Archive for the ‘PARCC’ Tag

With Common Core States Face Critical Problem: Which Tests?   1 comment

By Sandra Stotsky

 

The burning education issue facing most states at the moment is which tests should they give their K-12 students next year to satisfy the conditions of their waivers from the United States Department of Education (USED) or the commitments they made in their Race to the Top (RttT) applications, whether or not they received an RttT grant or other funds from the USED or the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. 

The two testing consortia funded by the USED – Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) – for the purpose of developing common tests based on Common Core’s standards have experienced dwindling state commitments. SBAC is down to less than 20, and PARCC is down to possibly 9. Both consortia have been piloting test items across the states this past academic year to acquire the pool of items needed for computer-adaptive testing (by SBAC) and for gauging difficulty levels at all the grade levels participating in the assessments (K-11).

A new twist is the question of whether state boards, commissioners, and/or departments of education committed their states (i.e., the taxpayers) to particular testing companies and future technology costs without going through statute-mandated bidding procedures and cost-benefit analyses. New Mexico and Louisiana seem to be tied up in constitutional issues on contractual matters, while Arizona is trying to ensure it follows its own statutory bidding procedures.

What hasn’t been getting much attention from mainstream media, possibly because most reporters have no children in Common Core-based classrooms and don’t talk to parents of school-age children on a regular basis, are the problems students and teachers are encountering with the tests themselves and the similarities in the problems reported for PARCC and SBAC pilot tests.

The information on PARCC’s pilot tests comes from school administrators in the Bridgewater-Raynham Regional School District in Massachusetts, as reported on June 18 in Wickedlocal.com. The article was based chiefly on what took place at a school board meeting in June, during which the School Committee voted unanimously to stay with MCAS, the state test, for the next academic year. At the meeting, the school administrators explained why they wanted to stay with MCAS, based on the experiences teachers and students had with the PARCC pilot tests the school district gave in the spring of 2014. 

“It’s like telling our teachers, ‘We’ll teach you how to drive.’ But then the test says you won’t be driving cars. You’ll be driving boats,” said Bridgewater-Raynham school Superintendent Jacqueline Forbes of the PARCC exam. “It’s not aligning with our curriculum or instruction.”

angryteacher

Based on pilot testing, school officials said PARCC did not match up with Bridgewater-Raynham’s teaching methods and also contained numerous technological flaws.

“The one word I’d use to sum up our experience is ‘frustration,’” said Brian Lynch, an elementary school principal. “First, there were a lot of problems administering the test, which is taken on a computer – and the snags weren’t on the district’s end.”

“Second, the test requires students to be familiar with software programs the district does not teach,” Lynch continued. “The district uses a lot of technology, but students still take basic math tests on topics such as number lines and graphing using a paper and pencil.”

“Are we testing math or are we testing a child’s ability to drag and type?” asked Forbes. “We don’t teach typing in third grade. It’s not developmentally appropriate.”

According to high school Principal Angela Watson, the district piloted the PARCC Algebra I test to randomly selected ninth graders.

“Unfortunately, what we found is our written, taught and assessed curriculum doesn’t match up exactly with the PARCC exam. … It puts kids in unfamiliar territory,” Watsonsaid. “It would take time and resources to make the switch to a curriculum that matches up with PARCC.”  

Forbes, however, said that effort might turn out to be misdirected because other districts have articulated similar concerns about the PARCC test.

Regarding SBAC’s pilot tests, a recent letter by Fairgrounds Middle School Principal John Nelson to Nashua Superintendent Mark Conrad provided a disturbing picture, wrote theNashua Telegraph in late January.

New Hampshire teachers had been asked by their local superintendent of schools to take an early version of SBAC in December 2013. According to the article, the teachers said the “new computerized test is confusing, doesn’t work well, and leads to frustration.”

In his letter to members of the Nashua Board of Education, Nelson said, “Teachers shared frustrations they had when they were taking the test and disappointment in test format and the difficulties they had trying to use their computer to take this test.”

His teachers agreed the test should not be used on Nashua students.

Nelson wrote:

The FMS staff collectively believe that the Smarter Balance Test is inappropriate for our students at this time and that the results from this test will not measure the academic achievement of our students; but will be a test of computer skills and students’ abilities to endure through a cumbersome task.

Despite the teachers’ plea and support from Nashua’s teacher union, Conrad, the state board, and Department of Education refused to back down, leaving Nashua’s students with a test their own teachers think is meaningless.

As in Nashua and Bridgewater-Raynham, local reporters all over the country are likely reporting what is happening in their local schools as they pilot Common Core-based tests. But Congress, state legislators, governors, and other policymakers at the state and national levels are not getting an accurate picture of what is happening to the curriculum in our public schools or to the children in them. 

