Jarek Rutz Headlines, Education
Delaware’s math framework aims to improve student achievement and outcomes. (Unsplash)
The Delaware Department of Education is championing higher-quality math curriculums, spending more time on the topic and offering more professional training to teachers.
It is part of what the department calls a framework to help combat the state’s atrocious scores in math, including 18 schools that have single-digit proficiency scores.
Just 29.48% of First State students are proficient in math, according to the state report card.
It’s the first statewide math plan and it will serve as a complement to Delaware’s literacy plan.
The reading plan was released in 2019 with the goal of having students proficient in reading by the time they finish third grade.
Designing a new framework for state math classes wasn’t plug-and-play.
“We looked at a couple of frameworks that had been published by other states and there were very few to even be able to reference,” said Jamila Riser, executive director of the Delaware Mathematics Coalition.
Some legislators questioned how the framework will be effective if it doesn’t include goals and metrics to measure success.
“It’s a lot of words that don’t have a goal beyond lofty aspirations,” said Rep. Ruth Briggs King, R-Georgetown. She is on the House Education Committee.
She thinks the plan is filled with a lot of jargon and fluff-words that aren’t specific enough to make her feel confident that math outcomes will improve.
“Parents want to see some real specific goals and proposed outcomes for student achievement in mathematics, not what they’re going to do or the collaborative efforts or all these workgroups,” she said.
The ultimate goal of the plan, defined by the Education Department, is for students to competently and flexibly use mathematical ideas to think critically and solve problems through various life experiences.
It outlines five key components to a successful math education:
A Mathematics Framework Steering Committee was created last spring to curate the plan. The 26-person group included representatives from 15 Delaware district and charter schools, five divisions of the Department of Education, the University of Delaware and the Delaware Mathematics Coalition.
The committee was responsible for identifying the math needs of Delaware’s students, specific student populations, educators, families and school system staff.
It was also tasked with establishing the actions required to create equitable and effective instruction to address the identified math needs.
“New Mexico was one of the states that had a math framework, but by and large, we did not find that this kind of math framework was something that was out there, so this is really new to the state,” she said.
The first step is implementing high-quality instructional materials, which the state defines as comprehensive materials that are aligned with the adopted Delaware content standards. They are to be written with clear purpose, effective lesson structure, and pacing to provide equitable access to the content.
The state also utilized EdReports, an organization that grades materials that schools use in their curriculum.
Bridges is a popular math curriculum for elementary schools. As with most curricula, there are specific ways of teaching its materials that are recommended to make it as effective as possible.
For Bridges, Riser said, a period of 15 to 20 minutes a day is devoted to what they call the number corner, which consists of short daily workouts that introduce, reinforce and extend skills and concepts.
The curriculum calls for another 45-minute chunk of time spent on the lesson of the day.
It won’t work if both work periods are not being implemented, Riser said.
“If you’re not providing that then how do we ever really measure the impact and potential of these high quality instructional resources, when we’re not really implementing them in the spirit and ways the authors have intended?” Riser said.
Briggs King would like to see a plan that includes metrics to measure the success of the framework.
This could mean the framework includes a target test score or selecting one of the state’s standardized tests to hone in on, she said.
“It doesn’t talk about how they’re going to bottom line improve math and what that improvement will look like,” Briggs King said. “How will we know besides a test score, and then what test score is that going to be? The national score, the state score, SATs?”
It also doesn’t say how long term success will be tracked, she said.
Riser said metrics to measure success need to be developed by the steering committee, but that the success of the framework is broader than just looking at test scores.
Offering professional learning to teachers will ensure they can use the material effectively, she said.
Even so, the plan doesn’t outline any hours requirements for teachers.
Sen. Brian Pettyjohn, R-Georgetown, a member of the Senate Education Committee, agreed with Briggs King that there aren’t enough specifics in the plan.
He also questions requiring more professional learning for teachers.
“Teachers and administrators have told me that their plate is full, and I don’t know where they’re going to find the time to take on additional training outside of their workday and the burdensome training that’s already required,” he said.
Briggs King believes elementary schools should hire teachers who focus on math to exclusively handle that subject, rather than requiring every teacher to teach every subject.
Students need to be able to connect math to practical, everyday use, Briggs King said. A math expert will be the best in making those links, she said.
“Whether I be in the grocery store and figuring out this is 20% off or I’m paying this for an ounce and this for a pound, we need to bring lessons from people that use math every day in a variety of ways,” she said.
Viewing math through practical applications is a way to engage students and make the subject more fun and enjoyable, she said.
The new instructional materials, Riser said, are better aligned with the vision of a problem-centered approach to teaching.
