Second Parent Member of Utah SAGE Test Review Committee Speaks Out   6 comments

This is the second in a series of posts to be added by members of Utah’s Common Core SAGE test’s parent review board.  Parent Molly Foster spoke out previously and is joined now by fellow mom Christine Ruiz as a SAGE parent review committee member who also wishes to set the record straight and to expose the objectionable aspects of the tests.

SAGE Parent Review Committee Member Speaks Out

By Christine Ruiz

In 2013 the Utah Legislature mandated  parental review of SAGE test questions and established what is now called the SAGE Parent Review Committee. It was a response to concerns that the computer adaptive tests could include biases or agendas that are objectionable to Utah family values.

 

Much has been written about the committee and unfortunately some of it has been misleading. Consequently many Utah parents are misinformed about the review committee and are making decisions with that ‘bad information’; decisions that affect their children.

 

I am one of those committee members and I’d like to correct the record.

 

The statute, 53A-1-603, is vague as it relates to our duties; “…a committee consisting of 15 parents of Utah public education students to review all computer adaptive test questions.” Yep, that’s it. Talk about your nutshell.

So, here’s what we did and didn’t do.

 

WE DID review all questions (about 1500 each).

WE DID flag questions for a variety of reasons (grammar, typos, content, wrong answers, glitches, etc.).

WE DID sign nondisclosure statements (agreeing not to discuss specific test questions and materials).

 

Now the important part …

WE DID NOT ‘approve’ the test. We were neither tasked to nor qualified to approve the test in any aspect.

It has been erroneously suggested that “…we all feel comfortable with the test” in an article by the Deseret News (Nov 2013). That’s a misleading quote from only one member of the committee. That statement was actually contradicted by another member later in the same article. But it’s no surprise here; we expect that from the media.

However, the Utah State Office of Education (USOE) perpetuated that myth when it plastered that same quote all over its SAGE informational brochures. We/ I expect more due diligence from USOE.

I never received a phone call to verify that I concurred and I suspect the same is true for the rest of the committee. It was either an act of deliberate deceit or jaw-dropping negligence to tell parents across the state that the Parent Review Committee gives its blanket approval of the test. Neither option comforts me in the slightest.

I shudder to think that some parents may have decided to let their children take the SAGE because ‘we’ said it’s okay. That’s on me and every other committee member that feels the same as I, and didn’t speak out sooner.

This myth and any others perpetrated in the future will no longer go unanswered by this committee member. That’s a promise.

Christine Ruiz

———————————————————

state statute 53A1603

(8)

(a) The State Board of Education shall establish a committee consisting of 15 parents of Utah

public education students to review all computer adaptive test questions.

(b) The committee established in Subsection (8)(a) shall include the following parent members:

(i) five members appointed by the chair of the State Board of Education;

(ii) five members appointed by the speaker of the House of Representatives; and

(iii) five members appointed by the president of the Senate.

(c) The State Board of Education shall provide staff support to the parent committee.

(d) The term of office of each member appointed in Subsection (8)(b) is four years.

(e) The chair of the State Board of Education, the speaker of the House of Representatives, and

the president of the Senate shall adjust the length of terms to stagger the terms of committee

members so that approximately 1/2 of the committee members are appointed every two

years.

(f) No member may receive compensation or benefits for the member’s service on the committee.

6 responses to “Second Parent Member of Utah SAGE Test Review Committee Speaks Out

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  1. Four parents who served on the committee have, so far, confirmed what was said by Molly Foster and Christine Ruiz. Their experiences and possibly others’ will be coming soon.

  2. I am one of the parents on the review committee and one of only two males.

    I was asked to review the SAGE assessment, look for any errors, look for anything that might be offensive or biased. That was my charge and really the charge of the entire committee.

    After reviewing SAGE I came out of it feeling like we were treated very well. I also felt like by reviewing it, finding the very few issues that we found, and receiving assurances that the assessment would be adjusted that we had approved of the questions that were on the assessment. This doesn’t mean that any or all of us approve of standardized testing.

