Archive for the ‘assessments’ Tag

File This Under We Are Not a Monarchy: “Off With Their Heads” Statement from Arne Duncan to California   3 comments

In an outrageous statement issued this week, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan threatened to withhold educational funding from Calfornia because of AB 484. The California bill, moving through California’s legislature, can exempt millions of students from Common Core tests, at least for a little while.

But Duncan won’t have it. He must have his student data without delay!

I will file this one under “We Are Not a Monarchy And Arne Duncan is Not a King.”

Duncan’s “off-with-their-heads” statement brandished the threat of no-funding over California’s head.

And he dropped another ridiculous bomb: He said that federal law demands that California give the tests. Should we laugh? Duncan picks and chooses which federal laws he feels like respecting.

Is there some law he’s referring to that trumps the General Educational Provisions Act (GEPA)which prohibits Duncan from supervising education and testing in any state? GEPA law states:

No provision of any applicable program shall be construed to authorize any department, agency, officer, or employee of the United States to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution, school, or school system…”

Or is Duncan referring to some kind of a federal law that suddently trumps the U.S. Constitution? The supreme law of our land demands the federal government say the heck out of the local business of educating and/or testing students.

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” -10th Amendment, U.S. Constitution.

Running without authority, running just on audacity, Duncan said, “While standards and tests may not match up perfectly yet, backing away entirely from accountability and transparency is not good for students, parents, schools and districts.”

Accountability and transparency to whom?

States and localities are in no way to be “held accountable” to the federal government for local educational decisions. We have always been and still ought to be sovereign states; we are a Republic of Republics.

We are accountable only to our local governance structures, and primarily to the parents of the children. This is why parents are increasingly opting their children out of common core tests. And so should states.

Remember this: Duncan lacks the authority. He only has the audacity. And Congress is letting him run amok with our tax money. Congress needs to reel him in, as Paul Horton and Chuck Grassley and so many others have been declaring.

So, here’s Duncan’s statement:

“A request from California to not measure the achievement of millions of students this year is not something we could approve in good conscience. Raising standards to better prepare students for college and careers is absolutely the right thing to do, but letting an entire school year pass for millions of students without sharing information on their schools’ performance with them and their families is the wrong way to go about this transition. No one wants to over-test, but if you are going to support all students’ achievement, you need to know how all students are doing. If California moves forward with a plan that fails to assess all its students, as required by federal law, the Department will be forced to take action, which could include withholding funds from the state.

“In states like California that will be field-testing more sophisticated and useful assessments this school year, the Department has offered flexibility to allow each student to take their state’s current assessment in English language arts and math or the new field tests in those subjects. That’s a thoughtful approach as states are transitioning to new standards. While standards and tests may not match up perfectly yet, backing away entirely from accountability and transparency is not good for students, parents, schools and districts.</em

And here’s California Superintendent Torklason’s response:

“Our goals for 21st century learning, and the road ahead, are clear. We won’t reach them by continuing to look in the rear-view mirror with outdated tests, no matter how it sits with officials in Washington

I wish Torklason would have fully condemned the Common Core tests and his state’s alignment to these experimental standards entirely. But at least he told Washington to go bark up someone else’s tree. Sort of.

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BYU Math Professor David Wright on Common Core Math   12 comments

This letter (posted at Utahns Against Common Core) is written by a BYU professor to help Utah legislators know the facts about Common Core math. Other important letters on this subject from other math experts to the State Office oF Education are posted here.

Dear Senators Osmond and Weiler,

I see that Diana Suddreth sent a “Your Action is Needed” email to defend the Utah Math Common Core. She is encouraging letters of support for the Utah Common Core and is concerned that the Common Core is under a “vicious attack.” She is inviting her supporters to send letters to both of you.

As a mathematics professor and someone who is very aware of the details of the Common Core, I would like to comment on what I feel is the awful way the Common Core Math Standards have been implemented by the USOE.

1. The Core was implemented before there were textbooks. In fact, some of those who favor the Utah Core do not even feel that textbooks are important. When I hear Suddreth say, ”And teachers are empowered by creating units of study for students that go beyond anything their textbooks ever provided” I know something is seriously wrong.

2. The Core was implemented before there were assessments in place.

3. The standards do not dictate any particular teaching method, but rather set goals for student understanding. However, the USOE has used the implementation of the new Core to push a particular teaching method; i.e., the “Investigations” type teaching that was so controversial in Alpine School District.

