Archive for the ‘AIR’ Tag

It’s Not Just Sex Ed. #StopHB0246 – Common Core of Sex Values.   33 comments

brian king

Currently in the Utah legislature, poised to become law, is HB 0246.

I read, in the Tribune, that Representative Brian King felt that the bill was important because, “Knowledge is power,” and “I don’t believe in keeping our kids ignorant.”

They certainly won’t be ignorant– nor innocent; not a chance.

With this bill, we meet its parent:  the Common Sexuality Education Standards movement.  Slightly more twisted than the other sets of common standards, it has hit Utah through HB 0246, Rep. Brian King’s bill– oddly titled “Reproductive Health Amendments”.

Now, along with CCSS (Common Core for English/Math) and along with NGSS (common science standards) and along with AP US History (common un-history standards) –here are common, national, sexuality education standards.  Like the “common standards” predecessors, this set is twisted ethically, is “progressive” politically, and is anti-local-control.

Be clear, because I wasn’t until today:  “Sexuality Education,” which this bill offers us, is not the same thing as “Sex Education”.  At all.  Old fashioned sex ed can be compared to a civics class that teaches kids that there is such a thing as voting, while “Sexuality Ed” is like a civics class that teaches kids which political party to join.  National Sexuality Standards are here to change beliefs and values about sex, not to teach the biology or the consequences of sex.

The Sexuality Information and Education Council (SIECUS, co-promoter of common sexuality standards –as well as a top promoter of abortion) defines it thus:

Sexuality education is a lifelong process of acquiring information and forming attitudes, beliefs, and values.”

Sex ed was about the science of reproduction; legitimate, academically.  Sexuality education is actually a new religion– it forms beliefs and values.

sad child i

 

This bill gives Utah “comprehensive sexuality education” starting with children about nine years old.

Before we read what’s in the bill– first, let’s look at what was taken out of Utah’s previous sex education law.

You see a lot of crossed out words.   These used to be in the law and won’t be, if HB0246 passes.  Read them.

Why were these struck out?

  [(A) the importance of abstinence from all sexual activity before marriage, and fidelity
106     after marriage, as methods for preventing certain communicable diseases; and]
107          [(B) personal skills that encourage individual choice of abstinence and fidelity.]
108          [(ii) (A) At no time may instruction be provided, including responses to spontaneous
109     questions raised by students, regarding any means or methods that facilitate or encourage the
110     violation of any state or federal criminal law by a minor or an adult.]

Am I reading this correctly?  Will Utah teachers be forbidden  from teaching fidelity and abstinence as viable methods for preventing communicable diseases?  And, are Utah teachers no longer forbidden from providing instruction that might encourage violation of laws?

What illegal acts will we be teaching, then?  Are these words referring to abortion-related laws, or pedophilia, or what?  There was some reason why were these lines were removed, and the law altered.  I want to know what that was.

Here’s more that got removed from Utah’s previous standard:

 [emphasizing
156     abstinence before marriage and fidelity after marriage, and prohibiting instruction in:];
157          [(I) the intricacies of intercourse, sexual stimulation, or erotic behavior;]
158          [(II) the advocacy of homosexuality;]
159          [(III) the advocacy or encouragement of the use of contraceptive methods or devices;
160     or]
161          [(IV) the advocacy of sexual activity outside of marriage;]

It appears that Utah teachers are no longer prohibited from teaching students the “intricacies of intercourse, sexual stimulation, or erotic behavior; the advocacy of homosexuality; the advocacy or encouragement of the use of contraceptive methods or devices; or the advocacy of sexual activity outside of marriage“.  They can “teach” all of it, if the bill passes; nothing says they can’t.

sex standards

I have to say, with a grain of gratitude, that this bill does look slightly less horrific than the National Sexuality Standards in full, in one way:  the Utah bill delays comprehensive sexuality classes until after third grade.  The National Sex Standards begin several years earlier, in kindergarten.

Otherwise, they are in synch.  The language and intent matches, and the Utah bill is patterned after the national sex standards, as part of the Future of Sex Education Initiative (FoSE).   –For example, if you click on the FoSE link, as with the SIECUS link, it uses and defines “comprehensive sexuality education,” the term that the Utah bill also uses 12 times.

3rd-5th graders

The Utah bill plans to start sex ed after grade three, so know this:  the National Sexuality Education Standards for grades 3-5 include: being able to describe male and female reproductive anatomy and functions; being able to describe the changes of puberty; and being able to “define sexual orientation as the romantic attraction of an individual to someone of the same gender or a different gender.”

Do you feel fine about forcing –on children as young as nine years old– “lessons” on genital anatomy, reproduction, puberty and both hetero- and homosexuality?  At what point is this not science, not biology, not decent?  At what young age do sexual education lessons cross the line, becoming something other than teaching truth?

