Posted September 28, 2015 by Christel Swasey in Academic Standards, Arne Duncan, Common Core and the Witchery of Wordplay, Common Core Gold Rush, Data Privacy is a Right Schools Must Not Violate, Democrats and Republicans agree, Evidence That Utah Lost Educational Sovereignty Under Common Core Initiative, How the Common Core Initiative Hurts Kids, Teachers, and Taxpayers, It's Not Too Late To Reclaim Educational Sovereignty For Utah, Parents' Rights, Public Private Partnerships PPP, Students as "global citizens" rather than United States Citizens, Teachers' Rights, Transparency Problems: Why Won't State Leaders Answer Questions?
Tagged with Bill Evers, Common Core 101, Drilling Through the Core, james milgram, National Review, New Book, Peter Wood, pioneer institute, Sandra Stotsky, stanley kurtz, stopcommoncore, The Corner, Think tank publishes book on Common Core, what is wrong with common core
Reblogged with permission from Return to Parental Rights on 09/21/15
by Jakell Sullivan
The federal government has absolutely no constitutional right to control curriculum, but they’re doing it anyway. In a 2011 video for the Whitehouse’s Learning Registry, Steve Midgley, the Deputy Director of Education Technology for the US Department of Education, says that the Learning Registry “makes federal learning resources easier to find, easier to access and easier to integrate into learning environments wherever they are stored.” He also admits that the Federal Communications Commission changed broadband internet regulations to get federally-sanctioned curriculum items into every child’s classroom.
Say what? Yes. You heard it right. The Whitehouse is picking winners and losers in curriculum providers. They have created an effective oligarchy over online learning and testing resources in order to make sure that the curriculum coming through your child’s school-issued iPad or computer contains the right worldview.
They funded the creation of Common Education Data Standards (CEDS), gave states federal grants to expand their state longitudinal data system (see Utah’s here and here), got 300 (and counting) online learning and testing groups to create interoperable curriculum and computer-adaptive tests, and created a one-stop-shop called the Learning Registry where every child’s learning data will be tracked. This is information control, folks. And, it’s not just for K-12.
George Washington University, among many other institutions of higher ed, has jumped on the Learning Registry’s bandwagon. They are helping the federal administration (perhaps unwittingly) succeed at redefining student competencies around student behaviors, as opposed to academics.
When Utahns think of competency-based education, we think of a student mastering something factual and proving competency. That’s not what the federal Learning Registry seeks. It defines competencies around values, attitudes and beliefs.
In other words, the more a student can think in moral relativist terms, the more “skilled” they are. Students who think “all truth is relative” will be easily malleable workers for a globally managed economy—widgets for crony business leaders.
So, how will the Whitehouse’s Learning Registry work? It will:
When John Marini talked about the famous movie Mr. Smith Goes to Washington written by Frank Capra, he said, “Frank Capra did not see America as many Americans do today, in terms of personal categories of identity…he understood America in terms of its political principles.”
If we want our children to be champions of liberty, including religious liberty, we need to engage our local education leaders in a discussion about who is defining “competency.” And, we cannot be naïve in thinking that we will implement competency-based education differently than the federal administration desires. If we put our plug (technology systems) into their electrical outlet (Learning Registry), we will be giving them all-power over what our children learn—and, we’ve already started plugging in. As one tech-savvy mom recently noted, “Parents need to understand that a unique student ID# will act like a social security number on steroids.”
George Washington University says that they are helping the Whitehouse “create a beta version of a credentialing registry on the existing Learning Registry.” This means that the Feds are positioned, not only to control curriculum, but how colleges rate student credentials—also called “digital badges.” If this sounds like German-style education, that’s because it is.
We can’t allow the federal administration to use personally identifiable data to “personalize” learning resources for our children. It’s time for Congressional hearings into the Whitehouse’s Learning Registry—and it’s international data standards-setting partners, IMS Global and the SIF Association.
It’s also time for our local boards of education to take back what it means to have locally controlled education. Local boards should stand with parents by making sure that their district’s online curriculum and test items do not conform to federally-funded data standards.
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
For more information on how the federal administration is aligning state and district policies to internationalist goals for competency-based education, see:
• Race To The Top for Districts (RTT-D) gave priority funding to districts that would embrace personalized learning and competency-based ed. See: http://www.ed.gov/race-top/district-competition
• Feds Give Nudge to Competency-Based Education https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/03/19/feds-give-nudge-competency-based-education
• Bill Gates’ KnowledgeWorks has published two Policy Briefs with the most extensive information about how the federal administration used Race To The Top to push state and district policies towards implementing personalized-learning and towards the competency-based education that Utah is now embracing.
Posted September 22, 2015 by Christel Swasey in How the Common Core Initiative Hurts Kids, Teachers, and Taxpayers
Even though I don’t like bumper stickers, I proudly slapped a U.S. Senator Mike Lee bumper sticker on my car because he’s that rare legislator who honors in actions as well as in talk, that priceless treasure, our freedom-friendly U.S. Constitution. And this week, I waited on the phone for a long time to ask him a question during his virtual town hall meeting this week.
I never got my chance, and that’s understandable because I heard the announcer say that 15,000 Utahns were attending, so… I’ll ask it now.
It seems like any one of the grievances that I’ll list next, would deserve action. Taken together, these assaults on Constitutional rights of individuals is almost unbelievable.
What are your thoughts on this list: as a legislator, as a parent, as a teacher (especially if you are a special ed teacher) as a student, as a taxpayer, as a citizen with Constitutionally protected rights? When should Congress hold the Department of Education accountable for:
“… a new set of standards—rigorous, high-quality learning standards, developed and led by a group of governors and state education chiefs—are under attack as a federal takeover of the schools. And your role in sorting out truth from nonsense is really important.” – 2013 speech by Sec. Duncan.