    I am not pro state wide standardized testing in general. It is not a form of testing that really helps us to improve teaching in the classroom. Formative assessment that is created at the teacher PLC level does help to improve teaching practice and has been shown to raise overall achievement. Standardized testing is completely different. Standardized testing does not use the same language as the curriculum being taught in schools because curriculum creation and purchase is a district level decision. High stakes or State wide standardized tests are controlled at the State level. If we truly want to know how our kids are doing we should allow our teachers to teach, formatively assess and then rely on the assessments that our children are all going to take anyway… The ACT. Each district should be able to choose the standardized test they use and how it is applied. What I want to know is which standards have my children mastered and which ones they have not. I want to know what I can do as a parent to help my children achieve more. What do I need to do to help my children think on their feet, be more entrepreneurial in their studies, figure things out that they do not know etc?

    My children all took the SAGE test last year and each one did very well. When asking my child’s elementary teacher why she thought he did so well on SAGE while most others did not she said that he is good at figuring things out without the need to be shown. Cheers to my wife!

    I have no concerns with the content on the test. I have no concerns with data sharing and feel that this is folklore perpetuated by some with their own personal agendas that says the federal government is spying on our kids… Hogwash.

    The educators at the Utah State Office of Education are well meaning, well educated, have no personal agenda and in my opinion only have the best in mind for our Utah children. I love our public education system in Utah. I love our teachers and administrators. I love my opportunity to be on community councils and help to improve achievement in Utah schools. I love being an entrepreneur and business man.

    We need to take what we have with the SAGE test and make it better or drop it and turn it over to the local districts and service centers to measure achievement in our local school districts.

    • UnFortunately Mr. Caldwell there is so much information and data contradicting your statements that it behooves you to present the facts that support your statements otherwise it will just be a mere opinion.

  3. From my experience, people who are concerned about the “data sharing” and national education reform don’t have a personal agenda. They spend their time and efforts, with no monetary compensation, doing what most in the public education system don’t do; they personally read the binding documents and laws that demand control and take away personal choice. I have been connected with education experts from around the nation who have come to share their decades-worth of experience with Utah (at their own expense), only to be marginalized by our Governor and his aids.

    The commonality of those concerned with national education reform have in common is their concern for children in America. They love children and they love teachers and are working to protect them. The federal government doesn’t share that same love and concern. The federal government is in the education business. Policy and laws are being implemented across the nation at an unprecedented rate. Federally mandated education is not promoting nor upholding American ideals, ie: individuality, freedom of speech, innovation, privacy, the list could go on. No matter how well intending these processes are promoted and presented, the fruits don’t ever bring the promised results because they are not built on correct principles.

    Coming from a richly diverse heritage, with ancestors from China and Germany, and hearing first hand stories of the suffering that came when these nations put implicit trust in their governments (each began with re-educating children), I cannot diminish their experiences into “folklore”. Their governments never delivered their promises of success and utopia. It was impossible because it was built on lies. National education reform offers many promises that they will not be able to deliver for the same reason. I’m grateful my predecessors came to America to gain individual freedom.

    I have seen in the policies and laws concerning education, and individual freedom, including privacy, is no longer held inviolate. Anyone who will spend just a little time looking at the binding documents will not be able to assert differently. Just because every law is not being implemented at this time doesn’t meant that the direction and the goals are not in place and will be implemented in the near future.

    I am personally grateful for every person who opens their mouth against this tyranny. I believe Edmund Burke who said, “Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it, as well as George Santayana who said basically the same thing, “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Both understood human nature. Times and seasons change, but human nature never does. If we follow the same patterns other nations have followed, we already know the eventual results. I hope Utah will stop buying into national education reform. We can and must do so much better!

  4. Pingback: Dr. Gary Thompson’s $100,000 Reward For SAGE Common Core Test Validity Reports | COMMON CORE

  5. Pingback: Ten Reasons To Opt Out of Common Core/SAGE Testing | COMMON CORE

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