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September 30,  2010

Parents lagging behind in
'race' to school reform

As one of only two states to receive the initial dose of massive federal financial aid to improve its public schools, the Delaware education establishment has devised complex plans, but it would seem that a key component may be missing. Governor Jack Markell and education secretary Lillian Lowery on Sept. 29 brought the second in a series of public meetings to Concord High School to gather 'public input' for the process of implementing 'Race to the Top' programs, but parents were conspicuously outnumbered by administrators, teachers, members of Markell's cabinet and a few legislators. The governor responded by saying that districts will be required to include measures to improve communication with the public as part of their individual implementation plans.

Treading a fine line between portraying the state's 19 districts as presently offering quality education and the need for improvement that the federal program is intended to provide, Markell warned that the new achievement-testing system which starts this school year will initially show an apparent decline in the proportion of students demonstrating academic proficiency. That, he said, will be the result of gearing the test to higher standards, not a fall-off in performance. In return, he explained, more frequent testing will provide timely data to enable teachers to address shortcomings. "Kids in other countries have leapfrogged American kids," Markell said. "Many students are doing just fine, but many others are not," Brandywine superintendent Mark Holodick added.

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Access Delaware Department of Education 'Race to the Top' information.

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