3. STALKING CITIZEN DATA – The Department of Education –stunningly– succeeded in bribing states to build what is essentially each state’s own stalking system, 50 federal/state database systems, called SLDS, that were built to federal specs, with federal interoperability, and with federally aligned data tags, essentially putting 50 state databases on a federal grid, without a vote and without asking for parental or taxpayer consent to collect personal, behavioral, and academic data about citizens, longitudinally, for life, using schools as a government stalking mechanism.
4. DELETING PRIVACY LAWS – The Department of Education altered previously protective federal FERPA laws, altering policy that changed the definition of what IS personally identifiable information (PII). PII can now include biological and behavioral data (biometric data) about children or about any citizen who once was in a publically funded school. The Department also reduced to just a “best practice” –a.k.a. “optional”– the previously protective FERPA rule that parental consent had to be received prior to any sharing of student PII. The Department was sued by the Electronic Privacy Information Center for doing this. Read details at that site.
5. STANDARDIZING THE P-20 DATA MINE – The Department of Education partnered with a private, closed-door group called CCSSO (the co-creators, by the way, of Common Core) to co-produce common data standards, called CEDS, which further standardizes the data mining ability of the federal government over American citizens from early childhood through the workforce, in an initiative known as P-20 (or P-20W).
6. TEACHING AND IMPLEMENTING SOCIALISM, ALMOST AS A NATIONAL RELIGION – The Department of Education’s official blog, as well as Secretary Duncan’s speeches themselves, have unilaterally redefined education– as the teaching of socialism, aka social justice. Who passed a law that social justice would be the foundation for student learning? Who was authorized to take the entire population of U.S. school children down that path? In “Education is Social Justice” and other official articles and speeches, we learn that no longer will our education dollars teach our children to cherish Constitutional ideals like individual rights, property rights, separation of powers, or religious; instead schools will teach social justice, which is, unfortunately, not justice. It is theft. It allows the Department of Education (or others) to steal teachers, money, or data from one group to redistribute to another, without consent. Duncan can’t seem to give a single speech without spreading “social justice” and his Equity and Education Commission‘s publications reveal that the Department is promoting not just the teaching, but the implementation of socialism and forced redistribution, nationally. Shouldn’t there at least have been a vote?
7. SUBMITTING TO GATES – The Department of Education worked closely with, and accepted money from, the worlds’ second richest man and implemented nationwide policies based not on voter intent but on Gates’ intent. As Diane Ravitch wrote: “The idea that the richest man in America can purchase and — working closely with the U.S. Department of Education — impose new and untested academic standards on the nation’s public schools is a national scandal. A congressional investigation is warranted.”
“When the story of the Common Core is finally told, it’s going to be ugly. It’s going to show how the sponsors of the Common Core made a mockery of the Constitution and the democratic process. It’s going to show how the Obama administration pressed a completely untested reform on the states, evading public debate at both the federal and state levels. It’s going to show how a deliberative process that ought to have taken years was compressed into a matter of months. It’s going to show how legitimate philanthropic funding for an experimental education reform morphed into a gross abuse of democracy. It’s going to show how the Obama Education Department intentionally obscured the full extent of its pressure on the states, even as it effectively federalized the nation’s education system. It’s going to show how Common Core is turning the choice of private — especially Catholic — education into no choice at all.”
That quote comes from Stanley Kurtz’s article for “The Ethics and Policy Center”entitled “Time for Congressional Hearings on Common Core”.
So maybe it’s good that I didn’t get to ask this question on the phone with my senator this week. I can mail it to him now. Maybe others will, too.
Posted September 18, 2015 by Christel Swasey in How the Common Core Initiative Hurts Kids, Teachers, and Taxpayers
Tagged with arne duncan, bill gates, Congressional Hearing on Common Core, Congressional Hearing on FERPA alterations, Congressional Hearing on Illegitimate Philanthropic Funding, Congressional Hearing on Privacy Abuses, Congressional Hearing on Secretary Arne Duncan, Congressional Hearing on SLDS Coercion, Congressional Hearing on Special Education Federal Takeover, constitutional issues, Defend Parental Rights, Defending Children's Constitutional Rights, Diane Ravitch, evidence is lacking to support Common Core, Individual rights, Joanne Weiss, let freedom ring, NCLB final rule takes away special education from the states, Question for Senator Mike Lee, Social Justice Isn't Justice, special education, stanley kurtz, Stop Teaching Socialism in Schools, What is wrong with No Child Left Behind reauthorization?, You Had Me At Unconstitutional
The US Department of Education created a “Final Rule” under the new No Child Left Behind to take away constitutional local control; this time, control of special education tests and standards. It said:
The Secretary amends the regulations governing title I, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended (ESEA) (the “Title I regulations”), to no longer authorize a State to define modified academic achievement standards and develop alternate assessments based on those modified academic achievement standards…
Dr. Gary Thompson, a Doctor of Clinical Psychology who has exposed the non-validity of the Common Core tests themselves, has now written an analysis of the federal “Final Rule” entitled “Primum Non Nocere: First Do No Harm.”
(Please share “Primum Non Nocere,” or this introduction to it with legislators and school board members, and especially with US Congressmen who voted FOR the NCLB reauthorization –under the premise that it would not harm parental nor local control but was supposed to “reduce the federal footprint” Orrin Hatch and virtually the entire US Congress bought that talking point.)
Dr. Thompson was furious that the Final Rule of NCLB, which takes effect September 15, 2015, forces special education students to take the same tests and to use the same curriculum that all other students take, based on cited research studies of the U.S. Dept. of Education –studies that are ludicrously far from being valid. (More on that, below.) He was even more infuriated when he discovered that the research studies were unapplicable, or fake.
In a follow-up post to the “Primum Non Nocere” analysis, Dr. Thompson made all of this fake research much easier to wrap our brains around with this analogy: Imagine that a parent takes a very sick child to the doctor’s office and the doctor prescribes eating “Froot Loops” three times each day while watching SouthPark episodes. The doctor cites research to support this course of action, taken from the journal of gynecology, and expects the parent to comply.
