Archive for the ‘SBAC’ Tag
WHAT WE KNOW:
1. ALL UTAHNS ARE TRACKED VIA SCHOOLS USING A FEDERALLY PROMOTED AND PAID-FOR SLDS.
I have an email from the State School Board that says there is no possibility for my student to opt out of being tracked. When a parent signs his/her child up for school, the information is gathered and added to, throughout the life of that child because of the State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS). The SLDS was paid for by the federal government and all states accepted the money and built this interoperable system. It works with the P-20 (preschool through workforce) council, which is appointed by the Governor. http://nces.ed.gov/programs/slds/state.asp?stateabbr=UT
2. THE TRACKING OF CITIZENS GOES BEYOND THE SCHOOL DISTRICT AND STATE OFFICE OF EDUCATION.
The Utah Data Alliance, directed by John Brandt, links six state agencies to share the data collected by schools. These include workforce services; the system is a socialist program to align education and workforce and manage the people as “human capital,” one of their favorite phrases. According to a John Brandt online powerpoint, federal agencies also receive access to the data in the Utah Data system. According to the Joanne Weiss, chief of staff of the Dept. of Education, federal agencies are mashing data and are going to be “helpful” to states “wishing” to do the same.
3. INTEROPERABILITY WAS REQUIRED OF ALL SLDS SYSTEMS FOR FEDERAL PURPOSES.
4. REGULATIONS HAVE BEEN ALTERED WITHOUT CONGRESSIONAL APPROVAL CONCERNING PRIVACY LAW.
The Dept. of Education changed definitions and broadened allowances of the Family Education Rights Privacy Act. Though they have been sued for this move, the fact remains that without parental consent, researchers, federal agencies and any “authorized” volunteer can look at the collected data, which includes biometric information (personally identifiable).
5. DATA POINTS TO BE COLLECTED BY STATES HAVE BEEN “RECOMMENDED” BY FEDERAL GOVERNMENT:
According to the National Data Collection Model, the government should collect information on health-care history, family income, family voting status, gestational age of students at birth, student ID number, and bus stoptimes among other pieces of information on the student and their families. You can view the National Data Collection Model database attributes (data categories) at http://nces.sifinfo.org/datamodel/eiebrowser/techview.aspx?instance=studentPostsecondary
6. DEPT. OF EDUCATION COOPERATIVE AGREEMENTS CONTRACTED WITH TESTING CONSORTIA MANDATE INFORMATION SHARING
This means that there is a triangulation of tests, test data and federal supervision (all highly illegal under G.E.P.A. law and the 10th Amendment). http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-assessment/sbac-cooperative-agreement.pdf
WHAT WE DON’T KNOW:
1. John Brandt has not revealed the exact number of people or agencies in Utah (or elsewhere) who have access to the personally identifiable information collected by schools on individuals. He does not return emails or phone calls.
2. At what point does “allowance” to share information turn into “must” share information? The FERPA alterations right now only removed the requirement for schools to keep the data on students private without parental consent. They have not yet mandated that schools must share the data without parental consent. But we also don’t know which identified information is being shared with which agency in Utah, or which agency outside Utah. We just don’t know.
3. What effect will the Common Core (national) testing have on the data collection and ease of persual by the federal agencies? Is there a “Cooperative Agreement” between Utah’s test writer, the American Institutes for Research, and the federal government, as there is with the other testing consortia SBAC and PARCC?
Alabama has cut its membership ties with both of the Common Core testing consortia– with PARCC and SBAC.
This is big news because those who want to federalize eduation and control citizens thereby cannot do so very easily without the shackling effect of having virtually every person in America labeled and tracked using the common testing data collection system. Yay for Alabama.
Alabama hasn’t cut ties with the whole Common Core State Standards Initiative, but according to Truth in American Education, Governor Bentley of Alabama said:
“Every state is different. Every Legislature is different. I think having one standard goes against the intent of the founding fathers of the United States.”
The Governor cast his vote against the standards. State Board of Education Members Stephanie Bell and Betty Peters also voted against the standards.
