Archive for the ‘USOE’ Tag

Dr. Thompson to USOE: Stop Lying to Legislators; UCLA Never Validated SAGE Test   1 comment

Thompson debate sl trib

State School Board candidate Dr. Gary Thompson’s tooth-and-nail fight against the Utah State Office of Education, a fight for ethical student testing and protection of student data –a years-long, ongoing fight– was completely omitted in the Salt Lake Tribune’s report yesterday about Dr. Thompson.

The Tribune stated that school board candidate Dr. Gary Thompson refused to participate in this week’s debate because “the one-minute-or-less response time… lent itself more to sound bites than productive dialogue”.   The Tribune failed to note that Dr. Thompson has fiercely, publicly debated education ethics for years: look here for video of his recent campaign speech  which called out incumbent Crandall; here for his campaign site, here for his blog, here for his famous offer to give $10,000 for evidence of actual validity for Utah’s Common Core SAGE/AIR test; here for his television appearance on The Blaze.

Last week, Dr. Thompson was infuriated when state assessment director Jo Ellen Schaeffer told legislators that UCLA had validated Utah’s SAGE testing, at the June 14th  interim education session, stating that this showed SAGE to be a valid test.

While it is true that CRESST has an office on a UCLA campus, CRESST is not UCLA.  CRESST is not a university; it’s a government-funded “research” group partnered with AIR  (remember: AIR is Utah’s SAGE testmaking contractor).  That’s a far cry from independent validity testing; it’s more like asking the the chef’s business partners to write his restaurant’s review.

That blurring by Schaeffer is no small thing.  It seems impossible that Schaeffer would not know what independent validity testing is, as state assessment director.  Thus, she must be unconcerned with the ethics of saying that a test was independently validated, when it never was.

snow

Representative Snow followed up, asking for evidence of validity testing.  The USOE returned a memo, not a validity report.  The memo stated that Achieve, Inc., Education Next, UCLA and Florida had given evidence of the validity of SAGE.  But it wasn’t true.

Dr. Thompson pointed out that alignment with NAEP testing is not independent validity testing on the SAGE test; the SAGE has never been validated.

He said:  “Both the Utah State Board of Education and the Utah State Office of Education have a long, well documented history of providing lawmakers and parents in Utah with responses to inquiries laced with ‘lies of omission’.  This deceptive practice places public school children in Utah at high risk for continued psychometric experimentation, and profit-motivated exploitation via the hands of SAGE test designer, AIR, Inc.”

Most people read whatever the USOE posts online about “validity” (without validity report links or any footnotes, of course) and just swallow it as truth.  But Dr. Thompson and others are holding the USOE’s feet to the fire, saying that children deserve better than to be experimentation subjects for profit-motivated corporations and the power-tripping federal government.

Will enough people wake up and vote differently, or at least call or email the state school board, to make a difference?  Phone: 801-538-7500  Address:  250 East 500 South  PO Box 144200 SLC UT  Email:  stateboard@schools.utah.gov

Thompson family

Dr. Thompson’s response to the USOE’s response is here:

 

Dear Ms. Sullivan [Parent who contacted Representative Snow],

I have read the Utah State Board of Education’s memo in response to Representative Lowry Snow’s inquiry, on your behalf, about his concerns regarding the validity of the Utah SAGE test.  Here is a partial summary statement from the Board’s response informing Representative Snow, that the SAGE is indeed a valid test:

 “The validity of Utah’s Student Assessments of Growth and Excellence (SAGE) has been confirmed through a number of independent sources. The most recent studies include: (1) The National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing, UCLA (CRESST), (2) Education Next, (3) Achieve.org, (4) Independent Verification of the Psychometric Validity for the Florida Standards Assessment. Each study substantiates both the high rigor of Utah’s standards and the validity and reliability of the assessments that measures those standards.”

As cited evidence of SAGE validity, the Board references “Education Next”, and “Achieve”. org”. Per the Board’s own memo, this cited evidence discusses  “high standards and state proficiency levels” when compared to the NAEP test.   This is not related to specific inquires regarding the validity of the Utah SAGE test.  As such, a response from me will not be forth coming.

I also will not respond to the Board’s reference to the State of Florida’s Validity study.   Several months ago, the Board used this same document to substantiate Utah’s SAGE test validity.   I sent a written response to the Board, and the general public, factually rebutting this dangerously irresponsible, and inaccurate claim. 

As you and thousands of Utah parents are aware, I am still waiting for a response.   The letter sent to Board Vice Chairman, Dave Thomas, in response to his spurious claims, was referenced and published by Utahan’s Against Common Core’s Christel Swasey. Here is the link: http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/sage-validity-part-2-dr-thompson-responds/

Thus, the only item left to rebut from the Utah State Board of Education memo, is its unexplainable reliance on a yet to be published AIR-SAGE validity study, produced by the federally funded, quasi governmental, UCLA campus-based research group, CRESST.

I am going to keep this short and sweet:  

Here are five (5) questions that you, Representative Snow, the media, and voters in Utah may wish to ask Board of Education Chairman Dave Crandall during his “debate” appearance this Wednesday, June 22 at Summit Academy:

 

1.  Why did the State Board rely on the research group “CRESST” as the primary source of proof of SAGE validity, without letting parents and lawmakers know that CRESST is “funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI)”?  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Center_for_Research_on_Evaluation,_Standards,_and_Student_Testing)

2.  Utah paid $40,000,000 to AIR, Inc. (American Institute of Research) to design the SAGE test.  Were you aware that the research group CRESST, which produced the “validity study”, is supported financially by, and lists AIR as “Partners” on its own website? (http://cresst.org/partners/)   Does the Board leadership consider this to be an “independent”, and unbiased relationship?

3.  Since 2012, were the Board and the State Office of Education aware that the current Director of CRESST, Li Cai, received multiple millions of dollars of personal research grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, U.S. Department of Education, and (you can’t make this stuff up) Utah’s SAGE test designer, AIR? (http://cresst.org/wp-content/uploads/LiAbridge.pdf )  How can a Director of a research organization produce an objective and unbiased validity study on the very group that has given him substantial amounts of money for independent research?

4. Why did the State Board of Education fail to inform parents that their children were taking a yet to be validated test for the past three years?  Is not such omission a complete and blatant violation of trust?

5.  Are you aware that Board placed hundreds’ of thousands of Utah children at risk of harm, and exploitation, at the hands of a behavioral research corporation (AIR), by allowing them to experiment on children without the informed, written consent of their parents?  Are you aware that this unethical practice is also against Utah law? (https://le.utah.gov/xcode/Title53A/Chapter13/53A-13-S302.html) “Activities prohibited without prior written consent”

When the Utah State Board of Education and State Office of Education produce an independent validity study, I would be delighted to devote professional time to review it at your request.  

In the meantime, the current memo submitted to Representative Snow in support of SAGE “validity” is clearly a deliberate attempt to deceive an esteemed member of the Utah Interim Education Committee, and only serves to highlight the unethical, unconstitutional, incestuous relationship between the State of Utah, and the U.S. Federal Government.   

Both the Utah State Board of Education and the Utah State Office of Education have a long, well documented history of providing lawmakers and parents in Utah with responses to inquiries laced with “lies of omission.”   This deceptive practice places public school children in Utah at high risk for continued psychometric experimentation, and profit- motivated exploitation via the hands of SAGE test designer, AIR, Inc.   I have no desire to debate current Board Chairman Dave Crandall in a public setting, until this serious matter of continued experimentation and exploitation of our children is answered in a clear, ethical, fact based manner.

In summary, given the clear and present danger this poses to 650,000 vulnerable Utah children, it is my professional opinion that you consider asking Representative Snow to seek an independent inquiry regarding this matter via Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes.  It is my strong, evidence based, professional opinion that Utah’s education leaders at the Board of Education and State Office of Education, are more committed to adhering to the educational political “flavors of the day”, as opposed to providing Utah’s children with objective, science based solutions to serious education problems in our State.    

Please let me know if I can be of more assistance to you in the future.  Feel free to distribute this response to the general public as you deem to be appropriate under the circumstances.

Best regards;

Gary Thompson, Psy.D.

District 10 Candidate For Utah State Board of Education

www.vote4drgary.com   

 

 

Utah State School Board to Vote on Science: Effects on Local Control, Academic Freedom   3 comments

poli science

In case there were not enough fires to put out for those who value academic freedom and local control of education, this week there’s another situation for Utah patriots to address that’s as important to me as the huge ESEA debacle.

This week, the Utah State School Board will vote to pass or not to pass (but by all indications, they will pass) a disaster akin to the day they adopted the Common Core and the day they accepted the student stalking database known as State Longitudinal Database System.  It’s called an update to Utah’s Science Standards, but it’s truly the same as the Next Generation Science Standards (which are the common core for science because NGSS standards, like Common Core, are federally approved, federal-test aligned, and are controlled by a little elite group far away who will centrally manage its “truth” without representation from us.)  And some “expert” Utahns think they’re dandy.

You are invited to the public meeting.  Here are details: http://www.schools.utah.gov/board/Meetings/Agenda.aspx

Sadly, the Utah State Office of Education created a stifling, manipulative “public comment” survey which many called into question (and asked for an audit) — but that survey’s results have not even been given to the Board, according to one board member.  That survey’s problems (and the attitude of USOE in general) included these:

  • Nowhere did the survey allow a member of the public to state opposition to the fact that these standards are IDENTICAL to the NGSS common, national standards.
  • Nowhere did the survey allow a member of the public to state opposition to the fact that these standards are exactly ALIGNED with federally-approved standardized testing.  (This is probably why USOE pushed these narrowed standards so hard; federal cash follows federally-aligned standards for embedded CEDStags.)
  • Nowhere did the survey allow a member of the public to state opposition to narrowing the science survey to only 6th through 8th grades.
  • Nowhere did the survey allow a member of the public to state opposition to the politically slanted nature of a new, extreme interest in environmentalism, materialism, and “climate change”; the survey pretends that the science standards are only about science.
  • Nowhere did the survey allow space for true freedom of expression.

schoolkids

If you truly want input, you will have to contact the Board members one by one.  (The USOE, too.)

Vince Newmeyer, who has been valiantly opposing Utah’s move toward NGSS, has composed a letter to the board, one that he hoped could serve as a template for others’ letters.  Here it is.

 

October 2015 Science Draft

Letter to the Utah State Board of Education

Dear State School Board Member,

Please reject the “SEEd” standards proposed in October 2015. These standards are obsessively focused on environmental and socialissues 1 and neglect many aspects of important science. These standards also do not explore evolution in light of the latest data available but continue promoting some evolution theories that have been discredited years ago.2 Furthermore, USOE has finally admitted that these standards are based3 on the Next Generation Science Standards, the science complement to the Common Core State Standards 4. In fact, there is only one NGSS standard not represented in this October draft 5. Our April “SEEd” draft of standards was a word-for-word 6copy of the NGSS contrary to the USOE’s repeated but false assertions 7. USOE officials have also made multiple public statements8 thatUtah would not adopt national standards beyond Common Core, yet that is essentially what they are doing.

A report that was presented at the conclusion of the 90 day public review of the April 2015 draft. Though a number of aspects were reported on by the USOE, one part of the public input was conspicuously missing. Emails from the public were not reported on by USOE.9The fact that emails were received was mentioned but no measure was given as to the overall public sentiment. Now at the conclusion of the October draft we see no report at all made available to the public that indicates what the results were on the 30 day public review of the October draft. Where is the USOE accountability to the public in this process?

It is argued by some, even some professors of our Utah campuses, that there is a consensus in science; that Global Warming 10 is primarily man caused and Darwinian Evolution (the concept that you, a fish, and a turnip are all distant cousins, separated only by time and chance chemical reactions) are essentially scientific fact11. As such they claim that man caused Global Warming and Darwinian evolution should be taught in our public schools without considering scientific evidence that speaks against such notions.12 It is alleged that true scientist don’t doubt Darwin but such assertions are not supported by the data.13 Science, they say, is reserved for that which is demonstrated 14 and not for teaching beliefs, yet we find that Utah university and public school science classrooms and are filled with the teachings of belief. These proposed standards invite much more, the turning of the science classroom into a mechanism to manipulate future societal thoughts and behaviors.15

None-the-less, here in Utah we like to think that our Utah science teachers and professors only teach actual science. Unfounded myths or beliefs about, for example, our origins, are reserved for places of faith. But even now, such is not the case.16 Also, studies have shown overwhelming support that “teachers and students should have the academic freedom to discuss both the strengths and weaknesses of evolution as a scientific theory.” According to polls, 80% of likely voters are in support of such education.17

Furthermore, even with the recent “clarifications” added to the October “SEEd” draft18, the clarity is no where near the clarity of the existing standards19. This is abundantly clear to those who have taken the time to read the proposed draft and then compare it to the current standards. Yes, modeling, etc. are useful learning tools and good teachers already to do that, and other teachers can be taught about such skills.

Another point: the slight20 positive adjustments that have been made to these standards from the Utah April 2015 word-for-word copy of the NGSS performance standards, will be essentially lost as school districts and teachers select textbooks, sample lesson plans, etc, from the array of “NGSS compatible materials” bringing our classroom education right in line with the materialistic perspective of the NGSS.

You sit on the Board of Education to represent us, the Parents of Utah, and not the elitist educational thinking that is politically popular today.

Again, please reject these standards.

Sincerely,

Concerned Citizens of Utah
Visit http://www.sciencefreedom.org/articles.html for access to resources and research that will help one understand the details and issues related to these proposed standards.

The survey conducted by the USOE on the October 2015 draft, did not give one an opportunity to express an overall thumbs down to reject the whole of the proposal. What they are saying is that you are going to get this NGSS based set of standards regardless of if you like it or not, although they will allow you to provide input for possible minor modifications.

Action Item: To show our discontent we should now make comments to Board members and the State Superintendent as input to these people should be available as the vote on the standards will not be held until the 5th of December (see below for contact info)

Contacts:

The entire Utah State Board of Education Members may be reached via

board@schools.utah.gov

Individual Board Member and Contact info is here
http://schoolboard.utah.gov/board-member-bios

You can find your specific school board representative
here http://elections.utah.gov/map/district-maps

Brad C. Smith
State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Utah State Office of Education
250 East 500 South
P.O. Box 144200
Salt Lake City, UT  84114-4200

Curriculum & Instruction
Phone: (801) 538-7698

Ricky Scott
State Science Specialist
Phone: (801) 538-7808
richard.scott@school.utah.gov

David Smith
Coordinator
Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM), Elementary Math (K-6)
Phone: (801) 538-7766
david.smith@schools.utah.gov

1The largest portion of the 6th grade standards are devoted to environmental issues. See http://www.sciencefreedom.org/Issues-With-Oct-SEEd-Draft.html and also http://www.sciencefreedom.org/Oct-Utah-NGSS-Side-By-Side.html

2See standard discussion of 7.5.4 at http://www.sciencefreedom.org/Issues-With-Oct-SEEd-Draft.html see also Professor Spicer TEDx talk on the theory of recapitulation https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zzJP7QKUQ3U

3This admission from USOE was found on page 7 of the front material given to board members to introduce the October draft of the science standards. This is also documented in the footnote on the introductory page of each of the grade levels on the October draft of the standards. See http://www.sciencefreedom.org

4See paper “What? NGSS is Common Core Science???” http://www.sciencefreedom.org/NGSS-is-Common-Core-Science.html

5NGSS standard not represented in the October draft is MS-LS1-8. See http://www.sciencefreedom.org/Oct-Utah-NGSS-Side-By-Side.html for details.

6See http://www.sciencefreedom.org/Utah-NGSS-Side-By-Side.html

7See Utah Science Standards Review Meeting – May 19, 2015 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=izVPsNYB6PU#t=3m56s

8See Utah’s Deceptive Science Standards Adoption https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yQGN31POb_Y

9See http://sciencefreedom.org/USOE-Report-Reviewed.html

10Anthropomorphic or man caused global warming is questioned. Data and techniques use by researchers are challenged see JohnColeman challenges the science in new global warming study https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aq3LS4BVSA0 see also GLOBAL WARMING TEST http://www.geocraft.com/WVFossils/GlobWarmTest/start.html

11Example: Professor Tolman in the Science Standards Parent Review Committee stated that “Evolution theory is just as solidly supported by data as gravitational theory or relativity theory.” email in authors position.

12There are far too many resources which powerfully tend to falsify the Darwinian paradigm. Here are a few to start with: The Top Ten Scientific Problems with Biological and Chemical Evolution http://www.discovery.org/a/24041 and Respected Cornell geneticist rejects Darwinism http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/respected-cornell-geneticist-rejects-darwinism-in-his-recent-book/

13Educated Intelligent People Don’t Doubt Darwin Right? http://sciencefreedom.org/educated-intelligent-eople-dont-doubt-darwin.html

14The Faith that is Taught in Our Public Schools and Universities http://sciencefreedom.org/faith-taught-in-our-public-schools.html

15Not only is the unquestioned faith of materialism taught in our public schools, but with these proposed standards, based on the NGSS, there is a wide adoption of politicized content in environmentalism in addition to the evolutionary doctrine. The best examples is NGSS itself. One instance is: http://nextgenscience.org/ms-ess3-5-earth-and-human-activity . Though some will claim that a radical environmentalist temperament has been removed, really it still exist. More to the point, though there has been some minor relief in this area, the FULL NGSS will again be enthroned in our science classrooms as district curriculum specialist and teachers adopt or incorporate sample lesson plans and support material that are NGSS compliant.

16The Faith Taught in our Public Schools http://sciencefreedom.org/faith-taught-in-our-public-schools.html

17Zogby Poll: 80% of likely voters agree that “teachers and students should have the academic freedom to discuss both the strengths and weaknesses of evolution as a scientific theory” http://www.evolutionnews.org/2009/02/poll_shatters_stereotypes_with016931.html

18October “SEEd” draft can be found here for grades 6-8 http://www.schools.utah.gov/CURR/science/Revision/SEEdStandardsDraft.aspx

19Existing standards can be found at http://www.schools.utah.gov/CURR/science/Core/Grade36.aspx and http://www.schools.utah.gov/CURR/science/Core/Grade78.aspx

20List of changes to October draft http://sciencefreedom.org/short-summary-of-changes-april-october-2015-utah-seed.html

——————————————————————————————————————————

Vince Newmeyer suggests viewing the following videos to further understand the NGSS – Utah Science alteration situation.

 

  1. “Do Human Embryos Have Gills and Does it Matter?”

2.   News Report on Global Warming Not Being True Science

3.   Utah Board Minutes on Science Standards Adoption

4.  Public Comment Meeting on the Utah Adopting NGSS-Aligned Standards  (2015)

 

Please Audit Utah State Office of Education’s Public Comment Survey   4 comments

After everything scientist and patriot Vince Newmeyer has written, after everything that people in other states have said and done (and sued about) concerning the INSANE  error of adopting national, common science standards; after all the parental uproar here in Utah, still, the USOE is still moving ahead with its bullheaded determination to strip Utah of any local control and align everything we do to federal standards. I am convinced that this is simply because of USOE’s passionate devotion to money –not to children, teachers or education– but to continued federal grant eligibilty.  There is no other logical explanation.
Today is the last day that you can make public comment on Utah’s move to “Utah Science Standards” –standards which are, in fact, national common standards also known as NGSS (Next Generation Science Standards.  See the official NGSS link here.
NGSS standards are beloved of the Obama administration (Obama launched a global warming education initiative recently).   NGSS are politicized and controversial, which Utah’s previous standards were not.  NGSS have been called the anti-science science standards because they minimize the scientific habit of actually questioning settled science, while maximizing “climate change” evangelism as presented by the left wing.
If Utah teachers and parents really wanted common NGSS standards, I would have to put a sock in my mouth and go away.  But the Utah Office of Education (USOE) has underhandedly presented these standards, refusing to admit that they are NGSS (by changing one word here or there) and by calling them “Utah Science Standards”.
The public comment site is RIDICULOUS.  I encourage you to go there tonight and spout off, but beware; they’ve made it hard.  They have almost made it impossible.
Click to make public comment here.  (Deadline today)
Hence my letter today, sent to the auditing department, asking them to sock it to USOE for their dishonesty and sellout of our schools and kids and real science.   Here’s the board’s email address if you feel so inclined to take a stand next to me on this issue.    board@schools.utah.gov    
—————————–
Dear Audit Department of USOE and State Board,
I am writing to ask you to audit the USOE’s public comment survey about the new NGSS/Utah Science standards.
These “standards” are being called “Utah Science Standards” but they are in reality the same as the NGSS, common national science standards.  This fact has been concealed by USOE in its presentations to the public, unfortunately, but it is true.
Today is the last day that the public is invited to comment.
I am certain that very, very few people have commented.    It severely restricts and frames comments.  The micromanaging nature of the survey, which is a narrow, opinion-managing effort, does not allow for true public comment on the entire scope, process, nature and academic quality of the proposed standards.
It limits commenters to specific strands of specific grades and even limits the space for commenting itself!  What if I was a science teacher who wanted to explain in scientific, pedagogic detail, why it’s so wrong to take out most of what we used to teach kids about electricity, for example?  That has happened.  But there’s no space for it on the survey.
But there is more.
  • Nowhere does the survey allow a member of the public to state opposition to the fact that these standards are IDENTICAL to the NGSS common, national standards.
  • Nowhere does the survey allow a member of the public to state opposition to the fact that these standards are exactly ALIGNED with federally-approved standardized testing.  (This is probably why USOE pushed these narrowed standards so hard; federal cash follows federally-aligned standards for embedded CEDS tags.)
  • Nowhere does the survey allow a member of the public to state opposition to narrowing the science survey to only 6th through 8th grades.
  • Nowhere does the survey allow a member of the public to state opposition to the politically slanted nature of a new, extreme interest in environmentalism, materialism, and “climate change”; the survey pretends that the science standards are only about science.
  • Nowhere does the survey allow space for true freedom of expression.
I could go on.
It feels as if this survey was deliberately written to constrain the public to NOT say what they may want to say; as if the survey-data-tally officers wanted to be able to throw out any comments that did brought up the controversies that the creators didn’t want to discuss.
This is certainly an auditing issue.
Millions of dollars will be spent by USOE and the school system to replace Utah’s previous science curricula.  Millions will go to “trainings” for teachers to alter our traditional, time-tested science pedagogy to make it match the new, NGSS, national-federal standards.
Money will be spent (wasted) not just in an excited, misguided grab for the latest and the best, but in a sickeningly politicized, even anti-God, materialism-belief-based, green-evangelized “science” that the USOE pretends is not NGSS.
The dishonest presentation of the 6th to 8th grade science standards to the public as if they were not NGSS is an issue for an audit.  Does honesty matter, or not?
The money that will be spent bases in part on this very survey, will be taken from taxpayers to put Utah on the federally aligned (unconstitutional) curriculum for politicized science, which is an issue for an audit.
For almost four years, many of us (including teachers, like me) have been carefully, sadly following the  activities of the USOE as it has, time and time again, sold out what’s best for Utah’s children, teachers, and future autonomy, for money.  For grant upon grant upon federal grant.
It is sickening.  NGSS alignment is more of the same.
Please audit this public comment survey and let’s insist that USOE be honest.  Have a public comment survey that actually invites full commentary on all aspects of this transformation of our schools.
Audit this survey, and strike it.  Have an honest look at NGSS and ask the public about  moving to national standards for science.
Ask the public to evaluate NGSS, and call it what it really is.  Audit whether it is even legitimate science.  It redefines the concept by dropping the classic scientific model of questioning, basing itself and its unquestionable “facts” on controversial issues with heavy political underpinnings, not on real, actual, open-minded science.
Christel Swasey

Video: Board Member Wendy Hart on Why Common Science Standards Adoption is a Bad Idea   4 comments

Wendy Hart, a member of the school board in Alpine School District, Utah’s largest district, has taken a public stand against the Utah State Office of Education’s adoption of NGSS national “Science” standards.  You can, too.

Please watch her video and share it.  When we don’t tell legislators or other elected officials how we feel, the USOE feels justified in assuming it’s fine with us.

This is not fine.

You have less than a week to leave a big “NO THANKS” in the public comment area on the USOE website, herehttp://www.schools.utah.gov/CURR/science/Revision.aspx

Orwellian Reason Obama Said States Can “Stop Obsessing” About Tests   4 comments

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People throw around the word “Orwellian”.

What does “Orwellian” mean, and how does it relate to education –and to our current president’s latest softening commentary about high stakes testing?

George Orwell showed, in his books 1984 and Animal Farm, how tyranny looks, works, stomps on the individual and suffocates freedom.  He could have been describing Obama’s CEDS/SLDS/EdFacts data exchange in its final form.

(If you haven’t, read 1984.  Just read the first half and skip the nightmarish ending (my advice)  –that way, you’ll see why privacy matters so very, very much, why the freedom to choose the path of your own conscience matters, and why big government control of data is deadly.)

News articles now describing Obama’s supposed, new-found softness about standardized testing, remind me of the news stories put out by the central managers in the novel 1984.  The reactions of the masses remind me of 1984, too.

Some see Obama’s new testing attitude as sincere enlightenment; others think it’s a move to regain popularity among teacher’s unions and angry parents; but the reason I am sure that Obama’s softening his stance on high-stakes testing is that he does not need it in his Orwellian-style, centrally managed, Constitution-be-damned kingdom.

He does not need the tests to control the people nor to get data about them, now that he has:

Peg With Pen said it  this way:

“I keep getting texts, phone messages and emails telling me how happy folks are that Obama is now listening to us – and that Opt Out has been heard. This is heartbreaking for me – because this tells me that mainstream media has done a stellar job of co-opting Opt Out…

The next wave involves the U.S. Dept. of Ed’s recommendations for testing reduction which also comes with funds to support states in getting there. And the scariest part is this – the GROUNDWORK IS COMPLETE. The feds/corporations did exactly what they came to dothey dangled carrots. They got high stakes testing systems in place with longitudinal data bases to carry the seamless productivity of the data. They loosened privacy regulations.  They got common standards out there which are essential for easy data tagging. They pushed and pushed and pushed to support charters and alternative teacher certification. They set the groundwork for the STATES to now lead the way – and they (feds/corporations) have their people in place on school boards, schools of education, depts. of ed…

And now, they simply have commiserated with the masses and said we need to reduce testing and make sure the testing that occurs is meaningful and does not take away from classroom instruction. This is accomplished so easily. It’s called online daily computer based testing. Followed by online daily computer based instruction. Call it mastery testing. Competency based testing. Proficiency testing. Whatever you like. It will begin to fall in place very quickly as states move away from the hated interim testing and massive amounts of end of year testing. There will be less need for these large tests with quick, tidy, END OF DAY testing TIED TO STUDENT GRADES and STUDENT PROMOTION to the next grade/digital badge – whatever it may be – and of course testing which tells the teacher what the next day’s online instruction must be. It’s already happening. And now the federal gov’t. is simply nudging it into the states’ hands with a resounding message of support, an apology for overstepping their boundaries and a few bucks along the way…”

The worst part about seeing federal (Obama) or local (Senator Stephenson, Representative Poulsen) officials suddenly seeing the Opt Out light, and suddenly pooh-pooh-ing high stakes testing– is the replacement, the “new” and bigger river of data to fulfill their stated goal of “data-driven” central decision making:  it’s stealth assessment, also known as embedded assessment.