Dr. Thompson finds this as ludicrious, and so he has put into more readable language what the US Department of ED decreed –and remember, this decree takes effect September 15, 2015:
1. All learning-disabled students can become grade level scholars with no differentiated learning– they just need great teaching and great supports.
2. The new testing (Common Core/SAGE) is valid for ALL students with ALL learning disabilities.
3. These new tests are so good that we don’t need alternative or modified tests.
4. The ONLY thing reading and math disabled students need, to become grade level scholars, are good teachers.
5. These new tests are so perfect that they were designed specifically to perfectly measure academic achievement in ALL learning-disabled children.
6. States and ground-level teachers have denied proper instruction for divergent-learning students; therefore, we no longer need individual states to make special tests, because now special education students will be saved by the new Common Core Standards.
In “Primum Non Nocere,” Dr. Thompson read through each of these USDOE decrees, went to the cited research journal itself, and dug around.
He pointed out that in every case, the research was either directly paid for by the USDOE and its partners, or it did not qualify as research because it had never been peer reviewed, or it tested one age or ability grouping of children but applied the findings to a different age or ability grouping; or the decree/claim was not even linked to any research study whatsoever.
Below are just three sample highlights from Dr. Thompson’s “Primum Non Nocere” that stood out as I read the 44-page analysis.
I hope this seems important enough to study more closely and to share with your senators and representatives; Dr. Thompson is calling for a Congressional hearing on this, the US Department of Education’s obviously false use of research, which it used to fraudulently justify taking away local authority over our special education children.
I hope that our nation is not so numb to morality that we no longer care to prosecute deceit and fraud– especially even when it concerns innocent, disabled children.
THREE HIGHLIGHTS from Primum Non Nocere:
US Department of Education Fraudulent Conclusion – Number One:
To support the Department’s decree, that special education students don’t need special education, it cited a 2010 research journal article: “Do Special Education Interventions Improve Learning of Secondary Content? A MetaAnalysis.” Dr. Thompson went to that research journal.
Guess what he found there?
US Department of Education Fraudulent Conclusion – Number Two:
To support the Department of Education’s decree that special education students will benefit from taking Common Core/SAGE tests, it claimed that “new assessments have been designed to facilitate the valid, reliable, and fair assessment of most students, including students with disabilities who previously took an alternate assessment”.
Guess what Dr. Thompson found?
US Department of Education Fraudulent Conclusion – Number Three:
To support the Department’s decree that “alternate assessments based on modified academic achievement standards are no longer needed,” the Department cited a study that (surprise) was also paid for by the US Department of Education– in partnership with the CCSSO, the group that co-created Common Core. This study was never peer-reviewed, and thus qualifies as propaganda rather than real scientific research.
Other studies, that were also used as references by the USDOE, openly urged “caution in interpretation of our findings given the small number of participants,” and warned: “no instructional method, even those validated using randomized control studies, works for all students” — serious cautions that the USDOE clearly did not heed.
Dr. Thompson has called for a congressional hearing:
If the U.S. Department of Education’s force feeding of “Fruit Loops”to our public school children (especially with our vulnerable divergent learning and minority children & teens, all justified via the use of “gynecology” research,) does not justify an immediate Congressional Hearing, I honestly don’t know what the hell else would justify that action. My four, soon to be five children, are more important, and deserve more attention, than Benghazi, or Hillary Clinton’s alleged misuse of government email servers.
I urge you to read all of the findings of USDOE fraudulent use of citations, as discovered in “rimum Non Nocere“. These were only three highlights of many sobering points.
Posted September 7, 2015 by Christel Swasey in Academic Standards, Arne Duncan, Common Core and the Witchery of Wordplay, Democrats and Republicans agree, Evidence That Utah Lost Educational Sovereignty Under Common Core Initiative, How the Common Core Initiative Hurts Kids, Teachers, and Taxpayers, It's Not Too Late To Reclaim Educational Sovereignty For Utah, Parents' Rights
Tagged with #FAKERESEARCH, #SpecialEducationKidsMatter, common core testing, Dr. Gary Thompson, Early Life, ESEA reauthorization, Exposing Secretary Arne Duncan, Fake research, First Do No Harm, Froot Loops and South Park, GOP should not have reauthorized NCLB ESEA, No Child Left Behind, No federally aligned testing, No nationalized curriculum, Phony research used to justify takeover of special education, Primum Non Nocere, Protect Special Education Children, USDOE fraud
Primum Non Nocere: First Do No Harm
An Ethical & Psychology-Based Analysis of the U.S. Department of
Education’s Change in Common Core Testing Policies for Divergent Learning
Children in Public Schools
by Dr. Gary Thompson
10757 S. Riverfront Pkwy. #275 South Jordan, Utah 84095
Primum non nocere in Latin means “first, do no harm.” One of the elemental precepts of ethics, taught across disciplines and throughout the world, this ancient principle holds that given an existing problem, it may be better not to do something, or to do nothing, than to risk causing more harm than good. It reminds the doctor, the psychologist and the educator that he or she must consider possible damage that any intervention might do and to invoke Primum non nocere when considering use of any intervention that carries a less- than-certain chance of benefit.
As objective, local clinical community scientists, we at Early Life Child Psychology and Education Center have had no previous interest or involvement in education public policy or in politics. Our involvement now stems from observations as professionals, is founded on ethics, and must increase as we see that as a consequence of changes in education policy, many children’s lives are being fractured.
We are not a special interest group: within the walls of our Education Psychology Clinic are professionals from diverse cultural, political, ethnic and religious backgrounds, united under one cause: the ethical and safe practice of administering psychological assessment, therapy, and educational interventions to “divergent learning” children who reside in our respective communities in Southern California, and Salt Lake City, Utah. We are African Americans, Caucasians, Latinos, Asians, progressives, tea party activists, socialists, LGBT, traditionally married and single parents, agnostics and conservative Christians.