“Students should be grappling with important mathematics, students should be getting questioned in ways that help them make important connections around the key ideas,” Riser said.
“It’s not the standard approach of two decades back where students learned through copying and mimicking exactly what the teacher did, so it’s really a shift,” she said.
Having high-quality instructional materials formalized in a document that has the support of the districts, leaders at the Department of Education and the Delaware Math Coalition will add extra oomph, Riser said.
The Department of Education will spend the rest of the academic year detailing the plan to schools, curriculum supervisors, math specialists, coaches and others, starting with the February Delaware Math Coalition meeting.
They will all focus on different parts of the plan, she said.
The Delaware Mathematics Coalition provides advocacy and support at the state and district levels for the implementation of practices it deems necessary to improve math education.
Building a culture where students are excited about math and feel confident is also important. Riser said.
“We need to help our community understand that all students have the capacity to be really strong mathematicians,” Riser said, “and we should be providing the space for every child to flourish in the classroom and enjoy math.”
To read how the state tests for math proficiency, click here.
To view the full math framework, click here.
Raised in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, Jarek earned a B.A. in journalism and a B.A. in political science from Temple University in 2021. After running CNN’s Michael Smerconish’s YouTube channel, Jarek became a reporter for the Bucks County Herald before joining Delaware LIVE News.
Jarek can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone at (215) 450-9982. Follow him on Twitter @jarekrutz
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A 46-year-old Sussex County man and a 25-year-old Kent County man have become the second and third person in Delaware to be diagnosed with monkeypox. Even so, the state Division of Public Health said the risk to the public remains low. It has, however, started a hotline for people who think they may have been exposed or have symptoms to call. The new cases of monkeypox are considered probable until Public Health receives confirming tests. The first Delaware case of monkeypox, caused by a virus dubbed MPX , was found in a 46-year-old man in New Castle County and announced July 12. None of the men reported that they had traveled, Public Health said. The Sussex County man first reported symptoms July 18. The state is working with him to identify people he may have had contact with. The Kent County man first reported symptoms on July 14. He has been told to self-isolate until his lesions have fallen off and new skin appears. “The overall risk to the public is low and remains low,” said Dr. Rick Hong, interim director of the Division of Public Health. PH Interim Director Dr. Rick Hong. He said MPX is transmitted through intimate contact with individuals who have rashes or flu-like symptoms. “We urge people to educate themselves about this rare disease, including how it is spread, and to help prevent exposure,” Hong said. The state will prioritize its limited supply of vaccine for people who have been exposed to MPX for post-exposure treatment, he said. It has to be given in two doses 28 days apart. Starting Thursday, July 21, Public Health is running a hotline for individuals with specific concerns because of symptoms or possible exposure. The hotline number is 866-408-1899. It will operate Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. There is no treatment for monkeypox, but antivirals can be prescribed. Those who are at the highest risk of exposure to the virus include: People who have been identified as a contact of someone with MPX People who are aware that one of their sexual partners in the past two weeks was diagnosed with MPX People who had multiple sexual partners in the past two weeks in an area with known MPX Until spring 2022, MPX cases were rare in the United States, the division said in a press release. Today, there are more than 2,300 cases nationwide. Monkeypox signs, symptoms The symptoms of MPX are similar to but milder than the symptoms of smallpox. Symptoms usually start within three weeks of exposure to the virus. Most people who contract MPX will develop a rash, and some will develop flu-like symptoms beforehand. The flu-like symptoms may include fever, headache, muscle aches and backache, sore throat, cough, swollen lymph nodes, chills, or exhaustion. If someone has flu-like symptoms, they usually will develop a rash one to four days later. If you suspect you are experiencing any symptoms associated with MPX you should immediately: Contact your health care provider and discuss your symptoms and concerns. Self-isolate until all lesions have resolved, the scabs have fallen off, and a fresh layer of intact skin has formed. Avoid being intimate with others. Make a list of your close and intimate contacts in the last 21 days. To prevent infection with MPX: Avoid close, skin-to-skin contact with people who have a rash that looks like MPX. Do not touch the rash or scabs of a person with MPX. Do not kiss, hug, cuddle or have sex with someone with MPX. Do not share eating utensils or cups with a person with MPX. Do not handle or touch the bedding, towels, or clothing of a person with MPX. Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. To learn more about monkeypox, go here.
