Alpine School Board Member to Parents: Opt Out Common Core SAGE tests   27 comments



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: 

  1. When did we allow testing to become more important than education?


  1. Your child’s data is subject to being shared with people and organizations without your consent. There is nothing that prohibits AIR or any its multiple organizations from accessing your child’s data. As long as AIR doesn’t make a profit from the data without the USOE’s consent, they can use it for anything they want.


  1. This test has no contractual provisions that prevent it from collecting BEHAVIORAL data. AIR has a long history of collecting behavioral data, and seeing they’re a behavioral research organization, don’t you think they will? (Just look up Project Talent).


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.

27 responses to “Alpine School Board Member to Parents: Opt Out Common Core SAGE tests

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  1. Are those in charge of education at the state and federal levels, ever going REALLY care about each child. We need to get away from these standardized tests and Common Core curriculum. We must return control to our local schools, parents, and teachers.

  2. I opt my kids out already, but as a former employee of the Alpine school district, I have heard some very rude comments from teachers about parents who do so.

  3. Reblogged this on Natural Family BLOG.

  4. Who’s bright azz idea was it anyway to introduce common core teaching?? My daughter hasn’t a clue how to do basic math problems, but she sure can draw a good square!

    • The universities across the nation came up with the idea of common core. Students were starting their college careers and couldn’t handle the entry level freshmen classes and were spending a semester or two taking remedial non-credit courses to catch them up. Expensive for the students, not in the best interest of the universities resources.

  5. Just curious about what you DO like about ASD. Last time I heard you speak in a public format, you had NOTHING positive to say about it, other than a lot of people homeschool, and we have new, great charter schools. (Which, if I’m not mistaken, aren’t positive things about ASD). It was visibly apparent that you weren’t even at the District Celebration in August, where appreciation was shown to all staff and employees. Just wondering why you even bother being on the board if these things aren’t important to you and you have nothing positive to say.

    You and your cohorts are like Chicken Little… You’ve convinced all these people that the sky is falling and have them all frantic for no reason. The Common Core isn’t Satan’s plan of indoctrinating our children. Sage testing isn’t the governments tracking system. Speaking from a teacher, it’s actually VERY helpful in planning curriculum and teaching students. Quit making it out to be more than it is.

    • Perhaps because there is so much top down in education (not a good thing in my book) is the exact reason he is on the Board…

      • He should be running for political office. He is simply a puppet and Oak Norton is the puppet master. He hasn’t spent any time in the classroom. He puts unnecessary fear into parents and makes it VERY difficult to create a trusting relationship between parents and teachers. We are the bad guys. Parents don’t trust us and therefor push that onto the students too.

    • As a teacher, why do you find SAGE testing helpful? It may be for secondary ed, but not elementary. I have had students throw up, have anxiety issues and cry during testing. I find the test demeaning of students and teachers both, and my students btw, scored into the 70% range. The creators of Common Core have stated time and time again that they didn’t take in account what students could developmentally handle. This is evident when we require 3rd graders to analyze texts and write essays about their thought processes, even thought they have barely learned to read! The math portion of the test is ludicrous. Although I do find many of the theories behind Common Core Math interesting and helpful to some degree, it doesn’t seem to follow the SAGE test. Why do you believe tormenting children is o.k.? No country in the world tests students as much as we do in the U.S.. I have no problem with testing, but make it reasonable!

      • There are several online resources to address academic and testing anxiety. Incorporating new protocols in the classroom not only addresses the test anxiety, it teaches skills that students can use to handle stress during the rest of their lives. Simple things like taking 10 minutes to write out what they are feeling before the test or doing deep inhalation/exhalation exercises for 5 minutes in a darkened room have shown to take down anxiety levels by a significant number.

        We can’t remove everything that causes stress from children’s lives. Common Core did not invent a new epidemic of anxiety, it just reminded us that we aren’t doing enough to assist students in learning mental health management skills.. Educators can easily help with instituting these techniques with their students. Many schools across the nation have already adopted policies that do this. No reason they can’t be implemented in your room.

  6. Thank you C for stating the truth. Must keep partisan politicians out of our school boards.

  7. Brian, please continue to speak for the majority of us parents and grandparents that believe common core is a secret combination and should be done away. The closer the education is to the students and the parents, it is easier to control, to guide and to support – not some bureaucrats in Washington or Salt Lake City. Thank you for standing up and having the courage to speak out. We support you 100%. Thanks.

  8. This has nothing to do with partisan politics. It has to do with the right of parents to decide what is best for their child, NOT the school district. The idea that our children are expected to dispense with real education time, in order to take tests that have nothing to with learning, is ludicrous! Thank you for representing the families in your are. You have my vote.