The harmony we share as a diverse group of clinicians-educators, dedicated to serving the needs of children, has not been duplicated by the diverse group of political and corporate public policy makers who have been entrusted with decision-making power. We here note: that agenda-laden political and corporate partnerships, entrusted with power, have made life-altering decisions regarding education policies for children in public schools, placing their interests above the direct needs of children, resulting in ground-level chaos we have heretofore never seen.
This paper is written not only because of our professional observations of increased numbers of suffering public school children whom our clinic serves; it is also written in response to recent public policy changes, initiated by U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan under the 2015 reauthorization of No Child Left Behind, regarding assessment practices and states’ loss of authority over the education of our nation’s “special education” children. Those new policies and the cited research, upon which they claim to be based, are herein examined.
Under the light and concept of ethics, using ethical application of peer-reviewed science toward the subject matter of testing and mental health, this paper examines the influence of each on education policies. It will be clear to objective readers that Secretary Duncan’s policies do not share the ethical professionals’ commitment to the standards set by the American Psychological Association’s (APA) Code of Ethics. The US Department of Education’s interpretation of cited “studies” used to justify policy changes have been dangerously manipulated and are utilized to achieve political goals at the expense of millions of public school children.
We strongly encourage politicians, policy makers, and state education leaders to examine education policies under the light and scope of ethics, as opposed to catering to the requests of corporate and political special interests. Failure to do so will result in harm to our nation’s vulnerable divergent learning children, including African American, Latino, autistic, dyslexic, gifted, mentally ill, poverty-stricken, and “learning disabled” children.
Parents, not governments, are and must always be the resident experts of their own children. May readers be endowed with discernment and wisdom as they ponder the effects of policy in the service of children.
Wendy Hart & Brian Halladay:
Alpine District school board members whose intellect and courage, in the face of much ridicule and derision, have been an inspiration to thousands of parents nationwide.
Colorado public school teacher Peggy Robertson:
Ms. Robertson’s courageous stance against high stakes, experimental achievement testing on behalf of poverty stricken African American and Latino youth in America, set the tone nationwide for public school teachers to find their voices.
2016 Utah Gubernatorial Candidate Jonathan Johnson & Staff:
For challenging the current incumbent so that ground level parents and teachers can best meet the needs of students, as opposed to serving corporate and political interests.
Parents, educators and advocates in the States of New York & Florida: Positive proof that opposition to increased high stakes testing is a culturally and politically diverse endeavor.
Licensed Clinical Psychologist Dr. Francis Thompson:
Her creative and ethical service to children in our community, as well as her own large contingent of children/teens in her own home, has been inspirational.
Please direct all inquiries for media requests, interviews, or commentary to Mr. Brook Wardle, Chief Operations Officer/Spokesperson for Early Life Psychology, via email ONLY: email@example.com
Guide to Content:
Eight direct statements were examined from the U.S. Department of Education’s August 2015 Rule titled: “Improving the Academic Achievement of the Disadvantaged: Assistance to States for the Education of Children With Disabilities.”
Every factual statement written by the USDOE that was referenced and cited to peer reviewed research as support for the policy changes was examined separately under the heading of “USDOE STATEMENT OF FACT # .”
All eight “USDOE STATEMENT OF FACTS” were directly copied and pasted from the “Rule” to this review document. The statement of fact will be quickly and concisely reviewed and evaluated under the following subheadings:
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION AUGUST 2015 RULE:
“Improving the Academic Achievement of the Disadvantaged; Assistance to States for the Education of Children With Disabilities”
Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services
The Secretary amends the regulations governing title I, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended (ESEA) (the “Title I regulations”), to no longer authorize a State to define modified academic achievement standards and develop alternate assessments based on those modified academic achievement standards for eligible students with disabilities.
In order to make conforming changes to ensure coordinated administration of programs under title I of the ESEA and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the Secretary is also amending the regulations for Part B of the IDEA.
These regulations are effective September 21, 2015.
In 2007, the Department amended the Title I regulations to permit States to define modified academic achievement standards for eligible students with disabilities and to assess those students with alternate assessments based on those modified academic achievement standards. The Department promulgated those regulations based on the understanding that (1) there was a small group of students whose disabilities precluded them from achieving grade-level proficiency and whose progress was such that they would not reach grade-level achievement standards in the same time frame as other students, and (2) the regular State assessment would be too difficult for this group of students and the assessment based on alternate academic achievement standards would be too easy for them. 72 FR 17748 (Apr. 9, 2007). In addition, at that time, the Department acknowledged that measuring the academic achievement of students with disabilities, particularly those eligible to be assessed based on modified academic standards was an area “in which there is much to learn and improve” and indicated that “[a]s data and research on assessments for students with disabilities improve, the Department may decide to issue additional regulations or guidance.” 72 FR 17748, 17763 (Apr. 9, 2007).
BRIEF OUTLINE OF USDOE’S CHANGES TO EXISTING ASSESSMENT RULES:
The Department of Education now requires that states can no longer modify academic standards for students with disabilities (with the noted “exception” of the most cognitively impaired special education students), nor can states develop alternative assessments for those modified assessments.he Department of Education justified these new rule modifications from the prior 2007 rules based on new research that it claims supports the idea that all students with disabilities can perform on the same grade level as traditional students, and that students with disabilities can be tested fairly on the same test used by traditional students. An examination of the claims of the USDOE, and its research, which the Department says supports these claims, are outlined in the next section.
FACTUAL STATEMENT ANALYSIS OF USDOE’S SUPPORTING RESEARCH
USDOE FINDING OF FACT #1:
“Since these regulations went into effect, additional research has demonstrated that students with disabilities who struggle in reading and mathematics can successfully learn grade-level content and make significant academic progress when appropriate instruction, services, and supports are provided.”
Research Cited To Support the USDOE’s Factual Finding #1:
Scruggs, T., Mastropieri, M., Berkeley, S., & Graetz, J. (2010). Do Special Education Interventions Improve Learning of Secondary Content? A Meta- Analysis. Remedial and Special Education, 31(6), 437-449.