I’ve written about stealth testing before.

Stealth assessment is nonconsensual assessment, unannounced assessment and data gathering.  (Hello, consent of the governed.)

It’s testing that happens while students are simply using their technological devices for any school assignment.  And it’s being discussed right now in our Utah legislature as the solution for the ills of high-stakes testing.

What are they discussing?  Which is worse, SAGE or stealth?

Let’s make a little pros and cons list together.  (Also, see my top ten reasons to opt out if you want more detail on why SAGE opt-outs are so vital.)

CONS:  For High Stakes Standardized Testing (SAGE/PARCC/SBAC/AIR tests)

The tests rob students of real  learning by pressuring teachers to teach to the test.

They rob teachers of professional judgment by punishing and rewarding them based on test scores.

Utah’s SAGE is secretive, closed to teachers and parents.

The tests are un-valid (never having been tested).

The standards, upon which the tests are based, are un-valid (never having been tested).

The untested tests are using our children as guinea pigs without our consent.

The tests do not meet basic values for codes of ethics.

PROS:  For High Stakes Standardized Testing (SAGE/PARCC/SBAC/AIR tests)

We can opt out of the tests.

That’s it.

We can opt out of the tests; we can’t opt out of stealth testing, aka curriculum-embedded assessment.

Do you see?  The move away from standardized tests is also a move away from the parental or individual ability to opt out of the data mining assault on privacy.

Taking Utah as an example:  if Representative Marie Poulson’s committee— that was formed after her stealth assessment (anti-high stakes testing) resolution passed— decides to kick SAGE testing to the curb, the Utah legislature will follow the federal trend of pushing all the data mining further underground by using embedded assessment (stealth testing) as its replacement.

Don’t let this happen.  Talk to your representatives.  Say no to stealth/embedded testing.

 

 

 

2015 Update: US Congressman Schaffer on Marc Tucker’s “Dear Hillary” Letter   14 comments

bob s

The following is authored by former US Congressman Bob Schaffer and is posted with his permission.  In light of the fact that Marc Tucker has been invited to advise the Utah legislature on education at this week’s two day education conference, it seemed important to remember the history behind the changes that are culminating now, which Tucker and Hillary Clinton detailed in motion in the 1990s.  Thanks to Bob Schaffer for his timely update.

_________________________________________________________

Thanks Christel: 

 

I am grateful for your inquiry and certainly wish you well in your patriotic efforts in Utah.  Incidentally, your readers can find PDF files of each page of Marc Tucker’s “Dear Hillary” letter in the 1998 Congressional Record through these links: 1  2  3  4  5  6  7

 

The “Dear Hillary” letter is as relevant today as it was in 1992.  Though I doubt anyone in the halls of government much remembers the letter itself, it is the concise, clear, and intentional nature of the letter that is instructive to those of us who still find value in the idea of a constitutional republic self-governed by free and intelligent citizens.  Tucker’s sweeping 1992 blueprint for nationalizing the American public-education system is especially pertinent now because, at least since the day it was penned, it has been brilliantly executed with virtually no deviation.

 

It is instructive to note Tucker’s blueprint does not stop at nationalizing primary public education.  It entails merging nationalized primary-education goals with a nationalized higher-education system and a nationalized labor-administrative function.  Think of the 1990s doublespeak “School-to-Work” and you get an accurate picture.  School-to-Work, as you know, was the apt title of the Clinton-era initiative setting the Tucker letter into actual national public policy.  More practically, think of the “Prussian-German, education-labor model” because it is the same thing.  Tucker actually says so in the letter itself:  “We propose that (President-elect) Bill take a leaf out of the German book.”

 

Truly, Tucker’s ideas are not new.  They were formalized by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, refined by Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, embedded by Hegel in the German university structure, then exported throughout the world including to virtually every “teachers college” in America.   Specific to the perpetual, anti-intellectual quest to undermine the traditions of “classical” education, Rousseau’s “social-contract” ideas (wherein individuals are understood as subordinate to state interests and royal continuity) were perfected for European classrooms by heralded social engineers such as Heinrich Pestalozzi and Friedrich Froebel.  These ideas were most powerfully applied to American classrooms by John Dewey.  Despite being deeply embedded in the curriculum of modern American teacher’s colleges, these collectivist ideals and progressive-romantic philosophies have been held in marginal abeyance by the brilliant American design of decentralized, independent, sovereign states each in charge of its own public-education system. 

 

Accordingly, this is where Tucker’s “Dear Hillary” letter earns its notorious repute.  An acolyte of the worn Rousseau-Dewey, progressive-romantic line of thinking, Tucker eloquently maps in his 1992 letter to the new First Lady a sharp and detailed political plan for mutating American primary education, secondary education, and labor policy in ways that can breach the pesky firewalls of the Tenth Amendment if not the core revolutionary ideal of federalism itself.  Hegel would have been elated.  Dewey’s, Pestalozzi’s, and Froebel’s names are already painted on the ceiling of the Library of Congress – main floor, at that.

 

Though eight years of the Clinton administration have come and gone (maybe), the tactics of the “Dear Hillary” letter roll onward.  Not a single manifestation of “Dear Hillary” policies was curtailed during the Bush presidency.  In fact, many were accelerated through “No Child Left Behind.” The Obama administration has effectuated “Dear Hillary” objectives to nearly complete fruition. 

 

As to your curiosity about why I petitioned the House of Representatives in 1998 to allow me to preserve the Tucker letter as I did, my best explanation follows.

 

After discovering, studying and digesting the transformational implications of the “Dear Hillary” letter, and concluding it carried credible political heft, I thought it important to enshrine the missive via The Congressional Record perhaps as a self-explanatory and incontrovertible marker as to whom, when, where and how the United States of America finally and completely disconnected itself from the proven ideals of classical education – the kind of education the country’s Founders received.  As a youngish, backbench first-term Member of Congress in 1998, I thought someday maybe someone working on a Master’s thesis would like to pinpoint the moment our former republic opted instead for the amply disproven, constrained and anti-intellectual objectives of formalized “training.”  Maybe my Congressional-Record entry would be of good use to an aspiring scholar or two.

 

Indeed, history is replete with examples of classical education leading to strong, powerful individuals; and formalized training leading to a strong, powerful state.  I regarded this letter as a signal of an epic American turning point.  I actually did imagine the letter would one day be regarded as an important historic document worthy of being singled out and remembered.  I maintain that belief even now, and am delighted you are among those who recognize its significance.

 

It seemed to me at the time, the “Dear Hillary” letter was the most concise, honest and transparent political document of its kind.  It reminded me of the moment Gen. George McClelland at Sharpsburg came into possession of Gen. Robert Lee’s plans for an offensive at Antietam Creek.  Here in these plans, one actually reads a credible battle strategy for overcoming American federalism.  Tucker’s war cannons were fully charged and tightly packed with progressive-romantic canister, aimed directly upon the Founder’s revolutionary idea of republican, self-government and our traditions of states’ rights.  

 

I had anticipated my colleagues in the Congress and various state-education leaders would benefit from knowing, in advance, of Tucker’s offensive strategy especially as his battle plan was specifically addressed to, and received by, the occupants of the White House.  The last thing I ever imagined at the time (and I am heartbroken to realize it now), is how political leaders in the several states have stood indolently for it.  Never did I picture the baleful scene we are witnessing today – state leaders themselves dutifully lowering Tucker’s linstock to the touch hole of statism.

 

At least for the past couple of decades, the vast majority of elected leaders in both political parties have clearly – if not enthusiastically – worked to outdo one another in applying Rousseau-Hegel-Dewey ideas to public education.  They offer little, if any, impressive resistance to policies, laws, rules, and mandates relegating American education to a job-training enterprise despite the prescient warnings of Albert Jay Nock, E.D. Hirsch, Tracy Lee Simmons and others who have underscored the crucial difference between classical education and anti-intellectual training.  As such, Tucker’s letter and goals, though overtly political, cannot be fairly regarded as a partisan.  No, the epic transformation of American culture and national character is being achieved rather quickly due to an overwhelming advantage of spectacular bipartisan cooperation. 

 

Henceforward, when intelligent people scratch their heads and wonder how it was that the citizens of the United State of America inexplicably stood by and unwittingly participated in the systematic demise of their blessed republic, at least they’ll find one comprehensive and compelling explanation, assuming it survives the censors’ notice, in The Congressional Record on September 25, 1998.

 

Thank you for finding me, reaching out to me, and granting me an opportunity to underscore the perilous certainties of the country’s education system.

 

Very truly yours,

Bob Schaffer

 

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On a related note, I invite the officials who will be participating in so-called “guided” discussions at this week’s conference to truly arm themselves against the manipulative “delphi technique” that is used to force consensus, as outlined by Jenny Hatch here.

 

Tucker, a Top Ten Scariest Ed Reformer, to Lecture at Legislator-USOE Conference   11 comments

 

I’m surely sprouting new gray hairs at 80 miles per hour.

If there was doubt about whether something was truly rotten in the state of education governance here in sweet, naiive Utah, this news should end that doubt: of all the possible gurus, this is who our legislators, USOE and state school board have invited as the out-of-town centerpiece for a joint education conference taking place this Wednesday and Thursday.

tucker

 

Marc Tucker.

You may recall that he’s on the Top Ten List of Scariest People in Education Reform.

He’s the espouser of no more Algebra II in our high schools, the dismisser of classic literature as not so relevant, a disciple of federal power, a conspirator with Hillary Clinton for cradle-to-grave student-citizen micromanagement, and the top crusader against what he calls “the beloved American emblem: local control” –he’s the one.

The  conference is for Utah’s State Board of Education, State Office of Education, and legislators, but it’s open to the public and will be streamed.

If you can attend, it’s  on September 2 and 3, at Gilbert Great Hall, R. Haze Hunter Conference Center, Southern Utah University, Cedar City, Utah.

 

banner-hunterconferencecenter

 

If you don’t know who Marc Tucker is, learn a little bit more.

Marc Tucker is– unbelievable as it may seem– an open advocate for the complete deletion of local control.   You read it right. This is a direct quote  from Tucker:

 The United States will have to largely  abandon the beloved emblem of American education: local control. If the goal is  to greatly increase the capacity and authority of the state education agencies,  much of the new authority will have to come at the expense of local  control.

Marc Tucker also despises what is –or was– real education, in favor of the robotic efficiency  of cradle-to-grave federal micromanagement of systems.  He wrote the unbelievable NCEE report that advocates for the removal of Algebra II –and any math beyond it from high schools, that also labeled classic literature and student personal writing “less relevant” and dismissable.  If this sounds like impossible, deliberate dumbing down, you have not read Tucker’s reasoning, which envisions a socialist’s factory view of school: a place to create economy-centered worker bees, to generate a collective; not a place to “waste” resources for soaring and free thinkers.  He’s all about efficiency at the expense of individual freedom.

Marc Tucker’s BFF relationship with the creepiest lady in D.C., Hillary Clinton,  is notable.  It is a decades-long collaboration that, back in the 90s, envisioned US education with all federal control rather than any local control. That collaboration was recorded in the Congressional public record.  Tucker and Clinton outlined the entire Common Core/Common Data movement, but used different terminology.  Read that in full sometime.

Marc Tucker’s shameful, anti-freedom philosophies have been repeatedly, successfully put to pasture by great thinkers and scholars– for example, very clearly, by Dr. Yong Zhao.  Dr. Zhao should have been invited to advise Utah this week, not Tucker!

If you want to know more, I’ve written many articles about Marc Tucker.  He’s bad news.  Read my archive on Tucker at this link.

I really can’t believe he’s coming.

What are your thoughts?  Is this okay?

haze

–If he were invited to the university for a two-sided debate, fine!

–If his visit was a University lecture, some attempt by the dean to expose students to radical ideas from extreme ends of a spectrum, fine!

But this is not a university lecture.

It’s a joint legislative – school board – USOE meeting, which just happens to be taking place at SUU.  It could have been at any venue.

No one is slated to debate him.

Marc “end-local-control” Tucker is the only out of town speaker coming to this conference to address the Utah legislature and the Utah State Office and School Board.  He was hand selected for the at-taxpayer-expense conference –as someone to look to for advice.

That decision says more about the state of education politics in Utah than anything more I could write tonight.

tuc

 

 

 

USOE Letter Tells State Board All is Well, All is Well in Special Ed   4 comments

Below are two letters.  The first one is my response to the second, so you might want to skim the second one first.  But the second one is written in the style that George Orwell warned us about– “like a cuttlefish squirting out ink… (the great enemy of clear language is sincerity).”
That one, in essence, has the head of the Utah State Office of Education’s Special Education department telling the rest of the bureaucracy that the new No Child Left Behind reauthorization ruling from Secretary of Education Duncan won’t in any way hurt anyone in Utah; in fact, Duncan’s ruling doesn’t even affect Utah students, she says!  It’s her complete handwaving away of the rule itself, as well as an admission that it’s okay with her that our rights as parents and teachers in Utah are going away.  It’ s not keeping her up at night.
My letter says that Duncan’s rule for NCLB and his snipping away of the last vestiges of state authority over special education IS keeping me up at night.
(If you didn’t already read why, that’s here.)
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Dear Glenna Gallo and Utah State School Board,
I have read a letter that was sent out to the USOE/USSB concerning Secretary Duncan’s “final rule”  concerning the end of state authority over special education that Duncan plans to take effect nationally September 15th.  [Pasted in full after this letter]
Here is a direct quote from your office:
“The recent regulation changes taking effect in September do not impact Utah students at all.”
I am stunned at this quote. I have read the Department of Education’s directive.  It certainly applies to every state if the unconstitutionally acting Secretary Duncan is to be taken seriously.
Here is the link.
http://www.noticeandcomment.com/Improving-the-Academic-Achievement-of-the-Disadvantaged-Assistance-to-States-for-the-Education-of-Children-fn-292468.aspx
Its summary states that the rule will “no longer authorize a State to define modified academic achievement standards and develop alternate assessments based on those modified academic achievement standards….”
Further down, the page promotes the idea that forcing the same curriculum (Common Core Curriculum aka College and Career Ready) –on all students, without differentiation for special education students, is a good idea:
“Including students with disabilities in more accessible general assessments aligned to college- and career-ready standards [Common Core] promotes high expectations for students with disabilities, ensures that they will have access to grade-level content, and supports high-quality instruction designed to enable students with disabilities to be involved in, and make progress in, the general education curriculum—that is, the same curriculum as for nondisabled students.”
How can the USOE claim that this will not affect Utah students?
There are two major battles to be fought here.  One is the battle for the children themselves, whose best interests are no longer to be determined (for testing nor for curriculum or standards) by their loving parents and teachers, but by the feds.  This is clearly not limited to testing, but to standards and curriculum as well.
The other is the fight for our local right to direct the affairs of our children’s lives as we see fit: the fight to defend the application of the Constitution in our daily lives.
By continuing to hold hands with the Dept. of Education, rather than to stand up against this takeover of our rights, the USOE and School Board and Governor are complicit with Secretary Duncan’s federalization of special education in Utah. 
Utah’s government (USOE/USSB) is freely giving away what is not theirs to give:  the people’s voice, the people’s power, the people’s authority over the lives and programs of their own children.  By not saying no, you have said yes.
I take this very, very seriously.  The power to make decisions for our children’s lives and any programs by which our children are molded –and from which few have any alternative pathways– is a Constitutional, sacred birthright in America.
You who are elected (or paid) to be the guardians of Utah’s public education system have a duty to be a voice  for US, to represent We, the People, We, the teachers, and We, the Students. 
By not saying no, and by sending out letters like this one, you are representing Secretary Duncan to us, rather than us to Secretary Duncan.  That is not right.
I implore you to open your eyes to see the lies of Secretary Duncan.  The title itself is a complete deception: “Improving the Academic Achievement of the Disadvantaged; Assistance to States for the Education of Children with Disabilities,” –while the text of the rule states, “to no longer authorize a state to determine. Does that title match that text? Assistance equals dictatorship?  Improvement equals dictatorship? 
It is ironic that the ESEA reauthorization was sold to Congress as a reduction in the federal educational footprint.  That was another sheer lie that should be obvious to everyone now.
I cannot stomach the ongoing tolerance of Utah’s educational leadership, that passes along, rather than stops, the bullying that flows from the Department of Education. Why has Utah’s education board and office been so willing to relinquish her own authority in these matters? 
It is time for those who have a conscience to take a stand.  Make a statement even if you cannot alter the course; take the public stand so that we know who is on what side of this fight over our children and our freedoms.
I suggest that you do something more than pass along dictator-like directives from Duncan to Utah’s districts. 
I would start by sending Secretary Duncan a letter of reprimand for attempting to assert such falsely gotten, pretended authority over us and over our children.  Perhaps our D.C. representatives will cosign.
We don’t get a second chance.  Failure to say no to this “final rule” means we lose this autonomy forever. 
Christel Swasey
Utah Teacher and Mother
Pleasant Grove
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Here is the letter/email referenced above, that went out today or yesterday from Utah’s Special Education Director at USOE to the State Board and USOE:
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Dear USOE Leadership and Utah State Board of Education,
In case you have been receiving concerned emails and phone calls regarding recent USDOE regulation changes taking effect September 15th that impact statewide assessments, here is some additional information, beyond that already provided by Superintendent Smith and Asst. Superintendent Nye (below).
ESEA used to allow states to create an additional state assessment, beyond the regular state assessment (in Utah, the SAGE) and the 1% assessment (in Utah, the DLM for math and ELA and UAA for science).  That additional assessment was referred to as the 2% assessment.  In other words, the SAGE would be used for 97% of students with disabilities, with the students with the most significant disabilities taking the 1% assessment, and 2% of students with significant disabilities (but who do not qualify for the 1% assessment) taking the 2% assessment.  Although the 2% option was removed in 2013 for states applying for an ESEA waiver, this did not impact Utah, as we have never had a 2% assessment, nor were there plans to develop one.  The recent regulation changes taking effect in September do not impact Utah students at all.
There is some misinformation on how students with disabilities participate in the appropriate statewide assessment.  Students with disabilities may participate in the 1% assessment (DLM and UAA) if the IEP team determines that they should not access grade level standards, and require instruction aligned to the Essential Elements (EEs) (alternate core standards).  You can find those EEs athttp://www.schools.utah.gov/sars/Instruction.aspx and more information about the DLM and UAA athttp://www.schools.utah.gov/sars/Assessment.aspx.
 
Students with disabilities who do not receive instruction in the EEs receive instruction aligned to grade-level state standards, and as such participate in the SAGE, with the provision of appropriate IEP team-determined accommodations and/or modifications.   Special education is in place, and there are no planned changes to remove special education services or accommodations.  However, special education services are intended to supplement grade level general education instruction, not replace it, UNLESS the student is learning under the EE standards (again, students with most significant disabilities).   You can find more information about assessment participation for students with disabilities at http://www.schools.utah.gov/sars/Assessment/AccommodationPolicy.aspx.
 
Please let me know if you have any concerns or questions.
Glenna
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Threatening Academic Freedom and Scientific Truth: Last Chance Public Meeting with USOE on Nationalized Science Standards   2 comments

 

american mom field

How Do the Common Core Science Standards Threaten Academic Freedom and Scientific Truth?

(This information is provided by Vince Newmeyer, a scientist and member of Utah’s science standards review committee.)

Please Attend:  Salt Lake Meetings Tuesday, May 19th, 2015

Issues of controversy range from:

  • Politicized presentation of Global Warming and Environmentalism
  • Darwinian Dogma

o    The lack of an objective view of data

o    The indoctrination of a materialistic mantra, which excludes any data or logic that indicates that there is anything more than simply Matter and Energy as an explanation of human origins.

o    This enthroned materialistic view has a devastating affect on the morals of society as a whole.

  • Instances of bad science
  • Missing and “implicit” content
  • Artificial limits on learning
  • The failure to include essential math critical to science learning
  • Lack of depth in critical topics
  • Missing science foundations
  • The watering down of science with social issues
  • The failure to evaluate the whole of the NGSS and only looking at grades 6-8
  • The presentation to the public of only selected material, and not the full body of material that will be presented to our teachers
  • Submitting to a National Standard can bring Federal consequences if we should add to or deviate from those set standards in the future

 

I feel we would be selecting a substandard and politicized science program unfit for what the parents of Utah would really want for their public school students.

Students of Utah Families should be free to hear the full breadth of scientific evidence. Science teachers should not be shackled to sterilized arguments and filtered scientific facts, as we find in the NGSS standards, simply because other data points to what has become politically unpopular conclusions.  I firmly believe that we should not accept the substandard NGSS being proposed for our Utah students. We can do better!  – Vince Newmeyer

 

The Utah State Office of Education promised to never adopt national science standards, but that is exactly what they are doing. Watch this short video.  Ask yourself why the state was so determined not to adopt a nationalized set of science standards then, but are doing it now.  What changed?  Please share it with your legislators and state board member.

http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/utahs-deceptive-science-standards-adoption/
Salt Lake City – Tuesday May 19th

5:00 – 6:30 PM The PRE-MEETING – organized by parents

Day-Riverside Branch
Salt Lake City Public Library
1575 West 1000 North
Salt Lake City, UT 84116
7:00 PM- USOE meeting – official USOE meeting

Salt Lake Center for Science Education Media Center

1400 Goodwin Ave.

Salt Lake City Utah, UT 84116

Please Attend these Salt Lake Meetings Tuesday, May 19th, 2015

 

 

See also:

  • Updates at ScienceFreedom.org
  • Open letter from another member of the parent science review committee:   https://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com/2015/04/30/open-letter-from-alisa-ellis-usoe-deliberately-withholding-actual-science-standards-from-public-scrutiny/
  • Kansas Parents suing Kansas Board over NGSS science standards  http://www.copeinc.org/science-readings.html      (Notice that the newspapers deride this parental group as an” anti-evolution” group; but the parents themselves call their group Citizens for Objective Public Education.  The parents are clamoring for actual science,  for open mindedness that includes the possibility of intelligent design in this universe.  It’s a very important word game that’s being played.  Which side is really for or against academic open dialogue, scientific freedom, true debate, and an open mind?  Which side is really pushing a one sided dogma and subjective, controlled learning?  Study it carefully.)

 

Utah State Office of Education Lies to Legislature and Board about National Common Science Standards Adoption   3 comments

You can’t just watch this; you have to act:  email your legislators and school board members and members of the media.

One dog barking does not wake up a town.  Ten thousand barking dogs will.

This short, seven minute video is a powerful documentation that uses the actual voices from recorded audio and video from legislative meetings and school board retreats that show the trail of promises broken and the belittling and bullying happening to our legislators, parents, and teachers by the Utah State Office of Education.

  • You will hear the USOE curriculum director promising an elected school board that Utah will never adopt national common science standards.
  • You will hear the USOE superintendent promising the Utah legislature that Utah will never adopt national common science standards.
  • You will hear the USOE representative justifying the adoption of the common science standards and their hiding of the true science standards, giving parents a watered down, fake version –even during the time that USOE has an official “public comment” period happening— with the excuse that parents would find the standards “overwhelming”.

 

Please watch and share.

Open Letter from Alisa Ellis: USOE Deliberately Withholding Actual Science Standards from Public Scrutiny   1 comment

alisa

 

Alisa Ellis, parent member of Utah’s Science Standards Review Committee, is calling for an immediate stop to:

 

1- the USOE’s public comment survey –because USOE has only allowed the public and the parent review committee to see a sterilized, watered down version, rather than a true, full version of the common science standards and appendices that teachers will be using– yet USOE is asking the public to comment in this blind manner;

2- the USOE’s statewide tour, aimed to give parents the impression that they have been given full disclosure of the new science standards.  Since the science standards that the public is being shown, upon which the public has been asked to comment, are not the same as the standards that teachers are to be using, nor  the same as the standards upon which the parent review committee was asked to work, this tour to present the standards is at best, partially truthful and at worst, a deliberate deception.)

Here’s Alisa’s  letter to the state school board:

 

Board Members,

 

The public comment period of the proposed science standards needs to stop immediately and be restarted with the correct document.  Mr. Scott admitted on Tuesday night that the teachers will not be presented with the draft of standards that the public is being asked to review but with the full version from Achieve’s Next Generation Science Standards.  I don’t believe this review falls within the provisions of the law.  The law does not say, “present the public with the watered down version because it would be “too overwhelming” for them to see the full version”.  This is what was suggested was the reason for not presenting the public with the full version.

 

The NGSS have many things included besides simply the performance expectations.  The full version has clarification statements, assessment boundaries; the full NRC framework with all the cross-walking to the Common Core standards and appendices.  It is my right as a parent and citizen to be shown exactly what will be taught to my children..  This is both according to federal law and state law.

 

Therefore it is my recommendation that the public review period ceases immediately.  It is apparent that the power structure is willing to do whatever it takes to push forth their agenda so I would also recommend starting fresh with a new writing and lead team.

 

Also, board member Dixie Allen claimed at the meeting in Vernal that the standards committee knew all along that the Next Generation Science Standards were being used.  Mr. Scott also claimed that the draft given to the parent review committee, of which I am a member, was presented with a draft that cited the NGSS and NRC framework.  This is not accurate.  I have the copy in front of me and there is no mention of the NGSS standards.  In fact, Sarah Young, at our first meeting proudly talked of all the hard work the writing team was putting into writing these “UT science standards” when in fact they were simply reorganizing the format and order of the national science standards.

 

This board has the desire to improve public relations, but with the deceptive and dishonest way things are presented I worry the gap in public trust is growing wider and wider.  Also, as the state office of ed is currently facing a lawsuit for the lack of parental involvement surrounding the adoption of Common Core it would behoove the board to put a stop to the deceptive manner information is fed to the public.