And Ed Week’s Catherine Gewertz reports:
“In an email to EdWeek, the state’s assessment director, Gloria Turner, confirmed that Alabama has bowed out of both the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. She said the department of education “has decided to go in another direction,” but didn’t offer any more detail.
The move wasn’t yet official within the two consortia, since the requisite processes haven’t yet been completed. The decision leaves PARCC with 22 members and Smarter Balanced with 24.
Alabama, you might recall, has been one of the dwindling number of states that have been playing ‘participating,’ or ‘advisory’ roles in each consortium.”
A new Heartlander article by Joy Pullman raises some very big questions for school districts that do not have the money, the computers, bandwidth, or IT staff to administer Common Core tests. It seems that “strapped states must soon pitch money at a new, complicated testing program” that is “likely to make their schools look bad”.
The article asks:
1. Where will the new national testing groups get money once federal grants run out, six months before the tests appear in classrooms?
2. Can testmakers and states handle the technical problems of creating and administering ambitious, online tests?
3. Will states tolerate higher passing score requirements?
The article quotes a survey of “education insiders” with at least one respondent noting that both the PARCC and SBAC testing consortia operate with such opacity that it is hard to know where things stand.
Full Article: http://news.heartland.org/newspaper-article/2013/01/28/unwritten-tests-present-major-common-core-obstacle
The Garfield Stand and the Common Core
This article was originally published January 12, 2013 on The Underground Parent at http://undergroundparent.blogspot.com/2013/01/the-garfield-stand-and-common-core-will.html and is in part republished here, with permission from the author.
What is the Garfield Stand? It is what the teachers at Seattle’s Garfield High School are doing—they are taking a stand on important issues related to student assessment.
You can read about it in the letter from teachers at Garfield High School and at additional links provided below.
Teachers at another school, Ballard High School, are not just in sympathy with their Garfield colleagues; they are taking the same stand.
…Read the letter from the Garfield teachers.
The Ballard teachers wrote a letter supporting their Garfield colleagues. That letter is copied below.
In a few years how many of the statements below will have a ring of truth if MAP is replaced with SBAC or PARCC assessments [Common Core national tests]?
25 teachers at nearby Ballard High School signed a letter against continuing to use the MAP test,
and in support of our Garfield colleagues
- The MAP test is a resource expensive and cash expensive program in a district with very finite financial resources,
- The MAP test is not used in practice to inform student instruction,
- The MAP test is not connected to our curricula,
- The MAP test has been repurposed by district administration to form part of a teacher’s evaluation, which is contrary to the purposes it was designed for, as stated by its purveyor, making it part of junk science,
- The MAP test has also been repurposed for student placement in courses and programs, for which it was not designed,
- The MAP test was purchased under corrupt crony-ist circumstances (Our former superintendent, while employed by SPS sat on the corporation board of NWEA, the purveyor of the MAP test. This was undisclosed to her employer. The initial MAP test was purchased in a no-bid, non-competitive process)
- The MAP test was and remains unwanted and unneeded and unsolicited by SPS professional classroom educators, those who work directly with students,
- The MAP test is not taken seriously by students, (They don’t need the results for graduation, for applications, for course credit, or any other purpose, so they routinely blow it off.)
- The MAP test’s reported testing errors are greater than students’ expected growth,
- The technology administration of the MAP test has serious flaws district wide which waste students’ time,
We, the undersigned educators from Ballard High School do hereby support statements and actions of our colleagues at Garfield High School surrounding the MAP test. Specifically, the MAP test program throughout Seattle Public Schools ought to be shut down immediately. It has been and continues to be an embarrassing mistake. Continuing it even another day, let alone another month or year or decade, will not turn this sow’s ear into a silk purse.
…It is unfortunate teachers feel the need to take such a stand.
Should they, and other teachers across the country, be making more of the decisions that will directly effect their instructional practices and their students’ education or should those decisions continue to be made by… state departments of education, business and corporate offices, wealthy foundations, and Washington, D.C.?
Links to further reading on the topic:
Seattle Ballard High School teachers have followed suit: No MAP test!
