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New Study Finds Common Standards Weren’t Properly Validated   Leave a comment

New Pioneer Institute Study Finds Common Core Standards Weren’t Properly Validated

Five of the 29 members of the Common Core Validation Committee refused to sign a report attesting that the standards are research-based, rigorous and internationally benchmarked. The validation report was released with 24 signatures and included no mention that five committee members refused to sign it, according to a new study published by Pioneer Institute.

What were the problems?

According to the Pioneer Institute press release, no member of the Common Core Validation Committee had a doctorate in English literature or language –and only one held a doctorate in math. (He was one of only three members with extensive experience writing standards.) Two of these three refused to sign off on the standards.

“Since all 50 states have had standards for a decade or more, there is a pool of people out there experienced in writing English and math standards,” said Ze’ev Wurman, author of “Common Core’s Validation: A Weak Foundation for a Crooked House.” “It’s unclear why so few of them were tapped for the Common Core Validation Committee.”

Wurman describes two studies conducted by members who signed the Validation Committee report in an attempt to provide post facto evidence that supported their earlier decisions. In both cases, the research was poorly executed and failed to provide evidence that Common Core is internationally competitive and can prepare American high school students for college-level work.

One study, conducted by Validation Committee member and Michigan State University educational statistician William Schmidt and a colleague, explored whether the Common Core math standards are comparable to those in the highest-performing nations and what outcomes might reasonably be expected after Common Core is implemented.

Wurman describes how even after Schmidt and his colleague rearranged the logical order in which concepts would be taught to make Common Core look more like the math standards in high-performing countries, there was still less than a 60 percent congruence between the two. Their initial results also found no correlation between student achievement and the states that have math standards most like Common Core.

After engaging in highly unconventional steps to increase both the congruence between Common Core and the international standards and the correlation between Common Core and student achievement (based on states whose standards were most similar to Common Core), Schmidt and his colleague wrote that they estimate congruence “in a novel way… coupled with several assumptions.” They acknowledge that their analyses “should be viewed as only exploratory… merely suggesting the possibility of a relationship,” yet such caution disappears in their final conclusion.

Wurman’s research also uncovered that basic information was coded incorrectly for Schmidt’s study and shows examples of concepts introduced in high school under Common Core listed as being taught in seventh grade.

Other studies have come to very different conclusions. Stanford University mathematician R. James Milgram, the only member of the Validation Committee with a doctorate in mathematics, said that Common Core is two years behind the math standards in the highest-performing countries. Milgram also wrote that Common Core fails to prepare students for careers in science, technology, engineering, and math.

Ze’ev Wurman is a visiting scholar at the Hoover Institution and a former senior policy adviser at the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Planning, Development, and Policy Development. In 2010, he served as a commissioner on the California Academic Content Standards Commission that evaluated Common Core’s suitability for adoption in that state.

Pioneer’s comprehensive research on Common Core national education standards includes: Lowering the Bar: How Common Core Math Fails to Prepare High School Students for STEM; How Common Core’s ELA Standards Place College Readiness at Risk; Common Core Standards Still Don’t Make the Grade; The Road to a National Curriculum: The Legal Aspects of the Common Core Standards, Race to the Top, and Conditional Waivers; National Cost of Aligning States and Localities to the Common Core Standards, and A Republic of Republics: How Common Core Undermines State and Local Autonomy over K-12 Education. Pioneer produced a video series: Setting the Record Straight: Part 1, and Part 2, and has earned national media coverage.

Pioneer Institute is an independent, non-partisan, privately funded research organization that seeks to improve the quality of life in Massachusetts through civic discourse and intellectually rigorous, data-driven public policy solutions based on free market principles, individual liberty and responsibility, and the ideal of effective, limited and accountable government.

For Utah School Districts: A Common Core Fact-Checking Adventure   1 comment

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Let’s not call this research!   This is a fact-checking adventure.

This adventure begins because of the FAQ statements about Common Core posted at the Provo  School District website.  (See it on their  website or just scroll to the bottom of the page where I’ve pasted it.)

This post is not meant to be accusatory or mean.  Provo District and other districts tend to trust and echo  what’s spoken and posted by the State Office.   Clearly, districts and boards, like anyone, can and do make factual errors; but when the errors are very clearly pointed out, those mistakes should be corrected.

I apologize for the length of this article.  I chiseled and chiseled but cannot in good conscience make it any shorter. 

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Question #1 at the Provo District FAQ states: “The Common Core was a grassroots initiative initiated by state governors and Superintendents in 2007.”

Common Core is far from being “grassroots.”  President Obama has been pushing for national standards for many years.  In 2007, he was justifying his decision to stop NASA’s Moon and Mars exploration programs to fund “his” new education program.  His administration has used different terms to refer to his takeover of local education, but it has also provided a federal, official definition   of “college and career ready standards” being “standards that are common to a significant number of states” –which can only be Common Core.  He paid for Common Core test development.  And Obama’s famous blueprint for reform included four education reforms, one of which was data collection, one of which was common standards and tests, and you can read the rest.

Obama’s Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, claimed that a federal takeover of education was Obama’s idea.  Buried in the second half of a long, glowing official speech about U.S. education reform are  these words by Arne Duncan: “The North Star guiding the alignment of our cradle-to-career education agenda is President Obama’s goal” –and he said that even though: “Traditionally, the federal government in the U.S. has had a limited role in education policy,” Obama “has sought to fundamentally shift the federal role, so that the Department is doing much more…  America is now in the midst of a “quiet revolution” in school reform.”

Secretary Duncan  gloated that many states fell for the financially-baited federal Common Core hook without debating the move, but Duncan always carefully called the Standards a state-led creation, keeping up the ruse.  He said that a majority of states “and the District of Columbia have already chosen to adopt the new state-crafted Common Core standards in math and English. Not studying it, not thinking about it, not issuing a white paper—they have actually done it. Over three-fourths of all U.S. public school students now reside in states that have voluntarily adopted higher, common college-ready standards… That is an absolute game-changer.”

Indeed it was a game changer.

To clear up doubt about whether Common Core was or was not grassroots-and-teacher-led, just follow the money trail. Those who paid for and promote this are being paid, or will be handsomely paid as it is implemented, to do so. The SBAC and PARCC Common Core tests are funded by the federal government. The Common Core standards’ writing, marketing and implementation are funded primarily by Microsoft owner, Pearson-Ed partner Bill Gates.   This unelected influence continues locally.  In Utah, the ways in which Pearson/Gates controls school data collection  is formidable.

Most telling is the official partnership of the Department of Education with the Common Core creators.  The ongoing support (coercion) of the federal government to have states adopt the private-trade-group held, copyrighted Common Core means that Common Core is neither purely a federal takeover nor is it purely a privatization of public schools, but it is a public-private partnership, a concept that takes voters out of the decision making driver’s seat.

Question #1 also misleads us by saying that Common Core was “initiated by state governors and superintendents.”   It is true that the governors’ club, (NGA) and the superintendents’ club, (CCSSO) did create and copyright Common Core.  Their “frequently asked questions” officially explains:  “the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), led the development of the Common Core State Standards and continue to lead…”  But not all governors belong to NGA!  Not all superintendents belong to CCSSO!  Some, in fact, are vehemently opposed to these private, closed-door, non-transparent, unelected trade organizations that wield falsely assumed power.  I say “falsely assumed” because they pretend to Congress-like national representational authority for states, but they are not an elected group.  No voter can affect what they do.  No reporter can report on what they do.

Questions 2, 3 and 4 take on the question of whether standards and curriculum are independent of one another.  This is like saying that a skeleton (standards) does not dictate what a body (curriculum) looks like.  It’s a half-truth: sure, they are not the same thing.  But I defy anyone to build a curriculum and related tests that truly soar above or are very different looking than the standards they are built upon.  Watch the statement in a video by main Common Core funder Bill Gates as he explains to legislators that he’s looking forward to schools being a uniform customer base, and that “we’ll only know if Common Core standards work” when the standards, curriculum and tests align.  You might also listen to teachers who testify that standards do drive curriculum and testing, as they narrow the autonomy and innovation of a classroom.

Question 5 asserts that the Common Core standards were internationally benchmarked.  This is not true.

Dr. James Milgram, the Stanford emeritus professor of mathematics who served on the Common Core validation committee and who refused to sign off on the standards, said:

I can tell you that my main objection to Core Standards, and the reason I didn’t sign off on them was that they did not match up to international expectations. They were at least 2 years behind the practices in the high achieving countries by 7th grade, and, as a number of people have observed, only require partial understanding of what would be the content of a normal, solid, course in Algebra I or Geometry. Moreover, they cover very little of the content of Algebra II, and none of any higher level course… They will not help our children match up to the students in the top foreign countries…”

Likewise, Professor Sandra Stotsky, who served on the same committee, who also refused to sign off on the Common Core standards because they were academically inferior,  has written:

“…we are regularly told that Common Core’s standards are internationally benchmarked. Joel Klein, former head of the New York City schools, most recently repeated this myth in an interview with Paul Gigot, the Wall Street Journal editor, during the first week in June. Not mentioned at all in the interview or the op-ed he co-authored in the WSJ a week later is Klein’s current position in a company that does a lot of business with Common Core. An Exxon ad, repeated multiple times during a recently televised national tennis match, also suggested that Common Core’s standards were internationally benchmarked. We don’t know who influenced Exxon’s education director. Gigot never asked Klein what countries we were supposedly benchmarked to. Nor did the Exxon ad name a country to which these standards were supposedly benchmarked. Klein wouldn’t have been able to answer, nor could Exxon have named a country because Common Core’s standards are not internationally benchmarked. Neither the methodologically flawed study by William Schmidt of Michigan State University, nor the post-Common Core studies by David Conley of the University of Oregon, all funded by the Gates Foundation, have shown that Common Core’s content is close to, never mind equal to, the level of the academic content of the mathematics and English standards in high-achieving countries.”

In which top-achieving country is Algebra pushed to grade 9 instead of grade 8?  In which top-achieving country is classic literature being replaced gradually by informational text?  The phrase “internationally benchmarked” is misleading millions of people.

Question 6 states that the federal government has no role in the implementation or development of Common Core.  This is a half-truth; as shown above, the federal government partnered with private groups who are developing and implementing the Common Core.  The role of the federal government has been to heavy-handedly partner with and to promote the Career and College Readiness /aka Common Core Initiative’s full agenda, with grants, speeches, and threats –while saying that localities retain freedom to choose.

Question 7 asks:  Will Utah taxpayers have to pay more money to implement the new Utah Core Standards?  The Provo District says that it will not cost any additional money.  This cannot possibly be true– even common sense alerts us to this, but so does Pioneer Institute, a rare think tank that is not-Bill-Gates-nor-federally funded. Here is that think tank’s report.

Reason this out. When, in the past, have districts needed to throw out and replace virtually all old text books for totally different math and English standards?  Never.  When have there been so many wholly transformative (for good or ill) teacher development classes statewide? Never.  When has the state tested students so often and so heavily to align with national  testing practices?  Taxpayers even had to fund the marketing and political blitzing of the Utah State Office of Education as it has aimed to persuade parents that Common Core is a positive change.

Question 8 asks, “How does the local school board fit into the Common Core?”  Without saying so directly, it answers its own question:  the local school board’s job has seemingly become to nod and agree with all that the state pushes upon it, groupthink style.

Question  9 asks, “Do these standards incorporate both content and skills?”  While it is true that both content and skills are partially covered in Common Core, it is an important reality that less knowledge and more of what Dr. Stotsky refers to as “empty skill sets,” with much less content, is being taught under Common Core.   Virtually everything has changed, and all without field testing or academic research to base the changes upon.  Even  vocabulary words are changing to less literary, more technical/industrial words, words that are being called “more relevant” than the rich vocabulary offered in the literary classics.   And, while small passages of founding documents and classic literature are to be taught and tested, they are not to be placed in context nor read in whole.   This, to me, looks like dumbing down.  Professor Thomas Newkirk of the University of New Hampshire explains:  “The central message in their guidelines is that the focus should be on “the text itself”… The text should be understood in “its own terms.” While the personal connections and judgments of the readers may enter in later, they should do so only after students demonstrate “a clear understanding of what they read.” So the model of reading seems to have two stages—first a close reading in which the reader withholds judgment or comparison with other texts, focusing solely on what is happening within “the four corners of the text.” And only then are prior knowledge, personal association, and appraisal allowed in.  This seems to me an inhuman, even impossible, and certainly unwise prescription.”  -Speaking Back to the Common Core

The Provo District claims:  “In Mathematics, the Common Core State Standards lay a solid foundation in whole numbers, addition, subtraction…”  At which ages are these math concepts being taught?  Many foundational concepts have been pushed back.  Fluency with fractions/decimals/ratios is pushed to junior high, when it used to be foundational for elementary school levels.  Most calculus and  other higher math concepts are pushed out of high school completely– not available until college.   Dr. James Milgram said that Common Core math standards “only require partial understanding of what would be the content of a normal, solid, course in Algebra I or Geometry. Moreover, they cover very little of the content of Algebra II, and none of any higher level course…”  Noted math expert Ze’ev Wurman has noted that Common Core math standards, now set in the concrete of nationalized, high-stakes testing, “mark the cessation of educational standards improvement in the United States.”

Question 10 asks whether these math standards cover all the key math topics in the proper sequence.  It claims that the Common Core math standards “are coherent and based on evidence”  No link to such evidence is given.

We need such evidence.  Academics nationwide are pointing out that because no evidence exists, the standards are an experiment.  They were never field tested prior to the nationwide rollout.

Dr. Milgram has said, “There is no point where the student-constructed algorithms are explicitly replaced by the very efficient standard methods for doing one-digit operations. Why does Common Core adopt this convoluted method of teaching math? The stated reason is that learning the standard algorithm doesn’t give students a “deeper conceptual understanding” of what they’re doing. But the use of student-constructed algorithms is at odds with the practices of high-achieving countries and is not supported by research. Common Core is using our children for a huge and risky experiment.”

Question 11  addresses the ongoing discussion about who has control of the classroom.  Provo District states that the Common Core standards “do not dictate how teachers should teach. Teachers will continue to devise lesson plans and tailor instruction to the individual needs of the students in their classrooms, as well as select instructional materials they feel are most appropriate.”

But teachers are testifying that this is not true.  Utah teachers Ann Florence, Stuart Harper, Susan Wilcox, Malin Williams, Diana McKay and many other teachers have spoken out and risked or lost their jobs to tell a very different story.   In addition, we have the above-cited testimony of funder Bill Gates  who says that the standards, tests and curriculum will align to prove that the standards “work.”  It’s like the old Ford Advertisement: “You can Have Any Color As Long as it’s Black.”  The state, federal, and corporate ed sales (textbook companies) say the same thing: “You can have any standards as long as they are the exact same as all other states’ standards.”  Almost all the curriculum in the nation is aligning, building a new education system on a very sandy foundation.  The fact is that there is a Common Core  15% no-adding-to-the-standards rule in contracts and agreements that is common knowledge, both in testing and curriculum.  The USOE continues to dismiss the suffocating 15% rule as “not a big deal.”

Question 12 asks what would happen if Utah were to reject Common Core.  The Provo District then says that because the Common Core Standards “are not federal” that this would not alter Utah’s relationship with the federal government.  This assertion contains two untrue portions: 1) saying that Common Core Standards are not federal implies that they are not federally approved/federally promoted/federally set as conditions for receipt of federal grants and Title I monies.  But they are all of those things.

Although the NGA/CCSSO wrote and copyrighted the standards, the federal government has pushed  them more than anyone —has disguised the nature  and name of it, deceptive language. Federally, the Common Core Standards are called the “College and Career-Ready Standards.”  But at the NGA/CCSSO level, it’s called Common Core.  The feds officially defined “College and Career Ready Standards” as “standards common to a significant number of states.”  See this official re-definition on the federal education website.  Although federal insiders know this, they don’t choose to clarify it.

Question 12 goes on to say that because Utah Law now requires computer adaptive testing, the  testing would continue with AIR (American Institutes for Research) even if we rejected Common Core itself.  This does not make sense; Utah’s AIR (aka SAGE)  test is aligned to Common Core.   Why would we stick with that after dropping Common Core?  Were we to reject Common Core, we would then create an alternative test with a non-Common Core aligned company using better, independent standards.

Question 12 states that the State Longitudinal Data System (SLDS) would still be in  place. This is true, and problematic.  Since Utah has no proper protections in place over the privacy of student data, and since the federal goverment shredded formerly protective federal FERPA privacy laws, Utah would have to either create proper protections legislatively, or Utah would need to shut down the SLDS and return the $9.6 million that Utah accepted from the federal government to create it, using federally directed interoperability frameworks  (see pages 2 and 4 on that grant’s pdf) which created a de facto national data collection system).   Since national data collection systems, de facto or not, are illegal, it would be preferable to shut down the SLDS.

Question 12 further states that “Utah would have to go through the expense of writing a new core or adopt  the former core–which is not seen as “College and Career Ready” standards… newly purchased materials have to be discarded. If Utah  writes unique standards, there will be little or no available materials or textbooks to  support their instruction.”  This is mostly correct.  Utah’s hasty adoption of Common Core has cost her countless millions in newly purchased materials and programs.  (See question 7 above, which ironically asserts that the cost of Common Core is not an issue.)  There are  a limited number of textbook companies that offer curriculum independent from Common Core.  Some curriculum companies, such as Saxon Math and Shirley Grammar, still offer editions that have not changed to Common Core to accomodate private schools and home schools.  Others, such as the Institute for Excellence in Writing, have re-labeled curriculum, calling it Common Core aligned,  but have not made actual changes to it.  Remember that all older (classical education) texts are independent of Common Core, since Common Core only began its explosive  existence in the past four years.

Question 13 asks what assessments are required by the federal government and answers that ESEA (Elementary and Secondary Education Act) aka “No  Child Left Behind” requires states to have  assessments in math, language arts, and science. This is true. What isn’t explained, and should be, is this:  The federal government first of all has no constitutional business requiring states to have assessments.  See the U.S. Constitution and G.E.P.A. law (General Educational Provisions Act).

Yet the federal government now corrals its state funding  to be used for tests, technologies, professional development, and student computer devices only if and when they are aligned with Common Core (aka College and Career Ready, or CCR).  The federal government approves a limited number of testing organizations and consortia.  (Utah’s so-called choice, the A.I.R. company, has “developed the only computer adaptive test that is federally approved.“)

Question 15 contends that “Utah teachers will write all of the questions that will be used in the new assessment  system”  and that “Every teacher in the state has been invited to participate in the item writing.”   Every teacher in the state has not been invited.  Ask around.  It’s not true.  Also, in the words of the actual contract that Utah and the A.I.R. testing company have signed –the contract is available from the State Office of Education–  a combination of AIR psychometricians, and also Utah teachers, are co-writing the test items.  Why let a single psychometrician anywhere near our children’s academic tests?

 

Question 16  discusses the 15-parent panel which reviews the AIR/SAGE tests to see that they are strictly academic.  The panel’s work has not been given the respect it deserved.  Nor can we honestly say that the USOE is not collecting behavioral data, inside the SAGE test or by other state-created methods to be discussed below.

Of her experience on the parent panel, mother Alyson Williams, stated (see the comments section) that:

“There were questions that parents flagged as inappropriate, subjective or biased. We were promised that these test items would be reviewed and addressed and that we would get to see how they were addressed… long after this Spring’s pilot, unfortunately… I feel it is a manipulation of my cooperation to characterize it as unreserved approval of these assessments.”

Another member of the panel, Louisa Walker, stated: “Quoted from [Assistant State Superintendent] Judy Park: ‘… Every parent on the panel… agreed that there was nothing in the questions that was inappropriate.’ I served on that 15 parent committee, and I will tell you that is not trueI wasn’t the only one to flag items because of subjective, inappropriate, or misleading content…”

A third member of the parent panel, Jennie Earl, stated that only 2 or 3 parents actually read each of the questions, due to the huge number of questions and small number of parents permitted to read them.  She wrote:   “… a parent would read a question they had concerns with to gather additional insight from the other parents in the room… because of the nature of the content in the question or bias in the wording…. These items were flagged in addition to other items parents felt needed revision or removal. We don’t know the final outcome thus far on flagged items…  I might add… measuring teachers and schools based on a value-added model or growth model is not a valid measurement tool for identifying effective teachers or schools.”

A fourth member of the 15-parent state panel, Kim Kehrer, wrote: “I was also on the parent panel. The questions were reviewed at most by two members of the 15 parent panel. Here are the facts: 43 questions were removed due to various reasons. 160 questions were changed or modified to address the question of concern and 397 questions will be used in the testing and reviewed again next year. I second Jennie Earl’s comment that we are not a validating committee.”

In addition to these concerns, the idea that the tests were strictly academic must be addressed.  That cannot be believed by any rational researcher.

Here’s why:

1-  Do a word search on the AIR contract with Utah; the word “psychometric” comes up 73 times. (Look up that word’s definition and find that psychometrics are psychological and educational measurement using tests.)

2-  Look up the AIR company:  “AIR’s mission is to conduct and apply the best behavioral and social science research and evaluation”.

3-  Look at Utah’s legislation about computer adaptive state testing and learn that HB15, created in 2012, requires the collection of  behavior indicators. It calls for “ the use of student behavior indicators in assessing student performance” as part of the testing. This is Utah’s S.A.G.E. test or A.I.R.– test. (There were other, similar laws, years prior to this, as well.) –Are we to believe that although AIR’s purpose is to test behavioral and social indicators, and although Utah law says that the test must test behavioral indicators, the test still won’t?

4- See Utah’s SLDS grant application starting at page 87  and read how non-cognitive behaviors that have nothing to do with academics, will be collected and studied. (This may or may not include information embedded in AIR/SAGE tests)  These behaviors will include “social comfort and integration, academic conscientiousness, resiliency, etc.” to be evaluated in part through the psychometric census known as the “Student Strengths Inventory. (SSI)” That inventory –a child’s psychological information– will be integrated into the database (SLDS).  The SLDS grant promises to integrate psychological data into the state database.

“With the introduction of UtahFutures and the Student Strengths Inventory (SSI) and its focus on noncognitive data, combining such data with other longitudinal student level data to the USOE Data Warehouse the UDA.”  It also says: “… psychosocial or noncognitive factors… include, but are not limited to educational commitment, academic engagement and conscientiousness, social comfort and social integration, academic self-efficacy, resiliency…  Until recently, institutions had to rely on standardized cognitive measures to identify student needs. … We propose to census test all current student in grades 11 and 12 using… SSI,  a measure of noncognitive attitudes and behaviors.” The Student Strengths Inventory (SSI) is a “psychometric census” to be taken by every 11th and 12th grade student in Utah.

The Utah Office of Education openly admits to gathering student psychological data.  It has not yet openly admitted that SAGE/AIR tests do this.  But with such a policy, openly shown in the USOE’s SLDS grant, why wouldn’t the USOE also, soon if not now, use the SAGE test along with SSI, to gather attitude and belief data on Utah children?  The point is that proper legal protections are not in place.  Student data and family privacy is vulnerable.

5– The USOE has a history of working in harmony with even the unconstitutional federal initiatives.  The U.S. Department of Education  issued a report on school gathering of behavioral/belief data.  Read its 2013 “Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perserverance” report.  It encourages assessment of student beliefs and personality characteristics, and the keeping of longitudinal records of these traits.  The report encourages the use of facial expression cameras, wireless skin conductors, posture analysis seats and other physical devices to measure student attitudes, beliefs and engagement with what is being presented. (see page 44)

Why isn’t the Provo District and the Utah School Board making statements of discontent with the directions in which the federal government is taking education and data collection in light of such federal reports and recommendations?

Question 18, 19 and 20 concern student data privacy.  18 asks what individual student information is given to the federal government  from the assessments given in Utah. It says that “districts do not gather personal information from families such as religion affiliation.”  It says, “The Federal  Government does not have a direct connection with the Utah data base.”

Almost no proper legal protections are in place for student data privacy, while parents are not permitted to opt any public/charter school-attending child out of the state database (SLDS).  Also, formerly protective federal FERPA privacy laws have been shredded by the Department of Education.  Changes include reducing the requirement (of getting parental consent prior to accessing personally identifiable student information) to an optional “best practice“.   At the same time, local privacy laws at least in Utah, are unspecific. Data alliances and data sharing practices among agencies grow and grow, almost unrestrained by privacy laws.

The federal government has long been collecting aggregate (partial, grouped, not easily personally-identifiable) student data.  The CCSSO has been collecting national data, too.  This is common knowledge.

What is in question is whether these D.C. entities have any access to the fifty State Longitudinal Database Systems, which contain personally identifiable information, databases which are (by federal grant-mandate) inter-operable databases.  This question was addressed, ironically, by an insider, a writer named David DeSchryver who aimed to persuade readers to agree that ESEA (No Child Left Behind, a federal law) should be reauthorized.   While I disagree with that thesis, I appreciate that the author of the Whiteboard Advisors article revealed what should be common knowledge: the federal government is collecting SLDS-collected student data via the IES and NCES.

He writes: “Most readers are probably not aware that the law [ESEA] authorizes the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), and other research related work. IES provides much of the commonly used and accepted data on US public schools…. the IES is uniquely positioned…  It has access to data from every state and school district…  This data…  bolstered by longitudinal data systems, will benefit the entire field of education. More data, however, requires more organization and IES plays an important role here… It helps to standardize data structure so that new data can connect to prior data sets and research.”

The CCSSO (Council of Chief State School Officers) which  copyrighted Common Core and created it, the same CCSSO that created Common Educational Data Standards –has an openly admitted, openly stated mission to disaggregate student data.  (See goal #4) The past and current State Superintendents and the Associate State Superintendent of Utah are members of CCSSO.  Assistant Superintendent Judy Park is also a writer for CCSSO.  This makes me fairly confident that these Utahns are aware of what the CCSSO stands for and what its goals are.

To dis-aggregate means to move toward specificity:  identifying which individual person did what. Disaggregation means that academic bundles of students’ information will be separated into groups that are increasingly easy to identify individually.  A press release showed that Choice/Pearson partnered with the state of Utah to create the UTREX system that would disaggregate student data.

(Every Utahns should ask our top education leaders and legislators why, on the CCSSO website, it states that one of its main goals is “Continued Commitment to Disaggregation” of student data.  Why do we remain supporters of CCSSO?)

Provo district says that ” The Federal Government has no direct access to this [SLDS/UTREX data] system.”  But indirectly, it does.  From the Data Quality Campaign (DQC) we read: “states must… continue building linkages [from K-12] … across critical agencies such as health, social services and criminal justice…” So if the federal government has access to any DQC-adhering state’s database, it will have access to the other agencies’ information about citizens linked thereby.

Utah is a Data Quality Campaign adherent.   The DQC used Utah in its report as a prime example of how its state foster care services data and its school-collected data were combined to find out information about a certain child.  Parental rights or student privacy rights were not mentioned as being a relevant part of that equation.

The federal EDFACTS data exchange claims that it’s gathering national data.  The student data dis-aggregation club, CCSSO, is officially partnered with the federal government to use CEDS, common data standards in education which make student data more easily disaggregated.   Additionally, the federal government paid for all 50 states to have federally-structured State Longitudinal Database Systems to collect personally identifiable information.  National Data Collection Models encourage (but do not require) personally identifiable information to be collected and shared between agencies and among states.  And at the Arne Duncan-approveData Quality Campaign, we learn that  the answer to” “Are education data just test scores?” is: “No… Data include student and teacher attendance, services students receive, student academic development and growth, teacher preparation information, postsecondary success and remediation rates, and more.”

Previous to widespread scrutiny of the (federal branch) NCES’s National Data Collection Model (NDCM) and prior to the NDCM removing this information, but, as older  news articlesvideos and blogs testify–  it was suggested by the federal model that student nicknames, religious affiliation, birthdate, GPA, allergies, maternal last name, voting status and many more data fields should be filled by schools.   (For evidence see screenshots which were saved from NDCM – minute 27:26 on this video by the Restore Oklahoma Public Education group.  I, too, saw and wrote about them here.)

Question 21 correctly asserts that Utah state law (code 53A-1-402.6) allows Utah to “exit any agreement, contract, memorandum of understanding, or consortium that cedes control of Utah’s core curriculum standards.”  The problem has never been that we can’t exit; it’s that there is not enough understanding of the gravity of the Common Core error, nor enough political will, to choose to exit.

Question 22 says that adequate public feedback opportunities were given prior to adoption of Common Core.  Whether on the national or state level, this is untrue.  This assertion has been rebutted by the Alpine School District (minutes) and by Alpine Board member Wendy Hart,  as well as by the Karl G. Maeser School Board.  Maesar’s statement to the Utah School Board says, “there were no opportunities for review of these standards by local school districts or parents.”

If adequate feedback opportunities had been offered, wouldn’t parents at least know the term “Common Core” prior to being told it was already adopted?  If adequate public feedback opportunities had been offered, wouldn’t legislatures that are now paying for its implementation have had some discussion in the newspapers?  Wouldn’t teachers (like me) have been sent an email, inviting us to research and submit public comment on the subject?  The fact that the public debates on the topic and the vast firestorm of anti-Common Core disapproval is happening now, FOUR YEARS AFTER Utah implemented it, is evidence that it was not properly, adequately discussed prior to adoption.  For more on this absurd hastiness, listen to the public record audio “minutes” of the state school board in 2010 as they hastily adopted the standards without even a full first reading, due to federal time pressure on a grant application deadline that was Common Core adoption-dependent:

May 1, 2009 Utah School Board Meeting, Agenda Item: National Common Standards
http://www.schools.utah.gov/board/Meetings/Audiocast/2009.aspx
June 17, 2009 Legislative Interim Education Committee Meeting
Quoted audio starts about 27:30
http://utahlegislature.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=17&clip_id=5624
July 18, 2011 Alpine School Board Training, select the first audio file, quoted starts about 27:14
http://sbs.alpinedistrict.org/cgi-bin/WebObjects/eAgenda.woa/wa/displayMeeting?meetingID=850

 

 

Finally, for your reference, here is the original Q & A:

_________________________________

 

Provo School District

Common Core FAQ*

* Provo City School District recognizes Seth Sorensen, the Curriculum and Assessment Specialist for Nebo School District for his work in creating the original FAQ document on which this is based.

Q1. Who led the Common Core State Standards Initiative?

A. The Common Core was a grassroots initiative initiated by state governors and  Superintendents in 2007. The nation’s governors and education commissioners,  through their representative organizations, the National Governors Association  (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) led the development of  the Common Core State Standards and continue to lead the initiative. Teachers,  parents, school administrators and experts from across the country together with  state leaders have provided input into the development of the standards.

Q2. What are core standards?

A. Core or educational standards help teachers ensure their students have the skills  and knowledge they need to be successful by providing clear goals for student learning. Standards are concepts that need to be taught, such as addition of fractions in  mathematics, and the grade level where they should be taught.

Q3. What is the difference between standards and curriculum?
A. Standards are the required skills and concepts for the students to achieve. Curriculum include the materials and content that is used to teach the standards.

Q4. Who chooses/adopts state standards and curriculum?
A. The Utah Constitution designates to the Utah State School Board the  responsibility to choose state standards. Local school boards and the Utah  Legislature do not. Local school boards and schools select the curriculum, which is  generally the textbook or program for delivering the standards. Local school teams  and individual teachers choose the everyday lesson content. The Federal  Government has no say in either standards, curriculum or everyday lesson content.  Utah State Code states in 53A-1-402.6. Core curriculum standards: “(1)  In establishing minimum standards related to curriculum and instruction  requirements under Section 53A-1-402, the State Board of Education shall,  in consultation with local school boards, school superintendents, teachers,  employers, and parents implement core curriculum standards which will  enable students to, among other objectives:
(a) communicate effectively, both verbally and through written communication;
(b) apply mathematics; and
(c) access, analyze, and apply information.”

The Utah Code also spells out local school board control of materials:

“(4) Local school boards shall design their school programs, that are supported by  generally accepted scientific standards of evidence, to focus on the core  curriculum standards with the expectation that each program will enhance  or help achieve mastery of the core curriculum standards.
(5) Except as provided in Section 53A-13-101, each school may select  instructional materials and methods of teaching, that are supported by  generally accepted scientific standards of evidence, that it considers most  appropriate to meet core curriculum standards.”  http://le.utah.gov/code/TITLE53A/htm/53A01_040206.htm

Q5. Are the standards internationally benchmarked?
Yes. International benchmarking played a significant role in both sets of standards.  In fact, the college and career ready standards include an appendix listing the  evidence that was consulted in drafting the standards and the international data  used in the benchmarking process.

 Q6. Does the federal government play a role in Common Core standards  implementation? A. “The Federal Government had no role in the development of the Common Core  State Standards and will not have a role in their implementation. The Common Core  State Standards Initiative is a state-led effort that is not part of No Child Left Behind  and adoption of the standards is in no way mandatory. “

http://www.corestandards.org/resources/frequently-asked-questions

Q7. Will Utah taxpayers have to pay more money to implement the new Utah  Core Standards?
A. The Utah State Board of Education regularly updates the Utah Core Standards.  The funding for the implementation of this latest set of standards will not cost Utah  taxpayers additional money. The professional development that takes place in the  districts will remain at the same level it has for the past decade; the only change will be the content focus. School districts are concerned with their ability to provide the  technology and infrastructure necessary to support electronic testing associated  with the new SAGE assessment of the Utah Core Standards. The Utah Legislature  has not raised taxes to fund this change. Provo City School District supports the  advancement of student access to technology and related programs and has been  using existing local and state funding to move in this direction.

Q8. How does the local school board fit into the Common core?
A. School Board powers and duties generally, according to State Code 53A-3-402.  include:
“ (1) Each local school board shall: (a) implement the core curriculum utilizing instructional materials that best
correlate to the core curriculum and graduation requirements;
(b) administer tests, required by the State Board of Education, which measure  the progress of each student, and coordinate with the state superintendent and  State Board of Education to assess results and create plans to improve the student’s  progress which shall be submitted to the State Office of Education for approval;”

http://le.utah.gov/code/TITLE53A/htm/53A03_040200.htm

Q9. Do these standards incorporate both content and skills?
A. Yes. “In English Language Arts, the Common Core State Standards require  certain critical content for all students, including:
• Classic myths and stories from around the world;
• America’s Founding Documents;
• Foundational American literature: and
• Shakespeare.
The remaining crucial decisions about what content should be taught are left to  state and local determination. In addition to content coverage, the Common Core  State Standards require that students systematically acquire knowledge in literature  and other disciplines through reading, writing, speaking, and listening.

In Mathematics, the Common Core State Standards lay a solid foundation in:
whole numbers;
addition;
subtraction;
multiplication;
division:
fractions; and
decimals.
Taken together, these elements support a student’s ability to learn and apply more  demanding math concepts and procedures. The middle school and high school  standards call on students to practice applying mathematical ways of thinking to  real world issues and challenges; they prepare students to think and reason  mathematically.”

Q10. Do the math standards cover all the key math topics in the proper sequence?
A. The mathematical progressions presented in the Common Core State Standards  are coherent and based on evidence. Part of the problem with having 50 different  sets of state standards is that different states cover different topics at different  grade levels. Coming to consensus guarantees that from the viewpoint of any given  state, topics will move up or down in the grade level sequence. This is unavoidable.  What is important to keep in mind is that the progression in the Common Core State Standards is mathematically coherent and leads to college and career readiness at  an internationally competitive level.
Q11. What requirements do the Common Core State Standards give to  teachers?

A. The Common Core State Standards are merely a clear set of expectations and  curriculum standards for the knowledge and skills students need in English/  language arts and mathematics at each grade level to prepare students to graduate  college and career ready. The standards establish what students need to learn, but  they do not dictate how teachers should teach. Teachers will continue to devise  lesson plans and tailor instruction to the individual needs of the students in their
classrooms, as well as select instructional materials they feel are most appropriate  for their students.

Q12. If Utah were to abandon the Utah Core Standards, what would that  mean?
A. The relationship with Federal Government would not change, because the Utah  Core Standards are not Federal. Utah Law still requires adaptive testing, so the  testing will continue with AIR. The Longitudinal Data system would still be in  place. Utah would have to go through the expense of writing a new core or adopt  the former core–which is not seen as “College and Career Ready” standards. There  may be an expense if newly purchased materials have to be discarded. If Utah  writes unique standards, there will be little or no available materials or textbooks to  support their instruction.

Q13. What assessments are required by the Federal Government?
An ESEA (Elementary and Secondary Education Act) was originally passed in 1965  and had major revisions in 1980, 1994, and 2001 (This latest revision called No  Child Left Behind). The current requirements of this act require states to have  assessments in place in Math, Language Arts, and Science. They leave the decision  to the states to determine the assessments and this selection is submitted to the U.S.  Department of Education.

