The Delaware school testing rescue

 (AP Photo/Ty Wright)

(AP Photo/Ty Wright)

Delaware student testing is going to be given an assessment. John Watson offers some thoughts on testing the tests.

Here is John Watson’s commentary:

It’s about time…finally, the state, districts and schools will be taking an inventory of all the different kinds of tests students take, and attempt to eliminate those that are redundant or ineffective. 

I can’t count the number of times when I have said some school testing should be eliminated and criticized the Delaware Department of Education Secretary Mark Murphy for not realizing there is more than one way to test our students.

Now there is joint support from Delaware Governor Jack Markell and Education Department Secretary Mark Murphy who are ready to help rescue our students from taking tests that are not additive to the learning process and result in students having less time receiving the instruction, and support what they really need. I think it’s about time the governor and the state education department secretary understand these valuable ideas for our students. It’s reported that Mark Murphy is promising that the state will provide the financial support to districts in reviewing all tests given to students; some of which may have outlived their usefulness.

What have they been doing to our students? There has been too much redundant testing for too long, leading to a lack of student enthusiasm in the learning process. Teachers have complained about the situation as well but apparently that’s all changing with a new Common Core aligned test called “Smarter Balanced”.

With the new testing, students are expected to work harder in material knowledge. The new test goes beyond the old multiple choice system, and will require some written responses. Sounds like my old high school many years ago. It’s been reported that because the Smarter Balanced tests are more difficult and will take students longer to complete only a third of the students are projected as being “proficient” so it is expected test scores will plunge.

That being the case, a small very vocal group of parents, some of them teachers, opted their students “out” of this new exam. But, Representative Earl Jacques, Chairman of the House Education Committee, reportedly said state efforts to eliminate some testing should ease the concerns of parents and teachers and they are working on correcting the problem of too much testing “but opting out is admitting failure, and that’s not the American way.”

Meanwhile state officials are “having positive conversations” with federal officials regarding teachers’ concerns about how and when the new Smarter Balanced test may affect their personal evaluation – this year’s new test scores will not be factored into those evaluations.

Finally, in all of this, I hope they don’t forget, as state education officials seemed to have done in the past, that low scores for many students have very little to do with a lack of intellect. It’s a lot more than that. Published reports tell us how some students come to school in the same clothes they slept in; ducking under their beds at the sound of gun shots; and having another sleepless night.

As for breakfast, sometimes yes and sometimes no. And they got no help in their school homework from their parents, who have extra jobs to put food on the table and pay the rent. If this is over looked again by State Education Secretary Mark Murphy and his crew, who were told about it by our parents, teachers and principals, I think they should be replaced.


John Watson is a long time observer of Delaware in his position of Wilmington talkshow host. You can write John at

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