At what point would any statement about sex be declared by decent people to be improper, perverted, deviant, and emotionally abusive?  For me, that time is right now.

A term I see getting flashed around a lot in FoSE and HB0246 is “age-appropriate”.  Age-appropriate– by whose definition?  By whose values? ( Before you answer, before you research the people behind the national initiative, let me stop you:  Laughably, the Utah bill prohibits political doctrine –as well as religious or other) from being taught.  See lines 67, 205.  So none of these lessons or standards are, in any way, political, we are to convince ourselves.)

Reading the bill and reading the national sex standards initiative’s documents, I think:  never have I understood more clearly the idea that there are no such thing as age appropriate standards. Every child is different.  Every developmental stage is different. What one child asks about, and is ready to learn at an early age, another child is horrified to speak of until a decade later.  Being insensitive to that fact, by promoting one-sized set of national standards, top-down, on a topic as sensitive and potentially damaging to a child as personal morality and sexuality, is child abuse.

 

6th-8th graders

By 6th-8th grade, the national sex standards have children defining sexual intercourse; differentiating between gender identity, sexual expression, and gender expression; explaining “the range of gender roles”; and defining sexual abstinence only as it relates to pregnancy prevention.

In the Utah bill, “abstinence” is explained using words that I find to be pornographic, especially in the context of having a sixth grader (eleven year old) read it. See line 95-96.

95          (f) “Sexual abstinence” means not engaging in oral, vaginal, or anal intercourse or
96     genital skin-to-skin contact.

WHAT?

There should be a whole bill written prohibiting the exposure of an innocent mind to that sentence.  That’s not the curriculum or the test; that’s just the legislation about it.  And it seems at cross-purposes to define the term that is no longer to be part of the message.  (Abstinence is out, they said.)

9th-12th graders

The National Sex Standards have high school students analyzing the influences that impact when and whether they engage in sexual behaviors; differentiating between biological sex and sexual orientation; demonstrating ways to communicate about when and whether to engage in sexual behaviors; oddly, at this point there is little to no scientific or reproductive aspect of sex education– it’s about activity and engagement.

Notice, in HB 0246, that students will be:

129   reducing the number of sexual partners

The bill also pushes “day-after” contraception/abortion:

138          (ix) provide instruction about the health benefits and potential side effects of using
139     contraceptives and barrier methods to prevent pregnancy, including instruction regarding
140     emergency contraception and the availability of contraceptive methods.

That’s all I’m going to say about the bill itself.  Read it, and tell your legislators what you think about it.

Some people are afraid of being labeled as conservatives, as believers in God, or as morally strict.  Please don’t let the promoters of this bill intimidate you by calling you a backwoodsy, out of touch, prudish, fearful, religious, whatever.  This bill, and these standards, are way beyond anything academically or ethically reasonable.

This fight in front of us, Utahns, is about protecting our children, unmuddied by SIECUS’s extreme political agenda.

It is an agenda of zero morality.

Wolf in Sheep's Clothing

Pretending that sexuality education can be taught without reference to conscience, modesty, or morality, is a lie.  There is such a thing as human conscience, and right and wrong, especially where sexuality is concerned.

(I keep thinking about the lesson from last Sunday, in church:  “The Body is a Temple“.  The body  is so much more than an object for pleasure.  Every body is holy, housing a spirit child of God.  Procreation is how God’s millions of beautiful children form physical families.  That matters– how it happens, when and with whom it happens, all matters– almost more than anything else that the body can do.  Yes, human sexuality is good and right, but steering it is not a free-for-all.  It is not without a governing morality.)

That’s where the national sex standards, and HB 0246, are wrong.  They pretend that human beings are without morality, without a sense of right and wrong, and that there is no unhappy consequence beyond disease or unplanned pregnancy that could result from acting out sexually, in any way, and at any age.  Those are lies.

One of the main tests of life is “Will my body rule over my spirit, or will my spirit rule over my body? Will I yield to the natural or to the eternal?” We get to choose.  These standards say that, in essence, there is only a body, no spirit; and there is no reason to restrain whims.

I’m not suggesting that Utah–or any state– should teach denominational religious doctrine in public schools.  Of course not.

I am saying that it is wrong to promote and teach a prescribed, “new” morality (in my mind, the same, old fashioned, immorality).  It is  so wrong to teach little ones, nine years old, heterosexuality and homosexuality, in a school setting.  It is wrong to teach that there is no such thing as perversion, nor anything wrong with sex obsession, or gender reversals.  It is wrong to include so many  teachings about deviant and degrading sexual behaviors as if they were normal and good, while excluding fidelity and chastity from the conversation.

 

sad

 

(For future reference, some organizations,  listed as promoting the  National Sexuality Education Standards, are: the National Education Association, the American School Health Association,  the American Association of Health Education, the Society of State Leaders of Health and Physical Education, the Future of Sex Education Initiative, The Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S. (SIECUS) and Advocates for Youth.  Consultants listed include: Planned Parenthood; the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Netword (GLSEN) and many more.  Utah’s standardized test provider, American Institutes for Research, (AIR) is openly on board with the National Sexuality Education Standards and its values, too.)