  9. However Brian, What are you doing on the Alpine School Board ?

  10. RC – How in the world do you know you are the “majority” and if it were “secret combinations” – would not the church leaders come out and speak against it? In fact, the church has always been a strong supporter of public education. Those that are at the schools and involved have figured out how helpful the common core and sage testing are to really know what is being learned – not just memorized. Ask Brian Halladay the last time he actually set foot in the schools he is supposed to be representing – I dare you. #MissingInAction #TooBusyForTheDistrict

    • Amen to that.

      I love how all of these ultra conservatives are scared to death of having a common guideline of what’s being taught…so that wherever a child may move to, they’ll be on track and learn the same things. Isn’t that how the Mormon church does things?!? No matter where you may move to, the lesson plans and things are the same. Just like Common Core. It’s a guideline to keep it uniform. As a military mom having to move children around the country, it’s fabulous.

      And really…if the federal government wants to find out something about you, they’re going to do it. It’s not going to be from a test.

      • Momsterx, when liberty accompanies standardization, there’s no problem. With Common Core, there is no liberty. Whether it’s McDonald’s or a church that standardizes its lesson plans, there’s the ability to leave a system that you don’t like, to opt out. That’s much different from this. In public education, nobody gets to choose whether or not they’ll pay for it, and (with the exception of a minority of private school children) nobody can opt out; school is compulsory. And with the data mining, you can’t opt out at all. I tried. The state denied the request. This is why we are against Common Core. It may be a uniform “guideline” and “pipeline” but no voter ever got to vote on this, no legislature got to vote on this, no teacher got to vote on this, and no evidence of efficacy for these very different standards was ever run. It’s like giving out medicine to the nation without doing any testing on whether it would harm or bless that nation’s children. Is it harmless medicine, really? Look into what these “guidelines” do– to math, to classic literature, to cursive, to American history. Look at what these data standards take– without parental consent, without informing parents that daily data is being recorded, lifelong. And really, the federal government is prohibited from going into your home and reading your diary. That’s a basic Constitutional right. You can’t say “they’re going to do it.” They can’t do it. Unless they upload daily “SIS” data on your child from tests and all other assignments, which they do. Time to get involved, get informed, and get your rights your protective instincts as a parent restored.

    • For real. Agree with all of that.

    • Hoosierfriend,

      In reading the LDS Church website, I see that the Church has promised to remain politically neutral, yet always to uphold the doctrines of the Church including principles of freedom and the importance of the US Constitution. It is up to individual members to discern what freedom looks like, applied to real life and real government and real schools. Just as the Church will not tell you to vote for Mitt Romney nor Harry Reid, it will never tell you to put your child in a private school nor to opt out of tests. This is up to your judgment and study and conscience.

      I don’t follow Brian around town, but I did love his graduation keynote address for Pleasant Grove High School. Did you happen to hear it?

  11. This has nothing to do with a right-wing agenda. Many disagreeing with what is going on are left-wing liberals.

  12. I am surprised at most of these comments. My hat’s off and waving high to ASD Board Member Brian Halladay, who dares speak independently in an education culture of consensus (or pretended consensus).

    As for #OakNortonsPuppets? My first thought is that those who are pushing SAGE and Common Core and SLDS data mining, or who don’t look into where it comes from, seem a lot more like puppets to me. We aren’t opposed to states individually, uncoerced, choosing to share –anything that is good for them and children; we are against what has happened.

    The reason that Utah –or any other state– has gone along with Common Core adoption and the rest of the school-to-work factory line system, fully outlined by Tucker and Clinton in 1992 and now becoming our new socialist reality, is that Gates and the feds have paid groups to agree that this is good for children, to not look too deeply into whether it destroys local control and robs parental and teacher judgment.

    Look at what Huffington Post published on this: “A Brief Audit of Bill Gates” for example.

    This may help you see what the outrage from parents and teachers across our nation is– not “much ado about nothing.” This pushback is much ado about liberty, fast going away because our Offices of Ed have not been valiant; they have been successfully lured by the hope of federal money, and/or Gates money.

    Now we’ve been bound with real, contractual partnerships in a net that includes powerful private groups (Microsoft, Pearson, AIR, SBAC, CCSSO, NGA) and the feds. Now we’ve been choked so that personal choice and professional judgment, matters of education and data privacy, are up to corporate-political dictators– not up to teachers, not moms and dads, not principles, not school boards.