Sandra Stotsky, Ed.D. is Professor Emerita at the University of Arkansas.  This article is posted with her permission and was first published at Breitbart.com

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Governors of Louisiana and Mississippi Reject Common Core   6 comments

The Domino effect is happening.  States are getting free of Common Core.

First was Indiana.  South Carolina and Oklahoma officially dropped out next.  Now, here are two more immediately dropping dominoes,  Louisiana and Mississippi:

 

Domino one:  Mercedes Schneider provided details on Louisiana Governor Jindal’s Common Core and PARCC exit here.  Fascinating conflict of powers in Louisiana.  (Thank you, Mercedes Schneider!)

 

Domino two:  The Clarion-Ledger reports that Governor Bryant of Mississipi wants to be free of Common Core.

“I think Common Core is a failed program, and the United States is beginning to realize that,” Bryant said. “Governors all across America are realizing states can do it better.”

Yes!

Hope that Utah’s Governor Herbert is next.

Top Ten Scariest People in Education Reform: #6 – Linda Darling-Hammond   32 comments

Top Ten Scariest People in Education Reform

 Linda Darling-Hammond

Countdown # 6

This is the fourth in a countdown series of introductions, a list of the top ten scariest people leading education in America.

  For number 7 ,  number 8number 9 and number 10,  click here.

Don’t be fooled by her sweet-baby face.  Linda Darling-Hammond stands for one thing:  forced national redistribution of wealth.

Yes, really.

And does Darling-Hammond wear  powerful hats!   A pillar of the Common Core movement, she’s been helping run closed-door meetings of the standards since before they were created, as a member of the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) Advisory Group since 2006.  She also leads (or plays key advisory roles) in all top educational bureaucracies, both governmental and corporate, including The Obama Administration, the National Governors’ Association, the  Common Core testing consortiaCSCOPE, WestEd, the American Institutes for Research (AIR), Alliance for Excellent Education, the American Educational Research Association, the National Academy of Education and many more.  She is a hero to communist reformer Bill Ayers. Why?  And what is she likely saying behind the closed doors?

Try this on for an explanation:  it’s a speech she gave last summer at a UNESCO conference in Paris.

In the speech, Darling-Hammond says that “we allow this extraordinary inequality” in America which may cause us to “innovate our way to failure.”  She shows a chart entitled “The Anatomy of Inequality” (see minutes 15:06- 16:00) that explains that taking away money from the areas of richer kids’ schools is a good idea (she mentions rich schools having too many swimming pools).

In her book, “A Flat World and Education: How America’s Commitment to Equity will Determine our Future,” she further explains why pushing for equity (communism) will solve the problems of education.  The book illustrates poverty’s effect on education (tell us something we didn’t know) and she comes to the false conclusion that a governmentally forced attempt at financial equity (redistribution) can create better education.  She doesn’t mention how this is to happen without harming individual liberty and without punishing the kids in financially stable schools.

Her ideas are being absolutely shoved down the throats of state school boards and legislators nationally.

And she is dead set on Common Core being the means to these ends.  Always has been.  She knew that others on the Common Core validation committee refused to sign off that the standards were legitimate; she was aware that common core would be an experiment on millions, implemented without any empirical data supporting its superiority claims. She not only supported this baseless decision making and the copyrighting and implementation of the common standards –but she’s now helping to write the common tests!

She provides professional development for CSCOPE teachers. (CSCOPE is the extremely controversial, secretive curriculum that parents cannot access, which now used in Texas schools.)

Darling-Hammond and her ideas are mentioned 52 times in the EEC report  For Each and Every Child, a “strategy for equity report” that she co-wrote.  In the words of Congressman Honda, another EEC member, it’s a “bold new vision on the federal role in education”  that wants to see “transformations in school funding.”

What does it mean that Darling-Hammond headed Obama’s  education policy team and is a member of Obama’s Equity and Excellence Commission (EEC)? What is she aiming to do for him?

Take a look at the EEC’s Opportunity to Learn Campaign.  Included in the “opportunity” is also the cessation of any semblance of liberty.  Dropping out is not an option; you can’t get suspended or expelled from school no matter how hard you try.  The EEC calls this “positive discipline.”  Also included in the “Opportunity to Learn Campaign” are “wraparound supports” such as extended learning time which might sound good until you realize that we’re moving away from a family-centered to a school-centered way of life that pushes parents to the periphery of children’s lives.

To translate:  Linda Darling-Hammond pushes for communism in the name of social justice, for a prison-like view of schooling in the name of extended opportunity, and for an increased federal role in education in the name of fairness.  She gets away with it because she comes across as sweetly compassionate.

