2021 State Assessment Results Released

The Delaware Department of Education today released statewide assessment results for the 2020-21 school year, cautioning that due to low participation rates the results do not allow for comparison to previous test administrations.


“The 2020-21 school year was different from any other since many of our students were learning remotely for part or all of the academic year. Although assessment opportunities were available to all students, we saw significantly fewer students take the assessment,” Secretary of Education Susan Bunting said. “While direct comparisons with assessment data from previous years may not be appropriate because of this, the data provides an important temperature check that allows our schools to better track and address both short- and long-term learning needs.”


Although the U.S. Department of Education waived student assessment requirements in the 2019-2020 academic year due to COVID-19 school building closures that spring, Delaware was required to administer all tests for the 2020-21 academic year.


Statewide, participation was at 60 percent for the state’s English language arts and mathematics assessments for grades 3-8 while about 71 percent of eligible students took the SAT, the state’s high school federal accountability test. For the state’s social studies and science exams, 49 percent of eligible students participated. The state also administers an alternative assessment for students with significant cognitive disabilities. The overall participation was 58 percent on the alt assessment.


For those students who did participate, 41 percent scored at the proficiency level on the 3-8 ELA test while 26 percent did so in mathematics. On the SAT, 49 percent scored at proficient on evidenced-based reading and writing with 28 percent doing so on the math portion of the test and 44 percent on the essay section. Proficiency on the science assessment was 24 percent and 30 percent on the social studies assessment. For the alt assessment, the proficiency rates were 26 percent for ELA, 21 percent for math and 13 percent for science.


Families received their student reports in the mail last month, providing valuable information on their children’s learning progress. Educators received the results a few weeks after the students tested.


“Educators and school-based staff have faced and risen to meet unprecedented challenges in the past year. The assessment results will be used to help all of us educators better understand the needs of our students so we can more effectively support them,” Bunting said.


Find full results, including demographic and district/charter information, here.


Media contact: Alison May, alison.may@doe.k12.de.us, 302-735-4006

2019 state assessment results released

The Delaware Department of Education on Thursday released the 2019 statewide student assessment results.


Statewide, 53 percent of students in grades 3 to 8 scored at the proficient level or higher this year in the Smarter English language arts (ELA) assessment, compared to 54 percent in 2018. For mathematics, 44 percent of students in grades 3 to 8 scored at the proficient level or higher, no change from the 2018 results. At the high school level, students took the SAT with the results relatively unchanged.


Because Delaware transitioned this year to new science and social studies assessments, state officials will spend the fall setting cut scores to determine which scores are proficient on the new tests. Results will be released this winter. Results for the state’s alternate assessment, administered to those students with significant cognitive disabilities, were released today as well. Those results also were relatively unchanged.


Educators already received their students’ scores — Smarter results, for example, are available to teachers three weeks after their students complete the test. Families will receive score reports with their children’s results via U.S. mail beginning next week. Family guides and other resources also are available online.


For more information on state assessment results, visit the Delaware Report Card site and see the 2019 assessment presentation.


Smarter Assessment (ELA/mathematics)


Nationwide, states administering the Smarter assessment have seen similar trends to Delaware – slow growth at the state level with larger gains at some school levels.

Delaware did see slight gains in some subgroups statewide between 2018 and 2019, with English learners and students with disabilities averages increasing by one percentage point each in ELA and one percentage point in math for both students with disabilities and Hispanic students.

Secretary of Education Susan Bunting thanked students and educators for their hard work. She also committed to continue to provide supports from the state.

“We must focus our time and resources on promoting early diagnosis and intervention, using a range of assessments throughout the year and training educators on how to use the data available to them to effect change in curriculum and instruction,” she said. “We also must provide technical assistance and other support to our schools and districts  as they select local curricula so all children have access to high quality materials and assessments.”

