Executive Summary

Dan Cruce

Please describe a little about yourself.

As the Delaware Department of Education’s Deputy Secretary and Chief of Staff, I oversaw day-to-day operations for the 260-person department and was the state’s Race to the Top project lead. I also chaired  the department’s Directors Council and Charter School Accountability Committee.  Immediately prior to  joining the Department, I was Assistant Superintendent/Chief of Staff for the state’s largest school district, the Christina School District.

What are you most proud of in regards to your reform?

We were  firmly committed to collaborative decision making. We didn't want to make the decisions with a select group of stakeholders. We had teachers and practitioners from ALL subjects and ALL areas around the table. 

What didn’t work well?

We underestimated the time and money needed to do the reforms.  In essence, we started running very fast. In fairness, very few state and local government made the decision to have multiple measures for everybody. However, there is always a silver lining and in this case the silver lining is that the extra time has allowed us to engage other states to learn what they are doing, so that we can best move forward with our reforms.

Is there anything around teacher engagement that you would change?

We would have planning rubrics up front. Initially, we didn’t have rubrics to guide the measure creation process. Just because teachers will come to the table to build measures, doesn’t mean they are experienced in building the measures, even though they had the drive to be a part of the change. Having the drive is wonderful and we didn’t want to screen anyone out; but having rubrics to drive the measure creation process is important.

What is the big question that remains unanswered?

How do we best ensure rigor and comparability between non-tested grades and subjects and tested grades and subjects? We aren’t looking for easier measures teachers in non-tested grades and subjects. Rather, we want comparable and rigorous measures for teachers in non-tested grades and subjects.

What are the main obstacles to the current work?

The main obstacle is that there is no proven path. No one has done this work to the breadth and depth of Delaware. In essence, we built the engine while in flight, which makes the plane heavier.

What are your next milestones?

·       By the end of December 2011, we have to agree with our constituents (i.e. district superintendents, charter directors & union leaders) on the assessment format for non-tested grades and subjects. For instance, we have to agree with our constituents on whether we will use student learning objectives as assessments for every non-tested grade and subjects.

·       In January 2012, we will bring all of our subject matter cohorts together to continue building internal measures and push onward to final measure creation.

What would you tell your peer in other states?

First, I would say congratulations, as this is a wonderfully unique time to do this work. Second, do not take your eye off the ball; this work has to be fair for both students and teachers and that is the hardest part. Sometimes to be fair for adults we need to take a little more time, but sometimes that time can’t be as long as adults wants it to be, as we are doing this work for kids.

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