The letter from the teachers at Garfield High School regarding the MAP test
Letter of support for Garfield High School teachers from Diane Ravitch
Garfield High School teachers say “NO!” to high stakes testing
Standardized test backlash: Some Seattle teachers just say ‘no’
Garfield High teachers won’t give required test they call flawed
Garfield High teachers refuse to give standardized test
Garfield High teachers refuse to administer District-mandated reading and math test
Garfield High School teachers boycott MAP assessment test
This article was originally published January 12, 2013 on The Underground Parent at http://undergroundparent.blogspot.com/2013/01/the-garfield-stand-and-common-core-will.html and is republished here with permission from the author.
For those who still believe Common Core is “rigorous” and good for kids, here is a must-read from Jay Mathews and the Washington Post.
Fiction vs. nonfiction smackdown
By Jay Mathews, Published: October 17
There is no more troubling fact about U.S. education than this: The reading scores of 17-year-olds have shown no significant improvement since 1980.
The new Common Core State Standards in 46 states and the District are designed to solve that problem. Among other things, students are being asked to read more nonfiction, considered by many experts to be the key to success in college or the workplace.
The Common Core standards are one of our hottest trends. Virginia declined to participate but was ignored in the rush of good feeling about the new reform. Now, the period of happy news conferences is over, and teachers have to make big changes. That never goes well. Expect battles, particularly in this educationally hypersensitive region.
Teaching more nonfiction will be a key issue. Many English teachers don’t think it will do any good. Even if it were a good idea, they say, those who have to make the change have not had enough training to succeed — an old story in school reform.
The clash of views is well described by two prominent scholars for the Pioneer Institute, a Boston-based public policy group, in a new paper. Sandra Stotsky of the University of Arkansas and Mark Bauerlein of Emory University say the reformers who wrote the Common Core standards have no data to support their argument that kids have been hurt by reading too much fiction. They say analyzing great literature would give students all the critical thinking skills they need. The problem, they say, is not the lack of nonfiction but the dumbed-down fiction that has been assigned in recent decades.
“Problems in college readiness stem from an incoherent, less-challenging literature curriculum from the 1960s onward,” Bauerlein and Stotsky say. “Until that time, a literature-heavy English curriculum was understood as precisely the kind of pre-college training students needed.”
The standards were inspired, in part, by a movement to improve children’s reading abilities by replacing standard elementary school pabulum with a rich diet of history, geography, science and the arts. University of Virginia scholar E.D. Hirsch Jr. has written several books on this. He established the Core Knowledge Foundation in Charlottesville to support schools that want their third-graders studying ancient Rome and their fourth-graders listening to Handel.
Robert Pondiscio, a former fifth-grade teacher who is vice president of the foundation, quotes a key part of the Common Core standards making this case:
“By reading texts in history/social studies, science, and other disciplines, students build a foundation of knowledge in these fields that will also give them the background to be better readers in all content areas. Students can only gain this foundation when the curriculum is intentionally and coherently structured to develop rich content knowledge within and across grades.”
The Common Core guidelines recommend fourth-graders get an equal amount of fiction and nonfiction. Eighth-grade reading should be about 55 percent nonfiction, going to a recommended 70 percent by 12th grade.
Bauerlein and Stotsky say that could hurt college readiness. The new standards and associated tests, they say, will make “English teachers responsible for informational reading instruction, something they have not been trained for, and will not be trained for unless the entire undergraduate English major as well as preparatory programs in English education in education schools are changed.”
Pondiscio says he admires Bauerlein and Stotsky and doesn’t see why English classes have to carry the nonfiction weight. Social studies and science courses can do that. The real battle, he says, will be in the elementary schools, where lesson plans have failed to provide the vocabulary, background knowledge and context that make good readers.
Those who want the new standards say learning to read is more than just acquiring a skill, like bike riding. It is absorbing an entire world. That is what the fight in your local district will be about.
Utah Takes First Step in Regaining Control of Education
by Lindsey Burke
Reblogged from Heritage Foundation – August 6, 2012 at 4:00 pm
When the fight for control over what is taught in American schools is won, Utah will be remembered for having fired the shot heard ’round the country’s classrooms and statehouses.