The Pete du Pont Freedom Award this year for the first time will honor a company rather than a person: MBNA, the former Delaware banking and credit card powerhouse sold to Bank of America. It also will honor one of three companies as the Reinventing Delaware winner: Delaware Creative Economy, DWS Drone School and TRIC Robotics. The three were chosen in November from a group of 100 companies for technical assistance to help them prosper. One will be named the winner Sept. 22 at the award ceremony at the Hotel du Pont. The awards are a fundraiser for the Pete du Pont Freedom Foundation, a nonprofit that focuses on private enterprise and marketplace access for entrepreneurs and their ideas. The foundation is named for former Delaware Gov. Pete du Pont, who died in May 2021. Former MBNA leaders John Cochran, Bruce Hammonds and Lance Weaver will accept the du Pont award. MBNA’s impactAnm “This honoree captures both my father’s enthusiasm for entrepreneurial innovation and the priority he placed on job growth,” said Theré du Pont, chair of the foundation’s board. MBNA, which made its banking bones on the idea of affinity credit cards — cards that were issued through a university or another group — epitomized what Pete du Pont wanted to encourage with his 1981 Financial Center Development Act. It was meant to attract employers to Delaware, and MBNA moved from Maryland into an old supermarket to run its credit card centers. It later moved its headquarters in downtown Wilmington off Rodney Square and is credited with helping to revitalize downtown, becoming a philanthropic behemoth in the community. “Its impact on Delaware continues to this day, and one wonders whether any of that would have happened without the vision shared by my father and MBNA’s leaders,” Theré du Pont said. The Reinventing Delaware program is designed to allow entrepreneurs to create jobs and make Delaware a better place to live, work and raise a family. Reinventing Delaware candidates The three Reinventing Delaware candidates where chosen Nov. 11, 2021, after a day long event at the CSC Station in Wilmington. Angela Wagner’s Delaware Creative Economy wants to attract filmmakers to the First State and replicates Georgia’s success of the past 30 years. A creative economy would provide employment, attract and keep top talent; and better diversity the state’s economy. She is working with Akima Brown and Friends of Delaware Film, an organization that has lobbied for the passage of a tax incentive program and redesign of the Delaware Film Commission. Theo Nix’s DWS Drone School is designed to combine technology and entrepreneurship partly to help combat the lack of activities and employment for teens, which contributes to gun violence. It aims to educate and employ 1,000 Delaware teens, offering technology certification, internships and job experience, and expand its business nationally. It already has partnered with the city of Wilmington to send some residents through the program. Adam Stager’s TRIC Robotics aims to improve agriculture with engineering, data and robotics by using UV-C light to replace pesticides. Farmers, especially organic farmers, contend with pests and pathogens in their fields, including mites, mold and mildew. Pesticides and herbicides pose environmental and health risks. TRIC Robotics uses a patented robotic design with UV-C light to control pests. For more about the finalists, go here. For more about tickets, which start at $200 for general admission, go here. Recent Freedom Award recipients include Charlie Horn, entrepreneur, philanthropist and co-founder of Horn Entrepreneurship at the University of Delaware; Carol Ammon, founder and retired CEO of Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc.; and former U.S. Rep. and Delaware Gov. Mike Castle.
The Delaware Department of Health and Social Services must hand over Medicaid records to State Auditor Kathy McGuiness, a Superior Court judge ruled this week. For nearly two years, McGuiness has been seeking access to the information, which she says her office needs to determine whether DHSS’s Division of Medicaid and Medical Assistance is complying with federal and state requirements. DHSS argued that the auditor of accounts has no authority to conduct performance audits of state agencies and that McGuiness’ duties are strictly limited to conducting after-the-fact financial audits of their spending. “I disagree,” the judge wrote in his ruling. Judge Craig Karsnitz called DHSS’s argument “unnecessarily convoluted,” and said, “the language of the Delaware statute is clear: a postaudit is an audit of a transaction or transactions after the fact, and a performance audit is a form of postaudit.” “This decision is paramount,” McGuiness said in an interview with Delaware LIVE News. “The judge validated the position our office has taken for decades, which is that there are several different types of postaudits, including performance audits.” McGuiness said she feels “vindicated” because her office can finally point to a legal precedent that recognizes her authority to investigate whether state agencies are using tax dollars responsibly. When the General Assembly was considering legislation to create an independent inspector general’s office in Delaware, McGuiness wrote a letter arguing that the duties outlined in the bill were duplicative and that her office was already performing many of the duties that would be assigned to the inspector general. Supporters of the bill took the same position as DHSS — that McGuiness is only authorized by law to audit financial transactions. With Karsnitz’s ruling, McGuiness feels the record has been set straight. A spokeswoman for