But she scares me.   And people who listen to her scare me too.

To Honor, Uphold and Sustain the Law… Even When You Think You Have a Really Good Reason To Do Otherwise   1 comment

Utah Board of Education Chair

Debra Roberts

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Thanks to Alyson Williams for this explanation of how our state board of education abdicated local autonomy.

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TO HONOR, UPHOLD AND SUSTAIN THE LAW
… even when you think you have a really good reason to do otherwise

by Alyson Williams
February 5, 2013

Board members insist that these standards are better… They also insist that there are benefits to having the same standards across states. They use these assertions as the justification for their acting outside their authority.

The Utah Constitution and related statutes establish the Utah State Board of Education and assign them authority to set standards for Utah students. Members of the State Board of Education are appointed or elected from a narrowed field of candidates to represent the citizens of Utah.

In adopting the Common Core State Standards it appears that the Utah State Board of Education abdicated their control over standards to unelected bodies* outside the jurisdiction of the State or Federal government, and usurped the role of parents or citizens to monitor or give feedback to the process.

This is not how standards have been established in our state before.

The authority to do it this way can’t have been implied or hidden in their legal commission, because this is a newly invented process. This is a creative path to national standards through private brokers who are not constrained by federal laws that would prevent the Federal Government from doing the same thing.

Abdicating authority (whether voluntary or motivated by federal or financial considerations) is not an option established under the constitutional commission given to the State Board of Education. Any right not specifically given to the Board by law is a right that is retained by the people.

The people of Utah did not vote directly, or indirectly through the representative voice of the legislature, to transfer the standards-setting authority to another body.

Board members claim to have retained control by representing the citizens of Utah during the standards writing process. Again, this was not their commission. Furthermore, the Board can point to no specific input or influence they had on the final, copyrighted, standards. In light of the fact that 46 other states were also involved, and they had zero input on who was hired to write the standards, any influence real or imagined would have been highly diluted.

There is broad disagreement on the quality of the standards. The term “scientifically-based” seems to have been re-defined to mean the opinions of few “experts” rather than peer-reviewed research. The wording of certain standards doesn’t just specify what the student should know, but how they should be able to demonstrate that knowledge which in some cases requires or favors specific, controversial methods of teaching.

Still, board members insist that these standards are better than Utah’s previous standards. They also insist that there are benefits to having the same standards across states. They use these assertions as the justification for their acting outside their authority.

Even if they were the best standards ever, or if the arguments for homogeny outweighed the real challenges of aligning demographically and financially diverse states, the end does not justify the means.

Despite a well-documented timeline and recorded statements that would suggest a correlation between the adoption of the standards and federal incentives in the form of Race to the Top grant money and a waiver from No Child Left Behind, the Board insists that Common Core does not represent a Federal overreach in violation of the 10th Ammendment and several other federal laws.

Finally, the Common Core State Standards do not represent the competing opinions of a diverse group of education experts. The writers were a group of like-minded education reformers. The writing, evaluation and promotion of the standards was paid for by the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation. While the State Board of Education can assert that they themselves were not influenced by the special interests of those funding the process, they cannot claim that the standards themselves were not wholly influenced by the education reform ideals of the funders.

It is a violation of trust that our elected officials would be complicit in a re-organization of the standards setting process that favors well-funded outside interests over the voice of the people.

* Unelected bodies include :

–the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO)

— the National Governors’ Association (NGA)

— the Department of Education (USDE)

–the 2 testing consortia: Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) and

–Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC)

DATA COLLECTION UPDATE   1 comment

WHAT WE KNOW:

1. ALL UTAHNS ARE TRACKED VIA SCHOOLS USING A FEDERALLY PROMOTED AND PAID-FOR SLDS.

I have an email from the State School Board that says there is no possibility for my student to opt out of being tracked. When a parent signs his/her child up for school, the information is gathered and added to, throughout the life of that child because of the State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS). The SLDS was paid for by the federal government and all states accepted the money and built this interoperable system. It works with the P-20 (preschool through workforce) council, which is appointed by the Governor.  http://nces.ed.gov/programs/slds/state.asp?stateabbr=UT

2. THE TRACKING OF CITIZENS GOES BEYOND THE SCHOOL DISTRICT AND STATE OFFICE OF EDUCATION.

The Utah Data Alliance, directed by John Brandt, links six state agencies to share the data collected by schools. These include workforce services; the system is a socialist program to align education and workforce and manage the people as “human capital,” one of their favorite phrases. According to a John Brandt online powerpoint, federal agencies also receive access to the data in the Utah Data system. According to the Joanne Weiss, chief of staff of the Dept. of Education, federal agencies are mashing data and are going to be “helpful” to states “wishing” to do the same.

