Archive for the ‘Tami Pyfer’ Tag

Open Letter to Utah Leadership: On Informed Consent in Science Education   5 comments

Screenshot_2017-12-30-11-26-28

Dear Superintendent Dickson, State School Board, Diana Suddreth, Rich Nye, Governor Herbert, Tami Pyfer, and Legislators,

To what degree does Utah maintain constitutional control over science education?

I’m writing to clarify whether Utah has or has not adopted controversial, common science standards (NGSS) and whether we are using those non-approved standards in current or future tests for K-12 children, without proper vetting and fully informed public consent.

I’m trying to reconcile promises –made by multiple superintendents to the public and to the legislature, that common science standards would never happen because of political and “philosophical differences”– with the attached PDF from the board’s website. It says that a science MOU in common with other states is set to be approved this Wednesday.

Utah’s voting taxpayers strongly oppose common, nationalized standards; some because of content, and some because  nationalized programs work against intellectual freedom and local control.

Anti-Common standards sentiment was powerfully illustrated in Utah’s last gubernatorial election, when Governor Herbert was booed at conventions for his promotion of Common Core, and was beaten when GOP delegates voted. He very narrowly won the final vote after changing his speeches with sudden, fervent promises to repeal the Common Core.

Those promises lacked integrity and evaporated after the election, but the illustration makes clear that Utahans want the common standards gone.

It can be alarming when superintendents make promises that common science standards will never take over here, when no vote to approve common NGSS standards has happened, and yet the public can see that someone is furtively, gradually, replacing Utah’s traditional science standards with controversial NGSS standards.

On the Board’s PDF, we see that Utah is set to approve use of a common test bank for students’ science tests. Since tests are based on standards, and since Utah’s official policy is that we have our own science standards, not the common NGSS standards, how can Utah share a test bank with many other states?  Without using the common science standards that they use, or without making those states use our science standards, it doesn’t make sense.

Please clarify.

What makes sense, but won’t likely be admitted, is that the current Superintendent and her co-workers personally buy into the philosophies of the ed tech elite, inspired by the Pearson- Microsoft-Gates cartel. They admire Gates and NGSS.  Unlike many of their fellow Utahns, they love the common standards, so they are using their positions of power to guide the state in the direction to which they personally subscribe, against the will and without the knowledge of the people.

Shouldn’t these moves be transparent to the public?  It seems our top education officers give lip service to local control, but in actions, create the very opposite.

Students and taxpayers who value liberty and classic education standards deserve informed consent and open debate, prior to Utah’s use of any kind of additional common standards.

“Consent of the governed” is a crucial founding concept, one of the best phrases ever penned, one I hope this group will ponder before moving further away from local control.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Christel Swasey
Pleasant Grove

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High-Stakes Tests and Common Core Standards are Inseparable   4 comments

tami and martell

Two leaders who make judgments for our schools –two whose judgment I wish we were able to trust, each have made statements: that high-stakes tests and data mining are unrelated to Common Core standards.

This is a fact-checking post.

First, look at their statements:

Our governor’s education advisor, Tami Pyfer, was quoted in the  Morgan News:  “while not related to the Common Core, data mining and over-testing ‘will not be happening with Utah students.'”   The Morgan News also wrote that Pyfer: “is concerned with high stakes testing and test results being used for purposes the tests were not originally designed for. ‘We do not support high stakes testing.‘”

tami

Pyfer also wrote, at  a blog called The Blue Hat Movement:

I’m confused about how/why you are connecting assessment issues, like the one in this video, to the Common Core Standards.

menlove

Really.

Meanwhile, Superintendent Martell Menlove has also said in many settings that he has concerns with high stakes testing and data mining –but says that he does not understand the relationship between high stakes testing and the Common Core.  In emails to the public he has also written, “I am not aware of any additional data reporting requirements that are associated with Common Core.”

Oh, Dear.  Tami and Martell!

Utah’s new school test is inseparable from the Common Core standards.

(FYI, readers, the test goes by many names:  Computer Adaptive, AIR/SAGE, Utah Core, Common Core).  And neither is the data-mining inseparable from Common Core, with its CEDS (common education data standards) and its SLDS (my nickname: longitudinal student stalking system).

Here are several hard-to-ignore reasons why:

1.)  Utah’s 2012 house bill 15 makes Computer Adaptive Testing the law in this state, and it uses specific language that mandates that Common Core standards are used for the Common Core Computer Adaptive Tests for all Utahns.

2.)  The four assurances or four key reforms for which the executive branch gave ARRA stimulus dollars (in exchange for Utah’s agreement to obey them) included common college and career-readiness standards, tests, and data collection. It was always a package deal.

http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/leg/recovery/factsheet/stabilization-fund.html

“SFSF requires progress on four reforms ….
1.Making progress toward rigorous college- and career-ready standards and high-quality assessments that are valid and reliable for all students, including English language learners and students with disabilities;
2.Establishing pre-K-to college and career data systems that track progress and foster continuous improvement;
3.Making improvements in teacher effectiveness and in the equitable distribution of qualified teachers for all students, particularly students who are most in need;
4.Providing intensive support and effective interventions for the lowest-performing schools.”

3.) The federal government paid for the Common Core tests and mandated in its test grant contract that testing groups align to one another and to Common Data Collection standards and to Common Core Standards. The standards promoters use veiled language and most often refer to Common Core as “college and career ready standards” instead, but they have been specifically defined on the ed.gov official website in a way that can only be interpreted as the Common Core. Utah’s testing group, AIR, is officially partnered with SBAC, which is under mandate to align its tests with Common Core and with the other testing groups.