 

Also, in the Vernal meeting Mr. Scott revealed that the writing team which he renamed the “organizing team” was given 6 sets of standards to pick from.

 

  •  I am formally requesting the names and titles of the individuals that chose the sets of standards the committee was allowed to choose from.
  • I am requesting the six sets of standards offered the committee
  • I am requesting the names and titles of every member of the writing/organizing team (I asked for this last fall)
  • I am requesting all correspondence between the above requested individuals with staff and board members.

I also became aware today of an implementation guide published by ACHIEVE for the 6-8 grade standards.  Here is an excerpt:

propaganda achieve

  • Therefore, I am also formally requesting all minutes from meetings and discussions, both with board members and without, surrounding the revision of science standards.
  • There were cameras present at the December review committee meeting held at the State Capitol.  I am requesting a copy of all raw video.

As these requests will benefit the public at large, I am requesting all fees be waived and the process be expedited.  I understand that correspondence between individuals will take longer than some of the other requests, I would like to see the committee names and standards immediately while the other information is being gathered.

 

Further, there was an attempt at the meeting this week to prevent recording of the meeting which would be in direct violation of open meeting laws.  There was also an attempt to suggest committee members identities were to be kept private, which is also a direct violation of open meeting laws.  Please do everything in your power to stop this practice.

 

Thank you,

Alisa Ellis

 

 

This 7 minute video explains the deception using audio from legislative meetings and board retreats.

 

This video from the Vernal USOE science standards meeting below shows Mr. Ricky Scott of the USOE with Alisa Ellis asking questions about why the board refused to show the real standards to parents, citing “not overwhelming” parents as a reason for the lack of transparency.

 

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Please support Alisa’s call for honesty and integrity in the process of setting Utah’s academic standards.  Contact the state school board members today, asking for a full disclosure of the actual science standards to the public and an immediate ceasing of the tour and public comment survey as it stands.  Include a copy of your letter to your local school board and to your elected representatives in the legislature.  Find your senator or representative here.

And come to the upcoming Provo, Salt Lake, and Ogden meetings, if the USOE fails to listen to Alisa by halting these planned public meetings.

 

District 1: Terryl Warner
623 Anderson Avenue
Hyrum UT 84319
435.512.5241
Terryl.Warner6@gmail.com

District 2: Spencer F. Stokes
4259 Skyline Drive
Ogden, UT 84403
801.923.4908
utahboard2@gmail.com

District 3: Linda B. Hansen
5149 Village Wood Drive
West Valley City, UT 84120
801.966.5492
linda.hansen@schools.utah.gov

District 4: Dave Thomas (First Vice Chair)
7875 South 2250 East
South Weber, UT 84405
801-479-7479
dthomas@summitcounty.org

District 5: Laura Belnap
845 East 1500 South
Bountiful, UT 84010
801.699.7588
lbelnap@utahonline.org

District 6: Brittney Cummins
4601 Poseidon Drive
West Valley City, UT 840120
801.969.5712
b4cummins@gmail.com

District 7: Leslie B. Castle
2465 St. Mary’s Drive
Salt Lake City, UT 84108
801.581.9752
lesliebrookscastle@gmail.com

District 8: Jennifer A. Johnson (Second Vice Chair)
802 Winchester Street, #100
Murray, UT 84107
801.742.1616
jj@jenniferajohnson.com

District 9: Joel Wright
9102 Silver Lake Drive
Cedar Hills, UT 84062
801.426.2120
joel.wright..uted@gmail.com

District 10: Dave Crandall (Chair)
13464 Saddle Ridge Drive
Draper, UT 84020
801.232.0795
crandall@xmission.com

District 11: Jefferson Moss
1668 Aspen Circle
Saratoga Springs, UT 84045
801.916.7386
jeffersonRmoss@gmail.com

District 12: Dixie L. Allen
218 West 5250 North
Vernal, UT 84078
435.789.0534
dixieleeallen@gmail.com

District 13: C. Mark Openshaw
3329 Piute Drive
Provo, UT 84604
801.377.0790
markopenshaw@gmail.com

District 14: Mark Huntsman
435 South 700 East
Fillmore, UT 84631
435.979.4301
mhuntsman@sunrise-eng.com

District 15: Barbara Corry
1022 Cedar Knolls
Cedar City, UT 84720
435.586.3050
Barbara.corry@schools.utah.gov

Appointed Board Members:

Teresa Theurer
322 East 2280 North, #D
North Logan, UT 84341
435.753.0740
teresatheurer1@gmail.com

Marlin K. Jensen
1500 North 7900 East
Huntsville, UT 84317
801.718.0858
jensenmk@ldschurch.org

Freddie Cooper
1307 West 200 North
Clearfield, UT 84015-8601
801.773.2426
freddiecooper1@comcast.net

Kristin Elinkowski
3261 Twin Peaks Drive
Layton, UT 84040
801.941.1789
kelinkowski@msn..com

Dean Rowley
526 South 170 West
Springville, UT 84663
801. 489-6935
dbrowley@q..com

Reject Biased NGSS Science Standards May 6 in Provo   3 comments

The Vernal and St. George science standards meetings have passed, but you can still attend the Provo, North Logan, and Salt Lake City meetings.  The Utah State Office of Education (USOE) has set them up for parents and teachers to give input or to question the adoption of common, national standards for science for Utah.

Here are the remaining dates and addresses.  Please come!  You don’t have to be a scientist.  You just have to care about defending principles of academic honesty, academic freedom, and preserving our students’ right to debate and discover truth, unfettered to a politically slanted set of science standards.

Wednesday, May 6
Provo School District Office
Location: Professional Development Center
280 West 940 North
Provo, Utah 84604

Wednesday, May 13
Cache County School District Office
Location: Professional Development Center
2063 North 1200 East
North Logan, Utah 84341

Tuesday, May 19
Salt Lake Center for Science Education (SLCSE)
Location: The Media Center
1400 Goodwin Avenue
Salt Lake City, Utah 84116

For a long time, the USOE was pretending that the revisions of Utah’s science standards were not the national, common science standards, (Next-Generation Science Standards or NGSS) and were saying that these new standards were just a revision.  Now USOE admits this is actually NGSS, which is created by the same businessmen (at Achieve, Inc.) that wrote Common Core standards for English and math.  USOE is defending the upcoming adoption, a facade-dropping that might have something to do with the fact that at least two parents who served on the committee to review Utah’s science standards, Alisa Ellis and Vincent Newberg, have spoken out and have exposed Utah’s adoption of NGSS.

This week, Alisa Ellis posted the following chart, showing that Utah’s “new, revised” science core is the exact same thing as the NGSS standards, word for word, but with renumbering.  Vincent has pointed out that the NGSS standards are extremely biased and politically slanted, with “climate change” being presented over fifty times while electricity is mentioned once; with Darwinism presented as if it were settled science while life sciences like in-depth cell structure study, the human respiratory system, and other basic biology concepts being pushed aside in favor of the politicized environmental agenda.

If nobody shows up, speaks up, or posts comments at the USOE’s public comment site (only good for 90 days) then they’ll push forward with this agenda.  Please show up and speak up.

After you leave your comments at the USOE’s survey monkey, please copy and paste your comments into an email for the local and state school boards.   State email:  Board@schools.utah.gov 

ngss 1ngss 2

Alisa  Ellis also gave me permission to post her letter here, which went to the state school board.  I appreciate her insistence that Mr. Scott, the USOE and the State Board cease censoring public comment.  This censorship of the public happened when the public was asked to give comment about the English and math common standards by the Governor last year (two and a half years after Utah had adopted Common Core).

Only standards-specific comments were admitted!  This ridiculous censoring practice pretends there are no problems with national standards outside their content.  But there are two huge prongs to the pitchfork:  content, and control.  Trying to limit public comment to content-only issues just ignores the big problem of loss of local control and academic liberty.

 

Letter from Alisa Ellis:

 

State Board Members,

 

I’m writing to encourage you all to attend one of the 4 remaining science meetings that are being held around the state.  I was very disappointed to hear that not one elected official was at the meeting in St. George last week.  After one mom in attendance wrote to her local school board expressing her disappointment that they weren’t in attendance, a board member told her that they had no idea the meeting was taking place.  This is the same story we’re finding across the state.  

While it is your job to set the standards, the local boards will have to implement them.  Notice should be sent to each local board in the state inviting them to these meetings.  I already covered Uintah, Daggett and Duchesne for you.  

After enduring years of pushback by citizens that are in-part frustrated by the lack of discussion with parents prior to adoption of Common Core, I expected to see these meetings advertised far and wide to get as many people there as possible.  Each district has systems capable of calling or email every parent in the district.  Why aren’t these systems being utilized?  I sit in disbelief that I, a parent, have to ask friends to help me advertise, email local boards, get on the radio, etc to draw attendance to these meetings.  It’s unbelievable.  Please stop doing the bare minimum in advertising these events.  It doesn’t have to cost money to get the word out.

It is also reprehensible the first meeting was only announced 2 days before.  

According to the UT constitution it is the board’s job not the staff of the USOE to set standards.  That means the responsibility lies on your heads.  I’m tired of the the staff being the ones that shield the elected officials from those that elect them.  By not attending these meetings and only listening to Ricky Scott’s report, you will be getting a sanitized/ censored version of public feedback. 

Mr. Scott informed attendees that he would only be taking specific criticism and when given specific feedback he didn’t agree with, the citizens felt ignored.  I understand the desire by the staff to keep the discussion focused on specific problems with the standards, but that is not the only complaint the public has.  As elected officials you don’t get to tell us what we’re allowed to be concerned about.  While important, it leaves no room for philosophical complaints.  For instance, I see many, many problems with the specific standards but I also 100% do not agree with using a national standard, whether federal or private industry; it is not in line with my vision of education.  Children should not be standardized.

 Please take some initiative and stop the censoring of comments, unless they disparage individuals by name, or use foul language, etc.

 Alisa Ellis

 

————————————-

 

Fordham Institute rated Utah’s science standards as being higher than the NGSS.  So why is the USOE pushing so hard to adopt NGSS?

The biggest and ugliest answer may be that although Utah’s SAGE test, written by American Institutes for Research, already aligns to common core math and English, it doesn’t align with common science standards yet.  Since Utah’s  AIR/SAGE test is not (for science) yet aligned to the federally synchronized SBAC and PARCC tests, student scores cannot be understood by the overlords in their federal, common Edfacts Data Exchange lens.   So the feds are most likely pressuring the USOE to align.

The question is, will parents and teachers just be too busy; will they just roll over; will they let someone else worry about it?  Or will they stand up and say no?

Once lost, these freedoms don’t come back.

 

This video documents the deception history of the USOE and its false promises to legislators to NOT adopt nationalized science standards:

 

SAGE as Red Herring: Utah’s Stealth Assessment For Unrestrained Data Mining   16 comments

Goodbye, recognizable tests; hello, ongoing stealth assessments.

Using stealth rather than SAGE tests, states can cater to federal and corporate funders seeking metadata on children while appeasing parental and teachers’ uproar against the time wasting and anxiety of high stakes testing. Stealth (hidden) assessments  perma-test, but imperceptibly,  with assignments and activities recording data beyond the control of teachers and without supervision by parents.

Is this what Utah really wants?

Utah mom Jakell Sullivan’s deep, documented research reveals why Utah’s SAGE/Common Core test (as well as other states’ tests) are on their way out.   Parents who value their rights will want to read and share this article. 

Thank you, Jakell.

stealth eye two

 

SAGE Tests Are a Red Herring

by Jakell Sullivan

 

Utah’s Common Core Tests Entering the Next Federal Phase:   Stealth, Embedded Assessment  

What every parent should know RIGHT NOW about why we should Opt-Out of Common Core Tests AND aligned-online learning programs

 While Opt-Out of Common Core Testing campaigns are underway all around the country (and ought to be broadly supported by parents in a free society), Common Core’s testing “pilot” is coming to a close. The Federal objective was to use the pilot period of their Race to the Top Assessments Program to gather data on children, schools and districts and to train states on new technology systems—and set them up (and, yes, it was a real set-up) for what’s to come.

 

Now, Utah is ready to embrace the Next Generation of Assessments. Utah’s legislature is set to pass a bill this session to create a task force to get Utah out of SAGE testing, and a resolution to move us toward the fruition of the federal end-game.

 

What’s the federal end-game? It’s to get all states—and most importantly, all children in PK-12—using stealth, embedded assessments. These assessments are seamlessly woven into the fabric of the learning environment and are invisible to the user. Gaming companies have been using stealth assessment for quite some time, but they are relatively new to the PK-12 arena, and are now being federally funded.

 

Parents might ask, “What’s wrong with getting rid of high-stakes tests and using stealth embedded assessments that won’t stress my children out?”

 

The problem is that the federal government has colluded with global organizations who now have the power to, not only track untold amounts of data (personal information) on your children, but to use that data to control what and how your children learn through “personalized” learning platforms. And, the Feds want to assess much more than “did Johnny know how to add 2+2.” They want to measure what they call 21st Century competencies created by major multinational information technology corporations. These competencies include things like: environmental literacy (ie; does your child have the skills to understand that humans are causing climate change and that we need to solve this “real world” problem through population control?) and global citizenship (ie; does your child have the skills necessary to embrace global citizenship?). If you think this is a stretch, you haven’t gone to the Gates Foundation website lately, or heard him saying this to Germany’s largest newspaper last month, “We need a world government.”

bill united nations

So, what is the Federal Government doing with Bill Gates?

 

On May 12, 2012, IMS Global Learning Consortium and the SIF Association (the two leading organizations that create industry standards for technology) answered the U.S. Department of Education’s call to support the federal Race to the Top Assessment Program. The two organizations issued a Press Release which announced that they had created the “First Version of the Assessment Interoperabiity Frameworkto expand U.S. collaboration in interoperable assessments—globally.

 

IMS Global announced, “IMS is very pleased that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is supporting acceleration of the open architecture for educational innovation that over 270 IMS member organizations around the world have made viable,” said Dr. Rob Abel, Chief Executive of IMS Global. “Achieving 1-click, data-rich connectivity of educational tools, content and apps with institutional systems is a game-changer that is now closer to reality via this grant and the anticipated ongoing collaboration with the [Gates] Foundation.”

 

When IMS Global says they are working with Gates to achieve “1-click, data-rich connectivity”, it means that they are about to use your child’s student ID like a social security number on steroids. As one friend who’s studied the data-gathering propensities of the federal government put it, “Imagine if anytime you used the internet you could be tracked by a number that not only was linked to your personal identity, but 100s of data points about you. And that most of that information was available to any website that agreed to use the same development standards.”

stealth eye

As mentioned above, 270 IMS member organizations around the world have already agreed to use the federal industry standards, and that number is quickly growing. What tech group, or nation, wants to be left out of the “new economy” being created by Bill Gates?

 

And, Utah wanted in on the action so much that they were part of the industry standard pilot! IMS Global announced, “To develop an industry standard for accessibility and interoperability of test items, [the] U.S. Department of Education helped fund the “Accessible Portable Item Profile” project. The Minnesota Department of Education led the effort, which included the states: New Hampshire, Vermont, Utah, Montana, Florida, South Carolina, and Maryland as participants and Michigan, Massachusetts, and North Carolina as observers.” APIP “allows for the transfer of assessment content between vendors.”

 

Question: Do parents have the fundamental right to know where their children’s curriculum and test questions are coming from? Do parents have the fundamental right to know that Utah is ready to help the federal government track our children into workforce tracks like socialized countries? Think the idea of workforce tracks being used in America is ludicrous?…see the Federal/Gates Learning Registries information below in the “more” section.

 

In May 2012, IMS Global and the SIF Association said that, as they had helped the federally funded SBAC and PARCC fulfill their federal interoperability requirements, they were helping to move states away from outmoded assessments and stood ready to “personalize instruction and leverage centralized professional development resources.”

 

From information I obtained, the Utah State Office of Education and other stakeholders were invited on a conference call with the Reform Support Network (a U.S. Department of Education network created to “help” states support all the reforms associated with Common Core standards) on Feb. 3, 2015 to aid Utah in the transition to stealth assessment. On the call, they were going to: “identify and eliminate assessments that are redundant or that do not contribute to teaching and learning” and to “identify the quality of assessments and move toward a better balance of question types.”

 

So, just three years after IMS and SIF’s said they were centralizing things, we see that our State Office of Education is coordinating with the Feds in the process of centralization. Learn more about the federal Assessment Interoperability Framework using Common Education Data Standards here.

 

What this means is that third parties, along with the federal government, can now control everything happening at the local school level as it pertains to learning—children’s learning and teachers’ learning. And, use that control to enforce almost any other federal reform or learning “intervention” required for children to be college and career ready.

 

Question: “Why do school districts, schools, teachers and parents, in a free society, willingly allow third parties to collect information about them and then tell them how to behave in order to meet federal mandates?” Doesn’t it appear that we are selling our children into a life of servitude and bondage all because we are unwilling to be self-reliant?

stealth four

There is MUCH MORE to this article. For those that want to read it, see below. But, for now, suffice it to say, that the Feds have us right where they want us.

 

Utah parents DO NOT WANT SAGE, and we DO NOT WANT big-data-gathering-tech-companies, being funded by Bill Gates and the Feds, to replace (or morph) SAGE with real-time, adaptable assessments in learning technology. In order to preserve parental rights, parents should demand that our children’s tests be designed and controlled at the school and district level, so that tests are fully transparent to parents. After all, aren’t WE the consumers of educational services in this country? Aren’t we the sole stewards of our children? And, are we accountable to Government or to God in fulfillment of that stewardship?

stealth

STOP Utah’s legislature from creating a Task Force to further grow K-12 stealth assessments. (Contact your legislators and Task Force Sponsor Senator Howard Stephenson in DROVES and tell them “WE DO NOT WANT THIS FEDERALLY-MOTIVATED TASK FORCE IN UTAH!”

STEPHENSON’S EMAIL: hstephenson@le.utah.gov / PHONE: 801-572-1038)

FULL SENATE ROSTER: http://senate.utah.gov/senators/full-roster.html

 

STOP Utah’s legislature from supporting a resolution to use K-12 stealth assessments. (Contact Utah’s House members and Resolution Sponsor Rep. Marie Poulson in DROVES and tell them “WE DO NOT WANT stealth assessments in Utah’s K-12 ed system without parental disclosure and opt-in requirements!”

POULSON’S EMAIL: mariepoulson@le.utah.gov / PHONE: 801-942-5390

FULL LIST OF HOUSE MEMBERS: http://le.utah.gov/house2/representatives.jsp

 

STAND for parental rights!

STAND for our children and our children’s children!

STAND so that your posterity will know that you loved them with all your heart!

 

OPT-OUT OF SAGE FORMS CAN BE FOUND HERE. Learn how here:

http://wendy4asd.blogspot.com/p/sage-state-tests-faq.html

 

 

 stealth apple

 

 

HERE’S “MORE” INFORMATION AND RESOURCES, INCLUDING IMS GLOBAL GRAPHICS, FOR THOSE THAT WANT IT:

 

Stealth learning platforms and assessments (platforms and assessments that operate in real-time within the technology without a child knowing it) foster an education system where parents will have very little control over what our children learn and what they are tested on. Meta-data can be tracked through every key stroke, as well as facial expressions and behaviors through computer cameras, etc. And, the data collected from our children’s learning platforms will be used to control what and how their teachers teach, as well as what federal mandates will be placed on teachers and schools in order to make individual children “college and career ready.” (I used the word “make” because that’s exactly what the Feds are trying to do….force outcomes). The federal mandates will require “Response to Intervention” as well as redistribution of taxes and resources to aid centralization of our education system—and to profit the crony capitalists in bed with big government. (American Institutes for Research (AIR) controls Utah’s SAGE tests and is also in charge of the US Department of Education’s “Response to Intervention” program. So, whether SAGE exists or not, the data AIR collects through learning and assessment platforms will control what schools and teachers have to do to comply with federal mandates.

 

Here’s some background:

 

The US Department of Education, with funding funneled through the Education Testing Service, created the Gordon Commission to develop policy guidelines to help state legislatures change their education technology policies to align with Common Core Standards Metadata Requirements’—and to push states toward using stealth assessments.

(see Graphic #1 below)

 

Two key members of the Gordon Commission are President Obama’s former education policy advisor Linda Darling-Hammond, who was originally responsible for creating content specs for Common Core tests, and former governor Bob Wise. Bob Wise helped found Digital Learning Now with former Governor, and GOP Presidential candidate Jeb Bush. Digital Learning Now is profiting off of federal and state tech reform policies and Utah’s legislature is leading the charge in implementing all 10 of their digital learning policies.

 

The Gordon Commission published a report that said, “The Common Core Standards, and the rethinking of assessments that they are fostering, provide an opportunity to challenge [the] deeply held belief in local control.” Translation: “Parental rights mean nothing to us. We want to control what your children learn through stealth assessment and we are going to use your tax dollars to do it. Local boards will operate as subsidiaries of the Federal administration and eventually be regionalized so that we can further erode your local tax systems.”

stealth child three

The federal government funded the ConnectEd Initiative to replace textbooks within 5 years and simultaneously, the US Department of Education joined forces with IMS Global Learning Consortium and Bill Gates to fund open-coding specs for technology and learning companies. They used the Race to the Top Assessments program to get most tech and software companies to adopt open-free license coding specs that are interoperable across platforms—some nations have already adopted the specs.

 

IMS Global’s goal is to “Advance Learning Impact by Enabling the Open Foundation for Seamless, Agile and Information-Rich Educational Technology Integration.” Pearson wrote a Request for Information Response for the US Department of Education regarding which assessment programs the Feds should fund via Race to the Top Assessments (RTTA) to support this “seamless integration.” Their report states, “The RTTA program and state consortia adopting the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) have identified interoperability as essential in helping to maintain the feasibility and affordability of next-generation assessments.” It should be noted that Pearson plans to take over the United Nation’s PISA tests (tests that compare nations to each other) in 2018.

 

It should also be noted that the groups over Utah’s testing—American Institutes for Research and Bill Gates’ MeasuredProgress—have both adopted IMS Global’s interoperability specs, see member affiliate list here. (The USOE signed a contract with Bill Gates’ MeasuredProgress in 2009.)

 

 

IMS Global talks about a single student login like this:

“Achieving single sign-on and an overall seamless experience for students and teachers is a key foundational step for interoperable assessments across formative and summative environments….The open IMS platform of standards features the Learning Information Services (LIS) standard and Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) standard, both of which work in tandem with these federated identity solutions to enable single sign-on and reporting relative to specific individuals as required LIS and LTI focus on the data and service exchanges among cooperating learning related systems, such as assessment systems, learning management platforms, student systems, and learning tools.”

 

Page 37 of IMS Global’s report to the U.S. Department of Education entitled, “IMS Response to Assessment Standards RFI”, shows that they need Common Core standards to facilitate meta-data collection.

 

GRAPHIC #1:

 

Click to access ims-response-to-assessment-standards-rfi.pdf

 

 

IMS Global is piloting an educational GPS system that operates just like the GPS on our phones and in our cars. It’s called EPS (yes, it’s meant to sound like GPS), or Educational Positioning System. IMS Global describes it like this, “As with a GPS system, there must be a way to compare the current position (student progress) with a starting point (past academic accomplishments) and destination (future educational goal).”

 

They published an online call to tech companies and encouraged them to become part of regional data clusters to begin pooling the data they collect so that it can be further centralized.  In the call, they explain that “this EPS concept was put forth by StudentAlignment.com. President Obama released an Executive Letter from the Whitehouse which is posted on StudentAlignment or “EPS” Website. The President’s letter is entitled, “Unlocking the Power of Education Data For All Americans” and can be found here. Here is a student review of the EPS System and how it can create a student’s Learning Registry. President Obama’s letter highlights progress being made with the Learning Registry.

 

What’s the Learning Registry?

IMS Global’s website states, “the IMS Instructional Innovation through Interoperability Leadership Council (I3LC) of school districts and states has recently published a position paper that attempts to put some of the myriad projects and investments made in the last few years in the U.S. by the Gates Foundation into perspective. These initiatives include the Learning Registry (initially funded by the U.S. government, later by Gates), LRMI (Learning Resource Metadata Initiative) and SLC (Shared Learning Collaborative), now InBloom. These projects all share the notion that learning objects or progress can be referenced back to a common set of educational standards, and are generally complimentary, and perhaps even dependent upon success of the Common Core.” [note to reader: Although inBloom is defunct, IMS Global touts what they’ve done right and what inBloom did wrong].

 

So, lucky Utah, our Governor still thinks Common Core Standards have nothing to do with federal reforms, meanwhile, President Obama and internationalists are clearly using them to create Learning Registries on our children so that they will know what our children are learning and thinking at every step of the way through their education and beyond. Sounds exactly like the system needed to get our children into socialist-style workforce tracks. Ask yourselves again, “Why do Bill Gates’ kids attend a private school that does not use Common Core standards or aligned-assessments?” It seems obvious that we are creating a class system: some families will be workers and their tax dollars will be used to fund the companies of the elites who receive non-standardized educations.

 

Here’s a graphic from IMS Global about the US government/Gates Learning Registries. LOOK AT ALL THE DATA POINTS THAT CAN BE TIED TOGETHER FROM BIRTH TO WORKFORCE. It creates quite a profile on children and their families. 

http://www.imsglobal.org/articles/APB2-022013.pdf

stealth eye three

 

As mentioned above, Utah is an IMS Global APIP (e-assessment interoperability standard) Leader state:

“APIP: States & Suppliers Collaborating to Revolutionize Assessment”

 

“APIP has been under evaluation by both SBAC and PARCC since December 2010. The recent SBAC architectural analysis has indicated a key role for APIP. PARCC is currently performing its architectural analysis. The U.S. Department of Education performed an extensive analysis of interoperability standards for assessment in early 2011 that highlighted APIP as a good fit for the needs of RTTA.”

http://www.imsglobal.org/apip/JoinAPIP0612.pdf

 

IMS Global lists Utah’s involvement in APIP:

“Q. What efforts have been under taken to build accessibility standards for assessment content?
 Recent technological advances and the growing importance of—and unique demands inherent in— assessment drove efforts to increase the accessibility of test content for all students, illustrated for example by the requirements for the U.S. Federal Department of Education’s (USED) Race to the Top Assessment Program. To develop an industry standard for accessibility and interoperability of test items, USED funded the Accessible Portable Item Protocol (APIP) project. The Minnesota Department of Education led the effort, which included the states: New Hampshire, Vermont, Utah, Montana, Florida, South Carolina, and Maryland as participants and Michigan, Massachusetts, and North Carolina as observers. National interoperability and accessibility experts provided technical support. In December 2010 the team released the first version of the APIP standard, intended to make assessment content portable between systems and accessible to a wide range of students.”

http://www.imsglobal.org/apip/apipfaqs.html

 

Page 11 and 12 of IMS Global’s Report to the US Department of Education reads:

“The conformance matrix shown at the above URL is also significant because it relates to the critical issue of supporting assessment interoperability throughout an “integrated system of instruction and assessment” which is required to support the balanced assessment requirements of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and achieve the potential of Race to the Top Assessments. In order to achieve use of interoperable assessments throughout formative, summative, and intervention strategies, interoperability must go beyond item and test interoperability. Diverse digital learning content and applications must provide interoperable results reporting that enables a diagnostic student record created from data that comes from a wide range of formative and summative tools. And, interventions must adapt based on the same interoperable data.

The range of interoperability requirements to support the Common Core and the Race to the Top Assessments projects are depicted in the following series of three figures.”

http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-assessment/rfi-response/ims-response-to-assessment-standards-rfi.pdf

 

Here are the graphics from Page 11 and 12. It’s clear that there are a myriad of ways that embedded assessments can collect data on our children.

 

Conclusion:

Everything at the local school level will be controlled by third parties and international organizations using stealth assessments to centralize and synthesize data collection (I’ll leave the reader to surmise who).

 

These global organizations will:


  • Track your children’s metadata through learning and assessment programs

 

  • Build data profiles on your children from preK-career (and into the workforce)

 

  • Send real-time feedback to teachers to control what learning “interventions” your child will undergo (making sure those interventions will pad the pockets of those crony companies in bed with the federal government)

 

  • Make it impossible for parents or local schools to understand who’s controlling the data that parents, teachers and local schools must comply with, and what kind of data is being collected

 

  • Potentially, and most-likely, push our children towards a globalist mindset where families, parents and individual rights are undermined so that children will support collectivist strategies for solving “real world” problems, ie; global government

 

stealth assessment baby

 

 

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Even More Resources:

 

  • Pearson admits IMS Global tied to Common Core:

http://images.pearsonassessments.com/images/tmrs/tmrs_rg/AssessmentInteroperabilityStandards_FINAL_111710.pdf?WT.mc_id=TMRS_Next_Generation_Assessment_Interoperability_Standards

 

IMS Global Announces Inspiring Action to Transform Education:

“Digital Assessment Transformation: Get the latest on the rapid transition to digital assessment for both summative and formative purposes and the integration of assessment systems and data with learning platforms. ”

http://lili15.imsglobal.org/

 

  • Technical working group members of the “Learning Resource Metadata Initiative” (LRMI) include Microsoft, Gates Foundation, IMS Global, and of course, Creative Commons.

http://teach1776.ning.com/profiles/blogs/department-of-education-working-with-george-soros-open-society-fo

 

  • IMS Global Learning Consortium Announces Pilot Project Exploring Creative Commons Licensing of Interoperability Specification

http://www.imsglobal.org/pressreleases/pr080303.html

 

  • Contributing Members, Affiliates, and Alliance Participants include: MeasuredProgress, AIR, ACT, SBAC, Pearson, etc.

MeasuredProgress, AIR, ACT

http://www.imsglobal.org/membersandaffiliates.html

 

Efficient and Descriptive Learning Object Metadata: And Essential Component of K12 Instructional Reform:

http://www.imsglobal.org/articles/APB2-022013.pdf

 

2015 Leadership Opportunities in IMS Global Learning Consortium:

Here are a few quotes:

 

” 1-click integration of educational apps. ”

 

“…syncing student information between SIS systems and learning systems,”

 

“…better support for assistive technology and serving as an actual rendering format (versus just an interoperability format – which is what QTI is) for the range of devices supported via the web. They are calling this aQTI. Some long time contributors, such as Educational Testing Service, along with some newer IMS Global member organizations, like Dutch Exam Board, Cito, TAO, NWEA and Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium are leading the way on all of this.” (So, Stealth assessment was the plan all along)

 

“…get to the next generation educational content interoperability. In less than one year we went from an exploratory meeting (hosted by Pearson) to an impleme

  •  in bed with the federal government)

 

  • Make it impossible for parents or local schools to understand who’s controlling the data that parents, teachers and local schools must comply with, and what kind of data is being collected

 

  • Potentially, and most-likely, push our children towards a globalist mindset where families, parents and individual rights are undermined so that children will support collectivist strategies for solving “real world” problems, ie; global government

 

 

———————————————————————————

 

Even More Resources:

 

  • Pearson admits IMS Global tied to Common Core:

http://images.pearsonassessments.com/images/tmrs/tmrs_rg/AssessmentInteroperabilityStandards_FINAL_111710.pdf?WT.mc_id=TMRS_Next_Generation_Assessment_Interoperability_Standards

 

IMS Global Announces Inspiring Action to Transform Education:

“Digital Assessment Transformation: Get the latest on the rapid transition to digital assessment for both summative and formative purposes and the integration of assessment systems and data with learning platforms. ”

http://lili15.imsglobal.org/

 

  • Technical working group members of the “Learning Resource Metadata Initiative” (LRMI) include Microsoft, Gates Foundation, IMS Global, and of course, Creative Commons.

http://teach1776.ning.com/profiles/blogs/department-of-education-working-with-george-soros-open-society-fo

 

  • IMS Global Learning Consortium Announces Pilot Project Exploring Creative Commons Licensing of Interoperability Specification

http://www.imsglobal.org/pressreleases/pr080303.html

 

  • Contributing Members, Affiliates, and Alliance Participants include: MeasuredProgress, AIR, ACT, SBAC, Pearson, etc.

MeasuredProgress, AIR, ACT

http://www.imsglobal.org/membersandaffiliates.html

 

Efficient and Descriptive Learning Object Metadata: And Essential Component of K12 Instructional Reform:

http://www.imsglobal.org/articles/APB2-022013.pdf

 

2015 Leadership Opportunities in IMS Global Learning Consortium:

Here are a few quotes:

 

” 1-click integration of educational apps. ”

 

“…syncing student information between SIS systems and learning systems,”

 

“…better support for assistive technology and serving as an actual rendering format (versus just an interoperability format – which is what QTI is) for the range of devices supported via the web. They are calling this aQTI. Some long time contributors, such as Educational Testing Service, along with some newer IMS Global member organizations, like Dutch Exam Board, Cito, TAO, NWEA and Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium are leading the way on all of this.” (So, Stealth assessment was the plan all along)

 

“…get to the next generation educational content interoperability. In less than one year we went from an exploratory meeting (hosted by Pearson) to an implementable draft specification”

 

“…defining and authorizing a more robust set of outcomes or achievements beyond grades”

http://www.imsglobal.org/blog/?tag=learning-object-metadata

 

  • Big Districts Demand Interoperability Standards:

http://mobile.edweek.org/c.jsp?DISPATCHED=true&cid=25983841&item=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.edweek.org%2Few%2Farticles%2F2014%2F12%2F03%2F13techstandards.h34.html

 

  • IMS Global’s Learning Analytics:

http://www.imsglobal.org/IMSLearningAnalyticsWP.pdf

 

 

 

ntable draft specification”

 

“…defining and authorizing a more robust set of outcomes or achievements beyond grades”

http://www.imsglobal.org/blog/?tag=learning-object-metadata

 

  • Big Districts Demand Interoperability Standards:

http://mobile.edweek.org/c.jsp?DISPATCHED=true&cid=25983841&item=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.edweek.org%2Few%2Farticles%2F2014%2F12%2F03%2F13techstandards.h34.html

 

  • IMS Global’s Learning Analytics:

http://www.imsglobal.org/IMSLearningAnalyticsWP.pdf

 

 stealth kid

 

Come Downtown Friday Morning   5 comments

green

Come downtown Friday morning.

If you are one of the thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands in Utah with grief and concern about the continuing takeover of student data privacy, academic freedom, teacher autonomy and student self-determination,  please come downtown Friday morning.  Click here to join the Facebook event if you like.

Your physical presence speaks volumes even if you do not say a word at this board meeting and rally.

At the last ESEA flexibility board meeting, there were many people wearing green Stop Common Core T-shirts (or other green shirts) –filling the seats, lining the walls inside the meeting and lining the halls outside the meeting.   We need to do it again, this time in the presence of our Common Core-defending Governor.

green to

Come downtown this Friday morning, February 6th, 2015, when the meeting begins at 8:00 (or whenever you can get there.)

Governor Herbert will speaking from 8:30-9:30.  At 9:30 the board will discuss renewing or not renewing the ESEA waiver.

(Public comment will take place for ten minutes at 8:15.  If you contact the board secretary, Lorraine, ahead of time, you can be one of the five people per month who get two minutes allotted to speak during public comment.)

While some attend and speak up at the meeting inside, others will be standing with posters outside the building.

If you will be outside, please bring posters.  What to write on your poster?  Here are a few ideas:

ESEA Renewal Means Zero Leverage 

Our Children Are Not Your Guinea Pigs

No More Education Without True Representation

We Support H.R. 524 – Mia Love’s Stop Common Core Bill 

We Support Utah Teachers

Thank You Mia Love – Pass HR 524

Stop Federal Micromanagement of Utah Schools

Don’t Renew Utah’s “No Child Left Behind” Waiver

Just Say No to the ESEA Waiver

No More Data Mining Our Children

Stop Feeding Our Tax Dollars to the Common Core Cartel

Restore Freedom to Utah Teachers and Students

Support Mia Love’s HR 524 – Restore Liberty in Education 

Thank You Mia Love

mia_love_utah_house_getty-e1346213855359

 

     

      SCHEDULE – Utah State School Board Meeting February 6, 2015

  • Opening Business 8:00 – 8:15 AM
  • Public Participation/Comment 8:15 – 8:25 AM (sign up ahead of time)
  • Consent Calendar 8:25 – 8:30 AM
  • Discussion with Governor Herbert 8:30 – 9:30 AM (Note: Governor announced last week that he and the Utah Attorney General would meet with the Board this week)
  • Action Item/ ESEA Flexibility Renewal 9:30 – 10:15 AM

 

green too

 

Background Information:

On January 8, 2015, Utah’s State Board approved a Resolution calling for legislation amending and Reauthorizing the Federal ESEA Education Act.  Please check the monster ESEA Reauthorization bill sponsored by U. S. Senate Republicans that will destroy State Sovereignty, including Utah’s.

This Friday, Utah’s State Board will determine if Utah will submit a request to the Dept. of Education requesting a three-year renewal for the ESEA Flexibility Waiver and the continuation of the UCAS Accountability System. (Note: This is the End Game. 3-years of a new Waiver will buy the US Dept. of Education time to close the clamps on parental sovereignty, close down or severely alter private and district schools using Title 1 money, and dismantle school districts using charter “Choice” attached to Title 1  money.)

This State Board meeting is not even truly about education.  Academics are a fraction of what this vote will affect.  It’s really about the gradual abolishing of our representative form of government and what that means for our children long term.  Even the term “ESEA Flexibility” reveals the ongoing federal practice of rationing out parcels of flexibility according to the whims of the federal Department of Education– this doesn’t look like our constitutional inheritance of sovereignty and freedom at all.

Come downtown Friday morning.  Bring a neighbor.  Bring your children.  Make it a field trip.   Wear green.  Stand shoulder to shoulder with other parents, teachers, and grandparents who realize that we have to make our influence felt for the freedom and dignity of our precious children.  This is real.  Please stand with us.

Thank you!

Second Parent Member of Utah SAGE Test Review Committee Speaks Out   6 comments

This is the second in a series of posts to be added by members of Utah’s Common Core SAGE test’s parent review board.  Parent Molly Foster spoke out previously and is joined now by fellow mom Christine Ruiz as a SAGE parent review committee member who also wishes to set the record straight and to expose the objectionable aspects of the tests.

SAGE Parent Review Committee Member Speaks Out

By Christine Ruiz

In 2013 the Utah Legislature mandated  parental review of SAGE test questions and established what is now called the SAGE Parent Review Committee. It was a response to concerns that the computer adaptive tests could include biases or agendas that are objectionable to Utah family values.

 

Much has been written about the committee and unfortunately some of it has been misleading. Consequently many Utah parents are misinformed about the review committee and are making decisions with that ‘bad information’; decisions that affect their children.

 

I am one of those committee members and I’d like to correct the record.

 

The statute, 53A-1-603, is vague as it relates to our duties; “…a committee consisting of 15 parents of Utah public education students to review all computer adaptive test questions.” Yep, that’s it. Talk about your nutshell.

So, here’s what we did and didn’t do.

 

WE DID review all questions (about 1500 each).

WE DID flag questions for a variety of reasons (grammar, typos, content, wrong answers, glitches, etc.).

WE DID sign nondisclosure statements (agreeing not to discuss specific test questions and materials).

 

Now the important part …

WE DID NOT ‘approve’ the test. We were neither tasked to nor qualified to approve the test in any aspect.

It has been erroneously suggested that “…we all feel comfortable with the test” in an article by the Deseret News (Nov 2013). That’s a misleading quote from only one member of the committee. That statement was actually contradicted by another member later in the same article. But it’s no surprise here; we expect that from the media.

However, the Utah State Office of Education (USOE) perpetuated that myth when it plastered that same quote all over its SAGE informational brochures. We/ I expect more due diligence from USOE.

I never received a phone call to verify that I concurred and I suspect the same is true for the rest of the committee. It was either an act of deliberate deceit or jaw-dropping negligence to tell parents across the state that the Parent Review Committee gives its blanket approval of the test. Neither option comforts me in the slightest.

I shudder to think that some parents may have decided to let their children take the SAGE because ‘we’ said it’s okay. That’s on me and every other committee member that feels the same as I, and didn’t speak out sooner.

This myth and any others perpetrated in the future will no longer go unanswered by this committee member. That’s a promise.

Christine Ruiz

———————————————————

state statute 53A1603

(8)

(a) The State Board of Education shall establish a committee consisting of 15 parents of Utah

public education students to review all computer adaptive test questions.

(b) The committee established in Subsection (8)(a) shall include the following parent members:

(i) five members appointed by the chair of the State Board of Education;

(ii) five members appointed by the speaker of the House of Representatives; and

(iii) five members appointed by the president of the Senate.

(c) The State Board of Education shall provide staff support to the parent committee.

(d) The term of office of each member appointed in Subsection (8)(b) is four years.

(e) The chair of the State Board of Education, the speaker of the House of Representatives, and

the president of the Senate shall adjust the length of terms to stagger the terms of committee

members so that approximately 1/2 of the committee members are appointed every two

years.

(f) No member may receive compensation or benefits for the member’s service on the committee.

Dr. Gary Thompson: SAGE/Common Core Tests Break Basic Codes of Test Ethics   22 comments

dr-thompson

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 initiativesreports 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?

 

 

what-is-stealth-assessment-1-728

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.

nn.3788-F3

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.

 

Leaked Letter: Utah Teachers’ Evaluations (Pay) Will Depend On Common Core Test Scores in 2015   8 comments

An email sent to schools by the Utah State Office of Education (USOE) this week was forwarded to me.

It’s gross evidence of a gross circumstance.   The USOE decided that teacher evaluations (read: salaries) will be directly tied to Common Core/SAGE student results starting at the latest next fall (2015-2016 school year).

If teachers didn’t “teach to the Common Core test” before, they will now.

Their  value as a teacher is, by USOE policy, to be determined by SGP –Student Growth Percentile, meaning: the amount of Common Core -based “improvement” that students showed on their Common Core SAGE tests.

It’s a heavy, disrespectful blow to teachers.

I have learned of some teachers who outwardly nod their heads “yes” to administrations and boards but in fact ignore the Common Core standards, continuing to teach the children in their better way, in the same way they always had, prior to Common Core.

How will independent minded teachers survive this new blow?

I don’t know.

I want to remind everyone that many times the USOE has proclaimed that teachers and schools may teach in the manner that in the local, professional judgment, the schools and teachers deem best.  They say Common Core and its tests do not micromanage teachers.

How untrue that claim has been.

Actions speak louder than words.  The state-level threat of teachers losing pay or status, if a particular teacher’s students don’t speed along the Common Core/SAGE test chain, is an almost insurmountable, powerful micromanagement of Utah’s teachers by its government.

Why did Utah allow the USOE to evolve this much power over us?   The USOE, so monstrously staffed, so stuffed full of bureaucrats, consumes many of our precious education dollars but runs un-accountably –to anyone.  And the USOE has zero authority under the Utah Constitution!

Only the State School Board holds constitutional authority of Utah’s education, checked and balanced by the legislature which hold the power of the purse.   The USOE is a deformed, runaway growth, much bigger and heavier than its stem.  Think about it: corrupt though the state board’s election system has been, still, the electing of State Board members has been at least theoretically representative; taxpayers can vote board members out of office.

Not so for the USOE and it’s leadership and staff.  Taxpayers and teachers and parents have zero say in who gets to run our educational show at the USOE level.  We can’t un-elect the writers of that letter, nor can we vote out the vast number of fat-salaried appointees who boss around the teachers, principals and students of this state.

Just as the federal U.S. Department of Education has no Constitutional validity, neither does the USOE have any state-constitutional validity.

I wish school administrators, school boards, the legislature and especially the state board would respond to the USOE with a little spit and vinegar– in defense of teachers and in non-acknowledgement of the assumed authority of the USOE and its policies, schmollisees.

Here’s that letter.

 

======================================

 

Date: Wed, 12 Nov 2014

From: “Estrada, Christelle” <Christelle.Estrada@schools.utah.gov>

To: “ALL ”

Subject: [Secondary ELA] Clarification – SAGE and SGPs

Colleagues:  I am forwarding this clarification from both the Assessment and the Educator Effectiveness departments at USOE so that you can disseminate it to your fellow teachers.

 

 

Dear LEAs,

 

This E-mail is to clarify possible misunderstandings and up-to-date information in regards to SAGE and Student Growth Percentiles (SGPs), and SLOs. The SAGE results for the 2013-14 school year that were released to the public on October 27, 2014 are valid and reliable assessment results.  The results create a new baseline for student achievement.   Educators and parents should seriously review these results and use the results with all of the other educational information and data to support students and assist them in improving their academic achievement.

 

We would like to clarify the relationship of SAGE results to Student Growth Percentiles (SGPs) and to Educator Evaluation in general. The SAGE results you have recently received may be used in all of the ways you have typically used test results to make instructional decisions, inform the school improvement process,  inform professional development, and evaluate programs; however, the 2013-14 SGPs are not calculated for the purposes of educator evaluation, nor to identify schools for focus and priority status under the ESEA waiver.

 

Business rules for calculating SGPs for educator evaluations are currently being developed by the USOE Educator Effectiveness section in cooperation with the USOE Assessment section. District representatives including Superintendents, HR Directors, Curriculum Directors, Educator Evaluation Liaisons and other stakeholders will have an opportunity to give input to these business rules prior to their implementation in June of 2015. These business rules will be used to generate teacher-level SGPs that may be used for calculation of a portion of the  educator evaluation as early as August 2015, although their use will not be required until the 2015-2016 school year.

 

Meanwhile, districts should continue to provide professional development and continue to build rater reliability in relation to teacher and leader observations. They should continue to implement their SLO development plans and make choices about how stakeholder input will be gathered and calculated. The Educator Effectiveness team continues to recommend that teachers of both tested and non-tested subjects learn how to develop and use SLOs to provide additional measurement information about student growth.  SGPs will be available for calculating student growth for the 2014-15 school year (they are also available this year), and they will be available to apply to educator evaluation in 2015-16.

 

If you have additional questions about these topics, please continue to contact any of the following for additional clarification as needed: Linda Alder atlinda.alder@schools.utah.gov<mailto:linda.alder@schools.utah.gov> or 801-538-7923;  Kerrie Naylor at kerrie.naylor@schools.utah.gov<mailto:kerrie.naylor@schools.utah.gov>  or 801-538-7950;   Jo Ellen Shaeffer, joellen.shaeffer@schools.utah.gov<mailto:joellen.shaeffer@schools.utah.gov> or 801-538-7811.

 

Please note Utah has a very broad public records law.  Most written communication to or from our state employees regarding state business are public records available to the public and media upon request. Your email communication may be subject to public disclosure.

 

 —————————————————————————————————-

app

 

Alpine School Board Members Speak Out For Student Privacy   5 comments

Alpine-Board-10x8-1024x819

 

Three remarkable Alpine School Board Members: Wendy Hart (front left) Brian Halladay (standing, middle)  and Paula Hill (front, right) have written an open letter on student privacy, citing documented realities (contracts, documents and laws) that boldly stand for student privacy and parental rights, against Common Core SAGE/AIR testing.  The letter stands tall against statements from State Associate Superintendent Judy Park and the Utah State Office of Education that claim all is well with student privacy in Utah schools.

Hats off to Hart, Halladay and Hill for speaking up despite pressure to go along in silence with the decisions or positions held at the state level.

Before I post the letter, here’s a little background:

Before Common Core testing even began, Utah officially dropped out of SBAC (a federally funded Common Core test maker) but then immediately picked up, as a replacement, test maker  AIR  (American Institutes for Research– also  federally approved, but not federally funded; Common Core-aligned; a test maker that specializes in psychometrics and behavioral testing,  prioritizes promoting the LGTB philosophy –and is officially partnered with SBAC!)  Many Utah parents are opting their children out of these tests, and state level officials are desperately trying to persuade the population that there’s no reason to opt out.

Statements promoting and approving AIR and SAGE, by Assistant Superintendent Judy Park, have been rebutted and even publically debated before– but this new letter stands very, very  tall, shedding much more light on the student privacy dangers of SAGE/AIR and highlighting the lack of Utah laws that protect an individuals’ ownership over his/her own data.

 

Here’s the letter:

 

September 18, 2014

 

Dr. Judy Park

Utah State Office of Education

Dear Dr. Park,

 

Thank you for taking the time to address some of the issues with AIR and SAGE testing.  We especially appreciate your citations of the contract.  In the interest of openness and transparency, we have a point of clarification, as well as some follow-up questions.

To begin, a point of clarification.  Your letter is directed to Superintendent Henshaw who communicated some of our concerns about SAGE and AIR to you.  In your letter, you indicate that “False, undocumented and baseless allegations need to cease.”  We wish to clarify that the concerns expressed by Dr. Henshaw were not coming from him, and, as such, your directive would not be to him but to those of us on the board and our constituents who are raising questions, based on our reading of the AIR contract with USOE.  Because Dr. Henshaw reports to the Alpine School Board and not the other way around, any directive for Dr. Henshaw to rein in these ‘allegations’ from board members or constituents would be inappropriate.  We can appreciate that you are troubled by this, but we would recommend that more information and more discussion would be a preferable way of resolving concerns, as opposed to suggesting that concerned representatives and their consitutents simply remain silent.

So, in that spirit of openness, we have the following clarifications and follow-up questions.

We begin by addressing the sections of the AIR contract cited in your letter of August 14.  It was very much appreciated because these are the same sections of the contract that we have studied.  We were hopeful that there would be additional insight.  Unfortunately, we did not find any assurance in the pages listed.

I-96 – I-98:  This section nicely addresses the physical, network, and software security for the server and test items.  However, the only reference to AIR employees, their ability to access or use any data is left to “Utah’s public records laws, FERPA, and other federal laws.”  FERPA, as many know, has been modified by the US Dept of Education to allow for the sharing of data without parental knowledge or consent as long as it can be justified as an ‘educational program’. Additionally, FERPA only contains penalties for those entities receiving federal funds.  Since Utah is paying directly for SAGE testing, FERPA is a meaningless law in this regard.  Additionally, Utah’s public records laws appear to only address the openness of public records, but are insufficient when it comes to privacy or use of data, including that of a minor.  If there are robust privacy laws in Utah’s public records laws, we would appreciate additional citations.  Please cite the other federal laws that protect the privacy of our students.

I-61:  Addresses the technical protocols for the data transfer, as well as encryption of passwords.  Again, this doesn’t address those who are given access by AIR to the data for whatever purpose.

I-72 – I-73:  Addresses the security of those contractors who will be manually scoring during the pilot testing.  This addresses a particular third-party in a particular role, but not AIR as an entity or its employees, other than this particular instance.

I-85 – I-86:  Addresses the issues of users and roles for the database and USOE updates.  This limits the appropriate access to those of us in Utah, based on whether we are teachers, principals, board members, USOE, etc.  Again, this does not address anything about AIR as an entity or its employees.

While all these security precautions are necessary, and we are grateful they are included, they do nothing to address the particular issues that were raised at the August 12, 2014 Alpine School Board Meeting.  Some of our concerns are as follows:

1)  Prior to the Addendum from March 2014 (for which we are grateful) there was no prohibition on sharing data with a third-party.  As indicated, the changes to FERPA would allow AIR to legally share data with a third-party as long as that sharing was for ‘an educational program’ without parental knowledge or consent.  As such, the addendum now allows for that sharing only with the USOE’s consent.  We are still concerned that parents are not asked to give consent and may not have knowledge of their student’s data being shared.

2) AIR itself is a research firm dedicated to conducting and applying the best behavioral and social science research and evaluation.  As such, they are involved with data collection and evaluation. In the contract and addendum cited, there is nothing that prohibits how AIR or its subsidiary organizations may use, query, analyze or access any or all student data from the SAGE tests in Utah.  They would have access to many data sets from many entities.  They also would have multiple on-going research projects.  There is no prohibition on what inquiries, research or analysis can be done on the data from SAGE testing.  As long as AIR does not profit from the data or share with a third-party without the USOE’s consent, the data is managed by AIR and available for access.  What are the methods in place to prevent AIR from accessing the data for additional research or analysis?  AIR does not need to share the data with a third-party to violate the privacy of a student or a set of students.  However, since they control and manage the database, there is nothing that would prevent this access.

3) There are no prohibitions in the contract regarding behavioral data.  While we realize Mr. Cohen has said the contract does not call for gathering or evaluating behavioral data, and that AIR is not inclined to do so, there are, again, no prohibitions or penalties associated with gathering or evaluating behavioral data.  State law allows for the use of behavioral data in the year-end testing.  So, there are no legal prohibitions on the use or collection of behavioral data.  Since behavioral research is the primary mission of AIR, as indicated by its mission statement, it is a concern for parents.  If AIR has no desire to collect behavioral data as part of the SAGE testing, it should state so explicitly in a legally-binding manner.