Advertisements

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

brian

 

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.

Common Core Science Standards Arrive in Utah This Week: 90 Day Comment Period Announced   7 comments

politics of science 10

 

Utah’s State Office of Education appears to be, once again, quite secretively rubber-stamping controversial and politically loaded national standards and calling them Utah’s own standards– this time, for science.

The English and math deception happened a few years ago when the USOE did the same thing with the adoption of Common Core’s math and English national standards, calling them “Utah Core Standards”.

This week, when the Utah State School Board meets, it will discuss statewide changes to science standards.  They do not openly admit that in fact the Utah draft mirrors the controversial NGSS standards.  In fact, the official statement from the State Office of Education states nothing about Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) but the new “Utah” science standards drafts have now been exposed as the very same as the NGSS Standards– by multiple parents who serve on the Utah parent committee for science standards.

Vincent Newmeyer, one of the parents who serves on the parent committee, has given permission to share his response to the revised standards.  He says that he is alarmed at the errors and unfitness of these standards for Utah students as well as the deceptiveness of the rewriting committee.

He explains that the Utah rewriting committee appears to be attempting to hide, by renumbering or rearranging, the truth that the new Utah standards are just NGSS standards.  He notes:

“Utah’s science standards rewriting committee has removed all but the performance expectations [from national NGSS] and renumbered them.  A few performance expectation sequences have been rearranged  and one new NGSS standard was inserted.  The Performance Expectations are essentially identical to what they were in the previous draft.  Again, in the introductory material it is still claimed to be Utah grown standards, perhaps because Brett Moulding from Utah is the chair of the NGSS writing committee.  These performance expectations as prepared are only one word different from the published NGSS Performance Expectations –yet again there is no attribution to NGSS.”

He points to the NGSS national science standards guidelines which state:  “States… that have adopted or are in the process of adopting the NGSS in whole shall be exempt from this Attribution and Copyright notice provision of this license.”  Newmeyer points out that Utah is either in the process of adopting national science standards in whole, or are infringing on copyright.  –So, which is it?

Newmeyer goes on: “Though we are just looking at grades 6-8, it is inconceivable that our state would adopt 6-8 (even if slightly modified) and then settle on a totally different standard for other grades, especially when you consider the desire to have a cohesive and progressively building program.  So in fact we are not just looking at grades 6-8.  We are laying a precedent for the adoption of NGSS for all grades with additional material not even considered.”

Why must we as parents, teachers and scientists, oppose it?

1.  Control.   Our state loses local control of teaching students what we accept as scientifically important and true, when we adopt NGSS standards rather than using standards we have researched and studied and compiled on our own.  We further lose control when we then test students using these national science standards that are aligned to the philosophies (and data mining structures) of the federal agenda.

2.  Content.  Vincent Newmeyer explains that some of the standards are based on recognized fallacies, and others on controversial assumptions.  Failing to properly research and vet these standards publically is unethical and unscientific.

For example, Newmeyer asks us to look at “the newly renumbered but present all along standard number 7.2.2 : “Analyze displays of pictorial data to compare patterns of similarities  in the embryological development across multiple species to identify relationships not evident in the fully formed anatomy.”  This leads students to favor the Darwinian Evolutionary view –which has solid counterpoints arguing precisely the opposite view.  Newmeyer explains that although it is true that we can find similarities in embryos, still “if studied in detail we find differences that completely undermine the whole premise of why they inserted this performance expectation.  In the standard they are not looking at the differences.”

Even those who actively defend the Darwinian view of common ancestry who have looked at the data see the weakness of the argument, says Newmeyer.  He questions why we want to teach it in Utah as if it were settled science.  There are also standards that promote the controversial global warming paradigm, and there are other content problems in the NGSS standards.

Utah’s already using the standardized test developed by American Institutes for Research (SAGE) which includes science, English and math standards aligned to the nationally pushed agenda.  So the USOE is not going to want to go in another direction.  But it must.  If enough parents, teachers and scientists pelter the Utah State School Board and Utah State Office of Education and legislature with firm “NO to NGSS” emails, phone calls and personal visits, they can’t get away with this like they did with Common Core.

A few months ago, a concerned Utah State School Board member contacted every single one of the science teachers who were in her constituency district, asking them how they felt about NGSS.  She reported that every single one of them said that they wanted to keep Utah’s current science standards and they rejected NGSS.  Every  last teacher.

South Carolina rejected the national science standards.  So did Wyoming.  Kansas is fighting a law suit about it.  Are we going to do nothing in Utah to defend scientific objectivity and neutrality, not to mention defending the power and right to local control?