4.  The lead sponsor of Common Core Standards, Bill Gates, spoke at at national Conference for State Legislatures. He said that We’ll only know if this effort has succeeded when the curriculum and tests are aligned to these standards.” This alignment has been the point all along.  (Wouldn’t the man who funded multimillions of dollars toward the creation, development, marketing, implementation, and curriculum development of Common Core know what the goal was to be?)

5. The Council of Chief State School Officers, to which Supt. Menlove belongs, co-created and copyrighted Common Core.  The CCSSO officially partnered with the Department of Education  toward a common goal to collect “data on the national level” (see below) and to “coordinate assessments” –and to use the Common Core standards which CCSSO co-wrote.

It is difficult for me to understand how Menlove, who belongs to the CCSSO, or how Pyfer, who works so intimately with both the NGA and CCSSO, can mentally separate the Common Core aligned, high-stakes tests from the goals of the Common Core standards creators themselves.

Take a closer look at the CCSSO/EIMAC website:

“Education Data & Information Systems Programs:

Common Education Data Standards (CEDS)

The Common Education Data Standards Initiative is a joint effort by CCSSO and the State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO) in partnership with the United States Department of Education. Educators and policy makers need clear, consistent data about students and schools in order to draw valid comparisons between key indicators of educational success and identify areas where we can improve classroom instruction and student support from early childhood through K-12 education to post secondary education and the workforce.

Education Information Management Advisory Consortium (EIMAC)

The Education Information Management Advisory Consortium (EIMAC) is CCSSO’s network of state education agency officials tasked with data collection and reporting; information system management and design; and assessment coordination. EIMAC advocates on behalf of states to reduce data collection burden and improve the overall quality of the data collected at the national level.”

—————————————————————————–

In light of these five points, can anybody honestly say that they cannot see a connection between the Common Core test and the Common Core high stakes AIR tests?  Are we still to be called “conspiracy theorists” (my school board member Dixie Allen’s latest term of endearment for me)  –for declaring that the tests and standards are one, are inseparable, and are equally harmful to our schools and to our liberties?

So, having made this point, now let me share what Principal Bob Schaeffer of Colorado shared with me today:  a compilation of how bad the national Common Core high-stakes testing is waxing.

Enjoy.

NEWS UPDATE:  NATIONAL PROBLEMS WITH HIGH-STAKES TESTS

Former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich Blasts “Obsessive Focus on Standardized Tests” http://dianeravitch.net/2014/02/19/robert-reich-on-standardized-testing/

Test Score Pressure May Lead to More ADHD Drug Prescriptions http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304275304579392932032900744

NCLB Waivers Reinforce Flawed Accountability Measures http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/inside-school-research/2014/02/waivers_missed_opportunities.html

Testing Resistance & Reform Spring Alliance Formed to Bring Sanity to Education Policy
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/02/21/anti-testing-groups-form-alliance-to-bring-sanity-to-education-policy/
Timely Statement by Former U.S. Labor Sec. Robert Reich on Eve of Testing Resistance & Reform Spring Launch
http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/living-in-dialogue/2014/02/coalition_launches_testing_res.html
Campaigns Against Test Misuse, Overuse Explode Across Nation
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/02/20/1279029/-Testing-Resistance-Reform-Spring-Launched?detail=hide
New National Alliance Aims to Unite Grassroots Opposition to Testing Overkill
http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/parentsandthepublic/2014/02/new_alliance_aims_to_unite_grassroots_testing_opposition.html

High School Grades Are Better Predictors of College Performance Than Test Scores Are
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/confirmed-high-school-gpas-predict-college-success/
New Report: Test-Optional Admissions Promotes Equity and Excellence
http://fairtest.org/new-report-shows-testoptional-admissions-helps-div

The Failure of Test-Based School “Reform” — By the Numbers
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/02/23/why-test-based-school-reform-isnt-working-by-the-numbers/

Test-Based “Accountability” Does Not Work
http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/top_performers/2014/02/nclb_california_and_accountability_in_all_its_guises.html

No High-Stakes Testing Moratorium, No Common Core
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-thompson/no-moratorium-no-common-c_b_4843791.html

Common Core Testing Costs Strain Rural Schools
http://www.wbir.com/story/news/2014/02/18/common-core-testing-costs-strain-rural-tennessee-schools/5575073/

Washington State Senate Revolts Against Teaching to the Test
http://www.nwprogressive.org/weblog/2014/02/state-senate-revolts-against-teaching-to-the-test.html
Feds Threaten Washington State With Return to NCLB Testing Rules
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/21/washington-no-child-left-behind_n_4828183.html

Chicago Parents Organize Opt-Out Campaign
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/education/ct-isat-testing-boycott-met-20140225,0,1746622.story

Left and Right in Colorado Agree on Testing Cutback
http://coloradostatesman.com/content/994657-left-right-agreement-state-testing
Colorado Students Take a Stand Against One-Size-Fits-All Test-Driven Education

N.Y. Gov. Cuomo Continues to Support Common Core Test-Based Evaluation
http://www.lohud.com/article/20140223/NEWS/302230033/Educators-say-evaluation-system-broken-Cuomo-isn-t-convinced

Computerizing a Poor Standardized Exam Does Not Magically Make it Better (or Stop Test Score-Misuse)
http://udreview.com/2014/02/24/delaware-explores-new-testing-options/
Common Core Assessments: Myths and Realities
http://fairtest.org/fairtest-infographic-common-core-more-tests-not-be