In a move that should inspire other state leaders concerned with the Obama Administration’s push to nationalize standards and tests through the Common Core State Standards Initiative, the Utah State Board of Education voted 12–3 to withdraw from the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC), the national testing consortium the state joined as part of the its agreement to adopt national standards.
While Utah still plans to implement the standards in the coming academic year, it will now choose from among various testing companies to measure the academic achievement of students, divesting the state from the federally funded testing consortium. As Washington’s overreach creeps further into the nation’s classrooms, Utah has wisely taken a step away from further federal intervention into its schools.
After the Berlin Wall fell in the late 1980s, central planning was all but discredited throughout the world. The exception, Representative Rob Bishop (R–UT) notes, was in Washington, D.C., “where every bureaucracy has, since that time, doubled down to insist that central planning be done out of Washington with one-size-fits-all solutions.” Indeed, the central planning mentality continues apace with the push for national standards and tests. As the Pacific Research Institute’s Lance Izumi points out:
The end result of President Barack Obama’s centralization schemes is loss of control by individual Americans. Under the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare, the Congressional Budget Office says that millions of workers will not be able to keep their current coverage. Under the president’s national standards-and-testing regime, individual parents will have less and less control over the education of their children and what takes place in the classroom.
Bishop argues that further centralizing education and nationalizing standards isn’t going to solve Utah’s education woes. “The only thing we haven’t tried to do,” Bishop notes, “is allow schools to be free. Go back to what has always worked: the free market. When people have freedom, they make better choices.”
Utah has now gained a little more of that freedom back and will be choosing from a market of testing companies. Hopefully the Beehive State will take that thirst for educational freedom a step further and exit the national standards bandwagon entirely.
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Thank you, Lindsay Burke and Heritage Foundation.
It was good to see Governor Herbert at the parade today, wearing his cowboy hat.
I believe he had something to do with the state school board’s decision to withdraw from the SBAC Common Core testing consortium just yesterday.
Thank you, Governor Herbert!
Dear School Board, Superintendent Shumway and Governor Herbert,
I am writing to express my gratitude to those who were instrumental in yesterday’s vote to reverse Utah’s membership in the SBAC testing consortium. It was a heroic moment and America is watching.
Early on, when I read the Cooperative Agreement between the SBAC and the Department of Education, I was horrified to see that it required SBAC members to expose student data to the federal government “on an ongoing basis, subject to applicable privacy laws,” and I knew that the Dept. of Education had changed privacy FERPA regulations to make that data easy to access.
I had also been horrified by the micromanagement the Dept. of Education planned to do, in demanding that PARCC and SBAC synchronize tests “across consortia,” effectively nationalizing education under the triangulation of those two consortia with the Dept. of Education. Also, in writing to WestEd, the SBAC’s test writing project manager, I had found out that “In order for this [testing] system to have a real impact within a state, the state will need to adopt the Common Core State Standards (i.e., not have two sets of standards.)” -April 2012 statement from WestEd Assessments and Standards Senior Research Associate Christyan Mitchell, Ph.D.
This meant that the 15% additional content which the Dept. of Education was permitting states to add to their local version of Common Core, would have been meaningless in the context of the tests. Teachers would not have been motivated to teach that extra 15% of unique Utah content, since there would be such pressure to conform to the high-stakes, competitive tests. Now they are freed from that pressure and can teach students, not teach for others.
I am extremely relieved to find that we have reclaimed our independence in the realm of testing and in the realm of easy federal access to student data collected via tests. But I am still concerned that the federally paid-for state longitudinal database system (SLDS) and the P-20 student tracking systems will be available to the federal government and marketers, since our Utah Technology leader, John Brandt, who is a chair member of CCSSO and a member of NCES, the research arm of the Dept. of Education, has published the fact that our data can be shared with state agencies and at the federal level. Also, Chief of Staff of the Dept. of Education Joanne Weiss made a statement recently that she is mashing data systems on the federal level, and is releasing reports to ”help” states to use SLDS systems to mash data as well. These things trouble me. I hope you are aware of them and are taking steps to fortify our citizens’ privacy rights against federal intrusion which can easily invade in these other ways –other than the SBAC test data collection method, which we seem to be freed from.