4. Evidence of the type of teaching promoted by USOE comes from the textbook used for the secondary academy, 5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematics Discussions (Margaret S. Smith and Mary Kay Stein) as one of the primary resources. The book is about the kind of group learning envisioned by Investigations and Connected Math (the sequel to Investigations).

5. The Mathematics Vision Project was created in partnership with the USOE. It has developed integrated secondary math material for the Utah Core. They openly admit that their “teaching cycle” is similar to the model of the Connected Mathematics Project. Here is a statement about their teaching method:

As students’ ideas emerge, take form, and are shared, the teacher orchestrates the student discussions and explorations towards a focused mathematical goal. As conjectures are made and explored, they evolve into mathematical concepts that the community of learners begins to embrace as effective strategies for analyzing and solving problems. These strategies eventually solidify into a body of practices that belong to the students because they were developed by the students as an outcome of their own creative and logical thinking. This is how students learn mathematics. They learn by doing mathematics. They learn by needing mathematics. They learn by verbalizing the way they see the mathematical ideas connect and by listening to how their peers perceived the problem. Students then own the mathematics because it is a collective body of knowledge that they have developed over time through guided exploration. This process describes the Learning Cycle and it informs how teaching should be conducted within the classroom.

6. The USOE does hold students back. This is not the intent of the Common Core, but it is Utah’s implementation. I regularly judge the state Sterling Scholar competition. Almost all of the bright kids take AP calculus as a junior or even earlier because they were taking Algebra 1 by seventh grade. Now it will be difficult to get that far ahead. The National Math Panel made it clear that there was no problem with skipping prepared kids ahead. The Common Core has a way for getting eighth graders into Algebra 1 which the USOE has ignored.

7. The USOE chose the “uncommon” core when they picked secondary integrated math. Hardly anyone else is doing this program. So there are no integrated textbooks except the one that the USOE is developing. I have been told that this is the “Asian” model, but I am very familiar with the textbooks in Hong Kong and Singapore. The Mathematics Vision Project Material does not look like Asian material, it looks like Investigations/Connected Math.

8. There is substantial information that Diana Suddreth, Syd Dickson, Brenda Hales, and Michael Rigby of the USOE participated in unethical behavior in the awarding of the Math Materials Improvement Grant. The USOE chose reviewers (including Suddreth and Dickson) who were conflicted. Suddreth helped the University of Utah choose a principal investigator who was her own co-principal investigator on a $125 K grant . According to the USOE internal email messages, the required sample lesson of the winning proposal contained “plagiarized material.” The sample lesson had “no text” instead it contained 79 pages of “sample materials” (some of which was plagiarized) for a teacher study guide including problems for discussion and homework. The adaptive performance assessment program for the winning proposal was non-existent. The principal investigators redefined “adaptive assessment” to be something that was never intended.

Regards,

David G. Wright

I am a Professor of Math at BYU, but this letter is written as an educator, parent, and concerned citizen and does not represent an official opinion from BYU.

Brigham Young University has a policy of academic freedom that supports the pursuit and dissemination of knowledge and ideas. The university does not endorse assertions made by individual faculty.

— — — — —

Thank you, Dr. Wright, for your courage in speaking out.

The USOE’s Diana Suddreth has called the movement to stop common core a “vicious attack.”  The State School Board’s Dixie Allen has said that we (teachers and parents against common core) are “creating turmoil in our state.”

In our defense:  1) we do not wish to disparage personally the USOE or the USSB or Governor Herbert’s staff, despite their endless claims, in the face of truckloads of evidence to the contrary, that Common Core is a benefit to Utahns.  We do have much against the fact that as a state, we’ve sold out our kids to common core– to its slashing of local control, slashing teacher autonomy,  slashing the right to amend our own education standards, deleting legitimate and proven academic standards, and ending student privacy.

I would appreciate not being called names, such as special interests, turmoil-makers or vicious attackers –since we have made no personal attacks, and are not making but are losing our personal money in this fight for true principles, our rightful duty to defend;  and since we’re  the ones trying to clean up the turmoil our leaders created by signing away local rights, privacy and standards, without letting us know it.

Personal pride, personal investment in the common core agenda, personal career investment related to the common core agenda, and social loyalties are not more important than LEGITIMATE education standards, student PRIVACY rights, PARENTAL consent requirements for state systems in testing students and in collecting student data, and most of all, they are not more important than constitutional, LOCAL control.

Common Core must be stopped.