Teacher Apologizes to Third Grades for Being Forced to Label Them with Test Scores
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/02/18/teacher-to-3rd-graders-i-apologize-for-having-to-quantify-you-with-a-number/

Mom of Severely Disabled Boy Asks Florida School Board to Let All Kids Experiencing “Pain and Suffering” Opt Out of High-Stakes Testing
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/02/19/mom-to-officials-stop-forcing-severely-disabled-kids-to-take-high-stakes-tests/

Washington, D.C. Mayoral Candidate Says Test-Driven Schooling is a Failure
http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/shallal-criticizes-dc-school-reform-efforts-saying-he-would-chart-a-different-course/2014/02/18/4ba4b45a-97f7-11e3-9616-d367fa6ea99b_story.html

Important New Book: “50 Myths & Lies That Threaten America’s Public Schools” by David Berliner, Gene Glass and Associates
http://store.tcpress.com/0807755249.shtml

DEBATE in Logan Jan. 6th   3 comments

This should be very interesting.

Mount Logan Middle School is providing the facility for a Common Core issues debate on January 6th, 2014, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at 875 N. 200 E. Logan, Utah.

Alpine school board member Wendy Hart and mother Alyson Williams will debate two state school board members: Dave Thomas and Tami Pyfer.

The event is open to the public and will be moderated by radio personality Jason Williams of KVNU’s “For the People.”

Please come and bring friends.

The public is invited to submit questions for the debaters to: jasonthe@gmail.com or kvnuftp@gmail.com.

This informative video, “Utah Bites Into Common Core” features Wendy Hart, one of the debaters, who is both an elected member of the Alpine School Board, and an active member of Utahns Against Common Core.

Not Misinformed: We Know What It Is And We Reject It   3 comments

If we remain bound to the Common Core stranglehold, it will be because a low-information citizenry passively buys the unsubstantiated claims of the proponents of Common Core without doing their own homework on this crucial subject.

Our state school board refuses to let go of its praise-common-core talking points. And it continues to call those of us who care about local control and high, legitimate education standards, “misinformed” even though they won’t return emails letting us know what specifically we seem to be so misinformed about.

Today I read this blog post by Tami Pyfer of the USSB on Utah Policy. http://utahpolicy.com/view/full_story/22848521/article-We-Do-Deserve-Better?instance=newsletter_featured_articles_policy

Here’s what I think as I read her post:

Yes, we deserve better.

We deserve fact-checked information from our state school board. State school board members are in a position of trust and should be held to higher standards. Misinformation being spouted by elected board members is cause for concern.

The Common Core agenda has been presented as being so rigorous, so consensually adopted (which is was not) and so academically legitimate that it is beyond debate. The fact is that the Common Core is a liability, rather than an asset, both in terms of liberty and local control, and in terms of academic strength.

It concerns me, bothers me, and keeps me up at night, that as a credentialed Utah teacher, I am not allowed to meet with my own state school board members, face to face, to get real answers to my concerns about Common Core. I have gone out of my way to try to communicate, to find out what exactly is “erroneous” (their words) about my concerns, but my emails are not being responded to.

There are simple questions.

“Where is the evidence to support the claim that Common Core improves education?”
“Where are the long term studies showing that the reduction of literary study improves college readiness?”
“Where is the amendment process for Utah’s math and English standards under the copyrighted Common Core?”
“How can I opt out of the SLDS tracking system?”
“Where is the legal –constitutional– authority for people outside our state to set our local standards and to create and monitor our tests?”
“Why is Utah allowing Obama to redesign our schools without putting up a fight?”
“Why is there a culture in education today that demands everyone agree or pretend to agree; where is freedom of expression and freedom of speech in all of the Common Core agenda, when teachers and principals fear to dissent or lose their jobs?”
“Where is the evidence that slowing the age at which students learn math algorithms, improves college readiness?”
“Where is the line-item cost analysis of taxpayers’ money being spent on Common Core technologies, teacher trainings and texts?

— There are many, many more questions that need answers. Yes, State School Board, we do deserve better. When will you condescend to actually speak with those who elected you to serve us?

When will you listen? Did you not notice that the Utah State Delegates disapprove Common Core? They voted and they passed the anti-common core resolution. Utah doesn’t want Common Core. Why is the board still defending it?

We are not misinformed. We know what it is we reject it.

When will your board stand up to the federal Dept. of Ed. and its tsunami of assault on liberties, rather than fighting us, the locals who desire nothing more than liberty and high quality education?

Professor Tienken, Ze’ev Wurman, Barry Garelick Take on Utah State Office of Education: On Common Core Math   3 comments

First, I received yet another “makes-no-sense” common core math explanation from the Utah State Office of Education, via Ms. Diana Suddreth.

Next, I asked nationally recognized experts to help me digest Suddreth’s words.  This included curricular expert Dr. Christopher Tienken of Seton Hall University, New Jersey, former Dept of Ed advisor and Hoover Institute (Stanford University visiting scholar) Ze’ev Wurman of California; and U.S. Coalition for World Class Math founder Barry Garelick.

This is what they wrote.  (Ms. Suddreth’s writing is also posted below.)