3. INTEROPERABILITY WAS REQUIRED OF ALL SLDS SYSTEMS FOR FEDERAL PURPOSES.

http://nces.ed.gov/programs/slds/state.asp?stateabbr=WA

4. REGULATIONS HAVE BEEN ALTERED WITHOUT CONGRESSIONAL APPROVAL CONCERNING PRIVACY LAW.

The Dept. of Education changed definitions and broadened allowances of the Family Education Rights Privacy Act. Though they have been sued for this move, the fact remains that without parental consent, researchers, federal agencies and any “authorized” volunteer can look at the collected data, which includes biometric information (personally identifiable).

5. DATA POINTS TO BE COLLECTED BY STATES HAVE BEEN “RECOMMENDED” BY FEDERAL GOVERNMENT:

According to the National Data Collection Model, the government should collect information on health-care history, family income, family voting status, gestational age of students at birth, student ID number, and bus stoptimes among other pieces of information on the student and their families. You can view the National Data Collection Model database attributes (data categories) at http://nces.sifinfo.org/datamodel/eiebrowser/techview.aspx?instance=studentPostsecondary

6. DEPT. OF EDUCATION COOPERATIVE AGREEMENTS CONTRACTED WITH TESTING CONSORTIA MANDATE INFORMATION SHARING

This means that there is a triangulation of tests, test data and federal supervision (all highly illegal under G.E.P.A. law and the 10th Amendment).  http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-assessment/sbac-cooperative-agreement.pdf

WHAT WE DON’T KNOW:

1. John Brandt has not revealed the exact number of people or agencies in Utah (or elsewhere) who have access to the personally identifiable information collected by schools on individuals. He does not return emails or phone calls.

2. At what point does “allowance” to share information turn into “must” share information? The FERPA alterations right now only removed the requirement for schools to keep the data on students private without parental consent. They have not yet mandated that schools must share the data without parental consent. But we also don’t know which identified information is being shared with which agency in Utah, or which agency outside Utah. We just don’t know.

3. What effect will the Common Core (national) testing have on the data collection and ease of persual by the federal agencies? Is there a “Cooperative Agreement” between Utah’s test writer, the American Institutes for Research, and the federal government, as there is with the other testing consortia SBAC and PARCC?

Alabama Bursts Free of 2 Common Core Testing Consortia Memberships   Leave a comment

Alabama has cut its membership ties with both of the Common Core testing consortia– with PARCC and SBAC.

This is big news because those who want to federalize eduation and control citizens thereby cannot do so very easily without the shackling effect of having virtually every person in America labeled and tracked using the common testing data collection system.   Yay for Alabama.

Alabama hasn’t cut ties with the whole Common Core State Standards Initiative, but according to Truth in American Education, Governor Bentley of Alabama said:

“Every state is different. Every Legislature is different. I think having one standard goes against the intent of the founding fathers of the United States.” 

The Governor cast his vote against the standards.  State Board of Education Members Stephanie Bell and Betty Peters also voted against the standards.

http://truthinamericaneducation.com/uncategorized/governor-bentley-alabama-condemns-common-core-standards/

And Ed Week’s Catherine Gewertz reports:

“In an email to EdWeek, the state’s assessment director, Gloria Turner, confirmed that Alabama has bowed out of both the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. She said the department of education “has decided to go in another direction,” but didn’t offer any more detail.

The move wasn’t yet official within the two consortia, since the requisite processes haven’t yet been completed. The decision leaves PARCC with 22 members and Smarter Balanced with 24.

Alabama, you might recall, has been one of the dwindling number of states that have been playing ‘participating,’ or ‘advisory’ roles in each consortium.”

http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/curriculum/2013/02/alabama_withdraws_from_both_te.html?cmp=ENL-EU-NEWS2

Unwritten Tests Present Major Common Core Obstacle: Heartlander Reports   Leave a comment

A new Heartlander article by Joy Pullman raises some very big questions for school districts that do not have the money, the computers, bandwidth, or IT staff to administer Common Core tests.  It seems that “strapped states must soon pitch money at a new, complicated testing program” that is “likely to make their schools look bad”.

The article asks:

1. Where will the new national testing groups get money once federal grants run out, six months before the tests appear in classrooms?
2. Can testmakers and states handle the technical problems of creating and administering ambitious, online tests?
3. Will states tolerate higher passing score requirements?

The article quotes a survey of “education insiders” with at least one respondent noting that both the PARCC and SBAC testing consortia operate with such opacity that it is hard to know where things stand.

Full Article:  http://news.heartland.org/newspaper-article/2013/01/28/unwritten-tests-present-major-common-core-obstacle

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