Protecting Student Data   6 comments

Thanks to Alyson Williams and Utahns Against Common Core for providing the following.

Protecting Student Data:  Becoming Informed About Personal & Behavioral Data Collection & Sharing

Goal 1:

Allow parents to opt out* of  testing and certain data tracking on behalf of their  children.

Goal 2:

Prohibit non-academic data  collection, i.e. behavior and  require disclosure of student  data types tracked in Utah’s  Federally funded State  Longitudinal Data System.

Goal 3:

Prohibit any kind of testing  that does not allow  parents to see assessment  questions upon request 

The Federal government has established the National Education Data Model to facilitate state collection and sharing of behavioral, health, psychological, and family data.  In 2012, Utah included provisions in law to permit schools to assess “student behavior indicators.”  Utah also requires that “Computer Adaptive Tests” (CATs) be used in all Utah schools.

Utah has partnered with behavioral and social science company AIR to provide CAT tests. Utah has stated its intent to upload Utah student data to an AIR database in 2013.  Utah plans to keep “SAGE” CAT questions secret from all but fifteen Utah parents.  Utah has not disclosed to the public the student data types tracked in Utah’s federally-funded State Longitudinal Data System (SLDS.)

The US Education Department undercut “parental consent” in federal student privacy laws without going through congress “It is the public  policy of this state  that parents retain  the fundamental  right and duty to  exercise primary  control over the  care, supervision,  upbringing and  education of their  children.” -Utah Code Title 53A Section 302

National Education Data Model:

Sample from over 400 data points recommended for SLDS

Born Outside of the U.S.
Birthdate
Bus Route ID
Bus Stop Arrival Time
Career Objectives
Citizenship Status
City of Birth
Class Attendance Status
Class Rank
Days Truant
Death Cause
Death Date
Developmental Delay
Dialect Name
Diploma/Credential Awarded
Discontinuing Schooling Reason

Disease, Illness, Health Conditions
Distance From Home to School
Dwelling Arrangement
Economic Disadvantage Status
Electronic Mail Address
Family Income Range
Family Perceptions of the Impact of Early
Intervention Services on the Child
Family Public Assistance Status
Federal Program Participant Status
Immunization Date
Insurance Coverage
IP Address
Nickname
Non-school Activity Description
Religious Affiliation
Social Security Number
Voting Status

 

*  A form has been created and is being circulated now, which parents will send to the school and State Superintendent.  I will post it when I receive it from Utahns Against Common Core.  The form states that the parents of this child withhold permission for the State to track the child’s personally identifiable information.  We hope to flood the State Office of Education and the Governor’s Office with these forms to protect children across this state.

— — — — — — —

References:

1

National Education Data Model, including behavioral, health, & other personal data elements:  http://tinyurl.com/cyecjwt.
2
Utah HB 15 (passed in 2012), line 59: http://tinyurl.com/cxln3wk
3
Utah HB 15 (passed in 2012), lines 9, 10, 11: http://tinyurl.com/cxln3wk
4
AIR behavioral testing: tinyurl.com/bp55kxd and behavioral profiling: tinyurl.com/bwfdmnr
5
Utah contracted with AIR to provide Computer Adaptive Tests: tinyurl.com/cpxuoxk
6
Utah student data to be uploaded to AIR: tinyurl.com/cujlplf
7
Utah computer adaptive test questions to be reviewed by appointed panel of 15 out of 700,000 Utah parents (line  22):http://tinyurl.com/cxln3wk
8
EPIC is challenging changes to the Federal FERPA http://epic.org/apa/ferpa/default.html
9
“Student Data,” for the purposes of this document includes, but it not limited to, behavioral test question results,  and the data elements in the federal government’s National Education Data Model (NEDM), found  at tinyurl.com/crd944a. The NEDM includes over 400 student data elements, including those listed above.

The George Soros – American Institutes for Research Connection   1 comment

The Open Society Institute is a main client for the American Institutes for Research (AIR).

See it on the AIR Clients page.  http://www.air.org/about/?fa=viewContent&content_id=351

Socialist George Soros is the Open Society Institute’s  financier.
http://cnsnews.com/blog/dan-gainor/soros-spends-400-million-open-society-education-social-action-colleges-and
The Utah State School Board just spent $39 million to buy the AIR’s version of Common Core tests.
Are the Utah State School Board and Superintendent blind to these political relationships?   Or do they simply agree with them?
I suppose they agree with these philosophies.
The socialists in Utah’s educational leadership do not realize that their actions define them as socialists.