There will be a 90-day comment period.  You can also attend and speak up (2 min max) at the state school board meetings if you request time in advance.  Please participate.

Also, please share your passion with your legislators.  Find your representatives here or click here for the state school board’s email address and all of the Utah senators and representatives.

 

Dr. Gary Thompson’s Open Letter to Dr. Darling-Hammond on her Common Core Tests   11 comments

dr-thompson

 

Utah’s Dr. Gary Thompson wrote an open letter to Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond tonight.

 

Dear Dr. Hammond:

How does placing students in front of an experimental test that has yet to undergo extensive validity measures equate to accountability in the traditional manner in which you speak?

Let me answer that question for you in three simple words:

It.  Does.  Not.

Regards,

Dr. Gary Thompson

 

 

I want to give context so that you can fully appreciate the letter’s significance.

Darling-Hammond, of Stanford University, is on the list of “Top Ten Scariest People in Education Reform” for good reasons.  She works for private organizations that crush  Constitutional control of education; she promotes and writes books about socialist redistribution of wealth, and she plays key roles in the Obama administration’s fed ed goals.  She’s been an advisor and/or board member for:

1.  The Obama Administration’s Equity and Excellence Commission

2.  The CCSSO – Common Core co-creator

3.  The NGA – Common Core co-creator

4.  The CSCOPE of Texas

5. American Institutes for Research (AIR, Utah’s and Florida’s Common Core tester)

5. WestED (SBAC’s Common Core test partner)

6.  National Academy of Education

7. American Educational Research Association

8. Alliance for Excellent Education

–and more.

 

linda d

 

Dr. Thompson pointed out to his Facebook friends that Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond has been very busily publishing this month.

Her sudden articles in the Huffington Post, The Hill, Stanford University,  NEA, ECE and elsewhere show that now, while Congress heatedly debates the ESEA/No Child Left Behind disaster, she’s  desperate to persuade Congress to use Common Core and its tests as “an engine to drive better educational practice.

Darling-Hammond paints a pretty, distracting frame around her ugly baby, the Common Core.  She pretends that the whole reason parents are pushing back is only high stakes testing and she mentions nothing else that parents are screeching about.  Apparently to her, the Constitution has nothing to do with it; experimentation on children has nothing to do with it;  data mining has nothing to do with it; unpiloted and shaky standards have nothing to do with it; validity-report-lacking tests have nothing to do with it.  She keeps the “conversation” on the clearly obvious: that  basing teachers’ entire value on a test students take is stupid; that stressing those test results rather than a child’s whole education is even more stupid. (Yes, the sky is blue and the grass is green.)

But what she’s really pushing for is NOT what parents want.  In “The Hill” blog post, she pressed for federal enforcement of Common Core tests: “urge the federal government to make sure districts provide annual assessments of student progress, while allowing states to develop systems of assessment”.  She added, “The Feds should continue to require states to flag districts that require improvement”  and “the Feds need to treat accountability as an ongoing process…”

Her article in HuffPo praises California for allocating $1.25 BILLION for Common Core and for eliminating “all the old tests while bringing in new and better Common Core assessments” and concludes: “the Common Core standards in California are an engine to drive better educational practice“.

Her strategy seems to be to get readers to start nodding with her about the high stakes tests, and then forget to stop nodding when she crosses the line and promotes a unicorn:  a gentler, kinder version of the same darn Common Core tests.  She uses the term “we agreed” seven times to make her point in one article, as she claims that reformers from a wide spectrum of political camps agree with her.  Dr. Darling-Hammond, please know the wide spectrum of political camps is loaded with those who disagree with you.  Case in point:  Dr. Thompson (an Obama voter in the last election) and me (long ago lovingly and correctly labeled a “right wing nut case” –by Dr. Thompson.)

Dr. Thompson put it this way to his Facebook friends tonight:

“Advocacy should never be used as a means to effect change in ethics,” –but because Darling-Hammond is doing so– “it makes it real easy for small-town Utah doctors like myself who do not hold positions of import at Stanford University to effectively ‘slam’ the Dr. Hammonds of the world… Not once did she mention the words ‘valid testing‘.  Parents are, and always must be, the resident experts of their own children.  I will always challenge those in positions of power who use pseudo science to back their claims. It is an affront to my profession.”

Then he posted his pointed letter to Dr. Darling-Hammond.

May his letter go far and wide.  May Darling-Hammond enjoy the mountains of money she’s made $erving the institution$ that aim to $tandardize education and data so that they can control citizens more effectively.  –And may Congress see right through her words.

Congress just might.

This month we saw Senator Vitter’s Local Control of Education Act  pass the U.S. Senate.  (Read it here.)  It doesn’t end Common Core, but it spanks the Department of Education for ramming it down our throats, and prevents conditional-on-common-standards-grants.

We also saw key members of the Senate and the House sign powerful  letters  (here’s the other) that demand an end to the funding and pushing of Common Core.