From Dr. Christopher H. Tienken:

Christel,

The UTAH bureaucrat is referencing this book – see below. Look at chpts 7 and 11 for where I think she is gathering support.

http://books.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=9822

Her answer still does not make curricular sense in that she explains that fluency with moving between fractions and decimals is assumed in some ways. With all due respect, the curriculum document is a legally binding agreement of what will be taught. Teachers are bound by law to follow it (of course many don’t but that is going to change with this new testing system). Therefore, if it is not explicitly in the document, it might not get taught.

There are a lot of assumptions made in the Core. Just look at the Kindergarten math sequence. It assumes a lot of prior knowledge on the part of kids. That might be fine for some towns, but certainly not for others.

Perhaps the bureaucrat can point to specific standards that call for students to demonstrate fluency in converting fractions to decimals etc.

However, I think the bigger issue is that parents now don’t have a say in terms of whether and how much emphasis is placed on those skills. Local control is one mechanism for parents to lobby for emphasis of content. Not all content is equally important to each community. The negotiation of “emphasis” is a local issue, but that has now been decided for parents by a distal force.

Christopher H. Tienken, Ed.D.

Editor, AASA Journal of Scholarship & Practice

Editor, Kappa Delta Pi Record

Seton Hall University

College of Education and Human Services

Department of Education Leadership, Management, and Policy

South Orange, NJ

Visit me @: http://www.christienken.com

——————————————————————————–

 

 

Dear Members of the Board,

Ms. Swasey forwarded to me an email that you have received recently, discussing how Utah Core supposedly handles the conversion between fraction forms. I would like to pass you my comments on that email.

First, let me briefly introduce myself. I am a visiting scholar at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. I was a member of the California Academic Content Standards Commission in 2010, which reviewed the Common Core standards before their adoption by the state of California. Prior to that I served as a senior policy adviser at the U.S. Department of Education.

Response to Diana Suddreth’s note, passed to Utah’s Board of Education on April 23, regarding the question of conversion among fractional forms
(Original in italics)

The question that was originally asked was about converting fractions to decimals; therefore, the response pointed to the specific standard where that skill is to be mastered. A close reading of the Utah Core will reveal that the development of a conceptual understanding of fractions that leads to procedural skills begins in grade 3 and is developed through 7th grade. The new core does not list every specific procedure that students will engage in; however, explaining equivalence of fractions (3rd & 4th grade), ordering fractions (4th grade), understanding decimal notation for fractions (4th grade), and performing operations with fractions (4th, 5th, and 6th grade) all suggest and even require certain procedures to support understanding and problem solving.
Unfortunately, Ms. Suddreth does not address above the question at hand—whether, or how, does the Utah Core expect students to develop fluency and understanding with conversion among fractional representations of fractions, decimals and percent—and instead offers general description of how Utah Core treats fractions. This is fine as it goes, but it does not add anything to the discussion.

In 5th grade, fractions are understood as division problems where the numerator is divided by the denominator. (In fact, the new core does a better job of this than the old where fractions were more often treated as parts of a whole, without also relating them to division.)

The above is incorrect. In grade 5, as in previous grades, the Common Core (or Utah Core, if you will) frequently treats fractions as “parts of the whole.” There is no other way to interpret grade 5 standards such as “Solve word problems involving addition and subtraction of fractions referring to the same whole … e.g., by using visual fraction models …” (5.NF.2) or “Interpret the product (a/b) × q as a parts of a partition of q into b equal parts;” (5.NF.4a). All this, however, has little to do with the question at hand.

As for percents, students learn that percent is a rate per 100 (a fraction), a concept that is fully developed with a focus on problem solving in 5th and 6th grade.

Yet again Ms. Suddreth is clearly wrong. Percent are not even introduced by the Common (Utah) Core before grade 6.

The new core promotes a strong development of the understanding of fractions as rational numbers, including representations in decimal, fraction, or percent form. Mathematics is far too rich a field to be reduced to a series of procedures without looking at the underlying connections and various representations. There is nothing in the new core to suggest that students will not develop the kinds of procedural skills that support this depth of understanding.

Here, like in her first paragraph, Ms. Suddereth, avoids responding to the question and hopes that writing about unrelated issues will cover this void. The argument was never that the Common Core does not develop understanding of fractions as rational numbers, as decimals, and as percents. The argument was that such understanding is developed in isolation for each form, and that fluent conversion between forms is barely developed in a single standard that touches only peripherally on the conversion and does it at much later (grade 7) than it ought to. Fluency with conversion among fractional representations was identified as a key skill by the National Research Council, the NCTM, and the presidential National Math Advisory Panel. It is not some marginal aspect of elementary mathematics that should be “inferred” and “understood” from other standards. The Common Core is already full of painstakingly detailed standards dealing with fractions and arguing that such cardinal area as fluency with conversion (“perhaps the deepest translation problem in pre-K to grade 8 mathematics” in NRC’s opinion) should not be addressed explicitly is disingenuous.

The new core is, in fact, supported by the Curriculum Focal Points from NCTM, which do not conflict with anything in the new core, but rather provide detailed illustrations of how a teacher might focus on the development of mathematics with their students. The new core is based on the research in Adding It Up. Some of the researchers on that project were also involved in the development of the Common Core, which forms the basis for the Utah Core.

Curriculum Focal Points explicitly requires fluency with conversion between fractional forms by grade 7, which is absent in the Common Core. It also, for example, expects fluency with dividing integers and with addition and subtraction of decimals by grade 5, which the Common Core expects only by grade 6. One wonders what else it would take to make Ms. Suddreth label them as in conflict. One also wonders how much is the Common Core really “based on the research in Adding It Up” if it essentially forgot even to address what Adding It Up considers “perhaps the deepest translation problem in pre-K to grade 8 mathematics”—the conversion among fractions, decimals, and percent.

