Archive for the ‘Liberty and Justice for All’ Tag

HR5 Passed the House. Don’t let S1177 Pass the Senate. Look at its Language.   4 comments

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Yesterday, the House unfortunately voted to pass HR5, the “Student Success Act” which is a No Child Left Behind rewrite with horns.  More on that here.

Although HR5 did pass with some nice amendments aimed to 1)  give parental opt-out rights more power, and 2) give states’ Common Core-opt-out-ability more likelihood,  it  seems to me that these amendments are little optimistic corks stuffed hopefully into the side of the Titanic.

The mass of the language in HR5 was not on our side. (Neither is the language in twin senate bill S1177)

Some say that HR5’s section 6521 can protect us against all the other language that contradicts it in the bill.   Section 6521 has a “Prohibition against Federal mandates, direction, or control.”  

It sounds magnificent:  “No officer or employee of the Federal Government shall, directly or indirectly, through grants, contracts, or other cooperative agreements, mandate, direct, incentivize, or control a State, local educational agency, or school’s specific instructional content, academic standards and assessments, curricula, or program of instruction, (including any requirement, direction, incentive, or mandate to adopt the Common Core State Standards developed under the Common Core State Standards Initiative or any other academic standards common to a significant number of States), nor shall anything in this Act be construed to authorize such officer or employee to do so.”

But, sadly, bills that are hundreds of pages long are designed to deceive well meaning people– and they do.  That prohibition section is a very thin burger, and the oversized buns have taken over that sandwich: there is SO much language in the bill that contradicts that one sentence!  Not only in the bill:  the whole structure of ed reform dwarfs that little, good sentence.  The whole Race to the Top  set up a federal power structure over testing and standards that one sentence cannot now overcome.

Using the precedent of the Obama administration and its pure robbery of liberty, educational autonomy and student privacy rights– and the shrugging off of that fact, or lack of knowledge of it, by most members of our current Congress, we can predict that the feds will use whatever “authority” they can bluff up to do whatever they want with ed policy.  The Supreme Court clearly is not going to protect us from ambiguous or contradictory language.  If HR5 and Congress really wanted something, it had to say so in this bill, in uncontradictory, uncertain terms, and not allow the mass of the bill to dictate master-and-servant style rules, where the feds are the master and the states are the servant, while one sentence prohibits it.  Talk about cognitive dissonance.

Contradiction and soft language begs for federal and corporate overreach, which Congress has sadly shown it lacks the interest to rebuff. 

So, HR5 passed the house.   See how your representative voted.  Call and ask him/her why.

HR5 could still get vetoed.  I’m crossing my fingers.

Meanwhile, its twin bill, S1177, sits in the Senate!

So below, republished, are key problems with S1177 “The Every Child Achieves Act” with the number references and key language “bites.  If you want a more thorough, lawyerly version (which is much better, but not as easily readable)  see the PDF on S1177 from American Principles in Action.

Please share these as you call and write to your Senators.  And find more!   As you do word searches and spend time in this bill, you will find awfulness.  When you do, please share those language bites in the comments section here and with your senators in D.C.

Many hands make light work.

 

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S.1177  “THE EVERY CHILD ACHIEVES ACT”  (duplicated on another post.)

  • Pretending to protect states and parents from federal overreach using redundant, nonhelpful (and contradictory) language:

First the bill raises our hopes; the talking points sound good; maybe this won’t be a federal sledgehammer to parents and states.  The bill’s sections 5001-5010 (a large chunk of the very large bill)  even go under the title “Empowering Parents and Expanding Opportunity Through Innovation”.  Sounds good.

But deep inside, the S1177  (almost) conceals ugly and unconstitutional words like this:

“State plan disapproval: The Secretary shall have the authority to disapprove a State plan” –1004

“If the Secretary determines that a State plan does not meet the requirements of this subsection or subsection (b) or (c), the Secretary shall, prior to declining to approve the State plan immediately notify the State of such determination… offer the State an opportunity to revise” –1111

“A State educational agency may use not more than 5 percent of the amount made available to the State… for the following activities…”

“Closing student achievement gaps, and preparing more students to be college and career ready” -2501(4)    (Making everyone common does tend to close the achievement gaps, by slowing those who would otherwise soar ahead of the mediocre and the slow.)