So there is definitely, definitely hope.

 

 

 

Dr. Gary Thompson’s $100,000 Reward For SAGE Common Core Test Validity Reports   16 comments

 

 

100k2

 

 

Last year, on behalf of Early Life Child Psychology and Education Center, Dr. Gary Thompson offered $100,000.00 to the Utah State Office of Education (USOE) for validity reports for Utah’s SAGE Common Core test.

He made the offer after Associate Superintendent Judy Park made a public statement regarding the validity of SAGE which Dr. Thompson knew to be false.  He knew that test makers such as American Institutes for Research (AIR)  or Pearson routinely provide validity reports to psychologists in the private sector, because by law and ethics, they know the tests can’t be used otherwise.

Dr. Thompson gave the USOE a 24-hour deadline to forward to his clinic some certified copies of industry-standard validity reports prepared by AIR.  Such reports would show the test’s construct validity, criterion validity, content validity, concurrent validity, and predictive validity.

In exchange for copies of the reports, Early Life Corp would donate $50,000.00 to a public school of USOE’s choice, plus an additional $50,000.00 to the 2014-15 Utah Public School Teacher of the Year.  He sent the offer directly to Dr. Judy Park and to some of the Utah State School Board members; he also posted the offer on his personal Facebook page, the clinic’s Facebook page, and on the Utahns Against Common Core Facebook page.

The offer was quickly big news among those who follow the Common Core Initiative’s unfolding saga nationwide.  Six clinicians and partners of Early Life, including the CEO who happens to be Dr. Thompson’s wife, were not happy about the offer.  That night was a sleepless one for them and Dr. Thompson was consigned to the couch for the night by the CEO.  Still, Dr. Thompson slept like a baby.  Why?

Here’s a little bit of history:

Right after his appearance on the Glenn Beck TV show, where Dr. Thompson had exposed the Common Core/SAGE test’s assault on student privacy and its unanswered validity questions, Dr. Thompson had been summoned to the offices of then-Superintendent Dr. Martell Menlove and Associate Superintendent Brenda Hales.  He accepted the invitation, bringing along his clinic’s lawyer and his best friend, Edward D. Flint.

During the two and a half hour meeting, Dr. Thompson and Ed Flint first sat and listened to “Brenda Hales’ hour-long lecture about ‘the Standards'”.  Dr. Thompson finally explained, when she was finished speaking, that academic standards were not Thompson/Flint’s area of expertise and that the subject was of no interest to them on any level.

Next, Menlove/Hales listened to Thompson/Flint.  The doctor and the lawyer explained the fundamentals of test validity issues and data gathering, and expressed their concerns about privacy and testing issues, laying out a careful analysis of how easily potential violations could occur under Common Core’s tests.

Menlove/Hales dismissed their concerns as “conspiracy theories” and requested that Thompson/Flint “stop bringing fear into our community via social media”.  Thompson and Flint promised to cease speaking of their concerns if Menlove and Hales would agree to contact AIR to provide documentation that the concerns were unwarranted.

Dr. Menlove agreed.

Weeks later, still having seen no validity reports, Dr. Thompson finally received a phone call –from a parent, who had noticed an AIR letter posted  on the USOE webpage.  The letter was directed to Dr. Menlove from AIR Vice President Jon Cohen; it purported to address the concerns of Mr. Flint and Dr. Thompson, using their names.

AIR Vice President Jon Cohen failed to actually respond to the pointed, specific concerns that had been submitted in writing to Dr. Menlove.  (Read those here.)

What he did do is attempt to give AIR a pat on the back by sharing a link to what was meant to go to a national nonprofit disabilities organization, one that would vouch for the test verbally (not with any validity studies or reports).  Yet –incredibly– when one click’s on the AIR Vice President’s link, one is linked to a vacation spot on Catalina Island.

It’s been two years since AIR’s defense of validity letter was posted on the USOE website, and still no correction has been made.

Why haven’t the newspapers reported that the validity of Utah’s SAGE test is proved with a link to a Catalina Island website?  This singular error (I’m assuming, hoping it was an error) and it’s now two-year uncorrected status speaks tragic volumes about the lack of professionalism of the SAGE, the USOE and the AIR Corporation.  (AIR has received at least $39 million so far for its testing service, from Utah taxpayers.)

Dr. Thompson was not amused by AIR’s error.  He shared this story in multiple, filmed presentations in four different states.  Audiences and parents were stunned.

 

This is news.  Why is it not in the papers?  When AIR had the perfect opportunity to silence “misinformed” critics by putting the issue to rest with actual validity tests, the company produced no reports of any tests, just a short  letter that said nothing.

Multiple calls to Dr. Menlove’s office and to his personal cell phone were never returned.  Months later both Dr. Menlove and Brenda Hales abruptly resigned with no explanations given.