Bunting also pointed to bright spots across the state, such as in Seaford School District, which has seen steady growth in both ELA and mathematics scores since 2015, the first year the state administered the Smarter assessment. For ELA, 56 percent of students scored at the proficient level or higher, above the state average and up 2 percentage points from last year. In 2015, only 38 percent of Seaford students were proficient. Math scores also are continuing to climb: This year 48 percent of students scored at proficient or higher, above the state average and 2 percentage points higher than in 2018. It is a 20-point gain from 2015.


Seaford’s Frederick Douglass Elementary particularly has shown strong growth. For ELA, 42 percent of students were proficient in 2015. The number has consistently improved since then, reaching 67 percent of students this year. In 2015, only 7 percent of the school’s English learners were proficient in ELA; 60 percent were this year. Other subgroups also showed strong ELA growth: the percent proficient went from 39 percent to 64 percent for low-income students, and 7 percent to 47 percent for students with disabilities.


Douglass’ math scores also have increased steadily, moving from 35 percent to 69 percent for all students between 2015 and 2019. English learner scores went from 7 percent to 70 percent proficient, students with disabilities went from 14 percent to 41 percent, low-income went from 30 percent to 66 percent, and Hispanic students went from 37 to 76 percent.


“When asked to explain our success we are able to point to simple addition,” Seaford Superintendent David Perrington said. “The district has worked hard at bringing together a number of dynamics that are essential for student achievement.  These include a supportive school board, a vision-driven district office staff, a strong building leadership, a committed teaching staff, an engaged student body, and a caring school community.

“At the beginning of the school year we discussed the concept ‘Push Don’t Pity.’  This model is grounded in the belief of high expectations for all students,” he said. “It requires us as educators to accept the responsibility of each student’s learning experience and each student to believe they have the capacity to succeed.  When added successfully together we have a sum of increasing student achievement.”

Lake Forest also saw some strong gains, particularly among subgroups in mathematics in several of its elementary schools. Lake Forest East, for example, saw gains between 2018 and 2019 of 39 percentage points for Hispanic students, 39 percentage points for English learners, 20 percentage points for low-income students and 14 percentage points for African American students. The gain was 12 percentage points for all students.


At Lake Forest North, the 2018 to 2019 scores show gains of 23 percentage points for low-income students, 17 percentage points for English learners, 8 percentage points for African American students, 7 percentage points for Hispanic students and 4 percentage points for all students.


“The Lake Forest School District attributes our success to using the standards to refine curriculum and lesson plans, analyzing formative and summative data during professional learning communities and staff development days and providing time for teacher collaboration throughout the year,” Superintendent Brenda Wynder said. “We are proud of our teachers’ willingness to strive for student achievement and continuous improvement in our data. It has taken our entire ‘village’ to achieve this success.”

Bunting also spotlighted several other schools that have shown strong growth for subgroups and students overall.

  • Caesar Rodney School District’s Allen Frear Elementary saw ELA proficiency for all students go from 69 percent to 83 percent between 2015 and 2019 with African American student proficiency improving from 46 percent to 72 percent. Math proficiency for all students moved from 60 percent to 72 percent with African American proficiency up from 34 percent to 57 percent in the same time period.
  • Christina School District’s Etta Wilson Elementary also has seen consistent growth for multiple subgroups and students overall in both ELA and math. For ELA, all student proficiency this year is 72 percent, up from 49 percent in 2015. English learner proficiency improved from 13 percent to 66 percent, low-income from 35 percent to 61 percent, students with disabilities from 17 percent to 39 percent and Hispanic students from 34 percent to 67 in the same period. In math, 73 percent of students scored at the proficient level or higher this year, compared to 52 percent in 2015. These subgroups also saw growth throughout the years: African American (40 percent to 59 percent), English learner (19 percent to 63 percent), low-income (35 percent to 63 percent), students with disabilities (19 percent to 43 percent) and Hispanic (40 percent to 69 percent).
  • Indian River School District’s Georgetown Middle School also has seen consistent success improving the scores of its students in ELA and math. For ELA, 64 percent of students overall passed the test in 2019, compared to 49 percent in 2015. Improvement among African American (40 percent to 60 percent), low-income (41 percent to 59 percent) and Hispanic students (44 percent to 62 percent) were included in the gains. For math, the growth from 2015 to 2019 overall was 34 percent to 55 percent with increases almost every year overall and among subgroups with an 11-percentage point gain just this year for English learner students. The overall growth for EL was 6 percent proficient in 2015 to 19 percent in 2019. Low-income students grew from 28 percent in 2015 to 50 percent this year with Hispanic student proficiency up to 52 percent in 2019, compared to 33 percent in 2015.




