NOTE: Sussex Beat is a mix of news, analysis and commentary by Eric Magill, publisher of Sussex County Online.
Delaware Gov. Thomas R. Carper's request that local school districts use money from the Property Tax Cut/Education Funding package to help students meet state testing standards sounds good in theory.
But in reality, that money won't go far toward solving our students' testing problems.
Besides the fact that money doesn't help students learn, some of the school districts that need the most help will receive the least amount of money under the formula used to determine how much each district receives.
Of the $17.5 million Gov. Carper would like to see used to help students meet the new standards state-wide, Sussex County school districts will only receive $1.489 million from the program, while school districts in Kent County will receive $2.938 million and schools in New Castle County will receive $12.106 million.
You'd expect New Castle County schools to receive more total money simply because there are three times as many students there than in Sussex County.
But the kicker is that on a per student basis, Sussex County schools will receive only $82 per student compared to $124 per student in Kent County and $192 per student in New Castle County.
Considering that a higher percentage of Sussex County students tested below standards on the Delaware Student Testing Program than their counterparts in New Castle or Kent counties, it would seem they should receive the most help financially, in accordance with Gov. Carper's wishes.
In results released in late September, 55.3 percent of Sussex County students tested below standards in Math, 56.9 percent tested below standards in Writing, and 40.9 percent tested below standards in Reading.
New Castle students were a couple of percentage points ahead with 51.04 percent below standards in Math, 53.27 percent below standards in Writing, and 39.39 percent below standards in Reading.
Kent County saw the fewest students test below standards at 49.78 for Math, 52.43 for Writing and 37.61 for reading.
By district, students in Seaford and Woodbridge are among the districts whose students need the most help, but they will receive the least amount of assistance per student ($70.24 and $71.43, respectively) from the program. In Seaford, 57% of students were below standards in Math and Writing, while 63.5% of Woodbridge students were below standards in Math and 57.75% of students in that district were below standards in Writing.
Sussex Vo-Tech students, meanwhile, had the highest percentage of students below standards with 62% below Math standards and 68% below Writing standards. Yet that school will receive no money from the program.
On the flip side, Delmar and Laurel, where more than 60 percent of the students failed to meet standards in both Math and Writing, will receive the most per student in Sussex County at $166.67 in Delmar and $174.02 in Laurel. Those numbers approach the figures for New Castle County, where four of the six school systems will receive more than $180 per student.
Still, that kind of money won't dramatically raise the number of students meeting the standards. Only hard work on the part of the students, their parents and their teachers will do that.
Delaware Gov. Thomas R. Carper will hold one of four town meetings across the state regarding the state's education reform efforts in Sussex County on Oct. 20. The meeting will be from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the Woodbridge High School auditorium in Bridgeville.
You can voice your opinion on what else needs to be done to help Sussex County students meet the state's testing standards in the Sussex County Online Forum or vote on the issue in our online poll. Just follow the links below to make your voice heard and your vote count:
You can keep track of current legislation before both houses of the Delaware General Assembly at http://www.state.de.us/research/assembly.htm. The site includes a complete copy of the Delaware Code as well as past legislation, the current agenda for both the House and Senate, a tour of Legislative Hall, and listings of all members of the House and Senate.
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