Q14. What assessments are required by the Utah State Legislature?
A. The Utah State Legislature requires the following assessments in State Statute:
• Computer Adaptive Assessment in Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, and an alternate assessment for students with severe cognitive disabilities. These assessments are given to all students in 3rd-11th Grade (CRTs and UAA).
• Statewide Reading assessment given 3 times per year to every K-3rd grade student (DIBELS).
• Kindergarten-2nd grade end of year assessments, which are developed by school districts. • Direct Writing Assessment given to all 5th and 8th grade students (DWA).
• New College and Career ready Assessments given to all 8th -11th grade students (ACT and companion assessments, Explore and Plan).
• An English Language Learning assessment, which places students at various levels of English proficiency (WIDA).

Q15. Who writes the questions that will be used in the new assessment  system?
Utah teachers will write all of the questions that will be used in the new assessment  system. Every teacher in the state has been invited to participate in the item writing  and all volunteers meet together for weeks with administrators and curriculum  specialists from the Utah State Office of Education to develop test items that will  accurately measure student learning of standards within the core curriculum.

–Q16. Are all questions on the new assessments reviewed by a parent group?
A. Yes. All questions are reviewed by a group of 15 parents. This parent group will  verify that all test questions are strictly academic. See the following link: Utah State  contract with AIR: http://www.schools.utah.gov/assessment/Adaptive-Assessment-System/136199-AIR.aspx   (See page 7 for the language that requires USOE and Parent review to approve any
test question before they are used by students.)

Q17. Was AIR assessment required by the Federal Government?
A. No. Utah Legislature passed an Adaptive Assessment law after a successful piloting of adaptive testing. (House Bill 15, 2012) Utah issued a Request for  Proposals (RFP) for an adaptive assessment vendor and AIR was chosen. AIR is a  leader in academic testing and had a superior product for end of level tests,  formative tests and interim tests.

Q18. What individual student information is given to the Federal Government  from the assessments given in Utah?

A. None. The only data provided to the federal government by the State of Utah is  aggregate school-level data. No individual student data is provided. The Federal  Government does not have a direct connection with the Utah data base. School  districts do not gather personal information from families such as religion affiliation
or political party

Q19. What is the Longitudinal Data System in Utah?
A. With 41 school districts and 84 charter schools that use at least 10 different  types of student information systems, Utah needed a way to communicate within  the education system. The Longitudinal Data system is called UTREx. The first task  of UTREx was to assign each student a unique number (SSID), so that two school  districts or charter schools could not claim funding from the state for the same  student. It is also used to help transfer student transcript information to higher  education. A great benefit is the ability to transfer student records for students who  move from one district or charter to the next. The UTREx system improves accuracy  and efficiency of education. Hundreds of hours of time for school personnel will be  saved because of the UTREx system. The Federal Government has no access to this  system

Q20. Are we as schools and districts required to collect more student  information as a result of Utah Senate Bill 82, known as the “Digital Backpack”,  passed in 2013?
A. Yes This Utah bill requires a new system that “collects longitudinal student  transcript data from LEAs (districts and charter schools) and the unique student  identifiers as described in Section 53A-1-603.5.”
The bill summary states:  “This bill:
defines terms;
requires the State Board of Education to establish the Utah Student  Record Store where an authorized LEA user may access student data in a  Student Achievement backpack that is relevant to the user’s LEA or school;

specifies the data to be included in a Student Achievement Backpack;  and  requires the State Board of Education to ensure that student data in a  Student Achievement Backpack is accessible through an LEA’s student  information system by June 30, 2017.”
This bill effectively doubles the amount of data districts are required to send on to  the State office of Education. This new data includes things like school attendance,  student growth scores, student reading level, student writing sample, student  performance by standard and objective, etc…
Text from SB 82: http://le.utah.gov/~2013/bills/sbillamd/SB0082S01.htm

Q21. Can the State of Utah change their core standards at any time?
A. According to state code 53A-1-402.6. Core curriculum standards.
“(6) The state may exit any agreement, contract, memorandum of understanding, or  consortium that cedes control of Utah’s core curriculum standards to any other  entity, including a federal agency or consortium, for any reason, including:
(a) the cost of developing or implementing core curriculum standards; (b) the proposed core curriculum standards are inconsistent with community
values; or
(c) the agreement, contract, memorandum of understanding, or consortium:
(i) was entered into in violation of Part 9, Implementing Federal Programs  Act, or Title 63J, Chapter 5, Federal Funds Procedures Act;
(ii) conflicts with Utah law;
(iii) requires Utah student data to be included in a national or multi-state  database;
(iv) requires records of teacher performance to be included in a national or  multi-state database; or
(v) imposes curriculum, assessment, or data tracking requirements on home  school or private school students.
(7) The State Board of Education shall annually report to the Education Interim  Committee on the development and implementation of core curriculum standards.”

http://le.utah.gov/code/TITLE53A/htm/53A01_040206.htm

Q22. Was any feedback given from the public or any group on the common core prior to adoption by states?

A. Yes. There were a number of opportunities given for the public, as well as other  groups such as educators to give feedback on the core standards, as well as the  college and career ready standards.

Summary of public feedback on K-12 standards: http://www.corestandards.org/assets/k-12-feedback-summary.pdf
Summary of Public Feedback on College and Career Ready Standards:

http://www.corestandards.org/assets/CorePublicFeedback.pdf

–From the Provo School District website

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Just Minimum Standards –or a National Coffle?   2 comments

Some people get hot round the collar when the Common Core Standards Initiative is blamed for the absurd Common Core-aligned horrible worksheets. 

“Common Core is just minimum, state-created, better standards,” they insist.

Few people understand that there’s an intimate connection between Common Core standards, tests and curriculum –because there’s an intimate connection between the corporate edu-sellers and the government, both of whom push for Common Core standardization of education –because it increases their power and money flow.   (Click here to read about the corporate Common Core gold rush;  click here to read about the federal Common Core gold rush.  Click here to read about the official partnership between the federal government and the “state-led” creators of Common Core.)

To me, the horrible worksheets are illustrations of what happens when we let slip the reins of local control of education, which is an abdication of our Constitutional duty and right to determine education quality locally. Whether we give up local control to the federal government, to a consortium of states, or to a monopolistic corporate connivance, the fact remains that we’ve given up local control. Central planning by distant, self-appointed “experts” is the opposite of what made America, her scholars, and her universities, great.

What a lot of people don’t understand is that Obama’s 2010  blueprint for education reform had four main points, only one of which is the national common standards. Look at all four, equally being pushed alongside the Common Core, each part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 : (1) Judging teachers and principals by federally approved standards; (2) Collecting more data about students via more tests and state databases than ever; 3) Using Common Core “college- and career-ready standards” along with tests (“assessments aligned with those standards”); (4) Intervening –or closing down– any (government-determined, government test-determined) “low performing” schools.

Think about those FOUR things, not just the standards; now add this: Bill Gates (partnered with Pearson) has paid for virtually all the development, promotion and implementation of the standards (and the rest of the four-part initiative Obama outlined in his blueprint). He has called schools a uniform customer base.  He has begun to create, together with Pearson, curriculum to match the national standards and tests. He has said that “we’ll only know if the standards work” when the curriculum and tests all align to the standards. Watch him on Youtube speaking to legislators on the subject.

When you look at these things as a whole, you see that we are dealing with an entire coffle, not just minimum standards.  And sure:  coffles are efficient, more efficient than “letting” freedom loving individuals (what governments, including our Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, now refer to as “human capital“) run off in any direction they desire.

But is standardization and efficiency worth the loss of freedom, worth the end of American exceptionalism in education?

 

slave-coffle,-central-africa,-1861-[image]_6a0ca85048

Speaking of coffles and the ugly history of human slavery, here’s a question for you.

Why did U.S. slavery last so long, when people knew it was wrong, when the founding fathers condemned it, when brilliant thinkers decried the practice?  It continued and continued until only bloodshed could end it.

And the reason was simply economic: slavery brought wealth to plantation owners and indirectly to the rest of the nation, even to those who said they opposed it.

So it goes with Common Core.  Standardizing American tests, curriculum, standards and teacher development is a mass market for educrats, one never before seen.

So, although an increasing number of Americans are now awake, and know Common Core is wrong, see that the Common Core Initiative is a step away from local control and liberty and real, legitimate, traditional education– the kind of education our ancestors struggled for– they do nothing but pretend to oppose it.  Even though they see that the tests are data collection vehicles, that that the academics are problematic, that teachers are being de-professionalized with the central planning and test-score-based judgments of teachers and schools, they don’t stop the Common Core machine.

Common Core goes on and on,  full speed ahead, in my state, at least.  Not a hiccup.  Even in states where there have been legislative hiccups, the Common Core wolf gets renamed and reintroduced to the state  wearing the same federal leash and eating the same federal fodder.

Common Core will continue to strangle us –until we say no to the money!  We must say no to federal grants, federal “rewards” and “incentives” and say no to the corporate gold rush.

We can do it!

Most of what supports our schools locally is LOCAL property tax. Another huge chunk is state money. The smallest fraction of what supports our local schools is federal money.

Ideas for how to tighten the belt:  Fire those officials at the Utah State Office of Education who are not friends to liberty and local control, whose fat salaries could fund five or six teachers’ salaries combined.  Justify –or fire– all of the money-sappers at the state and federal offices of education.  Stop buying absurdly expensive testing technologies before making class sizes smaller and teacher salaries better.  Rebudgeting could mean we don’t even need the federal/corporate grants with their absurd Common Core Initiative and data-collecting handcuffs.

We can do this.   But will we?

We may be haunted by Sam Adams’s words,echoing in our ears:

“If ye love wealth better than liberty…. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.” – Samuel Adams

 

Testing Resistance Movement Grows Nationwide   2 comments

Go to http://www.resistthetest.org to share upcoming events with allies across the nation. Note, also, that some politicians are beginning to change policies in response to constituent pressure.

 

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/04/15/testing-resistance-movement-exploding-around-country/

The Gathering Resistance to Standardized Testing
http://www.rethinkingschools.org/archive/28_03/edit2283.shtml

The Long and Narrow Rut of Standardized Testing
http://www.alternet.org/education/long-and-narrow-rut-standardized-testing

Testing Season Reveals Big Media Coverage Failures
http://educationopportunitynetwork.org/test-season-reveals-americas-biggest-failures/

Is Common Core Testing Really Working?
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mercedes-schneider/parcc-tests_b_5144271.html

Why an LA Times Editorial Writer’s Daughter Is Opting Out of California Standardized Exams
http://www.latimes.com/opinion/opinion-la/la-ol-common-core-test-optout-20140408,0,4198942.story#axzz2yK5GZst9
Bullets Fly But the California Tests Must Go On
http://edsource.org/2014/bullets-fly-but-the-test-must-go-on/60663#.U0aCW_ldXnc
Hundreds of Technical Problems Plague California Computerized Tests
http://www.scpr.org/blogs/education/2014/04/09/16333/as-california-standardized-testing-gains-steam-hel/

Colorado Teacher Resigns Due to Testing Obsession
http://gazette.com/colorado-springs-teacher-goes-public-with-reasons-for-resignation/article/1517971
Rush to Administer Computerized Assessments Tests Colorado Schools
http://co.chalkbeat.org/2014/04/11/computer-based-assessments-testing-the-wherewithal-of-colorado-schools/

Wilton Connecticut Teachers Learn How to Develop Quality Performance Assessments
http://www.wiltonbulletin.com/15714/wilton-teachers-learn-to-develop-quality-assessments/
Listen to Youth About Problems of Standardized Testing
http://ctmirror.org/op-ed-still-more-standardized-testing-listen-to-the-youth/

Two Decades of Testing Leave Delaware With a Legacy of Failure
http://www.delawareonline.com/story/opinion/contributors/2014/04/09/put-end-harmful-high-stakes-student-testing/7515559/

Florida 8-Year Old Talks About Test-Prep Driven Schooling
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/04/09/an-8-year-old-talks-about-test-prep/
Resistance to Final Administration of Florida Test
http://www.news-press.com/story/news/education/2014/04/15/fcat-resistance-final/7724863/
Florida State Senate Unanimously Supports “Time Out” From Test-Based Accountability
http://www.abcactionnews.com/news/state/fla-senate-backs-timeout-on-school-grades_15168348

Georgia High-Stakes Testing Reaches a Low Point
http://onlineathens.com/opinion/2014-04-12/blackmon-high-stakes-testing-low-point

Indiana Officials Weigh Testing Cutback
http://www.journalgazette.net/article/20140412/LOCAL06/304129958/1002/local

Massachusetts Schools Concerned About Cost of Online Testing
http://www.commonwealthmagazine.org/News-and-Features/Inquiries/2014/Spring/002-Can-Bay-State-schools-afford-online-standardized-testing.aspx#.U0Q8afldXnd
Don’t Let Your Kids Be Pushed Around by Mass. State Test
http://www.gazettenet.com/home/11516379-95/amy-pybus-dont-let-your-kids-be-pushed-around-by-the-mcas-test-consider

Why Middle Class Minnesota Families Are Opting OUt
http://www.tcdailyplanet.net/blog/sarahlahm/i-am-middle-class-my-kids-test-well-and-i-opt-out

Nebraska Parent Explains State Test Opt Out Procedure
http://dianeravitch.net/2014/04/08/parent-in-nebraska-we-love-our-school-and-state-but-we-love-our-children-more/

“We Refuse” — Parents Explain Successful Campaign: 80% of Students Did Not Test at Their School
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/04/11/we-refuse/
Principals Lead Protests at Three Dozen NYC Schools
http://www.newsday.com/news/region-state/dozens-of-nyc-schools-protest-state-english-tests-1.7679418
Upstate Parents Join Opt-Out Movement
http://www.rocklandtimes.com/2014/04/10/rockland-parents-join-opt-out-movement-to-protest-common-core-aligned-exams/
We Need to Talk About the Test: Time for Transparency
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/10/opinion/the-problem-with-the-common-core.html
NYC Chancellor Says Test Scores Will No Longer Be Major Factor in Student Promotion
http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304512504579491660423740176

First Ohio Students Begin to Skip Tests
http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2014/04/13/a-few-kids-openly-skip-state-testing.html

Statewide Testing Raises Stress Levels in Oklahoma Schools
http://www.krmg.com/news/news/local/testing-begins-oklahoma/nfXSK/

Testing Becomes Major Issue in Pennsylvania Governors Race
http://wesa.fm/post/education-focus-pa-governor-debate
More Pennsylvania Families Opt Out From Standardized Tests
http://www.eveningsun.com/local/ci_25558876/more-parents-are-taking-their-children-out-standardized

Tennessee House Unanimously Sends Governor Bill to Bar “Value-Added” Evaluation of Teachers
http://timesfreepress.com/news/2014/apr/08/bill-doesnt-tie-test-scores-teacher-licensing-goes/

Fewer Tests More Learning in Virginia
http://hamptonroads.com/2014/04/fewer-tests-more-learning

Washington State Teachers Union Backs Parents Holding Children Out of Testing
http://kuow.org/post/washington-teachers-union-supports-families-opting-out-state-testing

Will Wisconsin Students Join Opt-Out Movement
http://www.wkow.com/story/25206609/2014/04/09/wisconsin-schools-ready-for-common-core-testing-next-year-as-students-in-other-states-opt-out

Utah Teacher Fired for Standing Up to High Stakes Overtesting

http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/teacher-fired-for-letting-students-know-they-can-opt-out/

Utah SAGE test opt outs discussion at Salt Lake Tribune’s Trib Talk:

http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/trib-talk-uaccs-christel-swasey-vs-usoes-judy-park-on-sage-tests/

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THANKS TO BOB SCHAEFFER OF COLORADO FOR PROVIDING MOST OF THESE LINKS.

Ghanan-American Immigrant Speaks Out Against Common Core   12 comments

ALMA O  Guest Post by Alma Ohene-Opare

Raise your heads out of the dust and realize that America is great because America bucked against the status quo. Thinking a standardized and common core curriculum is innovative is like discovering water in the ocean and patting yourself on the back for it. This system is not new. Its greatest success was to create a conforming working class for the industrial revolution. It is not fit for a dynamic 21st century that needs constant innovation and the confidence to create new solutions to the problems that continue to beset and confound the smartest minds in the world. ”

Alma Ohene-Opare, now a Utahn, is originally from Accra, Ghana.  Alma came to the U.S. at age 19, primarily because of what he called “America’s innovative educational system.”   He said, “I was educated from K-12th grade in a Common-Core-like educational system.  My family (who owns and runs a private K-12 institution) battles daily because of the system.The end result is seemingly educated (on paper) graduates, with no ability to think for themselves, solve problems or innovate in any way. Parents and teachers alike have become conditioned to place the standardized tests at the forefront of education, leading to what we call in Ghana, “Chew and pour, pass and forget.” Here is his story.

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Common Core – A Failed Idea Newly Cloaked in the Robes of Good Intentions

 

My name is Alma Ohene-Opare, an alumnus of BYU and a native of Accra, Ghana. Over the past few months, I have followed with much amusement, the nationwide debate for or against the adoption and implementation of the Common Core standards. The arguments have been fierce and passionate on both sides and seem to stem from a universal desire to raise the quality of education in America. The desire is noble. However, this noble desire will not compensate for or mitigate the empirically documentable effects of the failed policy being proposed.

 

Common Core may be new to America, but to me and the thousands who have migrated to the United States to seek better educational opportunities, it is in large part the reason we came here. If you are wondering what qualifies me to make the assertions I will make in this article, know this; I am one of the few victims of a standardized national education system in Ghana, who was lucky enough to escape its impact. I am also a member of the Board of Directors of a private K-12 institution in Accra, Ghana. Golden Sunbeam Montessori School was founded by my mother in 1989 and is currently leading the fight to rid our country of an educational system that has led to the systematic degradation and deterioration of our human capital.

 

Let’s get to the core of my argument; pun intended. What Americans are calling Common Core is eerily similar to my educational experience growing up in Ghana. In Ghana, K-12th grade education was tightly controlled by the Ghana Education Service, an organization similar to the US Department of Education. From curricula to syllabi to standardized testing, the government controlled everything.

 

In 9th grade, all students, in order to progress to high school are required to take a standardized exam known as the B.E.C.E, which stands for Basic Education Certification Examination. Depending on the results of the test, each student is assigned by a computer program to a public high school without regard to his or her interests, passions or ambitions. Each student is then assigned an area of focus for the next three years. Some of the focus areas are General Science, Business Management, General Arts, Visual Arts, Home Economics, Agriculture, etc.

 

Although things may have changed slightly since I graduated, most students generally did not have a choice as to which area of focus they were assigned. The only way to get a choice was to ace the standardized exam or to call in a favor either through bribery or some other type of corruption. The students who failed miserably were usually those who attended public schools; many of whom dropped out of school entirely.

 

The process was then repeated at the end of High School with another standardized exam called the W.A.S.S.S.C.E. This exam tested your readiness for college and ultimately determined which course of study you were assigned by the government in college. I did not ace that exam and did not get admission into the state run college of my choice. Instead, I went to a private university founded by a former Microsoft employee and was found smart enough to be admitted to BYU a year later as a transfer student, to graduate with a Bachelor’s in Information Technology and to be hired right out of college as a Program Manager at Microsoft Corporation.

 

Although the education system in Ghana is not similar in all aspects to Common Core as it is being proposed today, some of the basic tenets are the same. The curriculum was controlled by an external body without input from or accountability to teachers, individual schools or parents. Some argue that teachers and parents have control in Common Core. It pains me to witness such naivety. That myth has always been an inevitable play by proponents of any centralized system. The goal is to make people think they are in control while nudging them blindly towards a perceived public interest. The truth is simple; the institution that controls the exams, controls the curriculum.

 

By controlling the standardized exams, each school in Ghana was forced to make passing the exam its primary focus rather than actual teaching and learning. Hence anything that was deemed outside the purview of the test was cast aside and treated as non-important. Extra-curricular activities were cut if not totally eliminated and the school day was lengthened to ensure that students had even more time to prepare for the test.

 

In my case, school started at 6:00 am and ended as late as 6:00 pm. We attended school on Saturdays. Even when school was out we still attended school half day. Our lives were consumed with preparation for the standardized test. We all had booklets of past tests going back 15 years. Those who anticipated failing the test registered in advance to retake the test. The value of teachers was measured solely on the performance of their students on the standardized tests. Scammers who purported to know what would appear on the tests duped schools, parents and teachers alike by selling bogus test questions. Schools with political connections always unanimously aced the tests.

 

You may wonder why nobody ever tried to change the system. The answer was simple. The government made it impossible by requiring all students who wanted to go to High School or College to take the test. Hence, any time spent trying to change the system meant time taken away from preparing for the test. Parents became completely beholden to the system and would threaten to take the kids to other schools if administrators spent any time not preparing their kids for the test.

 

Now that you have a sense of how an education system can become trapped in the death spiral of standardized tests, let me interest you with the impact of this system on actual student outcomes. In Ghana, we had a phrase to describe how we felt about standardized tests. We called it “chew and pour, pass and forget”. Translated, it means memorize, regurgitate, pass the exam and forget everything.

 

Unfortunately that has become reality for many graduates of our educational system. As my father put it in a recent petition to the Ghana Education Service, “the education system in Ghana is akin to an assembly line setup by the government to create employees for an economy largely devoid of innovation, entrepreneurship, originality or risk taking”. Because students never learn to solve problems or think critically for themselves and are largely discouraged from challenging their teachers or the status quo, they are inevitably groomed to maintain the failed traditions of the past while believing they are completely powerless to change anything. The result is the fact that even with an abundance of natural resources, the country in general continues to suffer in the doldrums of socio-economic development without any clear path out of it.

 

Recently my brother left a well-paying job in the US to return to Ghana to take over my parent’s school. He had dreams of changing the system. He imagined students groomed to become innovators and entrepreneurs. He soon learned it was impossible to achieve any of those dreams if the school was to remain subject to the rules, restrictions and common standards the government had set. The only solution was to completely abandon the system, which he fears would cause parents to withdraw their children from the school. He is now stuck in the limbo of a catch 22 but continues to fight to win students, teachers and parents over to a new beginning for the education of their children.

 

In December 2012, I returned to Ghana with my family and had the opportunity to speak to 10th grade students at the school. I gave what I thought was an inspiring speech. I proposed to start an innovation and entrepreneurship club which will employ students to identify and propose solutions to some of the problems facing the country. I promised to provide the capital and resources necessary to support these kids in this new challenge. I ended by asking the kids who were interested to write their names on a piece of paper and email it to me. It’s been more than 18 months since I returned. I have received nothing and I don’t blame them. Their parents have paid a large sum of money because they believed our school would help their kids pass the standardized exam. I was not about to distract them from that goal. What a tragedy.

 

I have personally wondered what makes Africa so uniquely challenged in its attempts at economic development especially when all the innovations needed to do so are readily available to us. I came to a personal conclusion which admittedly is not scientific but captures what I believe to be the elusive culprit. It is contentment with mediocrity and a lack of curiosity to change the status quo. The problem is not inherent in the nature of Africans but rather the imposition of an educational system that burned out the light of innovation and made us content to live on the spoils of the countries brave enough to venture into the glory of the unknown.

When I came to the US, many people would ask what the difference was between the US and Ghana. I responded that in Ghana, I could dream. In America I can do.

 

In writing this article, I am by no means endorsing the current state of public education in the United States. The problem with the system today is that the US government, aided by self-interested unions, has spent decades and billions of dollars trying to return to a system of education that America abandoned a long time ago; a system which has proven a failure in many parts of the world. Common Core is just the latest iteration of the failed system. Like a wise man once said, oh that I were an angel and could have the wish of my heart; to stand on the mountain top to warn against the path you are choosing to take. As an outsider looking in, I recognize one thing that most Americans lack. Because America has been free for so long, many have no sense of what tyranny looks like and how quickly physical and intellectual freedom can be lost on the path paved with good intentions.

 

I plead with all you well-intentioned but definitely misguided administrators, teachers and politicians. Raise your heads out of the dust and realize that America is great because America bucked against the status quo. Thinking a standardized and common core curriculum is innovative is like discovering water in the ocean and patting yourself on the back for it. This system is not new. Its greatest success was to create a conforming working class for the industrial revolution. It is not fit for a dynamic 21st century that needs constant innovation and the confidence to create new solutions to the problems that continue to beset and confound the smartest minds in the world.

 

America is desperate to find a solution to a problem that you solved decades ago. Return to originality. Put teachers and parents in charge of the education of their children. Encourage critical thinking that rejects conformity for the sake of some perceived societal benefit. Teach children to solve problems and not just to regurgitate the solutions of generations past. I have been silent too long and have now seized this opportunity to stand up for what I believe, which ironically is something I have learned from my experience in America.

 

America, I urge you to learn from the mistakes of those around because, like the plaque in my former bishop’s office read, “you may not live long enough to make all those mistakes yourself.”

 

–Alma Ohene-Opare, Salt Lake City, UT

 

 

 

Salt Lake Tribune Hosts Video Interview: Judy Park v. Christel Swasey on Common Core Aligned SAGE Tests   4 comments

This week, the Salt Lake Tribune invited Utah Assistant State Superintendent Dr. Judy Park and me to a filmed interview concerning the increasing number of Utah parents who are opting their children out of the Common Core aligned SAGE testing.  Here is the link if you want to watch the half hour at “Trib Talk.”

(I will return to this post to update it soon.  There is so much more that needed to be explained about the psychometrics that are apparent when you read the AIR (test writer) contract with Utah; about the data collection SLDS machine that is fed by student participation in SAGE and other digital testing/learning; about the need to defend teaching time and teacher professional judgment which are harmed by this testing; about the national opt out movement that is growing in strength and numbers across the nation.  I also want to transcribe some of the questions and answers, word for word, later.)

Ann Florence: Utah English Teacher Stands Up for Real Teaching and is Shut Down by Administrators   13 comments

ann f
“I am required to teach key reading comprehension strategies,  the writing process,  information-gathering skills, grammar, vocabulary, etc., etc.  But I also hope to awaken a love of reading and literature, ignite curiosity about our complex world….  “All children are gifted—some just open their presents earlier than others.” I know that every one of my students understands something I don’t and has something to tell the world that no one else ever has. I am a “treasure seeker” and “talent scout,” hoping to help young people discover the gold within themselves and each other.”

This quote is excerpted from the disclosure statement of Utah English teacher Ann Florence who has been placed on forced leave, pending probable termination.  How awful.  This beautiful quote reveals that Florence is a treasure, not some problem teacher to be forced out.   But she has been pushed out, for her act of standing up for the right to teach and the right to be judged on her actual teaching rather than endless government mandated tests.

Administrators have labeled her insubordinate.  Read the news.  See  what has happened. 

It seems to me that Ann Florence doesn’t buy the notion that teachers must give up their rights to free speech, nor give up their rights to participation in the political process, just because they are employed by the government.  She certainly doesn’t believe that teachers should give up the art of real teaching to bow to government enforced, excessive high-stakes tests that narrowly judge not only students, but teachers as well.

A year ago, Florence  wrote an op-ed voicing her concerns.  She explained (excerpt):

“Managing teachers through intimidation is not working… teachers are looking for work elsewhere. Teachers who have loved their jobs are discouraging their own children from pursuing careers in education…. we feel exhausted and demoralized by the avalanche of mandates from the state and district… While legislators constantly raise expectations and think they can motivate us by publicly posting test scores, our time for teaching has shrunk….I now administer 19 days of standardized tests, costing me an entire month of instruction. This doesn’t include the days the testing site is down or the system crashes, eating up even more days…. I am held accountable for nine months of curriculum without enough time to teach it… Granite District has required teachers to learn the new Common Core, use a new grades program (which crashes regularly), design a new honors curriculum, use a new online system requiring the scanning and posting of all assignments and a daily summary of class activities, and learn to analyze complex data … No test score reflects the number of students who return to thank a teacher, the number who fall in love with reading again, gain new confidence to speak up in class, find solace in a teacher’s support, decide to try one more time just when they want to quit…  We are tired of having our dedication reduced to a number.”

Now, the Salt Lake Tribune reports that after Florence criticized new “standardized tests as a waste of time and irrelevant to what students are being taught” she was “placed on administrative leave and may be fired.”

Her students’ response?

“Oh captain, my captain, you have taught me so much this year. The value of honesty, imagination, and freedom to express myself. I cannot thank you enough for that. You are the best teacher Wasatch could ever ask for.”

Along with the emailed poetry, students launched a petition drive, urging that Florence not be terminated.

The Tribune reported that Granite District spokesman “Ben Horsley said personnel decisions of this gravity take time to make the right choice. He said Florence has been unreasonably aggressive in demanding an answer.”

“Unreasonably aggressive” seems a more appropriate label for the policymakers at the district, state and federal levels who are intimidating and degrading the professionalism of top notch teachers while trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the public.  Shame on them.

Bravo,  Ann Florence.

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Update:  The Salt Lake Tribune reported that Ann Florence has been fired.   I sent a letter today and encourage others to write as well.  Every voice counts. Here’s mine, and contact info if you want to write too, down after the letter:

Dear Granite School District, State Board, and State Office of Education:

Granite District made news this week by firing Ann Florence, an honors English teacher who stood on principle and did what she (and I) saw as the right thing to do. I am writing to voice my support for Ann Florence’s actions and to ask the District and State Board to take action to right this wrong.
The Salt Lake Tribune reported, “Florence refused to grade the writing portion of the districtwide Acuity Test. She said the exam was a waste of students’ and teachers’ time, did not further any education agenda and that it was unethical to have teachers grade their own students on a standardized test that then would be used to judge the teacher. In a letter to her students, she said she loved her career but had to stand up for principle.”

The Acuity Test (McGraw Hill) was offering financial compensation to schools for having students take this test.

Did Granite District actually fire Ann Florence for refusing to enable the District to make money –by using children for unpaid research guinea pigs? What does “professional compliance” and “teacher ethics” really mean to the district?

Ann Florence’s opinion editorial of one year ago in the Salt Lake Tribune deserves careful re-reading. Her concerns included the non-validity of high-stakes testing because of the testing conditions provided at the school, about the push for Common Core and data analysis, and about the non-validity of reducing the whole time and dedication of a teacher to one student-test-based number, a number over which that teacher has relatively little actual control.

The Tribune also reported that this teacher was punished for speaking about her concerns with the high-stakes tests vocally, including speaking out in front of students.  Does a teacher lose her Constitutional right to freedom of speech just because she is employed by the government? Are teachers to pretend to political neutrality or should they instead be shining exemplars as vibrant participants in the American process of open debate –and sometimes also in honorable disagreement?

Furthermore, basing the heaviest “accountability measures” of state tests on the federal-corporate collusion known as Common Core State Standards, in my opinion, is not only an error but a form of academic malpractice.

Thus, any teacher who refuses to push the SAGE test on students, or refuses to give or grade the Acuity Test, or to promote other high-stakes tests that do not honestly benefit students nor teachers –tests that exist to benefit powermonering politicians and moneygrubbing corporate aims, is, in my opinion, the teacher who is ethically and morally defensible.

The Granite District has marred its honor by firing Ann Florence. The State Board and Office, by doing nothing in this teacher’s defense, are complicit in the wrong.

Christel Swasey

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Granite District Superintendent Martin Bates: mwbates@graniteschools.org

State Superintendent Dr. Martell Menlove: Martell.Menlove@schools.utah.gov

Wasatch Jr High Principal Christine Judd: crydalch@graniteschools.org

Wasatch Jr High Asst. Principal John Anderson: jcanderson@graniteschools.org

State School Board:

kbuswell@wadman.com; jensen1brit@earthlink.net; dthomas@summitcounty.org; krb84010@aol.com; dgriffiths@tannerco.com; lesliebrookscastle@gmail.com; jj@jenniferajohnson.com; heather.groom@gmail.com; crandall@xmission.com; jeffersonRmoss@gmail.com; dixieleeallen@gmail.com; markopenshaw@gmail.com; debrar@netutah.com; barbara.corry@schools.utah.gov; teresatheurer1@gmail.com; jensenmk@ldschurch.org; freddiecooper1@comcast.net; jamesvolsen@gmail.com; kelinkowski@msn.com; dbrowley@q.com;

Granite School Board:

ggandy@graniteschools.org; thbawden@graniteschools.org; clanderson@graniteschools.org; ccburgess@graniteschools.org; jmjolley@graniteschools.org; dlofgren@cowboy.us; srmeier@graniteschools.org;

Governor Herbert: http://governor.utah.gov/goca/form_comment.html (copy/paste your email into this form to send it to the Governor)

Utah legislators: http://le.utah.gov (look up by address here)

 

Leaked Letter: Panicked Common Core Creators Want Documentary Discredited –or Not Seen   9 comments

building the machine

A  revealing CCSSO letter, leaked to the public, reveals Common Core investors’ collective panic about Ian Reid’s new film, Building the Machine.

Missouri Education Watchdog and Breitbart News  reported that CCSSO deputy executive director Carissa Miller’s letter shows top Common Core moneymaking / grant-receiving businesses are combining to discredit the Common Core documentary.  Many businesses need Common Core’s claims to be believed, or they lose this gold rush.  So they’re trying to stop it, understandably.

And if the documentary is seen despite their efforts to discredit it, the groups have laid a plan to smother the truth with smooth “positive” talking points and with a soon-to-be-released documentary of their own.

If you watch the film, you’ll know why they’re panicking.   Truth is truth.

The documentary solidly wipes out the “higher standards” claims of Common Core’s creators, using filmed speeches by Common Core’s creators and funders, and using interviews with top Stanford professors, Common Core validation committee members and respected members of think tanks, both for and against Common Core.  Importantly, it shows that the real issue of education reform is not even about academics, ultimately;  it’s about power.

The CCSSO doesn’t want people to know this power struggle exists.  But it does exist.  In fact, who ends up holding decision-making power is the main conflict inside ed reform, despite all the pleasant words about education standards.

As the backers of the new documentary succinctly put it:

“…This issue is  far more than what standards public schools should use. It is about who will decide how and what our children are taught.” -William Estrada, in Breitbart interview.

You can read the leaked letter here.  You can watch the movie here.

I want to point out this part of the panic-letter:

“The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Fordham [Institute] have put together the attached two documents that can be used to clarify the vast amount of misinformation that will be circulated as a result of the movie. Please note – these are EMBARGOED until Monday, March 31st…. The U.S. Chamber is in the final stages of producing their own Common Core mini-documentary…  Below we’ve include some tips for messaging and responding to the critical questions this film may generate in your state. We will send out the Chamber video when it is released.

Regards,

Carissa

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Why do they just include “tips for messaging and responding” rather than including documentation, facts, links to contracts and legally valid, scientifically valid evidence?  Evidence is not wanted.  Only marketing, “messaging.”

carissa-moffat-miller

FYI:    Carissa is  Carissa Miller, CCSSO deputy executive director.

For newcomers:  The CCSSO is a nontransparent group that co-created the Common Core and then partnered with the federal Department of Education to collect data on a national level.  It’s the same group that openly admits it has a “commitment to disaggregation of student data.”

I call the CCSSO a “superintendents’ club”.  It does not include all state superintendents nor is it an elected body.  The CCSSO seems want the public to believe –as does its twin sister, the NGA– that it has voter-designated authority to boss states around.  It does not.  Neither has authority and neither represents voters like our Congress does.  Repeat:  CCSSO and NGA have no elected authority.  Do not be decieved by their pomp.  They are just private groups that combined to create and copyright Common Core, heavily influenced/ funded by philanthopist-turned-takeover-king Bill Gates.

If you care about the traditional American voice of the local voter setting policy, rather than having closed-door private cliques that partner with the feds setting local policy, please oppose  these  goals of the CCSSO.  Make your voice heard.  Let your State Superintendent know you want him/her to bow out of membership in this club to focus energy on local control of education.

–While you’re at it, send your superintendent a link to the movie. 

I hope every American watches it.

 

building the machine

 

 

Guest Post by the Mother of Screen Shot-Capturing Student   8 comments

Guest Post

by the mother of the Utah high school student who captured questionable screen shots of the Common Core/SAGE test

 

The minds of our children are our most precious asset. They are the most vulnerable citizens and we must protect them.

If my daughter comes to me with a questionable essay test, then I must listen to her and validate her feelings. But more than that, I felt like other parents deserve to know that kind of propaganda that is being pushed on our children.

Abraham Lincoln said,  “He who molds public sentiment goes deeper than he who enacts statues or pronounces decisions”. The public sentiment is being changed here, little by little. These high school students who were in the room with my daughter were not, for the most part, taking this essay test seriously. They thought the questions were a joke. Her daughter was offended by the claims in the articles attached to her test question.

The statement made about books and dyslexia was a complete joke. We know people who have had dyslexia and work through it. Now they are fabulous readers. Books do not discriminate against them.