It had become clear to Dr. Thompson that the SAGE test was designed to assess both academic and psychological constructs.  Dr. Thompson knew from his direct doctoral residency experience and from his academic training in assessment that no test of this kind had ever been devised in the history of clinical psychology. With knowledge of the extreme experimental nature of the test it was his logical assumption that AIR’s efforts were devoted to the construction of the test and could not have concurrently designed an entirely new method of measuring validity; providing validity reports is a time-consuming and extremely expensive task. (He notes that AIR and other Common Core test makers must have been thrilled to oblige when “client” Secretary Arne Duncan gave them the opportunity to devise a huge test without requiring the normally expensive and very time-consuming validity tests.)

It’s common knowledge, thanks to the USOE, that AIR was the only company that was federally approved; thus, the only company Utah could have chosen once it dumped its SBAC membership.  The USOE has explained, “AIR is currently the only vendor who produces a summative adaptive assessment that has received federal approval.”

No one really knows– outside of the few AIR psychometricians and V.P. Jon Cohen– exactly what the Utah SAGE test (which is now also used outside Utah)  measures.  After two years of studying the issue, Dr. Thompson surmises that AIR has devised one of the most complex, accurate measures of personality characteristics ever made.  Dr. Thompson believes that behavioral testing was AIR’s contractual goal and that SAGE reached that goal.

Support for Dr. Thompson’s conclusion is easy to find.  As one example, scan the federal report entitled “Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perserverance“.  It openly promotes schools’ collection of students’ psychological and belief-based data via behavioral assessment.  (See page 44 to view biometric data collection device photos: student mood meters, posture analysis seats, wireless skin conductance sensors, etc.)  Utah’s own documents, such as the grant application for the State Longitudinal Database System, reveal that noncognitive assessment, including psychometric census-taking of Utah students, were part of the state’s agreement with the federal government even before the Common Core Initiative had come to our state.

As for the SAGE test’s academics, Dr. Thompson points out that barring independent, peer-reviewed documentation, it is not possible to honestly claim that SAGE measures what it claims to measure– academics– in a valid manner.  Dr. Thompson puts it this way:  “There is no way in hell that the AIR-produced SAGE/Common Core test measures academic achievement in a valid manner, and quite probably, does not measure academics at all.”

 

Dr_GARY-550x400

Dr. Gary Thompson and his family

 

 

Postscript:  For more opt-out-of-SAGE-tests motivation please read the testimonies of parents who served on Utah’s SAGE “validation committee”.  They read the SAGE questions last year and are now speaking out.

Dr. Gary Thompson: SAGE/Common Core Tests Break Basic Codes of Test Ethics   21 comments

dr-thompson

I sat in the Early Life Child Psychology and Education center this week, watching Dr. Gary Thompson’s presentation about Common Core testing, thinking that Dr. Thompson is the fearless kid in the tale, “The Emperor’s New Clothes.”

Dr. Thompson stands armed with honesty, science and evidence, pointing out that the Emperor of SAGE/Common Core tests is stark raving naked.  All around Salt Lake City, meanwhile, people play along with the wealthy emperor, pretending that nothing’s wrong with what the whole world seems to have been paid to agree are such smashing, new  –dare we call them rigorous— clothes.

What does Dr. Thompson see as he analyzes the Common Core SAGE test in its birthday suit?

He points out foremost that there is such a thing as a code of ethics for the psychological testing of children.

“Wait, wait–” says the State Office of Education– “We’re not doing psychological testing on your kids.”  But this does not placate Utahns who fact check for themselves. SAGE/Common Core tests –in addition to being tests of academic subjects– are psychological tests. We know this because:

1) Utah law demands it.  HB15, passed in 2012, required Utah’s public and charter schools to administer computer adaptive tests aligned with Common Core.  It specified “the use of behavior indicators in assessing student performance.”  Behavior indicators are not math, science or language arts data points.  They are psychological data points.

2) The SAGE tests are created by Utah’s test contractor, American Institutes for Research (AIR) which is primarily “one of the world’s largest behavioral and social science  research organizations.”  Its stated mission is “to conduct and apply the best behavioral and social science research and evaluation.”

3) The federal Department of Education –which shouldn’t, but does, call shots for the Utah State Office of Education– openly encourages psychological profiling of students via tests, calling it “data-driven decision making,” “a data quality campaign” and other positive-sounding terms.  See any of its initiativesreports and recommendations  which do depend on/openly promote psychological profiling of children by testing.

Here’s how Dr. Thompson says that SAGE violates the code of ethics for psychological testing:

Standard 9.03 from the Ethical Principles of Psychologists states that “psychologists obtain informed consent for assessments.  SAGE does not do this.  The ethics for informed consent include telling the client (in SAGE’s case, the student and parents) what the nature, purpose and anticipated course of services will be; using clear language; allowing the client  (student and parents) to ask questions; telling them about involvement of any third parties who may have access to the information gathered via the test; disclosing whether experimentation will be used; informing the client whether the test administrator is a trainee or fully qualified to administer psychological testing; obtaining consent in advance of recording or observing; potential risks; potential limitations; and more.