  • Cementing the unconstitutional Fed-Master/State-Servant relationship:

“State plan disapproval: The Secretary shall have the authority to disapprove a State plan” –1004

“For any State desiring to receive a grant under this part, the State educational agency shall submit to the Secretary a plan…” – 1111

  • Retaining federal testing and standards mandates:

“Same standards: … standards required by subparagraph (A) shall be the same standards that the State applies to all public schools and public school students” –1111   (Do you want to give the feds the authority to dictate uniformity to us?  What if a state wants to be innovative and diverse and various? That won’t be allowed by this federal law.)

“Alignment: Each State shall demonstrate that the challenging State academic standards are aligned with entrance requirements, without the need for academic remediation, for the system of public higher education in the State; relevant State career and technical education standards; and relevant State early learning guidelines” –1111

“Measures the annual progress of not less than 95 percent of all students, and students in each of the categories of students” -1204

“Measure the annual progress of not less than 95 percent of all students and students in each of the categories of students” – 1205

  • Adding to the list of programs States must consult, and aligning with workforce socialism program:

“(aa) student readiness to enter postsecondary education or the workforce” -1111  (repeated many times)

“an application … shall include the following: A description of… assets, identified by the State… which shall include— an analysis of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education quality and outcomes in the State…  labor market information regarding the industry and business workforce needs within the State….”  –2504

  • Dictating types of testing– including using nonacademic, interpretive, and diagnostic student reports:

“produce individual student interpretive, descriptive, and diagnostic reports…  include information regarding achievement on academic assessments aligned with challenging State academic achievement standards… in  uniform format” –1111(b) (2) (B) (vi) (xiii)

“(vi) involve multiple up-to-date measures of student academic achievement, including measures that assess higher-order thinking skills and understanding, which may include measures of student academic growth and may be partially delivered in the form of portfolios, projects, or extended performance tasks” –1111 (b) (2) (B) (vi)

Assessments must  “be administered through a single summative assessment; or be administered through multiple statewide assessments during the course of the year if the State can demonstrate that the results of these multiple assessments, taken in their totality, provide a summative score” – 1111 (b) (2) (B) (viii)

“(xiii) be developed, to the extent practicable, using the principles of universal design for learning.” – 1111 (b) (2) (B) (xiii)

  • Forcing out the parental opt-out movement; also, booting family out and putting government in to the center of the universe:

Crushing opt outs, each state test must “Measures the annual progress of not less than 95 percent of all students, and students in each of the categories of students” -1204

Same:  “Measure the annual progress of not less than 95 percent of all students and students in each of the categories of students” – 1205

Schools to be far, far more than places to learn numeracy and literacy:  “21st Century Learning Centers… an array of additional services, programs, and activities, such as youth development activities, service learning, nutrition and health education, drug and violence prevention programs, counseling programs, art, music, physical fitness and wellness programs, technology education programs, financial literacy programs, math, science, career and technical programs, internship or apprenticeship programs, and other ties to an in-demand industry sector” – 4201

“address family instability, school climate, trauma, safety, and nonacademic learning.”  -7304

New York Teacher: “Bald Piano Guy” Plays Now-Viral Billy Joel Anti-Common Core Songs   Leave a comment

“Bald Piano Guy” is a New York teacher who sings “Opting Out” to the tune of Billy Joel’s “Moving Out,” and sings “Seen Them Opting Out on Broadway” to the tune of “Seen the Lights go out on Broadway”. He sings “The Arrogant Man” dedicated to NY Governor Cuomo, to the tune of “Angry Young Man”.  He has many more YouTube performances but I’ll share just a few here.

I appreciate “Bald Piano Guy”!  I also feel jealous of the passion and care that New Yorkers and parents in many other states seem to have for honest education; they seem to have many more people on the ball about fighting for their rights of liberty than we do in Utah.  While New York opt outs are angering Arne Duncan and making headlines with hundreds of thousands of opt outs, and while zero juniors showed up to take the Common Core SBAC test at Seattle High School, here in Utah, opt out numbers are low and the State Office of Education pooh-poohs the concerns, research, and even the political rights of teachers and parents.