DHSS told the Associated Press that the agency is reviewing the ruling “and will take appropriate next steps.” Why audit Medicaid? The information McGuiness is seeking relates to 14 different categories of records, including a list of all Medicaid recipients during the last three fiscal years. She’s also seeking read-only access to Delaware’s Medicaid computer systems for two members of her team. McGuiness subpoenaed the information in Aug. 2021 after DHSS refused to hand it over voluntarily, arguing that the release of that information was prohibited by law. Ultimately, McGuiness hopes to determine whether DHSS effectively screens Medicaid applicants before approving or denying benefits. Once she gets the information, it could turn out that “everything is in fantastic shape,” she said, “and that would be great.” “We just want to make sure that Delawareans get a fair deal,” she said. “We’re going to keep fighting for access to data and information so my team can continue to do the good job that they do.” DHSS wasn’t the only roadblock McGuiness faced leading up to the judge’s ruling. “Our assigned attorney from the Department of Justice would not help us,” she said. “We had to figure out how to do our own subpoena and we had to show up at court by ourselves.” In Feb. 2022, Gov. John Carney allowed the auditor’s office to retain outside legal counsel, something she said she’s “very grateful for.” “I just didn’t feel comfortable trying to practice law,” she said. “I’m not a lawyer and I think it would be a liability.” It’s not clear if DHSS plans to appeal the decision. McGuiness on July 1 was acquitted on felony charges of theft and intimidation after a three-week trial. She was found guilty on three misdemeanors: official misconduct, structuring and conflict of interest. The judge has yet to finalize the jury’s verdict. She has maintained her innocence, argued she’s a victim of a political witch hunt, and is actively seeking re-election. “I continue to go in the office on a daily basis and work hard for the people of Delaware,” she said. “People are worried about kitchen table issues. I know what it’s like to run a small business and to have to make payroll and make tough choices. So I’m just going to continue to do my job and listen to the people.” Read the judge’s ruling below:
The Delaware Department of Education has a four-prong plan to help kids catch up in school, Education Secretary Susan Bunting said Wednesday night during a COVID-19 Town Hall. “We do admit that there has been a disruption to our learning year. Our task as dedicated educators is to make sure we’re filling in for some of that lost learning time as we look at the summer and the opportunities we might have,” Bunting said. “So, my gratitude goes out to those that have adjusted very quickly to a new way of instruction.” The plans will largely be funded by federal COVID money. Bunting’s comments came after a round-up of weekly statistics and news that the state will offer walk-in vaccines. Education Much of the catch-up plan involves students to return to school for summer sessions. The first prong, which Bunting considered the heart of the plan, is for Delaware schools to now have access to high quality instructional materials. All Delaware schools will be able to obtain the licensing to use materials such as Zearn Math for all students between 1st and 8th grade. The Department of Education also is creating a literacy program for students in 1st through 5th grade. These high-quality instructional materials will be pulled from a national list from Education Week, a news organization that covers kindergarten through 12th grade classes. School districts will be able to choose their own instructional materials, Bunting said. The second prong of the plan is to support training and professional learning in and effort to support learning acceleration. This training would be available to teachers as well as summer camp instructors and other non-profit educators. This training would take place before programs begin and would continue after they start. The third prong of the plan is to use data to drive instructional placement. School systems will use an assessment system, which would help to determine which students need help and in what subjects. The data will also drive the creation of lesson plans. The fourth and final prong of the plan is to support and supplement districts based on need. Bunting said that this could be through manpower, hiring on extra educators and study groups where they are needed. Bunting said the state wants to help students be prepared for the fall semester starting in September. “The focus is going to be on helping all of our children,” Bunting said. “We have a very dedicated staff; they’re looking at what they need to do to provide the extra learning opportunities that our students need at this point and deserve. So together we will make this happen all through this summer and into next school year.” Impact of variants While Dr. Karyl Rattay, director of the Division of Public Health said that positive case rates and hospitalizations has dropped a small bit in the last week, statistics show a marked increase in the percentage of cases caused by variant strains of COVID-19. This week, 66% of the random tests checked by the state Health Lab came back positive as some kind of variant. That suggest that these variants, which can spread much more easily that the strain that raced through Delaware a year ago, are more prevalent throughout the state than previously believed. Each week DPH takes a portion of positive COVID-19 tests and determines if they’re one of the many variants of the disease. The U.K. and New York