Each of these codes of conduct were broken by the USOE in implementing SAGE tests on Utah schools.

Standard 9.02 states that “Psychologists use assessment instruments whose validity and reliability have been established…when such validity or reliability has not been established, psychologists describe the strengths and limitations of test results and interpretation.”

There have been no independent validity and reliability studies done on SAGE tests, whatsoever, as Dr. Thompson pointed out.  Another enormous principal of all scientific forms of testing– broken.

While it is clear that SAGE tests are psychological in nature, and that the tests do not adhere to the code of ethical conduct for psychological testing, there’s even more at stake.

Dr. Thompson pointed out that the future is very close to already here:  Game-based assessment, also known as Stealth Assessments, are secret tests embedded in video games for schools that are further eclipsing parental rights and knowledge about what data is being collected while children are at school.  Even teachers would not know what exactly is being collected or analyzed when stealth assessments are used in classroom settings.

In a scholarly journal entitled “District Administration” Dr. Thompson read, and shared, that now, in an attempt to lessen student stress, Gates-funded groups are telling us that video games are the education of the future. “District Administration” journal writes that because “complex thinking skills can’t be measured by traditional standardized tests, educators are turning to stealth assessments hidden in video games.” The article continues, “stealth assessments are seamless, so the distinction between learning and assessment is completely blurred.  Kids are playing, they are learning, and they are being assessed all at the same time.”  Further:  “testing companies are working on ways to integrate formative assessments into daily instruction.”  Children will be tested all of the time.  How does a person opt out of that?

 

 

what-is-stealth-assessment-1-728

Dr. Thompson’s presentation also touched on many other issues of great importance.  He spoke about the vulnerable populations that are forced to take Common Core SAGE tests (unless parents opt them out).  These include children with any of a host of learning disabilities, children with depression and anxiety, children with autism and Asberger’s,  children with  historically poor test taking scores due to cultural bias in testing including African-American and Latino children, children with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, children from high-stress poverty homes, children with psychotic disorders, ADHD, and dual exceptional (gifted and learning disordered) to name a few.

He shared from academic journals many ethical considerations associated with Common Core’s pushing of the very young into “rigorous” and age-inappropriate standards.  He shared research he’s collected, too, about the use of children’s data for marketing purposes, (quoting from the academic journal article, “Children as Consumers.”  This is relevant and troubling because the SAGE test creator, AIR, has open partnerships (and data sharing policies) with numerous corporations that have no restraint on accessing SAGE-collected student information.

Thompson further discussed harm to the brain of a child using Common Core testing practices on every type of child, and using Common Core styled math on every type of learner.  He spoke of the brain’s disorganization response to Common Core-styled math pedagogy and to high-stakes tests like SAGE.

nn.3788-F3

This brain-analyzing portion of the presentation must be explained in detail in a separate post.  Briefly: the neurological (brain-affecting) Common Core issues raised by Dr. Thompson’s research are extremely important in light of the fact that both Bill Gates (Common Core funder) and our federal government are highly focused on studying and applying research about the neurology of children, right now.  The federally approved Fattah Neuroscience Initiative, also known as the White House Neuroscience Initiative, was granted federal funds to invest in brain research and drug development, and not just to prevent Alzheimer’s.  Its stated aims: “optimizing interactions between the environment and the brain across the lifespan,” “applying the brain’s information processing capabilities” and “enhancing communication among federal agencies”.  Congressman Fattah  wrote that he is “a major proponent of brain mapping…  understand…the role of individual neurons in controlling our thoughts, movements…”.  –Recall that Secretary Duncan mocked  the idea that the federal government was involved in this, when it was accused of collecting student data using Common Educational Data Standards. He said, “Let’s not even get into the really wacky stuff: mind control, robots, and biometric brain mapping.” Yet that is exactly what the federal Fattah Neuroscience Initiative aims to do.  Congressman Fattah has made it clear that brain mapping is the aim of the White House Neuroscience Initiative.  Now, let’s use our brains.  Who is the only huge, captive group of guinea pigs they have under their control upon whom they can do brain mapping research (call it education) for hours and hours every single day?  

Dr. Thompson’s full presentation:

 You’ll want to see the whole presentation and discuss it with your local and state representatives on the school boards in detail.  Each of the issues touched on in Dr. Thompson’s presentation deserves a chapter or a book written on it.

But to keep it simple, digestible, and close to home, let’s focus on one thing:  the thing Dr. Thompson focuses on; the SAGE test. You’ll want to opt your children out of every type of SAGE test:  summative (end of year), formative and interim (year round SAGE tests.)