Scope & Limitations of USDOE Cited Research:
(“To address these issues, we conducted a comprehensive literature search and synthesis”) P.437
(“Included in this meta-analysis were original content area intervention studies that included data on secondary aged students with disabilities for which standardized mean difference effect sizes could be computed. Students were considered secondary if they were identified as attending classes in middle schools, junior high schools, or high schools.”) (P. 438).
(“Content area interventions included content relevant to any area within science (e.g., chemistry, biology), social studies (e.g., history, geography), or English.). P.438
(“Of the 67 studies (95.7%) that provided grade-level information, students were enrolled at a mean grade level of 8.3 (SD = 1.5). p. 439
(The 42 (60.0%) studies that included IQ information reported a mean sample
IQ of 91.2 (SD = 7.2).) P.439
“(Including students with emotional/behavioral dis- abilities (4.3%).). P. 439
7.). Only 50% of the studies examined reported data on race/ethnicity. The studies that reported data on race and ethnicity were not sufficient in number to warrant substantive conclusions:
(“These proportions overrepresented Caucasian students (61.7%) and underrepresented African American (20.5%), Hispanic (14.6%), and Asian/Pacific Islander (1.9%) students (USDOE, 2005)”.). P. 440
(“More studies were conducted in the area of science (40.0%), followed by social studies (34.3%), English(10.0%) ). P. 440
(“It was unfortunate to note that not all studies reported important demographic variables, such as gender and race/ ethnicity. Such information can provide information regarding whether research samples are representative of the students placed in special education today.) P. 445
(“Research for this article was supported in part from grants from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs, numbers H325D020020, H325D070008, and H324C020085.)
Summary & Conclusion:
This peer-reviewed study cited by the USDOE, as “evidence” that all special education students “struggling in reading and mathematics” can “successfully learn grade level content,” is a claim that is clearly not supported. Specifically, the subject of math was not examined, no Kindergarten through Grade 5 students were part of this meta-analysis, and an extremely limited number of emotionally disabled, African American, Latino, or Pacific Islanders were examined. The study was funded by the U.S. Department of Education.
USDOE FINDING OF FACT #2:
“In addition, nearly all States have developed new college- and career-ready standards and new assessments aligned with those standards. These new assessments have been designed to facilitate the valid, reliable, and fair assessment of most students, including students with disabilities who previously took an alternate assessment based on modified academic achievement standards.”
Research Cited To Support the USDOE’s Factual Finding #2:
Scope & Limitations of Cited Research:
NOT APPLICABLE. NO INDEPENDENT RESEARCH CITED.
Summary & Conclusion:
Not one of the Common Core testing consortia funded by grants from the U.S. Department of Education, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (SBAC, PARCC, AIR) who designed these new Common Core assessments, has published independently reviewed validity data on special education students (or any students for that matter).
“Validity”, simply put, is the process of providing empirical evidence that a designed test performs as it’s stated purpose.
In the absence of such documentation, it is reasonable to conclude that the USDOE of educations statement in this regard, has no basis in truth, and to change policies based on this assertion is a potentially dangerous and far-reaching violation of ethics in the fields of psychology and psychometrics.
1 The Florida Department of Education (FLDOE), under pressure from lawmakers and activists, paid $600,000.00 to a private psychometric research group, Alpine Testing, to perform a validity test on their high stakes, experimental Common Core achievement test. The non-peer reviewed results of their study were published September 1, 2015. The scope, depth, and subject matter of inquiry of the test review deviated radically from traditional psychological methods of scientific assessment validity inquiry. We elected to not provide legitimacy to FLDOE”s politically driven “validity” project by providing extensive commentary to a report that does not place the legitimate science of psychometric validity in a true and accurate light.
USDOE FINDING OF FACT #3:
“Therefore, we believe that alternate assessments based on modified academic achievement standards are no longer needed and, with high-quality instruction and appropriate accommodations, students with disabilities who took an alternate assessment based on modified academic achievement standards will be able to demonstrate their knowledge and skills by participating in the new general assessments.”
Research Cited To Support the USDOE’s Factual Finding #3:
Thurlow, M. L., Lazarus, S. S., & Bechard, S. (Eds.). (2013). Lessons learned in federally funded projects that can improve the instruction and assessment of low performing students with disabilities. (Note: This research was not peer reviewed, and was prepared by a “think tank” funded in full by the USDOE).
Scope & Limitations of Cited Research:
Summary and Conclusions:
Not one sentence, or article submitted in this compilation of papers by various state education agencies, supported (or even mentioned) the USDOE’s premise that alternative assessments should be eliminated for any population of public school students. In fact, multiple articles cited herein, suggested the need for further research on how to implement better alternative assessments for special education children in their respective states.
USDOE FINDING OF FACT #4:
“The assessments being developed by States based on college- and career-ready standards, including those developed by PARCC and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, do not eliminate the authority or need for States to administer alternate assessments based on alternate academic achievement standards for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities.”
Research Cited To Support the USDOE’s Factual Finding #4:
Scope & Limitations of Cited Research:
NOT APPLICABLE. NO INDEPENDENT RESEARCH CITED.
Summary & Conclusion:
The USDOE has not issued eligibility criteria of what constitutes a special education student having “significant cognitive disabilities.” USDOE has stated within this document that these students will compromise approximately 10% of all disabled students in a given population. This narrow and arbitrary definition excludes minority groups who have traditionally not performed well in high stakes testing arenas (e.g., African American, Latino students, etc.) and also takes away local States’ choices so that they cannot create and implement alternative assessments for children with dyslexia, severe emotional disturbances and disabilities, and children who have been diagnosed as being along the autistic spectrum.
To date, no peer reviewed publication in the world has opined that the education or clinical psychology community has ever designed a high stakes achievement test that has achieved a high level of validity for the aforementioned groups of children and teens in public school systems. USDOE is thus dictating the use, application, and interpretation of a test not validated for these specific purposes or interpretations.
USDOE FINDING OF FACT #5:
“Research demonstrates that low-achieving students with disabilities who struggle in reading  and low-achieving students with disabilities who struggle in mathematics  can successfully learn grade-level content when they have access to high-quality instruction.”
Research Cited To Support the USDOE’s Factual Finding #5 (Reading):
Allor, J. H., Mathes, P. G., Roberts, J. K., Cheatham, J.P., & Champlin, T. M. (2010). Comprehensive reading instruction for students with intellectual disabilities. Psychology in the Schools, 47, 445- 466
Scope & Limitations of Cited Research:
(“Clearly, we urge caution in interpretation of our findings given the small number of participants.”) P.354
(“Progress monitoring scores, specifically Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS; Good & Kaminski, 2002), phoneme segmentation fluency (PSF), nonsense word fluency (NWF), and first-grade ORF subtests were used to identify students who showed limited growth despite some progress during the daily instructional sessions.”). P. 349
Summary & Conclusion:
Given the small sample size, as well as the other serious limitations in this study provided above, an attempt by the USDOE to utilize such psychometrically weak and/or non existent evidence to support broad claims that all students with disabilities can read at grade level with proper instruction, is fanciful at best, and deliberately deceitful at worst.
(The two other articles cited to support the USDOE statement specifically dealt with ADHD, and “interventions” to improve reading. Neither study provides any support for the USDOE’s broad claims, and were not worthy of this reviewer’s additional time to write up the deficiencies of the studies, as such related to the USDOE claims. For those who wish to review them; they are cited in the USDOE references under #7).
Research Cited To Support the USDOE’s Factual Finding #5: (Math):
Fuchs, L. S. & Fuchs, D., Powell, S. R., Seethaler, P. M., Cirino, P. T., & Fletcher, J. M. (2008). Intensive intervention for students with mathematics disabilities: Seven principles of effective practice.
Scope & Limitations of Cited Research:
Summary & Conclusion:
This was the most complete, independent, interesting and well-researched article thus far cited by the USDOE, yet does not support the overreaching conclusions
of the Department’s rule change in any aspect of its scholarly work. (In fact, this article may lend itself to the notion of even more diverse methods of intervention, teaching, and testing of children who suffer from math disabilities than what may be on the current “curriculum menu” in many public schools.)
Nevertheless, a well written and crafted study limited to just 3rd grade students, does not support USDOE premise that every learning disabled child in America can, and will benefit from current interventions developed and implemented in public schools.
(The last article cited by the USDOE as evidence of efficacy for the 5th “finding of fact”, was written directly and published by the USDOE and will not be reviewed. The subject matter is based on “Response to Intervention”, and it is general knowledge amongst educational and neuropsychologist in the field that this practice, although effective amongst some student populations, has no peer- reviewed backing that suggests that it can be used on all reading “disabled” students successfully in the entire country.)
USDOE FINDING OF FACT #6:
“the developers of the new generation of assessments considered the needs of students with disabilities to ensure that the assessments are designed to allow those students to demonstrate their knowledge. 
Research Cited To Support the USDOE’s Factual Finding #6:
For additional information on assessment accommodations, see: PARCC Accessibility Features and Accommodations Manual (Nov. 2014) at http://www.parcconline.org/sites/parcc/files/parcc-accessibility- features- accommodations-manual-11-14_final.pdf.
Scope & Limitations of Cited Research:
Summary & Conclusion:
There are no independent studies (or even grant-supported studies from the USDOE) in existence, which indicates that Common Core test developers (PARCC, AIR, SBAC) have published validity documents indicating that they:
“considered the needs of students with disabilities to ensure that the assessments are designed to allow those students to demonstrate their knowledge.” More than likely, these high stakes, Common Core developed tests are still in the experimental phase of development while they are being currently used on special education students, as well as every other child in public schools in the nation.
Evidence strongly suggests that the above-named testing consortia and developers, supported by tax payers’ dollars, may in fact be in the midst of the largest, most comprehensive experimentation –as defined by the Ethics Code of the American Psychological Association– on American public school children, in our nation’s history.
If, in fact, independent investigations confirm this well-grounded theory, the U.S. Department of Education, and Secretary Arne Duncan, are in violation of multiple APA (American Psychological Association) assessment and experimentation ethics codes. (See APA Ethics Codes 8.02 “Informed Consent to Research” & 8.07 “Deception in Research” & 9.03 “Informed Consent In Assessments” http://www.apa.org/ethics/code/principles.pdf)
The basic foundational purpose of conforming assessment and research practices to ethics codes is to ensure that vulnerable populations, such a special education students, are not exploited and/or harmed.
USDOE FINDING OF FACT #7:
“We learned through States that received funding from the Department through the GSEG and EAG programs that some students with disabilities who might be candidates for an alternate assessment based on modified academic achievement standards may not have had an opportunity to learn grade-level content, and more effort was needed to support teachers in ensuring students have meaningful opportunities to learn grade-level content….. Six of the projects found that students who might be candidates for an alternate assessment based on modified academic achievement standards had difficulty…”
Research Cited To Support the USDOE’s Factual Finding #7:
Thurlow, M. L., Lazarus, S. S., & Bechard, S. (Eds.). (2013). Lessons learned in federally funded projects that can improve the instruction and assessment of low performing students with disabilities. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota, National Center on Educational Outcomes.
Scope & Limitations of Cited Research:
(Note: This same compilation of research “studies” was cited above in Findings of Facts #3. The “limitations” noted in #3 are applicable and repeated below).
Summary and Conclusions:
A statement of belief by the USDOE that “more effort was needed to support teachers in ensuring students have meaningful opportunities to learn grade- level content” is not justification to limit local and states’ judgment and creativity with regard to modifying assessments and curriculum for special education students.
Not one sentence or article submitted in this compilation of papers by various state education agencies, supported (or even mentioned) the USDOE’s premise that alternative assessments should be eliminated. In fact, multiple articles cited herein the need for further research on how to implement better alternative assessments for special education children in their respective states.