4) Many parents have, legally, opted out of SAGE testing for their students.  As such, why is AIR receiving any information on these students?  Parents feel it is a grave violation of their trust by USOE that any data the USOE has received from the schools can be input into the SAGE database, not to mention the State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS).  There must, at a minimum, be a way for parents to opt out of all sharing of their student’s dat with AIR and the SLDS.  At what point, if any, will student data be purged from the AIR database?  What is the method for demonstrating the data has been properly purged?

Additionally, we appreciate the response of Mr. Cohen to our concerns.  Based on his response, we have the following questions.

1)  Please list the “express purposes” for which the release, sharing or sale of data is not prohibited, per contract.

2) What third parties are AIR “explicitly permitted by the State of Utah” to provide data to?

3) What research has AIR been requested and directed by the Utah State Office of Education to conduct?

4) What entity (or entities) has AIR been authorized by the State of Utah to release data to?

5) Please list the source of the contract that states that AIR is prohibited from releasing data to the federal government.

6) What entity (or entities) have been designated by the USOE to receive data from AIR?

7) The memo does not address companies owned or operated by AIR, which would not be considered third-parties.  Please state, per contract, where AIR does not share data within related party entities.

Finally, we have the following questions related to the validity and reliability of the SAGe testing.  We understand that this information would not be protected by copyright, and therefore, could be provided to us, as elected officials.

1. Normative Sample Details (who took the test)

2. Coefficient Alpha Reliability

3. Content description Validity

4. Differential Item Function Analysis

5. Criterion Prediction Validity

6. Construct Identification Validity

7. Other types of validity scales/constructs that are applicable only to CAT test designs

We appreciate the opportunity to discuss this more in the future.  As those who are responsible to the parents of this district, we feel it is imperative that our concerns are addressed.  And, when all is said and done, it is most important that parents have the opportunity to protect whatever student information they feel is necessary.  Just because parents decide to educate their children in our public school system does not mean that we, as a state government, are entitled to whatever information about their children we feel in necessary.  Parents are still, by state law, primarily responsible for the education and the upbringing of their children.  As such, their wishes and their need to protect information on their students is paramount.  As members of the Alpine School Board, we must represent the different views and concerns of all the parents in our area.  For those who have no concerns, then you may proceed as usual.  For those who do have concerns, it is incumbent on us to raise these questions and to obtain the most accurate information possible.

Thank you for your time, and we look forward to more information in the future.

 

Sincerely,

 

Brian Halladay

ASD4

Wendy Hart

ASD2

Paula Hill

ASD1

 

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I wish every Utah parent, teacher, student and principal read this letter– and took action!

The time has long passed for blind trust in Dr. Park, in the State Office of Education and in the State School Board. Surely, power holders –in the legislature, in district administrative offices, and in the governor’s office who read this letter– will finally act.

Share this letter!

Dr. Gary Thompson: On the State Board of Education Meeting   1 comment

Dr Thompson

 

Dr. Gary Thompson is a rock star.

Despite his shy nature, he’s one of the loudest, smartest, funniest and most fearless fighters in the quest to protect children and to expose the widespread education-establishment corruption called Common Core.

He actually fights.  Actually cares.  Is not in it for money.

He’s not one of the politicorporate bad guys who use the pretense of “doing what’s best for the children” as a facade for just the opposite– to gain power, prestige and money at children’s expense.  (I’m talking about:  Pearson Education/Bill Gates/Arne Duncan/A.I.R./Chambers of Commerce/Marc Tucker/ Obama/ CCSSO, etc. etc. –as well as those who sustain the bad guys’ club, promoting Common Core and student data mining and teacher redistribution– yes, yes, the education folk whom we’ve elected or appointed even here in Utah.)

Dr. Thompson is a Utah doctor of clinical psychology and a very vocal advocate for children’s protection –from data mining, from excessive high-stakes testing and from age-inappropriate educational standards.

He’s given me permission to post his notes here, which were directed to the Utah State School board and State Office of Education.  Thanks, Dr. Thompson.

 

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From July 18, 2014:

 

In a public hearing yesterday Utah State Board members debated the issue of going back to the “old” (“No Child Left Behind”) or pushing forward with the developmentally inappropriate Common Core.

debra roberts   State Board Member Debra Roberts stated –in support of going forward with Common Core and renewing the NCLB waiver– “What counts to me is the immediate impact on individual students who are most vulnerable, and absolutely there would be an immediate impact on those kids.”

The adoption of Common Core for “the most vulnerable” of our kids flies in the face of science and parental common sense. I will leave all the political and money issues to the Board experts, but I will crucify on social and national media any and all Utah State Board members who are insane enough to cite the heart string pulling, manipulative “vulnerable kids” argument in support of Common Core.

That one-size-fits-all recent adoption of special education policies of the U.S. Department of Education is nothing short of developmental and cognitive child abuse.

Yes, Ms. Roberts, I said “Child Abuse“.

Use ANY other justification to support your wish to go forward with the waiver and stay on course with Common Core, but to use “vulnerable children” as any part of that justification is disingenuous, not supported by facts of science and child psychology.

Ms. Robert’s comments are nothing but a shameless manipulation of parents who voted for her to represent the best interests of their children, not the special interest groups of Utah’s teachers union or Bill Gate’s special interest testing groups.

Fellow Board Member Jeff Moss had the wisdom and courage to pull a last second, heroic motion out of his bag of procedural tricks to halt voting on this issue until more facts were gathered. One of these facts is the harm Common Core has on our States “most vulnerable children.”

Regardless of the consequences personally or professionally, I will not silence my voice while any Utah State Board Member uses the “vulnerable children” argument as justification to move forward with the NCLB waiver so that Common Core can continue to cause emotional, developmental, and cognitive harm to the children I dedicated my life to treating and serving…. and raising.

Ms. Roberts: Feel free to “spin” money issues. Spin the Standards debate. Spin anything you want in this debate Ms. Roberts. However, if you use “vulnerable children”…my therapist’s clients…or my own developmentally vulnerable children as part of your spin, I promise I will make you famous this summer.

-Dr. Gary Thompson-
Parent & Stay Home Dad

 

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Dr. Thompson also posted this letter, which is somehow hilarious even though it points out a tragic fact: that our educational leaders are promoting experimental, unvetted, non-peer-reviewed education standards –the Common Core standards– as if they were legitimate.

 

From July 24th:

Dear USOE:

Attached is something called “peer reviewed research”. When treating or testing children, especially those designated as “vulnerable populations,” we gear all our practices to be aligned with this type of research.

It’s best practice. It’s safe for the children. It’s the smart thing to do.

We do not base services provided to kids based on influences of special interest groups or Bill Gates. Nor do we give out propaganda-based information to parents, as such may pertain to children in vulnerable populations.

Peer reviewed research: Try it. You may like it!

exc.sagepub.com

 

-Dr. Gary Thompson

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The next Utah State School Board meeting is on August 8th.  It’s an open meeting.  The public is wanted–and needed.

Many will be there, showing by our presence that it matters to us what the board does in this vote.  We will wear matching stickers to petition the board NOT to renew the waiver from No Child Left Behind (ESEA).  The board will vote on that day.   The email for the board is board@schools.utah.gov and the phone number is 801-538-7517.  You may have two minutes to speak at that meeting if you call well in advance.

Alan Singer on Pearson Ed: Why Pearson Tests Our Kids   2 comments

Note to Utahns: Utah children are being tested by AIR, not by Pearson.  So why post this article?

  It’s no secret that Utah, as well as the federal government, has heavily invested in Pearson/Microsoft‘s philosophy and product.  Pearson leads out in all Common Core implementation and student-data gathering products nationwide, including here in Utah (except for the SAGE/AIR test itself).  

Alan Singer’s article adds to the growing argument against Pearson, period.  My hope is that both Pearson’s products and its “one-global-governance-system” philosophy will be vigorously rejected and that Pearson will not  receive one more penny of the countless Utah tax dollars it has already claimed, both via curriculum sales and via its creepy database building for our state’s school system.  

Why Pearson Tests Our Kids

by Alan Singer,  Hofstra University

 (Posted with permission from the author and also published here)

 

Pearson invited me to breakfast. Well not just me. I received an email inviting Long Island educators to a free “Breakfast Briefing” promoting “Pearson Personalized Learning” that would empower me to “Turn your traditional student learning into Student-Centered learning by delivering the right curriculum to the right student, at the right time.” I checked out Pearson’s personal learning products online and then decided that the free breakfast and the opportunity to annoy them was not worth the trip.

 

Pearson is promoting GradPoint, “an easy to use web based solution for grades 6-12” that “includes over 180 rigorous courses (Core, Electives, AP and Foreign Language & CTE).;” iLit, “a tablet-based reading intervention for students in grades 4-10” which promises “it has everything your class needs to gain two years of reading growth in a single year;” and aimsweb, “the leading assessment and RTI solution in school today-a complete web-based solution for universal screening, progress monitoring, and data management for Grades K-12.”

 

I thought calling their literacy program iLit was pretty funny, but otherwise I find their promotion scary. “Pearson Personalized Learning” is not about supporting schools; it is about replacing them. And it is about replacing them without any evidence that their products work or any concern for the impact of their products on schools and student learning.

 

Pearson executives Sir Michael Barber, Saad Rizvi and John Fallon call their global market strategy “The Incomplete Guide To Delivering Learning Outcomes.” Fallon, Pearson CEO, has been with the company for most of his professional career. He is behind the push for “efficacy,” the corporate buzzword, which in practical terms translates into the constant assessing of student performance who are using Pearson products. The testing strategy tied into common core in the United States is neither an accident nor an accessory. Testing is the core of common core.

 

I find Barber and Rizvi even more interesting than Fallon for understanding Pearson’s marketing strategies. Barber is Pearson’s chief education strategist and leads its three-pronged assault on education around the world through what Pearson calls efficacy, affordable learning, and the Pearson Knowledge and Research Centre. Efficacy is supposed to be about what works in education based on research done at the research centre, but everything is actually organized around the Pearson goal of “finding business models for affordable schools” that they will be selling, especially in “developing areas of the world.”

 

If you want to know how Pearson plans to operate, you have to look at McKinsey & Company, a global management consulting firm and advisor to some of the world’s leading businesses, governments, and institutions. Before joining Pearson, Michael Barber had a similar role at McKinsey where he was a partner. Saad Rizvi, who is Pearson’s Senior Vice President for Efficacy and head of its Catalyst for Education team, was a consultant at McKinsey. McKinsey & Company’s clients include 100 of the top 150 companies in the world. It has advised the Bank of England, the Roman Catholic Church in the United States, and the German government.

 

The main job of McKinsey is to help companies maintain profitability by closing subsidies, selling assets, shifting production, and laying off workers. McKinsey has had its share of mishaps. Former employees include Jeff Skilling, the disgraced chief executive of Enron and Rajat K. Gupta, who was convicted of insider trading. Other disasters include advising Time Warner on its ill-fated merger with AOL, advising General Motors on how to compete with Japanese automakers, and advising AT&T not to be concerned about cellphones. A top McKinsey partner dismissed these failures saying “We are advisers, and it is management’s job to take all the advice they receive and make their own decisions. Not to say that McKinsey told me to do this.”

I think a fair question to ask is, do we want the business model that led to the Eron scam and these other corporate disasters employed in operating American schools and McKinsey’s no-fault attitude toward advising local, state, and federal governments on educational policy?

 

Pearson’s Affordable Learning division currently focuses on emerging markets in Africa and India, but it is the model for Pearson business worldwide. It includes eAdvance (South Africa), which sponsors a blended learning chain called Spark Schools; Omega, a chain of thirty-eight private schools in Ghana; Bridge International Academies in Kenya; and Zaya, an educational technology and service company contracted to operate twenty-seven schools; Suiksha, a chain of pre-schools; Experifun, which markets science learning products; Avanti, after-school test prep; and Village Capital (Edupreneurs) promoting private education start-up companies, all based in India. The blurb for eAdvance’s Spark Schools give some sense of what Pearson is trying to do in Africa, India and worldwide – under price the market to disrupt existing educational institutions so Pearson companies can move in, take over, and gobble up profits.

 

“SPARK Schools has bold aspirations to disrupt the South African education system through introducing an innovative learning methodology to the African continent. In the SPARK Schools model, students split their time between digital content that adapts in difficulty to their learning and classroom interaction based on best practice pedagogy. Importantly, the blended model also allows eAdvance to deliver high quality education at an affordable price.” It will “build eight low-cost blended learning schools over the next three years, and more than 60 in the next ten.”

Pearson is also using mergers to expand its markets and influence. In December 2013, Pearson agreed to purchase Grupo Multi, an English-language training company in Brazil, to accelerate growth in Latin America.

 

Pearson uses the desperation of Third World countries to modernize to get its foot in the door and to act without regulation or oversight. Up until now, about sixty percentof Pearson’s sales were in the United States, however expansion stalled in this country because of lower freshman enrollments in U.S. colleges and a slowdown in textbook markets. Sales also suffered in Great Britain because of curriculum changes and the company spent about $200 million organizing its push into foreign digital markets.

 

As a result of these issues, Moody’s Investors Service, a ratings agency, lowered its evaluation of Pearson from stable to negative. “We are changing the outlook to negative as Pearson’s debt protection metrics for fiscal year 2013 are likely to weaken considerably,” says According to Gunjan Dixit, a Moody’s Assistant Vice President-Analyst, “This view reflects Pearson’s tough trading conditions, particularly in North America and the UK; the greater-than-originally-anticipated spending on restructuring; and certain start-up costs for new contracts in higher education and increased provisions for returns.” According to Moody’s, key challenges for Pearson in the future include (1) the fiscal health of U.S. states and international government funding bodies, in its schools and higher education businesses; (2) difficult market conditions in the U.S. education market; (3) the vulnerability of its Financial Times group; and (4) the accelerating transition of trade book publishing to electronic formats. Pearson stockholders were so disappointed in the company’s financial performance that in April 2014, shareholders protested against excessive executive bonuses.

 

In the United States, Pearson faces other problems that may be related to over expansion, the inability to deliver what was promised, and possible under the table agreements on contracts. In Florida, state officials blamed Pearson Education when at least a dozen Florida school districts were forced to suspend online testing this April because students had trouble signing in for the test. for the situation. Other problems included slowness when students tried to download test questions or submit answers and an inexplicable warning message that students should notify their teacher or proctor about a problem that did not exist. “State Education Commissioner Pam Stewart complained to Pearson that the “failure is inexcusable. Florida’s students and teachers work too hard on learning to be distracted by these needless and avoidable technological issues.”

 

Pearson blamed the test problems on a third-party hosting service provider. However, in recent years Pearson has had similar problems with computerized tests in Florida before as well as in other states. In 2011, Wyoming fined Pearson $5.1 million because of software problems and then switched back to paper tests. In April, Pearson was also forced to acknowledge and apologize for “intermittent disruptions to some of our online testing services.” This time they blamed a different sub-contractor.

 

In the meantime, the American Institutes for Research is challenging the awarding of a lucrative common core test development contract to Pearson. While the complaint is being brought in New Mexico, it has national ramification. The contract is for developing test-items, test delivery, reporting results, and analysis of student performance for states that are part of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, one of two main consortia designing tests linked to the common-core standards. The plaintiff claims the process for awarding the contract was designed to specifically benefit Pearson, which ended up being the only bidder, and was therefore illegal.

 

In New York State, parents and teachers are outraged because teachers and building administrators are forced to sign statements promising not to discuss or release questions about new Pearson “Common Core” aligned high-stakes tests. In the past, questions from past state high school “Regents” exams were posted on the State Education website. Now Pearson, which is paid $32 million by New York State to create the tests is demanding a payment of an additional $8 million to permit the state to post the questions.

 

 

In New Zealand, a group called Save Our Schools NZ is protesting the misuse of PISA (Programme of International Student Assessment) tests and rankings by national education departments. They charge “Pisa, with its three-year assessment cycle, has caused a shift of attention to short-term fixes designed to help a country quickly climb the rankings, despite research showing that enduring changes in education practice take decades, not a few years, to come to fruition.” Pearson holds the contract to prepare PISA assessments starting in 2015.

 

For all its claims about efficacy, Pearson is not a very efficient company. For all its claims about valuing education, the only thing Pearson appears to value is profit.

 

Alan Singer, Director, Secondary Education Social Studies
Department of Teaching, Literacy and Leadership
128 Hagedorn Hall / 119 Hofstra University / Hempstead, NY 11549

Utah Dads’ Open Letters on Common Core Math and Local Control   2 comments

These two excellent letters are written by two Utah dads, Oak Norton and Jared Carman.

If you would like to write to the state board, send an email to: board@schools.utah.gov -and if you would like to attend their  meeting and speak during a two minute public comment allowance, email the board with your request.

If you would like to share your letter about Utah math and standards that you have sent to the board, please feel free to use the comments section below, so we can all read these letters.  I’ll post mine there, too.

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Dear State School Board members,

I have reviewed the presentation the USOE has prepared for the math committee members on Thursday night (http://schools.utah.gov/board/Meetings/Agenda/docs/Tab11.aspx). I have a conflict and cannot come to make a public comment so I am emailing you my comments.

I see you are also discussing the search for a new state superintendent. I have honestly appreciated Superintendent Menlove’s outreach, particularly these last few months. He truly made an effort to be a good listener to concerns and also helped resolve them, particularly as families around the state had difficulty opting their children out of SAGE tests. That said, I believe it is time to hire from outside the education circles of Utah. There are people within the power structure that must be fired. It is very difficult for friends to fire friends. Political games are played to ensure their jobs. Hiring from out of state would allow someone to come in and clean house and give the USOE the course correction they need. Someone experienced with a top notch education system elsewhere would be an ideal candidate.

It is obvious from the USOE presentation to you just how biased they are toward maintaining CCSS in Utah. During the last legislative session they succeeded in getting a $2 million fiscal note attached to Rep. Layton’s bill to replace Common Core, so I am happy to see they have dramatically lowered that figure for your presentation. Replacing standards is not nearly as expensive as they want to make it look. In fact, I know they were telling people that adopting Common Core was free, while doing anything else was expensive. Common Core was not free, it was quite expensive, but since Bill Gates funded its multi-million dollar creation and we only had to spend some millions of dollars in Utah to implement it, I guess we can play the game that it was free.

There happen to be free or extremely low cost solutions that are far superior to Common Core.

In math, we could adopt California, Indiana, or Massachusetts’ pre-Common Core math standards which Fordham identified as clearly superior to CCSS. The wonderful thing here is solid textbooks were completely aligned for CA due to its population size, and assessments would most likely be available with a 100% match to those standards.

In English, we have the Massachusetts revision to their excellent ELA standards, which never got implemented due to MA adopting CCSS. We also have another set of “English Success Standards” written by teachers which is free and could be adopted for free. We also have a standing offer from Dr. Sandra Stotsky, one of the MA authors, to come to Utah for the cost of lodging and incidentals, and work with Utah teachers to create our own top of the nation ELA standards.

I was heavily involved in getting Utah the 2007 standards. In 2009, before the 2007 standards had even been fully implemented in the state, the USOE signed onto an agreement to develop CC. This caused a number of districts to slow or stop their roll out of the 2007 standards because they knew something else was coming. By 2010, CCSS was released and adopted so many districts never even fully rolled out the 2007 standards because of the speed with which they were replaced. For the USOE to say that only 44% of students on the 2007 standards would achieve the 66% college goal of the governor is a wild falsehood and a scare tactic. They have no idea. For them to say CCSS will achieve this goal is also a wild stab in the dark since these standards are an experiment that just begun. Fordham actually said our 2007 standards were clearer and stronger than CCSS. Further, the 2007 standards would have been even stronger if the USOE had not wholesale rejected the recommendations of Dr. Wu, the external reviewer from Berkeley, for those standards. Their disgust at having to replace our D rated prior standards showed through the process and we wound up with A- rated standards instead of what would have probably been A rated standards. What we had was superior to Common Core and what we would have gotten would have put us in line with states like CA, IN, and MA.

Further, it is a bald faced lie that CCSS were internationally benchmarked. That has been completely disproven. They are not “world class” standards. The only professional mathematician on the Common Core validation committee, who also writes standards and reviews international standards, refused to sign off on CCSS precisely for this reason –that CCSS leaves us 2 years behind international competitors. CCSS is already damaging our children by pushing them too hard in early grades and too slow in upper, particularly due to the awful implementation of the integrated method by the USOE in order that they could push their constructivist agenda into schools with the awful MVP program. Our 2007 standards were supposed to have been internationally benchmarked against Singapore and Japan. Nicole Paulson at the USOE told the committee this would take place, but to my knowledge she never did it.

Utah must have a complete break from anything tied to the federal government. CCSS, regardless of who you think actually created it, has clearly been hijacked by the federal government in an effort to consolidate the powers of education and control the system. The best decision, I believe, is to grant control of standards to the LEAs and shatter the ability for the feds or even the state to affect truly local control. Lets set up the laboratories within the state. There are no parents in this state who are going to want less than a wonderful education experience for their children. We always talk about increasing parental involvement. This would maximize it from the standards perspective. If you’re not willing to do this, then I would strongly recommend adopting the excellent [pre-common core] standards of California for which there are textbooks and a large test bank that could be accessed.

The USOE slide of supporters contains a practical who’s who of constructivist, Investigations math loving people, as well as others who are financially benefiting from the USOE. Of course they are going to support them in CCSS!

I wish there was time and space to comment on many other slides in their presentation, but it’s obvious they are biased on their perspective, and it’s obvious that there is a strong growing concern about the direction they are taking Utah. Nothing impacts someone like having their child who once loved math now hate it. It only hits home when it affects you, as several legislators have now had happen to them.

Please get Utah off anything close to CCSS and its one-size-fits-all “solution.” LEA’s controlling their own standards can innovate and do things they otherwise couldn’t do.

Sincerely,

Oak Norton

 

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Dr. Menlove,

 

I have read your June 6 memo to the USBE regarding Mathematics Standards. As a parent and citizen activist, I ask you to please restore control of standards and testing to local districts & charters (LEAs).

This will not be as costly or problematic as the table in the memo suggests. By engaging directly with parents, LEAs can adopt pre-common core standards from other states, and use time-tested, pre-common core textbooks.

 

‘Children are an heritage of the Lord,’ given to parents, not the state. By restoring LEA control of standards & testing, Utah would take an important step in support of this fundamental truth.

 

Restoring LEA control would not mean that the state does not have a role to play. In fact the state could help LEAs:

  •  Build a culture of serving parents/guardians, who are the consumers of educational services on behalf of their children.
  •  Create smaller districts that are more responsive to parents.
  •  Work with parent/church groups to help mentor children with less than ideal home circumstances.

 

Thank you for listening.

 

Best regards,

 

Jared Carman

Highland, UT

 

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For Utah School Districts: A Common Core Fact-Checking Adventure   3 comments

Rainforest-Hiker-2-NYT-1200x550

Let’s not call this research!   This is a fact-checking adventure.

This adventure begins because of the FAQ statements about Common Core posted at the Provo  School District website.  (See it on their  website or just scroll to the bottom of the page where I’ve pasted it.)

This post is not meant to be accusatory or mean.  Provo District and other districts tend to trust and echo  what’s spoken and posted by the State Office.   Clearly, districts and boards, like anyone, can and do make factual errors; but when the errors are very clearly pointed out, those mistakes should be corrected.

I apologize for the length of this article.  I chiseled and chiseled but cannot in good conscience make it any shorter. 

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Question #1 at the Provo District FAQ states: “The Common Core was a grassroots initiative initiated by state governors and Superintendents in 2007.”

Common Core is far from being “grassroots.”  President Obama has been pushing for national standards for many years.  In 2007, he was justifying his decision to stop NASA’s Moon and Mars exploration programs to fund “his” new education program.  His administration has used different terms to refer to his takeover of local education, but it has also provided a federal, official definition   of “college and career ready standards” being “standards that are common to a significant number of states” –which can only be Common Core.  He paid for Common Core test development.  And Obama’s famous blueprint for reform included four education reforms, one of which was data collection, one of which was common standards and tests, and you can read the rest.

Obama’s Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, claimed that a federal takeover of education was Obama’s idea.  Buried in the second half of a long, glowing official speech about U.S. education reform are  these words by Arne Duncan: “The North Star guiding the alignment of our cradle-to-career education agenda is President Obama’s goal” –and he said that even though: “Traditionally, the federal government in the U.S. has had a limited role in education policy,” Obama “has sought to fundamentally shift the federal role, so that the Department is doing much more…  America is now in the midst of a “quiet revolution” in school reform.”

Secretary Duncan  gloated that many states fell for the financially-baited federal Common Core hook without debating the move, but Duncan always carefully called the Standards a state-led creation, keeping up the ruse.  He said that a majority of states “and the District of Columbia have already chosen to adopt the new state-crafted Common Core standards in math and English. Not studying it, not thinking about it, not issuing a white paper—they have actually done it. Over three-fourths of all U.S. public school students now reside in states that have voluntarily adopted higher, common college-ready standards… That is an absolute game-changer.”

Indeed it was a game changer.

To clear up doubt about whether Common Core was or was not grassroots-and-teacher-led, just follow the money trail. Those who paid for and promote this are being paid, or will be handsomely paid as it is implemented, to do so. The SBAC and PARCC Common Core tests are funded by the federal government. The Common Core standards’ writing, marketing and implementation are funded primarily by Microsoft owner, Pearson-Ed partner Bill Gates.   This unelected influence continues locally.  In Utah, the ways in which Pearson/Gates controls school data collection  is formidable.

Most telling is the official partnership of the Department of Education with the Common Core creators.  The ongoing support (coercion) of the federal government to have states adopt the private-trade-group held, copyrighted Common Core means that Common Core is neither purely a federal takeover nor is it purely a privatization of public schools, but it is a public-private partnership, a concept that takes voters out of the decision making driver’s seat.

Question #1 also misleads us by saying that Common Core was “initiated by state governors and superintendents.”   It is true that the governors’ club, (NGA) and the superintendents’ club, (CCSSO) did create and copyright Common Core.  Their “frequently asked questions” officially explains:  “the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), led the development of the Common Core State Standards and continue to lead…”  But not all governors belong to NGA!  Not all superintendents belong to CCSSO!  Some, in fact, are vehemently opposed to these private, closed-door, non-transparent, unelected trade organizations that wield falsely assumed power.  I say “falsely assumed” because they pretend to Congress-like national representational authority for states, but they are not an elected group.  No voter can affect what they do.  No reporter can report on what they do.