    Please do a bit more homework before posting comments that reveal that you haven’t studied these movements at all. I for one am way past being called a “conspiracy theorist”. It’s in our faces. It’s an obvious, choking agenda. Parents aren’t even allowed to opt out of the SLDS data system that tracks kids daily, now lifelong, without parental consent; I tried.

    This agenda has taken over and altered things so dramatically that you can’t even compare the system today with the system five years ago. And Secretary Duncan and Gates and their elite clique have only just begun.

    To see what Tucker and Clinton outlined, so you can check to see how close we are to completing their 1992 agenda for the socialists’ dream for American schools, see the PDF files as preserved in the 1998 Congressional Record. I can’t paste them, so find the PDF links here in the first sentence of former US Congressman Bob Schaffer’s letter, this week’s update on the 1992 matter:

  13. So glad to see this being called out. What a horrifying test experience for these children. AND I thought I had test anxiety. What will these children have later in life.

  14. I wonder how many of the parents on this board that are opposed to the Common Core spend actual time in PTA and SCC meetings? Besides seeing the effects of common core first hand (and not the rumor mill) and other educational practices, it’s a good way to stay informed, make opinions heard, contribute and actually participate in the shaping of your child’s education. Signed, 2X PTA President, 3X SCC board member.

  15. You bring up some interesting points, Christel. I’ve asked questions that no one seems to know the answers. When have parents ever voted for what their children are taught in the schools? When have parents ever thought they had the option to look at the tests to make sure no one is data mining or that the test is okay for their child to take? When have parents ever had local control over the curriculum? WHY NOW?
    Also, what data mining? What is being taken and sent away? And to where?

    I talked with my children after they’ve taken the SAGE tests. The only complaint was my ninth grader saying the English writing one was too long. From what I understand, the board over the testing was fixing that issue. I asked what kind of personal information they had to put down on their test and they just stared at me.
    When I’ve talked to teachers, their only complaint was learning to teach a new curriculum again. The math curriculum changed ten years ago and the teachers had the same complaint then. I also asked many, many teachers from elementary to high school how much control they’ve lost in their teaching. They’ve all said NONE. They told me they have MORE control over what they teach now.
    The principle at my elementary said reading scores across the school ALL went up the first year Utah started the Core.
    I have found no reason to be upset about Utah Core or SAGE testing. I’ve done my research on both sides. And yes, I’ve looked at the Common Core English and Math. From what I’ve researched, this is stepping up my child’s education. Cursive is still being taught in my schools as well as classical literature and history. I wish the integrated math would have happened during my school days.
    I can’t find where this is hurting me or my child or taking away any rights. I see this as an attempt to bringing our students up another, higher, educational notch.

  16. Just so people are clear on what the prophets have and have not said in support of public education…

    “I think that by the end of the millennium, for those who will occupy the celestial kingdom, the home will be the only media of teaching children. Teaching will be through the family.” (President Alvin R. Dyer, of the First Presidency Education: Moving Toward and Under the Law of Consecration, BYU Studies, vol. 10, Number 1. 1969.)

    “The precepts of man have gone so far in subverting our educational system that in many cases a higher degree today, in the so-called social sciences, can be tantamount to a major investment in error. Very few men build firmly enough on the rock of revelation to go through this kind of indoctrination and come out untainted.” (Ezra Taft Benson, Conference Report, p. 319. April 1969.
    Moral values are being neglected and prayer expelled from public schools on the pretext that moral teaching belongs to religion. At the same time, atheism, the secular religion, is admitted to class, and our youngsters are proselyted to a conduct without morality.

    “I submit that the atheist has no more right to teach the fundamentals of his sect in the public school than does the theist. Any system in the schools or in society that protects [permits?] the destruction of faith and forbids, in turn, the defense of it must ultimately destroy the moral fiber of the people.” (Boyd K. Packer, speech delivered to Utah State University baccalaureate services June 8, 1973.)

    “The tenth plank in Karl Marx’s Manifesto for destroying our kind of civilization advocated the establishment of “free education for all children in public schools.” There were several reasons why Marx wanted government to run the schools.…one of them [was that] ‘It is capable of exact demonstration that if every party in the State has the right of excluding from public schools whatever he does not believe to be true, then he that believes most must give way to him that believes least, and then he that believes least must give way to him that believes absolutely nothing, no matter in how small a minority the atheists or agnostics may be.’
    “It is self-evident that on this scheme, if it is consistently and persistently carried out in all parts of the country, the United States system of national popular education will be the most efficient and widespread instrument for the propagation of atheism which the world has ever seen.” (Ezra Taft Benson, commenting on the public school method of enforced priestcraft. Conference Report, October 1970.)

    “Religious training is practically excluded from the District Schools. The perusal of books that we value as divine records is forbidden. Our children, if left to the training they receive in these schools, will grow up entirely ignorant of those principles of salvation for which the Latter-day Saints have made so many sacrifices. To permit this condition of things to exist among us would be criminal. The desire is universally expressed by all thinking people in the Church that we should have schools where the Bible, the Book of Mormon and the Book of Doctrine and Covenants can be used as text books, and where the principles of our religion may form a part of the teaching of the schools.” (Wilford Woodruff, June 8, 1888.)

    “Yes, there is a conspiracy of evil. The source of it all is Satan and his hosts. He has a great power over men to “lead them captive at his will, even as many as would not hearken” to the voice of the Lord. (Moses 4:4.) His evil influence may be manifest through governments; through false educational, political, economic, religious, and social philosophies; through secret societies and organizations; and through myriads of other forms. His power and influence are so great that, if possible, he would deceive the very elect. As the second coming of the Lord approaches, Satan’s work will intensify through numerous insidious deceptions.
    Ezra Taft Benson, “May the Kingdom of God Go Forth,” Ensign, May 1978, 32

    “The…members of the Church everywhere should know the Book of Mormon better than any other book. Not only should we know what history and faith-promoting stories it contains, but we should understand its teachings. If we really did our homework and approached the Book of Mormon doctrinally, we could expose the errors and find the truths to combat many of the current false theories and philosophies of men, including socialism, humanism, organic evolution, and others.” (Ezra Taft Benson, Jesus Christ—Gifts and Expectations, May 1975.)

    “As a watchman on the tower, I feel to warn you that one of the chief means of misleading our youth and destroying the family unit is our educational institutions. President Joseph F. Smith referred to false educational ideas as one of the three threatening dangers among our Church members. There is more than one reason why the Church is advising our youth to attend colleges close to their homes where institutes of religion are available. It gives the parents the opportunity to stay close to their children; and if they have become alert and informed as President McKay admonished us last year, these parents can help expose some of the deceptions of men like Sigmund Freud, Charles Darwin, John Dewey, Karl Marx, John Keynes, and others.“ (BTW, John Dewey is a humanist)

    “In many places it is literally not safe physically for youngsters to go to school. And in many schools its becoming almost generally true it is spiritually unsafe to attend public schools. Look back over the history of education to the turn of the century and the beginning of the educational philosophies pragmatism and humanism were the early ones, and they branched out into a number of other philosophies which have led us now into a circumstance where our schools are producing the problems that we face.” (Boyd K. Packer, Charge to the David O. McKay School of Education, December 1996.)

    You can see why, clear back in In 1878, John Taylor was adamant that parents take responsibility for the education of their children:

    “Now I am told in the revelations to bring up my children in the fear of God.…Now we are engaged gathering together, or separating ourselves from the world and building our temples…that we may become united and linked together by eternal covenants that shall exist in all time and throughout eternity. And then, when we have done all this go and deliberately turn our children over to whom? To men who do not believe the Gospel, to men who, according to your faith, are never going to the celestial kingdom of God.…And you will turn your children over to them. And you call yourselves Latter-day Saints, do you? I will suppose a case. You expect to be saved in the celestial kingdom of God. Well, supposing your expectations are realized, which I sometimes doubt, and you look down, down somewhere in a terrestrial or telestial kingdom, as the case may be, and you there see your children, the offspring that God had given you to train up in his fear, to honor him and keep his commandments, and perceive that between you and them there is a great gulf, as represented by the Savior in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. And supposing they could converse with you…what would be their feelings towards you? It wouldbe, Father, mother, and you are to blame for this. I would have been with you if you had not tampered with the principles of life and salvation in permitting me to be decoyed away by false teachers, who taught incorrect principles. And this is the result of it. But then I very much question men and women’s getting into the celestial kingdom of God who have no more knowledge about the principles of life and salvation than to go and tamper with the sacred offspring, the principle of life which God intrusted to your care, to thus shuffle it off to imbibe the spirit of unbelief, which leads to destruction and death. I very much doubt in my mind the capability of such people getting there.”

    And what happened? Despite the opposition of the Church toward government schools, the Utah legislature voted for funds for that very purpose. The people overwhelmingly supported it, and American Fork became the first city to implement government schools against the prophet’s warnings.

  17. Only non-profits should be involved in public education. Greed will destroy learning if we do not prevent the few who do not care about anything but wealth dictate what our kids are taught and how it is measured.

  18. Pingback: Public Schools or Public Screwels? Part 10 – patriotmongoose

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