In summary, Ms. Suddereth’s note passed to you by Ms. Pyfer contains both misleading and incorrect claims and is bound to confuse rather than illuminate.

Ze’ev Wurman
zeev@ieee.org
Palo Alto, Calif.
650-384-5291

—————–

From Barry Garelick of the U.S. Coalition for World Class Math:
Feel free to send them links to my article (which is a three part article).  There’s a very good comment that someone left [on part one] which once they read might make them realize they better tread a bit more carefully.  http://www.educationnews.org/k-12-schools/standards-for-mathematical-practice-cheshire-cats-grin-part-three/
BG

——————

 

From: Tami Pyfer <tami.pyfer@usu.edu>

Date: Tue, Apr 23, 2013 at 8:22 PM

Subject: Follow-up on Question about math standard

To: Board of Education <Board@schools.utah.gov>, “Hales, Brenda (Brenda.Hales@schools.utah.gov)” <Brenda.Hales@schools.utah.gov>

Cc: “Christel S (212christel@gmail.com)” <212christel@gmail.com>, “Diana Suddreth (Diana.Suddreth@schools.utah.gov)” <Diana.Suddreth@schools.utah.gov>

Dear Board members-

The note below from Diana Suddreth is additional information that I hope will be helpful for you in understanding the questions you may have gotten regarding the claim that the new math core doesn’t require students to know how to convert fractions to decimals, or addresses the skill inadequately. Diana has just returned from a math conference and I appreciate her expertise in this area and the additional clarification.

Please feel free to share this with others who may be contacting you with questions.

Hope this helps!

Tami

The question that was originally asked was about converting fractions to decimals; therefore, the response pointed to the specific standard where that skill is to be mastered. A close reading of the Utah Core will reveal that the development of a conceptual understanding of fractions that leads to procedural skills begins in grade 3 and is developed through 7th grade. The new core does not list every specific procedure that students will engage in; however, explaining equivalence of fractions (3rd & 4th grade), ordering fractions (4th grade), understanding decimal notation for fractions (4th grade), and performing operations with fractions (4th, 5th, and 6th grade) all suggest and even require certain procedures to support understanding and problem solving. In 5th grade, fractions are understood as division problems where the numerator is divided by the denominator. (In fact, the new core does a better job of this than the old where fractions were more often treated as parts of a whole, without also relating them to division.) As for percents, students learn that percent is a rate per 100 (a fraction), a concept that is fully developed with a focus on problem solving in 5th and 6th grade.

The new core promotes a strong development of the understanding of fractions as rational numbers, including representations in decimal, fraction, or percent form. Mathematics is far too rich a field to be reduced to a series of procedures without looking at the underlying connections and various representations. There is nothing in the new core to suggest that students will not develop the kinds of procedural skills that support this depth of understanding.

The new core is, in fact, supported by the Curriculum Focal Points from NCTM, which do not conflict with anything in the new core, but rather provide detailed illustrations of how a teacher might focus on the development of mathematics with their students. The new core is based on the research in Adding It Up. Some of the researchers on that project were also involved in the development of the Common Core, which forms the basis for the Utah Core.

Diana Suddreth, STEM Coordinator

Utah State Office of Education

Salt Lake City, UT

———————————–

 

From: Christel S [212christel@gmail.com]

Sent: Tuesday, April 23, 2013 10:42 PM

Subject: Follow-up on Question about math standard

My math and curriculum friends, I don’t know how to argue with these people. Can you assist? Here we have countless parents hating the common core math, and reviewers telling us it puts us light years behind legitimate college readiness, but the USOE continues the charade.

Please help– point me to facts and documentation that will make sense to the average person. Thank you.

Utahns Discuss Common Core Math   10 comments

I’m going to share some email strings from Utah school board members who are pro-common core, and me, and two mathematicians who are opposed to common core on academic grounds.

Ze’ev Wurman: 2010 California Common Core math validation committee member and former Dept. of Education advisor; opposes Common Core.

James Milgram: Stanford and NASA mathematician; served on official common core validation committe and refused to sign off on the academic legitimacy of the Common Core.

Dr. Milgram wrote (responding to a request for clarification about math standards) in a very recent email:

  ““I can tell you that my main objection to Core Standards, and the reason I didn’t sign off on them was that they did not match up to international expectations. They were at least 2 years behind the practices in the high achieving countries by 7th grade, and, as a number of people have observed, only require partial understanding of what would be the content of a normal, solid, course in Algebra I or Geometry.  Moreover, they cover very little of the content of Algebra II, and none of any higher level course…  They will not help our children match up to the students in the top foreign countries when it comes to being hired to top level jobs.


Tami Pyfer: Utah school board member, pro-common core


Dixie Allen: Utah school board member, pro-common core

Tami,
I am a little confused — From your email yesterday I thought you said that you, Brenda and others at USOE had decided we shouldn’t answer any questions from the Anti-Core patrons.  Could you please make sure we know what the expectation is for all of us as Board Members.  I had tried to answer anyone that was my constituents and some others, as I felt like it was my job as chair of Curriculum and Standards.  But we probably need to know what the expectation is in regard to these questionable emails, etc.
Thanks,
Dixie

On Fri, Apr 19, 2013 at 9:49 AM, Tami Pyfer <tami.pyfer@usu.edu> wrote:

Christel – Here is the specific standard that requires students to know how to convert fractions to decimals. (Fractions are rational numbers, perhaps that’s how you missed it in your examination of the standards.) See (d) and also the sample assessment task at the very bottom which asks kids to convert 2/3 to a decimal using long division.