Hats off to this teacher, who chooses to be simply:  “Bald Piano Guy”.

New York and “Bald Piano Guy,” I feel you!

Pay attention to the lyrics of the last song especially:

“Just like the Battle of Saratoga turned around the American Revolution, the revolution against standardized testing began in New York State….

I’ve seen them opting out on Broadway from Babylon to Buffalo. Parental anger up in Albany; they chased the Senators to the stop at Ramapo.

They tore the Common Core in Plattsburgh and threw the tests into Oyster Bay.

The governor lost his clout the day they opted out.

 And schools could live another day

… They slam-dunked Pearson there in Syracuse.

 They never made a truce

with children’s lives at stake.

They all refused the test in Lockport and Rockville Center rocked with rage.

Assemblymen took flight

when parents showed their might

and shredded booklets page by page.

 You know they opted out on Broadway.  But those refusals meant much more.

It’s ’cause America took note of this

and forced the government to kill the Common Core.

When parents stand up for their children

how can opponents still survive?

We’ll tell the world about

the way we opted out

and kept our public schools alive

…. Agree or disagree with opting out, the power of a parent can spark a revolution.”

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National Opt Out Movement Update:

Bob Schaeffer, of Fairtest.org in Colorado,  again provided the following links of news updates about the national opt out movement:

U.S. Opt-Out Movement Explodes, Test-and-Punish Empire Strikes Back
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lisa-guisbond/the-testing-optout-moveme_b_7222544.html
Federal Education Department Disinformation Campaign Seeks to Quell Opt-Out Movement
http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2015/05/06/education-dept-disinformation-aims-to-quell-opt-out.html

Arizona Seven Schools Implicated in Exam Cheating Scandal
http://www.tucsonweekly.com/TheRange/archives/2015/05/11/did-seven-schools-in-arizona-cheat-on-high-stakes-tests-and-is-it-really-only-seven

California
Standardized Testing Sparks Backlash
http://www.eastbayexpress.com/oakland/california-standardized-tests-spark-backlash-in-oakland/Content?oid=4269257

Colorado
Legislature Passes Modest Assessment Reform “Compromise” in Final Hours of Session
http://co.chalkbeat.org/2015/05/06/testing-agreement-comes-in-sessions-final-hours/#.VUqwtEZLUZw

Connecticut
Officials Confuse Parents About Test Opt Outs
http://jonathanpelto.com/2015/05/06/on-common-core-sbac-still-left-asking-what-the-hell-is-wrong-with-these-people/

Delaware
House Overwhelmingly Supports Opt-Out Rights
http://www.delawareonline.com/story/news/education/2015/05/07/house-passes-testing-opt-legislation/70966896/

Florida
Ongoing Computer Testing Programs Disrupts School Schedules
http://www.orlandosentinel.com/features/education/os-computer-testing-schools-20150505-story.html
Florida Elected Officials Don’t Subject Their Own Kids to the Standardized Exam Frenzy They Mandate
http://www.orlandosentinel.com/opinion/os-florida-school-testing-scott-maxwell-20150507-column.html

Georgia
Exams Leave Some Feeling “Testy”
http://mdjonline.com/view/full_story/26615357/article-Georgia-Voices–Exams-have-some-feeling-testy
Atlanta Test Cheating Hurt Students’ Reading Performance
http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/District_Dossier/2015/05/atlanta_schools_test-cheating_.html

Louisiana
Testing Overkill Drives Veteran Teachers Out of the Profession
http://www.katc.com/story/29029794/lack-of-education-veteran-educators-walk-away-from-the-profession

Massachusetts
Teachers Say PARCC Test is “Bar to Real Work”
http://www.cambridgeday.com/2015/05/06/teachers-renew-efforts-against-parcc-test-as-bar-to-real-work-student-has-other-way-to-reduce-stress/
Mass. Teachers Association Supports Parental Opt-Out Rights
http://massteacher.org/news/archive/2015/annual_meeting_coverage.aspx

Maine Legislature Hears Bill to Eliminate Smarter Balanced Test
http://www.wcsh6.com/story/news/education/2015/05/11/state-test-bills/27136703/

