Delaware testing program provides more helpful results, but requires frequent testing

Education leaders throughout the state say a two-year-old system of monitoring student progress is producing more accurate and more frequent results – but with that comes the need for more testing.

Administrators and teachers must schedule for three rounds of testing during the academic year under the Delaware Comprehensive Assessment Program.  In addition to being tested in the fall, students in grades three-through-ten received two opportunities to take the test in the spring.  The first test was mandatory, while the seond was optional to allow schools, teachers and students to focus on areas that need more work. 

The science and social studies test is given once during the year.  Fourth-and-seventh graders take the social studies test, while students in grades five, eight and ten take the science test.

Figures released by the Delaware Department of Education show progress within the just-completed school year as well as from the previous year. 

New Castle County’s Red Clay School District experienced similar improvement in performance, according to Superintendent Mervin Daugherty. 

“I think it’s a credit to the students, the relationships they have with the schools, and to the parents,” Daugherty says.  “Testing does require a great deal of scheduling with our teachers.  I think we’ve learned to become patient.  There’s no doubt about it, we do a lot of testing.”

All of the testing has great value, according to Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy.  He says Delaware’s system is different than the vast majority of state assessments around the country.  “We have built a system that allows for students, teachers and parents to get immediate information about how their students are doing,” Murphy says. 

The test also has a feature that adjusts for the students’ abilities.  “If the student is getting a lot of the answers correct, the questions become harder and harder,” Murphy says.  “We’re able to get a pretty fine-tuned look at how a student is performing because it’s an adaptive test.”

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