USDOE FINDING OF FACT #8:
“Parents and teachers have the right and need to know how much progress all students, including students with disabilities, are making each year toward college and career readiness. That means all students, including students with disabilities, need to take annual Statewide assessments.”
Research Cited To Support the USDOE’s Factual Finding #8:
Scope & Limitations of Cited Research:
NOT APPLICABLE. NO INDEPENDENT RESEARCH CITED.
Summary & Conclusion:
It would be reasonable and proper to assume that parents and education stakeholders would “have the right and need to know” how much progress their divergent learning students were making academically.
The USDOE, however, insists that parents and teachers need to know about students’ “career and college readiness.” What exactly is “career- and college readiness” and how does such a confusing and undefined standard apply to children and teens with diagnosed learning disabilities?
What evidence does the USDOE have to show that all students wish to have a career, and if so, are at a developmental or life-experience level to start to think along those lines?
What evidence does the USDOE have to show that it is responsible, or even possible, to assess for “college readiness” for divergent-learning students?
What evidence does the USDOE have to make the unilateral decision, on behalf
of every student and scientist living in the country, without regard to the judgment or wishes of individual students, parents, teachers, doctors, or states, that all students, including students with disabilities, “must take annual statewide assessments?”
How ethical is it to require every public school student in the country to take an experimental test, without their informed written consent; a test that has yet to undergo independent validity reviews by any organization free of contractual ties to either the U.S. Department of Education or the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation?
FINAL CONCLUSION AND SUMMARY OPINIONS:
We need to know much more than we now know about the actual consequences of implementing large-scale, high-stakes assessment and accountability systems.
It is assumed that holding schools responsible for improved outcomes for students with disabilities, will lead to increased instructional effort, improved instruction, and better outcomes. A government education agency, making policy changes based on assumptions, is engaging in experimentation– unethical experimentation on our nation’s most vulnerable children.
Educators do not yet have the science to know how to teach most of these standards to students with moderate and severe developmental disabilities. At the present time little is known about how much academic content students with moderate and severe learning and emotional disabilities can learn in traditional public school settings.
Common sense, as well as decades of peer-reviewed research in the areas of cognitive and developmental psychology, indicates strongly that restricting students to curricula beyond their cognitive capacities substantially lowers their achievement.
Test publishers often have not conducted adequate research on how accommodations affect test validity. It is unfair and discriminatory to penalize a student with a disability, any disability, for using a needed accommodation on an assessment, simply because the test publisher has not conducted the necessary research about the effect of the particular accommodation on the test.
In fact it is unfair, discriminatory and unethical to require any student to take a test that, by all accounts, is an experimental design that has yet to undergo extensive, independent validity reviews. There should be candor not only about what is known about these high stakes, computer adaptive assessments, but also about what is unknown. (LORAN Commission, 1988, p. 27) (LORAN Commission. (1988). Report of the LORAN Commission to the Harvard Community Health Plan: Harvard Community Health Plan, Boston, MA.)
Assessment technology, like medical technology, is not perfect; there are potentially harmful side effects associated with treatments determined to be generally safe and efficacious. We certainly are not suggesting to throw the baby out with the proverbial bathwater. (We utilize the same, if not similar, innovative assessment technologies as the education system). However, like physicians and clinical psychologists, educators should know the nature and extent of research documented harmful side effects on vulnerable groups of children, before adopting any high- stakes testing program. Always, there must be informed, written consent from parents.
Failure to do so places special education students in positions of being subjected to frustrations that may exacerbate known, as well as unknown, potential comorbid emotional disorders that many of these students may possess.
We encourage public school districts across the nation to disprove our well- researched and disturbing hypothesis, that not one district website in the entire nation has notified parents of the experimental nature of Common Core high- stakes testing, nor has a single one of the government-funded test makers ever completed independent, peer reviewed validity studies on these assessments.
These “lies of omission,” perpetuated and sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education under the leadership of Secretary Duncan, will continue to have dangerous consequences for traditionally “test vulnerable” African American, Latino, Pacific Islander, autistic, dyslexic, dual-exceptional, poverty-stricken, and emotionally disturbed children who are enrolled in public and charter schools across the country.
It is the ultimate height of hypocrisy for an Education Department Secretary to insist on “evidence” based conformity to unilateral rule changes, and then make massive special education rule changes based on cited references which appear to have been pulled blindly out of the magician’s hat.
Under Secretary Arne Duncan’s tenure, public schools and special education teachers are not getting the support they need to meet IDEA requirements anywhere in the country, despite special education ballooning class sizes and despite massive layoffs of teachers and support staff all over the country.
Secretary Duncan’s prescription of education reform has resulted thus far in feeding those frenzied financial interests that are aligned with corporate testing corporations, as well as alienating masses across the country, and not just conservative-leaning “white suburban moms” as Secretary Duncan blustered.
We are not politicians or public policy experts. We do not purport to have the answers to perplexing issues facing our nations children in public schools. What we DO know is that parents are, and must always be, the resident experts of their own children.
A shift from the dictatorial-like control now emanating from the Department of Education, and supported by Big Testing’s financial corporate interests– back to states, local school districts, and ground level teachers and parents– is the foundation from which all hope and change in our nation’s education system must start.
Respectfully submitted by:
Gary Thompson, Psy.D.
Early Life Child Psychology & Education Center
USDOE SUPPORTING REFERENCES & COMMENTARY
Why intensive interventions are necessary for students with severe reading difficulties. Psychology in the Schools, 47, 32-444; Wanzek, J. & Vaughn, S. (2010). Tier 3 interventions for students with significant reading problems. Theory Into Practice, 49, 305-314.
Assisting students struggling with mathematics: Response to Intervention (RtI) for elementary and middle schools (NCEE 2009-4060). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved November 1, 2010 from http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/publications/practiceguides/.