It is the enforcer of Utah’s Common Core and the primary vehicle for massive student data collection right now.  We need to get rid of it, or opt individual children –by the thousands and thousands– out of it, so that its data collectors cannot do what they aim to do, and so that Common Core experimental standards cannot take deep root in our schools, cannot dictate teacher salaries, cannot narrowly define and narrowly present what is “education” to our children.

Somebody will look out for students’ mental health, privacy, and happiness, even in this age of politically motivated high-stakes SAGE testing –and soon, in this age of stealth testing.  Somebody will look out for the parents’ rights to know about and to guide psychological treatment or analysis of children.  Someone  will pound on the door of the USOE, the governor, and the legislators’ offices, demanding the end of SAGE tests in Utah schools, demanding answers to the questions that Dr. Thompson and other child psychologists, such as Joan Landes and Dr. Megan Koschnick (video below) have raised.

That someone is that person in your bathroom mirror or it’s nobody, because everybody’s so busy.

Legislators are busy.  Teachers are busy. Board members are busy. Reporters are busy.  Common Core technological implementers and teacher development conference producers are busy. Everyone is so busy being busy that the busy-ness that matters most of all— our children and our liberty-– have lost precious ground.

It is not too late.

 

Who’s Your Daddy? Authority Posers v. Authority Holders   2 comments

babyParents are in charge of their children.

It is not for corporations or federal entities to delegate an education  “role” to the state or to schools or parents, like a play director hands out a role or a prop to an actor.  Similarly, it’s not a school’s or any agency’s right to delegate parents as partners in their child’s education.   Teaching children is not a governmental dictatorship, nor is is a community collective.

Parents and families are the authority, followed by teachers, followed by districts, followed by states.  Unless a parent specifically requests involvement, it’s never a federal or corporate or a “collective” right to rule over the parent-led student’s education. The state is lower on the totem pole than the local district and the schools and families.   The federal government and corporations are not even allowed on the totem pole.  Neither is the United Nations  despite what it has planned for local schools.

We hold the American, Constitutional right to control our own lives, and not to be bullied by outside forces, but the stream of control over education is trying to flow the wrong way:  outside in.

Case in point:  here is a new homework assignment for those in Common Core 101 (aka researching the unconstitutional ways in which federal ed reform is destroying representative government and parental control):   Read and analyze this 268-page  document for constitutional viability:  “The State Role in School Turnaround“.

No, wait a minute.   Don’t bother to read the whole 268 pages.  Just read the title– and nothing else– and realize that it’s completely unconstitutional.

Think about it.  The “state role”?  Under this Republic and its Constitution, the people are in charge– under laws they have created via elected representation.  The states individually are in charge –and not the federal government agencies (nor its agents or branches, like WestEd, which wrote this document.)

The phrase “School Turnaround” is a federal concept comes from Obama’s four pillars of education reform.

app

America, we are losing the local representative form of government, losing power to control what happens in our schools, because of central planning taking place by “councils” and “stakeholders” and “partnerships” and chambers of commerce that lack authority in schools and individuals’ lives.  Money, not actual legality, is the source of the assumed authority.

The above “State Role” document happens to be new in 2014, but there are countless other, equally unauthorized, equally arrogant documents written to support mandates created by grant-givers (Bill Gates or federal Dept of Ed) who lack the authority to control our state educational system, but who are nonetheless beginning to rule over us.

  1. example one:  2011 Federal grant to create Common Core tests which mandates states sharing student-level data SBAC  In this document you will see that the authority cited is not a legal code but simply money.  Money is the authority– money the Dept. of Education had no right to be offering for obedience to its mandates.
  2. example two: 2009 Federal ARRA grant to monitor citizens without consent, in State Longitudinal Database System; all must be federally interoperable.  Again, the federal government had no authority to create a federal citizen database.  But by offering money, it got states to make a giant, state-fed-interoperable bunch of databases that it could then tap.
  3. example three: 188 corporate Gates grants that implement Common Core in American schools, each from the same corporate “philanthropist” who sells Common Core technologies and textbooks via official partnerships and governmental alliances.  Again, no authority:  no voter asked Bill Gates to push Common Core onto schools; nothing but the temptation of money fuels the monstrous takeover of the majority of our nation’s schools.

Don’t buy into the posture of authority or the glossy, legitimate-seeming pdf’s and conferences.  Groups like WestEd, AIR, CCSSO, NGA, Microsoft, Pearson, Achieve Inc., SBAC, PARCC, ACT, The College Board,  The Center on School Turnaround, The National Center on Education and the Economy– are nongovernmental.  We didn’t elect them and we can’t boot them out.

So why are we allowing them to dictate to us?

Know that we, the people, are in charge, legally, of our own children.  Individuals, families, local schools are in charge, in that order, and as designated by the family, not by districts or a state.

We have to know it to defend it.  Spread the word.

 

 

%d bloggers like this: