State School Board candidate Dr. Gary Thompson’s tooth-and-nail fight against the Utah State Office of Education, a fight for ethical student testing and protection of student data –a years-long, ongoing fight– was completely omitted in the Salt Lake Tribune’s report yesterday about Dr. Thompson.
The Tribune stated that school board candidate Dr. Gary Thompson refused to participate in this week’s debate because “the one-minute-or-less response time… lent itself more to sound bites than productive dialogue”. The Tribune failed to note that Dr. Thompson has fiercely, publicly debated education ethics for years: look here for video of his recent campaign speech which called out incumbent Crandall; here for his campaign site, here for his blog, here for his famous offer to give $10,000 for evidence of actual validity for Utah’s Common Core SAGE/AIR test; here for his television appearance on The Blaze.
Last week, Dr. Thompson was infuriated when state assessment director Jo Ellen Schaeffer told legislators that UCLA had validated Utah’s SAGE testing, at the June 14th interim education session, stating that this showed SAGE to be a valid test.
While it is true that CRESST has an office on a UCLA campus, CRESST is not UCLA. CRESST is not a university; it’s a government-funded “research” group partnered with AIR (remember: AIR is Utah’s SAGE testmaking contractor). That’s a far cry from independent validity testing; it’s more like asking the the chef’s business partners to write his restaurant’s review.
That blurring by Schaeffer is no small thing. It seems impossible that Schaeffer would not know what independent validity testing is, as state assessment director. Thus, she must be unconcerned with the ethics of saying that a test was independently validated, when it never was.
Representative Snow followed up, asking for evidence of validity testing. The USOE returned a memo, not a validity report. The memo stated that Achieve, Inc., Education Next, UCLA and Florida had given evidence of the validity of SAGE. But it wasn’t true.
Dr. Thompson pointed out that alignment with NAEP testing is not independent validity testing on the SAGE test; the SAGE has never been validated.
He said: “Both the Utah State Board of Education and the Utah State Office of Education have a long, well documented history of providing lawmakers and parents in Utah with responses to inquiries laced with ‘lies of omission’. This deceptive practice places public school children in Utah at high risk for continued psychometric experimentation, and profit-motivated exploitation via the hands of SAGE test designer, AIR, Inc.”
Most people read whatever the USOE posts online about “validity” (without validity report links or any footnotes, of course) and just swallow it as truth. But Dr. Thompson and others are holding the USOE’s feet to the fire, saying that children deserve better than to be experimentation subjects for profit-motivated corporations and the power-tripping federal government.
Will enough people wake up and vote differently, or at least call or email the state school board, to make a difference? Phone: 801-538-7500 Address: 250 East 500 South PO Box 144200 SLC UT Email: email@example.com
Dr. Thompson’s response to the USOE’s response is here:
Dear Ms. Sullivan [Parent who contacted Representative Snow],
I have read the Utah State Board of Education’s memo in response to Representative Lowry Snow’s inquiry, on your behalf, about his concerns regarding the validity of the Utah SAGE test. Here is a partial summary statement from the Board’s response informing Representative Snow, that the SAGE is indeed a valid test:
“The validity of Utah’s Student Assessments of Growth and Excellence (SAGE) has been confirmed through a number of independent sources. The most recent studies include: (1) The National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing, UCLA (CRESST), (2) Education Next, (3) Achieve.org, (4) Independent Verification of the Psychometric Validity for the Florida Standards Assessment. Each study substantiates both the high rigor of Utah’s standards and the validity and reliability of the assessments that measures those standards.”
As cited evidence of SAGE validity, the Board references “Education Next”, and “Achieve”. org”. Per the Board’s own memo, this cited evidence discusses “high standards and state proficiency levels” when compared to the NAEP test. This is not related to specific inquires regarding the validity of the Utah SAGE test. As such, a response from me will not be forth coming.
I also will not respond to the Board’s reference to the State of Florida’s Validity study. Several months ago, the Board used this same document to substantiate Utah’s SAGE test validity. I sent a written response to the Board, and the general public, factually rebutting this dangerously irresponsible, and inaccurate claim.
As you and thousands of Utah parents are aware, I am still waiting for a response. The letter sent to Board Vice Chairman, Dave Thomas, in response to his spurious claims, was referenced and published by Utahan’s Against Common Core’s Christel Swasey. Here is the link: http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/sage-validity-part-2-dr-thompson-responds/
Thus, the only item left to rebut from the Utah State Board of Education memo, is its unexplainable reliance on a yet to be published AIR-SAGE validity study, produced by the federally funded, quasi governmental, UCLA campus-based research group, CRESST.
I am going to keep this short and sweet:
Here are five (5) questions that you, Representative Snow, the media, and voters in Utah may wish to ask Board of Education Chairman Dave Crandall during his “debate” appearance this Wednesday, June 22 at Summit Academy:
1. Why did the State Board rely on the research group “CRESST” as the primary source of proof of SAGE validity, without letting parents and lawmakers know that CRESST is “funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI)”? (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Center_for_Research_on_Evaluation,_Standards,_and_Student_Testing)
2. Utah paid $40,000,000 to AIR, Inc. (American Institute of Research) to design the SAGE test. Were you aware that the research group CRESST, which produced the “validity study”, is supported financially by, and lists AIR as “Partners” on its own website? (http://cresst.org/partners/) Does the Board leadership consider this to be an “independent”, and unbiased relationship?
3. Since 2012, were the Board and the State Office of Education aware that the current Director of CRESST, Li Cai, received multiple millions of dollars of personal research grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, U.S. Department of Education, and (you can’t make this stuff up) Utah’s SAGE test designer, AIR? (http://cresst.org/wp-content/uploads/LiAbridge.pdf ) How can a Director of a research organization produce an objective and unbiased validity study on the very group that has given him substantial amounts of money for independent research?
4. Why did the State Board of Education fail to inform parents that their children were taking a yet to be validated test for the past three years? Is not such omission a complete and blatant violation of trust?
5. Are you aware that Board placed hundreds’ of thousands of Utah children at risk of harm, and exploitation, at the hands of a behavioral research corporation (AIR), by allowing them to experiment on children without the informed, written consent of their parents? Are you aware that this unethical practice is also against Utah law? (https://le.utah.gov/xcode/Title53A/Chapter13/53A-13-S302.html) “Activities prohibited without prior written consent”
When the Utah State Board of Education and State Office of Education produce an independent validity study, I would be delighted to devote professional time to review it at your request.
In the meantime, the current memo submitted to Representative Snow in support of SAGE “validity” is clearly a deliberate attempt to deceive an esteemed member of the Utah Interim Education Committee, and only serves to highlight the unethical, unconstitutional, incestuous relationship between the State of Utah, and the U.S. Federal Government.
Both the Utah State Board of Education and the Utah State Office of Education have a long, well documented history of providing lawmakers and parents in Utah with responses to inquiries laced with “lies of omission.” This deceptive practice places public school children in Utah at high risk for continued psychometric experimentation, and profit- motivated exploitation via the hands of SAGE test designer, AIR, Inc. I have no desire to debate current Board Chairman Dave Crandall in a public setting, until this serious matter of continued experimentation and exploitation of our children is answered in a clear, ethical, fact based manner.
In summary, given the clear and present danger this poses to 650,000 vulnerable Utah children, it is my professional opinion that you consider asking Representative Snow to seek an independent inquiry regarding this matter via Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes. It is my strong, evidence based, professional opinion that Utah’s education leaders at the Board of Education and State Office of Education, are more committed to adhering to the educational political “flavors of the day”, as opposed to providing Utah’s children with objective, science based solutions to serious education problems in our State.
Please let me know if I can be of more assistance to you in the future. Feel free to distribute this response to the general public as you deem to be appropriate under the circumstances.
Gary Thompson, Psy.D.
District 10 Candidate For Utah State Board of Education