Questions 2, 3 and 4 take on the question of whether standards and curriculum are independent of one another.  This is like saying that a skeleton (standards) does not dictate what a body (curriculum) looks like.  It’s a half-truth: sure, they are not the same thing.  But I defy anyone to build a curriculum and related tests that truly soar above or are very different looking than the standards they are built upon.  Watch the statement in a video by main Common Core funder Bill Gates as he explains to legislators that he’s looking forward to schools being a uniform customer base, and that “we’ll only know if Common Core standards work” when the standards, curriculum and tests align.  You might also listen to teachers who testify that standards do drive curriculum and testing, as they narrow the autonomy and innovation of a classroom.

Question 5 asserts that the Common Core standards were internationally benchmarked.  This is not true.

Dr. James Milgram, the Stanford emeritus professor of mathematics who served on the Common Core validation committee and who refused to sign off on the standards, said:

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…”

Likewise, Professor Sandra Stotsky, who served on the same committee, who also refused to sign off on the Common Core standards because they were academically inferior,  has written:

“…we are regularly told that Common Core’s standards are internationally benchmarked. Joel Klein, former head of the New York City schools, most recently repeated this myth in an interview with Paul Gigot, the Wall Street Journal editor, during the first week in June. Not mentioned at all in the interview or the op-ed he co-authored in the WSJ a week later is Klein’s current position in a company that does a lot of business with Common Core. An Exxon ad, repeated multiple times during a recently televised national tennis match, also suggested that Common Core’s standards were internationally benchmarked. We don’t know who influenced Exxon’s education director. Gigot never asked Klein what countries we were supposedly benchmarked to. Nor did the Exxon ad name a country to which these standards were supposedly benchmarked. Klein wouldn’t have been able to answer, nor could Exxon have named a country because Common Core’s standards are not internationally benchmarked. Neither the methodologically flawed study by William Schmidt of Michigan State University, nor the post-Common Core studies by David Conley of the University of Oregon, all funded by the Gates Foundation, have shown that Common Core’s content is close to, never mind equal to, the level of the academic content of the mathematics and English standards in high-achieving countries.”

In which top-achieving country is Algebra pushed to grade 9 instead of grade 8?  In which top-achieving country is classic literature being replaced gradually by informational text?  The phrase “internationally benchmarked” is misleading millions of people.

Question 6 states that the federal government has no role in the implementation or development of Common Core.  This is a half-truth; as shown above, the federal government partnered with private groups who are developing and implementing the Common Core.  The role of the federal government has been to heavy-handedly partner with and to promote the Career and College Readiness /aka Common Core Initiative’s full agenda, with grants, speeches, and threats –while saying that localities retain freedom to choose.

Question 7 asks:  Will Utah taxpayers have to pay more money to implement the new Utah Core Standards?  The Provo District says that it will not cost any additional money.  This cannot possibly be true– even common sense alerts us to this, but so does Pioneer Institute, a rare think tank that is not-Bill-Gates-nor-federally funded. Here is that think tank’s report.

Reason this out. When, in the past, have districts needed to throw out and replace virtually all old text books for totally different math and English standards?  Never.  When have there been so many wholly transformative (for good or ill) teacher development classes statewide? Never.  When has the state tested students so often and so heavily to align with national  testing practices?  Taxpayers even had to fund the marketing and political blitzing of the Utah State Office of Education as it has aimed to persuade parents that Common Core is a positive change.

Question 8 asks, “How does the local school board fit into the Common Core?”  Without saying so directly, it answers its own question:  the local school board’s job has seemingly become to nod and agree with all that the state pushes upon it, groupthink style.

Question  9 asks, “Do these standards incorporate both content and skills?”  While it is true that both content and skills are partially covered in Common Core, it is an important reality that less knowledge and more of what Dr. Stotsky refers to as “empty skill sets,” with much less content, is being taught under Common Core.   Virtually everything has changed, and all without field testing or academic research to base the changes upon.  Even  vocabulary words are changing to less literary, more technical/industrial words, words that are being called “more relevant” than the rich vocabulary offered in the literary classics.   And, while small passages of founding documents and classic literature are to be taught and tested, they are not to be placed in context nor read in whole.   This, to me, looks like dumbing down.  Professor Thomas Newkirk of the University of New Hampshire explains:  “The central message in their guidelines is that the focus should be on “the text itself”… The text should be understood in “its own terms.” While the personal connections and judgments of the readers may enter in later, they should do so only after students demonstrate “a clear understanding of what they read.” So the model of reading seems to have two stages—first a close reading in which the reader withholds judgment or comparison with other texts, focusing solely on what is happening within “the four corners of the text.” And only then are prior knowledge, personal association, and appraisal allowed in.  This seems to me an inhuman, even impossible, and certainly unwise prescription.”  –Speaking Back to the Common Core

The Provo District claims:  “In Mathematics, the Common Core State Standards lay a solid foundation in whole numbers, addition, subtraction…”  At which ages are these math concepts being taught?  Many foundational concepts have been pushed back.  Fluency with fractions/decimals/ratios is pushed to junior high, when it used to be foundational for elementary school levels.  Most calculus and  other higher math concepts are pushed out of high school completely— not available until college.   Dr. James Milgram said that Common Core math standards “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…”  Noted math expert Ze’ev Wurman has noted that Common Core math standards, now set in the concrete of nationalized, high-stakes testing, “mark the cessation of educational standards improvement in the United States.”

Question 10 asks whether these math standards cover all the key math topics in the proper sequence.  It claims that the Common Core math standards “are coherent and based on evidence”  No link to such evidence is given.

We need such evidence.  Academics nationwide are pointing out that because no evidence exists, the standards are an experiment.  They were never field tested prior to the nationwide rollout.

Dr. Milgram has said, “There is no point where the student-constructed algorithms are explicitly replaced by the very efficient standard methods for doing one-digit operations. Why does Common Core adopt this convoluted method of teaching math? The stated reason is that learning the standard algorithm doesn’t give students a “deeper conceptual understanding” of what they’re doing. But the use of student-constructed algorithms is at odds with the practices of high-achieving countries and is not supported by research. Common Core is using our children for a huge and risky experiment.”

Question 11  addresses the ongoing discussion about who has control of the classroom.  Provo District states that the Common Core standards “do not dictate how teachers should teach. Teachers will continue to devise lesson plans and tailor instruction to the individual needs of the students in their classrooms, as well as select instructional materials they feel are most appropriate.”

But teachers are testifying that this is not true.  Utah teachers Ann Florence, Stuart Harper, Susan Wilcox, Malin Williams, Diana McKay and many other teachers have spoken out and risked or lost their jobs to tell a very different story.   In addition, we have the above-cited testimony of funder Bill Gates  who says that the standards, tests and curriculum will align to prove that the standards “work.”  It’s like the old Ford Advertisement: “You can Have Any Color As Long as it’s Black.”  The state, federal, and corporate ed sales (textbook companies) say the same thing: “You can have any standards as long as they are the exact same as all other states’ standards.”  Almost all the curriculum in the nation is aligning, building a new education system on a very sandy foundation.  The fact is that there is a Common Core  15% no-adding-to-the-standards rule in contracts and agreements that is common knowledge, both in testing and curriculum.  The USOE continues to dismiss the suffocating 15% rule as “not a big deal.”

Question 12 asks what would happen if Utah were to reject Common Core.  The Provo District then says that because the Common Core Standards “are not federal” that this would not alter Utah’s relationship with the federal government.  This assertion contains two untrue portions: 1) saying that Common Core Standards are not federal implies that they are not federally approved/federally promoted/federally set as conditions for receipt of federal grants and Title I monies.  But they are all of those things.

Although the NGA/CCSSO wrote and copyrighted the standards, the federal government has pushed  them more than anyone —has disguised the nature  and name of it, deceptive language. Federally, the Common Core Standards are called the “College and Career-Ready Standards.”  But at the NGA/CCSSO level, it’s called Common Core.  The feds officially defined “College and Career Ready Standards” as “standards common to a significant number of states.”  See this official re-definition on the federal education website.  Although federal insiders know this, they don’t choose to clarify it.

Question 12 goes on to say that because Utah Law now requires computer adaptive testing, the  testing would continue with AIR (American Institutes for Research) even if we rejected Common Core itself.  This does not make sense; Utah’s AIR (aka SAGE)  test is aligned to Common Core.   Why would we stick with that after dropping Common Core?  Were we to reject Common Core, we would then create an alternative test with a non-Common Core aligned company using better, independent standards.

Question 12 states that the State Longitudinal Data System (SLDS) would still be in  place. This is true, and problematic.  Since Utah has no proper protections in place over the privacy of student data, and since the federal goverment shredded formerly protective federal FERPA privacy laws, Utah would have to either create proper protections legislatively, or Utah would need to shut down the SLDS and return the $9.6 million that Utah accepted from the federal government to create it, using federally directed interoperability frameworks  (see pages 2 and 4 on that grant’s pdf) which created a de facto national data collection system).   Since national data collection systems, de facto or not, are illegal, it would be preferable to shut down the SLDS.

Question 12 further states that “Utah would have to go through the expense of writing a new core or adopt  the former core–which is not seen as “College and Career Ready” standards… newly purchased materials have to be discarded. If Utah  writes unique standards, there will be little or no available materials or textbooks to  support their instruction.”  This is mostly correct.  Utah’s hasty adoption of Common Core has cost her countless millions in newly purchased materials and programs.  (See question 7 above, which ironically asserts that the cost of Common Core is not an issue.)  There are  a limited number of textbook companies that offer curriculum independent from Common Core.  Some curriculum companies, such as Saxon Math and Shirley Grammar, still offer editions that have not changed to Common Core to accomodate private schools and home schools.  Others, such as the Institute for Excellence in Writing, have re-labeled curriculum, calling it Common Core aligned,  but have not made actual changes to it.  Remember that all older (classical education) texts are independent of Common Core, since Common Core only began its explosive  existence in the past four years.

Question 13 asks what assessments are required by the federal government and answers that ESEA (Elementary and Secondary Education Act) aka “No  Child Left Behind” requires states to have  assessments in math, language arts, and science. This is true. What isn’t explained, and should be, is this:  The federal government first of all has no constitutional business requiring states to have assessments.  See the U.S. Constitution and G.E.P.A. law (General Educational Provisions Act).

Yet the federal government now corrals its state funding  to be used for tests, technologies, professional development, and student computer devices only if and when they are aligned with Common Core (aka College and Career Ready, or CCR).  The federal government approves a limited number of testing organizations and consortia.  (Utah’s so-called choice, the A.I.R. company, has “developed the only computer adaptive test that is federally approved.“)

Question 15 contends that “Utah teachers will write all of the questions that will be used in the new assessment  system”  and that “Every teacher in the state has been invited to participate in the item writing.”   Every teacher in the state has not been invited.  Ask around.  It’s not true.  Also, in the words of the actual contract that Utah and the A.I.R. testing company have signed –the contract is available from the State Office of Education–  a combination of AIR psychometricians, and also Utah teachers, are co-writing the test items.  Why let a single psychometrician anywhere near our children’s academic tests?

 

Question 16  discusses the 15-parent panel which reviews the AIR/SAGE tests to see that they are strictly academic.  The panel’s work has not been given the respect it deserved.  Nor can we honestly say that the USOE is not collecting behavioral data, inside the SAGE test or by other state-created methods to be discussed below.

Of her experience on the parent panel, mother Alyson Williams, stated (see the comments section) that:

“There were questions that parents flagged as inappropriate, subjective or biased. We were promised that these test items would be reviewed and addressed and that we would get to see how they were addressed… long after this Spring’s pilot, unfortunately… I feel it is a manipulation of my cooperation to characterize it as unreserved approval of these assessments.”

Another member of the panel, Louisa Walker, stated: “Quoted from [Assistant State Superintendent] Judy Park: ‘… Every parent on the panel… agreed that there was nothing in the questions that was inappropriate.’ I served on that 15 parent committee, and I will tell you that is not trueI wasn’t the only one to flag items because of subjective, inappropriate, or misleading content…”

A third member of the parent panel, Jennie Earl, stated that only 2 or 3 parents actually read each of the questions, due to the huge number of questions and small number of parents permitted to read them.  She wrote:   “… a parent would read a question they had concerns with to gather additional insight from the other parents in the room… because of the nature of the content in the question or bias in the wording…. These items were flagged in addition to other items parents felt needed revision or removal. We don’t know the final outcome thus far on flagged items…  I might add… measuring teachers and schools based on a value-added model or growth model is not a valid measurement tool for identifying effective teachers or schools.”

A fourth member of the 15-parent state panel, Kim Kehrer, wrote: “I was also on the parent panel. The questions were reviewed at most by two members of the 15 parent panel. Here are the facts: 43 questions were removed due to various reasons. 160 questions were changed or modified to address the question of concern and 397 questions will be used in the testing and reviewed again next year. I second Jennie Earl’s comment that we are not a validating committee.”

In addition to these concerns, the idea that the tests were strictly academic must be addressed.  That cannot be believed by any rational researcher.

Here’s why:

1-  Do a word search on the AIR contract with Utah; the word “psychometric” comes up 73 times. (Look up that word’s definition and find that psychometrics are psychological and educational measurement using tests.)

2-  Look up the AIR company:  “AIR’s mission is to conduct and apply the best behavioral and social science research and evaluation”.

3-  Look at Utah’s legislation about computer adaptive state testing and learn that HB15, created in 2012, requires the collection of  behavior indicators. It calls for “ the use of student behavior indicators in assessing student performance” as part of the testing. This is Utah’s S.A.G.E. test or A.I.R.– test. (There were other, similar laws, years prior to this, as well.) –Are we to believe that although AIR’s purpose is to test behavioral and social indicators, and although Utah law says that the test must test behavioral indicators, the test still won’t?

4- See Utah’s SLDS grant application starting at page 87  and read how non-cognitive behaviors that have nothing to do with academics, will be collected and studied. (This may or may not include information embedded in AIR/SAGE tests)  These behaviors will include “social comfort and integration, academic conscientiousness, resiliency, etc.” to be evaluated in part through the psychometric census known as the “Student Strengths Inventory. (SSI)” That inventory –a child’s psychological information– will be integrated into the database (SLDS).  The SLDS grant promises to integrate psychological data into the state database.

“With the introduction of UtahFutures and the Student Strengths Inventory (SSI) and its focus on noncognitive data, combining such data with other longitudinal student level data to the USOE Data Warehouse the UDA.”  It also says: “… psychosocial or noncognitive factors… include, but are not limited to educational commitment, academic engagement and conscientiousness, social comfort and social integration, academic self-efficacy, resiliency…  Until recently, institutions had to rely on standardized cognitive measures to identify student needs. … We propose to census test all current student in grades 11 and 12 using… SSI,  a measure of noncognitive attitudes and behaviors.” The Student Strengths Inventory (SSI) is a “psychometric census” to be taken by every 11th and 12th grade student in Utah.

The Utah Office of Education openly admits to gathering student psychological data.  It has not yet openly admitted that SAGE/AIR tests do this.  But with such a policy, openly shown in the USOE’s SLDS grant, why wouldn’t the USOE also, soon if not now, use the SAGE test along with SSI, to gather attitude and belief data on Utah children?  The point is that proper legal protections are not in place.  Student data and family privacy is vulnerable.

5– The USOE has a history of working in harmony with even the unconstitutional federal initiatives.  The U.S. Department of Education  issued a report on school gathering of behavioral/belief data.  Read its 2013 “Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perserverance” report.  It encourages assessment of student beliefs and personality characteristics, and the keeping of longitudinal records of these traits.  The report encourages the use of facial expression cameras, wireless skin conductors, posture analysis seats and other physical devices to measure student attitudes, beliefs and engagement with what is being presented. (see page 44)

Why isn’t the Provo District and the Utah School Board making statements of discontent with the directions in which the federal government is taking education and data collection in light of such federal reports and recommendations?

Question 18, 19 and 20 concern student data privacy.  18 asks what individual student information is given to the federal government  from the assessments given in Utah. It says that “districts do not gather personal information from families such as religion affiliation.”  It says, “The Federal  Government does not have a direct connection with the Utah data base.”

Almost no proper legal protections are in place for student data privacy, while parents are not permitted to opt any public/charter school-attending child out of the state database (SLDS).  Also, formerly protective federal FERPA privacy laws have been shredded by the Department of Education.  Changes include reducing the requirement (of getting parental consent prior to accessing personally identifiable student information) to an optional “best practice“.   At the same time, local privacy laws at least in Utah, are unspecific. Data alliances and data sharing practices among agencies grow and grow, almost unrestrained by privacy laws.

The federal government has long been collecting aggregate (partial, grouped, not easily personally-identifiable) student data.  The CCSSO has been collecting national data, too.  This is common knowledge.

What is in question is whether these D.C. entities have any access to the fifty State Longitudinal Database Systems, which contain personally identifiable information, databases which are (by federal grant-mandate) inter-operable databases.  This question was addressed, ironically, by an insider, a writer named David DeSchryver who aimed to persuade readers to agree that ESEA (No Child Left Behind, a federal law) should be reauthorized.   While I disagree with that thesis, I appreciate that the author of the Whiteboard Advisors article revealed what should be common knowledge: the federal government is collecting SLDS-collected student data via the IES and NCES.

He writes: “Most readers are probably not aware that the law [ESEA] authorizes the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), and other research related work. IES provides much of the commonly used and accepted data on US public schools…. the IES is uniquely positioned…  It has access to data from every state and school district…  This data…  bolstered by longitudinal data systems, will benefit the entire field of education. More data, however, requires more organization and IES plays an important role here… It helps to standardize data structure so that new data can connect to prior data sets and research.”

The CCSSO (Council of Chief State School Officers) which  copyrighted Common Core and created it, the same CCSSO that created Common Educational Data Standards –has an openly admitted, openly stated mission to disaggregate student data.  (See goal #4) The past and current State Superintendents and the Associate State Superintendent of Utah are members of CCSSO.  Assistant Superintendent Judy Park is also a writer for CCSSO.  This makes me fairly confident that these Utahns are aware of what the CCSSO stands for and what its goals are.

To dis-aggregate means to move toward specificity:  identifying which individual person did what. Disaggregation means that academic bundles of students’ information will be separated into groups that are increasingly easy to identify individually.  A press release showed that Choice/Pearson partnered with the state of Utah to create the UTREX system that would disaggregate student data.

(Every Utahns should ask our top education leaders and legislators why, on the CCSSO website, it states that one of its main goals is “Continued Commitment to Disaggregation” of student data.  Why do we remain supporters of CCSSO?)

Provo district says that ” The Federal Government has no direct access to this [SLDS/UTREX data] system.”  But indirectly, it does.  From the Data Quality Campaign (DQC) we read: “states must… continue building linkages [from K-12] … across critical agencies such as health, social services and criminal justice…” So if the federal government has access to any DQC-adhering state’s database, it will have access to the other agencies’ information about citizens linked thereby.

Utah is a Data Quality Campaign adherent.   The DQC used Utah in its report as a prime example of how its state foster care services data and its school-collected data were combined to find out information about a certain child.  Parental rights or student privacy rights were not mentioned as being a relevant part of that equation.

The federal EDFACTS data exchange claims that it’s gathering national data.  The student data dis-aggregation club, CCSSO, is officially partnered with the federal government to use CEDS, common data standards in education which make student data more easily disaggregated.   Additionally, the federal government paid for all 50 states to have federally-structured State Longitudinal Database Systems to collect personally identifiable information.  National Data Collection Models encourage (but do not require) personally identifiable information to be collected and shared between agencies and among states.  And at the Arne Duncan-approveData Quality Campaign, we learn that  the answer to” “Are education data just test scores?” is: “No… Data include student and teacher attendance, services students receive, student academic development and growth, teacher preparation information, postsecondary success and remediation rates, and more.”

Previous to widespread scrutiny of the (federal branch) NCES’s National Data Collection Model (NDCM) and prior to the NDCM removing this information, but, as older  news articlesvideos and blogs testify—  it was suggested by the federal model that student nicknames, religious affiliation, birthdate, GPA, allergies, maternal last name, voting status and many more data fields should be filled by schools.   (For evidence see screenshots which were saved from NDCM – minute 27:26 on this video by the Restore Oklahoma Public Education group.  I, too, saw and wrote about them here.)

Question 21 correctly asserts that Utah state law (code 53A-1-402.6) allows Utah to “exit any agreement, contract, memorandum of understanding, or consortium that cedes control of Utah’s core curriculum standards.”  The problem has never been that we can’t exit; it’s that there is not enough understanding of the gravity of the Common Core error, nor enough political will, to choose to exit.

Question 22 says that adequate public feedback opportunities were given prior to adoption of Common Core.  Whether on the national or state level, this is untrue.  This assertion has been rebutted by the Alpine School District (minutes) and by Alpine Board member Wendy Hart,  as well as by the Karl G. Maeser School Board.  Maesar’s statement to the Utah School Board says, “there were no opportunities for review of these standards by local school districts or parents.”

If adequate feedback opportunities had been offered, wouldn’t parents at least know the term “Common Core” prior to being told it was already adopted?  If adequate public feedback opportunities had been offered, wouldn’t legislatures that are now paying for its implementation have had some discussion in the newspapers?  Wouldn’t teachers (like me) have been sent an email, inviting us to research and submit public comment on the subject?  The fact that the public debates on the topic and the vast firestorm of anti-Common Core disapproval is happening now, FOUR YEARS AFTER Utah implemented it, is evidence that it was not properly, adequately discussed prior to adoption.  For more on this absurd hastiness, listen to the public record audio “minutes” of the state school board in 2010 as they hastily adopted the standards without even a full first reading, due to federal time pressure on a grant application deadline that was Common Core adoption-dependent:

May 1, 2009 Utah School Board Meeting, Agenda Item: National Common Standards
http://www.schools.utah.gov/board/Meetings/Audiocast/2009.aspx
June 17, 2009 Legislative Interim Education Committee Meeting
Quoted audio starts about 27:30
http://utahlegislature.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=17&clip_id=5624
July 18, 2011 Alpine School Board Training, select the first audio file, quoted starts about 27:14
http://sbs.alpinedistrict.org/cgi-bin/WebObjects/eAgenda.woa/wa/displayMeeting?meetingID=850

 

 

Finally, for your reference, here is the original Q & A:

_________________________________

 

Provo School District

Common Core FAQ*

* Provo City School District recognizes Seth Sorensen, the Curriculum and Assessment Specialist for Nebo School District for his work in creating the original FAQ document on which this is based.

Q1. Who led the Common Core State Standards Initiative?

A. The Common Core was a grassroots initiative initiated by state governors and  Superintendents in 2007. The nation’s governors and education commissioners,  through their representative organizations, the National Governors Association  (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) led the development of  the Common Core State Standards and continue to lead the initiative. Teachers,  parents, school administrators and experts from across the country together with  state leaders have provided input into the development of the standards.

Q2. What are core standards?

A. Core or educational standards help teachers ensure their students have the skills  and knowledge they need to be successful by providing clear goals for student learning. Standards are concepts that need to be taught, such as addition of fractions in  mathematics, and the grade level where they should be taught.

Q3. What is the difference between standards and curriculum?
A. Standards are the required skills and concepts for the students to achieve. Curriculum include the materials and content that is used to teach the standards.

Q4. Who chooses/adopts state standards and curriculum?
A. The Utah Constitution designates to the Utah State School Board the  responsibility to choose state standards. Local school boards and the Utah  Legislature do not. Local school boards and schools select the curriculum, which is  generally the textbook or program for delivering the standards. Local school teams  and individual teachers choose the everyday lesson content. The Federal  Government has no say in either standards, curriculum or everyday lesson content.  Utah State Code states in 53A-1-402.6. Core curriculum standards: “(1)  In establishing minimum standards related to curriculum and instruction  requirements under Section 53A-1-402, the State Board of Education shall,  in consultation with local school boards, school superintendents, teachers,  employers, and parents implement core curriculum standards which will  enable students to, among other objectives:
(a) communicate effectively, both verbally and through written communication;
(b) apply mathematics; and
(c) access, analyze, and apply information.”

The Utah Code also spells out local school board control of materials:

“(4) Local school boards shall design their school programs, that are supported by  generally accepted scientific standards of evidence, to focus on the core  curriculum standards with the expectation that each program will enhance  or help achieve mastery of the core curriculum standards.
(5) Except as provided in Section 53A-13-101, each school may select  instructional materials and methods of teaching, that are supported by  generally accepted scientific standards of evidence, that it considers most  appropriate to meet core curriculum standards.”  http://le.utah.gov/code/TITLE53A/htm/53A01_040206.htm

Q5. Are the standards internationally benchmarked?
Yes. International benchmarking played a significant role in both sets of standards.  In fact, the college and career ready standards include an appendix listing the  evidence that was consulted in drafting the standards and the international data  used in the benchmarking process.

 Q6. Does the federal government play a role in Common Core standards  implementation? A. “The Federal Government had no role in the development of the Common Core  State Standards and will not have a role in their implementation. The Common Core  State Standards Initiative is a state-led effort that is not part of No Child Left Behind  and adoption of the standards is in no way mandatory. “
http://www.corestandards.org/resources/frequently-asked-questions

Q7. Will Utah taxpayers have to pay more money to implement the new Utah  Core Standards?
A. The Utah State Board of Education regularly updates the Utah Core Standards.  The funding for the implementation of this latest set of standards will not cost Utah  taxpayers additional money. The professional development that takes place in the  districts will remain at the same level it has for the past decade; the only change will be the content focus. School districts are concerned with their ability to provide the  technology and infrastructure necessary to support electronic testing associated  with the new SAGE assessment of the Utah Core Standards. The Utah Legislature  has not raised taxes to fund this change. Provo City School District supports the  advancement of student access to technology and related programs and has been  using existing local and state funding to move in this direction.

Q8. How does the local school board fit into the Common core?
A. School Board powers and duties generally, according to State Code 53A-3-402.  include:
“ (1) Each local school board shall: (a) implement the core curriculum utilizing instructional materials that best
correlate to the core curriculum and graduation requirements;
(b) administer tests, required by the State Board of Education, which measure  the progress of each student, and coordinate with the state superintendent and  State Board of Education to assess results and create plans to improve the student’s  progress which shall be submitted to the State Office of Education for approval;”
http://le.utah.gov/code/TITLE53A/htm/53A03_040200.htm

Q9. Do these standards incorporate both content and skills?
A. Yes. “In English Language Arts, the Common Core State Standards require  certain critical content for all students, including:
• Classic myths and stories from around the world;
• America’s Founding Documents;
• Foundational American literature: and
• Shakespeare.
The remaining crucial decisions about what content should be taught are left to  state and local determination. In addition to content coverage, the Common Core  State Standards require that students systematically acquire knowledge in literature  and other disciplines through reading, writing, speaking, and listening.