Board members – Feel free to forward this chart along to legislators, constituents, and others asking you about the incorrect claim that we are not going to be teaching kids to convert fractions to decimals. It’s taken from our Utah Core Math Standards documents. I’ve already sent it to everyone who has emailed me about it.

Hope this helps!

Tami

Dear Tami,
In seventh grade?
My ten year old fourth grader (home schooled) knows how to convert fractions to decimals and ratios.  Does the Utah Common Core recommend this skill be taught only at the level of seventh grade?  That seems not very “rigorous.”
However, I am happy that it is taught at all.  I am glad you found this for me. Thank you.
Please look at exhibit B which is on page 26 of this document, as you will see that in the math review of Common Core, by 2010 California Common Core validation committee member and math expert Ze’ev Wurman, Wurman states that Common Core fails to teach many key math skills along with the one we are discussing.  I would love to see your review of his complete review to see if these things are taught, and at what grade levels.
Perhaps Ze’ev was reviewing the non-integrated math portion of Common Core, which as I understand it, only Utah and Vermont have adopted.
Christel
Tami,
Minutes ago, I forwarded to James Milgram a copy of your email about Common Core math.  He served on the official common core validation committee, and would not sign off on the academic legitimacy of these standards.  Milgram was also a math professor at Stanford University and a NASA consultant.
Dr. Milgram wrote back:
“I can tell you that my main objection to Core Standards, and the reason I didn’t sign off on them was that they did not match up to international expectations. They were at least 2 years behind the practices in the high achieving countries by 7th grade, and, as a number of people have observed, only require partial understanding of what would be the content of a normal, solid, course in Algebra I or Geometry.  Moreover, they cover very little of the content of Algebra II, and none of any higher level course…  They will not help our children match up to the students in the top foreign countries when it comes to being hired to top level jobs.   – Jim Milgram 
Please, return our state to local control of eduation and to academically legitimate, empirically tested standards.
Christel
Dear Christel,
The 7th grade standard Tami refers to is, indeed, the only   Common Core standard that deals, at least partially, with  converting between representations of fractions:

7. NS. 2.d: Convert a rational number to a decimal using       long division; know that the decimal form of a rational number   terminates in 0s or eventually repeats.

It only obliquely deals with converting a regular fraction to      decimal, with a particular focus on the fact that rational      fractions repeat. It does not deal with conversion between      fractional forms (representations) per se. Further, it doesn’t      deal with conversion of decimals to rational fractions, it does      not deal with conversion between decimal fractions and percents      and vice versa, and it does not deal with conversion of rational      fractions to percent and back. In other words, it deals with only      one out of 6 possible conversions. It also does it — as you      correctly say — too late, and only obliquely at that.
Compare it to the careful work the NCTM Curriculum        Focal Points did on this important issue:

Grade 4: Developing an understanding of          decimals, including the connections between fractions and          decimals Grade 6: Developing an understanding of and fluency          with multiplication and division of fractions and decimals                          … They use the relationship between decimals        and fractions, as well as the relationship between finite        decimals and whole numbers (i.e., a finite decimal multiplied by        an appropriate power of 10 is a whole number), to understand and        explain the procedures for multiplying and dividing decimals. Grade 7: In grade 4, students used equivalent fractions        to determine the decimal representations of fractions that they        could represent with terminating decimals. Students now use        division to express any fraction as a decimal, including        fractions that they must represent with infinite decimals. They        find this method useful when working with proportions,        especially those involving percents

(Curriculum Focal Points are available      from NCTM for a fee, however you can get them for free here)
Here is what the National Research Council had to say      about this issue in it’s Adding It Up influential book:

“Perhaps the deepest translation problem in pre-K to        grade 8 mathematics concerns the translation between fractional        and decimal representations of rational numbers.” (p. 101, Box        3-9)
“An important part of learning about rational numbers is        developing a clear sense of what they are. Children need to        learn that rational numbers are numbers in the same way that        whole numbers are numbers. For children to use rational numbers        to solve problems, they need to learn that the same rational        number may be represented in different ways, as a fraction, a        decimal, or a percent. Fraction concepts and representations        need to be related to those of division, measurement, and ratio.        Decimal and fractional representations need to be            connected and understood. Building these connections takes            extensive experience with rational numbers over a            substantial period of time.” (p. 415, emphasis        added)

(Adding It Up is here.      If you register you can download the book rather than read it      online)
And here is what the National Math Advisory Panel said on      this issue in its final report:

Table 2: Benchmarks for the Critical Foundations        (p. 20)          … Fluency With Fractions         1) By the end of Grade 4, students should be able to identify        and represent fractions and decimals, and compare them on a        number line or with other common representations of fractions        and decimals.         2) By the end of Grade 5, students should be proficient with        comparing fractions and decimals and common percent, and with        the addition and subtraction of fractions and decimals.

The NMAP final report can be found here.
All these important and widely acclaimed documents (by both sides)      are quite clear that conversion between fractional representation      is a critical component of mathematical fluency in K-8, that it      takes time to develop, and that developing it  should seriously      start by grade 4.

Arguing that a single grade 7 standard, which  only tangentially and partially addresses this critical fluency,  is sufficient as “coverage” is disingenuous, to put it mildly.
-Ze’ev Wurman

Thanks, Dixie.

