Education in the First State
August 26, 2015
Preliminary Smarter scores to be released next week, resources available now

The Delaware Department of Education will release preliminary statewide Smarter Assessment results on September 2. Final results will be released in mid-September, when families also will receive score reports.
The test results will show children's strengths and weaknesses in different areas within each subject. This will help families and educators understand whether children need additional practice or need to be challenged by going deeper into a subject. Families can use these results to locate activities online that were designed specifically for each category at every grade level. Families also can use the test results to guide a discussion with their children's teachers about additional supports or challenges that may be needed in class, as well as other ways to support their children at home.

There are many resources available. For example, you can find Delaware-specific resources differentiated by subject, testing area and grade level at Be A Learning Hero's Skill Builder site. Also check out GreatKids! for more resources, including a new Delaware-specific tool launching September 1. Using a child's individual results, a parent or guardian will be able to find resources that will match the child's areas of strength and areas for improvement.

Find these and other great resources and information about the Smarter Assessments on the DelExcels site. There you also will find sample score reports for each achievement level, an interpretive guide for reading the score reports and an extensive FAQ document. Spanish language documents are also available.

Program better prepares aspiring teachers with year-long residency

Third grade teacher Stacy Respoli, left, and student teacher Sharneá Washington set up their North Dover Elementary classroom. Wilmington University's residency program allows aspiring teachers to join their classes for a full year under a co-teaching model.

Student teacher Jennifer Wightman helped kindergarten teacher Julie Powell set up her North Dover Elementary classroom last week, posting colorful bulletin boards and labeling desks and cubbies with children's names. The next night she would be alongside Powell to greet parents and orient students during the school's open house.

Some student teachers miss learning on the ground about class set-up and other pre-academic year necessities because they join their classes a few weeks into the school year.

"You don't think about those things - that the whole classroom is taken down and you have to put everything back up," Wightman said.

Wightman is one of a dozen student teachers who will be working side by side with veteran teachers all year thanks to a partnership between the Delaware Department of Education's Teacher and Leader Development Unit; Wilmington University; and the Capital, Indian River and Red Clay Consolidated school districts. The department has provided funding over the past two years.

Back to school: Health and safety reminders for the new year
Students started returning to school at Eisenberg Elementary in the Colonial School District on Monday. Find more first-day photos here.

With the start of the new school year, drivers may notice a significant increase in the number of buses. 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 fifth 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 9, 2015, included 1,249 bus drivers who reported 748 illegal passes, 19 of which were by the right side of the bus.

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.

Now also is a good time for families to make sure their students' health records and needs are up-to-date!

Vocational programs provide inmates with hope, skills for life after prison
Advanced students catered a luncheon with VIP guests including Second Lady Jill Biden at Baylor Women's Correctional Institution this summer.

The student chefs whip up homemade rolls for every sandwich. They use asparagus, tomatoes, blueberries, and other fruits and vegetables grown in the garden outside their building for some of their culinary creations. They learn to create but also to plan and manage, giving them skills that will help them in future careers as cooks, caterers, pastry chefs or restaurant managers.

This teaching kitchen's aim is for students to leave with marketable skills that allow them to succeed in the real world. That is important because these students are entering that real world with a criminal record and prison term to overcome.

The culinary arts program at Baylor Women's Correctional Institution in New Castle is one of eight vocational programs offered through the Delaware Department of Education at correctional institutions across the state. Last year 141 students enrolled in the culinary arts program, which covered topics such as hospitality and service, human resource management, introduction to baking, ServSafe, nutrition, and instructional cooking. Other vocational programs range from flagging classes at Young Correctional Institution in Wilmington to the automotive tech program at Vaughn Correctional Center in Smyrna.

"Prison education's goal is to make incarceration more than just 'doing time.' The focus of each class is to provide offenders with new knowledge and skills so that upon re-entry, they can become productive employees, positive influences in their neighborhoods and supportive parents," said Maureen Whelan, director of prison and adult education for the Delaware Department of Education.

Teacher Spotlight
Brandywine teacher engages community, students with Greenfest
Brandywine Superintendent Mark Holodick and Mount Pleasant Elementary School's dragon mascot joined Wendy Turner at Greenfest in May.
The nearly 700 vehicles that showed up at Mount Pleasant Elementary the Saturday before Mother's Day arrived with trunks full of old electronics, paper boxes of documents in need of shredding and household hazardous wastes ranging from fluorescent light bulbs to antifreeze.

Behind this massive recycling effort dubbed Greenfest was a second-grade teacher passionate about the environment and civic engagement. She weaves both into her work with students at the Brandywine School District elementary school.

"At its heart, Greenfest is a service to the community. So many people want to recycle and dispose of their waste in a responsible way. This event helps them to do that," said Wendy Turner, whose efforts helped the school win a national Green Ribbon Award this spring. Read more here.
Other Good News in Delaware's Public Schools