Hinnant, J., O’Brien, M., & Ghazarian, S. (2009). The longitudinal relations of teacher expectations to achievement in the early school years. Journal of Educational Psychology, 101 (3), 662-670; and Hornstra, L., Denessen, E., Bakker, J., von den Bergh, L., & Voeten, M. (2010). Teacher attitudes toward dyslexia: Effects on teacher expectations and the academic achievement of students with dyslexia. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 43 (6), 515-529.
RELEVANT APA ETHICS CODES:
Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct
Adopted August 21, 2002 Effective June 1, 2003
With the 2010 Amendments Adopted February 20, 2010
Effective June 1, 2010
INTRODUCTION AND APPLICABILITY (In Part)
Areas covered include but are not limited to the clinical, counseling, and school practice of psychology; research; teaching; supervision of trainees; public service; policy development; social intervention; development of assessment instruments; conducting assessments; educational counseling; organizational consulting; forensic activities; program design and evaluation; and administration.
PREAMBLE (In Part)
Psychologists respect and protect civil and human rights and the central importance of freedom of inquiry and expression in research, teaching, and publication. They strive to help the public in developing informed judgments and choices concerning human behavior. In doing so, they perform many roles, such as researcher, educator, diagnostician, therapist, supervisor, consultant, administrator, social interventionist, and expert witness.
ETHICAL STANDARDS (In Part)
3.04 Avoiding Harm
Psychologists take reasonable steps to avoid harming their clients/patients, students, supervisees, research participants, organizational clients, and others with whom they work, and to minimize harm where it is foreseeable and un- avoidable.
8.02 Informed Consent to Research
(a) When obtaining informed consent as required in Standard 3.10, Informed Consent, psychologists inform participants about (1) the purpose of the research, expected
duration, and procedures; (2) their right to decline to participate and to withdraw from the research once participation has begun; (3) the foreseeable consequences of declining or withdrawing; (4) reasonably foreseeable factors that may be expected to influence their willingness to participate such as potential risks, discomfort, or adverse effects; (5) any prospective research benefits; (6) limits of confidentiality; (7) incentives for participation; and (8) whom to contact for questions about the research and research participants’ rights. They provide opportunity for the prospective participants to ask questions and receive answers.
9.01 Bases for Assessments
(b) Psychologists use assessment instruments whose validity and reliability have been established for use with members of the population tested. When such validity or re- liability has not been established, psychologists describe the strengths and limitations of test results and interpretation.
9.05 Test Construction
Psychologists who develop tests and other assessment techniques use appropriate psychometric procedures and current scientific or professional knowledge for test design, standardization, validation, reduction or elimination of bias, and recommendations for use.
Thank you, Dr. Thompson.
Posted September 3, 2015 by Christel Swasey in Academic Standards, Arne Duncan, Common Core and the Witchery of Wordplay, Democrats and Republicans agree, Evidence That Utah Lost Educational Sovereignty Under Common Core Initiative, How the Common Core Initiative Hurts Kids, Teachers, and Taxpayers, It's Not Too Late To Reclaim Educational Sovereignty For Utah, Parents' Rights, Teachers' Rights
Tagged with #SpecialEducationKidsMatter, child psychologist opposes Department of Education, ESEA reauthorization consequences, Fact Checking US Department of Education, federal dictates based on unacceptable research, First Do No Harm, hurting children, NCLB Final Rule, NCLB Final Rule policy, Primum Non Nocere, Secretary Arne Duncan, special education children matter, Stand up for children, USDOE Finding False Facts, What is going on in special education?, Where is the real research Secretary Duncan, Why did GOP reauthorize NCLB / ESEA?, Why doesn't Secretary Duncan care about special ed kids?, Why use fake research to alter national policy on special ed?
This article is written by Alpine School Board member Brian Halladay for parents in the Alpine School District. It is published here with his permission.
The Reality Behind Your Child’s Test
By Brian Halladay, Board Member, Alpine School District, Utah
Sage test results were recently released that showed less than half of Utah’s students were proficient in math, English, and language arts. Taken at face value, this means that more than half our students are “not proficient.” So, what does this mean? Absolutely nothing.
The SAGE test is an unreliable, unverified test that our children from 3rd-11th grade are taking not just once, but up to three times a year. These tests aren’t scored by their teachers, but rather by the American Institutes for Research (AIR). This company is the one of the world’s largest social and behavioral research organizations. Your child’s proficiency is being scored by a bunch of behavioral researchers.
No teacher is scoring, or has the ability to score, an individual child’s SAGE test.
Your child is taking a test for 8 hours (4 hours for math and 4 hours for English) that their teacher can’t see the questions to. This test is designed to have your child fail. Gone are the days when a student could feel a sense of achievement for getting 100% on a test. This test is touted to be “rigorous. If your child gets a correct answer the test will continue to ask harder and harder questions until he or she gets it wrong (who knows if what is tested was actually taught in the classroom?) Put simply, this means that your child likely will come home grumpy, anxious, or depressed after taking this test. With over 50% non-proficiency, this will affect more than half of the students that take it.
The teacher is almost as much of a test victim as the child. Having no idea of the test questions, teachers are still starting to be evaluated —on a test they can’t see. I believe we’re starting to see this leading to more experienced teachers leaving, and an increase in teachers with little to no experience not knowing the pre-SAGE environment.
Points to consider:
Last year, two fellow board members and I wrote a letter to our State Superintendent asking him to address our concerns, for which we’ve had no response.
If your parental instinct is kicking in, I would ask that you at least consider opting your child out of taking this test. State law allows any parent to opt their child out. Even if you don’t decide to opt out, talk with your teacher, know when your child is taking this test, and make sure your decision is in the child’s best interest.
Posted September 2, 2015 by Christel Swasey in How the Common Core Initiative Hurts Kids, Teachers, and Taxpayers
Tagged with 8 hour test that doesn't bless the child, AIR, Alpine School Board Member, behavioral research organization has no business testing academics, Brian Halladay, open your eyes, opt out, parental rights, privacy matters, protect your child, Taking a Stand, teacher rights, telling the truth, transparency versus secrecy