Even if these questions are just being posed in some alternate universe, they are biased.

Ultimately, the reason why Common Core and SAGE tests are raising so many flags for parents is because we cannot even see the test after the fact.

Why not make test questions available to see after the tests are taken? Why does everything have to be kept secret?

Again, I say, that my daughter was not cheating. No one even felt it necessary to cheat because they were not being graded anyway.

Let’s have some common sense here. Let’s try to reason together for the safety and protection of our children from powerful men and women who want to take over our education system so they can rule the minds of our children.

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Thank you to this mother and her courageous high school daughter.

Now, another Utah mother reported that her high-school attending son took the Common Core writing test this week.

Her son saw bias in a question that was framed around the question of whether property ownership or renting is better.  (He didn’t take any screen shots.)

Some readers may not see his test question as propaganda.   I do.  Property ownership is basic to the pursuit of happiness. Americans have always seen this as true; it’s one reason we fought England in the 1770′s.  Being subservient to a landlord will never be superior to the empowerment of owning your own land, in any universe.

As Professor Boettke of George Mason University has put it, “Few concepts have been more important for human survival, yet maligned as unjust by intellectuals, as the concept of private property rights. Since at least the time of Aristotle, the superiority of private property over collective ownership in generating incentives to use scarce resources effectively has been recognized. It was a core idea of the Scottish Enlightenment thinkers such as David Hume and Adam Smith, as well as the American Revolutionaries such as Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and George Washington.”

 

But there are some today (including the test writers, apparently) who want young people to question the wisdom of property ownership.  It’s a very trendy concept within the education branch of the United Nations and elsewhere to suggest that individual property ownership is “not sustainable”.  Renting, they say, is more compassionate to Mother Earth.

Introducing this  socialist notion to impressionable minds during a secret test makes a lot of sense to those who oppose personal property ownership.  Undiscerning others think it’s fine.  They chalk it up to “critical thinking” and the humanists’ idea that truth and God don’t exist.  Yet critical-thinking humanists don’t like it when students or parents think critically about the assignments.  Ironically, thinking critically about the test is called a shutting down of critical thinking.

In the 80′s when I took high school writing tests, we were given literature-based writing assignments that were not very controversial nor politically charged, yet they demanded strong critical thinking skills –and as a bonus, the test itself exposed students to time-tested classics.

If the shift from classic literature to modern informational text hadn’t taken place, as it did under the Common Core, our students might actually have been exposed to something valuable during these tests, rather than being exposed to the ideas that video games could have more value than libraries of books, or that renting a little apartment might have more value than owning a mansion.

How dumb do they think our children are?

FULL COMMON CORE DOCUMENTARY MOVIE NOW ONLINE   11 comments

Breaking News:  The HSLDA has just released its Common Core documentary movie on its website.

It is free to watch and can be viewed in full here:  http://commoncoremovie.com/

–Or here:

Please watch and share!

 

 

UT High School Physics Teacher Resigns Over Common Core   4 comments

Utahns Against Common Core published the resignation letter of Utah high school physics teacher Stuart Harper today.  The letter is powerful.  These are the words of a noble man, and his resignation is a tragic loss to Utah’s school system.

When will our state leaders acknowledge the train wreck of Common Core and turn our state around?  When will they read and heed teachers like Stuart Harper?

Read the full letter here. 

——-

“… After much research I know that the Common Core (CC), the way it has been implemented, and the reforms which have accompanied it are wrong. They are unsound, of poor quality, take power from local government, and further empower federal agencies and policy makers. Most importantly, their enactment was unconstitutional, both in Utah and in the nation. However wrong CC may be, my reasons for resigning are only tangent to this constitutional breech. I was aware of the core before signing on, and though I did not approve of it I gave my word in contract to teach whatever curriculum I was given.

In the summer of 2013 a personal letter I had written,  stating my concerns with Common Core, was posted on the Utahns Against Common Core website. It was an opinion piece, not a scholarly review. I saw no problem with stating my opinion, it is my right as a citizen, at least so I thought.

A few months later, I was informed that the Utah State Office of Education (USOE) had learned of my published letter and was not happy with my opinions or concerns. Local school authorities were instructed to meet with me and put me back in line. During this meeting with the district representatives I was told that I was shallow, ignorant and emotional in the way I wrote my concerns and that by writing things like this I would create rebellion and insubordination across the district. I was told I can have an opinion with other state’s educational systems but as a teacher in the state of Utah I cannot be concerned with my own state’s educational affairs.

I reminded them that my intent was not to promote rebellion, but to simply encourage personal research on the subject and exercise freedom of speech on my off time, as a citizen and father. I was told “Those freedom of speech rights you are probably referring to do not apply.”

I was shocked, but I stood my ground. I made it clear that if I continued to be intimidated into silence that I would resign same day. I told them that I have given my word to teach what they want me to in the classroom and would continue, but I would also continue to use my rights as an American citizen to effect political change. They said I could share my research if I get my facts straight, but even then my job is on the line. When I told them that I would continue to research information from original sources as well as writings from those for and against Common Core they were confused. They discouraged me from seeking information from anywhere other than the USOE, and accept only their interpretations of the facts. I refused, reminding them that true education comes from educating yourself on all sides.

I was threatened on three separate occasions with professional action all because I stated my opinion. I did not resign at any of the instances where I found myself threatened because I realized that I had given my word that I would teach for the year, and I will not break my word. However I refuse to remain in an environment that clearly has no respect for the Constitutional right of free speech. I refuse to be a part of the problem.

Over the years the school system has fallen far below what it should be. The public school system is just that – public. It should represent those served by it – We the People. Each level of the system (classroom, school, district and state) fails to remember that its duty is to the people, not to the establishment. We should be representing what is in our students’ and our community’s best interest. Our current system expects acceptance and conformity to its decisions and policies by all of its teachers and administrators. Further, it expects this without questioning or voicing concerns and even goes as far as intimidating and threatening those who have differing opinions. Any society or organization that silences and discourages freedom of speech removes the possibility to express ideas, and without competing ideas we close the door on true education and open the door to tyranny.

… We have lost control of the classroom and continue to hand more and more power over to the government. Our current system no longer promotes learning, but rather focuses on training. It teaches what to think, not how to think. It is now a system of hoops for students, teachers, and administrators, and with further national control and regulations of education, these hoops have been set on fire.

I believe that until we can get education to become self-sufficient where it no longer relies on the funding and intimidation from federal and even state levels, until we can bring education back to learning how to think and not being trained for a test, and until we can bring freedom back to the individual teachers, students, and schools, our public system will continue to decay. I hope the system and its people can exercise the self discipline to do this, but where I cannot foresee this happening, my greatest hope for education now resides in home-schools, home-school groups, and in private education.

My hands are tied within this system. But I now know that I can be more productive on the outside. I will continue to promote true and correct educational principles, awareness of civic affairs, and our duty to be involved. I am going to be a part of the solution. Asking questions is the essence of education. All I encourage of others is to ask questions, seek truth and not be afraid to share that truth with other Americans who are willing to listen.

Sincerely,

Mr. Stuart Harper

Teacher, Citizen, and Father”

Reader Responses to Utah High School Student’s Screen Shots   14 comments

The Utah teenager and her mother who decided to take a stand last week by taking screen shots and sharing them with the public  –photos of the SAGE/Common Core writing test,  hit some raw nerves.  Over a hundred comments were added here, with more posted on Facebook, and almost a hundred thousand views of those screen shots were logged in a few days.

Why? Reasons ranged and tempers flared:   Was the act of sharing screen shots heroic– or was it cheating? Was the test itself fair –or manipulative?  Should the student be failed and the teacher who didn’t see or stop her be fired?  Was the blog posting itself fair or manipulative?  Is this all evidence of an improved education system that creates deep-thinking students, or the very opposite?

A few of the responders words are worth repeating and are posted below.

———

Former teacher Laureen Simper wrote:

“Author Ray Bradbury could have used a SAGE test with a prompt like this, in his book “Farenheit 451″. As another commenter mentioned, Bradbury wrote:  ‘There is more than one way to burn a book. And the world is full of people running around with lit matches.’

“I have questioned the motives of central educational planners for years, ever since I had school-aged children. That was when I learned about John Dewey, when “Common Core” was going by the name du jour: “Outcome-Based Education“. That was when I read the original Humanist Manifesto.    John Dewey was one of the original drafters/signers of what I recognized as an anti-God constitution.  I learned that secular humanism and progressivism were the idealogies driving education “reform”.

“Progressive central planners continually repackage education reform when “the ignorant masses” figure out what the true motive is: to manage the lives of those ignorant masses, because they’re seen as too ignorant to manage their  lives for themselves. Sadly, as long as a shell game can continually be played with shifting appellations, all the sleepy little frogs go back to sleep, as our nice warm bath continues to heat up.

“The agenda to shift public thinking away from self-government started at least as early as the early 20th century. The Intercollegiate Socialist Society was founded in 1905. Its original members believed that 60 college campuses were enough leavening to turn social thinking towards government dependence.

“Originally, the movement focused on higher education. Woodrow Wilson, former president of Princeton, said that the goal of higher education should be for a young man to come out of university as unlike his father as possible.

“But the plan was not limited to changing graduates of higher education. John Dewey, a few decades later, said that the influences of the home and family are properly challenged (by “steadying” ) in the government schools. This came from the “father” of modern education.

“Those who have not connected the same dots will disagree.  But I’ve read what I’ve read and heard what I’ve heard – straight from the mouths of the arrogant progressive central planners.

“Their motives are not pure. They plan to manage our lives of the ignorant masses, because they think that people are  too stupid or too lazy to govern themselves.  And the education reformers’ answer is not Jefferson’s answer:   ‘…If we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. ‘ –Thomas Jefferson, 1820

“Education reformers today, from Dewey to Coleman, seem to feel that the best answer is to wrest that self-government from the people.

“It is a big deal that a 16-year-old kid risked photographing test questions, knowing what kind of retribution could be brought to bear if she were caught.

“It is a big deal that a mother, equally aware of that retribution, would get those photos into the hands of a group of warriors who have connected the same dots I have connected – putting these test prompts into a completely different, stark, sobering context.

“Those who are screaming that anti-Common Core crusaders are taking these test questions out of context need to ask themselves if it is not they, themselves, who are taking them out of context.”    –Laureen Simper

——————

Another commenter, Michelle, wrote:

“And this is how they test “critical thinking skills”: “Your argument must be based on ideas, concepts, and information that can be determined through analysis of the four passages.” Students must base their argument on four passages alone. No room for their own ideas. No place for the inclusion of information outside of those four passages. No opportunity to question the ideas and information given in the passages.

“One of the selections is a blog post. Yes, a blog post. “Why playing videogames better than reading books.” (That wasn’t a typo; that is the title of the post as written on the actual blog site.)  I wonder if they don’t refer to Wikipedia articles as well in other test questions.

“The other selection is from Steven Johnson’s book, “Everything Bad is Good for You” which, according to a review by The Guardian, asserts that TV, film, and video games make us smarter, yet the assertion fails miserably to back up those claims with actual science.

“So apparently, when Common Core proponents speak of “critical thinking skills” they don’t actually mean teaching children to think for themselves or to critically analyze arguments presented in selections of informational text or even to carefully select reliable and credible sources on which to gather information to form arguments. Instead, they mean teaching children to write argumentative essays by cutting and pasting information and ideas from blog posts and pseudo-science.

Our poor children.”

—————

A dad named Jared wrote:

“I review hundreds of ELA books & tests every year.  I am seeing these kinds of two-sided “opinion” reading/writing assignments all the time now. Here’s how to recognize it:
- ‘Two sides’ of a controversial/political/social/environmental/values-oriented subject are presented.
- The material is billed as “balanced” because “two sides” of an issue are presented.
- The student reads both sides, then writes an essay promoting one side.

“… these kinds of “opinion” writing assignments are subject to bias by nature, because the author/publisher controls the entire argument.  In the examples I have seen, the author typically gives a reasonable-sounding Opinion A, and an unreasonable (straw man) Opinion B. The child naturally gravitates toward the more reasonable-sounding argument, and thinks she logically came to her own conclusion.

“If test question writers wanted to test a child’s writing ability, while avoiding straw men and indoctrination (intended or otherwise), they could simply avoid controversial subjects for their material.  Why don’t they?”

AP History Changes Lean Toward a Negative American Perspective   3 comments

Just sharing Wyoming teacher Christy Hooley’s article.

Negative changes have been made to AP History, which analysts are calling “a curricular coup that sets a number of dangerous precedents…”

Read it here:

AP History Changes Lean Towards a Negative American Perspective.

Utah High School Student Captures Screen Shots of the Anti-Book Common Core Test   141 comments

A Utah High School student took the Common Core (SAGE) test this week.  Seeing objectionable issues in that test, she thought her mother should know.  The student took screen shots using her cell phone and sent them to her mother.  Her mother passed them along to us.

The question given in this test asks whether book literacy is inferior to the playing of video games.  Read it.  Most of the passages that students must refer to, claim that literature is inferior, that it forces passivity or discriminates, while video games teach students how to be leaders.

Long live grunts and smoke signals.

The articles student must refer to in taking this test make the following devilish assertions: “books understimulate the senses” and “books are downright discriminatory” and books are “choreographed by another person [while video games are not]“.

These are mean pushes toward valuing video gaming instead of books –and they precisely match the pushy philosophy of Common Core creator-turned College Board President David Coleman.  They also match the philosophy of Microsoft Owner/ Common Core funder Bill Gates. So it is no surprise. It’s still sickening.

In this “writing test” there is no mention (at least in these screen shots that we have) of any of the countless positive values of reading books: no value seen in the joy of receiving a story; no value in exposure to expressive vocabulary and imagination; no value to learning traditional spelling, composition or grammar competencies which hinge on book reading. There’s no mention of the value of learning humanity’s patterns by reading complex character studies in literature. There’s no mention of poetry, of the beauty of words, of the importance of cherishing our shared cultural history. There’s no mention of the truth that voracious readers become voracious learners and expressive writers.

Nope. It’s just down with books.  If this philosophy isn’t an example of the erosion of students’ exposure to traditional knowledge, and of the dumbing down and impoverishment of school children, I don’t know what is.

What would the future would look like if students actually swallowed and lived by such a philosophy? Speaking, writing, spelling, and reading would utterly devolve.  So this high school student’s choice to capture the test’s philosophies and expose them was an important act of civil disobedience.

Thoreau’s classic book, Civil Disobedience, says that individuals should prioritize conscience when conscience collides with law.  Benjamin Franklin put it this way: Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God.  Parents, teachers and students are dealing with the tyranny of the Common Core’s wrong-headed philosophies and with the tyranny of a now-national education system that’s oppressing individual conscience.

Think it through.  Utah’s  law affirms the authority of a parent to have the final say over what a student will learn.  But education policies have become tangled to the point that today, only a 15-member parent panel has been allowed to look at the test questions, and these 15 are sworn to confidentiality.  Even after the test, no one gets to see what was tested.  Ever. Remember, too, that no parent or teacher –or even a legislator– was ever consulted prior to adoption of the standards upon which the test is based. The state school board alone mandated Utah’s adoption of the standards.  The test and its standards are experimental, but no parent was asked whether any of this was okay.

Confidentiality surrounding high stakes tests makes sense in that it prevents future test-takers from knowing what the questions are so that they can not have an advantage over students who took the test without knowing these questions ahead of time.  But there’s a problem when, at NO time, even months after the test, a parent may ever see what was shown to the child or asked of the child on that test.

This is an especially big problem in 2014, when much of what passes for education is blatant political or social indoctrination.

Case in point: the following screen shots.

 

sage screenshot 7 sage screenshot 6 sage screenshot 4 sage screenshot 3 sage screenshot 2 sage screenshot 1

sage screenshot 8

Update:  Utahns Against Common Core has published  screen shots of school worksheets submitted by a third grade teacher.  These worksheets feature the same promotion of video games seen in the SAGE test, but with a parents-don’t-know-what’s-up tone.

With Bill Gates, the Common Core promoter and funder  and Microsoft owner,  pushing for video gaming in schools, one must wonder whether these worksheets and test items’ focus on video gaming being so important in schools, is a coincidence or is profit-driven.

video games screen shot 3rd grade

video games screen shot also

Video: Susan Kimball, Kindergarten Teacher: Too Much Assessing and Not Enough Teaching Under Common Core   3 comments

 

Susan Kimball, an elementary school teacher, testified to the legislature that:

In a professional development meeting inservice in November and at a faculty meeting in January, we were told in my building, and I quote: ‘Be careful about what you post on Facebook or talk about in public regarding Common Core.  Don’t say anything negative. It could affect your job.’

“So even though many teachers were hating the Common Core curriculum, they would not voice their opinon to anyone. So I began speaking out –trying to educate and inform anyone who was willing to listen.  When I turned in a personal day request to come to support the rally for House Bill 1490, I was asked by my principal, ‘Do you really want that in your personnel file?’ 

“And then I was bullied and ostracized by my administration, a few other teachers, and the president of the school board, and that continues today.

” I was denied the use of a personal day to appear here today, so I will lose my much-needed pay for the day.  I need my job and I love my kids.  But I feel it is that important to get Common Core out of our state…

“We teachers had no say in the Common Core standards being adopted in our school districts… “

“…The lessons are developmentally inappropriate and are not research-based or written by teachers. It has been heart wrenching to watch my students’ frustration… especially when I know better from all of my years of teaching, that this is not appropriate, but I am powerless to do anything.”

The teacher also testified that even her gifted, extremely high-I.Q. student could not possibly do what was being expected of her as a kindergartener in the Common Core curriculum, and neither –of course– could her kindergarten peers.

“We are doing way too much assessing and not enough teaching, especially in the lower grades… I can tell you which of my kids fall where without looking at the data.  I don’t need the tests to know what my kids need to know.  And the frustration of Common Core for me, is it has taken away all the fun out of learning.  The lessons are very boring to a young child.  We aren’t able to do what is interesting to our kids…. it’s very frustrating to the teachers and the students.”

“I don’t know what I’m going to face when I go home.  That’s why I’m so nervous and it’s so hard for me to speak, because you have no idea what I have been through over the past six weeks of my stand.  And the reason I took this stand is because it was right for my kids. They’re my main priority –and I thought it was every teacher’s priority.”

Brilliant Teachers Expose Federal-Corporate Connivance   2 comments

school

First, here’s a list.

It’s a smattering of teachers’ names with links to what they have said or spoken.  Their experience and research make a powerful, nearly unarguable case for stopping corporate-federal Common Core.  They are current teachers, retired teachers, and teachers-turned-professors-or-administrators.

Malin Williams, Mercedes Schneider, Christy HooleyPeter Greene, Susan Kimball, Paul BogushLaurie Rogers,  Paul Horton, Gerald Conti, Alan Singer, Kris Nielsen, Margaret Wilkin, Renee Braddy, Sandra Stotsky, J. R. Wilson  Amy Mullins, Susan Wilcox, Diane Ravitch, Susan Sluyter, Joseph Rella, Christopher Tienken, Jenni White,  David Cox, Peg Luksik,  Sinhue Noriega, Susan Ohanian, Pat Austin, Cami Isle, Terrence Moore, Carol Burris, Stan Hartzler, Orlean Koehle, Nakonia HayesBarry Garelick, Heidi Sampson; also, here’s a young, un-named teacher who testified in this filmed testimony, and  an unnamed California teacher/blogger.

Notice that these teachers come from all sides of the  political spectrum.   It turns out that neither Democrats nor Republicans relish having their rights and voices trampled.

And alongside those individual voices are teacher groups. To name a handful:  the Left-Right Alliance,   132 Catholic Professors Against Common Core,  the United Opt Out teachers, the BadAss Teachers, Utah Teachers Against Common Core,  Conservative Teachers of America,  and over 1,100   New York professors. 

These teachers have really, really done their homework.

I’m going to share the homework of one brilliant teacher, a Pennsylvania teacher/blogger named Peter Greene who wrote  about what he called his “light bulb moment” with how the Common Core Standards exist to serve data mining.

Speaking of the millions of data points being collected “per day per student,” he explained:

“They can do that because these are students who are plugged into Pearson, and Pearson has tagged every damn thing. And it was this point at which I had my first light bulb moment. All that aligning we’ve been doing, all that work to mark our units and assignments and, in some places, every single work sheet and assignment so that we can show at a glance that these five sentences are tied to specific standards– all those PD [professional development] afternoons we spent marking Worksheet #3 as Standard LA.12.B.3.17– that’s not, as some of us have assumed, just the government’s hamfisted way of making sure we’ve toed the line.  It’s to generate data.  Worksheet #3 is tagged LA.12.B.3.17, so that when Pat does the sheet his score goes into the Big Data Cloud as part of the data picture of pat’s work. (If you’d already figured this out, forgive me– I was never the fastest kid in class).”

Peter Greene further explained why the common standards won’t be decoupled from the data collection.  His words explain why proponents cling so doggedly to the false claim that these Common Core standards are better academically (despite the lack of research-based evidence to support that claim and the mounting, on-the-job evidence to the contrary.)

He wrote:

Don’t think of them as standards. Think of them as tags.

“Think of them as the pedagogical equivalent of people’s names on facebook, the tags you attach to each and every photo that you upload.

“We know from our friends at Knewton what the Grand Design is– a system in which student progress is mapped down to the atomic level. Atomic level (a term that Knewton lervs deeply) means test by test, assignment by assignment, sentence by sentence, item by item. We want to enter every single thing a student does into the Big Data Bank.

“But that will only work if we’re all using the same set of tags.

“We’ve been saying that CCSS [Common Core Standards] are limited because the standards were written around what can be tested. That’s not exactly correct. The standards have been written around what can be tracked.

“The standards aren’t just about defining what should be taught. They’re about cataloging what students have done.

“Remember when Facebook introduced emoticons. This was not a public service. Facebook wanted to up its data gathering capabilities by tracking the emotional states of users. But if users just defined their own emotions, the data would be too noisy, too hard to crunch. But if the user had to pick from the facebook standard set of user emotions– then facebook would have manageable data.

“Ditto for CCSS. If we all just taught to our own local standards, the data noise would be too great. The Data Overlords need us all to be standardized, to be using the same set of tags. That is also why no deviation can be allowed. Okay, we’ll let you have 15% over and above the standards. The system can probably tolerate that much noise. But under no circumstances can you change the standards– because that would be changing the national student data tagging system, and THAT we can’t tolerate.

“This is why the “aligning” process inevitably involves all that marking of standards onto everything we do. It’s not instructional. It’s not even about accountability. It’s about having us sit and tag every instructional thing we do so that student results can be entered and tracked in the Big Data Bank.

“And that is why CCSS [Common Core] can never, ever be decoupled from anything. Why would facebook keep a face tagging system and then forbid users to upload photos?

“The Test does not exist to prove that we’re following the standards. The standards exist to let us tag the results from the Test.

“… Because the pedagogical fantasy delineated by the CCSS does not match the teacher reality in a classroom, the tags are applied in inexact and not-really-true ways. In effect, we’ve been given color tags that only cover one side of the color wheel, but we’ve been told to tag everything, so we end up tagging purple green. When a tagging system doesn’t represent the full range of reality, and it isn’t flexible enough to adapt, you end up with crappy tagging. And that’s the CCSS…   Decoupling? Not going to happen. You can’t have a data system without tagging, and you can’t have a tagging system with nothing to tag. Education and teaching are just collateral damage in all this, and not really the main thing at all.”

Read more here.

——————-

I’ll add more two points in support of Peter Greene’s words:

1-  First, the creators of Common Core and its copyright have openly stated that they work toward both academic standards’ commonality and data standards’ commonality –I suppose for the very reasons Greene outlined.  Check out the Common Education Data Standards (CEDS) –a Department of Education/private CCSSO partnered enterprise,  here.

2– Second, the federal grants that the states all swallowed, the data mining capability-hooks embedded in the juicy worm of funding, called “State Longitudinal Database System” grants, did specify that states MUST use interoperable data standards (search for SIF Framework, PESC model, CEDS standards, NDCM model) to track educational progress.

In other words, the 50 individual states’ database systems were designed so that they can, if states are foolish enough to do so, fully pool student and workforce data for governments or corporations– on an national or international level.

 

 

Frequently Asked Questions About Opting a Child Out of Common Core (SAGE) Tests   Leave a comment

Reblogged from Wendy Hart’s blog.

applebook - Copy

(Wendy Hart is a current member of the Alpine School Board, Alpine, Utah.  She is running for re-election.  Please, if you live in ASD District, vote for her, as she is one of the few truly courageous, truly principled, outspoken and extremely knowledgable school board members in the entire state of Utah.)

 

SAGE State Tests

FAQ

Can I opt out of testing?  I was told that it was required that my student take the SAGE test. The schools are legally required to administer the test (http://le.utah.gov/code/TITLE53A/htm/53A01_061100.htm).  The parents are not legally required to have their kids take the test.  You may also cite matters of conscience, if you so choose, in opting your child out.
If I opt out, will my student receive a non-proficient score?
Yes and no.  Yes, the state will provide the districts with a score of a 1 for all opt outs on SAGE.  The districts can remove this information before inputting it into their computer system.  Alpine School District will remove the non-proficient score.  For more information on this question, click here. In short, the non-proficient score will not be used in any way by the district that could negatively affect your kid.
Will schools become failing schools?  What does the 95% participation rate mean?
Students who formally opt out and aren’t just absent for 6 weeks, will NOT affect the 95% participation rate required under the federal No Child Left Behind law.  Students who are absent will affect the participation rate.  If a school doesn’t obtain a 95% participation rate, they are considered failing under No Child Left Behind.  (So opt out.  Don’t just keep them home for 6 weeks.)
Does opting out punish teachers or schools?
Unfortunately, yes.  However, the State Office of Education has indicated they will adjust their grading system if enough kids are opted out that it negatively impacts teachers and schools.  So, if your student opts out and would normally pass the test, instead of getting whatever score they normally would receive, the State Board has indicated a 1 (non-proficient) will be used in place of a non-score for purposes of teacher and school grades.  This is unfair, wrong, and completely inaccurate.  If you opt your kid out, contact the State Board and ask them to change their grading system.  Reassure your teacher that you are doing this, and ask him/her to contact the State Board as well.
Will my school lose funding if I opt out?
Schools do not have any funding tied to the tests.  There are No Child Left Behind consequences should a school fall below the 95% participation rate (see above).  But opting out doesn’t affect that rate.  While state law requires school and teacher grading, there is no funding WHATSOEVER tied to those grades. How do I opt out? Communicate with your teacher(s) and your principal(s) about your wishes, in writing.  Ask the teacher(s) how they would like to handle it.  In one instance, a teacher provided a paper and pencil final exam to my kid.  In another instance, I was provided the testing schedule and asked to check my student out.  Be willing to do whatever the teacher requests, as he/she is working to fulfill your desires in your child’s best interest.  Alpine School District has provided an opt out form on the website (https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B4LZ8teFSo0fcVBfei1tSGgwcDVjUWpKZTFQV0hXd1JxRjZz/edit)
Will the teacher lose his/her job?
No. Any district or charter school that would incorrectly assign blame to a teacher for the actions of the parents exercising their natural rights to direct the education of their child in this matter has a board and an administration who need to be replaced. The State Office of Education (see above) has indicated they will change the rules on school grading (something the State Board of Education could do at any time) should it negatively impact schools and teachers.
Why won’t the State Board change their grading system now?  Why are they waiting?
There is no formal reasoning that I’m aware of.  This is the way it’s always been done.  Ask them why they won’t.  If they won’t do it, my only possible conclusion is they want to force parents to comply with taking the tests, and are using the teachers and schools as leverage against parents. It also creates a bad system where they are, unfortunately, creating adversaries of the two entities, parents and teachers, who should be working together for a child’s education.  Explain this to your child’s teacher.  Please write the State Board and ask them to change the grading system.
With all these hoops and pressure, why do some parents want to opt out?  Why not just go along?
There are many reasons why parents would want to opt out.  Some of them are:

  • Data privacy isn’t guaranteed.
  • Opposition to high-stakes testing.
  • Opposition to teacher/school grading, based on a single test
  • Inability to view test questions
  • Discomfort with the mission and contract of our test provider, American Institutes for Research
  • Concern of the possible use of behavioral indicators (not prohibited by state law or by the contract)
  • Concern that a teacher’s professional judgement and interaction over 180 days in a classroom will be reduced to a single set of scores on a test that parents don’t control
  • Reducing classroom instruction to teaching to the test, or ONLY to the standards.
  • Individual concerns: student IEP’s, test anxiety, etc

Just because a parents doesn’t want their student to take the test doesn’t mean that we, as a society, must agree with  and approve of that parent’s reasons.  State Code says: ” Under both the United States Constitution and the constitution of this state, aparent possesses a fundamental liberty interest in the care, custody, and management of the parent’s children.” It is your right and your responsibility to properly care for your child.  In a free country, that means you shouldn’t need the State’s permission to decide your child won’t take a test.

References: March 11, 2014 Alpine School Board Study Session: http://board.alpineschools.org/march-11-2014-board-meeting/ (Additional Media, Study Session, bottom of page) Sept. 10, 2013 Alpine School Board Study Session: http://board.alpineschools.org/september-10-2013-board-meeting/ (Additional Media, Study Session, bottom of page) State Office of Education Guidelines on Student Test Participation http://www.schools.utah.gov/assessment/Adaptive-Assessment-System/StudentTestParticipationPolicy.aspx
————–
Thank you, Wendy Hart.

Top Ten Scariest People in Education Reform # 3: Marc Tucker   2 comments

Top Ten Scariest People in Education Reform:

#3

Marc Tucker, President of National Center on Education and the Economy

tucker

Countdown # 3

This is the seventh in a countdown series of introductions, a list of the top ten scariest people leading education in America.  For number 4, number 5, number 6, number 7,  number 8number 9 and number 10,  click here.

Just like like the others on this Top Ten list, Marc Tucker comes across as a nice guy; he carries no pitchfork, wears no horns, debates politely.

Yet Marc Tucker has openly worked for decades to  “strengthen the role of the state education agencies in  education governance at the expense of “local control”  and insists that “the United States will have to largely abandon the beloved emblem of American education: local control.” (See links below.)  He wants to alter the actual quality of U.S. education, also.  For example, he hopes to remove “the policy of requiring a passing score on an Algebra II exam for high school graduation” because he feels that overeducating the masses is a waste of collective tax money.

These goals and others are published by Tucker at the National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE) and  the Center for American Progress.    The NCEE, the organization over which he presides, is paid millions  to promote these damaging ideas by Common Core main-funder Bill Gates.

Tucker’s ideas have garnered widespread acceptance.  He speaks at countless education conferences; for example, he’s spoken at the Annenberg Institute,  the Public Education and Business Coalition, at Kentucky’s Conference on the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, the Aspen Institute, at numerous colleges  and universities and has testified to state legislatures about education.

And these ideas are nothing new.  In Tucker’s infamous 1992 letter to Hillary Clinton, now part of the Congressional Record, he outlined his vision of a communist-styled pipeline of education and workforce that would control individuals from early childhood through workforce.  He and Hillary shared the vision: “to remold the entire American system for human resources development…  This is interwoven with a new approach to governing… What is essential is that we create a seamless web…  from cradle to grave and is the same system for everyone — young and old, poor and rich, worker and full-time student. It needs to be a system… guided by clear standards… regulated on the basis of outcomes…” 

Can anyone distinguish between that Tucker quote and actual, literal  Communism for me? I see no difference.

That was in 1992.  It seemed conspiratorial at that time.  But it’s openly pursued today by Tucker and by his associates on the Top Ten Scariest list).

Fast forward to 2007.

In a report entitled “Tough Choices for Tough Times” Tucker’s NCEE implied that America had the constitutional authority, and suggested that America should: develop national standards, tests and curriculum;  create “personal competitiveness accounts,”should “create regional competitveness authorities,” should provide “universal early childhood education,” should tie teacher evaluation to teacher pay, and more.  Remember, Common Core national standards weren’t adopted by the majority of states (or even offered via the Race to the Top grant) until 2009-2010.  But Tucker had this going on long ago.

Fast forward to 2013.

The Center for American Progress published this report in which Tucker asserted, among other things, that “the United States will have to largely abandon the beloved emblem of American education: local control.”

Here’s a little taste of what his report proposed:

If Americans are  going to decide which level of government we want to run our education systems,  the only realistic choice is the state. No one wants a national education system  run by the federal government, and the districts cannot play that  role.    [Why wouldn't local school districts serve in that controlling role? --Too "we the people" for Mr. Tucker, perhaps?]

…Each state needs to consolidate in its state department of  education the policymaking and implementation authority that now resides in a  welter of state-level commissions, agencies, and other independent  bodies.  And the United States will have to largely  abandon the beloved emblem of American education: local control. If the goal is  to greatly increase the capacity and authority of the state education agencies,  much of the new authority will have to come at the expense of local  control.

….I  propose to greatly strengthen the role of the state education agencies in  education governance, at the expense of “local control…”   The line of political accountability would run to mayors and  governors through their appointees…  governance of the  schools, higher education, early child- hood education and youth services would  all be closely coordinated through the governance system… I propose that a new  National Governing Council on Education be established, composed of  representatives of the states and of the federal government, to create the  appropriate bodies…”

Did Tucker really think that “we, the people” would roll over and give in to his constitution-slaughtering dream to end local control and to permit governmental tyranny over education?

Don’t go refill your soda yet.  There’s more.

In 2013, Marc Tucker also put out this document at the National Center on Education and the Economy, that says out loud that it’s not important under Common Core to have high educational standards in high school; that it’s silly to waste time educating all high school graduates as high as the level of Algebra II.

Tucker thus pushed for an emphasis on the lowest common denominator, while also marketing Common Core as a push for “rigorous” academics.

Read for yourself:

“Mastery of Algebra II is widely thought to be a prerequisite for success in college and careers. Our research shows that that is not so… Based on our data, one cannot make the case that high school graduates must be proficient in Algebra II to be ready for college and careers. The high school mathematics curriculum is now centered on the teaching of a sequence of courses leading to calculus that includes Geometry, Algebra II, Pre-Calculus and Calculus. However, fewer than five percent of American workers and an even smaller percentage of community college students will ever need to master the courses in this sequence in their college or in the workplace… they should not be required courses in our high schools. To require these courses in high school is to deny to many students the opportunity to graduate high school because they have not mastered a sequence of mathematics courses they will never need. In the face of these findings, the policy of requiring a passing score on an Algebra II exam for high school graduation simply cannot be justified.”

So, Tucker’s NCEE report goes on to say that traditional high school English classes, with their emphasis on classic literature and personal, narrative writing, is useless. The report says that Common Core will save students from the worthless classics with its emphasis on technical subjects and social studies via the dominance of informational text in the Common Core classroom:

The Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts (CCSSE) address reading in history/social studies as well as science and technical subjects, and in so doing may increase the relevance of high school instruction.”

Did you catch that?  Tucker and the NCEE  just trashed English literature, calling it irrelevant. And, in calling classic literature and personal writing irrelevant, he underscores the socialist mentality: that only job prep matters, only the collective economy, not the mind and soul of the individual.

In 2014, Marc Tucker wrote an article entitled “On Writing” in which he suggested the country should “hold our teachers accountable for the quality of student writing” –saying that incentivizing teachers would increase college level literacy.  (To Tucker, teachers and students seem to be lab rats.  Hand out larger government chunks of cheese and the rats will do whatever you like.)

Teacher Mercedes Schneider shredded Tucker’s “On Writing” arguments hereSandra Stotsky,  Cherilyn Eagar Diane Ravitch, Paul Horton and  Susan Ohanian have written important points about Marc Tucker as well.

Lastly, for those who follow the money trail:  Marc Tucker and his NCEE have accepted many millions from Common Core-builder/funder Bill Gates. So has the Tucker-publishing, CommonCore – friendly Center for American Progress.

