teachers only need to grade the short answer or essay question types. All other questions are automatically graded by Schoology. Paper and pencil usage for these common assessments is eliminated, and teachers get immediate access to student performance data. The test results show teachers which standards the students are struggling with or show proficiency in and where teachers need to reteach standards. 

District-level administrators are able to see test results for common assessments across the entire district for all students. Under the Item Performance Report, assessment data can be viewed question-by-question for each school, course or student. Drilling down this deeply provides information regarding not only which questions were correctly versus incorrectly answered, but also which answer choices proved to be the largest distractors. Having access to this specialized data aids in understanding student misconceptions so that instruction can be targeted to student needs. In the future, district administrators can make wide sweeping curriculum changes based on the test data and trends.  
Other Good News in Delaware's Public Schools