Senator Howard Stephenson was right when he said on the Rod Arquette Show that SAGE tests turn our children into guinea pigs and that SAGE should be abandoned immediately, this very minute.
He was right when he said that it’s educational malpractice to use a beta-test to judge students and teachers and schools.
He was right in saying that it’s unethical to test students in January and February on content that hasn’t even been introduced for that school year yet.
But why was there no mention of privacy –or of parental rights to informed consent? Why is that not part of his stop-SAGE argument? Why is the senator pushing back against SAGE/Common Core tests now, when he never has done so before? He could have helped pass Rep. Anderegg’s student data privacy bill, two years in a row. He could have done so much to protect our children. He did not. The student data privacy bill is, once again, two years in a row, utterly dead in the water.
I do suspect, because of Stephenson’s infatuation with all things technological, that Stephenson is using the anti-SAGE argument to lead listeners toward acceptance of something just as sinister or worse: curriculum-integrated tests, also known as “stealth assessments”.
That’s what’s coming next. And stealth will hurt, not help, the fight for parental rights and student privacy rights.
A resolution just passed the Utah House of Representatives along these stealth assessment lines, called HCR7. The visible intentions of HCR7 are great: to reduce the amount of time wasted on testing and reducing test anxiety; to expand the amount of time spent teaching and learning instead of test-prepping. Its sponsor, Rep. Poulson, explained in a KSL quote: “my family were small farmers and cattlemen, and I know just from that experience that if you spend all of your time weighing and measuring, and not feeding, it causes problems.”
Agreed! Education for a child’s benefit should be its own end, not just a stepping stone toward the Capital T Tests.
But, but, but.
See line 66. It wants to “maximize the integration of testing into an aligned curriculum“. How?
The school system just hides the fact that a test is happening from its students.
The techno-curriculum can suck out a constant stream of personal data from the student’s technology use. Assignments, projects, and even games can constantly upload academic and nonacademic data about the child, all day every day, into the State Longitudinal Database Systems —and into the hands of third-party technology vendors.
This concept is hot-off-the-press in trendy scholarly journals and books under the name “stealth assessment“. Stealth is what Pearson (world’s largest educational sales products company) is very excited about. Philanthropist-lobbyist Bill Gates has been throwing his money at the stealth assessments movement. NPR is on board. (Dr. Gary Thompson warned of the trend as part of his presentation as he exposed the lack of validity studies or ethics in Utah’s SAGE test. Also read researcher Jakell Sullivan’s article about stealth testing.)
As Dr. Thompson has pointed out, stealth can be honorable and valuable in a private, parentally consented-to, setting: when a parent asks a trained child psychologist to help heal a hurt child, he/she can analyze a child’s drawings, how a child plays with toys, or how he organizes objects, etc.
The difference is informed consent.
The governmental-corporate machine is suggesting that legislatures force schools to adopt compulsory testing embedded in school curriculum and activities, allowing student data collection to be pulled without informed consent.
Do we want our students to be tested and analyzed and tracked like guinea pigs all day, year after year— not by teachers, but by third party vendors and the government?
Stealth testing, or “integrated testing” removes the possibility for parental opt-outs. I’m not for that. Are you?
Why doesn’t anyone seem to care? I repeat: two years in a row Rep. Jake Anderegg’s student data protection bill has gone unpassed. I cannot understand the legislature’s apathy about privacy rights and the lack of valiant protection of children’s privacy in this data-binging day and age.
I don’t get it. Someone, tell me why this is not important in a supposedly child-friendly state. It is known all over the planet that private data is the new gold, the new oil. Knowledge about individuals is power over them. When someone knows extremely detailed information about individuals, they can can persuade them, influence them, guide them, help them –and control them. Children’s privacy, their data, is gold to corporations and governments. Yet they are not being protected. Our legislators don’t think it’s important enough. We can pass bills about every petty thing you can imagine, but we can’t protect our kids from having their gold robbed every single day. I can’t believe it’s just neglect and busy-ness. I think it’s greed-based.
Don’t believe it? Study what the feds have done in recent years to destroy student privacy. Search Utah code for any mention of students having rights to their own data, or ownership of it; search in vain for any punishment when data is collected without parental consent by schools or third party vendors. See corporations salivating over taken student data –collected without parental consent by every state’s “State Longitudinal Database System”.
Look at this detailed Knewton interview where the corporation brags about millions of data points —soon to be billions, they brag– of data points, collected thanks to schools, but benefitting the corporate pocketbook: https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/01/25/arizona-st-and-knewtons-grand-experiment-adaptive-learning
Watch the Datapalooza event where the same type of talk is going on– absolutely no discussion of parental rights, of privacy rights, of the morality of picking up academic and nonacademic personal information about another person without his/her consent nor parental consent: https://youtu.be/Lr7Z7ysDluQ
See this recent Politico article that casually discusses Salt Lake City’s Cyber Snoops working for Pearson, tracking our children: http://www.politico.com/story/2015/03/cyber-snoops-track-students-116276.html
Our elected representatives, from Governor Herbert through Howard Stephenson through Marie Poulson through our state school board, are not demonstrating any respect for parental consent. By their inaction, they are violating our children’s data privacy.
Utah is volunteering to give away our gold, our children’s private data– out of naiivete, greed, or tragically misplaced “trust”.
There is only one solution that I can see: parents, we are the only ones who really care. WE CAN SPEAK UP.
We can protect our children by pressuring our elected representatives at the senate, house and state school board. We can tell elected representatives that our children need and deserve proper data privacy protection. Tell them that FERPA is broken and we need local protection. Tell them we will not tolerate embedded tests in the daily curriculum and technologies that our children use.
Demand the dignity of privacy for your child. Say NO to “integrated curriculum and testing”– stealth assessment. Put these words in your elected representatives’ inboxes and messaging systems and twitter feeds and ears. Don’t let it rest. Be a pest. Silence is acquiescence.
Children and their private data are not “stakeholder” owned inventory. Children are not “human capital” to be tracked and directed by the government. My child is mine. He/she has a mission unrelated to fattening up the workforce or serving Prosperity 2020. I do not think the legislature comprehends that fact.
Maybe I am not barking loudly enough. Maybe a hundred thousand parents need to be barking.
I’ll repaste the elected representatives’ email information here.
Write to the Utah State School Board: Board@schools.utah.gov
Here are the Utah State Representatives.
Here are the Utah Senators (write more than just your own senator.)