Run Baby Run (Baking Cookies Isn’t Saving The Nation Fast Enough)   2 comments

  1.  
    ezra
    Did you know that even if you are lazy,  sick or out of town and won’t attend your local Caucus meeting –It’s THURSDAY FOR UTAH’S GOP– still, you can vote and you can even still RUN for an office!?  Just pre-file to vote or to run, here:   http://www.utgop.org
    vote
    (If you don’t attend that night, you will need to print out a ballot the night before the Caucus, or the day of, and have your neighbor bring it for you, along with a photocopy of your drivers’ license or other I.D.)
    vote 2
    The fact that there are so many unopposed county delegate, state delegate, and local school board seats open in Utah County, Wasatch County –and probably in every county– utterly unopposed– is completely sad.
    cookies
    We serve in our homes and in our churches and we justify that service as being enough.  It is wonderful, but it is not enough.  Not in 2014. Our country is falling apart because in each locality, the best people are too shy or too busy or too embarrassed to run and to serve in public offices.   We just bake more and more cookies.  They are delicious, but I am pretty sure that they do not save our nation as quickly as running for and serving in public offices can.
    usa
    A friend who lives in Utah County and who chooses to be anonymous, wrote this:   “For every person who thinks they can’t run, I’m here to beg you to do it anyway…  Facebook it.   The  biggest, best, and most effective way for anyone to impact education, even with the centralization that we have, would be to ‘en masse’ get different school board members in, locally. We have seen the legislature will never act without backing from the local boards. The State Board has no motivation (and the reality is it is too far away from the people to be accountable with the amount of power it possesses) to change. But even if no one wins. Even if the people reject the message of local control, it does move the needle. It shows that every person needs to be involved and responsible. At the very least, local school board elections provide a ready-made platform for issues (debate, newspapers, direct mail pieces, websites). It allows the rest of the people to hear a different perspective other than who loves the kids most. It allows for an opportunity to speak truth to power, and, if successful, actually change the direction of this state, more than legislation or replacing state school board members. The rightful power over education lies in the local school boards truly representing the parents of their communities. Until the people actually want the power back, it will continue to be centralized, concentrated and taken away from parents and local communities. This is the line in the sand.gandalf“This is, as Gandalf says, where “You shall not pass.” This is the opportunity to speak the truth that PARENTS must be in charge of their kids’ education. They we can’t abdicate this responsibility to the ‘experts’. People don’t believe it anymore. They think their kids must get the education the experts demand. They may feel uncomfortable with some things and not knowing what’s going on, but we have been conditioned to believe that it isn’t our responsibility.”There is no single issue that is more important in the next 4 days, than finding, preferably in all 41 districts, people to run. There should be no seat that doesn’t have opposition. I apologize again, because when I asked and cajoled about this 6 months ago, I didn’t follow up. I didn’t feel that it was my responsibility. But I realize that we are all in the same boat: we don’t believe it’s our job. We hope someone will step up to the plate.”Once upon a time, in this country, public service was seen the way our culture and our religion value religious callings. You didn’t say no, and you felt it should be shared. Somehow, we think that running for office is something other people should do; that it takes a particular mindset or temperament; that it shouldn’t be a sacrifice. It is service. It’s supposed to be a sacrifice! To quote Thomas Paine, “it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated.” We who choose to live in liberty must bear the pains of supporting it.”There are 11 school board seats up in Utah County alone. Of those 11, 2 in Provo don’t even have a candidate yet. All but 2, are currently unopposed. With all due respect, I can’t believe there are only 3 people in Utah County that feel the need to stand up for something other than the status quo. We, the people, don’t deserve local control because we don’t show by our actions that we really want it.“We have greater potential right now, in the next 96 hours, than we’ve had in the last 2 years, of returning control of education back to the people. If you know anyone in one of these areas, call them and ask them to run. Don’t take no for an answer.”

    Amen to my friend’s words.

    Here are words from another wise soul:

    “God intended men to be free…  No nation which has kept the commandments of God has ever perished, but I say to you that once freedom is lost, only blood – human blood – will win it back.”  - Ezra T. Benson - October 26, 1979 )

    Running for political office is not a show of vanity and ambition –or shouldn’t be– but it’s a willingness to help bear the burden to uphold our freedoms with simple, good decision making. There are small, easy, local positions that take very little time. There are larger positions, too, for which you do not need to have an advanced degree or experience. You should have a love of liberty, of constitutional local control, and a sense of wisdom and morality. That’s it.

    Run, baby, run.

    PLEASE SHARE.

Gates is Funding U.S. Department of Education Directly   3 comments

Here’s a must-read.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is accepting the “philanthopy” of Bill Gates, putting our nation and its children directly in Gates’ deep pocket.

Not okay.  Wake up, America.   Our rights and voice are being buried under truckload after truckload of government-embraced corporate “philanthopy.”

And thank you, Mercedes Schneider. (I want to point out that Ms. Schneider, the author of this research, is a teacher.)

Read her research on the subject here:

Gates Is Funding U.S. Department of Education Conferences and “Innovations”.

UT Associate Superintendent Park Responds to Open Letter on Student Data Privacy   3 comments

judy park

Yesterday, UT Associate Superintendent Judy Park responded to an open letter  (posted below) that I sent a week ago.  I had sent the letter to support St. George parents who want to opt children out of the standardized testing.

Ms. Park’s response was a one-sentence email message that included a link to a graphic, also posted below, under the open letter.

She did not respond to the vital issues brought up in the letter, nor did her graphic reveal, despite its little red lock-icons (labeled “secure“) –any actual laws or proper policy protections that exist to make our students’ data secure from inter-agency and vendor sharing.  No such laws, that I am aware of, yet exist in Utah.

——————————-

Here’s my letter:

Dear Associate Superintendent Judy Park,

Recently, you wrote (and were quoted in a letter sent out by a St. George charter school to the parents –a letter that aimed to prevent parents from opting children out of the Common Core testing– the following:

“The advocates of anti-common core are falsely accusing USOE and schools and districts of collecting and storing data that is “behavioral data and non-academic personal information”. They have no real evidence or examples to support this claim. The only data that is collected and maintained is the specific data required by state and federal law.”

Here’s unfortunate evidence to the contrary, Ms. Park.  First there is a Utah law about Common Core standardized tests. This law, HB15, created in 2012, requires the collection of behavior indicators. It calls for “ the use of student behavior indicators in assessing student performance” as part of the testing. This is Utah’s S.A.G.E. –aka Common Core or A.I.R.– test.

But another law  (HB177) has been requiring, from the 2002-03 school year on, “the use of student behavior indicators in assessing student performance.” Since 2002!

2. Utah has paid at least $39 million to the AIR company to write its Common Core-aligned standardized tests:  American Institutes for Research”s  mission:  “AIR’s mission is to conduct and apply the best behavioral and social science research and evaluation…

Are we to believe that although AIR’s purpose is to test behavioral and social indicators, and although Utah laws say that the test must note behavioral indicators, the AIR test still won’t?

3. Utah’s SLDS grant application talks about authorizing de-identification of data for research and says that individuals will be authorized to access personal student information in the various Utah agencies that belong to UDA. (Who are these individuals?  Why does the UDA trust them with information that parents weren’t even told was being gathered on our children?)

Starting at page 87 on that same SLDS federal application, we read how non-cognitive behaviors that have nothing to do with academicswill be collected and studied by school systems.  These include “social comfort and integration, academic conscientiousness, resiliency, etc.” to be evaluated through the psychometric census known as the “Student Strengths Inventory. (SSI)”  That SSI inventory –my child’s psychological information– will be integrated into the system (SLDS).  Nonacademic demographic and other personal information is also captured while administering the test. SSI data will be given to whomever it is assumed, by the so-called leadership, that needs to see it.  (This should be a parental decision but has become a state decision.)

The SLDS grant promises to integrate psychological data into the state database.   “Utah’s Comprehensive Counseling and Guidance programs have substantial Student Education Occupation Plan, (SEOP) data, but they are not well integrated with other student data. With the introduction of UtahFutures and the Student Strengths Inventory (SSI) and its focus on noncognitive data, combining such data with other longitudinal student level data to the USOE Data Warehouse the UDA.”  It also says:

“… psychosocial or noncognitive factors… include, but are not limited to educational commitment, academic engagement and conscientiousness, social comfort and social integration, academic self-efficacy, resiliency…  Until recently, institutions had to rely on standardized cognitive measures to identify student needs. … We propose to census test all current student in grades 11 and 12 and then test students in grade 11 in subsequent years using the Student Strengths Inventory (SSI) – a measure of noncognitive attitudes and behaviors.”  So the Student Strengths Inventory (SSI) is a “psychometric census” to be taken by every 11th and 12th grade student in Utah.  That’s one way they’re gathering the psychological data.

4.  Ms. Park, you are a key player and even a writer for the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) –the organization that co-created and co-copyrighted Common Core.  This makes me fairly confident that you are aware of what the CCSSO stands for and what its goals are.  On the CCSSO website, it states that one of its main goals is “Continued Commitment to Disaggregation” of student data.  Disaggregation means that academic bundles of students’ information will be separated into groups that are increasingly easy to identify individually.

5.   “Utah’s Model for Comprehensive Counseling and Guidance.” (UMCCG)   is an official document from the Utah State Office of Education (USOE) that actively endorses the collection of behavioral and non-academic data.   It says, for instance, that perception data must be assessed.

-From page 172: “Perception data: Perception data answer the question, “What do people think they know, believe or can do?” These data measure  what students and others observe or perceive, knowledge gained, attitudes and beliefs held and competencies achieved. These data are often collected through pre- and post-surveys, tests or  skill demonstration opportunities such as presentations or role play,  data, competency achievement, surveys or evaluation forms.” (pgs. 58-59)

-From page 66: Examples of attitudes or belief data  include: “74 percent of students believe fighting is wrong.”

This list of Student Outcomes (which will be tracked by computers, according to the document) is full of non-academic outcomes.

-From page 136: 
MG:A1 Demonstrate a deep regard for self and others
MG:A2 Demonstrate a personal commitment to basic democratic principles
MG:A3 Demonstrate a civil and considerate spirit while participating in society”
(Some people may object to MG:A2, for example, since “basic democratic principles” aren’t the same thing as “basic republican principles” and FYI, the Constitution specifically guarantees individuals a republican form of government.  (Article 4, Section 4, U.S. Constitution.)  So what if my child’s been taught about Article 4, Section 4, at home, and he/she doesn’t test “correctly” on MG:A2?  These outcomes may sound innocuous to many, but here’s the REAL point:  if the government/school system/USOE claims the right to test our children for one set of beliefs, be they good or bad, they can test our children for other sets of beliefs.  They don’t have the right to assess this, in my opinion,  without parental consent or at least an opt-out-of-the-SLDS-database option for parents who do object.)

These 5 points together prove, at least to me, that the educational government of Utah is collecting behavioral and non-academic data on our children without our consent.

But lastly, there is this issue:  Ms. Park also wrote, “The only data that is collected and maintained is the specific data required by state and federal law.”

This is a big problem since the state and the federal privacy protection requirements do not match anymore.  Ms. Park does not seem to be aware of this.  But today, the state is much more protective of students’ rights.  Federal FERPA regulations have been altered –not by Congress but by the sneaky  Department of Education (DOE).  The DOE changed the definitions of terms.  They reduced from a requirement to only a “best practice” the previously protective rule that parental consent had to be obtained (prior to sharing private student data).  They redefined personally identifiable information.  So, no more parental consent needed and whatever they can con states into sharing, will be shared.  Is this the kind of federal rule that Ms. Park is content to have us obey?

Because Utah agreed in that same SLDS federal grant applicaton to use PESC standards and SIF interoperability frameworks, Utah’s children’s private data can be accessed by other states and federal agencies very easily as long as current Utah policy permits it. Unless bills like Rep. Anderegg’s HB169 student data privacy bill and others like it are taken seriously, we have no proper legal protections and a wide open policy of quite promiscuous data sharing here in Utah.

Sad but true.

Christel Swasey

Heber City

—————————-

From: Park, Judy <Judy.Park@schools.utah.gov>
Date: Thu, Mar 13, 2014 at 4:09 PM
Subject: RE: Open Letter to Judy Park on Student Data Privacy Facts
To: Christel S <212christel@gmail.com>
Cc: “Allen, Dixie” <dixieleeallen@gmail.com>, “Menlove, Martell” <Martell.Menlove@schools.utah.gov>, Board of Education <Board@schools.utah.gov>, Constituent Services <govgoca@utah.gov>

A data document is available on the website.

http://schools.utah.gov/assessment/Testing-Director-Resources/StateLong-DataSys-5.aspx

——————-

Yep.  That one sentence is all the response that she had.

Below is what Ms. Park’s link brings up.   Click here to see it for yourself at the USOE site.

Alisa Judy 1

alisa judy 2

——————–

Notice the continued insistence that no behavioral or belief related data is collected despite the links I provided above.   Notice that the USOE states its purpose for the SLDS database is to serve schools and districts on this graphic; but in federal grant applications, federal sites and federal/corporate partnered websites, it’s stated that the SLDS exists to serve federal and “stakeholder” decision-making. Always it’s a two-step, two-faced dance.

Please know, Utahns, that while probably Ms. Judy Park is a lovely person in many ways,  she is very unfortunately and very definitely not a friend to local control.   She’s an active member of the CCSSO, which created national Common Core, and she was an Executive Committee co-chair of SBAC, the federally funded testing group which, by federal contract, mandated that states aligned with SBAC must allow federal management of testing and data.  FYI– Utah since then dropped its SBAC membership and is currently partnered with AIR, but AIR is fully partnered with federally mandated and funded SBAC.

I can also testify that if a teacher or parent asks Ms. Park a question in person, which I have, she’ll put her hand on her hip, beam an uncomfortably long-lasting smile; not answer the question, and lightly dismiss the legitimate issue of concern with: “You certainly are passionate about what you believe.  I need to move on to the next person.”

This oft-demonstrated attitude, pervasive at the USOE and USSB, is truly hurting some of the most important and best people –the students and teachers– in our beautiful state of Utah.

Kentucky University Student Speaks Up About Common Core   3 comments

shannon of kentucky

Guest Post by Shannon Crouch

Hello, my name is Shannon Crouch. I am a 20-year-old college student studying Mathematics and Statistics at Eastern Kentucky University.

I attended high school at Morgan County High School in West Liberty, Kentucky. I was a part of the graduating class in 2011 and though I did not receive this method of schooling I have seen it enacted in my brother’s high school career as he began Sophomore year in 2011-2012.  I also dealt with its repercussions as a Developmental Lab Instructor at Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) for the Department of Mathematics & Statistics.

My brother’s story

To begin, I will share a brief description of the classes my brother has undertaken these last three years. At the beginning of each school year, all students are given a pre-test to determine the student’s understanding of the oncoming class content. As the semester continues, all homework assignments are handouts that relate to a ‘weekly’ mini-subject (ex. for math: solving for zeros, logarithms, solving rational functions, etc.) that make up the course outline. I will use the term ‘week’ loosely to relay the expected time frame schools believe each mini-subject should be taught. Students are pre-tested and post-tested at the beginning and ends of each ‘week’ and they move into the next ‘week’ mini-subject if a defined majority of the class passes. If that majority does not pass, then the class must repeat the subject content until either the majority has passed –or it has been taught three ‘weeks’ in a row.

To convey the detriment of such a process on student learning in full needs more than just typed words, but nonetheless I will try.

In simple terms, this modular system of teaching causes the average student to be the only student to excel. To break that sentence down further and define the difference from ‘average’ students to others, we have to look at the system being used. Given a student who makes good grades in a class and passes these pre- and post-tests each time, the process of having to repeat the class hinders his or her development in the progression of studies, but also thinking of a student who is not passing the pre- and post-tests, he/she is being dragged along by the system, unable to understand basic subjects, but often passing the class because he or she has been able to copy off peers. Some would ask what difference this last case has to older developmental systems. In return to that question, I would like to point out the handouts. These handouts are created based on the subjects to be taught for each class and are the only required work for the class. Students are no longer required to put in individualized effort into using textbooks, writing out questions, or even using critical thinking.  These handouts are the perfect tools for a student to cheat with given that everything is outlined the same way.

My experience as a university math tutor

Taking a step away from its implementation, however, let’s look at the results some colleges and universities are seeing now. I will use Eastern Kentucky University as my example: According to statistics presented to us at orientation, when I enrolled in Fall 2011, approximately 48% of the incoming freshmen were required to take developmental math or Reading/English courses. This was before the implementation of Common Core –and you are correct in thinking that is a pretty high number.

The scarier thought, however, is information they shared in my job training as a developmental instructor and a tutor for the Department of Mathematics and Statistics. In the 2013-2014 academic year, approximately 60% of our incoming freshmen were required to take developmental Math or Reading/English classes. That means in a span of two years with Common Core Standards implemented in High Schools, college preparedness dropped by an extra 12% for students that enrolled to Eastern Kentucky University.

The effect seen at EKU frightens me as a student today and even as a future parent. This influx of developmental students tells me that our students are being pushed through high school without the literacy skills and basic math skills required to function in the world today. Students are being trained to pass the test rather than retain what they learn and so when it comes to their college readiness exams like the ACT, COMPASS, and KYOTE they fail to have the knowledge required to think through the questions they come across.

——————-

As an update to this story:  Shannon’s relative lives in Utah. She sent a copy of the above article to a member of her Wasatch County School Board.  This is what she received:

from: DEBBIE.JONES@wasatch.edu>

Subject: Re: Kentucky and Common Core
Date: March 13, 2014 at 8:33:22 AM MDT
It makes me sad that implementation of the standards isn’t going well for some districts, like the one in this story. I’m so grateful we have amazing teachers who are doing great things for students in our district.
Take care,
Deb
———————-
Shannon then wrote back:
———————-

Ms. Jones,

I was interested to learn that you believe the effects of common core in Morgan County are a result of poor teachers, but I feel that I must correct your assumption on this.
Morgan County has many amazing teachers, especially for their core curriculum in Math, Science, and English. One such teacher, Stacey Perry is a mathematics teacher. She is qualified to teach not only the required mathematics programs for high school but extends her knowledge to AP curriculum for Calculus I and Calculus II, with one of the highest AP Exam passing percentiles for AP Calculus in Eastern Kentucky.
I want to mention this in detail so that I can relay to you that it is not the desire of beautifully brilliant teachers such as Mrs. Perry to implement common core so poorly, but rather it has been forced on them via the agreements of common core with all states.
Please do not consider your district and state as having immunity because if you do then you will see your students declining in individuality, scholastic achievement, and critical thinking. If you have any concern for you future generations, take the matter seriously and question all that you are being told by Common Core representatives.

Shannon Crouch

Massachusetts Dad to Department of Education: My Child Will Not Be Your Guinea Pig   5 comments

 Video update here:  http://www.masslive.com/news/worcester/index.ssf/2014/03/video_common_core_protesters_v.html

mass mike watson
Protesting Common Core and PARCC testing during Arne Duncan’s visit to Worcester today:  Mike Watson and son

“We met a lot of great folks at the protest but I spent most of my time with my favorite little activist! It was fitting this little man in the Spider Man hat was with us, as Common Core, PARCC and the policies of Arne Duncan and Mitchell Chester will directly impact his education and his future along with the rest of his generation….unless we stop them!

As a parent who cares deeply about my children (and others across my state and our country) I have a message for Arne, Mitchell Chester, Bill Gates, the big testing and data collection companies and my elected representatives on Beacon Hill who either support Common Core and PARCC or who are not willing to speak out in an effort to tow the party line……

NOT MY KIDS!You will have to arrest me and drag me through the courts along with all the media attention that will bring before I allow you to force my children to take a field test for a private company in our public schools! Our children our NOT your guinea pigs or state property to be used to test your experimental education reforms!Massachusetts is currently leading the country in education standards and positive student outcomes with our standards that were in place before Common Core. Standards that were publicly vetted, involved local educators and decision makers and have now been proven to produce positive outcomes.

Why throw all of that hard work and progress away for yet another untested education reform experiment? The little boy holding the sign in the picture will have to pay the price if your experiment fails as will children across the great state of Massachusetts. I refuse to let you throw away a generation of children without a fight and the army of parents, educators and citizens from across our state and our country have my back!

Mike Watson
Massachusetts

No….. NOT OUR KIDS!

—————————-
Yes, Mr. Watson.  The rest of us have your back. 
For more on today’s Massachusetts protest at Arne Duncan’s town hall:   http://www.masslive.com/news/worcester/index.ssf/2014/03/common_core_protesters_picket.html
Video update here:  http://www.masslive.com/news/worcester/index.ssf/2014/03/video_common_core_protesters_v.html

Utah Mom: My Goals Are Not the Board of Education’s Goals   4 comments

Good news for education and for freedom:  the Utah Senate today passed SB 39 - a homeschool-friendly bill.  I want to post these words, written by another Utah mom, Rhonda Hair, because her point is an important one:  that her high educational goals for her children are not the same as the goals of the board of education, nor of the new national dictators of education in Washington D.C. (Common Core copyright holders NGA/CCSSO).
This mother’s goals are higher, not lower; but being subjected to state-set or D.C.-set standards and testing could disrupt what she, the educational director (and ultimate authority over her children) has set out to do.

(Write to the senators and thank them for upholding liberty and education in this state, please!)

———————–

My Goals Are Not the Board of Education’s Goals

By Rhonda Hair

“I began homeschooling three of my children this school year. My understanding of what education really means continues to deepen. As of now, I’m convinced that my children will be well-educated if they obtain the following:

-a love of reading and of good books, -the ability to understand and express themselves well through writing, -enough math to manage their own affairs, -an understanding of what their God-given rights are, and what their duties are towards God, family, country, and neighbor, -the ability to discern between truth and error, which requires qualifying for and listening to the Holy Ghost, which requires obedience to God’s commandments, -high appreciation for virtue, good character, and self-control, and to apply these to themselves, -a strong work ethic, -gratitude, -understanding of human nature, -understanding of history- how we got to be where we are, and what great people have learned and written along the way, -an understanding of their unique abilities, gifts, and talents and how to use them for good.

Few of these are taught in the public schools, and particularly not encouraged in Common Core.

If they do the things above, they will naturally learn about the world around them, serve the Lord faithfully, and be a benefit to others in whatever they choose to focus on.

Some people think that homeschooled children should be subject to yearly testing to  be sure they’re ‘on track’.

The problem with this is that my goals are not the Board of Education’s goals.  The testing is to see if I’m on board with their objectives.   I’m not.  My goals far exceed theirs, but each subject taught might not be taught at the same time as they dictate.”

National News Update on Common Core Initiative   8 comments

occupy-photo-final-schedule1

How quickly Common Core has gone from being almost a secret, a truly under-the-news-radar movement, to being a sharp bone of contention and a scorchingly hot topic across the nation as right and left, legislators, parents, teachers and yes,  students– join to fight the erosion of local control of education, and the erosion of high quality education.

Here’s just a smattering of the pushback happening across this nation.  Please feel free to leave additional related Common Core pushback news links in the comments section!

* Alabama – “Bill In Works That Would Allow Common Core Opt-Out For Schools

* Arizona – “Senate backtracks on Common Core

* Connecticut – “Stamford Rep. Molgano Calls For Public Hearing On Common Core

* Florida -  FLA Ed Commissioner’s Arrogant Letter Angers Mother of Recently Deceased Disabled Child http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/04/ethan-rediske-act_n_4899010.html

Florida -  Testing Fixation Drives Florida School Board Member to Quit, Fight on Larger Battleground http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/03/06/the-drive-to-test-test-and-re-test-leads-famous-school-board-member-to-quit/

* Georgia – “Common Core bill debated in Georgia House

* Maryland – Dressed in Clown Suits, Maryland Teachers Protest Excessive Testing https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sn_xJ9P1I2k

* Maryland – Super Tells Parents State Test is Useless http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/District_Dossier/2014/03/joshua_starr_to_parents_upcomi.html

* Mississippi – “Common Core comes back up at State Capitol

* Missouri – “Mo. lawmakers debate retreating from Common Core

* Illinois -  Educators Boycotting Chicago Exam – Spend Day Teaching Not Testing http://www.wbez.org/news/saucedo-teachers-spend-day-1-isat-teaching-concerns-raised-about-intimidation-109815

Illinois -   National Leaders Support Chicago Test Boycott http://dianeravitch.net/2014/03/09/leading-educators-support-chicago-test-boycott/

Illinois- Resources for Supporting Chicago Parents and Teachers Protesting  the ISAT http://morethanascorechicago.org/2014/03/03/isat-opt-out-support-kit/

*Indiana -  http://news.heartland.org/newspaper-article/2014/03/11/indianas-attempt-replace-common-core-under-fire

* New York – bill S6604 pending: http://stopccssinnys.com/uploads/SCCINYS_PR_S6604.pdf  – Bill to place a three-year suspension on items such as the Common Core

State Standards and the associated age-inappropriate curriculum; it also addresses excessive testing.

New York – “Assembly Passes Bill Halting Common Core

New York Protests Intensify as Common Core Tests Loom http://www.longislandpress.com/2014/03/10/common-core-tests-loom-intensifying-debate-in-ny/       Rochester, NY, Teachers Association Brings Suit Against “Value      Added” Evaluations http://www.rochestercitynewspaper.com/rochester/teachers-union-sues-over-evaluations/Content?oid=2346958

*  Massachusetts -  Protesters at Secretary Arne Duncan’s town hall meeting:  http://www.masslive.com/news/worcester/index.ssf/2014/03/groups_organized_to_picket_us.html

http://worcestermag.com/2014/03/09/picket-planned-us-education-secretary-duncans-visit-worcester-tech/21602

Worcester Mass. School Committee Will Allow Students to Opt Out of  Common Core Pilot Exam http://www.telegram.com/article/20140307/NEWS/303079875/1116

More Massachusetts Education Leaders Criticize Double-Testing http://www.patriotledger.com/article/20140310/NEWS/140319857

* Connecticut – Connecticut Educators Want to Reexamine Test-Based Teacher  Evaluation Model http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/archives/entry/teacher_union_wants_to_revisit_teacher_evaluation_method     Connecticut Parents Seek to Opt Children Out of Common Core Tests http://www.ctnow.com/news/hc-parents-opting-out-20140228,0,1363518.story       The Brave New World of “College and Career Readiness” Testing http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/archives/entry/the_brave_new_world_of_being_college_and_career_ready

*North Carolina -    North Carolina Families Opt Out of Standardized Tests http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/03/09/3682922/opting-out-of-standardized-testing.html
Penn. Parents Join Forces to Opt Kids Out of Standardized Tests http://lancasteronline.com/news/local/parents-join-forces-to-opt-kids-out-of-standardized-tests/article_88aff918-a643-11e3-aa64-0017a43b2370.html

*Arkansas -   Arkansas Professor Urges 11th Graders to Opt Out of Literacy Test http://www.arktimes.com/ArkansasBlog/archives/2014/03/10/ua-prof-calls-for-students-to-opt-out-of-11th-grade-literacy-test

*Tennessee -  Tennessee Teacher Sue Claiming “Value-Added” Assessment is      Arbitrary and Unconstitutional http://tnedreport.com/?p=753
Virginia Lawmakers Seek to Reduce Number of Standardized Tests http://www.newsplex.com/home/headlines/Va-Lawmakers-Aim-to-Reduce-Number-of-Standardized-Tests-249339961.html

*New Hampshire – Nashua, New Hampshire Board Backs Delay of New Test http://www.nashuatelegraph.com/news/1030167-469/majority-of-nashua-school-board-members-back.html

*Nebraska – Testimony regarding Common Core Academic Error: http://truthinamericaneducation.com/common-core-state-standards/testimony-regarding-proposed-nebraska-english-standards/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TruthInAmericanEducation+%28Truth+in+American+Education%29

* Washington, D.C. – http://unitedoptout.com/helpful-readings-and-resources/the-official-schedule-for-occupy-doe-2-0-the-battle-for-public-schools/

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NEWS/ARTICLES

ON NATIONAL COLLEGE ENTRANCE EXAMS (SAT – ACT)

  ALIGNING TO ERRANT COMMON CORE:

David Coleman, 2016 SAT:  A Sow’s Ear http://www.educationviews.org/david-coleman-2016-sat-sows-ear/

FAIR TEST:  http://fairtest.org/node/2964

Critics Give SAT Revisions a Failing Grade http://www.mintpressnews.com/critics-give-new-sat-reforms-failing-score/185941/

The Real Reason the SAT is Changing: Competition from ACT http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2014/03/05/why-the-sat-is-really-changing-its-facing-tough-competition-from-the-act/

College President: SAT is Part Hoax and Part Fraud http://time.com/15199/college-president-sat-is-part-hoax-and-part-fraud/

NEA Pushes Bill to Reduce Federal Testing Mandates http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/2014/03/nea_pushes_legislation_to_redu.html

When Education is Nothing But a Test Score http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2014/03/05/23mcgill.h33.html

13 Ways High-Stakes Exams Hurt Students http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/03/10/13-ways-high-stakes-standardized-tests-hurt-students/

Believing We Can Improve Schooling with More Tests is Like Believing You Can Make Yourself Grow Taller by Measuring Your Height http://pbs.twimg.com/media/BiKnOqrIQAAVIEg.jpg
Accountability and Motivation — Test-Driven Policies Get it Wrong http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/top_performers/2014/03/accountability_and_motivation.html?cmp=SOC-SHR-TW

Common Core Testing Further Undermines Educational Equity http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/03/10/the-myth-of-common-core-equity/

I Opted My Kids Out of Standardized Tests, Then Learned a Thing or  Two http://www.slate.com/articles/life/family/2014/03/standardized_testing_i_opted_my_kids_out_the_schools_freaked_out_now_i_know.html

Testing Diverted The War on Poverty  — By FairTest Board member  Deborah Meier http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2014/03/05/23meier.h33.html

Parent to Pres. Obama: Why Don’t Private Schools Adopt Test-Driven  “Reforms”? http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/03/05/parent-to-obama-why-dont-private-schools-adopt-your-test-based-school-reforms/

What the U.S. Can Learn From Finland http://www.npr.org/2014/03/08/287255411/what-the-u-s-can-learn-from-finland-where-school-starts-at-age-7

Activists Call for Congressional Hearings on Standardized Test  Misuse http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/03/04/activist-calls-for-congressional-hearings-on-standardized-testing-gets-unexpected-support/
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Thanks to Donna Garner,  Mike Antonucci,  Dr. Bill Evers,  Pioneer Institute, and Bob Schaeffer for assistance with this compilation.

Interview: Stanford University Scholar Bill Evers of Hoover Institute on Common Core – KFI Radio   2 comments

bill evers

https://soundcloud.com/#terry-anzur/commoncore030214

Click to hear this week’s KFI radio interview with Dr. Bill Evers on Common Core, on KFI AM, Los Angeles.  Dr. Evers is a scholar at the Hoover Institute of Stanford University.  He has been an outspoken critic of the Common Core initiative from the beginning of the movement.

In addition to this radio Q & A with Dr. Evers, you’ll get to hear some VERY lively clips of parents, including a terrible one I hadn’t heard before about “daddy-baby biology”. (It is an example of the kinds of negative “curricular” value shifting that’s trickling into school rooms now, as more and more local control goes away under the Common Core power shift.)

In this interview, Dr. Evers also reminds listeners that they can legally opt their children out of any test for any reason at any time.

Enjoy!

The SAT “Upgrade” Is A Big Mistake: By Peter Wood   2 comments

This article was originally posted at MindingTheCampus.Com.  It is reposted with permission.    The author is president of the National Association of Scholars.

 

peter wood

The SAT “Upgrade” Is A Big Mistake

Guest post by Peter Wood

 

The College Board is reformulating the SAT.  Again.

The new changes, like others that have been instituted since the mid 1990s, are driven by politics. David Coleman, head of the College Board, is also the chief architect of the Common Core K-12 State Standards, which are now mired in controversy across the country.  Coleman’s initiative in revising the SAT should be seen first of all as a rescue mission.  As the Common Core flounders, he is throwing it an SAT life preserver. I’ll explain, but first let’s get the essentials of how the SAT is about to change.

Changes

The essay is now optional, ending a decade-long experiment in awarding points for sloppy writing graded by mindless formulae.

The parts of the test that explored the range and richness of a student’s vocabulary have been etiolated. The test now will look for evidence that students are familiar with academic buzzwords and jargon.  The College Board calls this “Relevant Words in Context.”  Test-takers won’t have to “memorize obscure words” but instead “will be asked to interpret the meaning of words based on the context of the passage in which they appear.”

The deductions for guessing wrong are gone.  Literally, there will be no harm in guessing.

Math will narrow to linear equations, functions, and proportions.

The scale on which scores are recorded will revert to the old 800 each on two sections, from the current 2,400 on three sections.  (Goodbye essay points.)

The old verbal section will be replaced by “evidence-based reading and writing.”

All the tests will include snippets from America’s Founding Documents.

What They Mean

The College Board’s announcement of these changes came under the headline “Delivering Opportunity: Redesigning the SAT Is Just One Step.”  The “delivering opportunity” theme is divided into three parts:

Ensure that students are propelled forward.

Provide free test preparation for the world.

Promote excellent classroom work and support students who are behind.

There is a thicket of explanation behind each of these headings, some of it beyond silly.  We learn, for example, that the College Board, “cannot stand by while students’ futures remain unclaimed.”  Unclaimed?  Like lottery prizes?  Like coats left in a checkroom?

If you work your way through this folderol, it appears that the College Board is launching a whole battery of new diversity programs.   “Access to Opportunity (“A2O”) pushes (“propels”) low-income, first-generation, underrepresented students to college.  The “All In Campaign” aims “to ensure to ensure that every African American, Latino, and Native American student who is ready for rigorous work takes an AP course or another advanced course.”  Another program offers college application fee waivers.

Those initiatives bear on the redesigned SAT mainly as evidence of the College Board’s preoccupation with its ideas about social justice.  The announcement of the changes in the SAT itself is succinct–and friendly, with helpful icons to get across ideas like “documents”–

The redesigned SAT will focus on the knowledge and skills that current research shows are most essential for college and career readiness and success. The exam will reflect the best of classroom work:

  • Relevant words in context
  • Command of evidence
  • Essay analyzing a source
  • Math focused on three key areas
  • Problems grounded in real-world contexts
  • Analysis in science and social studies
  • Founding documents and great global conversation
  • No penalty for wrong answers

The student who comes across the College Board’s explanation–and maybe even the journalist who reads it–might miss the full weight of that key phrase “college and career readiness.”  That’s the smoking gun that what is really happening in the College Board’s revision of the SAT is that the test is being wrenched into alignment with the Common Core.  That phrase, “college and career readiness,” is the Common Core mantra.  The Common Core was vigorously promoted to the states and to the public as something that would “raise standards” in the schools by creating a nationwide framework that would lead students to “college readiness.”

But alas, as the Common Core Standards emerged, it became apparent that they set a ceiling on the academic preparation of most students.  Students who go through schools that follow the Common Core Standards will be ill-prepared for the rigors of college.  That is, unless something can be done on the other end to ensure that colleges lower their standards. Then everything will be well.

The Bind

None of this might matter if the Common Core were just a baseline and students and schools could easily move above it if they wished to.  The trouble is that the Common Core has been designed to be a sticky baseline. It is hard for schools to rise above it.  There are two reasons for that.

First, it uses up most of the time in a K-12 curriculum, leaving little room for anything else.

Second, the states that were leveraged into it via Obama’s “Race to the Top” agreed that students who graduate from high school with a Common Core education and are admitted to public colleges and universities will automatically be entered into “credit-bearing courses.”  This is tricky.  Essentially what it means is that public colleges will have to adjust their curricula down to the level of knowledge and skill that the Common Core mandates.  And that in turn means that most schools will have little reason to offer anything beyond the Common Core, even if they can.

In this way, the Common Core floor becomes very much a ceiling too.  The changes in the SAT are meant to expedite this transition.

The Common Core Connection

The life-preserver that the College Board is throwing to the Common Core is a redefinition of what it means to be “college ready.” The SAT after all is a test aimed at determining who is ready for college. An SAT refurbished to match what the Common Core actually teaches instead of what colleges expect freshmen to know will go far to quiet worries that the Common Core is selling students short.  If the SAT says a student is “college ready,” who is to say that he is not?

The new changes in the SAT are meant first to skate around the looming problem that students educated within the framework of the Common Core would almost certainly see their performance on the old SAT plummet compared to students educated in pre-Common Core curricula.

The subject can get complicated, so it is best to consider an example.

Pre-pre-calculus

Perhaps the most vivid example of how the Common Core lowers standards and creates a situation which invites mischief with the SATs is the decision of the Common Core architects to defer teaching algebra to 9thgrade.  That move, along with several other pieces of the Common Core’s Mathematics Standards, generally means that students in high school will not reach the level of “pre-calculus.”  And that in turn means that as college freshmen, they will be at least a year behind where college freshmen used to be.  Instead of starting in with a freshman calculus course, they will have to start with complex numbers, trigonometric functions, conic sections, parametric equations, and the like.

Of course, lots of students who go to college today never take a calculus course and are in no way hindered if their high school math preparation stopped with binomial equations.  The trouble comes with students who wish to pursue science, technology, or engineering–the “STEM” fields. College curricula generally assume that students who set out to study these fields have already reached the level of calculus.

One might think that students who have aptitudes and interests in these areas could simply leapfrog the Common Core by taking accelerated math courses in high school.  Some indeed will be able to do just that.  They will be students who attend prosperous schools that have the resources to work around the Common Core.  Or they will be students whose parents pay for tutors or courses outside school.

We can be confident that Americans will be ingenious in finding ways to circumnavigate this new roadblock. And we can count on the emergence of entrepreneurs who will serve the market for extra-curricular math instruction.  There is no reason to think that MIT and Caltech will go begging for suitably prepared students.