Delaware’s high school federal accountability test is the SAT, typically taken in 11th grade. Statewide 48 percent of students scored at the proficient level or higher in 2019 on the evidence-based reading and writing (ERW) portion, down 2 percentage points from 2018. In math, 28 percent of students did so, the same percentage as in 2018. For the essay portion of the exam, 42 percent of students scored at proficient or higher, down from 44 percent in 2018.


For math, Indian River School District saw gains. Indian River High School had 35 percent of students scoring at the proficient level or higher in 2019, up from 29 percent in 2018 and 32 percent in 2017. Sussex Central High School had 22 percent in 2019, up from 19 percent in 2018 and 21 percent in 2017.  Colonial School District’s William Penn High School also has seen steady growth: 15 percent in 2019, up from 13 percent in 2018 and 10 percent in 2017.


Alternate assessment


This is the second year of administration for Delaware’s alternate assessment. The percentage of students scoring proficient is down in all three subject areas (ELA, math and science) from last year’s initial administration. The 2019 state average for ELA was 28 percent proficient, down from 32 percent in 2018; math was 15 percent in 2019, down from 17 percent in 2018; and science was 17 percent in 2019, down from 19 percent in 2018.


Media Contact: Alison May, alison.may@doe.k12.de.us, 302-735-4006

2018 state assessment results hold steady

Some districts, schools show greater gains

Statewide assessment results released today show gains made in some districts and schools with local administrators crediting a variety of supports for their students’ growth.

District and charter leaders in the schools said they used state-provided resources such as a free digital library of teacher-designed curricular supports as well as interim assessments to better identify student learning gaps and target instructional support. Many also credited strong, systematic professional learning for educators and the use of professional learning communities to give staff time during the school day to discuss student learning and focus instructional supports.

“Our educators and students worked hard to achieve these successes,” Secretary of Education Susan Bunting said. “We’re seeing more schools and districts using tools provided by the state to help inform instruction and improve student learning. We will continue supporting our teachers so that we can collectively improve achievement levels across the state.”

Today’s release includes results from the Smarter English language arts (ELA) and mathematics assessments given in grades 3 to 8 and the SAT administered in high school. Because the state is transitioning to new science and social studies assessments, students took field tests in those subjects this year. Results for the state’s alternate assessment, administered to those students with significant cognitive disabilities, also were released.

Educators already have received their students’ scores — Smarter results, for example, are available to teachers three weeks after their students complete the test — and were able to use them to plan instruction for the remainder of the school year. Families will receive score reports with their children’s results via U.S. mail beginning next week. Family guides and other resources are available on DelExcels.

For more information on state assessment results, visit the online assessment tables and see the 2018 assessment presentation.

Smarter Assessment (ELA/mathematics)

Overall percentages of students scoring at the proficient level or higher statewide largely held steady from last year with more change visible at the district and school levels.

Statewide, 54 percent of students scored a 3 or higher on the 4-scale Smarter assessment in ELA this year, compared to 54 percent in 2017 and 52 percent in 2015, the first year the assessment was administered. In mathematics, 44 percent of students scored at 3 or higher in 2018, compared to 45 percent last year and 39 percent in 2015. The following chart shows the grade-level results.

Note: While Smarter currently is tested in grades 3-8, in 2015, it included grade 11.


The district with the highest performance overall in ELA was Appoquinimink followed by Cape Henlopen and Caesar Rodney, tied for second. In math, Cape Henlopen led the state followed by Appoquinimink and Indian River, tied for second. Newark Charter and Sussex Academy topped charter schools in the state for ELA and math.

Laurel School District’s gains were the greatest in the state for ELA and second greatest for math this year. ELA went from 32 percent proficient in 2015 to 41 percent in 2017 and 51 percent in 2018, a 10-percentage point increase since last year and a 19-percentage point increase since the assessment was first administered. In math, the percent proficient went from 20 percent in 2015 to 38 percent in 2017 and 42 percent in 2018.

“First and foremost, we credit our successes to our diligent and dedicated instructors, who worked collaboratively in school data teams analyzing student performance to foster a continuous improvement model throughout our schools,” Laurel Superintendent Shawn Larrimore said, Ed.D. “Paramount to this cycle of continuous improvement was the implementation of several key areas of focus, including a highly-personalized blended (Response to Intervention) model for all students; consistent student exposure to, and deep analysis of, the Smarter Interim Assessments; and the integration of the Smarter Digital Library Playlists into our daily instructional routine.  Additionally, the district has continued to provide individualized content area coaching for all instructional staff through university partnerships and internal instructional coaches to continuously improve planning, instructional delivery, and professional learning communities collaboration.”

In fact, North Laurel Elementary had the greatest gains of any building in the state in ELA last year and was in the Top 10 for math.

In this video, Laurel district and school educators talk about the positive impact state-provided Smarter instructional supports had on their students’ learning.

“Usually after we take the interim assessments, we can find out the areas of need,” fourth grade ELA teacher Jamie Pastusak said. “And then we can go into the digital library and usually through a collaborative group during PLC time or maybe even during our teaching teams, we are able to find lessons that we can pinpoint exactly how to best meet the needs of those students.”

Fourth grade special education teacher Kati Hartstein also praised the resources.

“The level of information that we get from the interim assessments is extremely informative. We know specifically which students are struggling in which areas and then we can go to the digital library and find lessons and resources for that specific topic,” she said.

In math, the district with the strongest gains this year was Seaford, showing districtwide increase of about 5 percentage points, bringing its overall proficiency to 46 percent. Seaford also was second highest in the state in ELA gains, up 4 percentage points since last year (50 to 54 percent).

Seaford’s Douglass Elementary had the strongest math gains of any school in the state: a nearly 14-percentage point increase over last year (47 percent proficient in 2017 compared to 61 percent in 2018).

“We are excited about the continuing progress our students are making,” Seaford Superintendent David Perrington said. “This type of progress is made possible through the efforts of many. The Seaford School District is fortunate to have strong and committed building leadership that believes all students will be successful.  We have teachers and staff that believe they can make a difference and they do so each day with our students. The district has provided an environment where high quality curriculum resources and meaningful professional development is available and implemented with data driven focus. Our schools have become places of learning that provide enriching experiences for every student.”

Many buildings across the state have their own success stories.

Capital School District’s Towne Point Elementary and Fairview Elementary both were in the Top 10 schools with growth for math, making double-digit gains.

Capital Supervisor of Elementary Instruction Pam Herrera said Capital used system-wide professional learning for school-level teams focused on specific strategies and classroom application of the academic standards based on needs identified at the school level.

“As a part of Capital’s feedback cycle, teams for both ELA and math engaged in (professional learning communities) and school-based meetings, grade-level coaching cycles with instructional coaches, opportunities for peer-to-peer classroom visitations (both within the school and across the district to other district schools), and sharing of evidence to ‘showcase’ their work by creating a virtual album that was shared across schools,” Herrera said, adding some elementary schools “focused on small group instruction in math and the coordination of services for small group support and intervention/enrichment support.”

Herrera also credited strategies for increasing rigor and providing more opportunities during math instruction for mathematical thinking and problem solving and bringing student tasks to professional learning communities for helping guide schools to focus on identifying specific student needs related to standards and to plan collaboratively to better meet student needs.

Likewise, in ELA, there was a strategic focus on developing strategies for teaching academic vocabulary to enable students to master crucial concepts and gain a more in-depth understanding of new vocabulary and complex texts, Herrera said, adding that schools focused on the outcomes of understanding text and the indicators of deeper comprehension. The use of craft lessons for writing, particularly mentor sentences, were used to serve as examples to help students identify different elements of writing including structure and style, she said.

In the coming weeks, the state will be taking a closer look at the results to identify strong gains and setbacks in subgroup performance to better understand the changes reflected in the overall scores. The department will look at performance based on socioeconomic status and racial demographics as well as for students with disabilities and those who are identified as English learners.

Full district-, charter- and school-level results are available here.



In SAT, the state’s accountability test for high school, overall state proficiency in the SAT evidence-based reading and writing (ERW) assessment was 50 percent this year – a 3-percentage point decrease. In math, 28 percent of students demonstrated proficiency this year compared to 29 percent in 2017.

It is important to note that today’s score release is distinct from the College Board release in September. In that annual release, the College Board, which administers the SAT, reports on graduating class data. Today’s release by the state reflects the scores of the incoming Class of 2019.

Three charter schools topped the state in ERW and math scores: Charter School of Wilmington, Newark Charter and Sussex Academy. The top-ranking district high schools for both subjects were magnet schools in Red Clay Consolidated School District: Cab Calloway School of the Arts and Conrad Schools of Science.



Alternate assessment

This year the state launched a new alternate assessment for students with severe cognitive disabilities thus no comparative data is provided for prior years.

In ELA, scores ranged from 12 percentage of students scoring at the proficient level in 3rd grade to a high of 42 percent in eighth grade. In math, the scores ranged from a low of 8 percent in seventh grade to a high of 30 percent in fourth grade. Science was assessed in grades 5, 8 and 10 with 12, 23 and 21 percent of students scoring at the proficient level in each grade, respectively.

More about state-provided resources

  • The Smarter Digital Library is a free online resource available to Delaware educators. The library currently houses more than 3,000 instructional resources and professional learning materials aligned to the Delaware academic standards. These resources are created by teachers for teachers and are designed to improve instruction and advance student learning throughout the school year.
  • The Digital Library also offers interim assessments. Interim assessments support teachers by helping them determine where students are in their learning as well as if they need additional instruction or can move onto more challenging work.
  • Khan Academy provides Delaware students with free personalized SAT prep based on their PSAT results. Students can access full-length practice tests, study tips, problem-solving videos and more to support specific learning areas of need. The online platform allows students to receive instant feedback and monitor their progress from both school and home while preparing for the SAT.



DPH Invites Public Comment on Delaware Statewide Health Assessment

DOVER — The Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) is seeking input from Delawareans on a draft version of a statewide assessment identifying the primary health needs of First State residents. DPH worked with a broad range of non-profit and medical partners, and community-based and government agencies to create the draft Statewide Health Assessment (SHA) document.

The SHA is an examination of the health of our population. Data gathering for a needs assessment to develop this document began in 2016. The data, pulled from a variety of sources including focus groups, were used to identify local and statewide trends for the identification and prioritization of strategies. The ultimate goal of a SHA is to develop strategies to address critical health needs and identify challenges and assets in the state in a comprehensive way.

All results were compiled and analyzed collectively to paint a collective picture of Delaware’s health. This comprehensive process yielded the following four top-level priority areas of focus:

1. Chronic Disease: specifically -heart disease, diabetes, and asthma
2. Maternal and Child Health: specifically – teen pregnancy, premature births, and low birth weight
3. Substance Use/Misuse: specifically -the opioid epidemic, accidental overdose, and smoking/e-cigarette use
4. Mental Health: specifically – mental health diagnoses (especially in youth), suicide/suicidal ideations, and impact of trauma.

The plan is posted at http://www.dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/files/shna.pdf. Comments can be submitted at http://www.dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/files/shaform.pdf. The deadline for submissions is Tuesday, July 31, 2018.

Residents are encouraged to provide feedback about the information presented in the draft SHA. After receiving public comments, DPH will organize partners again to develop strategies and goals to address Delaware’s major health needs.

“It’s important to hear from residents about our draft plan for the health and well-being of Delawareans,” said DPH Associate Deputy Director, Cassandra Codes-Johnson. “We want to know what’s important to you. All residents should have the opportunity to provide input on the issues that are closest to their hearts.”