In Mathematics, the Common Core State Standards lay a solid foundation in:
whole numbers;
addition;
subtraction;
multiplication;
division:
fractions; and
decimals.
Taken together, these elements support a student’s ability to learn and apply more  demanding math concepts and procedures. The middle school and high school  standards call on students to practice applying mathematical ways of thinking to  real world issues and challenges; they prepare students to think and reason  mathematically.”

Q10. Do the math standards cover all the key math topics in the proper sequence?
A. The mathematical progressions presented in the Common Core State Standards  are coherent and based on evidence. Part of the problem with having 50 different  sets of state standards is that different states cover different topics at different  grade levels. Coming to consensus guarantees that from the viewpoint of any given  state, topics will move up or down in the grade level sequence. This is unavoidable.  What is important to keep in mind is that the progression in the Common Core State Standards is mathematically coherent and leads to college and career readiness at  an internationally competitive level.
Q11. What requirements do the Common Core State Standards give to  teachers?

A. The Common Core State Standards are merely a clear set of expectations and  curriculum standards for the knowledge and skills students need in English/  language arts and mathematics at each grade level to prepare students to graduate  college and career ready. The standards establish what students need to learn, but  they do not dictate how teachers should teach. Teachers will continue to devise  lesson plans and tailor instruction to the individual needs of the students in their
classrooms, as well as select instructional materials they feel are most appropriate  for their students.

Q12. If Utah were to abandon the Utah Core Standards, what would that  mean?
A. The relationship with Federal Government would not change, because the Utah  Core Standards are not Federal. Utah Law still requires adaptive testing, so the  testing will continue with AIR. The Longitudinal Data system would still be in  place. Utah would have to go through the expense of writing a new core or adopt  the former core–which is not seen as “College and Career Ready” standards. There  may be an expense if newly purchased materials have to be discarded. If Utah  writes unique standards, there will be little or no available materials or textbooks to  support their instruction.

Q13. What assessments are required by the Federal Government?
An ESEA (Elementary and Secondary Education Act) was originally passed in 1965  and had major revisions in 1980, 1994, and 2001 (This latest revision called No  Child Left Behind). The current requirements of this act require states to have  assessments in place in Math, Language Arts, and Science. They leave the decision  to the states to determine the assessments and this selection is submitted to the U.S.  Department of Education.

Q14. What assessments are required by the Utah State Legislature?
A. The Utah State Legislature requires the following assessments in State Statute:
• Computer Adaptive Assessment in Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, and an alternate assessment for students with severe cognitive disabilities. These assessments are given to all students in 3rd-11th Grade (CRTs and UAA).
• Statewide Reading assessment given 3 times per year to every K-3rd grade student (DIBELS).
• Kindergarten-2nd grade end of year assessments, which are developed by school districts. • Direct Writing Assessment given to all 5th and 8th grade students (DWA).
• New College and Career ready Assessments given to all 8th -11th grade students (ACT and companion assessments, Explore and Plan).
• An English Language Learning assessment, which places students at various levels of English proficiency (WIDA).

Q15. Who writes the questions that will be used in the new assessment  system?
Utah teachers will write all of the questions that will be used in the new assessment  system. Every teacher in the state has been invited to participate in the item writing  and all volunteers meet together for weeks with administrators and curriculum  specialists from the Utah State Office of Education to develop test items that will  accurately measure student learning of standards within the core curriculum.

–Q16. Are all questions on the new assessments reviewed by a parent group?
A. Yes. All questions are reviewed by a group of 15 parents. This parent group will  verify that all test questions are strictly academic. See the following link: Utah State  contract with AIR: http://www.schools.utah.gov/assessment/Adaptive-Assessment-System/136199-AIR.aspx   (See page 7 for the language that requires USOE and Parent review to approve any
test question before they are used by students.)

Q17. Was AIR assessment required by the Federal Government?
A. No. Utah Legislature passed an Adaptive Assessment law after a successful piloting of adaptive testing. (House Bill 15, 2012) Utah issued a Request for  Proposals (RFP) for an adaptive assessment vendor and AIR was chosen. AIR is a  leader in academic testing and had a superior product for end of level tests,  formative tests and interim tests.

Q18. What individual student information is given to the Federal Government  from the assessments given in Utah?

A. None. The only data provided to the federal government by the State of Utah is  aggregate school-level data. No individual student data is provided. The Federal  Government does not have a direct connection with the Utah data base. School  districts do not gather personal information from families such as religion affiliation
or political party

Q19. What is the Longitudinal Data System in Utah?
A. With 41 school districts and 84 charter schools that use at least 10 different  types of student information systems, Utah needed a way to communicate within  the education system. The Longitudinal Data system is called UTREx. The first task  of UTREx was to assign each student a unique number (SSID), so that two school  districts or charter schools could not claim funding from the state for the same  student. It is also used to help transfer student transcript information to higher  education. A great benefit is the ability to transfer student records for students who  move from one district or charter to the next. The UTREx system improves accuracy  and efficiency of education. Hundreds of hours of time for school personnel will be  saved because of the UTREx system. The Federal Government has no access to this  system

Q20. Are we as schools and districts required to collect more student  information as a result of Utah Senate Bill 82, known as the “Digital Backpack”,  passed in 2013?
A. Yes This Utah bill requires a new system that “collects longitudinal student  transcript data from LEAs (districts and charter schools) and the unique student  identifiers as described in Section 53A-1-603.5.”
The bill summary states:  “This bill:
defines terms;
requires the State Board of Education to establish the Utah Student  Record Store where an authorized LEA user may access student data in a  Student Achievement backpack that is relevant to the user’s LEA or school;

specifies the data to be included in a Student Achievement Backpack;  and  requires the State Board of Education to ensure that student data in a  Student Achievement Backpack is accessible through an LEA’s student  information system by June 30, 2017.”
This bill effectively doubles the amount of data districts are required to send on to  the State office of Education. This new data includes things like school attendance,  student growth scores, student reading level, student writing sample, student  performance by standard and objective, etc…
Text from SB 82: http://le.utah.gov/~2013/bills/sbillamd/SB0082S01.htm

Q21. Can the State of Utah change their core standards at any time?
A. According to state code 53A-1-402.6. Core curriculum standards.
“(6) The state may exit any agreement, contract, memorandum of understanding, or  consortium that cedes control of Utah’s core curriculum standards to any other  entity, including a federal agency or consortium, for any reason, including:
(a) the cost of developing or implementing core curriculum standards; (b) the proposed core curriculum standards are inconsistent with community
values; or
(c) the agreement, contract, memorandum of understanding, or consortium:
(i) was entered into in violation of Part 9, Implementing Federal Programs  Act, or Title 63J, Chapter 5, Federal Funds Procedures Act;
(ii) conflicts with Utah law;
(iii) requires Utah student data to be included in a national or multi-state  database;
(iv) requires records of teacher performance to be included in a national or  multi-state database; or
(v) imposes curriculum, assessment, or data tracking requirements on home  school or private school students.
(7) The State Board of Education shall annually report to the Education Interim  Committee on the development and implementation of core curriculum standards.”
http://le.utah.gov/code/TITLE53A/htm/53A01_040206.htm

Q22. Was any feedback given from the public or any group on the common core prior to adoption by states?

A. Yes. There were a number of opportunities given for the public, as well as other  groups such as educators to give feedback on the core standards, as well as the  college and career ready standards.

Summary of public feedback on K-12 standards: http://www.corestandards.org/assets/k-12-feedback-summary.pdf
Summary of Public Feedback on College and Career Ready Standards:

Click to access CorePublicFeedback.pdf

–From the Provo School District website

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Ann Florence: Utah English Teacher Stands Up for Real Teaching and is Shut Down by Administrators   15 comments

ann f
“I am required to teach key reading comprehension strategies,  the writing process,  information-gathering skills, grammar, vocabulary, etc., etc.  But I also hope to awaken a love of reading and literature, ignite curiosity about our complex world….  “All children are gifted—some just open their presents earlier than others.” I know that every one of my students understands something I don’t and has something to tell the world that no one else ever has. I am a “treasure seeker” and “talent scout,” hoping to help young people discover the gold within themselves and each other.”

This quote is excerpted from the disclosure statement of Utah English teacher Ann Florence who has been placed on forced leave, pending probable termination.  How awful.  This beautiful quote reveals that Florence is a treasure, not some problem teacher to be forced out.   But she has been pushed out, for her act of standing up for the right to teach and the right to be judged on her actual teaching rather than endless government mandated tests.

Administrators have labeled her insubordinate.  Read the news.  See  what has happened. 

It seems to me that Ann Florence doesn’t buy the notion that teachers must give up their rights to free speech, nor give up their rights to participation in the political process, just because they are employed by the government.  She certainly doesn’t believe that teachers should give up the art of real teaching to bow to government enforced, excessive high-stakes tests that narrowly judge not only students, but teachers as well.

A year ago, Florence  wrote an op-ed voicing her concerns.  She explained (excerpt):

“Managing teachers through intimidation is not working… teachers are looking for work elsewhere. Teachers who have loved their jobs are discouraging their own children from pursuing careers in education…. we feel exhausted and demoralized by the avalanche of mandates from the state and district… While legislators constantly raise expectations and think they can motivate us by publicly posting test scores, our time for teaching has shrunk….I now administer 19 days of standardized tests, costing me an entire month of instruction. This doesn’t include the days the testing site is down or the system crashes, eating up even more days…. I am held accountable for nine months of curriculum without enough time to teach it… Granite District has required teachers to learn the new Common Core, use a new grades program (which crashes regularly), design a new honors curriculum, use a new online system requiring the scanning and posting of all assignments and a daily summary of class activities, and learn to analyze complex data … No test score reflects the number of students who return to thank a teacher, the number who fall in love with reading again, gain new confidence to speak up in class, find solace in a teacher’s support, decide to try one more time just when they want to quit…  We are tired of having our dedication reduced to a number.”

Now, the Salt Lake Tribune reports that after Florence criticized new “standardized tests as a waste of time and irrelevant to what students are being taught” she was “placed on administrative leave and may be fired.”

Her students’ response?

“Oh captain, my captain, you have taught me so much this year. The value of honesty, imagination, and freedom to express myself. I cannot thank you enough for that. You are the best teacher Wasatch could ever ask for.”

Along with the emailed poetry, students launched a petition drive, urging that Florence not be terminated.

The Tribune reported that Granite District spokesman “Ben Horsley said personnel decisions of this gravity take time to make the right choice. He said Florence has been unreasonably aggressive in demanding an answer.”

“Unreasonably aggressive” seems a more appropriate label for the policymakers at the district, state and federal levels who are intimidating and degrading the professionalism of top notch teachers while trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the public.  Shame on them.

Bravo,  Ann Florence.

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Update:  The Salt Lake Tribune reported that Ann Florence has been fired.   I sent a letter today and encourage others to write as well.  Every voice counts. Here’s mine, and contact info if you want to write too, down after the letter:

Dear Granite School District, State Board, and State Office of Education:

Granite District made news this week by firing Ann Florence, an honors English teacher who stood on principle and did what she (and I) saw as the right thing to do. I am writing to voice my support for Ann Florence’s actions and to ask the District and State Board to take action to right this wrong.
The Salt Lake Tribune reported, “Florence refused to grade the writing portion of the districtwide Acuity Test. She said the exam was a waste of students’ and teachers’ time, did not further any education agenda and that it was unethical to have teachers grade their own students on a standardized test that then would be used to judge the teacher. In a letter to her students, she said she loved her career but had to stand up for principle.”

The Acuity Test (McGraw Hill) was offering financial compensation to schools for having students take this test.

Did Granite District actually fire Ann Florence for refusing to enable the District to make money –by using children for unpaid research guinea pigs? What does “professional compliance” and “teacher ethics” really mean to the district?

Ann Florence’s opinion editorial of one year ago in the Salt Lake Tribune deserves careful re-reading. Her concerns included the non-validity of high-stakes testing because of the testing conditions provided at the school, about the push for Common Core and data analysis, and about the non-validity of reducing the whole time and dedication of a teacher to one student-test-based number, a number over which that teacher has relatively little actual control.

The Tribune also reported that this teacher was punished for speaking about her concerns with the high-stakes tests vocally, including speaking out in front of students.  Does a teacher lose her Constitutional right to freedom of speech just because she is employed by the government? Are teachers to pretend to political neutrality or should they instead be shining exemplars as vibrant participants in the American process of open debate –and sometimes also in honorable disagreement?

Furthermore, basing the heaviest “accountability measures” of state tests on the federal-corporate collusion known as Common Core State Standards, in my opinion, is not only an error but a form of academic malpractice.

Thus, any teacher who refuses to push the SAGE test on students, or refuses to give or grade the Acuity Test, or to promote other high-stakes tests that do not honestly benefit students nor teachers –tests that exist to benefit powermonering politicians and moneygrubbing corporate aims, is, in my opinion, the teacher who is ethically and morally defensible.

The Granite District has marred its honor by firing Ann Florence. The State Board and Office, by doing nothing in this teacher’s defense, are complicit in the wrong.

Christel Swasey

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Granite District Superintendent Martin Bates: mwbates@graniteschools.org

State Superintendent Dr. Martell Menlove: Martell.Menlove@schools.utah.gov

Wasatch Jr High Principal Christine Judd: crydalch@graniteschools.org

Wasatch Jr High Asst. Principal John Anderson: jcanderson@graniteschools.org

State School Board:

kbuswell@wadman.com; jensen1brit@earthlink.net; dthomas@summitcounty.org; krb84010@aol.com; dgriffiths@tannerco.com; lesliebrookscastle@gmail.com; jj@jenniferajohnson.com; heather.groom@gmail.com; crandall@xmission.com; jeffersonRmoss@gmail.com; dixieleeallen@gmail.com; markopenshaw@gmail.com; debrar@netutah.com; barbara.corry@schools.utah.gov; teresatheurer1@gmail.com; jensenmk@ldschurch.org; freddiecooper1@comcast.net; jamesvolsen@gmail.com; kelinkowski@msn.com; dbrowley@q.com;

Granite School Board:

ggandy@graniteschools.org; thbawden@graniteschools.org; clanderson@graniteschools.org; ccburgess@graniteschools.org; jmjolley@graniteschools.org; dlofgren@cowboy.us; srmeier@graniteschools.org;

Governor Herbert: http://governor.utah.gov/goca/form_comment.html (copy/paste your email into this form to send it to the Governor)

Utah legislators: http://le.utah.gov (look up by address here)

 

UT Associate Superintendent Park Responds to Open Letter on Student Data Privacy   4 comments

judy park

Yesterday, UT Associate Superintendent Judy Park responded to an open letter  (posted below) that I sent a week ago.  I had sent the letter to support St. George parents who want to opt children out of the standardized testing.

Ms. Park’s response was a one-sentence email message that included a link to a graphic, also posted below, under the open letter.

She did not respond to the vital issues brought up in the letter, nor did her graphic reveal, despite its little red lock-icons (labeled “secure“) –any actual laws or proper policy protections that exist to make our students’ data secure from inter-agency and vendor sharing.  No such laws, that I am aware of, yet exist in Utah.

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Here’s my letter:

Dear Associate Superintendent Judy Park,

Recently, you wrote (and were quoted in a letter sent out by a St. George charter school to the parents –a letter that aimed to prevent parents from opting children out of the Common Core testing– the following:

“The advocates of anti-common core are falsely accusing USOE and schools and districts of collecting and storing data that is “behavioral data and non-academic personal information”. They have no real evidence or examples to support this claim. The only data that is collected and maintained is the specific data required by state and federal law.”

Here’s unfortunate evidence to the contrary, Ms. Park.  First there is a Utah law about Common Core standardized tests. This law, HB15, created in 2012, requires the collection of behavior indicators. It calls for “ the use of student behavior indicators in assessing student performance” as part of the testing. This is Utah’s S.A.G.E. –aka Common Core or A.I.R.– test.

But another law  (HB177) has been requiring, from the 2002-03 school year on, “the use of student behavior indicators in assessing student performance.” Since 2002!

2. Utah has paid at least $39 million to the AIR company to write its Common Core-aligned standardized tests:  American Institutes for Research”s  mission:  “AIR’s mission is to conduct and apply the best behavioral and social science research and evaluation…

Are we to believe that although AIR’s purpose is to test behavioral and social indicators, and although Utah laws say that the test must note behavioral indicators, the AIR test still won’t?

3. Utah’s SLDS grant application talks about authorizing de-identification of data for research and says that individuals will be authorized to access personal student information in the various Utah agencies that belong to UDA. (Who are these individuals?  Why does the UDA trust them with information that parents weren’t even told was being gathered on our children?)

Starting at page 87 on that same SLDS federal application, we read how non-cognitive behaviors that have nothing to do with academicswill be collected and studied by school systems.  These include “social comfort and integration, academic conscientiousness, resiliency, etc.” to be evaluated through the psychometric census known as the “Student Strengths Inventory. (SSI)”  That SSI inventory –my child’s psychological information– will be integrated into the system (SLDS).  Nonacademic demographic and other personal information is also captured while administering the test. SSI data will be given to whomever it is assumed, by the so-called leadership, that needs to see it.  (This should be a parental decision but has become a state decision.)

The SLDS grant promises to integrate psychological data into the state database.   “Utah’s Comprehensive Counseling and Guidance programs have substantial Student Education Occupation Plan, (SEOP) data, but they are not well integrated with other student data. With the introduction of UtahFutures and the Student Strengths Inventory (SSI) and its focus on noncognitive data, combining such data with other longitudinal student level data to the USOE Data Warehouse the UDA.”  It also says:

“… psychosocial or noncognitive factors… include, but are not limited to educational commitment, academic engagement and conscientiousness, social comfort and social integration, academic self-efficacy, resiliency…  Until recently, institutions had to rely on standardized cognitive measures to identify student needs. … We propose to census test all current student in grades 11 and 12 and then test students in grade 11 in subsequent years using the Student Strengths Inventory (SSI) – a measure of noncognitive attitudes and behaviors.”  So the Student Strengths Inventory (SSI) is a “psychometric census” to be taken by every 11th and 12th grade student in Utah.  That’s one way they’re gathering the psychological data.

4.  Ms. Park, you are a key player and even a writer for the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) –the organization that co-created and co-copyrighted Common Core.  This makes me fairly confident that you are aware of what the CCSSO stands for and what its goals are.  On the CCSSO website, it states that one of its main goals is “Continued Commitment to Disaggregation” of student data.  Disaggregation means that academic bundles of students’ information will be separated into groups that are increasingly easy to identify individually.

5.   “Utah’s Model for Comprehensive Counseling and Guidance.” (UMCCG)   is an official document from the Utah State Office of Education (USOE) that actively endorses the collection of behavioral and non-academic data.   It says, for instance, that perception data must be assessed.

-From page 172: “Perception data: Perception data answer the question, “What do people think they know, believe or can do?” These data measure  what students and others observe or perceive, knowledge gained, attitudes and beliefs held and competencies achieved. These data are often collected through pre- and post-surveys, tests or  skill demonstration opportunities such as presentations or role play,  data, competency achievement, surveys or evaluation forms.” (pgs. 58-59)

-From page 66: Examples of attitudes or belief data  include: “74 percent of students believe fighting is wrong.”

This list of Student Outcomes (which will be tracked by computers, according to the document) is full of non-academic outcomes.

-From page 136: 
MG:A1 Demonstrate a deep regard for self and others
MG:A2 Demonstrate a personal commitment to basic democratic principles
MG:A3 Demonstrate a civil and considerate spirit while participating in society”
(Some people may object to MG:A2, for example, since “basic democratic principles” aren’t the same thing as “basic republican principles” and FYI, the Constitution specifically guarantees individuals a republican form of government.  (Article 4, Section 4, U.S. Constitution.)  So what if my child’s been taught about Article 4, Section 4, at home, and he/she doesn’t test “correctly” on MG:A2?  These outcomes may sound innocuous to many, but here’s the REAL point:  if the government/school system/USOE claims the right to test our children for one set of beliefs, be they good or bad, they can test our children for other sets of beliefs.  They don’t have the right to assess this, in my opinion,  without parental consent or at least an opt-out-of-the-SLDS-database option for parents who do object.)

These 5 points together prove, at least to me, that the educational government of Utah is collecting behavioral and non-academic data on our children without our consent.

But lastly, there is this issue:  Ms. Park also wrote, “The only data that is collected and maintained is the specific data required by state and federal law.”

This is a big problem since the state and the federal privacy protection requirements do not match anymore.  Ms. Park does not seem to be aware of this.  But today, the state is much more protective of students’ rights.  Federal FERPA regulations have been altered –not by Congress but by the sneaky  Department of Education (DOE).  The DOE changed the definitions of terms.  They reduced from a requirement to only a “best practice” the previously protective rule that parental consent had to be obtained (prior to sharing private student data).  They redefined personally identifiable information.  So, no more parental consent needed and whatever they can con states into sharing, will be shared.  Is this the kind of federal rule that Ms. Park is content to have us obey?

Because Utah agreed in that same SLDS federal grant applicaton to use PESC standards and SIF interoperability frameworks, Utah’s children’s private data can be accessed by other states and federal agencies very easily as long as current Utah policy permits it. Unless bills like Rep. Anderegg’s HB169 student data privacy bill and others like it are taken seriously, we have no proper legal protections and a wide open policy of quite promiscuous data sharing here in Utah.

Sad but true.

Christel Swasey

Heber City

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From: Park, Judy <Judy.Park@schools.utah.gov>
Date: Thu, Mar 13, 2014 at 4:09 PM
Subject: RE: Open Letter to Judy Park on Student Data Privacy Facts
To: Christel S <212christel@gmail.com>
Cc: “Allen, Dixie” <dixieleeallen@gmail.com>, “Menlove, Martell” <Martell.Menlove@schools.utah.gov>, Board of Education <Board@schools.utah.gov>, Constituent Services <govgoca@utah.gov>

A data document is available on the website.

http://schools.utah.gov/assessment/Testing-Director-Resources/StateLong-DataSys-5.aspx

——————-

Yep.  That one sentence is all the response that she had.

Below is what Ms. Park’s link brings up.   Click here to see it for yourself at the USOE site.

Alisa Judy 1

alisa judy 2

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Notice the continued insistence that no behavioral or belief related data is collected despite the links I provided above.   Notice that the USOE states its purpose for the SLDS database is to serve schools and districts on this graphic; but in federal grant applications, federal sites and federal/corporate partnered websites, it’s stated that the SLDS exists to serve federal and “stakeholder” decision-making. Always it’s a two-step, two-faced dance.

Please know, Utahns, that while probably Ms. Judy Park is a lovely person in many ways,  she is very unfortunately and very definitely not a friend to local control.   She’s an active member of the CCSSO, which created national Common Core, and she was an Executive Committee co-chair of SBAC, the federally funded testing group which, by federal contract, mandated that states aligned with SBAC must allow federal management of testing and data.  FYI– Utah since then dropped its SBAC membership and is currently partnered with AIR, but AIR is fully partnered with federally mandated and funded SBAC.

I can also testify that if a teacher or parent asks Ms. Park a question in person, which I have, she’ll put her hand on her hip, beam an uncomfortably long-lasting smile; not answer the question, and lightly dismiss the legitimate issue of concern with: “You certainly are passionate about what you believe.  I need to move on to the next person.”

This oft-demonstrated attitude, pervasive at the USOE and USSB, is truly hurting some of the most important and best people –the students and teachers– in our beautiful state of Utah.

USOE Curriculum Director Opposes Increased Parental Power in Curricular Decisions   Leave a comment

Utah parents, please take note:

Diana Suddreth, a curriculum director at Utah’s State Office of Education, sent out this email today:

———————-

From: Suddreth, Diana <Diana.Suddreth@schools.utah.gov>

Date: Mon, Mar 3, 2014 at 9:06 AM Subject: HB342

Curriculum Friends,

Just a heads up that today in the House Education Standing Committee HB342 (Powers and Duties of the State Board of Education by Rep. Layton) will be heard.

This bill essentially gives more power to parents over curriculum standards, would prohibit us from adopting any national standards, and would require a revision of our current math and ELA standards.

Go to www.le.utah.gov  to read the bill and find additional information should you want to take any action.  Rep. Layton has promised a substitute that will be softer but as of yet, the original bill is still on the agenda.

Sydnee Dickson, Ed. D.

Director, Teaching and Learning

Utah State Office of Education

801-538-7788

Please note Utah has a very broad public records law.  Most written communication to or from our state employees regarding state business are public records availiable to the public and media upon request. Your email communication may be subject to public disclosure.

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Open Letters: Common Core is Evil Posing as Good   10 comments

dixie

Dixie Allen, my State School Board Representative

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Sharing a long string of emails between my State School Board representative and me, from this week and last.
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Christel-

I hope that given the time you have spent the last couple of years discussing this issue, that you would understand that Utah has already adopted and put in place the Common Core Standard in Mathematics and English/Language Arts. We have added some standards and will contiue to update the Standards as needed – but we have already adopted and have wonderful teachers working on Curriculum and lesson design to effectively teach the Core.

If you have specific concerns with specific standards – please let me know.

Dixie Allen
Region 12
Utah State Board of Education

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Dear Dixie,

My purpose in sharing the article was to suggest that Utah’s State School Board, like so many boards and legislators nationwide, might consider halting or at least pausing Common Core as many other places are doing (or are seriously considering doing) given the amount of pushback that continues on this subject.

I am fully aware that Utah adopted Common Core!

Common Core is, frankly, evil posing as good. For the state school board to continue to deny this is either evidence of incompetence or it’s endorsement of these evils.

I do not use the word “evil” casually.

Common Core is evil because it is based on political power-grabbing that snuffed the voice of the people, a move that was based on dollar signs and not academic honesty. It was agreed to for a chance at federal cash.

It cannot back up its lies of “being an improvement” academically, since it’s totally experimental and untested. Similarly, it cannot back up its lie of being “internationally benchmarked” because it’s not internationally benchmarked.

It cannot back up its lie of being unattached to the federal government since it is tied like an umbilical cord to the Department of Education; the Dept. of Ed is officially partnered with the very group that created it (CCSSO) both in the standards and in common data technologies. The Department of Ed has contracts that mandate micromanagement of Common Core testing. There is much more –all documented online and you can prove or disprove it if you are honest enough to try.