Still wondering about a few basic questions that Judy Park says she will not answer. These are simple! Who will answer them?

1.Where’s the evidence that the standards are legitimized by empirical study– that they have helped, not hurt, kids who’ve been the guinea pigs on Common Core?
2.Where’s the study showing that lessening classic literature helps students?
3.Where’s the study showing that not teaching kids how to convert fractions to decimals helps students?
4.Upon what academic studies are we basing the claims that the common core standards are academically legitimate?
5.What parent or teacher in his/her right mind would approve giving away local control to have standards written in D.C. by the NGA/CCSSO?

–Am I being unreasonable here, or is Judy Park? These are our children. These are our tax dollars. Is it too much to ask to see a legitimate foundation for altering the standards so dramatically?

Christel,

I can’t answer any of your questions with research data — because I don’t have such data — but I can answer your questions as a teacher and administrator in the Public Education System for 26 years and a mother of 4 and a grandmother of 11 (some of which have been in public school and some in private school and some in home school) and a State School Board Member of 11 years.

1. There is no empirical study of the Common Core Standards — rather they have been vetted by college professors in our state and others, specialists at our State Office of Education and others throughout the nation, other specialists outside the educational community, and patrons, parents and teachers around our state who had a voice in the approval of the Core Standards and their recommendations before they were completely adopted by our State Board of Education some 2 1/2 years ago.

2. There is no study that shows we should lessen the study of classic literature, but there are endless recommendations from universities and the job creators of our nation that our students need to learn to read informational text, as well as classic literature. So my hope is that our students are getting a mix of both, but believe that we need to insure that students can read informational text and understand what it says.

3. There is no study that says that converting decimals to fractions and visa versa isn’t an important part of mathematical study. However, there is a great understanding in the educational field that if we don’t start teaching algebraic and geometric understanding early in public education and expect all students to understand these mathematical facts, as well as fractions and decimals, that we will have students who cannot make it through the mathematical courses necessary to graduate from high school and be ready to go to college. As a high school principal, I had 300 students move into Uintah High from 9th grade that had to take remedial mathematics classes, because they had not passed Pre-algebra. All students need to understand basic algebra and geometric calculations.

4. We have based our faith in the Core Standards, based upon the specialists that created them and support their validity in the educational programs for students. I believe after a couple of years of getting these standards to students, that we are seeing improvement in a deeper set of abilities to process information both in mathematics and English/Language Arts. (Of course my proof are my own grandchildren and what teachers share with me.)

5. Local Teachers and parents don’t know everything about what is quality education — and we did not give away the standards to the federal government or Washington, D.C. — we asked experts in the field, at both the national and states levels of instruction to help develop standards that would help all students be Career and College Ready. The world has changed since we were educated and our students need to know different skills to succeed in the new world of technology and world wide companies.

I am so sorry that you feel so strongly about this issue that you have created such turmoil in our state. We are truly trying to do what is best for our students and if you can pinpoint any Core Standard that you feel is problematic or doesn’t help our students be prepared for college or work, please let me know and I will take it to the experts to see what they think and if they agree we will change the standard.

However, I do not plan to throw out the Common Core, as long as I am a State School Board member, because I believe it is a step in the right direction. I will, however, help correct and update any Standard that we feel needs to be revised.

Dixie

State School Board This Week To Determine Citizen Privacy   3 comments

    Okay, this is a big one.  A dangerous one.

This week, the Utah State School Board will meet to discuss whether or not to change state FERPA policy.

Once Utah changes this policy, it will be next to impossible to get the privacy laws put back in place.  And it affects every student and his/her family’s household information.

Please call or write the board and demand that they NOT change our protective state FERPA policy to match the new, questionably legal, federal FERPA regulatory changes.

Why do I say “questionably legal federal changes?”

Congress made the original FERPA law many years ago to protect citizen privacy.  But recently, the Department of Education overstepped its authority in making regulatory changes to FERPA.  Regulations are not as binding as law. But the regulatory changes are being seen by some as federal mandates.

   Federal Secretary of Education Arne Duncan

Meanwhile, the Department of Education’s actions have been so shockingly unacceptable to some (including me) that the Department of Education has been sued.  Yes, sued.  The lawsuit was brought by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), and it’s in full gear, with an undetermined outcome.  If EPIC wins, the Dept. of Education will have to repeal its regulatory changes to federal protective FERPA law.

Why does anyone want to REMOVE parental consent over student privacy?

They want to make the government more powerful than parents for “research-based” reasons, they say.

They want the government to be able to study our data without interference or permission. And they assure us that this power will never be misused.  Hmmm.

