Change needed for Milton schools

August 22, 2014

A recent editorial focused on the dramatic disparity between state test scores at H.O. Brittingham Elementary in Milton and the rest of the elementaries in Cape Henlopen School District.

A former school board member from Milton told us it was unfair to compare H.O.B. to Shields Elementary in Lewes because H.O.B. has a much higher percentage of lower-income-family students. Studies show students from lower-income families don’t perform educationally as well as students from higher-income families.

The editorial mentioned, however, that students at Rehoboth Elementary and Milton Elementary also performed significantly better than students at H.O.B. The socioeconomic reasoning definitely suggests the larger concentration of lower-income-family students at H.O.B. results in lower overall test scores for the school.

What’s driving all of this? Easy, says the former board member. And an easy answer too. Unlike Lewes and Rehoboth Beach, Milton has two elementary schools serving the same grade levels: kindergarten through fifth grade. But the two schools, barely a mile apart, serve different populations.

The answer?

Pool the entire Milton-area elementary population and split it between the two schools by grade levels. The split might be kindergarten through two at one school and three through five at the other, or whatever makes the most sense based on facilities and student numbers.

Education, especially at the elementary level where the foundation is laid for success in life, should be our highest priority. Cape Henlopen School District has long operated on the assumption that all children without special needs have a similar capacity to learn. The district has tweaked its programs at H.O.B., adding extra resources and changing approaches, but with little apparent improvement.

There is no guarantee that pooling all of the children, as is the case in the other elementaries, will lead to improved scores for those from lower socioeconomic brackets. But it’s certain that continuing the current approach will only lead to more unacceptable results. Over the next several months, Cape officials should begin planning a transition to a pooled approach to be implemented for the 2015-16 school year.


  • Cape Gazette editorials are considered and written by members of the Cape Gazette editorial board which includes Dennis Forney, publisher; Trish Vernon, editor; Dave Frederick, sports editor emeritus; Laura Ritter, news editor; Jen Ellingsworth, associate editor; and Nick Roth, sports editor.

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