But there is reason to worry that a large percentage of bright and capable students in ordinary American schools are going to be shortchanged in math.

And while I have chosen math as the example, the Common Core is up to similar mischief in English, and the SAT is being similarly altered to match the diminished K-12 curriculum there too. Those who have followed the debate on the Common Core will have some idea of how this works out.  The Common Core prizes “informational texts” above literature, and it prizes teaching students how to treat documents as “evidence” above teaching students how to search out the deeper meaning in what they read.  The Common Core approaches reading and writing in a utilitarian spirit. Clearly this has some power. It fosters certain kinds of analytic skills–those that might be called forensic.  But it scants the cultivation of other aspects of reading and writing, especially those that depend on analogy, implication, and aesthetic sense.

That’s why the Common Core has such limited use for imaginative literature and why it so readily turns to out-of-context excerpts and uprooted fragments.  Information is information; it does not much depend on a sense of the whole; nor does it depend on gathering in the unsaid background.  The now infamous example of the Common Core’s deracinated approach to writing is a reading of the Gettysburg Address shorn of any explanation that it was a speech commemorating a battlefield, let alone the battlefield of the decisive battle in the Civil War.

Presumably the Common Core folks will repair this particular mistake, but it is telling that it happened in the first place.  And it is telling that the College Board has adopted all the same conceptual devices in the new SAT:  relevant words in context, command of evidence, analyzing sources, and using fragments and excerpts of historical documents.  None of these by itself should raise concern.  Each is a legitimate line for testing.  But note that they come unaccompanied by anything that would balance the focus on “evidence-based” inquiry with examination of other skills.

A Puzzle

Why should a grandly announced effort to raise school standards end up lowering them instead?  The answer lies in the convergence of several political forces.  Politicians see a can’t-lose proposition in the conceit that everyone should have the opportunity to go to college.  School standards that really separated the wheat from the chaff would be unpopular.  Americans today like the pretense that the only thing that holds us back is external circumstance, not natural limitation.  And the academic “achievement gap” between Asians and whites on one hand and blacks and Hispanics on the other has made forthright discussion of standards extremely difficult.

For all these reasons, we Americans were in the market for a new brand of educational snake oil and the Common Core provided it.  Politicians on both sides of the aisle lined up to buy franchises: Obama on the left, Jeb Bush on the right, and many more.

Now that the charm has worn off, the politicians have become hotly defensive about their support for Common Core. This isn’t the place to delve into their excuses and recriminations, but it is important to remember that that rancor is the backdrop to the College Board’s decision to change the SAT. Again.

test

SAT Down

My account of what lies behind the changes differs quite a bit from whatThe New York Times reported. The Times story emphasized Coleman’s heroic decision to take on the test preparation industry, which profits by exploiting the anxieties of students over how they will perform on the SAT.  Test preparation can be expensive and thus wealthier families have an edge. According to the Times, Coleman declared, “It is time for the College Board to say in a clearer voice that the culture and practice of costly test preparation that has arisen around admissions exams drives the perception of inequality and injustice in our country.”

How exactly the changes in the SAT will combat that “culture and practice” is unclear.  The test preparation industry itself seemed to shrug at Coleman’s oration.  The Timesquotes a vice president for Kaplan Test Prep saying that “Test changes always spur demand.”

Coleman is far from the first to rejigger the SAT to advance a notion of equality and justice.  The SAT was invented in 1926 to open the doors to college for students who were natively smart but came from unpromising backgrounds.  Over the decades it became a primary tool for college admissions officers to match potential students with the level off rigor embodied in a college’s curriculum. The goal was to find students who in all likelihood would succeed.

That began to change with the push for racial preferences in college admissions in the 1970s and 1980s. As colleges and universities more and more foregrounded the goal of “diversity” in admissions, the SAT began to look like an embarrassing artifact of an earlier time.  It stood for established standards and evidence of intellectual reach at a time when it had become much more useful to emphasize “evolving” definitions of excellence and achievement.  The new approaches emphasized cultural variety in how people think and what they think about, and the greater relevance to college work of “personal perspective” and viewpoint over mere knowledge.  Likewise “experience” began to seem as valuable in a college applicant as intellectual skill.

The first real fruit of these new concerns was the “recentering” of the SAT’s scoring system in the 1990s, which ballooned the scores of mediocre students and erased the differences among students at the higher end of the scale.  Then, among other changes, came the elimination in 2002 of the verbal analogies portion of the tests, which jettisoned a section for the explicit reason that black students on average performed less well on it than they did on other sections.  That same year the College Board removed the “asterisk” that indicated that a student had taken the test with special accommodations such as extra time.

So the attempt to use the SAT as an instrument to advance “social justice” is, in a sense, more of the same.  We can expect most colleges and universities to welcome Coleman’s changes in that spirit. But there are always costs, and sooner or later we will pay them.  We are embarking on a great expansion of the left’s long-term project of trading off our best chances to foster individual excellence for broadly-distributed access to mediocre education.

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Thank you, Peter Wood.

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Fact-Checking Associate UT Superintendent Judy Park on Nonacademic Data Collection   9 comments

Once again it seems necessary, unfortunately, to provide a fact-checking rebuttal to statements made by Utah’s Associate Superintendent Judy Park about student data privacy.

In a letter given out to parents of children attending a St. George charter school recently, Judy Park was quoted at length.  Park, the Associate Superintendent of Utah, made the following statements that will be scrutinized here with links to opposing evidence.

In that letter, Ms. Park  wrote:

“The advocates of anti-common core are falsely accusing USOE and schools and districts of collecting and storing data that is “behavioral data and non-academic personal information”.  They have no real evidence or examples to support this claim…” 

Here’s evidence to the contrary, Ms. Park.

1.  First, there are Utah laws about standardized tests requiring the testing of behavioral indicators.  One law, HB15, created in 2012, that requires the collection of behavior indicators calls for ” the use of student behavior indicators in assessing student performance” as part of the testing.   This is Utah’s S.A.G.E. –aka Common Core or A.I.R.– test.  But another law  (HB177) has been requiring, from the 2002-03 school year on, “the use of student behavior indicators in assessing student performance.” Since 2002!

2. Utah has paid at least $39 million to the AIR company to write its Common Core-aligned standardized tests:  American Institutes for Research”s  mission:  “AIR’s mission is to conduct and apply the best behavioral and social science research and evaluation…

Are we to believe that although AIR’s purpose is to test behavioral and social indicators, and although Utah laws say that the test must note behavioral indicators, the AIR test still won’t?

3. Utah’s SLDS grant application talks about authorizing de-identification of data for research and says that individuals will be authorized to access personal student information in the various Utah agencies that belong to UDA. (Who are these individuals?  Why does the UDA trust them with information that parents weren’t even told was being gathered on our children?)

Starting at page 87 on that same SLDS federal application, we read how non-cognitive behaviors that have nothing to do with academics, will be collected and studied by school systems.  These include “social comfort and integration, academic conscientiousness, resiliency, etc.” to be evaluated through the psychometric census known as the “Student Strengths Inventory. (SSI)”  That SSI inventory –my child’s psychological information– will be integrated into the system (SLDS).  Nonacademic demographic and other personal information is also captured while administering the test. SSI data will be given to whomever it is assumed, by the so-called leadership, that needs to see it.  (This should be a parental decision but has become a state decision.)

The SLDS grant promises to integrate psychological data into the state database.   “Utah’s Comprehensive Counseling and Guidance programs have substantial Student Education Occupation Plan, (SEOP) data, but they are not well integrated with other student data. With the introduction of UtahFutures and the Student Strengths Inventory (SSI) and its focus on noncognitive data, combining such data with other longitudinal student level data to the USOE Data Warehouse the UDA.”  It also says:

“… psychosocial or noncognitive factors… include, but are not limited to educational commitment, academic engagement and conscientiousness, social comfort and social integration, academic self-efficacy, resiliency…  Until recently, institutions had to rely on standardized cognitive measures to identify student needs. … We propose to census test all current student in grades 11 and 12 and then test students in grade 11 in subsequent years using the Student Strengths Inventory (SSI) – a measure of noncognitive attitudes and behaviors.”  So the Student Strengths Inventory (SSI) is a “psychometric census” to be taken by every 11th and 12th grade student in Utah.  That’s one way they’re gathering the psychological data.

4.  Ms. Park herself is a key player and even a writer for the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) –the organization that co-created and co-copyrighted Common Core.  This makes me fairly confident that you are aware of what the CCSSO stands for and what its goals are.  On the CCSSO website, it states that one of its main goals is “Continued Commitment to Disaggregation” of student data.  Disaggregation means that academic bundles of students’ information will be separated into groups that are increasingly easy to identify individually.

5.   “Utah’s Model for Comprehensive Counseling and Guidance.” (UMCCG)   is an official document from the Utah State Office of Education (USOE) that actively endorses the collection of behavioral and non-academic data.   It says, for instance, that perception data must be assessed.

-From page 172: “Perception data: Perception data answer the question, “What do people think they know, believe or can do?” These data measure  what students and others observe or perceive, knowledge gained, attitudes and beliefs held and competencies achieved. These data are often collected through pre- and post-surveys, tests or  skill demonstration opportunities such as presentations or role play,  data, competency achievement, surveys or evaluation forms.” (pgs. 58-59)

-From page 66: Examples of attitudes or belief data  include: “74 percent of students believe fighting is wrong.”

This list of Student Outcomes (which will be tracked by computers, according to the document) is full of non-academic outcomes.

-From page 136: 
MG:A1 Demonstrate a deep regard for self and others
MG:A2 Demonstrate a personal commitment to basic democratic principles
MG:A3 Demonstrate a civil and considerate spirit while participating in society”
(Some people may object to MG:A2, for example, since “basic democratic principles” aren’t the same thing as “basic republican principles” and FYI, the Constitution specifically guarantees individuals a republican form of government.  (Article 4, Section 4, U.S. Constitution.)  So what if my child’s been taught about Article 4, Section 4, at home, and he/she doesn’t test “correctly” on MG:A2?  These outcomes may sound innocuous to many, but here’s the REAL point:  if the government/school system/USOE claims the right to test our children for one set of beliefs, be they good or bad, they can test our children for other sets of beliefs.  They don’t have the right to do this, in my opinion,  without parental consent or at least an opt-out-of-the-SLDS-database option for parents who do object.)

These 5 points together prove, at least to me, that the educational government of Utah is collecting behavioral and non-academic data on our children without our consent.

But lastly, there is this issue:  Ms. Park also wrote, “The only data that is collected and maintained is the specific data required by state and federal law.”

This is a big problem since the state and the federal privacy protection requirements do not match anymore.  Ms. Park does not seem to be aware of this.  But today, the state is much more protective of students’ rights.  Federal FERPA regulations have been altered –not by Congress but by the sneaky  Department of Education (DOE).  The DOE changed the definitions of terms.  They reduced from a requirement to only a “best practice” the previously protective rule that parental consent had to be obtained (prior to sharing private student data).  They redefined personally identifiable information.  So, no more parental consent needed and whatever they can con states into sharing, will be shared.  Is this the kind of federal rule that Ms. Park is content to have us obey?

Because Utah agreed in that same SLDS federal grant applicaton to use PESC standards and SIF interoperability frameworks, Utah’s children’s private data can be accessed by other states and federal agencies very easily as long as current Utah policy permits it.

Unless people stand up– unless bills like Jake Anderegg’s current HB169 student data privacy bill  and others like it will pass, we have very few protections and a wide open policy of quite promiscious data sharing here in Utah.

Sad but true.

Conspiracy Fact: Obama Budget to Cement Common Core   3 comments

Conspiracy theory: not.  This is conspiracy fact.

It’s become impossible to ignore the Constitutionally illegal federal takeover of education that uses federal grants, corporate partnerships with federal agencies, and now, the federal budget, to wrench power away from “we the people.”  They are successfully moving the levers of control from us to these non-transparent, unaccountable-to-voters, closed-door organizations which are officially partnered with the federal government.) The voter and her representatives are forgotten in the process.

I didn’t know, until I read Neal McClusky’s blog at Cato Institute this week, though, that Obama had planned to cement Common Core via his latest budget proposal.  But now I’ve seen it for myself.

obama

If Obama succeeds unimpeded by Congress, how will states still claim the option of withdrawing from the Common Core –and all the tests and data collection that Common Core entails?  How I hope Congress is watching –and will act.  This is where we need those checks and balances –ACTING.

President Obama, McClusky explained, “wants to make the Core permanent by attaching annual federal funding to its use, and to performance on related tests. Just as the administration called for in its 2010 NCLB reauthorization proposal, [the President] wants to employ more than a one-time program, or temporary waivers, to impose “college and career-ready standards,” which–thanks to RTTT and waivers–is essentially synonymous with Common Core. In fact, President Obama proposes changing Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act – of which NCLB is just the most recent reauthorization – to a program called “College- and Career-Ready Students,” with an annual appropriation of over $14 billion.

This was utterly predictable … RTTT was the foot in the door, and once most states were using the same standards and tests, there was little question what Washington would eventually say: “Since everyone’s using the same tests and standards anyway, might as well make federal policy based on that.”

Perhaps given the scorching heat the Common Core has been taking lately, most people didn’t expect the administration to make the move so soon, but rational people knew it would eventually come. Indeed, the “tripod” of standards, tests, and accountability that many Core-ites believe is needed to make “standards-based reform” function, logically demands federal control… the end game is almost certainly complete federal control by connecting national standards and tests to annual federal funding.  And that, it is now quite clear, is no conspiracy theory.” 

So much for  the Utah State Office of Education’s oft-published claim that Common  Core is federal-strings-free.  Maybe now they’ll remove those lies from the USOE website.  Maybe now our State School Board will stop dismissing people’s concerns by assaulting them with the label “conspiracy theorists.”  Maybe.

But I’m finding no relief in the thought  that the state school board can’t keep calling us names anymore.  (It really never bothered me that much, to tell you the truth.  I just took it as a sign of their confusion.)

But I wish– oh, how I wish– that Utah had never given away the right to keep control.  We had a Constitutional RIGHT to locally control that “tripod” — standards, tests, and local accountability.  We did not fight for it.   Too few made a peep.

If Obama’s budget succeeds,  we appear to be toast.

Call your Congressmen.

 

———————

 

P.S.  If you live in Utah, be the 10,000th petition signer at http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com

Fighting Manipulation in Education Reform Bills   1 comment

brian greene pg

Rep. Brian Greene of Pleasant Grove –

His fair and transparent state school board elections bill passed the House vote and may pass into law if the Senate votes yes this week

———————–

We are fighting manipulation in education reform. Utah legislators have written multiple bills this year that take important steps to curb it.  Before I give links to these very important bills –which we need to beg the senators and representatives to vote YES on– let’s talk briefly about the question of how  manipulation happens under the guise of education reform.

This six minute video featuring Dr. Peg Luksik, starting at 1:15, explains a lot.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aY4iMwlarNA

This speech was given a few weeks ago, when education expert Dr. Peg Luksik spoke about the manipulation that happens in computer adaptive, standardized tests.

Luksik explains:

The problem isn’t that it’s self-paced; the problem is that the test is open to manipulation.” (minute 1:15-1:20)  Test creators can adapt the test to make it appear to the average taxpayer, parent or policy maker to have been more difficult or easier.  It’s an internal mechanism, not a valid assessment.  A child has to agree or comply with questions along the way, or he/she cannot move on to take the rest of the test.

Dr. Luksik gives examples of this compliance.  In the 1990′s she saw internal documents of these tests that explained that the test was not to assess objective knowledge at all; it was to test –and score for– the child’s threshhold for behavior change without protest.

A sample question wanted a child to answer whether a child would join a vandalism group. There was no way a child could answer that he/she would not ever join a vandalism group; he or she could only indicate whether he/she would join if a best friend was in the group or if mother would not find out or other similar options.  Another example asked whether a child would cry, be upset, argue, when the family was moving to another country.  There was no option that was not outc0me based.  This prevents individual thought.

(FYI:  In Utah, these tests are called S.A.G.E. and are co-created by the federally funded Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium and a company called American Institutes for Research which has taken at least $39 million Utah tax dollars to deliver Utah’s children a computer adaptive, Common Core aligned test.)

Dr. Luksik also explains that test questions that are supposed to be testing reading, are aiming to test other things, such as this example: a child’s level of honesty was tested in what was supposedly a reading test:  If he/she found a wallet with money in it what would he/she do?  No option was: return it.

Now, these tests were 1990′s Outcome Based Education (OBE) tests.  But the embedding principle is the same in today’s Common Core tests; just much easier for test creators to hide, since they’re not pencil and paper  tests anymore.

A child will simply answer questions on a test,  Dr. Luksik points out: “No child would think to say, ‘Is this a reading question?’ because they’re kids; they just take the test.’”  But how can teachers or parents protect them?

Three Bills:

Now, in Utah, we have the opportunity to take small steps in a better direction–  small but important steps.

mike kennedy

Right now, Rep. Mike Kennedy has a bill that  expands a committee of parents or guardians of Utah public education students to review computer adaptive test questions.  The bill also requires the State Board of Education to prepare and publish on its website a report containing information about test questions identified by the committee as problematic.  http://le.utah.gov/~2014/bills/static/HB0081.html

It has passed the House vote.   Hope and pray that it also passes the Senate.  And write to your senators and reps!

brian greene pg

Another great education bill in Utah that passed the house and may, possibly, pass the Senate and become a rare, good new law is Rep. Brian Greene’s bill for fair and transparent, partisan state school board elections. (Our system is horrible and MUST change: it begins with a closed-off, exclusionary, and Common Core-promoting questionnaire, followed by a small, biased committee making recommendations to the governor and then the governor appointing two preselected candidates from which the voters can choose.  And voters are not allowed to know whether these two are each or both Democrats, Republicans, Independents, or of any other party.)  http://le.utah.gov/~2014/bills/static/HB0228.html  We need this bill.

anderegg

There’s also Rep. Jake Anderegg’s important house bill 169 which aims to restrain the sharing of student data without parental or adult student consent.   http://le.utah.gov/~2014/bills/static/HB0169.html

These  bills are wonderful.  I’m so grateful for them.  But they’re far from silver bullets.

They do not stop Common Core standards.  They don’t stop Common Core testing.  They don’t stop the stalking being done by the un-opt-out-able State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS).  They don’t take away the 15% rule (meaning that Utah can’t add to its math and English standards because of the Common Core copyright and the federal 15% ceiling over the standards.)  The bills don’t change the fact that Common Core standards are still dumbing down the top level high school students by removing almost all of the calculus and trigonometry requirements that Utah had prior to Common Core; nor do they restore to high school students the missing 70% classic literature that’s been robbed.

But–

They are important steps in the right direction, in the direction of restoring parental (and voter/taxpayer) control over what’s going on in education today.  They work around the manipulation and put individuals in better control of what has felt like an almost overwhelmingly unfair education system.

Thank you, Rep. Kennedy, Rep. Greene, and Rep. Anderegg.

Thank you.  Thank you. Thank you!

Utah Public School Rejects Common Core: Maeser Prep’s Open Letter to State School Board   Leave a comment

maeser

Karl G. Maeser Preparatory Academy,  in Lindon, Utah, is the first public school in Utah to issue a letter to the State School Board that asks the board to reject Common Core and return to time-tested, legitimate education.

The letter is posted here.  The board of directors of this public charter school writes that the Common Core Standards compromise Maesar’s educational mission and purpose.  They say that Common Core Standards were adopted without an opportunity for the local school districts or parents to review them first.   And they urge the state school board, Governor Herbert, and the Utah legislature to replace the Common Core with locally vetted standards.

Amen, Karl G. Maeser Academy.

 

New York Legislature: Democrats and Republicans Standing Together Against Common Core   2 comments

latimer

http://open.nysenate.gov/legislation/bill/S6604-2013

Parents and teachers against Common Core in New York are celebrating the fact that both Democratic and Republican legislators are now taking a stand against the Common Core.

Why are the two parties coming together?

Senator George Latimer  (D) -Westchester County, wrote an article for the Albany Times last month that explained it well:

“For decades we have heard the rallying cry that American students’ performance is falling behind that of students in other countries and for decades education experts have attempted to come up with ONE solution.  This time, under the guise of making students more prepared for a global economy, New York has adopted the “Common Core” standards and is forging ahead at breakneck speed to implement a new top-down education mandate on local school districts. Without dissecting the validity of the “global competition” argument, there are elements of the Common Core’s implementation in New York that must be addressed first.

… There is something wrong with asking our students to perform at a higher level without properly preparing them. There is something wrong with asking someone in Albany or beyond to evaluate a student in Brooklyn the same as one in Bedford or Buffalo. 

There are many issues with New York’s implementation of Common Core, and the concerns are not limited to a small contingent, as some have suggested. Real people who have students in schools and are of every ethnic, socioeconomic, gender, age and geographic makeup share reservations about the Common Core. It is also an issue that does not pit Democrats versus Republicans; it is truly about the students. 

New York is asking students to take exams based on curricula that are not fully implemented in and certainly not readily embraced by those who are actually in classrooms every day. Yet proponents of Common Core continue to move forward without compromise. 

With significant corporate interests behind the shifts toward a “global” education system, I think it is imperative to analyze this in a business-oriented manner

Many business school students and graduates are surely aware of failure of the “New Coke” initiative in the early ’80s, a product that the top brass of Coca-Cola were convinced would usher in a new generation of an already successful brand. Consumers rejected it, prefering they product they already knew and liked. 

Aggregate scores from the entire state have already slipped in the first year of these new tests, and we know our students are not X percent less intelligent than they were the previous year. The scores dropped because the top officials at the Education Department, like those at Coca-Cola in the ’80s, are convinced that they have a new “brand” of education that will usher in a new generation of globally competitive students. The scores dropped because in its haste to implement the new “brand” of education, SED did not do “consumer” research and development before bringing this product to New York’s education “marketplace.” 

The critics of elements of the Common Core, myself included, are not against having students who are able to understand the “why behind how things work,” but we are opposed to a one-size-fits-all approach to educating children in a state, nation and world where one size rarely fits all.

… the outcry against specific aspects of the Common Core — the lack of preparation, privacy of student data, and over-reliance on testing — is an opportunity for us to respond to consumer feedback and adjust to the market. … [P]roponents have failed to properly assess the need for a completely new product in their market, and if we don’t evaluate the public opposition to the Common Core as a gauge of the education market, we will make a mistake that will hurt our children.”

High-Stakes Tests and Common Core Standards are Inseparable   3 comments

tami and martell

Two leaders who make judgments for our schools –two whose judgment I wish we were able to trust, each have made statements: that high-stakes tests and data mining are unrelated to Common Core standards.

This is a fact-checking post.

First, look at their statements:

Our governor’s education advisor, Tami Pyfer, was quoted in the  Morgan News:  “while not related to the Common Core, data mining and over-testing ‘will not be happening with Utah students.’”   The Morgan News also wrote that Pyfer: “is concerned with high stakes testing and test results being used for purposes the tests were not originally designed for. ‘We do not support high stakes testing.‘”

tami

Pyfer also wrote, at  a blog called The Blue Hat Movement:

I’m confused about how/why you are connecting assessment issues, like the one in this video, to the Common Core Standards.

menlove

Really.

Meanwhile, Superintendent Martell Menlove has also said in many settings that he has concerns with high stakes testing and data mining –but says that he does not understand the relationship between high stakes testing and the Common Core.  In emails to the public he has also written, “I am not aware of any additional data reporting requirements that are associated with Common Core.”

Oh, Dear.  Tami and Martell!

Utah’s new school test is inseparable from the Common Core standards.

(FYI, readers, the test goes by many names:  Computer Adaptive, AIR/SAGE, Utah Core, Common Core).  And neither is the data-mining inseparable from Common Core, with its CEDS (common education data standards) and its SLDS (my nickname: longitudinal student stalking system).

Here are several hard-to-ignore reasons why:

1.)  Utah’s 2012 house bill 15 makes Computer Adaptive Testing the law in this state, and it uses specific language that mandates that Common Core standards are used for the Common Core Computer Adaptive Tests for all Utahns.

2.)  The four assurances or four key reforms for which the executive branch gave ARRA stimulus dollars (in exchange for Utah’s agreement to obey them) included common college and career-readiness standards, tests, and data collection. It was always a package deal.

http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/leg/recovery/factsheet/stabilization-fund.html

“SFSF requires progress on four reforms ….
1.Making progress toward rigorous college- and career-ready standards and high-quality assessments that are valid and reliable for all students, including English language learners and students with disabilities;
2.Establishing pre-K-to college and career data systems that track progress and foster continuous improvement;
3.Making improvements in teacher effectiveness and in the equitable distribution of qualified teachers for all students, particularly students who are most in need;
4.Providing intensive support and effective interventions for the lowest-performing schools.”

3.) The federal government paid for the Common Core tests and mandated in its test grant contract that testing groups align to one another and to Common Data Collection standards and to Common Core Standards. The standards promoters use veiled language and most often refer to Common Core as “college and career ready standards” instead, but they have been specifically defined on the ed.gov official website in a way that can only be interpreted as the Common Core. Utah’s testing group, AIR, is officially partnered with SBAC, which is under mandate to align its tests with Common Core and with the other testing groups.

4.  The lead sponsor of Common Core Standards, Bill Gates, spoke at at national Conference for State Legislatures. He said that We’ll only know if this effort has succeeded when the curriculum and tests are aligned to these standards.” This alignment has been the point all along.  (Wouldn’t the man who funded multimillions of dollars toward the creation, development, marketing, implementation, and curriculum development of Common Core know what the goal was to be?)

5. The Council of Chief State School Officers, to which Supt. Menlove belongs, co-created and copyrighted Common Core.  The CCSSO officially partnered with the Department of Education  toward a common goal to collect “data on the national level” (see below) and to “coordinate assessments” –and to use the Common Core standards which CCSSO co-wrote.

It is difficult for me to understand how Menlove, who belongs to the CCSSO, or how Pyfer, who works so intimately with both the NGA and CCSSO, can mentally separate the Common Core aligned, high-stakes tests from the goals of the Common Core standards creators themselves.

Take a closer look at the CCSSO/EIMAC website:

“Education Data & Information Systems Programs:

Common Education Data Standards (CEDS)

The Common Education Data Standards Initiative is a joint effort by CCSSO and the State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO) in partnership with the United States Department of Education. Educators and policy makers need clear, consistent data about students and schools in order to draw valid comparisons between key indicators of educational success and identify areas where we can improve classroom instruction and student support from early childhood through K-12 education to post secondary education and the workforce.

Education Information Management Advisory Consortium (EIMAC)

The Education Information Management Advisory Consortium (EIMAC) is CCSSO’s network of state education agency officials tasked with data collection and reporting; information system management and design; and assessment coordination. EIMAC advocates on behalf of states to reduce data collection burden and improve the overall quality of the data collected at the national level.”

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In light of these five points, can anybody honestly say that they cannot see a connection between the Common Core test and the Common Core high stakes AIR tests?  Are we still to be called “conspiracy theorists” (my school board member Dixie Allen’s latest term of endearment for me)  –for declaring that the tests and standards are one, are inseparable, and are equally harmful to our schools and to our liberties?

So, having made this point, now let me share what Principal Bob Schaeffer of Colorado shared with me today:  a compilation of how bad the national Common Core high-stakes testing is waxing.

Enjoy.

NEWS UPDATE:  NATIONAL PROBLEMS WITH HIGH-STAKES TESTS

Former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich Blasts “Obsessive Focus on Standardized Tests” http://dianeravitch.net/2014/02/19/robert-reich-on-standardized-testing/

Test Score Pressure May Lead to More ADHD Drug Prescriptions http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304275304579392932032900744

NCLB Waivers Reinforce Flawed Accountability Measures http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/inside-school-research/2014/02/waivers_missed_opportunities.html

Testing Resistance & Reform Spring Alliance Formed to Bring Sanity to Education Policy

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/02/21/anti-testing-groups-form-alliance-to-bring-sanity-to-education-policy/

Timely Statement by Former U.S. Labor Sec. Robert Reich on Eve of Testing Resistance & Reform Spring Launch

http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/living-in-dialogue/2014/02/coalition_launches_testing_res.html

Campaigns Against Test Misuse, Overuse Explode Across Nation

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/02/20/1279029/-Testing-Resistance-Reform-Spring-Launched?detail=hide

New National Alliance Aims to Unite Grassroots Opposition to Testing Overkill

http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/parentsandthepublic/2014/02/new_alliance_aims_to_unite_grassroots_testing_opposition.html

High School Grades Are Better Predictors of College Performance Than Test Scores Are

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/confirmed-high-school-gpas-predict-college-success/

New Report: Test-Optional Admissions Promotes Equity and Excellence

http://fairtest.org/new-report-shows-testoptional-admissions-helps-div

The Failure of Test-Based School “Reform” — By the Numbers

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/02/23/why-test-based-school-reform-isnt-working-by-the-numbers/

Test-Based “Accountability” Does Not Work

http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/top_performers/2014/02/nclb_california_and_accountability_in_all_its_guises.html

No High-Stakes Testing Moratorium, No Common Core

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-thompson/no-moratorium-no-common-c_b_4843791.html

Common Core Testing Costs Strain Rural Schools

http://www.wbir.com/story/news/2014/02/18/common-core-testing-costs-strain-rural-tennessee-schools/5575073/

Washington State Senate Revolts Against Teaching to the Test

http://www.nwprogressive.org/weblog/2014/02/state-senate-revolts-against-teaching-to-the-test.html

Feds Threaten Washington State With Return to NCLB Testing Rules

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/21/washington-no-child-left-behind_n_4828183.html

Chicago Parents Organize Opt-Out Campaign

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/education/ct-isat-testing-boycott-met-20140225,0,1746622.story

Left and Right in Colorado Agree on Testing Cutback

http://coloradostatesman.com/content/994657-left-right-agreement-state-testing

Colorado Students Take a Stand Against One-Size-Fits-All Test-Driven Education

N.Y. Gov. Cuomo Continues to Support Common Core Test-Based Evaluation

http://www.lohud.com/article/20140223/NEWS/302230033/Educators-say-evaluation-system-broken-Cuomo-isn-t-convinced

Computerizing a Poor Standardized Exam Does Not Magically Make it Better (or Stop Test Score-Misuse)

http://udreview.com/2014/02/24/delaware-explores-new-testing-options/

Common Core Assessments: Myths and Realities

http://fairtest.org/fairtest-infographic-common-core-more-tests-not-be

Teacher Apologizes to Third Grades for Being Forced to Label Them with Test Scores

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/02/18/teacher-to-3rd-graders-i-apologize-for-having-to-quantify-you-with-a-number/

Mom of Severely Disabled Boy Asks Florida School Board to Let All Kids Experiencing “Pain and Suffering” Opt Out of High-Stakes Testing

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/02/19/mom-to-officials-stop-forcing-severely-disabled-kids-to-take-high-stakes-tests/

Washington, D.C. Mayoral Candidate Says Test-Driven Schooling is a Failure

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/shallal-criticizes-dc-school-reform-efforts-saying-he-would-chart-a-different-course/2014/02/18/4ba4b45a-97f7-11e3-9616-d367fa6ea99b_story.html

Important New Book: “50 Myths & Lies That Threaten America’s Public Schools” by David Berliner, Gene Glass and Associates

http://store.tcpress.com/0807755249.shtml

Dana Layton’s Stop Common Core Bill For Utah   3 comments

Dana

Representative Dana Layton

I sent a an email letter to my representatives, asking them to vote yes on Represenative Dana Layton’s bill HB0342.

The bill would return local control to Utah’s educational system.   Utah needs this bill.  I hope every Utahn writes to his or her legislators and begs them to pass this bill.

For those who don’t know, Rep. Layton’s bill  “specifies procedures for the development and adoption of core curriculum standards  for English language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies, including:   the establishment of a standards development committee consisting of parents,  teachers, and representatives of school districts, business, and higher education  to assist the board in developing standards; and public review and comment of draft core curriculum standards;   equires the State Board of Education to establish a standards review committee  consisting of 15 parents of Utah public education students to review proposed core  curriculum standards for English language arts, mathematics, science, and social   studies;   requires the State Board of Education to maintain control of, and the power to   modify, core curriculum standards for English language arts, mathematics, science,   and social studies; and  requires the State Board of Education, on or before July 1, 2016, to adopt revised  core curriculum standards for English language arts and mathematics that are developed  specifically for Utah.”

All day, I keep asking myself, why would the state school board NOT want this, not want a return to local control of education?

Anyway, I copied my letter (email number one, below) to legislators also to the school board.

Dixie Allen, my state school board representative, wrote back to me and to the same legislators, saying that what I had written was untrue. It’s not every day that I get called a liar, and I dislike it, for some reason.  I doubt the school board enjoys it, either.  So rather than rebut the lies, I simply wrote again, asking the legislators to fact-check for themselves.  The truth can stand up under close inspection.  Empty claims cannot.

Then Dave Thomas, another state school board member, sent the legislators and me the Utah State School Board’s  link to a wordy, undocumented, verbiose posting –which is without any footnotes, without links or proof of truthfulness –and he said it “explains its position, inclusive of documentary evidence.”

Sigh.  I try to keep giving the board the benefit of the doubt; they were rushed into Common Core adoption; they wanted that Race to the Top grant application turned in so fast; they made trusting assumptions about what the quality of the standards would be once they actually had the opportunity to study them; they asumed the standards had been pilot tested; whatever.

But now, now in 2014, when it’s been made so clear and obvious that the standards are not what they claimed to be, now that it’s so clear and obvious that we’ve traded local control for a substandard mess of pottage– now can’t we just ‘fess up and agree that Utah made a big mistake, a mistake anyone in the shoes of the state board could have made and would likely have made– and just turn around now and walk away from the mistake?  Why hold on to this judgment error with such doggedness? It is not too late for us to change our course.  In fact, the longer we stay in Common Core, the more money we waste and the more entrenched our curriculums are becoming in this substandard and centrally controlled monster.

So, here are all those emails in case anyone is interested.

——————

EMAIL NUMBER ONE:  (It was very long so I am not copying the whole thing; it’s just the Common Core 101 research that I cut and pasted from the front page of my blog.)

From me to the legislators and school board:
————————-
Please Pass HB 342.    This is why:
                 Common Core: 101
Thank you.
Christel Swasey
Heber City
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EMAIL NUMBER TWO:
From Dixie Allen of the state school board:
Good Morning,
Since many of you are my constituents or my respected representatives at the State Level, I feel like you need to understand that most of what Christel has alluded to is untrue.
First, the standards were written under the control and supervision of the nation’s Governor’s Association and the Chief State School Officers, by experts in the field, including our own experts from USOE and several of our college professors.
We did not receive any money for adopting the standards, but did save money because we did not need to go through the traditional method of upgrading our standards by bringing in experts in the field for days and weeks to help write and rewrite the upgraded standards for Math and English/Language Arts.
We continually at the State Office and State Board level, try to explain that we upgrade Standards in all areas of the curriculum about every 5 years.  We have been working on Social Studies for the past two years.  We have and will tweak and upgrade the Common Core Standards as we move forward.  We have already added back in Cursive Writing into the Language Arts Standards and have asked teachers not to use some recommended readings, as they do not seem to be suitable for the age of students we are addressing.  We will continue to upgrade and revise all our standards to insure they are the best standards for the expectations of our students as they move into college and careers.
I have often told my constituents that as a teacher and principal and curriculum director in the public schools for over 26 years, I see such great promise for especially the mathematics standards, as they make it possible for all students to become competent in the higher levels of mathematics, which before was a “stair step approach”, which many were not able to make it through in the 4 years of high school.  Now we introduce some of the advanced mathematics concepts in late elementary and middle school, thus providing the opportunity for all students to receive the proper amount of mathematics instruction to enter STEM Fields and almost any college or career program they wish to pursue.
The same advantage is true of the English/Language Arts curriculum as it helps students identify and understand complicated texts, written to explain history, mathematics, etc.  All of which is needed at the College and Career level.
Finally, if the legislature or any other group suggests or insists that we throw out the Common Core Curriculum, which has been in place for three plus years in our schools, it will cost millions of dollars to replicate standards that are as effective, and the school system will have to throw out years of work on creating curriculum and assessments to meet these standards.
Please allow the educators in the field, with help from USOE and our professors of higher learning work to upgrade these standards as we move forward, knowing that there has been and will always be invitations to parents and constituents to give input into any upgrades — as was the case with the Common Core.  At the State Board and Utah State Office of Education level, we are always frustrated that the invitation to become involved in reviewing standards or test items is overlooked or possibly not shared with all that wish to be involved — however, in the case of the Common Core, I believe that most of those speaking out against the Core are not talking about the Standards or the Curriculum, but the intrusion of the Federal Government.  I wish all could see that this set of standards was a coalition of Governors and State School Officers who knew we needed better standards and enough of our Nation using such standards to receive quality textbooks and computer programs to help teachers teach it in our schools.
I do hope that you will look at this issue realistically in relationship to insuring that our students can and will compete for quality higher education and careers, both within our state and throughout the nation and world.
Thank you for your service and continued support of our educational system!!
Sincerely,
Dixie Allen, Region 12
Chair, Standards and Assessment
Utah State Board of Education
————————-
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EMAIL NUMBER THREE
From me again:
Dixie,
It is time for the truth to stand up to fact-checking.  I have given documented links to all of my statements about Common Core, while you and the state school board continues to give none.
Let the legislators and the people do the fact-checking and look at documentation rather than words and claims.
Dixie, I am an honest and truthful reseacher and I will gladly alter anything if you can show me I have written anything false.  Will you do the same?
Christel
———————————
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EMAIL NUMBER FOUR:
From Dave Thomas of the state school board:

The State Board has had a website for a long time that explains its position, inclusive of documentary evidence.  If you would like to read the State Board’s position it is at http://www.utahpublicschools.org/index.html.