Last month at the State School Board Meeting the changes relevant to  Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s new regulations of FERPA were discussed.
  Larry Shumway, Director of State School Board/ Superintendent
The State School Board decided to table the issue until this month as they wanted to review information on it.  Our Wasatch Superintendent was at the State School Board testifying about our local FERPA policy.  Wasatch local school board had changed our policy so that it had no protection in the spring, but thanks to great participation of emails from many citizens, the policy was changed again and strengthened.  Thanks to Renee Braddy for gathering information, teaching citizens and leading this charge.
Since that time, people who have talked directly to the US Department of Ed, verifying the fact that the new FERPA policy does not protect, but in fact loosens, the restrictions so more data can be collected without our knowledge.  If you would like to learn more about it directly from the US Dept. of Ed.  You can call this number and ask for Ellen Campbell in their FERPA policy division. 1-800-872-5327.
What we need to do now is to write the State School Board Members and ask them to leave our current State FERPA policy in place.  We have a good State Policy.  PLEASE NOTE – the new federal policy is VOLUNTARY.
You will be told that it is not, but you can verify that for yourself by calling the number above.  Superintendent Larry Shumway responded in an email to Renee Braddy that it was truly voluntary.  James Judd, Student Service Director, Wasatch County, stated publicy that indeed this policy does loosen the protections.
Be firm but polite. Remember that emails that are too long don’t get read:)
STATE SCHOOL BOARD –Board@schools.utah.gov  This will reach every member of the school board.
Another interesting point to note is that John Brandt, the technology director for all Utah schools and director of the inter-agency Utah Data Alliance, is a federal government worker and NGO officer via his membership in NCEE and his chair position on the Council of Chief State School Officers.  He is a man who feels great about Utah sharing data with the feds.  And he doesn’t answer emails on the subject. Ever.
Additional Research about FERPA- put together by Renee Braddy:

FERPA stands for “Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act” (20 U.S.C. 1232g (US Code)

It was originally put into law in 1974 at the federal level to limit the amount of children’s personally identifiable information that could be given without parental consent.

(Legislative History of Major FERPA Provisions)

There are federal and state FERPA laws, as well as district FERPA policies.   In 2011, the US Dept. of Education created a new FERPA regulation that went into effect Jan. 3, 2012.  Regulations are usually created by non-elected departments and therefore DO NOT pass through congress, but in essence they are observed the same as law.

The US Dept. of Education created this new regulation (34 CFR Part 99) which significantly broadens the definition of “personally identifiable information” as well as the term “authorized representatives”.

According to the regulation, “personally identifiable information” includes:

The term includes, but is not limited to—

(a)  The student’s name;

(b)  The name of the student’s parent or other family members;

(c)  The address of the student or student’s family;

(d)  A personal identifier, such as the student’s social security number, student number, or biometric record;

(e)  Other indirect identifiers, such as the student’s date of birth, place of birth, and mother’s maiden name;

(f)  Other information that, alone or in combination, is linked or linkable to a specific student that would allow a reasonable person in the school community, who does not have personal knowledge of the relevant circumstances, to identify the student with reasonable certainty; or 

(g) Information requested by a person who the educational agency or institution reasonably believes knows the identity of the student to whom the education record relates.

Wondering what in the world “biometric record” means and what is includes?

Biometric record,” as used in the definition of “personally identifiable information,” means a record of one or more measurable biological or behavioral characteristics that can be used for automated recognition of an individual. Examples include fingerprints; retina and iris patterns; voiceprints; DNA sequence; facial characteristics; and handwriting.

This allows for a collection of personal health records!

As a parent, I had to ask myself, to whom is this information being given?  The answer is found in the regulation with the definition of “Authorized representative”

Authorized representative” means any entity or individual designated by a State or local educational authority or an agency headed by an official listed in § 99.31(a)(3) to conduct – with respect to Federal- or State-supported education programs – any audit or evaluation, or any compliance or enforcement activity in connection with Federal legal requirements that relate to these programs.

So, our children’s personal information can be given to:  Pretty much anyone without parental consent.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:  FERPA FINAL REGULATIONS

http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-12-02/pdf/2011-30683.pdf

Specifically, we have modified the definition of and requirements related to ‘‘directory information’’ to clarify (1) that the right to opt out of the disclosure of directory information under FERPA does not include the right to refuse to wear, or otherwise disclose, a student identification (ID) card or badge;

http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/pdf/2012-final-regs.pdf

(6)(i) The disclosure is to organizations conducting studies for, or on behalf of, educational agencies or institutions to:

(A) Develop, validate, or administer predictive tests;

(B) Administer student aid programs; or

(C) Improve instruction.

What is predictive testing? Here’s one definition from Wikipedia.

Predictive testing is a form of genetic testing. It is also known as presymptomatic testing. These types of testing are used to detect gene mutations associated with disorders that appear after birth, often later in life. These tests can be helpful to people who have a family member with a genetic disorder, but who have no features of the disorder themselves at the time of testing. Predictive testing can identify mutations that increase a person’s risk of developing disorders with a genetic basis, such as certain types of cancer. For example, an individual with a mutation in BRCA1 has a 65% cumulative risk of breast cancer. Presymptomatic testing can determine whether a person will develop a genetic disorder, such as hemochromatosis (an iron overload disorder), before any signs or symptoms appear. The results of predictive and presymptomatic testing can provide information about a person’s risk of developing a specific disorder and help with making decisions about medical care.

Why would the federal government want to track genetic and medical information coupled with educational information in a cradle to grave longitudinal database? Why is the Gates Foundation funding biometric tracking? Why is the Gates Foundation also co-hosting the London International Eugenics Conference with Planned Parenthood and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) next month? Why would the Department of Health and Human Services under Kathleen Sebelius (responsible for the FERPA changes listed above) be offering $75 million in grants for schools to open health clinics inside their schools away from parental oversight?

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see that the federal government is in the business of control and not pure education. Why aren’t Utah leaders moving to protect Utahn’s from these overreaches of the federal government?  Gates Foundation paid nearly $20 million to the National Governor’s Association and Council of Chief State Superintendents Organization to prompt them to create Common Core. Schools will soon be the ultimate laboratories in fulfillment of Marc Tucker’s dream for creating central planning for the American workforce.

–Many people contributed to the writing of this post.

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