Michigan
District Super and PTA President Outline Five Ways to Improve State Assessments
http://www.mlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2015/05/5_ways_to_improve_standardized.html

Mississippi
Educators Protest Politically Set Test-Score Cutoff That Could Hold Back 6,000 Third Graders
http://www.clarionledger.com/story/news/2015/05/07/nearly-6k-could-repeat-third-grade/70947606/

Montana
State Testing Will Not Come Close to 95% Participation
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/may/5/montana-unlikely-to-meet-test-participation-requir/

New Hampshire
Parents on a Mission
http://www.ledgertranscript.com/home/16720744-95/parents-on-a-mission

New Jersey
Students Share Thoughts on PARCC
http://www.app.com/story/news/education/in-our-schools/2015/05/08/students-parcc/26980093/

New York
English Language Arts Test Opt Outs Topped 205,000 Statewide
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/t2_8Bg3h8mqx6Ax8rwGG5Mw/htmlview
N.Y. Educators Have Lengthy Grievance List Against State Assessments
http://blog.timesunion.com/capitol/archives/233549/educators-have-lengthy-grievance-list-about-evaluations/

North Dakota Computerized Testing Glitches Hurt Students
http://www.grandforksherald.com/opinion/our-opinion/3742822-our-opinion-testing-glitches-hurt-students-common-core

Ohio Super Says K-3 Literacy Test Scores Are Unfair
http://www.springfieldnewssun.com/news/news/local-education/literacy-scores-unfair-springfield-superintendent-/nmCYZ/

Oklahoma
School Testing Error Affecting Thousands of Students
http://www.newson6.com/story/28985864/oklahoma-school-testing-error-affecting-thousands-of-students

Pennsylvania Overhaul of Federal, State Laws Needed to Curb Testing Frenzy
http://thenotebook.org/blog/158537/nclb-rewrite-relieve-standardized-testing-abuse-opt-out-frenzy
Pennsylvania Keystone Exams Are One Big Headache for Students
http://www.mcall.com/news/local/mc-lehigh-valley-keystone-project-based-assessments-20150509-story.html#page=1

Texas Governor Signs Law Exempting Thousands of Seniors From Graduation Exams
http://www.dallasnews.com/news/politics/state-politics/20150511-abbott-signs-bill-exempting-thousands-of-high-school-seniors-from-graduation-exams.ece

Vermont
Testing is Profitable But Not for Students
http://www.vnews.com/home/16811190-95/steve-nelson-testing-is-profitable-but-not-for-students

Virginia
Parents Learn How to Keep Their Kids Out of Standardized Tests
http://www.newsleader.com/story/news/local/2015/05/06/in-a-season-of-testing-how-to-avoid-them/70901846/
Virginia is Sadly Obsessed With State Testing
http://www.newsleader.com/story/opinion/editorials/2015/05/09/sadly-obsessed-sols/27062009/

Washington
Students Protest Common Core Exams
http://www.keprtv.com/news/local/Students-protest-Common-Core-testing-302683131.html
Maryville, Washington, Teachers Hold One-Day Strike Over Funding, Testing
http://www.marysvilleglobe.com/news/302779281.html#

Wisconsin State Legislature Advances Bill to Make Opting Out Easier
http://www.twincities.com/education/ci_28068256/wisconsin-bill-would-make-opting-out-school-tests

Contact U.S. Senators for Less Testing, More Learning
http://www.fairtest.org/roll-back-standardized-testing-send-letter-congres

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As I’ve said before, please be wise and very careful about what happens in each of our states as a replacement for high stakes testing.  The controlistas love to take a crisis and turn it to their own advantage.

In Utah we are on another brink of doing something exceedingly stupid right now:  Utah’s legislature has created a task force that will promote the idea of stealth assessment, or embedded, hidden tests in assignments.  This absolutely kills privacy and kills parents’ ability to opt out or even to know when tests are happening at all.  Think I’m kidding?  Rep. Marie Poulson’s resolution passed this last legislative session.  See line 66 and ask your legislator exactly what it means.  

Dr. Gary Thompson’s $100,000 Reward For SAGE Common Core Test Validity Reports   34 comments

 

 

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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.”

 

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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.

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