David L. Thomas

Utah State Board of Education

1st Vice Chair

————————————-

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EMAIL NUMBER FIVE:

From Dixie Allen again:

Christel,
As Dave Thomas suggests, we have done that!!
Dixie

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EMAIL NUMBER SIX:

From me:

Dixie, you have not.
Your claims are never linked to documentation.   And you don’t acknowledge ours.
The USOE’s claims about Common Core are wordy and empty.  Why not show me where Utah has a voice over amending the shared core?  Show me how a teacher can have a voice in what will be tested.  Show me where these experimental standards were tried in a classroom anywhere successfully prior to being foisted on all the states.  Show me proof that deleting classics will improve literacy!
This is a giant academic fraud no matter how many people say it’s improving standards.
It is false to rob students of classical literature to 70% by senior year.   It’s wrong to diminish the teaching of the personal narrative essay.
It is a crime to steal calculus and other higher level math from high school students.
It is absurd to make little children do the type of math they are being forced to do.
Almost weekly I get letters from people who are pulling their children out of math or all of public education.  They want to know what they can do.  I tell them to ask you.  Your board has destroyed good education in this state and we are angry and we are not about to back down until you make  it right.
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Stop Common Core Rally Report   6 comments

A REPORT ON THIS WEEK’S  STOP COMMON CORE  RALLIES

This week, and especially Tuesday night, the Common Core Initiative took some tough hits.  All on the same night,  Florida had a newsmaking Common Core protest while Missouri had its Stop Common Core event,  while here in Utah about 600 people gathered at the Capitol; on Wednesday, South Carolina was up to bat.   More and more, people are taking a stand for local control:  for the end of any involvement with Common Core.

Deseret News and Salt Lake Tribune reporters attended the Utah rally; read their reports here  and here.

Here’s my shorter version of the events: photos first.

siri

Siri Davidson, a Utah mother who began to home school her children because of  Common Core math

a rallyVolunteers explained to attendees how to opt out of Common Core tests.

a rally lots of people cc slc

Attendance was strong at Salt Lake City’s rally to Stop Common Core on Tuesday night

rally feb 2014 with me judge and pytt

Judge Norman Jackson, who gave the prayer, in this photo is on the front row, left.

brian g

After a prayer and a song, the rally began with Representative Brian Greene speaking about fairness and transparency in state school board elections.  His new bill –if it gets a chance to be heard– creates it: House Bill 228.   He asked Utahns to please write to the representatives and ask them to help push that bill out of committee so legislators may vote on it.

Dana

Representative Dana Layton spoke about her bill to restore local control of education, House Bill 342.    She quoted Diane Ravitch’s words about Common Core from the speech/article “Everything You Need To Know About Common Core.”

margaret dayton

State Senator Margaret Dayton spoke about the need for informed citizens and for a return to local control and away from Common Core.

joan landes two

Psychotherapist Joan Landes spoke about the psychological devastation that the age-inappropriate Common Core and its experimental testing wreaks on students.

brian halladay

Three essay winners read their essays and won boxes of Mrs. Cavanaugh’s chocolates:  Brian Halladay, a member of the Alpine School Board; Amy Mullins, a teacher; and Cami Isle, a teacher.  All the essays that were entered into the contest will be posted at Utahns Against Common Core.

I got to introduce these three writers, and got to explain why we held the essay contest.  In the spirit of restoring legitimate learning and the joy of reading and writing, Utahns Against Common Core aimed to model the practice of written human conversation and critical thought –which happens in personal essays.

Common Core doesn’t encourage personal writing.  It prefers technical writing and info-texts.  In fact, David Coleman, lead architect of Common Core, explained why he ditched personal writing:  ““As you grow up in this world you realize that people really don’t give a !% #*^ about what you feel or what you think… it is rare in a working environment that someone says, ‘Johnson I need a market analysis by Friday but before that I need a compelling account of your childhood.’ ”    Coleman mocks personal writing and slashed it, as he also slashed the allowable amounts of classic literature, starting in elementary grades at just 50%  but cutting more and more– until, as high school seniors, students must devote 70% of their readings to informational texts, allowing only 30% to be fictional stories, the stuff that makes us love reading in the first place.  (Excuse me while I pull out my hair and scream.)  So.  Since Coleman mocks the personal essay and  works to incrementally delete classical literature,  we must work to restore them.

This is why we held the essay contest.

sinhue

After the essay readings, teacher and author Sinhue Noriega spoke about Common Core being much more than just standards, and also being –despite proponents’ claims to the contrary– a curriculum; and he spoke about the unconstitutionality of the Common Core.

ed flint

Attorney Ed Flint spoke about the Common Core-related law suit in which he is involved.  Details here.  

rod a

Radio host Rod Arquette spoke passionately, telling the story of how the Seattle Seahawks won the Superbowl this year in part because of the athlete who often asked the team, as his father had often asked him, “Why not you?  Why not us?”  Arquette turned the question to the audience.  Why can’t we change the course of the Common Core?  Why not us?

Representatives from the Left-Right Alliance, Libertas Institute, Utahns Against Common Core, FreedomWorks, and several other organizations spoke for just one minute apiece.

oak

Dad Oak Norton and Mom Alisa Ellis closed the meeting with calls to action.

The words that stayed in my mind more than anything else from the evening were the words of retired Judge Norman Jackson’s opening prayer. These deserve to be remembered and pondered.

Judge Jackson prayed:

Dear God and Father of us all,

We express our Gratitude for the time, means and opportunity to gather this day at the seat of our Government. We acknowledge our firm reliance on Thy Divine protection and guidance in all the affairs of life. And ask Thy forgiveness of our trespasses as we forgive those of others.  Enable us to live with charity for all.

We thank Thee for the endowment of unalienable rights – including life, liberty and the education of our children.  May our land, schools and homes be places of light, liberty and learning.  Bless us and all citizens with the desire to be governed by correct principles. Bless those who govern with that same desire.

Protect parents, children and teachers from the designs of conspiring men and women. And from the pretensions of those who occupy high places. Preserve the sanctity of our homes from the decay of individual responsibility and religion. Stay the hands of those who would harm and offend our children. Grant us and all citizens the strength to be eternally vigilant in this great cause.

Bless the proceedings and participants of this gathering with Thy guiding influence and sustaining care.  Bless us and our children with Thy holy light – we humbly pray in the name of Thy Son Jesus Christ.  Amen.”

Amen.

Utah Unhappily Bound by Common Core Standards   Leave a comment

menlove

SUPERINTENDENT MENLOVE

martell.menlove@schools.utah.gov

I like Superintendent Martell Menlove.  He’s approachable, pleasant, polite; has a warm smile and even responds to emails.
But there is a problem.  Dr. Menlove is not just any Utahn; he’s the State Superintendent.  He supports Common Core and he’s a member of the Council of Chief State School Officers,  which created and copyrighted Common Core (with the NGA).
ccsso
CCSSO is an organization that aims to destroy (“disaggregate”) student privacy and thus, student liberty.
Dr. Menlove is also on the Board of Directors of WestEd, an organization with a key role in the creation of the Common Core tests.  I don’t know why he remains a member of these groups.  Maybe he thinks he can influence them for good instead of having them drag him (and our state) down. Maybe.  But Dr. Menlove told me once that the reason he supports Common Core is that the ACT and SAT do.  He thinks that our students have to align with whatever ACT/SAT do because of college entrance traditions.  (I suggested to Dr. Menlove that now that David Coleman has corrupted the college entrance exams  (here and here)  down to Common Core standards, we should flee ACT/SAT and find alternative testing for Utah students.)  He did not agree.
oak
Yesterday, my friend Oak Norton wrote a letter to Dr. Menlove.  He asked him to publically clarify whether Utah Core Standards are the same thing as Common Core Standards because some people are of the false belief that Utah has independent math and English standards.   Dr. Menlove wrote back and clarified.  Utah does Common Core standards.  He wrote: “The Utah State Board of Education adopted the Common Core State Standards as Utah Core Standards in Math and English/Language Arts.  I do not believe I have said anything contrary to this.  If I have, I apologize.”  (See?  He is nice.)
But there’s still a problem.   It’s never been made clear by him nor other leaders  that because we do Common Core, we cannot control our own standards anymore.  Whether our leaders don’t understand this, or choose not to understand this, or don’t want the people to understand this, is no matter.  What matters is that people are confused.
menlove 2
Let’s not be confused.  We can fact-check our leaders who say,  “Utah isn’t obligated to Common Core and we can easily alter “our” standards while still belonging to the Common Core Initiative”.  It’s wishful thinking at best; lies at worst.   Here’s why:
Look at 7 basic facts:
1.   The Department of Education’s official website explains the conditions of getting ARRA money. It says:
“As part of its application for initial funding, the state must assure that it will take actions to: (a) increase teacher effectiveness and address inequities in the distribution of highly qualified teachers; (b) establish and use pre-K-through-college and career data systems to track progress and foster continuous improvement; (c) make progress toward rigorous college- and career-ready standards and high-quality assessments; and (d) support targeted, intensive support and effective interventions to turn around schools identified for corrective action and restructuring.”
F.Y.I. - “College and Career Ready Standards and high-quality assessments” means only ONE thing to the federal government:  COMMON CORE.  Read their definitions page.
Yes, we traded our educational freedom for federal ARRA money.   Sad choice, Governor Huntsman.  That’s where it all started: there were four assurances in that signup (which included common standards and assessments and data collection) that Governor Huntsman signed us up for in that State Fiscal Stabilization Fund; the standards were one of the conditions.  Data collection and testing were also included.
Maybe Dr. Menlove doesn’t know this.  He really should.
2.   BUT THERE IS MORE:  the MOU  (Memorandum of Understanding) that the school board signed got us started further down the path of Common Core –this MOU, which was used in other federal funding applications, proved we were on the Common Core commitment train.
3.  BUT THERE IS MORE:  the NCLB temporary waiver application (see page 18) binds Utah to COMMON STANDARDS.
4. BUT THERE IS  MORE:  the Common Core copyright page itself binds users to precisely what’s written and offers no amendment process for states governed by the standards;
5.  BUT THERE IS MORE:  there is a  15% clause in the Achieve implementation manuals (see page 23) and in the NCLB waiver and elsewhere, that is a “ceiling rule”, stifling what Utah can add to the Utah Core, and ensuring that anything Utah adds to the Common standards, including or beyond that 15%, won’t be tested or recognized by the national testers nor written into the “acceptable” Common Core aligned curriculums
6.  BUT THERE IS MORE.  The lack of any amendment process for the states to alter the common standards should be a red flag to our leaders– whose duty is to protect us from the tyranny of corporate copyrights as well as to protect us from the tyranny of the federal Department of Education.
7.  BUT THERE IS MORE.   Even if we stand firm and reject the coming science and social studies standards, which Dr. Menlove told us he would do, we are still standing without control over what our students will learn about history and science!  We’ve been duped by David Coleman, lead Common Core creator and now College Board President.
jakell
This duping is clearly explained in a letter from another friend of mine, Jakell Sullivan, on the subject:
———————————
Dear Legislators,
Oak Norton published Superintendent Menlove’s reply to his email where Dr. Menlove admits that we have indeed adopted Common Core; however, he does not make any effort to address the places where Utah is bound to the federal mandates—this is, in my opinion, a consistent effort by him and Board members to never address the actual reality of the situation.  Please see Dr. Menlove’s response, and please keep in mind that the Common Core Standards creators were clever in their approach to telling states they were only adopting Math and English. The actual cover of the English Language Arts standards reads:
“English Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects
This was a sleight of hand by the Standards creators, and why parents around the country are beginning to see such wordy math problems. All subjects will be enmeshed under Common Core standards, providing an easier framework to slip ideas and beliefs into all subjects.
Here is video of CC architect, David Coleman, talking about how he threatened to resign from writing the standards unless “teachers in history and social studies, and tech subjects bear the responsibility of bringing their kids to literacy.”
But, it is not about bringing English into all subjects, it is about bringing all subjects together so that states, who would never accept the anti-American history standards, would be getting those standards through the back door through the recommended curricula.
Watch from about the 6 min.-7.5 min. point.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VLba9mBFmbY#t=471
I hope legislators will find a way to vet what has actually occurred.
JaKell
make your voice heard
Please make your voice heard.  Call or write to your local and state leaders.  Let them know that this loss of local control is NOT OKAY with you.  Speak up or you will lose your window of opportunity to defend freedom and your children’s rights.  Silence is acquiescence.
Here’s contact information:

GOVERNOR HERBERT:  constituentservices@utah.gov

 SUPERINTENDENT MENLOVE: 

martell.menlove@schools.utah.gov

STATE SCHOOL BOARD:   board@schools.utah.gov

EDUCATION COMMITTEE: (SENATE)

Stuart Reid screid@le.utah.gov

Patricia W. Jones pjones@le.utah.gov

Mark B. Madsen mmadsen@le.utah.gov

wniederhauser@le.utah.gov

Aaron Osmond aosmond@le.utah.gov

Howard Stephenson hstephenson@le.utah.gov

Jerry W. Stevenson  jwstevenson@le.utah.gov

Stephen H. Urquhart  surquhart@le.utah.gov

EDUCATION COMMITTEE: (HOUSE)

fgibson@le.utah.gov

vlsnow@le.utah.gov

parent@le.utah.gov

rcunningham@le.utah.gov

seliason@le.utah.gov

greghughes@le.utah.gov

blast@le..utah.gov

dlifferth@le.utah.gov

dmccay@le.utah.gov

csmoss@le.utah.gov

jimnielson@le.utah.gov

vpeterson@le.utah.gov

mariepoulson@le.utah.gov

kraigpowell@le.utah.gov

dsanpei@le.utah.gov

kstratton@le.utah.gov

UTAH CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

(It promotes Common Core via “Prosperity 2020″):

revans@slchamber.com

MANY OTHER UTAH CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE:

info@westjordanchamber.com

info@sslchamber.com

sandychamber@sandychamber.com

chamber@tooelechamber.com

russ@stgeorgechamber.com

semile@cachechamber.net

 

Stop Common Core Rallies Nationwide   2 comments

capitol with alyson

There are many Stop Common Core rallies happening now in Utah, Missouri, Louisiana, New York and elsewhere.   The rallies come on the heels of a U.S. Senate resolution that denounced Common Core, signed by senators from South Carolina, Utah, Texas, Oklahoma, Iowa, and Wyoming.

utah rally

 UTAH RALLY

Tonight, Tuesday, February 18th, at 6:30 at the State Capitol Building, Hall of Governors,  is the Utah Stop Common Core rally.   As the press release indicated, this is an action rally that sends a message to Utah legislators:  “Stand up against Common Core or prepare to be voted out of office.”

Please, Utahns, come.

We need many hundreds of people here tonight.  Your physical presence speaks more loudly than many other things.  There is a battle going on, involving your children and their well-being.  Drop your laundry folding and your soccer game and your genealogy club meeting and come; defend.  I’ll tell you why.

If you care about liberty and local control, if you care about what your children will be learning in school and you want a voice in that, if you care about teachers being given respect and not micromanaged by an increasingly top-heavy government, if you care about the privacy of student data, if you think that classic literature should remain in schools, not edged out by “informational texts” down to 70% by the senior year, if you think that children should have access to calculus and other higher level math classes if they want to learn it, in high school; if you think traditional math algorithms are more valuable than group discovery of math pathways, if you believe in the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee that states, not federal forces or corporate boardrooms, should be directing schools; if you believe in the Declaration’s guarantee that innocent people will not be subjected to “unreasonable search and seizure” to which the educational SLDS tracking system does subject all schoolchildren; if you think schools should be using educational standards that are un-experimental, time-tested, and actually analyzed and vetted locally prior to adoption; if you want to send a message to the state school board and governor that we don’t want national sex standards, national social  studies standards, and national science standards which are waiting in the wings to join our current math and English national standards;  if you want to send a message that you believe in representation and not in having unelected corporate boards and untransparent, unelected groups like the CCSSO and NGA making decisions for US that we cannot alter; if you want to see independent thought and not just groupthink taking over the textbooks of our state and nation; if you believe in the principle of honest debate rather than profiteers paying for their version of reforms without the debate of the people ever happening; if you think education reforms should have something to do with parents and teachers rather than with bureaucrats and corporate partners— then COME TO THE RALLY TONIGHT.  GOD BLESS YOU FOR COMING.
Speakers will each be giving 5-minute-or-shorter power speeches.
Utah Mom Alisa Ellis will be the Emcee.
supermom
Tonight’s speakers will be:
State Senator Margaret Dayton
Representatives Brian Greene and Dana Layton
Radio Host Rod Arquette
Attorney Ed Flint
Alpine School Board Member Brian Halladay – essay contest winner
Teacher Amy Mullins – essay contest winner
Teacher Cami Isle - essay contest winner
Agency Based Education – Oak Norton
Utahns Against Common Core – Renee Braddy
Teacher and Author Sinhue Noriega
Libertas Institute – Connor Boyack
Left/Right Alliance – Autumn Cook
Eagle Forum – Gayle Ruzicka
Mental Health Expert Joan Landes
Capitol common core meeting
There will be a meet-and-greet at 6:00 if you want to come early to ask questions.
…AND, IN OTHER PLACES….
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THE NEW YORK RALLY:

ny i refuse too

The New York  iREFUSE Rally will happen before the HST testing takes place in NY which is the following Monday (March 31st ) just after the rally.  One of the goals of the rally is to help build awareness that a child can refuse the HST Common Core test.   The iREFUSE New York community page:  https://www.facebook.com/irefusethegreatamericanoptout

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THE MISSOURI RALLY - HAPPENING TODAY: 
http://www.moagainstcommoncore.com/
mo rally

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THE LOUISIANA RALLY
 louisiana forum

What Is Common Core: 101   32 comments

common core logo

What Is Common Core? 

This post aims to be as unmistakably direct and documented as possible.    Feel free to use it without asking permission.

DOES  COMMON CORE PREPARE STUDENTS FOR COLLEGE?

Not for a 4-year university.  It minimally prepares students for the non-collegiate workforce or for non-selective community colleges.

zimba

A key Common Core creator, Jason Zimba, said that the Common Core can prepare students for non-selective colleges but that it does not prepare students for STEM careers.  He said:  “I think it’s a fair critique that it’s a minimal definition of college readiness…  but not for the colleges most parents aspire to… Not only not for STEM, it’s also not for selective colleges. For example, for U.C. Berkeley,  whether you are going to be an engineer or not, you’d better have precalculus to get into U.C. Berkeley.”

IS THERE AN AMENDMENT PROCESS FOR VOTERS TO ALTER THE COMMON CORE?

No.  When it changes, it will be changed by those who wrote them. (See official site .)

ARE COMMON CORE STANDARDS LOCALLY CONTROLLED?

No. They are under copyright by an unelected, private D.C. group called NGA/CCSSO which has reserved the legal right to alter them.  The federal government has made money and waivers conditional on using Common Core standards and tests.

ccssonga

DO THE COMMON CORE STANDARDS  IMPROVE K-12 EDUCATION?

No one knows.  They are an unpiloted experiment.   But people who are financially invested in Common Core  say yes  to the question, while people who aren’t financially interested, and who study and analyze the Common Core standards, say no.

milgram

Dr. James Milgram (Stanford University emeritus professor who served on the official Common Core validation committee) reported:

I can tell you that my main objection to Core Standards, and the reason I didn’t sign off on them was that they did not match up to international expectations. They were at least 2 years behind the practices in the high achieving countries by 7th grade, and, as a number of people have observed, only require partial understanding of what would be the content of a normal, solid, course in Algebra I or GeometryMoreover, they cover very little of the content of Algebra II, and none of any higher level course…  They will not help our children match up to the students in the top foreign countries when it comes to being hired to top level jobs.“

stotsky

Dr. Sandra Stotsky (University of Arkansas emeritus professor who served on official Common Core validation committee and also refused to sign off on the academic legitimacy of the Common Core) said:

As empty skill sets, Common Core’s ELA standards do not strengthen the high school curriculum. Nor can they reduce post-secondary remedial coursework in a legitimate way. As empty skill sets, Common Core’s ELA “college readinessstandards weaken the base of literary and cultural knowledge needed for authentic college coursework, decrease the capacity for analytical thinkingand completely muddle the development of writing skills.” Full testimony here.

book and kite

IS COMMON CORE LEGAL?

No.  Under the Constitution, education belongs to individual states.  It is illegal for the federal government to interfere in the states’ right of making educational decisions.  National standards are illegal.  National data collection is illegal.  And the General Educational Provisions Act prohibits the federal government from directing education –very, very clearly:

No provision of any applicable program shall be construed to authorize any department, agency, officer, or employee of the United States to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution, school, or school system, or over the selection of library resources, textbooks, or other printed or published instructional materials by any educational institution or school system…”  

capitol roof

DOES COMMON CORE REALLY  TAKE AWAY MOST OF THE TRADITIONAL CLASSIC LITERATURE AND NARRATIVE WRITING?

Yes.  Although it does not specify which classic books cannot be read, the Common Core contains a chart that explains that in fourth grade, students must cut their classic/fiction reading to 50%.  By twelfth grade, students must reduce their classic/fiction reading to 30% with informational text taking up 70% of the time spent reading.

Grade Literary Information
4 50% 50%
8 45% 55%
12 30% 70%

WHAT IS INFORMATIONAL TEXT?

Informational text is anything that used to belong mostly in other subjects. It is now taking 70% of high school seniors’ English class readings, in the form of scientific writings, political writings; opinion pieces; almost anything other than classic novels, poetry, plays or other fictional works.

tucker

WHY DON’T COMMON CORE PROPONENTS WANT STUDENTS TO LEARN MUCH MATH?

It costs money to educate beyond minimal workforce training.  In  this 2013 document put out by the NCEE (National Center on Education and the Economy) we learn that it’s not important under Common Core to have high educational standards in high school;  it’s seen as a waste of time to educate the high school graduates past Algebra II. They’re pushing for an emphasis on the lowest common denominator, while deceptively marketing Common Core as a push for “rigorous” academics.

Read these Common Core proponents’ lips:  “Mastery of Algebra II is widely thought to be a prerequisite for success in college and careers. Our research shows that that is not so… Based on our data, one cannot make the case that high school graduates must be proficient in Algebra II to be ready for college and careers. The high school mathematics curriculum is now centered on the teaching of a sequence of courses leading to calculus that includes Geometry, Algebra II, Pre-Calculus and Calculus. However, fewer than five percent of American workers and an even smaller percentage of community college students will ever need to master the courses in this sequence in their college or in the workplace… they should not be required courses in our high schools. To require these courses in high school is to deny to many students the opportunity to graduate high school because they have not mastered a sequence of mathematics courses they will never need. In the face of these findings, the policy of requiring a passing score on an Algebra II exam for high school graduation simply cannot be justified.”

The report goes on to say that traditional high school English classes, with their emphasis on classic literature and personal, narrative writing, is useless.  The report says that Common Core will save students from the irrelevant classics with a new emphasis on technical subjects and social studies via the dominance of informational text:

The Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts (CCSSE) address reading in history/social studies as well as science and technical subjects, and in so doing may increase the relevance of high school instruction.”

In calling classic literature and personal writing irrelevant, these Common Core proponents underscore the idea that job prep matters, but not the pursuit of wisdom or knowledge.

WHY DID ALMOST EVERY STATE IN THE U.S. DROP THEIR EDUCATIONAL STANDARDS, WHETHER LOWER OR HIGHER,  TO ADOPT COMMON CORE STANDARDS?

Proponents say that the reason was to improve education.  Opponents say that it had nothing to do with education; that the standards were adopted without analysis or any vetting because the adoption was offered by the federal government under time pressure, in exchange for a chance at large federal grant monies called Race to the Top.  Even those states that applied and won no money (like Utah) stayed with Common Core, because there were many other federal reasons and incentives to do so.

WILL  THE COMMON CORE STANDARDS REMAIN AS THEY ARE TODAY?  

No. Common Core’s official site says:  “The Standards are intended to be a living work: as new and better evidence emerges, the Standards will be revised accordingly.”  There’s no way for the governed to revise the document by which they’ve agreed to be governed.

common core logo

WHY DOES THE STATE SCHOOL BOARD SAY WE’RE FREE TO CHANGE THEM?

States can’t delete anything.  We can add –a tiny bit.   A Common Core 15% rule  says: “A State may supplement such standards with additional standards, provided that the additional standards do not exceed 15 percent of the State’s total  standards”

(This rule is repeated in the federal waivers from No Child Left Behind, in the Race to the Top Assessments Grant application, in documents of both PARCC and SBAC testing groups, and in the implementation guide of Achieve, the group contracted to create Common Core.)

WILL THE CREATORS OF COMMON CORE CHANGE THESE STANDARDS WITHOUT OUR APPROVAL?

Yes.  Common Core’s official site says:  “The Standards are intended to be a living work: as new and better evidence emerges, the Standards will be revised accordingly.”  There’s no invitation for the governed to revise.

copyright

WHERE DO PROPONENTS GET THE NOTION THAT COMMON CORE WILL IMPROVE  EDUCATION?

From believable, expensive marketing lines.  Not from evidence.  Opponents point out that there was never any field testing for Common Core standards;  so this is a national experiment using virtually all children.  Supporters never attempt to explain how education is supposedly improved by Common Core, nor show a pilot state or pilot classroom where Common Core had been successfully used.    Beyond the many pleasant-sounding and but words, there is no documentation or evidence to back up any of the claims that the standards are higher, nor the other claims such as “Common Core was internationally benchmarked” or “is rigorous” or “improves college and career readiness.”  They are baseless advertising words.

Upon this lack of evidence we build our children’s futures.

bill at nga

ARE COMMON CORE STANDARDS FREE TO US?

No.  The standards’ development and marketing was paid for primarily by Bill Gates.  The Common Core tests for most states was paid for primarily by the federal government.  States pay countless millions for the rest of the Common Core Initiative:  the re-training, new text purchases, aligned computer technologies, etc.  They incorrectly say that these high costs would have been spent anyway, even without Common Core.

WAS THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT “HANDS-OFF” THE STATES’ ADOPTION OF COMMON CORE?

No.  Secretary Duncan announced and praised the release of the standards in 2010.  He bribed states using Race to the Top grant money.  He contracted with the testing groups to micromanage the Common Core tests, in exchange for federal grant money.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan

DID THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT BRIBE STATES TO ADOPT COMMON CORE?

Yes. States received federal ARRA money to implement pre-common core reforms that paved the way for Common Core, including building a State Longitudinal Database System.  There were 4 federal key objectives for education reforms  laid out by President Obama which were the four conditions for receiving stimulus monies.  Federally defined common standards and tests were one of the conditions.

More evidence of bribery and coercion can be seen in the timing of a majority of the states’ adopting Common Core simultaneously with the Race to the Top money lure.  And recently, a group of U.S. Senators have denounced what the Executive Branch (Obama Administration) has done in coercing states with  Common Core bribes.

obama light

 

IS COMMON CORE RELATED TO STUDENT DATA MINING?

Yes.   But Secretary Arne Duncan told the American Society of News Editors that opponents make “outlandish claims. They say that the Common Core calls for federal collection of student data. For the record, we are not allowed to, and we won’t.” 

He just told a bold-faced lie.  The federal Edfacts Exchange collects data for local, state and federal levels.  The federal government paid for the states to build matching and interoperable State Longitudinal Database Systems.  The White House hosts Datapalooza where Common Core and common data standards are spoken of warmly and together.  The Department of Education is listed as a partner at the EIMAC (Education Information Management Advisory Consortia) There are many other things that the Department of Education has done to take away student privacy, aiming aims to align common data standards with common educational standards.

Data Baby

WHAT SPECIFICALLY DID THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION DO TO REMOVE PRIVACY FROM STUDENT DATA?

– It bribed the states with ARRA Stimulus monies to build 50 linkable, twinlike State Longitudinal Database Systems (SLDS). This  created a virtual national database.

– It altered the (previously privacy-protective) federal FERPA (Family Educational Rights Privacy Act) law to make access to personally identifiable student data –including biological and behavioral data–  “legal”.  Now, the act of requiring parental consent (to share personally identifiable information) has been reduced from a requirement to just a “best practice” according to the altered federal FERPA regulations.

Best practice FERPA

For more information on this, study the lawsuit between the Electronic Information Privacy Center and the Department of Education.

– The US Department of Education partnered with private groups, including the Data Quality Campaign and the CCSSO (that’s the Council of Chief State School Officers –copyright holders on Common Core–) to collect student data nationally.

For a 15-minute crash-course on Common Core’s connection with student data mining, watch this video by Jane Robbins of the American Principles Project:

IS THIS ABOUT MAKING MONEY AT THE EXPENSE OF QUALITY EDUCATION?

Yes.  Educational gains are not the motivator for Common Core.  Notice that proponents are either financially invested in the implementation of Common Core, or else must be subservient to it and call it good because they rely on payment from those who are invested.  The financial obligation should make the following groups’ promotion of Common Core extremely suspect:

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation - MicrosoftPearson Education - National PTA - Jeb Bush - Harvard University - National Governors’ Association - Council of Chief State School Officers - Fordham Institute – Manhattan Institute – Exxon, and many, many more.

 

IS COMMON CORE RESPECTED BY HIGHER ED?

132 professors of Catholic Universities recently wrote  a letter denouncing Common Core on both academic and moral grounds.

Also:

Dr. Anthony Esolen of Providence College in Rhode Island has written:

“What appalls me most about the standards … is the cavalier contempt for great works of human art and thought, in literary form. It is a sheer ignorance of the life of the imagination. We are not programming machines. We are teaching children. We are not producing functionaries, factory-like. We are to be forming the minds and hearts of men and women… to be human beings, honoring what is good and right and cherishing what is beautiful.”

Dr. Thomas Newkirk of University of New Hampshire has written:

The standards are portrayed as so consensual, so universally endorsed, so thoroughly researched and vetted, so self-evidently necessary to economic progress, so broadly representative of beliefs in the educational community—that they cease to be even debatable… The principle of opportunity costs prompts us to ask: “What conversations won’t we be having?” Since the CCSS virtually ignore poetry, will we cease to speak about it? What about character education, service learning? What about fiction writing in the upper high school grades? What about the arts that are not amenable to standardized testing? … We lose opportunities when we cease to discuss these issues and allow the CCSS to completely set the agenda, when the only map is the one it creates.”

Dr. Daniel Coupland of Hillsdale College has written:

“Yes, man is made for work, but he’s also made for so much more… Education should be about the highest things. We should study these things of the stars, plant cells, Mozart’s Requiem… not simply because they’ll get us into the right college or into the right line of work. Rather, we should study these noble things because they can tell us who we are, why we’re here… If education has become –as Common Core openly declares– preparation for work in a global economy, then this situation is far worse than Common Core critics ever anticipated. And the concerns about cost, and quality, and yes, even the constitutionality of Common Core, pale in comparison to the concerns for the hearts, minds, and souls of American children.”

 Dr. Christopher Tienken of Seton Hall University has written:

“Education reform in the United States is being driven largely by ideology, rhetoric, and dogma instead of evidence…. Where is the evidence of the efficacy of the standards? … Let us be very frank: The CCSS are no improvement over the current set of state standards. The CCSS are simply another set of lists of performance objectives.”  Dr. Tienken also has two powerful short videos on the subject of standards and of assessments.

Dr. Alan Manning of Brigham Young University has written:

“The Core standards just set in concrete approaches to reading/writing that we already know don’t work very well. Having the Core standards set in concrete means that any attempts to innovate and improve reading/writing instruction will certainly be crushed. Actual learning outcomes will stagnate at best. An argument can be made that any improvement in reading/writing instruction should include more rather than less attention the reading/analysis of stories known to effective in terms of structure (i.e. “classic” time-tested stories). An argument can be made that any improvement in reading/writing instruction should include more rather than fewer exercises where students write stories themselves that are modeled on the classics. This creates a more stable foundation on which students can build skills for other kinds of writing. The Core standards would prevent public schools from testing these kinds of approaches.”

Dr. Bill Evers of Hoover Institute at Stanford University noted:

“The Common Core — effectively national math and English curriculum standards coming soon to a school near you — is supposed to be a new, higher bar that will take the United States from the academic doldrums to international dominance.

So why is there so much unhappiness about it? There didn’t seem to be much just three years ago. Back then, state school boards and governors were sprinting to adopt the Core. In practically the blink of an eye, 45 states had signed on.

But states weren’t leaping because they couldn’t resist the Core’s academic magnetism. They were leaping because it was the Great Recession — and the Obama administration was dangling a $4.35 billion Race to the Top carrot in front of them. Big points in that federal program were awarded for adopting the Core, so, with little public debate, most did.”

Dr. Terrence Moore of Hillsdale College has written:

“Literature is the study of human nature. If we dissect it in this meaningless way, kids not only do not become college and career ready, they don’t even have a love of learning; they don’t even have an understanding of their fellow men… The thing that bothers me more than anything else is found on page number one of the introduction. That says that Common Core is a living work. That means that the thing that you vote on today could be something different tomorrow, and five years from now it is completely unrecognizable.”    (Dr. Moore also wrote a most excellent book about Common Core English standards, entitled “The Storykillers.”)

Dr. Sandra Stotky (spoken of at the top) has written:

“The wisest move all states could make to ensure that students learn to read, understand, and use the English language appropriately before they graduate from high school is first to abandon Common Core’s ‘standards’…”

“The notion that Common Core’s college and career readiness standards are “rigorous” needs to be publicly put to bed by Arne Duncan, his friends at the Fordham Institute and the media. Two of Common Core’s own mathematics standards writers have publicly stated how weak Common Core’s college readiness mathematics standards are. At a public meeting of the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education in March 2010, physics professor Jason Zimba said, “The concept of college readiness is minimal and focuses on non-selective colleges.”

Dr. Stotsky also testified that:

“Beyond the lack of clarity from the outset about what college readiness was intended to mean and for whom, Common Core has yet to provide a solid evidentiary base for its minimalist conceptualization of college readiness–and for equating college readiness with career readiness. Moreover… it had no evidence on both issues.”

“Common Core supporters still can’t figure out how to deal with legitimate criticisms of its English language arts (ELA) standards. So they just keep parroting the line that Common Core’s ELA skills are actually standards, are rigorous and prioritize literary study, when it’s quite obvious to any English teacher that they are none of the above.”

“Common Core was/is not about high-quality national education standards. It was/is not about getting low-income, high-achieving students into advanced math and science courses in high school and then into college. CCSSI was and is about how to lower the academic level of what states require for high school diplomas and for admission to public colleges.”

“Of course, Common Core proponents can’t say that lowering academic standards is their goal. Instead, they claim that its standards will reduce the seemingly terrible problems we have with interstate mobility (actually less than 2 percent nationally) or enable Massachusetts teachers to know how Mississippi students compare to theirs (something they never said they were eager to learn), or facilitate nationally the sale of high-tech products to the public schools (something the P-21 skills folks were eager for). They have looked desperately for motivating issues and these are the best cards in their deck, as poor as they are.”

“Their major selling point is how poor our K-12 public education system is in too many states. But it needs to be strengthened, not weakened. We continue to need capable doctors and engineers who build bridges and tunnels that won’t collapse.”

“Are we as a society really ready to agree to Common Core’s low-expectations for college readiness (as professors Zimba and McCallum indicate)? Are we willing to lower the bar as a way of closing the achievement gap?”