–Or are we? Attendees at yesterday’s State School Board meeting have informed me that there is school board talk of purchasing SBAC tests anyway, regardless of the conflict of interest issue. This, even now that we’ve cut membership ties with SBAC. If our board votes to use SBAC tests, we will hardly be better off than if we had not taken the step of cutting off membership ties. Our childrens’ data would then still be collected by SBAC, and we know from the Cooperative Agreement that the SBAC will triangulate tests and data collected with the federal government. We must cut all ties with SBAC, including purchasing or using SBAC or PARCC written tests.
On Sept. 6th, the ESEA flexibility waiver window ends. I have asked a question but have not received a response: does that Sept. 6th deadline mean that after Sept. 6th, Utah’s option to write her own standards, ends?
We need legitimately high, not spottily or for just some grades/topics, occasionally high, standards. We need standards like those Massachusetts had before that state caved to political pressure to lower standards in adopting Common Core. Massachusetts tested as an independent nation and was among the very top. Massachusetts’ standards were the highest in the USA. Then Common Core took them down to the middle of the road. Does Utah really want that? If so, why? Is it Superintendent Shumway’s board membership in CCSSO and SBAC that is driving these decisions? Or is it what’s really the highest possible standards for our children and teachers?
Political and money-making pressures are pushing Utah to stay aligned with Common Core, while attempting to obscure the truth: that Common Core is not rigorous enough. It does not solve our very real educational problems.
First, it blurs excellence and sub-par into a common standard that is mediocre. Stanford University Professor Michael Kirst assessed the standards and said that “My concern is the assertion in the draft that the standards for college and career readiness are essentially the same. This implies the answer is yes to the question of whether the same standards are appropriate for 4 year universities, 2 year colleges, and technical colleges. The burden of proof for this assertion rests with CCSSO/NGA, and the case is not proven from the evidence presented”.
Dr. Bill Evers, Hoover Institute scholar and professor at Stanford, said that the “Asian Tigers” countries keep Algebra I in 8th grade, as Utah’s prior standards had them; but Common Core retards Algebra I to 9th grade.
Dr. James Milgram, the only math professor on the Common Core Validation Committee, refused to sign off that the standards were adequate. Dr. Sandra Stotsky, the head English professor on the same committee, also refused to sign off on the standards. She said they did not represent a coherent, legitimate pre-college program and she opposed slashing classic literature and narrative writing, as 99% of all English teachers –and parents– would surely agree.
Importantly, the NCLB/ESEA waiver allows two ways to fulfull the “college readiness” requirement. 1) States can use Common Core. Or 2)states can write their own standards, using University approval as a benchmark. If we choose option 2, by Sept. 6th, 2012, then we can write our own standards, using what’s best out of common core, building up to a better standard set by Massachusetts, led by the very professor who created Massachusetts’ superior standards— for free!
Dr. Sandra Stotsky has promised Utah that if we pull out of Common Core and want help in developing our own ELA standards (better than what we used to have), she will help write them, for free. She worked on the excellent, (Common Core-Less) Texas standards in 2007-2008, contracted with StandardsWork.
Dr. Alan Manning, of BYU, who is opposed on academic grounds and on grounds of lost liberty, to Common Core, would be a great resource for writing Utah’s standards, as well.
Please contact Dr. Stotstky and Dr. Manning about the possibilities of creating superior standards for Utah.
Thank you sincerely for your continued work on educational issues in Utah.
Today, 12-3, the state school board voted to get Utah out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC). The political climate was cited as a reason for the move. Yes, we do care in this state about freedom from federal control and this is a huge win for educational freedom. The Cooperative Agreement will no longer be binding on Utah as it is on Washington and the many other states in SBAC. The federal government cannot demand access to the data they would have gathered via the high-stakes tests. Arne Duncan now cannot micromanage Utah’s testing choices as he would have if we had stayed in SBAC, synchronized with PARCC. It also means that if Utah elects to add 15% to the common standards, no test will discourage teachers from not using our unique 15%. So, it is a happy day for freedom. Ding dong, the witch is dead –or at least thrown aside, far aside. I’m so grateful that I think I should send a bouquet of flowers to the state school board.
The Common Core Initiative: What’s hidden between the lines?
by Christel Swasey
Ever since I saw Alisa Ellis and Renee Braddy’s “2 Moms Against Common Core,” I’ve barely slept. My laundry is backed up. I’m losing weight. All I do is research the Common Core Initiative (CCI).
I talk to teachers. I read think tanks and pester the U.S.O.E. I compare the Education Secretary’s public letters to his dense grants and legal agreements.
On Wednesday I joined Alisa and Renee to petition the Governor to study Utah’s loss of control of education under CCI.
We noted that all academic elements of Common Core are in public domain; if we like them, we can keep them. But CCI membership comes with federal intrusion that robs Utah of sovereign rights, commits Utah to foot the bill, and silences educational freedom. A collection of evidence is posted at whatiscommoncore.blogspot.com.
How did Utah’s educational freedom get hijacked without a peep out of Utah? How did CCI slide under the radar of legislators and taxpayers? Can we turn around this loss of state control over education? YES– if people view CCI as more than an academic change. It’s up to us to act.
The State Superintendent won’t act. He sits as board member of three pro-Common Core groups. Two promoted and developed CCI’s federal standards; the other is the test maker.
The State School Board won’t act. That board is so collectively pro-CCI that they’ve devised a way to make sure nobody can get elected who isn’t pro-CCI: a survey for candidates for School Board asks, (first question): “Are You For Common Core?”
The Governor might act. His lawyers are studying statements from Arne Duncan versus compliance rules written by Duncan which do conflict.
The burden of proving CCI is an asset rather than a liability to Utah, rests on Utah leaders and lawyers who refuse public debate, dodge phone calls and won’t answer questions such as:
1. Why haven’t teachers been told that everything about CC was already available under public domain law? CCI membership doesn’t give us anything but does dilute freedom.
2. Why has no cost analysis or legal analysis been done? A think-tank estimates CCI will cost each state hundreds of millions over the first seven years and will make states’ unique standards irrelevant. CCI violates laws against federal intrusion on states’ educational sovereignty. Why allow it?
3. If CCI is state-led and voluntary as it claims, why did Secretary Duncan rage when South Carolina withdrew? Why has Duncan required that testing arms must coordinate reporting to him and “across consortia”? Why can’t a state withdraw from SBAC without federal permission?
3. Why was no public or legislative input taken? Utah didn’t seek out CCI; we joined as an afterthought, as a condition for candidacy to win a grant which we didn’t win.
4. Why did Utah agree to standards and assessments that hadn’t even been written in 2009 when we joined?
5. Why stay in? We have wiggle room now to get out; it’s the beginning of implementation. Later, we’ll be too financially and technologically invested.
6. Why are there two different sets of standards? The Utah Common Core (UCC) is being taught, while the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) will be the basis for the SBAC tests in 2014.
7. Why did Utah take the CCI’s word for the idea that the standards were high enough? CCSS won’t ready students for average colleges like University of California, said Mathematician Ze’ev Wurman. Stanford Professor Michael Kirst and Validation Committee Member Professor Sandra Stotsky called CCSS standards low.
8. Why did Utah join, when free-thinking states like and Texas and Virginia refused? CCI was cost prohibitive, lowered some standards, and deleted sovereignty, they said.
9. Why did the National PTA accept a two million dollar “donation” to one-sidedly promote CCI?
10. Why is there no amendment process for the federal standards upon which kids will be tested?
11. Why has no one noticed that the SBAC test is as much a nationalized personal data collection vehicle as it is an academic test?
12. Why is there no transparency? Educators are in a spiral of silence that prevents them from voicing concerns.
Who will stand up and respond with real evidence to these questions?
The lawyer at the Utah State Office of Education asked me to not engage in public debate. She deflected questions rather than answering them. Isn’t it my right and responsibility to ask questions? As a lawyer for the Utah State Office of Education, doesn’t she have a duty to answer?