Archive for the ‘parental empowerment’ Tag
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 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.
I was invited to speak on the Rod Arquette show today about the results of a poll published by Utah Policy. I’ve decided to write here what I won’t have time to fully say there.
The poll’s questions narrowed the larger Common Core Agenda to a tiny fraction (just the academic standards, string free) so that it reaped the kinds of positive responses that it sought.
For example, it said: “Utah is currently participating in a coordinated effort with other states to set similar education standards in math and language. These standards outline what a student should know and be able to do at the end of each grade in K through 12 education.” This half-truth left out volumes that would have altered the poll-taker’s responses if the poll taker would have been more fully informed.
Focusing on the actual standards themselves is as foolish as focusing on rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Good or bad, the standards, like deck chairs, will soon be in an uncontrollable, different place.
- If Utah Policy would have been fully honest, disclosing the fact that the standards are not coordinated by Utah and other states but by private, unelected organizations in D.C. (NGA and CCSSO) which have copyrighted the standards, answers would have been different.
- If Utah Policy would have been fully honest, disclosing the fact that the standards-creators, (NGA/CCSSO) are official partners with the federal government in creating Common Educational Data Standards (CEDS) that are aligned to Common Core Academic Standards, so that CEDS can be used to track students in state (SLDS), federal (EdFacts) and corporate data banks, thanks to the recent federal alteration of FERPA, answers would have been different.
- If Utah Policy would have been fully honest, disclosing the fact that the standards are unamendable by states and that there is, in fact, no amendment process by which any participating state could alter or influence future versions of “Common Core 2.0” answers would have been different.
- If Utah Policy would have been fully honest, disclosing the fact that the Utah Chamber of Commerce and the Governor’s Prosperity 2020 Initiative is promoting Common Core for financial gain and that special interests make millions from Utah’s education tax dollars, due to schools now being essentially forced to purchase the standardized books, test infrastructures, and technologies, answers would have been different.
- If Utah Policy would have been fully honest, disclosing the fact that Common Core standards lack empirical evidence (meaning that they are unpiloted, unproven, and that they turn our children into unconsenting, unpaid guinea pigs for marketers, researchers and for the creators of Common Core) –answers would have been different.
- If Utah policy would have been fully honest, disclosing the fact that Common Core may raise some specific standards spottily in some grades and in some states, but it lowers them elsewhere, dumbing down some and rigor-izing others, but making everyone common, as if one size could fit all — answers would have been different.
The poll’s article said: “Utah’s Education IS NOT controlled by the federal government, Herbert has said time and time again.” True, Herbert has said that. So has the Utah Attorney General. Yet it is false. Fact check for yourself. Truth is truth whether we believe it or not.
The federal government micromanages the Common Core testing network. Evidence in Cooperative Agreement of SBAC (Utah’s company, AIR’s partner) here. The federal government offers a waiver from the much-hated No Child Left Behind (unconstitutional) law in exchange for adoption of Common Core (aka College and Career Ready Standards Adoption).
Education standards-alteration was the very first of the Obama Administration’s four assurances as listed stated in the ARRA grant money documents, in Secretary Duncan’s “Vision for Education Reform” speech, and on the White House website. College and career ready standards is a term that was specifically hijacked and redefined as the Common Core, as “standards common to a significant number of states” by the federal government.
In fact, in Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s 2010 “Vision” speech, he said:
“Traditionally the federal government has had a limited role in education policy… the Obama Administration has sought to fundamentally shift the federal role so that the Dept. is doing much more… creating a strong cradle-to-career continuum… In March 2009 Obama called on the nation’s governors and state school chiefs to develop standards and assessments.”
Both the Republican and the Democratic parties in various states –and even the Chicago Teacher’s Union — have written resolutions condemning Common Core. Not just because of the fuzzy math. Not just because of the lessening of classic literature. It’s all about Constitutional rights.
If you like socialist-styled, distant, top-down, big government, big-corporate control of tests, teachers and standards, Common Core may be your thing. But if you believe in local control, in free and independent academic thought, and if you want parental aims met –as opposed to big-government-big-corporate aims, then Common Core is not for you.
Shame on Utah Policy for its misleading poll.
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 initiatives, reports 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?
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.
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.
This three minute video features a beautiful Connecticut public school student making a speech at her local school board meeting.
“In my honors English class we are focusing more on social studies topics than on English topics. The texts we have received so far contain subliminal messaging of a leftist view of society. One quote…’American pride seems excessive.’ Is this the message you want to send to your students? Well, I for one would never be ashamed to be an American…”
“…These methods are being sold as rigorous and critical thinking skills…. They are a waste of time… Under the Common Core system we are taught in groups and are told we have to come to an answer we all agree on. We are being taught to think as a whole and not as a creative individual”
“I will never surrender my unique right as an American to disagree with the person sitting next to me or the people in my government…. this program is destroying our schools, our confidence, and our freedom.”
“I would also like you to know that there will be more like me soon –and we will not go away.”