“We hear no proponents or endorsers of Common Core’s standards warning this country about the effects of the college-readiness level in Common Core’s mathematics standards on postsecondary and post-baccalaureate academic and professional programs. We hear no proponents or endorsers of Common Core’s standards advising district superintendents and state education policy makers on the kind of mathematics curriculum and courses they need to make available in our secondary schools if our undergraduate engineering colleges are to enroll American students. At this time we can only conclude that a gigantic fraud has been perpetrated on this country, in particular on parents in this country, by those developing, promoting, or endorsing Common Core’s standards. We have no illusion that the college-readiness level in ELA will be any more demanding than Common Core’s college-readiness level in mathematics.” – Sept. 2013 paper: Can This Country Survive Common Core’s College Readiness Level? by R. James Milgram and Sandra Stotsky

Dr. William Mathis, of the University of Colorado, has written:

“The adoption of a set of standards and assessments, by themselves, is unlikely to improve learning, increase test scores, or close the achievement gap. • For schools and districts with weak or non-existent curriculum articulation, the CCSS may adequately serve as a basic curriculum. • The assessment consortia are currently focused on mathematics and English/language arts. Schools, districts, and states must take proactive steps to protect other vital purposes of education such as citizenship, the arts, and maximizing individual talents – as well as the sciences and social sciences. As testbased penalties have increased, the instructional attention given to non-tested areas has decreased. • Educators and policymakers need to be aware of the significant costs in instructional materials, training and computerized testing platforms the CCSS requires. It is unlikely the federal or state governments will adequately cover these costs. • The nation’s “international economic competitiveness” is unlikely to be affected by the presence or absence of national standards.”

capitol with alyson

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Parents and retired teachers, it is up to us to stop this thing.  Teachers who are currently teaching, or principals, or others who work in the education sales industry dare not speak up too loudly or risk losing their jobs.  It is up to us.

Essay Contest for Utah Stop Common Core State Capitol Event February 18th   1 comment

write
ESSAY CONTEST for FEBRUARY 18th STOP COMMON CORE RALLY
On the 18th of Feburary at 6:30 – 8:00 p.m., hundreds of Utahns will gather at the State Capitol to take a stand against Common Core.  As part of that event, Utahns Against Common Core has announced an essay contest.  Three essays will be chosen and read by their authors at this event.   Here’s the announcement:
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What’s the powerful reason that you’ve taken a stand against Common Core?  Why do you want the restoration of high quality, time-tested education standards and local control in Utah?  Do you have a great story?  Utahns Against Common Core wants to hear it!
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Submit your essay to Utahns Against Common Core at consecutiveintegers@yahoo.com by the deadline:  midnight on February 15th.  Three essays will be selected to be read at the State Capitol Common Core Event on February 18th  from 6:30 to 8:00.  Winners will be notified on February 17th and winners will be announced at the public meeting.  Winning and non-winning essays will be posted at Utahns Against Common Core.  If you do not want your essay made public, please let us know.
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Topic:  Why I oppose the Common Core Initiative
Length:  Essay must be readable in less than three minutes.
Deadline:  12:00 midnight on February 15th, 2014
Prize:  You get to share your story/essay at the State Capitol Common Core Event
Capitol common core meeting

National Common Core News Update   4 comments

capitol roof

Truth in American Education and Principal Bob Schaeffer of Colorado have compiled most of the following information and I thank them for it.

First, here are many of the Common Core, testing and student data privacy pushback bills  happening right now, almost all over this nation:

Alabama tba; Arizona: SB 1121 SB 1153 SB 1095 HB 2316 SB 1310 ; Arkansas: HR 1007 SR 4; Colorado: SB 14-136; Connecticut: SB 53 Florida: PCB KTS 14-01:  See Karen Effrem’s analysis of it here; HB 25 CS/HB 195 CS/SB 188 SB 232 SB 864 ; GeorgiaB 167 SB 203 ; Illinois: HR0543 SR0638; Indiana:  SB 91This bill has passed the Senate 36-12 and will be considered by the Indiana House; Iowa HF 2140 HF 2141 SF 2123; Kansas tba; Kentucky: HB 5  HF 215;  Louisiana:  Here’s an article that discusses the work being done; Maryland: HB 76 SB 0578   SB 0579 SB 0408 Minnesota tba;  Mississippi  SB 2736; Missouri: HB 1708 HJR 74 SB 514  SB 798 SB 819 ; New Hampshire: HB 1239 HB 1508  HB 1262 HB 1586 HB 1496 HB 1587 HB 1238; New Jersey: S. 2973 A. 4403; New Mexico: SB 296: New York:  A07994  S6604  S06267;  Ohio: HB 237 HB 181 HB 193 HB 413; Oklahoma: HB 2786 HB 2849 HB 3331 HB 3166  HB 3399 SB 1146 SB 1310 Rhode Island: H 7095 South Carolina: SB 300 H. 3943 South Dakota: HB 1237:   South Dakotans Against Common Core is against this bill.  You can read why here. HB 1214 HB 1187 HB 1243 SB 63; Tennessee:  SB 2405 HB 1549 SB 1835 (Tennessee Against Common Core is not excited about this bill.) HB 1826 HB 1825 SB 1985 HB 1828 SB 1984 HB 2253 HB 1697 HB 1696 HB 1841 HB 2453 SB 2559 HB 2290 SB 2057  HB 1882 SB 1470  HB 1705 Utah tba; Wisconsin tba;  Wyoming: HB 0097

(To see a brief analysis of each bill, go to Truth in American Education.)

capitol with alyson

If you are a Utahn, did you notice Utah is on the “to be announced” list?  We have no stop Common Core bill yet.  We have too little political pressure from the people upon our leaders.  So please:  please come to the State Capitol next week, on Feb. 18th at 6:30-8:00 to show your concern for this issue.  Please share this event  where we will hear from and speak with legislators, parents and organizations who are opposed to Common Core.  We need large numbers of people to show up and to show support, to get proper protections for our children here in Utah.

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     And here’s more related news:

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Senate Republicans to Obama:  No More Common Core Coercion  http://dailycaller.com/2014/02/05/senate-republicans-no-more-common-core-coercion/#!

Both Houses of New York Legislature Support Two-Year Delay in Common Core Testing

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/05/nyregion/a-call-to-ignore-exam-results-when-evaluating-educators.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&_r=0

Regents Likely to Stall Parts of Common Core Implementation

http://www.pressconnects.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014302100021&gcheck=1

Parents and Educators Outraged by Regents Failure to Address Deeper Flaws

http://www.nysape.org/parents-and-educators-outraged-by-regents-unwillingness-to-assume-responsibility-and-change-course.html

N.Y. PTA Survey Finds Students Stressed Out by Testing, Parents Opposed to Common Core Exams

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/07/new-york-common-core-stress_n_4747863.html?utm_hp_ref=education

Gov. Cuomo Appoints Common Core Proponents to Evaluate Common Core

http://www.nysape.org/new-yorkers-outraged-by-governors-flawed-common-core-panel.html

Missouri Board of Ed. Plans Major Reduction in Testing

http://www.semissourian.com/story/2047976.html

Alaska State Board of Education Supports Graduation Test Repeal

http://www.frontiersman.com/schools/state-board-supports-repeal-of-grad-exam/article_13c15946-8d5a-11e3-ac4b-001a4bcf887a.html

Virginia Senate Votes for Delay in Test-Based School Grades, Reduction in Testing Volume

http://www.roanoke.com/news/virginia/article_4e588c5a-8e1d-11e3-bf18-001a4bcf6878.html

Kentucky Ed. Commissioner: Kids Over-tested, Scores Misused

http://news.cincinnati.com/article/20140206/NEWS0103/302060040/Holliday-kids-overtested-schools-overburdened

Connecticut Students Say Testing Fixation Kills Learning

http://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/community_meeting_raises_concerns_on_testing/

“Guinea Pigs” and “Lab Rats” Storm Rhode Island State House as Student Protest Exit Exam

Students Aren’t “Guinea Pigs” — How Field Testing Hurts Children

http://yinzercation.wordpress.com/news/

Oregon Test is Wrong for Children

http://www.oregonlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2014/02/oregons_kindergarten_test_is_w.html

Parent of Dying Florida Boy Has to Prove Her Son Can’t Take Standardized Tests

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/02/07/1275853/-Florida-mother-has-to-prove-her-dying-son-can-t-take-a-standardized-test#

Tennessee Teachers Fight Back Against Test-Fixated Evaluations

http://www.tennessean.com/viewart/20140209/NEWS04/302090069/TN-teachers-push-back-evaluation-process

Exit Exams Make Diplomas, Jobs Elusive for Special Education Students

http://hechingerreport.org/content/for-special-education-students-diplomas-jobs-increasingly-elusive_14612/

Technical Problems Plaque Nebraska Online Writing Exam

http://journalstar.com/news/local/education/problems-with-statewide-writing-test-plague-lps-others/article_ff2965f0-6fc4-5568-b41f-581f5cc0e1d1.html

Chicago Opt Out Leaders Push Back Against Chief Executive Officer’s Hollow Threat

http://www.chicagonow.com/chicago-public-fools/2014/02/its-almost-testing-season-in-chicago-opt-out-at-your-peril/

The 95% Participation Rate and How Schools Do Not Lose Funding

http://www.nysape.org/if-my-child-refuses-state-tests-will-my-school-lose-funding.html

Test Scores = Voodoo Data for Evaluating Students, Teachers and Schools

http://www.dailycall.com/news/editorials/3572277/Its-all-so-predictable

Colorado School Testers Flunk Themselves

http://www.denverpost.com/opinion/ci_25071195/colorados-school-testers-flunk-themselves

Federal Court Upholds New York City Liability for Teacher Licensing Test Racial Bias

http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/school_law/2014/02/appeals_court_upholds_nyc_liab.html?cmp=ENL-EU-NEWS3

Tennessee School Board Reconsiders Role of Student Test Scores in Teacher Licensure

http://www.tennessean.com/article/20140201/NEWS/302010011/TN-state-board-reconsiders-role-learning-gains-teacher-licenses

Documentary Takes Standardized Testing Fight to Big Screen

http://www.longislandpress.com/2014/02/09/new-documentary-takes-standardized-testing-common-core-battle-to-big-screen/

NJ Professor Releases Common Core-Opposing “Assessments Landscape” Video   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1r9_ZpNbU6A

Common Rotten Core Testing ‘Toon

http://www.caglecartoons.com/viewimage.asp?ID={0037B5D8-9059-4A29-91D5-CC42A7B72B4E}

Mexico Eliminates National Exam, Test Score Bonuses

http://newspapertree.com/articles/2014/02/05/mexico-chucks-test-bonuses-national-exams

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Save the Date: Feb 18th @ Salt Lake Capitol at 6:30 p.m.   7 comments

capitol with alyson

Last July, the last time Utahns got together at the State Capitol to discuss Common Core with legislators listening, there was standing room only. Television stations and newspaper reporters were there.   So many people wanted to stand and speak that hundreds and hundreds were turned away due to time running out.

Capitol common core meeting

This time it will be a bit different, and better.  This time, along with listening, some Utah legislators will be speaking out about the problems of the Common Core Initiative.  We hope to fill the capitol –not only to standing-room-only– but to overflowing: past the doors and into the parking lots.

capitol roof

This time –February 18th, 6:30 to 8:00 p.m.,  the speaker lineup includes State Senator Margaret Dayton, Representative Dana Layton, radio host Rod Arquette, Representative Brian Greene, Left-Right Alliance Spokeswoman Autumn Cook, and others that I can’t yet announce (yet to be confirmed).  Please save the date and come.  Show by your presence that you are awake and aware, that you claim authority over your own children’s learning and testing and data privacy — and that you are not going away.   Let’s give the local media something of importance to take pictures of, to write about; please, come if you can.

 

 

Capitol alisa common core meetingMom Alisa Ellis speaks with Rep. Curt Oda about Common Core (at the 2013 State Capitol event)

THE STORY KILLERS by Dr. Terrence Moore – Book Review   1 comment

storykillers book

Michelle Malkin has called The Storykillers  “a stopcommoncore must-read.”

It is a must-read.  It’s interesting and important.  It’s packed full of understanding about the Common Core English standards, which are ruining the love of learning as they distort what it means to be educated.

The book pits logic and common sense against the theories, deceptions and absurdities of the Common Core.  It cuts through the Common Core’s wordiness and plainly states this truth:  that Common Core is stunting and killing both the classic literature stories themselves and The Great American Story of liberty and self-government, stories that our children and our country cannot do without.

In  The Story Killers: a Common Sense Case Against Common Core, Dr. Terrence Moore tells us that the restoration of legitimate, time-tested classic literature –the best that has been thought and said and done and discovered“– can solve  America’s educational decline.  The faulty theories of Common Core can not.

If you don’t read book, please remember Dr. Moore’s most important point:  We Must Fight For Our Stories– which Common Core is stealing

The great stories are not disposable!  Who persuaded us that they were?  Losing them means losing, piece by piece, what it means –or meant– to be us.  No amount of supposed career prep info-texts can pretend to make up for that.

Good readers, regardless of what they did after they grew up, developed the love of reading/learning by reading stories.  Young and old need stories to process life.  Great learners fall in love with learning not because of manuals, articles, and  informational texts but because of fascinating stories.  Classic works of literature are being neglected, shortened, misinterpreted and replaced, under Common Core.  And THE Great American Story– the story of freedom –  is being undermined along with the other classics that Common Core neglects.  The book explains exactly how this is happening, using the standards themselves as its centerpiece.

We must fight for our stories.

applebook - Copy

Dr. Moore’s book asks questions like this one:  Why does the new Common Core edition of the  American literature textbook, The American Experience, by Pearson/Prentice Hall 2012, contain sections on government forms,  and an EPA report?  Is this the new and “more rigorous” literature that will prepare our children for college?  Or is it an attempt to “keep the nation’s children from reading stories, particularly traditional stories that run counter to the political ideology” of the authors of  Common Core?

Dr. Moore points out that a widespread, fraudulent adoption of Common Core brought us the fraudulent reading (and math) theories upon which Common Core Standards rest. Common Core was never pilot tested as it should have been, before virtually the whole country adopted it.

You know how long it takes for a new drug to get on the market before it receives approval from the FDA,” he writes,  “Yet here is the educational medicine, so to speak, that all the nation’s children will be taking every day, seven hours a day– and no clinical trials have been done.”

Dr. Moore points out, too, that “most of the money that funded the original writing of the standards came from the deep pockets of Bill Gates. Perhaps related to this fact, the Common Core will have students working far more with computers… the people behind the Common Core also have a hand in running the tests and stand to gain financially…. the other people who stand to make out like bandits are the textbook publishers. If that’s not enough to get one wondering, it turns out that the actual writing of the standards was done in complete secrecy.

(Shocking! Terrible! And true.  Yet how many people know these facts in the face of so many ceaseless Common Core marketing lies being put out by the likes of Exxon, Harvard, Jeb Bush, the National Governors’ Association and even the National PTA, all of whom were paid by Bill Gates to say what they say about Common Core.  Don’t listen to them!  They are financially bound to say what they say.  Listen to people like Dr. Moore, who do not accept money from the Gates club.)

In his book, Dr. Moore talks a lot about what is NOT in the English standards as well as what’s there.

The traditional aims of education– to pursue truth, to find true happiness, to be good, to love the beautiful, to know the great stories of our American tradition– are not the designs of Common Core, he says.  The Common Core is a program that kills stories in order to direct people to “be preoccupied with only  the functional aspects of human existence and to have almost no interest in the higher aims of life.”

plato

Dr. Moore reminds us that controlling stories (or the lack of stories) is the same thing as controlling people:   “Plato pointed out in his Republic a book never read in today’s high schools, nor usually even in college– whoever writes the stories shapesor controls– the minds of the people in any given regime.”

The book’s title describes the killing of two important types of stories:

The great stories are, first, the works of literature that have long been considered great by any standard of literary judgment and, second, what we might call the Great American Story of people longing to be free and happy under their own self-government. The Common Core will kill these stories by a deadly combination of neglect, amputation, misinterpretation…”

Then,

On the ruins of the old canon of literary and historical classics will be erected a new canon of post-modern literature and progressive political doctrine. Simultaneous to this change, fewer and fewer works of literature will be read on the whole. Great literature will be replaced with ‘information’ masquerading as essential ‘workforce training’.”

Moore explains that the proponents of Common Core hold up “the illusion of reform” while continuing to “gut the school curriculum” and to remove its humanity.  He points to page five of the introduction to the Common Core where  this chart appears for English readings:

Grade Literary Information
4 50% 50%
8 45% 55%
12 30% 70%

So our little children under Common Core aligned school books won’t get more than 50% of their reading from stories.  And our high school seniors won’t get more than 30% of their reading from stories.  The bulky 70% of what they read must be informational text:  not poetry, not plays, not novels, not the books that move our souls.  In English class.

Thus literature is on the wane in public schools,” Dr. Moore writes, and traditional literature classes are being eroded, despite the fact that the Common Core proponents aim to deceive us and make the “public believe that they are requiring more rigor in reading.”

Dr. Moore calls us to fight for our children’s access to the great stories.

There has never been a great people without great stories. And the great stories of great peoples often dwell on the subject of greatness. They dwell on the subject of plain goodness as well: the goodness that is to be found in love, marriage, duty, the creation of noble and beautiful things. It is patently obvious that they authors of the Common Core are uncomfortable with these great stories of the great and the good.  They are plainly uncomfortable with great literature. And they are even more uncomfortable with what might be called the Great American Story.”

Read much of what the so-called education reformers are speaking about lately, and you’ll see it:  they call for sameness, common-ness, for the forced redistribution of teachers and funds, and above all, for equality of results.  Not greatness.  Not the ability for a single student or school to soar above the rest.  No exceptionalism allowed.  (Anyone ever read Harrison Bergeron?)

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Obama advisor Linda Darling-Hammond, the testing companies, the Common Core copyright holding groups– the reformers seem to avoid the concepts of goodness and greatness in favor of a twisted version of “social justice” equality, which is, frankly, theft, along with being as foolish as the reasoning behind the society of Harrison Bergeron, which is in no way truly fair, or truly helpful.

“…They fully expect us to shrug with thoughtless indifference.  Do not be fooled.  The fate of our stories is the fate of the nation,” writes Dr. Moore.

book and kite

Dr. Moore does the unthinkable:  he subjects the Common Core Standards to actual critical thinking (which they claim to promote).

Since everyone loves the expression ‘critical thinking’ these days, let us subject these standards to a little critical thinking.

He questions the  Common Core Initiative’s obsession with technology and testing.

bored by screen

Computers are a lot more like televisions than anyone is willing to admit… it is true that art teachers can now much more easily show their classes great paintings and sculptures by using the internet.  It is likewise true that history teachers can employ actual speeches of Churchill or Reagan using videos found on the web. Ninety percent of the time, though, that is not how the computer is being used… The arch-testers of the Common Core champion the use of the technological elixir that cures all illnesses and heals all wounds without even pausing to warn us of the potential side effects… we are not invited to consider how much technology is compromising the old literacy. Least of all are we supposed to realize that the remedy for our growing twenty-first-century illiteracy is traditional, nineteenth-century education.”

He asks us to re-examine the assumption that because technology has changed so much, schooling should also change so much.  “Does schooling belong in that class of things that does not get ‘updated’ every week…  human institutions and relations for which we must be initiated into certain permanent ways of thinking, lest we be cast adrift on a sea of moral, cultural, and political uncertainty?”

He points out that education should not be confused with job training and that “going to college” is not the same thing as gaining knowledge; and that the authors of Common Core are “lumping college readiness and career readiness together” without stopping to explain what either means nor how either will be affected by the lumping.

He points out that while the standards claim to wield the power to prepare children for “the twenty-first-century global economy,” that claim is based on nothing.  It’s just a claim.  And we have had economies to worry about since the beginning of time, none of which would have succeeded by taking away stories and classics, the very core that made people in the not too distant past far more literate than we are today.

He opposes this “pedestrian preoccupation with what will happen when children turn nineteen” because it “undermines the powers of imagination and of observation,” powers which are too important to ignore.  Think about it:  imagination makes children read and helps them to love books.  No little child is motivated to read because he/she is concerned about college and career, years from now.  The child reads because the story is interesting.  Period.

Dr. Moore also points out that the history of successful literacy shows a very different path from the one Common Core is leading America to follow.

Historically, what created the highest literacy rates?  Dr. Moore points out that it was high church attendance, combined with emphasis on the Bible, and schooling with an emphasis on traditional learning!  (And the Bible is composed mostly of stories and lyrical language, not of “rigorous informational texts.”)

Dr. Moore points out that Colonial Massachusetts and 18th-century Scotland had nearly universal literacy.  Newspapers in the 18th century were written at a far higher level than the journalism of today (which is written at the sixth-grade level.)

Yet the authors of Common Core insist that students should read far more recently written, informational texts, such as newspaper articles… Ergo, the literacy for the twenty-first-century global economy will be built upon the cracking foundation of our present semi-literacy. Was there not once a famous story-teller who said something about not building a house upon sand?”

He asks us to remember that the careful reading of stories enables us to “learn about good taste and manners. We learn all the the individual virtues and vices… human emotions… Through this vicarious activity, we are compelled to examine ourselves and thereby attain what used to be called self-government… What is a better study of ambition leading to ruin than Macbeth?  Wat is a better study of indecision and imprudence than Hamlet? What is a better example of adolescent love and passion in their raw state than Romeo and Juliet?  What is a better model of command than Henry V?… We hang onto these stories… that teach us who we are and who we ought to be. The study of human character through great literature, then, teaches us how to live.”

In the book’s last chapter, Moore explains that what is permanently valuable to students does not change very much.  He writes that a genuine common core would have included a group of magnificent books that each truly educated person would have read, at the very least.  Under THE Common Core, however, mostly informational, unproven texts and text excerpts are listed –and there is no set core of classic books.  He writes,  “Had the Common Core English Standards held up just a few great books, college professors could finally know what their incoming students had actually read.  Heck, even advertisers and comedians could know what jokes they could tell about literary characters”  Moore says that “the Holy Grail of school reform” is the set of “great books of our tradition.”

He recommends that students would read –PRIOR to high school–  titles such as The Tempest, Animal Farm, A Christmas Carol, and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Then Dr. Moore lists a classical high school curriculum (which he says has been working in the schools in which he has helped to implement it):

Homer’s Iliad  (The whole thing, not a drive-by excerpt); the WHOLE of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Hamlet and Macbeth; the WHOLE U.S. Constitution; Le Morte D’Arthur, Pride and Prejudice, Plutarch’s Lives; Moby Dick; Huckleberry Finn, 1984; A Tale of Two Cities; Crime and Punishment; The Scarlet Letter, The Mayflower Compact; Uncle Tom’s Cabin The Prince; Confessions of Augustine; poetry by Frost, Longfellow, Dickinson, Poe, Whitman, T.S. Eliot, Shakespeare; biographies of Benjamin Franklin and Theodore Roosevelt, speeches by Winston Churchill, Martin Luther King, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan; and so on and so on.

Despite everything that is being taken away from the American English curriculum because of Common Core, despite the damage that is being done to children’s love of learning by removing the thing that makes people love to read and become great readers– stories– despite all else he exposes about the Common Core, Dr. Moore’s bottom line remains this one:

Anyone who thinks I have travelled too far afield or have jumped to conclusions about the true aims of the Common Core should read one further phrase found on the opening page of the English standards.  That phrase is more alarming and more revelaing than all the jargon about a new literacy and college and career readiness. ‘The Standards are intended to be a living work: as new and better evidence emerges, the Standards will be revised accordingly.’ …The authors of the Core are  forecasting that their program will change over the next ten, twenty, forty years… but the same people will be in charge. What will be the new and better evidence that emerges?  Who will get to decide what constitutes better evidence? Who will do the revising?”

I have only scratched the surface of this important book here.  I hope you will buy copies for your friends, your school board, your legislator, your governor, and especially for your favorite English teacher.  This book is a powerful tool in the fight to  reclaim legitimate K-12 and college education in this country.

Link to book:   The Story Killers: a Common Sense Case Against Common Core

Not with my child you won’t: Psychological Damages of Common Core Analyzed by Joan Landes   26 comments

NOT WITH MY CHILD YOU WON’T

Guest Post by Joan Landes

joan landes

Joan Landes, a Utah mental health therapist, has spoken out in opposition to Common Core.  The speech posted below comes from a recent conference where she spoke.  She has given permission to post her findings here, and they are also posted on her blog here:  Not with my child you won’t!

Thank you, Joan Landes.

National Educational Standards are Based on Myths and False Premises

Myth 1: International standardized tests are important indicators of international competitiveness

Fact: The U.S. has never scored well on these tests, but still led the world in all economic indicators.

  • The international tests began in the mid-sixties and the most important test, PISA began more recently. Since the 1960s, the U.S. has led the world in every significant prosperity indicator including patents, research and development funding, business formation, growth in productivity (Baker, 2007). During this time, the number of years that U.S. students topped the international test scores? None. (Ravitch, 2013)
  • High test scores are negatively correlated with national indicators of innovation and entrepreneurship (Baker, 2007). China and Singapore know this and are worried (Zhao, 2012).
  • Twenty-five years ago, mediocre scores triggered biased groups to warn “that America’s inadequate education system and workforce skills imperiled our competitiveness and future. Their warnings were followed by a substantial acceleration of American productivity growth in the mid-1990s, and by an American economy whose growth rate surpassed the growth rates of countries that were alleged to have better prepared and more highly skilled workers”(Strauss, 2013).

students taking standardized test

Reuters/Vincent Kessler

Myth 2: International tests prove American students don’t perform as well as other industrialized nations’ students.

Fact: The tests don’t compare “apples to apples” for many reasons.

  • For instance, the scores from China come only from Shanghai which is the richest and most educationally elite city in China, which forbids migrant children and represents a mere 2 percent of the students in China. (Nisan, 2013).
  • U.S. scores, by contrast, are a much more representative sampling of our complex demographics. In fact, students from affluent suburban school districts in the U.S. are very competitive with other students. The student groups who don’t perform well tend to come from dysfunctional families and communities of which the U.S. samples contain more than most other OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) nations (Strauss, 2013; Carnoy & Rothstein, 2013).
  • The score spread between all countries is fairly narrow. Between the highest performing state in the U.S. and the highest performing nation in the world (Taiwan) in 2009 is only about a 10% difference in raw scores (Schneider, 2009).  Even the spread between Taiwan and the lowest performing “state” (Washington D.C) is only about a 30%. So, that would mean Taiwan scores an “A”, Massachusetts an “A- or B+” and Washington D.C. earns a C-.
  • The validity and reliability of the test itself is under serious question (Carnoy & Rothstein, 2013). Translations may not be good, scoring has not been validated and many student groups are not tested (Schneider, 2009). Many countries “cheat” on the test by using non-representative sampling and by “teaching to the test” to increase student scores (Stephen, 2013).

Myth 3: We should seek to emulate China and Singpore’s rigid educational system because they score well on standardized tests.

Fact: China and Singapore are very low on indices of innovation and creativity.

    • High test scores are inversely related to high levels of creativity and innovation. Merely 473 innovations from China were recognized by the world’s leading patent offices outside China in 2008 versus 14,399 from the United States. (Zhao, 2012).
    • Other indicators of happiness/prosperity/creativity are also inversely related to high test scores (Baker, 2007).

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Steve Jobs, founder of Apple

A noted expert on Asia predicted at the World Economic Summit: “The next Apple, the next Google will come, but probably not in China, at least not in the 100 years . . .If China wants (to have an Apple or Google), it must rebuild its education system.”

Another expert states: “Standardized, narrow, and uniform educational experiences, high-stakes standardized testing, (and) a push for conformity . . .  are . . . identified in China and Singapore’s education system for destroying the nations’ creativity and entrepreneurial spirits” (Zhao, 2012).

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Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple

Steve Wozniak from Apple said of rigid systems like Singapore, “When you’re very structured almost like a religion . . . Uniforms, uniforms, uniforms . . . everybody is the same. Look at structured societies like Singapore where bad behavior isn’t tolerated. You are extremely punished. Where are the creative people? Where are the great artists? Where are the great musicians? Where are the great singers? Where are the great writers? Where are the athletes? All the creative elements seem to disappear” (BBC, 2011).

The highest performing nations on the tests (China, Singapore, India, Korea) are moving away from constant testing and rigid structure while the U.S., with the Common Core assessments are diving headlong into old methods that will kill innovation.

In fact, an educational “superstar”, Finland, has NO assessment program until the end of high school, shorter school days and a 3 month break in summer, and very little homework. Furthermore, school is not compulsory until age 7! (Hendrickson, 2012). In addition, the national curriculum is not used to roll spindle and mutilate students and teachers through punitive assessments. The nation has a very “hands-off” attitude toward individual schools and understands that individual customization of curriculum and independence of teachers and schools creates the best results overall (Hendrickson, 2012).

  • After an average level of educational achievement is attained, further emphasis on tests is counterproductive to innovation (Baker, 2007).

“Among high-scoring nations, a certain level of educational attainment, as reflected in test scores, provides a platform for launching national success, but once that platform is reached, other factors become more important than further gains in test scores. Indeed, once the platform is reached, it may be bad policy to pursue further gains in test scores because focusing on the scores diverts attention, effort, and resources away from other factors that are more important determinants of national success.” (Baker, 2007)

Myth 4: We should embark on a national, top-down restructuring of educational standards such as Goals 2000, Outcome-Based Education, No Child Left Behind and the Common Core Standards to improve our scores and thus future prosperity.

Are you kidding?

Fact: National Standards in themselves do not determine student excellence. Both the highest and lowest performing nations have national standards. National standards/programs don’t correlate with high achievement on international testing.

But what does make a difference?

Unique state standards do make a difference in student achievement when combined with other layers of teacher requirements, moderate levels of subject mastery assessments and customizable programs for individual students. Massachusetts had a true state-led effort to craft excellent standards and supports. This process was transparent and involved years of public debate and input before a consensus was reached. The results were the envy of the rest of the U.S. and, even with the disparate SES, managed to compare favorably on international tests with the highest performing students in the world.

Using the 50 states as individual laboratories, each state and even each district can learn from the successes and failures of the others. An excellent example of this process is our neighbor to the north, Canada.

When international testing commenced, Canada occupied the middle of the pack, similar to the U.S. They have about 24% of students who are immigrants. But within a few decades, Canada was able to shoot to the top tier, while the U.S. remained stuck. What did Canada do? Did they fund a federal department of education, impose a draconian, coast-to-coast set of uniform standards, assessments and eventually curricula?

No, they did not (Edwards, 2013).

In fact, Canada’s educational system is much less structured than ours. They don’t have a national department of education or provide any federal funding. Each separate province (similar to States) is very competitive with the other provinces and seeks through a process of competition to quickly innovate and implement strategies which make real differences for students (Macleans, 2010). The gains have been real and well-documented by research. This kind of real evidence is what should drive educational decisions—not the machinations of special interests, crony governmentalism, and federal bribes from the Department of Education.

With monolithic national standards, students are effectively trapped with nowhere to escape for a better education. Unless they move to Canada.

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Common Core Standards ignore recent research in neuroscience

Science/Research findings are of limited value and can be biased. If the findings of a particular study don’t sound intuitively correct, be very skeptical. Poor science has been used in the past to justify very harmful practices.

Example of the limits of Science: Marasmus

In the early part of the 20th century babies in orphanages were dying at an alarming rate. Scientists were flummoxed. They called the fatal disease “Marasmus” (Montagu & Matson 1979). Assuming the mortality rate was due to bacteria, they prescribed strict separation for the babies from touching or contact. Only ultra-hygenic feeding and diapering were allowed with no extra handling.

The babies continued to die as if in a plague.

Finally, some bright soul decided to start cuddling and hugging the babies. They stopped dying and started thriving. “Marasmus” was nothing more than the deprivation of attention and love (Stout, 2005).

Programs like Common Core Standards may be the “marasmus” of the 21st century. Will our children have to suffer because of badly researched programs?

No experts on child development, mental health, or neuroscience helped to craft Common Core

  • CC is based on old motivational science from the 1910s and 1930s with B.F. Skinner.
  • He studied “stimulus-response” patterns to learn how to manipulate animals and people.
  • A Skinnerian Box
  • Skinner developed ways to train people and animals through the coercion of punishments and rewards.
  • He even had his own baby daughter in a glass box crib for the first years of life although he said the contraption was a solution to keep her warm without bedclothes (Snopes, 2014)

Did B.F. Skinner really put babies into boxes?j

Skinner considered this box a great advancement in childrearing

Problems with using punishments and rewards as motivation

  • External reinforcers tend to lose effectiveness over time
  • External reinforcers usually take significant time/effort to administer properly
  • External reinforcers are often expensive
  • External reinforcers often leave subjects feeling manipulated and dependent on external control
  • External reinforcers abrogate freedom
  • External rewards tend to diminish intrinsic motivation (Timms, 2013)

Current Neuroscience finds that human learning occurs best in loving relationships

Child in a Factory

Unlike factory production methods from the 1910s, recent findings from neuroscience support the idea that relationships foster better, faster and more permanent learning for children (Cozolino, 2013).

Stressors from Common Core Assessments can interfere with two important types of learning

  • Cognitive learning: Facts, procedures, memory, etc.
  • Emotional learning: Interpreting others intent, expressing and identifying feelings, self-soothing, risk-taking, etc.

Common Core over-testing creates anxiety

Common Core Assessment partners SBAC and PARC add even more testing than NCLB requires at present. In addition their tests are longer and the consortiums encourage interim testing 2 or 3 times during the year besides the year-end test-weeks. In addition, these tests will be used improperly to decided teacher evaluation and sometimes pay, school rankings, child-progress and possibly even graduation (FairTest, 2014).

Spring Has Sprung, Let The Test Anxiety Begin

Test Anxiety

Common Core over-testing creates an environment of “conditions of worth”

Children need to feel intrinsically loved and valuable. Failure at tests, and even the testing itself can stress even the most resilient children. The are convinced that their worth is based on their performance.

Vulnerable children respond negatively to even normal stressors

  • Children who have been abused, neglected or traumatized often display alarming responses to stress– especially outside of a safe, loving relationship. (Cozolino, 2013; Adams, 2014).
  • Studies show that mammals and human that experience little nurturing in early childhood result in lower abilities to emotionally regulate themselves. (Raabe & Spengler, 2013)

Current neuroscience shows how early stress creates later emotional dysregulation

cry your eyes out

Emotional Dysregulation– crying

  • Epigenetic studies show how the relational stress of maternal deprivation or early trauma creates genetic changes in protein synthesis resulting in the failure to uptake cortisol. This results in longer periods of distress to smaller triggers. (University of Utah, 2014; Weaver et. al, 2004)

Common Core Will Widen the Achievement Gap and Hurt the Most Vulnerable Children.

  • 20% of students in school have a “serious” mental/emotional condition that could receive a DSM diagnosis (NIH, 2013)
  • Examples: Depression, anxiety, bi-polar disorder, suicidality, self-mutilation, addictions, obsessions, compulsions, panic disorder, reactive attachment disorder, phobias, oppositional defiant disorder, ADHD, trichotillomania, etc.
  • Sexual and other abuse is not rare. Approximately 20% of girls and 10% of boys have been sexually abused and have many resulting emotional, cognitive and behavioral problems. (Bolen, 1999)
  • Many more students have experienced physical/emotional abuse and neglect and other traumatizing factors which create problems for learning (Childhelp, 2014; Adams, 2014)

Traumatized children are the most vulnerable of all

Common Core Doesn’t Allow for Individualized Needs of Traumatized Children:

  • Healing relationships first (Adams, 2014)
  • Development of neglected neural modalities
  • Relief from assessments which can create anxiety, depression and avoidance symptoms

The following harms are predictable

  • The most vulnerable children will fall further behind the rest of the students.
  • The achievement gap will widen (Adams, 2014)
  • Vulnerable children will react more dramatically

Expect More

  • Expect more mental disorders
  • Expect more anti-social behavior
  • Expect more school shootings
  • Expect more self-harming and suicides

Connecticut_School_Shooting_Hub_Generic_640x480_20121214140106_PNG

School violence will likely increase

How Should We Be Teaching Vulnerable Children?

With conditions of supportive relationships and few other resources, even traumatized students will tend to blossom (Cozolino, 2013, Adams, 2014).

Marva Collins taught “unteachable” inner city students in her home with practically no resources and they learned Shakespeare in third grade! Why? She first established a relationship! “I don’t care how much you know until I know how much you care”  (Cozolino, 2013)

Marva Collins– she did miracles with “unteachable children” because of relationships

Relationships are Better Motivators Than Material Rewards

Children will perform better because of a relationship (I want my teacher to be proud of me!) more than for material rewards (I earned a candy bar!). Psychic rewards tend to be more powerful than material rewards.

