COMMENTARY: Get rid of Smarter Balanced in Delaware


The University of Delaware rendered a verdict on Common Core: We don’t care!

The University of Delaware is now making SAT scores optional on applications. In other words, they don’t care what your SAT score was high school students of Delaware! What does this have to do with the Smarter Balanced Assessment?

Last May, the Delaware Department of Education made a big showing about the College Board redesigning the SAT to align with Common Core standards. At the same time, high school juniors were the largest group of students opted out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.

At the end of 2015, Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Steven Godowsky made his big announcement about getting rid of Smarter Balanced for high school juniors in lieu of the SAT. And now the largest university in Delaware has said the test is now optional.

Members of the committee that came up with the idea say research at other universities — and their own research into UD students — suggests that high school grade-point averages are a better predictor of college success than the SAT.

This follows 815 other colleges and universities around the country who already did the same. The message is loud and clear: our higher education institutes in America do not believe Common Core and the SAT are what makes a student “college-ready”.

Gov. Markell’s education agenda failed. There are no other words to accurately describe what the University of Delaware declared with this.

When I read the words “GPA,” my heart leaped! These are the words I have wanted to hear for years! Nobody talks about actual grades students are getting anymore. All the big decisions made rotate around the state assessment.

The Delaware 148th General Assembly needs to have someone bring legislation forward to ban the Smarter Balanced Assessment in Delaware. We can no longer sit idly by and pretend this test has been anything but a colossal failure.

I believe we can now expect parents to opt their teenagers out of the SAT. Really, what is the point? Yes, the test costs money. Do we continue to spend millions of dollars on waste (I know, this is Delaware)? I know this has been on the minds of many legislators in Dover but no one has crossed the Rubicon to make it happen.

I can say this, anyone envisioning a future role of higher public office could almost guarantee success by sponsoring something like this today.

While we are already transitioning to the Every Student Succeeds Act, now is the best time to reevaluate education in Delaware.

This means getting rid of Common Core, high-stakes assessments, how we evaluate our teachers, funding, and how to best serve all students in the state. There are already several initiatives going on, but we need something bigger. We need to bring all the existing groups and gets tons of parents, teachers, and even students in on this.

We need an education summit like no other. Before we were knee-deep in the current wave of education reform we did this twice: in 2001 and 2005.

We need to look at everything: special education, bullying, district alignment, everything! We are at a pivotal crossroads with education, and there is a ton of room for error.

Let’s bring everyone together and make something that is good and lasting for our kids.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Kevin Ohlandt, of Dover, writes the Exceptional Delaware education blog.

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