A person who is deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf-blind or speech-disabled can call the DPH phone number above by using TTY services. Dial 7-1-1 or 800-232-5460 to type your conversation to a relay operator, who reads your conversation to a hearing person at DPH. The relay operator types the hearing person’s spoken words back to the TTY user. To learn more about TTY availability in Delaware, visit http://delawarerelay.com.

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware’s citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations. DPH, a division of DHSS, urges Delawareans to make healthier choices with the 5-2-1 Almost None campaign: eat 5 or more fruits and vegetables each day, have no more than 2 hours of recreational screen time each day (includes TV, computer, gaming), get 1 or more hours of physical activity each day, and drink almost no sugary beverages.

Enhanced assessments to elevate science instruction

Leona Williams, teacher at Brandywine School District’s Forwood Elementary School, has made significant changes to how she teaches science as a result of her years as a NextGen teacher leader. Now she says she is looking forward to transforming her instruction even further with the information she and others will gain on Delaware’s new science assessment, set to be operational in the 2018-19 school year.

“The data we’ll be able to gather as a state will help shape science instruction and future assessments,” she said. “For teachers, we’ll be able to better identify our students’ strengths and needs to guide our next steps in the classroom. The assessments will help us understand if we’ve been successful in facilitating broader student learning rather than having [students] narrowly focus on a specific topic.”

For more than a year, Delaware educators have been working collaboratively across districts and charter schools to create a system of assessments that measures students’ true science mastery. Phase I of the assessment planning began in Fall 2016 when students and educators participated in a research and development process to create test items. Final drafts of these items are now available online for all educators to use in classrooms.

Phase II of the plan began this fall with Delaware educators helping to design an assessment system that aligns to existing technology. Phase II also includes a Spring 2018 field test in grades 5 and 8 and in high school biology.

Williams, a 2016 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) finalist and a 2018 Delaware Teacher of the Year nominee, is on the state’s test item review committee to develop the types of tasks and questions included on the field test and final assessment.

The test items she and others have created go beyond multiple choice and short answer questions to include innovative items that ask students to apply their science knowledge and skills to real-world situations. These types of assessments help students, families and educators gain valuable information on students’ mastery of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), replacing the state’s current Delaware Comprehensive Assessment System (DCAS) science exam for grades 5, 8 and 10.

“NGSS requires students to become more active learners,” said Williams. “Instruction engages students with a phenomenon then students ask questions, plan and carry out investigations, analyze data to build understanding. Because we are preparing students to understand the world around them and to have a positive impact on the world, they need to understand information presented to them in various forms.”

At the building level, much of the work around transitioning to NGSS is being led by NextGen Teacher Leaders. For four years, the department has provided an ongoing professional learning opportunity for 200 NextGen teacher leaders and 21 team leads from schools throughout the state. These teachers meet monthly to learn about NGSS and how to use a system of classroom assessments to support student learning. NextGen teachers also receive leadership training on adult learning and coaching skills to support the work of leading the NGSS transition back in their schools.

“Having Delaware teachers design and develop tests that they know will have real impact in the classroom is key to creating our state’s strong science assessment system,” said Secretary of Education Susan Bunting. “Teachers have been leading this process from the beginning by developing test items and providing feedback on what students truly need to thrive in science, and they are thus continuing to elevate science education across the state.”

Also key to the adoption of NGSS and the development of the state’s enhanced science assessment is the Delaware Science Coalition, a group of educators, district and charter leaders, and representatives from the state’s higher education and business communities focused on providing all students with high-quality science instruction. The Delaware Science Coalition requires all curriculum and materials be vetted through a year-long process that includes use of the EQUiP rubric, development of gap lessons and embedded assessments, as well as field testing and a larger, in-class pilot. The coalition then reviews the materials and pilot results to determine if districts and charters will use the materials before students engage in the lessons on a larger scale.


For more information on the great things happening in schools across Delaware, sign up to receive Take Note: Education in the First State at http://www.doe.k12.de.us/takenoteTake Note is published the final Wednesday of each month.