Optimal Brain Development Requires Early Activation of Many Learning Modes

  • Visual processing: drawing, painting, animation, and art appreciation, optical illusions, Where’s Waldo, video games.
  • Auditory processing: foreign language, music, reading aloud, being read to, singing
  • Emotional centers: identifying emotions, reading emotions on others, self-soothing strategies, emotional expression in safe environment (drama)
  • Spatial/movement processing centers: building/manipulating objects, dance, sports, games, puzzles, cursive handwriting
  • Memory centers: short term memory, long-term memory

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Common Core Neglects Many Brain Modalities

  • Common Core focuses huge amounts of time developing the left, prefrontal cortex activities in children to the neglect of other modalities. This will result in later difficulties in synthesis required for higher order thinking tasks such as creativity, innovation, critical analysis, perseverance in the face of opposition, etc. (Young & Doidge, 2013).

Common Core Reduces Experience with Literature

Common Core’s mandates for informational texts over literature deprive student’s brains of context (relationships). Stories/narratives foster larger areas of brain activation and memory activation than dry facts (Cozolino, 2013) Kids tell stories for a reason. The context gives meaning and meaning signals to the brain to remember (Cozolino, 2013)

Literature teaches both cognitive and emotional skills that informational texts can’t teach

One of the most important mental health purposes of education is to teach children to be empathetic, kind, to delay gratification and to become sensitive to their internal self-talk (conscience). Literature can assist with this through social learning. If these skills are not developed, the child becomes a heartless “clever devil” or as C.S. Lewis described, “Men without chests.” (People with active intellects and libido, but no heart or compassion). More admirable literature, not less, is what is need for children’s resilience.

Good literature embues the reader with compassion and empathy

Common Core Assessments Violate Student Privacy and Professional Ethics

Hundreds of assessment points on students and parents have been authorized by the DOE  (NCES 2014) including substance abuse, record of child protective services, illnesses, affiliations, etc. These are information points which in the medical or mental health profession would be protected by HIPAA regulations.

New FERPA Changes Violate Privacy

Because the Obama administration made significant, executive changes to FERPA, student information can now be accessed by corporations, school personnel or any other entity that the state approves.

medical-malpractice-2

Trained professionals would be heavily fined or punished under the same circumstances

If doctors or psychologists did this, they would be fined at least $100,000 for each instance. And they could lose their license because of breach of confidentiality.

Why can the government get away with this violation?

Common Core is Completely Untested

Common Core Standards are completely untested experimentally yet are being inflicted on virtually every student in the entire U.S. from K-12 with NO PREVIOUS TESTING. This is an egregious violation of basic ethics and good science and shows the developers’ absolute disregard or ignorance of potential harms to children. The EPA conducts more testing for the food dyes in Kool-Aid than has been conducted on Common Core which kids will live with for 8 hours a day for 12 years.

No Hard Evidence Supports Common Core

Unlike other professions, educational bureaucrats are not using “evidence-based practices.”

Instead of funding yet another untested scheme, we must demand “Evidence-based Education”.

Show us the evidence FIRST.

Common Core Aligned Curriculum Provides Validation for Radical Lessons Which Can Harm Children.

CC alignment makes it more difficult for parents to challenge because the administrator appeals to the authority of the standards, “But it’s Common Core aligned!” However, the developers are careful to distance themselves from curriculum development so they can’t be held responsible for damaging lessons. We as parents can’t let them have it both ways. Either the Standards are RESPONSIBLE for the curriculum that is validated by “alignment” or they shouldn’t allow the label “Common Core Aligned.”

Numerous Examples Exist of Radical Curricula “Aligned” or Even Officially Recommended by Common Core:

The examples are multiplying every day, but here are just four problematic sources:

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Toni Morrison, author of “The Bluest Eye”

ELA recommended books for 11 graders (Common Core Standards, 2012)

  • The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison (Landes, 2013) Graphic child sex abuse depictions. Landes is a mental health professional who asserts that this book could endanger youth who are victims of sexual abuse by forcing them to relive their trauma while justifying the perpetrator.
  • Dreaming in Cuban, by Cristina Garcia (Berry, 2013) Graphic sex depictions.

Other texts/books aligned with Common Core

  • The Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison (Kane, 2013) Graphic rape depictions.
  • Voices in Literature and Writing, (Landes, 2013) Teaches first-graders how to create propaganda and trains them in mental health cognitive distortions.

References

Alpine School Board Member Wendy Hart: Why I Oppose Common Core   2 comments

Guest Post by Wendy Hart, member of the Alpine School Board, Alpine, Utah

Some of you have followed my journey on this issue from the beginning.  Others have just become acquainted.  Here is a short summary of my opposition to Common Core.  [As posted below] http://wendy4asd.blogspot.com/2014/02/why-i-oppose-common-core.html

I know many of you are in support of Common Core, and that’s fine.  One of my biggest complaints about the whole process was the lack of transparency in the adoption process.  I have found that the more people who can weigh in on an issue, the greater the opportunity we, as elected officials, have to see all the potential ramifications.  I have been told that we, the public, just didn’t show up when we had the opportunity.
In point of fact, the Alpine School Board minutes do not make mention of Common Core or new standards at all until well after the formal adoption by the State Board in Aug. 2010.  With all due respect, the public and, at least, the Alpine School Board were kept in the dark.
All that is to say, feel free to advocate for whatever position you see fit.  I will not be offended.
I hope you will not be offended by my standing for what I believe.

Why I Oppose Common Core

Who is in control of our children’s education?
This shift to the Common Core is a huge lurch away from bottom-up, local control to top-down, centralized control. Common Core is about creating a single pathway to supposed economic and educational success. Think about it, 45 states all adopting the same standards at the same time. 45 states all implementing Common Core testing, nationwide, at the same time. All the publishers and teacher training courses aligning to Common Core at the same time. And, what about college? the ACT and SAT? They, too, will be aligning to Common Core. What are the options should you object, as a parent, as a school, as a district?
What are the options if we decide, once we have full implementation and actual experience to back up the Common Core experiment, that we made a mistake? How do we amend? How do we turn back? A few years from now, it will be too late. We have just signed on to a system to eliminate, through attrition, virtually all other options in public education.
And who made this decision about what our kids will learn? Five people with a nod from Bill Gates and a couple of D.C. lobbying groups, were able to get their untested vision implemented via financial and legal incentives, as well as disputed promises of ‘greater rigor’, ‘college and career readiness’, and ‘international benchmarking’. We have decided to go down this path due, in part, to incentives, but also to the idea of not being left behind the rest of the states. That, somehow, Utah wasn’t capable of taking care of our own. It shows a supreme lack of confidence in the people, teachers, and principals of Utah that our State Board thought they needed to rush to adopt the Common Core, along with other states to get the federal money, instead of allowing the debate, discussion, and involvement of local Utahns in this process.
People will say, “It doesn’t matter where we get it; the ends justify the means.” We must reject that notion. What we are saying, in effect, is that the principles we stand for don’t matter. That parents and local communities don’t matter—only the opinion of the so-called experts matters, as long as our kids learn what the experts want them to learn. Why would we want to encourage a system where the people are not involved in creating the best schools? Instead, we have a system where we trust the experts to tell us what ‘the best’ actually means. And in this case, those ‘experts’ are in control.
In 1816, Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter about education and linked it to the proper role of government. In it, he articulates two important principles. He said, “if it is believed that these elementary schools will be better managed by the governor and council, the commissioners of the literary fund, or any other general authority of the government, than by the parents within each ward, it is a belief against all experience. …
No, my friend, the way to have good and safe government, is not to trust it all to one, but to divide it among the many, distributing to every one exactly the functions he is competent to.”

Common Core violates both these principles: 1) Parents must direct the education of their kids in school, not the government, and 2) Good and safe government, and that includes public schools, comes from dividing and distributing power. Consolidated power is not safe, and creates the potential for corruption, and, at the very least, destroys the means for innovation and outside the box thinking.

Jefferson goes on to say,“What has destroyed liberty and the rights of man in every government which has ever existed under the sun? The generalizing and concentrating all cares and powers into one body…”
This is EXACTLY what Common Core does.
We are at the crossroads. We can abdicate our parental and local responsibilities to the so-called experts and the rich philanthropists, or we can reclaim bottom-up, parent-controlled education. In the end, I will stand on the side of parents, local teachers, and local communities deciding what is of most worth to pass on to their own children.
————
Wendy Hart has also explained Utah’s unthinking adoption of Common Core in this video.

Chicago Teacher Paul Horton: Obama’s Corporate Friends Dictate Education Policy   4 comments

 children

Why Obama’s Education Policies will not Change

Guest post by Chicago high school history teacher Paul Horton, also posted at Edweek 

 

Back before the President was elected, he spoke to the 80th annual convention of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). It is useful to compare the President’s speech to the AFT in July of 2008 and his state of the union address last week. In his state of the Union speech of 2013, he spoke of states “voluntarily” complying with the DOEd’s Race to the Top program. He is fond of saying that learning “is more than bubble tests,” and that “change is hard.”

It is also interesting to note that the President began this year’s state of the union speech with a compliment to teachers–an election cycle is approaching—but that he stuck with the “bubble test” line, and, most importantly, with the “change is hard” line.

My guess is that he dropped the “voluntary” line because many teachers, students, and parents don’t buy it anymore. Too many folks know too much.

obama

I have just taken a closer look at the history of Illinois compliance. This example might be similar to what happened in many other states.

On January 13 and 14 of 2010, Governor Quinn and state Education Superintendent Christopher Koch signed the first round RTTT Illinois Application. Initial endorsements came from the Commercial Club of Chicago’s who’s who.

When Tennessee and D.C. won the first round, the pressure was on to beef up endorsements for the 2nd round of grants. This is where the heavy political muscle was applied. Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) put out fact sheets indicating that Illinois’ first application lacked broader support from education, business, and political leaders, the state legislature then magically brought a bill to the floor that called for a 1% increase in Education funding right at the point when Federal money that had allowed districts to retain thousand of teachers was cut off for the next fiscal year.

The money available would be dangled before the states facing huge cuts in the form of a Race to the Top grant competition. According to Illinois AFT President Ed Geppert, “Illinois is on the brink of budget disaster.” (Illinois AFT Facebook posting, March 10, 2010)

aft

In response, AFT mobilized its base in rallies to increase state funding. But the state legislature had the NEA and AFT over a barrel. Not surprisingly, as the state Education bill was being negotiated, NEA and AFT both sent in phase two RTTT application endorsement letters. At the same time (February-July), district superintendents and NEA and AFT locals were being pressured to sign Memorandums of Understanding (MOUS) to mandate adherence to the Common Core Curriculum (CCCS), standardized testing based on the CCCS, Value Added Assessments (VAM), greater openness to charter school openings, and more support for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Education (STEM). This all sounded great to districts and locals facing huge job cuts, they could see the gruesome budget guillotine out the window.

With some resistance from better-funded north shore (Chicago) districts (i.e. Evanston) the state achieved “voluntary” buy-in when districts gave up local control of curriculum and union locals begged for crumbs at the legislative bargaining table.

A question that could be asked is: how could the state legislature be lined up so quickly to apply the pressure on districts and unions? My educated guess is DFER.  DFER had access to “insider information” from DOEd.

pearson                      sir michael barber

gatesdemocrats for ed reform

A very porous membrane exists between the Department of Education, Democrats for Education Reform, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and Pearson Education.

DFER made it known to the Illinois House Speaker and Governor that Illinois’ application did not look “voluntary” enough. The House Speaker and the Governor’s allies in the state legislature came up with the idea of an underfunded Education bill as the leverage needed to create “voluntary” support for RTTT. Dozens of letters of endorsement began arriving to the Governor’s office in early May.

“Voluntary” my…. foot!

Back to the President’s campaign speech in July 2008 to the AFT convention. At this point Bill Gates was playing pretty coy with the President’s campaign. Candidate Obama already had strong ties to DFER, having worked with DFER as a state senator and US senator.  His close circle of friends, the friends who had provided him with the cash to make it through the primaries, all supported charter schools.  John Rogers created created the Ariel Academy and the Ariel Foundation. Marty Nesbitt and Penny Pritzker were breaking into the business of creating charter schools: the Noble Charter chain. Mr. Nesbitt, Diana Mendley Rauner, Rahm Emanuel, and Valerie Jarrett had close ties with the Chicago Housing Authority. Mr. Nesbitt was the CHA Board Chairman and worked to implement a Federally subsidized plan (Hope VI) in the Plan for Transformation that demolished public housing units and created public-private partnerships for mixed income development on the west and “mid-south” sides.

At the same time, the Commercial Club of Chicago hatched the Renaissance 2010 plan that sought to close 60 public schools in these mixed income developments and replace them with a mix of 100 public and private charter schools. The push for the Olympic bid for 2016 was intended to speed up south side gentrification to create a developer’s profit bonanza. Brand new “streamlined” charter schools would attract upper middle class buyers into mixed-income neighborhoods. (Pauline Lipman, The New Political Economy of Urban Education, 74-99)

The Olympic bid fell flat on its face, and the neighborhoods were not mixing as rapidly as developers hoped in the wake of the 2008 crash.

But the charter schools are still being built and public schools are still being closed in gentrifying areas. Former public housing residents are pushed out of these mixed income neighborhoods. Because the neighborhood schools lose enrollment, they are closed. Public schools are then replaced by charters that require an extensive application process. This story is the narrative of “reform” in several major cities. (Lipman, 95-99)

Candidate Obama, in his speech video cast to the American Federation of Teachers convention, insisted, “that we must fix the failures of “No Child Left Behind by providing the funding that was promised, giving states the resources that they need, and finally meeting our commitment to special education.”

“It is time to start treating teachers properly….In May, I visited a school in Colorado where just three years ago, only half the seniors are accepted to college. But thanks to the hard work of caring parents, innovative educators, and some very committed students, all forty-four seniors at this year’s class were accepted to more than seventy colleges and universities across the country. And that example trickles down.”

What the President did not tell the AFT crowd  in 2008 was that the school that he was describing was a charter school that had closed its doors to a large percentage of students who started with the class that the future President was holding up as a model for all educators. He was also very careful not to mention that the school employed non-union teachers and was created by a former Teacher for America teacher—Michael Johnston.

The President knew what he was planning because his closest friends, and most important bundlers: John Rogers (Arne Duncan’s best friend), Marty Nesbitt (the President’s best friend), and Penny Pritzker (Marty Nesbitt’s boss who invested $50 million in his “Parking Spot” start-up), all board members of the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools (who served on that board with Michelle Obama), were heavily invested in the Noble charter chain.

For President Obama, education policy will not change because he owes the DFER bundlers, his closest friends, and Bill Gates a huge payback for their investment of time and funds into his campaign.

Our education policy is their education policy.  It is a policy for those who own stock in charter chains, Microsoft, Apple, HP, and Pearson Education.

“Change is hard.”

Should Corporations and political friends be allowed to dictate Education Policy?

children

 

Senators Stand Up to Obama and Duncan’s Common Core in D.C   6 comments

God bless these senators!

From a press release from Senator Mike Lee’s website:

Feb 05 2014

Senators Introduce Resolution Denouncing Obama Administration’s Coercion of States with Common Core

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) will introduce a resolution strongly denouncing the Obama Administration’s coercion of states into adopting Common Core State Standards by conferring preferences in federal grants and flexibility waivers.  The resolution is co-sponsored by Senators Tim Scott (R-South Carolina), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma), Thad Cochran (R-Mississippi), Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi), and Mike Enzi (R-Wyoming).
senator cochran mississ
The Obama Administration has effectively bribed and coerced states into adopting Common Core,” said Graham.  “Blanket education standards should not be a prerequisite for federal funding.  In order to have a competitive application for some federal grants and flexibility waivers, states have to adopt Common Core.  This is simply not the way the Obama Administration should be handling education policy. Our resolution affirms that education belongs in the hands of our parents, local officials and states.
senator graham
Educational decisions are best made by parents and teachers – not bureaucrats in Washington,” said Scott.  “While Common Core started out as a state-led initiative, the federal government unfortunately decided to use carrots and sticks to coerce states into adopting national standards and assessments. That is simply the wrong choice for our kids.”
senator scott
“It is crucial that the money being spent on education in Oklahoma be controlled by Oklahomans who are familiar with the needs of our schools and students,” said Inhofe. “This is why I am proud to join Senator Graham in introducing a resolution that enforces vital education practices of leaving the decisions of children’s educational needs to the state and the parents.
senator inofe
Common Core is another example of Washington trying to control all aspects of Americans’ lives, including the education of our children,” said Cruz.  “We should not allow the federal government to dictate what our children learn; rather, parents, through their teachers, local schools and state systems, should be able to direct the education of their children.”
senator cruz
Common Core has become polluted with Federal guidelines and mandates that interfere with the ability of parents, teachers and principals to deliver the education our children deserve,” said Lee.  “Rather than increasing coercion, we should be demanding that further interference by the U.S. Department of Education with respect to state decisions on academic content standards be eliminated.”
senator lee
Decisions about what content students should be taught have enormous consequences for children and so should be made as close as possible to the affected parents and students,” said Grassley.  “Federal interference in this area disrupts the direct line of accountability between parents and those making decisions about their children’s education.  It also takes away needed flexibility from state education leaders to make changes as they learn more about what works and what does not.”
senator grassley
This Administration favors a national school board approach to education and likes to ignore individual states’ decisions,” said Enzi. “It uses ‘free’ money as the carrot to dangle in front of the states. In effect it is trying to force states into accepting a one-size-fits-all approach. This coercion with Common Core is another example of the federal government trampling on states’ rights and is the wrong approach to fixing our education system in this country.”
The major provisions of the resolution affirm:
  • Education belongs in the hands of parents, local education officials, and states.
  • The federal government should not coerce states into adopting common education standards.
  • No future application process for any federal grant funds or waivers should award additional points, or provide any preference, for the adoption of Common Core.

FACT SHEET :

  • Strongly denounces President Obama’s coercion of states into adopting Common Core by conferring preferences in federal grants and flexibility waivers.
  • Strongly supports the restoration and protection of state authority and flexibility in establishing and defining challenging student academic standards and assessments.

———————-

By the way, the Utah State Office of Education still claims  that there are “no federal strings” attached to Common Core.   Will they ever tell the people of Utah ?

New York Professor’s Run-in With Common Core Promotion Machine   4 comments

alan singer

New York Professor’s Run-in With NY Common Core Promotion Machine

Guest Post by Professor Alan Singer

This story is posted with permission from Professor Singer, and the article is also posted at the Huffington Post under the title: “Questions about Common Core – NYS Education Officials Do Not Want to Hear About It.”

In December 2013, the New York Regents, the policy making body for education in the state, formed a sub-committee to evaluate implementation of the national Common Core Standards. Merryl Tisch the chair of the Board of Regents and John King, the state’s educational commissioner, are both strong advocates for the rapid introduction of the Common Core accompanied by high-stakes testing of students and the evaluation of teachers based on student test scores. However, in a series of public forums across the state, Commissioner King was sharply criticized by both parents and teachers. Some Regents, including Roger Tilles who represents Long Island and Geraldine Chapey of Belle Harbor in Queens, have also been very critical of implementation of Common Core.

New York State United Teachers, the umbrella organization representing unionized teachers in New York State responded to the campaign to rapidly introduce Common Core and new high-stakes tests by calling for the immediate removal of the Commissioner of Education John King by the Board of Regents and postponement of Common Core graduation requirements. This move is supported by Randi Weingarten, president of the national union, the American Federation of Teachers. In addition, a coalition of 45 educational organizations called the NYS Allies for Public Education has launched a campaign to have four new members elected to the state educational governing body, all of whom have expressed reservations about the rapid implementation of Common Core in the state. Members of the Board of Regents are elected by the New York State Legislature.

In May 2011, in an essay published in New York Newsday and on the Washington Post website, Regent Tilles raised concerns about Common Core that have been largely ignored by its proponents for the last three years. Tilles argued “Student learning is complex” and “impacted by many factors which include, but are not limited to, prior learning, family background, level of poverty, classroom and school culture, access to private tutors, learning disabilities, access to adequate resources, and even school district governance,” none of which are taken into account by the Common Core standards, the testing program, or teacher evaluations. He objected to “using the student results of New York’s standardized tests to evaluate teachers” because it contributed to “the corrupting influence of high stakes on the education programs.” He was especially concerned that the focus of Common Core and the high-stakes assessments on reading and math skills was “snuffing out the creative thinking” and worried “that all of the above is an attempt to promote charter schools and dismantle the public school system.”

There are legitimate questions about how serious Tisch and King are about rethinking Common Core. At the same time as Tisch announced formation of the Regents sub-committee, Tisch and King, in an opinion article published in the Albany Times-Union declared “We want to hear from teachers, parents, and students about what’s working and what could work better. But we also know that moving forward with Common Core is essential.”

As far as I can see, there is little real discussion going on about the Common Core standards. Politicians and corporations who are selling the standards to the public and forcing it on teachers and schools ignore both supportive suggestions and opposition. The story I report here says that the champions of Common Core, no matter what they say, do not want to hear any other ideas.

In New York State, Common Core is promoted by EngageNY, a website “created and maintained by the New York State Education Department,” and a secretive non-governmental group called the Regents Research Fund. As the EngageNY website makes clear, its primary purpose is promoting Common Core.

“The New York State Education Department (NYSED) is engaging teachers, administrators, and education experts across the State and nation in the creation of curriculum resources, instructional materials, professional development materials, samples of test questions, test specifications, and other test-related materials that will help with the transition to the New York State P-12 Common Core Learning Standards (CCLS).”

The actions of the Regents Research Fund are a little harder to pin down. The Albany Times Union calls it a “shadow government” within the New York State Education Department. It is supported by $19 million in donations from wealthy individuals and foundations.

On the EngageNY website and for the Regents Research Fund the chief salesperson for Common Core is Kate Gerson, a very attractive woman who appears to have minimal teaching experience. Although she is not an actual employ of the State Education Department, Gerson represents them at Common Core meetings across the state and is the featured Common Core cheerleader on EngageNY online videos. The Times Herald-Record, based in Middletown, New York, described Gerson’s performance at a staff development workshop for teachers in the Monticello school district this way.

“With a microphone dangling under her chin, Kate Gerson paced the front of the high school auditorium in sweater dress and heeled boots, prodding teachers to rethink the Gettysburg Address. She used the word “text” over and over again.”

kate ny

Gerson’s advice to teachers was “Try it out; get smarter at it. This is hard work. Pick a text and dive in, and build a unit around a text that you are devoted to, that you have to teach anyway, and teach it differently.”

You can view Gerson’s traveling show at the EngageNY website. In a fifteen minute video titled “Quick Explanation of the Shifts by Kate Gerson,” she basically tells the audience that they are already doing Common Core in small bursts, but they now have to do it more systematically and have students think more deeply about what they read.

I did not have many disagreements with the goals Gerson presented in her show, but I was very surprised by two things. It was very unclear how deeper literacy was going to be achieved in classrooms where students have serious academic difficulty. Mostly she just repeated educational clichés – we were going to have a shift in focus, text-based instruction, rigorous standards, and students would think deeply and marshal evidence. Teaching these academic skills to real students in actual classrooms was almost a hopeful wish on her part.

I was also struck by Gerson’s lack of knowledge about the English Language Arts curriculum in New York State. According to Gerson, as part of the new rigor and higher standards, students would read To Kill a Mocking Bird in eighth grade rather than in ninth grade. But students always read To Kill a Mocking Bird in eight grade because that is when they learned about the Civil Rights movement in social studies. Students were also going to read Achebe’s book Things for Apart in 10th grade rather than in12th grade, but students always read Things Fall Apart in 10th grade because that is when they study the impact of European imperialism on traditional societies in Global History.

Gerson is promoted as a former New York City teacher and school principal who brings legitimate educational credentials and experience to the discussion of Common Core. According to her LinkedIn site, Gerson has a B.A. in Women’s Studies from the University of Arizona and a M.A in Language Education from Indiana University. She began her career as a teacher in Indiana, but only worked in New York City for two years at a transfer school for over-aged-under-credited students before leaving for an organization called New Leaders for Schools where she worked from 2007 to 2010. Gerson is also associated with Frederick Hess, Resident Scholar and Director of Education Policy Studies at theAmerican Enterprise Institute, which pushes free market pro-business solutions to educational and social issues.

Gerson will be the keynote speaker at an Uncommon Core at a conference in Binghamton, New York on March 14, 2014.

alan singer small pic

I was also invited by conference organizers to speak there because of my Huffington Posts on Common Core where I am critical of Common Core, but also offer practical suggestions and lesson ideas on how it can be useful in the classroom. For example, I recently posted a blog on Huffington Post with quotations from two speeches by Martin Luther King, Jr. where he offers a more radical critique of American society.

My position on Common Core is that it is useful to teachers and schools as a guideline but not as a mandated set of skills that must be achieved in a specific time frame by every student. I am also disturbed that the almost universal focus on skills acquisition will interfere with the teaching of subject content. AsRegent Tilles argued, to be most effective, Common Core Standards must be separated from high-stakes testing for students and the evaluation of teachers. State Education needs to provide teachers with sample material that defines what they mean by “college and career ready,” but scripted lessons that inhibit teacher creativity and eliminate flexibility are not useful. Among the things I like about Common Core is that it encourages the Horizontal (across subject) and Vertical (across grade level) Integration of instruction and it supports systematic planning and conscious decision-making by teachers. However, to the extent that it is tied into the privatization of curriculum, staff development, student assessment, and teacher preparation it is undermining public education.

The problem with the invitation to speak at the Binghamton conference with Gerson is that the conference organizers were not be able to pay an honorarium despite the fact that I would have a ten-hour round trip drive from New York City and have to spend the night. This basically meant I am unable to participate.

meryl ny

Merryl Tisch (non-responder)

I emailed Merryl Tisch, Chair of the New York State Board of Regents, Education Commissioner Jon King, Ken Wagner, Deputy Commissioner for Curriculum, Assessment, and Educational Technology at the New York State Education Department, and Kate Gerson and Joshua Skolnick of the Regents Research Fund in an effort to secure financial support to participate in the conference. I did not get a response from Tisch, King, or Skolnick. Gerson emailed back that she had forwarded my request to Skolnick and Wagner.

ken w

Ken Wagner, Deputy Commissioner for Curriculum, Assessment, and Educational Technology and a person in charge of implementing Common Core standards in New York State

I received a curt response from Wagner, Deputy Commissioner for Curriculum, Assessment, and Educational Technology at the New York State Education Department. According to his LinkedIn page, Mr. Wagner has a very interesting resume. He has worked at the State Education Department in different capacities since 2009. Before that he was a district administrator in Suffolk County for three years, an assistant principal and a principal for five years, and a school psychologist for four years. However, Mr. Wagner rose to become Deputy Commissioner for Curriculum, Assessment, and Educational Technology and a person in charge of implementing Common Core standards in New York State without ever having been a classroom teacher.

Mr. Wagner emailed me: “There is no funding available. Perhaps you should cancel.”

I later emailed Mr. Wagner the Common Core based lesson on the speeches of Martin Luther Kin, Jr. that I had developed for Martin Luther King Jr. Day commemorations in local secondary schools.

This time he responded:

Hi Alan,

Please remove me from your list.

Thanks a bunch,

Ken

I emailed him back:

“I thought you were a state official and this was a public email address?

Any update on the honorarium so that I can present on Common Core at the Binghamton Uncommon Core Conference?”

Mr. Wagner responded, denying funding for the conference again, and this time accusing me of sending spam in violation of federal law:

From: Ken Wagner

Sent: Saturday, January 11, 2014 8:28 PM

To: Alan J. Singer

Subject: Re: The Other Martin Luther King – Alan’s Latest Huffington Post

No worries, thanks.

It is generally best practice for authors to provide their readers with options and choice. Self-publishing has changed all that, I suppose.

You should be aware, however, that sending unsolicited email without the ability to decline meets the federal definition of Spam.

As I said, funding is not an option.

Ken

At least in my experience, education officials in New York State are not interested in what anyone else has to say about Common Core.

Post-It Note: I checked the federal definition of spam. According to the CAN-SPAM act of 2003 spam is “any electronic mail message the primary purpose of which is the commercial advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service.”

I fail to see how a lesson on Martin Luther King, Jr. aligned with Common Core that I am making freely available to teachers and available to state curriculum officials constitutes spam under this law, but I guess Mr. Wagner, as an expert on Common Core, is able to understand the statute’s deeper meaning.

——————————————————————————

Alan Singer, Director, Secondary Education Social Studies Department of Teaching, Literacy and Leadership 128 Hagedorn Hall / 119 Hofstra University / Hempstead, NY 11549

Weighing Data-Driven Decision Making Against Privacy Under Common Core   4 comments

fish

Should parents have the right to opt out of having children essentially stalked by SLDS, the State Longitudinal Database?

The State School Board doesn’t think so.

Boiling down the  conflict about personal data, we get to two ideas; which one do you value more?

It’s either:

1) -  Our Constitutional right to be free from “unreasonable search and seizure” of “private effects” (unless there truly is some “probable cause” of our guilt)

OR:

2) -  The corporate and government-backed movement to gather and share “robust data” to enable “data-driven decisions” that may serve educational research.

Take some time.  Think about it.  We cannot have our cake and eat it, too.

Many organizations, agencies and movements have begun to depend on the second philosophy and Utah has aligned its school systems and other government agencies to it– without thinking too deeply about it.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan hosts the White House “Datapalooza” event and  gives speeches about the wonders of data collection. He persuades unrelated governmental agencies to share personal data. His right-hand woman, Joanne Weiss, encourages inter-agency “data-mashing.”  And Duncan not only supports, but has been the main speaker at Data Quality Campaign’s summit.  This is key. I’ll tell you all about the DQC.

Data Quality Campaign” has  many  partners  including (no coincidence) all of the Common Core creators and testers!   “Achieve,” “National Governors’ Association,”  “Council of Chief State School Officers,” “American Institutes for Research,” “PESC” (a council that makes data standards common) and MANY more share the DQC’s “vision of an education system in which all stakeholders… are empowered with high-quality data from the early childhood, K–12, postsecondary, and workforce systems.”

From the DQC’s site:  “as states build and enhance K12 longitudinal data systems they continue building linkages to exchange and use information across early childhood, postsecondary and the workforce and with other critical agencies such as health, social services and criminal justice systems.”

Do you share that vision?

On November 12, 2009, at a Data Quality Campaign conference, (note: the keynote speaker was an NGA leader; NGA copyrighted Common Core)  they encouraged “the status of states’ ability to link data across agencies and provided several state case studies of promising strategies to sharing individual-level data across systems and agencies.”

And  Utah was “honored” by DQC for providing an example of linking criminal justice agencies, educational agencies, medical agencies, etc. using school-collected data and common data standards. Some data on a child that had been USOE-collected  (private student data) was accessed by Utah’s Department of Human Services, according to this DQC brief, because of Utah MOUs that permitted data exchanges.  Excerpt:
“Utah’s State Office of Education (USOE) has an extensive data warehouse, but initially, concerns about student privacy protection, especially related to the federal FERPA legislation, prohibited data sharing. However, Human Services worked with the USOE to develop two memoranda of understanding (MOUs) to permit data exchange and mitigate student privacy concerns. One MOU established that the state serves as the child’s parent when the child is in state custody. Although this MOU often is not employed, it did clarify the role of the state and its permission to attain and view student records housed in the USOE. The second MOU established that by connecting these two databases to evaluate the educational outcomes of children who aged out of foster care. Utah Human Services was conducting research on behalf of the USOE and, therefore, could be granted access to student-level data.  http://www.dataqualitycampaign.org/files/65_meetings-dqc_quarterly_issue_brief_091807.pdf

Why isn’t this stuff in the papers?

But DQC reminds us that “Every Governor and Chief State School Officer agreed to build longitudinal data systems that can follow individual students from early learning through secondary and postsecondary education and into the workforce as a condition for receiving State Fiscal Stabilization Funds. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) not only provided states the venture and political capital to build on the growing momentum behind statewide longitudinal data systems, but also offered state agencies the chance to think creatively and break down traditional silos. For policymakers, educators, parents, and students to have the information they need to improve student and system performance, state K-12 longitudinal data systems must be able to exchange and use information across the early learning, postsecondary, and workforce sectors as well as health and social services systems.”

Data Baby

So, to ponder how this affects YOUR child:

DQC is partnered with American Institutes for Research (AIR) which is Utah’s Common Core test maker for the Computer Adaptive Math and English Common Core test, also known as the SAGE test.  (FYI, AIR is fully partnered with SBAC, the testing group Utah dropped in 2012.)

American Institutes for Research  will not only test Common Core standards teachings, but will also upload all Utah student test takers’ personally identifiable information, academic and nonacademic information into its database.

(Why the nonacademic information too?  Because Utah’s HB15 mandates that behavioral indicators will be tested and conveniently, AIR is a psychometrics specialist.)

Understandably, all over the country and in my own home state of Utah, legislators are scrambling to create student data protection bills.  But they face a problem that most maybe don’t want to see.

Every state has a federally-invented SLDS:  State Longitudinal Database System. In Utah, we have been recipients of millions of dollars (and have been entangled in the federal strings that have come with those dollars) because we agreed to the four education reform assurances that came with the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund money (ARRA Stimulus funding).  And we agreed to build our SLDS (State Longitudinal Database System) to federal specs.  So did all the other states.  It’s an illegal, de facto national database because of that interoperability factor and because we’ve agreed to it through PESC.

We built the SLDS monster. Now legislation is trying to put a muzzle and a leash on him.   Why keep him around at all?

The SLDS’s core function is “to fulfill federal reporting.”   This fact comes from the PESC State Core Model, which Utah agreed to when the Utah Data Alliance  agreed to the Postsecondary Electronic Standards Council (PESC) Model and the SIF (interoperability framework) in the SLDS grant application –which means all of our data will be interoperable and sharable across state lines. The PESC’s State Core Model deliberately aligns different states’ SLDS data systems so that they all match.

Not surprisingly, the PESC model was developed by the unelected, private trade group, CCSSO, as part of the Common Education Data Standards (CEDS) funded by the Gates Foundation. (CCSSO is the same private group that developed and copyrighted Common Core standards). The PESC “establishes comparability between sectors and between states” and brags that it “will do for State Longitudinal Data Systems what the Common Core is doing for Curriculum Frameworks and the two assessment consortia. The core purpose of an SLDS is to fulfill federal reporting…”

The agreement is stated on page 4 of section 1 (page 20 on the PDF) of Utah’s 2009 ARRA Data Grant: “The UDA will adhere to standards such as the School Interoperability Framework (SIF), the Postsecondary Electronic Standards Council (PESC)

Not good.

Nothing’s preventing agencies from sharing data.  In fact, the DQC praises those who, like Utah’s USOE, have created ways to share data with other agencies.

fish bigger

But there’s an even bigger fish to fry.

Although, years ago, there was a protective federal privacy law called FERPA, it’s been corrupted by the Department of Education.

Federal FERPA laws have been grossly loosened.  Every federal agency I can find, including the NCES and the Department of Education are encouraging us to pool data.

The U.S. Department of Education’s intentions are further, very clearly, revealed in the student-level data-sharing mandate in its cooperative testing agreements (and in the contrast between what Secretary Arne Duncan says and does.)

The bottom line is that we should not align any privacy law with federal FERPA and we should shut the SLDS monster’s big mouth by creating opt-out allowances for parents to protect their children from this big government stalker.

I have serious concerns about a bill that’s being written in Utah right now, SB0049, which aligns with federal FERPA’s definitions of “personally identifiable information” and “authorized representative.”

Reading this bill, I could hardly believe that Utah legislators care to protect us.

Surely legislators have read that the Department of Education has, without Congressional approval, altered federal FERPA to loosen privacy protections by having redefined terms. (This resulted in a big law suit with the Electronic Privacy Information Center.) The loosening of student privacy protections by the federal government took place during the same time as the Department of Education was creating national school assessment contracts that stated that the Department would access student-level data through the assessments “subject to applicable privacy law.” Thus they changed the law to suit their data-hungry point of view. The federal FERPA reduced parental consent over student data from a requirement to a “best practice”!

It changed the definition of “personally identifiable information” to include biometric information, which includes DNA, handwriting, iris scans, fingeprints, as well as behavioral information

Is this what we want for Utah?

Behavioral and belief-based information on a child is without question going to be collected by Utah’s math and English tests by psychometric embedding by test writer and psychometric specialist AIR -American Institutes for Reasearch. Utah gave AIR $39 million to do this terrible mistake when the Utah legislature mandated it, in HB15, the Computer Adaptive Testing bill.

To align state privacy laws with federal definitions is to guarantee a toothless and spineless pretense of protection.

This is not hyperbole.  Follow the money trail to see who has a vested interest in denying parents and students authority over their own private data.  We can’t afford to give our ear to those who are making the money from the exposure of student data to “researchers” —who are really just greedy vendors.

Microsoft owner Bill Gates, who has called schools a “uniform customer base” has paid hundreds of millions to align common data standards with common educational standards. He has partnered with Pearson (who is contracted to make Utah’s UTREX) which pu