B.1.536 variants are the most common throughout Delaware. So far, the state has found 174 cases of the U.K. variant and 119 cases of the New York variant. Overall data Positive test rates dropped back to 5.4% over the last week. The state wants that to be under 5%. The seven-day average of positive cases is 266, down from the 300s. Covid-related hospitalizations now stand at 149. Rattay said 18 zip codes have larger infection rates than the state would like, most of them in Kent and New Castle County. Rattay and Gov. John Carney said one reason cases have declined after a few weeks of increases is the state’s strong vaccination efforts. They said 725,190 vaccines have been distributed and 281,013 Delawareans have been fully vaccinated throughout the state. That includes 86.5% of residents 65 years and older, with 51.6% of all residents ages 16 and up have been at least partially vaccinated. The state has a new webpage allowing residents to see multiple options in one place so they can find a vaccination appointment. State officials have said for weeks that their clinics were no longer full, and on Wednesday said that pharmacies also were having vaccine slots that were left open. The state website can be found here. Drop-in vaccinations Publie Health has opened walk-in hours for vaccinations at 5 public health clinics throughout the state of Delaware. The walk-up clinics are offering the Pfizer vaccine, which is only available to those ages 18 and above. These clinics are located on DART bus routes in Dover, Georgetown, Milford, Seaford and Wilmington, and are handicapped accessible. Hours for these walk-up clinics are 8:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. and then 1:15 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. In New Castley County, the shots are available at Porter Public Health Clinic, 509 W. 8th St., 2nd floor, Wilmington. In Kent County, find them at Williams Public Health Clinic, 805 River Road, Dover; and Riverwalk Public Health Clinic, 253 NE Front St., Milford. In Sussex County, they are at Adams Public Health Clinic, 546 S. Bedford St., Georgetown and Shipley Public Health Clinic, 350 Virginia Ave., Seaford
Federalsburg – The Seaford Blue Jays opened their season by traveling to Colonel Richardson in Maryland picking up a 41-14 win to kickoff the season. It took just three plays for the Blue Jays to find the endzone when Jakob Keglovits scored on a 40 yard run. The PAT was blocked as Seaford jumped out to a 6-0 lead midway through the first quarter. Colonel Richardson employed the wedge offense allowing the Colonels to eat up time off the clock while moving the ball down the field. The Colonels game plan worked well in the first half as the Blue Jays did not get the ball back until the second quarter. Once Seaford got the offense back on the field they appeared to get right back to work, but on two consecutive plays the Blue Jays had touchdowns called back for penalties. Seaford eventually moved the ball down to the one yard line, but the Colonels defense stiffened and Chatydrick Pickrom broke through the line causing and then recovering a fumble. “We had a lot of penalties in the first half and you can expect that in the first game, a lot of things we can clean up but we are happy to get away with a win to start the season,” Seaford head coach Mark Quillin said. The Colonels attempted to go to the air when Tre’Von Paulson intercepted his second pass of the game at the Seaford 42 yard line. The Blue Jays capitalized on the turnover six plays later when Careen Boulden found Aviyon Matthews open in the corner of the endzone for a 19 yard touchdown pass. As Seaford took a 12-0 lead with 53 seconds to play in the first half. On the Colonels first play of their next possession the Blue Jays recovered an errant pitch giving them the ball at the Colonel Richardson 30. The Blue Jays capitalized again on the turnover as Boulden and Matthews hooked up again on a nine yard touchdown pass. Jazonte Levan converted the conversion run as Seaford led 20-0 with five seconds to play in the first half. The Blue Jays offense sputtered to start the third quarter and then ended the opening drive with a snap over the punter’s head giving Colonel Richardson the ball at the Seaford 37. Five plays later the Colonels quarterback Tarron Hammond scored on a one yard run. Hammond then converted the conversion run as the Colonels cut the Blue Jays lead to 20-8. The Blue Jays secondary came up big again late in the third quarter when Akendre Matthews intercepted a pass at the Seaford 25 yard line. For the third time in the game the Blue Jays scored following a turnover as Levan took the pitch and raced 72 yards down the right sideline for a touchdown. Boulden converted the conversion pass to Aviyon Matthews, extending Seaford lead to 28-8 with a minute left in the third quarter. “Our defense picked it up midway through the second half. I was proud of the way they fought through the adversity,” Quillin said. The teams traded scores in the fourth quarter. Keglovits got his second touchdown of the game on a 20 yard run, Isais Morales-Vidaurri added the PAT kick as Seaford led 35-8. Hammond scored on a nine yard run for the Colonels and then converted the conversion run with just five seconds left in the game. Colonel Richardson then attempted an onside kick, but the Blue Jays Zach Holmes fielded the ball and took off down the left sideline for a game-ending touchdown giving Seaford a 41-14 victory. The Blue Jays will travel to Wilmington next Friday where they will play up in class taking on Class AA Tower Hill. Kickoff will be at 7:00.
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