And why should we– why should you, specifically, fight federal intrusion into education?

I am a teacher. Common Core diminishes teachers’ autonomy –and students’ well-being– through federally supervised testing that drives curriculum (or will, by next year when testing really kicks in) and by the federally funded SLDS data mining that amounts to “unreasonable search and seizure” of private effects.

While there are some harmless or even some good things in the standards themselves at the elementary school level perhaps, the standards do diminish classic literature especially for high schoolers, and they marginalize narrative writing, and dumb down high school math –as has been admitted even by its creators. (Click here to see this very short video link of this out loud admission of the math-dumbing, by Common Core creator Jason Zimba).

Even if this all were not true– if somehow standards did not diminish classic literature, marginalize narrative writing, and dumb down high school math, they are still AN ATROCITY, Dixie, from which you should be protecting the children of Utah. And the teachers of Utah.

Because they suffocate the spirit of liberty and independence.

1. COMMON CORE LACKS A REPRESENTATIVE AMENDMENT PROCESS.

If the Common Core Initiative was in harmony with the Constitution, it would be amendable by those governed by it.

Dixie, if this were legitimate, you and I would have a voice. But we do not.

Neither you as a state school board member, nor I as a Utah credentialed teacher, have diddly squat to say over what gets tested and taught in our math and English classrooms in Utah– because Common Core is only amendable by the NGA/CCSSO, according to their own words on their own creepy website.

Read it, for heaven’s sake! It states: “The Standards are intended to be a living work: as new and
better evidence emerges, the Standards will be revised.” (Revised by whom?)

Not you and not me.

Again, from the official Common Core site: (their caps, not mine) “ANY USE OF THE COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS OTHER THAN AS AUTHORIZED UNDER THIS LICENSE OR COPYRIGHT LAW IS PROHIBITED. ANY PERSON WHO EXERCISES ANY RIGHTS TO THE COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS THEREBY ACCEPTS AND AGREES TO BE BOUND BY THE TERMS… NGA Center/CCSSO shall be acknowledged as the sole owners and developers of the Common Core State Standards, and no claims to the contrary shall be made.”

2. IT LACKS CHECKS AND BALANCES. The use of checks and balances was designed to make it difficult for a minority of people to control the government and to restrain the government itself. If the Common Core Initiative– a nationalized system of standards, aligned tests, data collection and teacher accountability measures promoted federally– if this initiative were in harmony with the Constitution, it would not be held in the power of a minority of the people (of the NGA/CCSSO and of the Dept. of Ed which is partnered with CCSSO). It would have been vetted prior to implementation by the proper means outlined in the Constitution– but it wasn’t. As Alyson Williams pointed out, “There is no such thing in the U.S. Constitution as a council of governors… Governors working together to jointly address issues and create rules that affect the whole nation is not a legitimate alternative to Congress, our national representative body.”

3. IT LACKS AUTHORITY. If the Common Core Initiative was in harmony with the Constitution, it would have been born legitimately: but its only “authority” is the unprecedented assigning of money to the discretion of the Education Secretary without proper congressional oversight. From that Stimulus money came the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund and the Race to the Top grant programs that enabled the Department of Ed to get away with setting up their own, experimental rules for us to follow in exchange for the money – rules that normally would be determined by the States alone.

4. IT ALTERS THE LIMITS OF FEDERAL POWER. If the Common Core Initiative was in harmony with the Constitution, it would not be openly admitted even by its most notorious proponent, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, to alter the traditionally limited role of the federal government. Look:

Duncan said, in his 2010 “Vision of Education Reform” speech

: “Our vision of reform takes account of the fact that, in several respects, the governance of education in the United States is unusual. Traditionally, the federal government in the U.S. has had a limited role in education policy… The Obama administration has sought to fundamentally shift the federal role, so that the Department is doing much more… [THIS IS CLEARLY, CLEARLY UNCONSTITUTIONAL, DIXIE.] …the Recovery Act created additional competitive funding like the high-visibility $4.35 billion Race to the Top program and the $650 million Investing in Innovation Fund… America is now in the midst of a “quiet revolution” in school reform… In March of 2009, President Obama called on the nation’s governors and state school chiefs to develop standards and assessments… Virtually everyone thought the president was dreaming. But today, 37 states and the District of Columbia have already chosen to adopt the new state-crafted Common Core standards in math and English. Not studying it, not thinking about it, not issuing a white paper—they have actually done it.

Do you hear Secretary Duncan gloating over his ability to control us?

Yet the honorable Utah State School Board continues to promote the notion that we are free under Common Core. It’s a lie. The State School Board may be full of very good people like yourself, who donate to Sub-for-Santa and read to their grandchildren; but they are still guilty of passing along huge lies which they have received and believed from the pushers of the Common Core gold rush.

Common Core governance is a slap in the face to the work of the Founding Fathers.

We are rightly shuddering at the math disaster and the high-stakes testing, are rightly gasping at the lack of any cost analysis to taxpayers and at the privacy-robbing aspects of the Common Core agenda. But these arguments are secondary to the hairiest of the reform devils, the destruction of individual liberty and the end of local control of education.

Dixie, my dear representative! Please, please stand up to these people. Stop swallowing the hogwash. Stop allowing your peers on the board to spread the propaganda. It is not based in truth.

Christel Swasey
Utah Teacher

apple books

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Updating with more letters 1-17-14

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Dixie,

To answer your question, I taught public high school English for five years, University level English at UVU for two years, and public school third grade for two years. I have also been a home school teacher of fourth and fifth grade for two years. I began teaching in 1995, am still teaching, and my credential has never expired.

But. I don’t think my resume (nor yours) matters, though, because it is the principle of local and individual liberty that is the issue most harmed by the Common Core Initiative and the “Blueprint for Reform” that Common Core rides upon.

Educational experience and resumes don’t even come into the question; anyone can see through this if they take five minutes to use their brains.

I notice that you are still avoiding the issues I raised, and that you are unruffled by where the Common Core came from, or who gains financially at our expense from them, and who ultimately controls them –and thus who ultimately controls you and me and our grandchildren.

It is unfortunate that you will not confront these uncomfortable realities, very sad for the rest of us whom you are supposed to be elected to represent.

I’m forwarding news links that a Colorado principal forwarded to me today. I hope you become aware of not only the important reasons, but also the speed at which Common Core opposition is growing.

–Christel

Many State Legislatures 2014 Sessions to Debate Common Core Testing Issues
http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2014/01/08/15sessions_ep.h33.html
New York Assembly Speaker Says Case for Common Core Testing Should be Delayed
http://www.newsday.com/long-island/assembly-speaker-common-core-should-be-delayed-1.6752646
New York Teachers to Vote “No Confidence” in State Ed. Head for Ignoring Common Core Testing Moratorium Call
http://www.nystateofpolitics.com/2014/01/nysut-will-seek-no-confidence-vote-on-king/
New York Common Core Website Links to Offensive Test-Prep
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/01/11/common-core-chaos-ny-state-website-sends-kids-to-offensive-test-prep/
Florida Lawmakers Question Rush to Implement Common Core Exams
http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/01/08/3859588/lawmakers-question-timeline-for.html
North Carolina State Ed Board May Delay Move to Common Core Tests
http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/01/08/3516802/nc-education-board-wants-to-keep.html
New Testing Standards Stress Connecticut Educators
http://www.nhregister.com/social-affairs/20140108/new-testing-standards-stressing-new-haven-educators
Rushed Common Core Testing Rollout is Like Driving in the Fog
http://www.npr.org/2014/01/02/259082746/education-critics-say-common-core-standards-rollout-is-rushed
How Progressives Opposing Common Core Testing Should Deal with Strange Political Bedfellows
http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/living-in-dialogue/2014/01/are_progressive_critics_of_com.html
FairTest Fact Sheet on Why a Common Core Testing Moratorium is Necessary
http://www.fairtest.org/common-core-assessments-factsheet
Educators Explain Alternatives to High-Stakes Exams
http://www.northjersey.com/news/239854621_Educators_air_academic_alternative_to_increased_student_testing.html
See Why and How Performance Assessment Works
http://www.fairtest.org/performance-assessments-succeed-new-york
Opt Out of Tests to Force a Balanced Assessment System
http://childrenaremorethantestscores.blogspot.com/2014/01/we-demand-balanced-assessment-system.html
Virginia Lawmakers Call for Fewer Tests
http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/virginia-lawmakers-call-for-fewer-sol-tests/2014/01/13/a7461654-789a-11e3-8963-b4b654bcc9b2_story.html
North Carolina Teachers Protest Plan to Give Third-Graders 36 Mini-Tests
http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/01/09/3519784/wake-to-give-more-tests-to-third.html
Rhode Island Expands Graduation Test Waivers
http://www.providencejournal.com/breaking-news/content/20140110-r.i.-department-of-education-expands-necap-waiver-for-high-school-graduation.ece
Mass. Teachers Reject Test-Based “Merit” Pay Bonuses
http://dianeravitch.net/2014/01/10/teachers-in-lee-ma-return-merit-pay/
Let’s Teach Students to Think Critically, Not Test Mindlessly
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/eric-cooper/lets-teach-students-to-th_b_4556320.html
Weingarten: Teaching and Learning Over Testing
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/randi-weingarten/teaching-and-learning-ove_b_4575705.html
Standardized Testing Has Created Standardized Students with Useless skills
http://www.highlandernews.org/11749/standardized-testing-has-created-standardized-students-with-useless-skills/
Anthem for a High-Stakes Testing Era (with apologies to Country Joe and the Fish)
http://www.schoolsmatter.info/2014/01/anthem-for-high-stakes-testing-era-with.html
“Standardized,” the Movie, Screening Schedule
https://www.facebook.com/STANDARDIZEDtheMOVIE

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Christel,

It is good to know where you have experienced teaching and educational oversight. Thanks for sharing!

However, the concerns you share form the Colorado administrator still are mostly about the assessment programs. I hope that you are aware that we are developing our own assessments with the help of the AIR Company. We are doing everything we can to be in control of our Standards, Assessments and Data and I am convinced we are accomplishing our goals.

Thanks for your input, but would really like to see you look at what Utah is actually doing and not align us to other states, especially without checking out the facts as they apply to our state. It would be so good to have you working to help us improve our school system, rather than identifying what isn’t working across the nation. We still are trying to focus on improving education for the students of Utah and I believe we are making progress each and every year.

Best Wishes,

Dixie

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elephant

Dear Dixie,

It’s not just other states that are unhappy with Common Core tests. Utahns have plenty to say about Common Core tests and their AIR/SAGE $39 million dollar waste– costs to us not only in dollars but costs to student data privacy and costs to liberty from oppressive federal and corporate oversight of Utah’s own educational business.

Have you read Matthew Sanders’ Deseret News “Common Core Testing Fraught With Flaws” op-ed on AIR? Have you read Dr. Gary Thompson’s many writings and heard his testimony? Thompson, a Utah child psychologist, exposed how AIR tests are to embed subjective assessments which are illegal. He sees AIR subjecting all students, but especially more vulnerable populations (including African Americans, gifted students, autistic students, Latino students, Asbergers’ students) to what he names “cognitive child abuse”. Thompson has spoken out here in Utah and across the nation, notably at the Wisconsin Legislature, specifically about the huge problems with AIR and similar tests.

Dr. Thompson said: “AIR’s stated mission is to “to conduct and apply the best behavioral and social science research and evaluation towards improving peoples’ lives, with a special emphasis on the disadvantaged,” and any reasonable minded person, as well as a State Superintendent of Public Schools, should at least reasonably conclude that this billion dollar research corporation (AIR) with some of the brightest minds on the planet can design tests any way that they please, unless per contractual agreement and other applied constraints, they are expressly forbidden from doing so. Utah’s parents have been told in multiple town hall meetings by the USOE that they will never be able to have access to testing questions devised by AIR in order to ensure “test integrity.” Although I am impressed with USOE and various politicians who stated that 15 parents and a few politicians will be allowed to view the tests being designed by AIR, I question their qualifications to perform anything more than a cursory review of the questions being designed. Speaker of the House Becky Lockhart may be able to balance a complex state budget, but I doubt that she has the necessary background in psychometrics to perform a critical analysis of the issues that need to be examined.”

Matt Sanders expressed additional concerns with AIR/SAGE very concisely. I would love to see the state board answer his questions, and Dr. Thompson’s concerns, about privacy of student data under AIR/SAGE.

Sanders’ article, in the April 2013 Deseret News, said:

“A key component of the Utah Common Core implementation is a new online, adaptive testing system called Student Assessment of Growth and Excellence (SAGE). The the Utah State Office of Education (USOE) contracted to pay $39 million to American Institutes of Research, a Washington, D.C., behavior and social science research organization, to build and host the new testing environment.

I applaud innovation in education and believe the pursuit of standards to improve competitiveness a step in the right direction. I also believe adaptive testing shows some promise. Further, I admire the efforts made by USOE personnel to hold town meetings across the state to introduce the proposed new testing approach to educators and parents — at times encountering some hostility from parents concerned about their children being subjected to unproven educational systems.

At the SAGE introduction in Davis County, I observed many concerns raised by parents. While there, I also asked a couple of questions, but the answers left me wanting. Upon further reflection and analysis, I believe the SAGE approach is deeply problematic, and I put forth the following questions:

Where is the evidence?

Public sector projects should carry assurance of maximum societal benefit for optimal cost. For approval, they should present evidence from research and pilot or scaled tests of the proposed reform.

Despite substantial searching, I could find no defensible studies anywhere on the USOE website, and was given no assurance by state officials that any pilot studies underpin the wholesale changes. They have not cited, as would be asked of any high school research paper, any support for their reforms. Thus, the USOE has implemented new standards, new curriculum and has spent scarce state resources on an apparently untested, unproven testing approach.

How will student data be used?

The contract with AIR contains no explicit protections of student data collected in testing by the well-known federally funded researcher. Despite repeated questions to USOE officials, they could provide no reference statutory protection of student data. USOE should provide complete assurance to families and educators that data are protected and not available for personal identification.

One of the key objectives of the Common Core initiative is to provide means for inter-state performance comparisons. However, the USOE FAQ on testing indicates that, “There are currently no national norms for the new common core or Utah Core Standards … they cannot indicate where Utah’s students stand relative the common-core standards.” So no collaborative benefits exist for developing a unique Utah test.

Why not a different approach?

Consistent with its mandate, the USOE is appropriately concerned by the college readiness of Utah students. Rather than wholesale reforms dependent on unproven curricula and tests, why not direct efforts to proven methods with known cost effectiveness?

For instance, the USOE could be redirecting the $39 million to Utah school districts to reduce class size and invest in technology, increasingly necessary to accommodate Utah’s rising student population.

… Utah schools could adopt and adapt the use of ACT benchmark tests beginning in the 8th grade to determine college preparation progress. The ACT and SAT tests have long been considered robust indicators of readiness by educators and college admissions staff alike.

While the Common Core aims are admirably ambitious, the outcomes so far don’t seem to make the grade…” — Matt Sanders msanders@deseretnews.com TWITTER: Sanders_Matt

Another point is my own: It is clear to all Utahns (it’s stated on AIR’s website) that AIR is partnered with SBAC, which is under a stranglehold by the Department of Ed. SBAC is mandated to “share student data”, to “synchronize tests” with other national common core testing groups, and to give constant reports to the feds. By its partnership, thus AIR is entangled in the same stranglehold. That means Utah is entangled, despite what the state board claims and wishes.

I have yet to see any evidence that AIR/SAGE tests are purely math and English assessments. I have yet to see any evidence that the tests are even being developed by Utahns rather than by the psychometricians that the AIR website flaunts as spearheading all the works of AIR.

Again, thanks for talking.

Christel

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Christel,

I am well aware of all your quotes and concerns. Having served on the adoption committee for our new assessment with testing directors, superintendents, teachers and specialists in the field from districts and the state office, I have heard all the concerns and recommendations on our new assessment program. I also was privileged to meet with the parent committee that examined all the test items and helped correct a few minor problems, but heard nothing about any far reaching problems that hadn’t been noted and improved.

I also had the opportunity to oversee several of the pilot districts that used “computer adaptive assessment” which was then the North West Evaluation Association. The pilots were created by the State Board and Governor Huntsman after a year or so of looking at quality assessment programs. These districts had used the assessment to accomplish great growth in student scores for about five years. NWEA was one of the companies that applied to fill the role of our assessment program that had been funded and approved by the legislature. However, NWEA was not willing to write test items that addressed Utah’s specific Core Items. Thus our committee chose AIR because of their willingness to help us (teachers in the field) to help write items that addressed our specific Core Curriculum and they also had great recommendations from other educational entities throughout the nation.

It would be great if we did not have to invest so much in evaluation, but with Grading Schools and other legislation throughout our state and the nation, we must insure we are providing accurate information for the public and our schools. It has also been proven over the past few years that the Computer Adaptive Assessments have been valuable to teacher, parents and students, as it provides a clear understanding of what curricular issues students understand and what needs extra work and support. Testing is now and has always been an instructional support to help teachers, students and parents know how to help our students improve and be successful.

Now, as you suggest, it would be great if our legislature understood how important it is to fund lower class size, preschool education for “At-Risk” students and establishing enough funding to attract the best and brightest teachers to our classrooms. As the lowest per pupil funding in the nation, I really believe that both the State Office of Education and our district partners are doing the very best they can to provide a quality education for our students. Can we do more? SURE!! But the more takes funding and spending less energy and resources to fight battles that reflect on issues that we have already identified and attempted to solve.

Christel, it would be so nice if you would come to our Board Meetings and take in all that has and continues to be done to improve our standards, our curriculum support systems, our assessment and our commitment to quality educators and education for all of our students. Many people are working so hard to insure we are doing the best with what we can afford to provide the children of our state.

Thanks for the opportunity to discuss these issues, but hope you will come see the process in action and join with us to improve our education with a positive attitude and support system.

Thanks again!!

Dixie
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elefant

Dixie,

I guess I should thank you for the invitation to “join with you to improve education with a positive attitude” at school board meetings.

But I noticed at the State School Board Meetings that I went to in 2013 and 2012 that there was an elephant that filled the room; he was so big that people couldn’t even see around him and so loud that people couldn’t talk.

He stood so that people could not move. He silenced visitors who were in his way just by leaning on them, and his glare frightened teachers, parents, and students who had come to participate in the meetings. He had his feet on some children. He wore a huge banner with his name on it, but the school board used different language to name him than what he had named himself, if they spoke of him at all.

Oddly, the Board most often dodged elephant-related questions.

He attended the Wasatch District’s school board meetings too.

For two years now, he’s eaten endlessly at the expense of taxpayers –money which was reserved for the sacred use of school children and their teachers. He ate a lot.

He’s still eating. There is not enough food for him as well as for the children, yet the Board said it would rather feed him, for some reason. So the board asks the legislature to feed the children and the teachers. Because all the board’s money is gone to feeding the elephant.

A positive attitude?

I howl because I can not get the damn elephant off my children without your help.

You have the power. Please remove him.

Christel
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Christel,

Although you don’t name the “elephant in the room” — I surmise you see it as Federal Intrusion. I encourage you to really look at what the Federal Government does to help provide dollars for public education and the actual data that they and our state legislature ask for in policy and then help us find ways to insure that such data doesn’t compromise the individual rights of our students. Some data is absolutely necessary, but if we know specifically what data is problematic, we can look at those issues. From my point of view as an educator, I see that test data pulled together for teachers, schools, districts and the state helps us insure that we are providing a quality education. If we overstep the process in regard to trying to insure a quality educational system — we need to know specifics — not the letters to the editor or posting on facebook, twitter and etc., with no details as to what is the real problem.

We all want to improve and support public education. Hope you will help us, instead of continuing to state there is an “elephant in the room” — but with no definition of what the elephant is and how you see we can solve the problem.

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Dixie,

The elephant is the Common Core Initiative.

The Common Core elephant –its head is the set of experimental, untested, distorted standards which were neither written nor known about by Utahns before they were forced upon us.

I say “forced” because that is exactly what happened. The board never asked legislators, teachers, principals or parents to analyze these standards prior to throwing away classic standards. And if we speak against them now, we are labeled “insubordinate” or “misinformed”.

I say “distorted” because they are inappropriately “rigourous” for the youngest grades and inappropriately low, especially in math, for the high school grades.

The Common Core elephant– its heart is common data standards (via PESC) which Utah agreed to in its acceptance of federal grant money for the federal SLDS system. This is the heart of the data problem. We don’t have a state system; we have a federal system that we call the “state” longitudinal database. But there is nothing protecting private student data from being submitted to the federal Edfacts exchange nor to the federally partnered EIMAC/CCSSO national data collection vehicle.

Individual student data is none of anyone’s business beyond the district. Only the teacher and principal and parents need to know how a student is doing. Period. The end of the data story.

Governments grading schools is a wrong concept and should be fought but until that’s won, let them grade in aggregate form. That’s not what is happening. Even Superintendent Menlove is a member of the CCSSO, whose stated goal is to disaggregate student data.

I do not see any justification for Utah’s FORCED database (SLDS) from which no parent may opt her child out, according to this very board.

The Common Core elephant– its legs are the tests. The tests drive the future curriculum. They label teachers. They force the standards to center stage, stealing from other subjects and activities that the teacher would otherwise focus on, for example, Utah’s added standard of cursive or a teacher’s personal expertise and enthusiasm for things that go above or beyond Common Core.

Utah’s AIR/SAGE test’s alignment with all the other national common core tests are the death of its autonomy. And the federal say in these tests makes them illegitimate under the Constitution and GEPA law, which states: No provision of any applicable program shall be construed to authorize any department, agency, officer, or employee of the United States to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution, school, or school system .

Common Core is the elephant in the room because at the board meeting, nobody talks about it. They call it “Utah core.” They call them “Utah’s standards.”

Common Core sits on top of and drives EVERYTHING in Utah education today. It saps all our funding. It dominates all our teacher preparation. It dictates all new technologies. It defines our data collection. It is the basis for our $39 million dollar test. And alignment to Common Core is the ONLY prerequisite for any textbook to be used in a classroom anymore– content no longer matters; just common core alignment matters. I know this from speaking with the Utah curriculum committee.

One would think that Common Core must be remarkable and wonderful, to have such honored place in Utah, to wield such power. But it’s a joke. A joke on us. It costs us countless millions yet it’s academically distorted, is not even written by educators and has never been field tested!

It’s nothing that it says it is– not “globally competitive,” not “internationally benchmarked,” not “state-led” nor “state created.” It was David “Corporate” Coleman who on a whim decided informational text is better than classic literature, and he is the King of Common Core. Not only did he design the ELA, but now he runs the entire College Board where he aligns college entrance exams to his creation– not the other way around, as has been claimed. This is not college readiness. It’s corporate control of what that term even means anymore. We don’t get a say. The corporate elite, meaning David Coleman/Achieve Inc./Bill Gates/Pearson/CCSSO who are officially in partnership with Arne Duncan, are calling the shots. And why don’t they want us to have legitimate, high, classical college-ready standards? Because it costs too much money. This is clearly explained by Marc Tucker, CEO of the National Center on Education and the Economy .

Dixie, I have told you all of this before. You either don’t believe me or don’t think it matters.

Many people don’t want to call anything evil. But I believe there is no good if there is no evil, and I believe that good and evil do not form alliances. There are people and collaborations with whom we should not shake hands, no matter how pleasingly they present themselves to us. Because they are selfish; they are steal what is good and important away from us. They hurt us while promising us the moon.

Common Core is the excuse and the rallying cry for the robbers of autonomy and our local conscience in educational decision making. These people ride on the back of the elephant and get richer and more powerful all the way. These riders of the elephant include David Coleman and his corporations, the CCSSO, NGA, Pearson, Gates, Arne Duncan, and the corporations that sell Common Core aligned products. None of them care whether they’re selling snake oil or something real. They don’t care. They count on us to be too busy or too stupid to check their claims and their price tags.

Thanks for listening.

Christel
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Christel,

Wow — I really thought you might have a valid point with the intrusion element. However, as a teacher, principal, curriculum director and now a State School Board Member for now over 40 years total, I have to tell you some facts!

First – all of our standards for the State of Utah have been unproven — mostly because they were created by educators in the field and tested over time and revised over time. Over the years we have, as a state, created our own assessments with help of great talent at our State Office — but both standards and testing items are created by our state teachers and specialists and evaluated and revised over time. The Common Core is and will be the same — except there are several specialists at the university level who has helped us look forward to the ramifications of State and Federal Standards and how all students will be equipped for college and universities regardless of what state university or college they choose.

Secondly, as a Principal of elementary, a 5th grade center and a high school, I can attest that with our past “stair step curriculum” – using Pre-Algebra, Algebra 1 and 2, we lost almost a third of our students in being prepared to master the math curriculum for the high school. The standards for both the Mathematics and Language Arts for the Common Core is much more relevant to the investigative and inquiry expectations of both learning and work skills needed by our graduates.

Finally, Utah did not take any money specifically from the Feds for adopting the Common Core. We, along with 47 other states, found the standards higher and more relevant to the expectations of higher education and careers throughout the United States. Also, we had the support of our Governor and the Governor’s Association, the Chief School Officers and our Chief School Officer and almost all university professors and teachers we asked to evaluate the standards.

Bottom line, Christel, the Standards are a higher quality than what we have had previously and they have saved our state thousands of dollars, as we did not have to bring the specialists together by ourselves, but were able to share with the rest of the nation in the creation and evaluation of the standards.

I am sorry you see the Standards as the “Elephant in the Room” — because they are a very effective step forward toward a 21st century curriculum for our state and our teachers and students are rising to the level of the new standards very effectively. Even my elementary grandchildren now know how to substitute letters for numbers and solve for the unknown. Interestingly, as a high school junior I was the only one in my small high school that was taking Algebra — and that was only about 40 years ago. Needless to say our standards need to change over time and working together is much more effective than attempting to do it by ourselves.

Let me know if you want to find answers and work to help us move forward. I would like to have you working with us, instead of buying into the right wing rhetoric that you find on the internet.

Dixie
———————————-

Dixie,

Previous standards were not unproven; they were time-tested. Common Core is not time tested. ( Did you look at the article I shared about the “dataless decision making” that is Common Core, the link from Seton Hall University?)

Students have NEVER been deprived of classic literature or basic high school math in past sets of standards. They have never been pushed, for example, to write so many “boring” informational essays to the exclusion of narrative writing. They have not been given insurmountable, unreasonable obstacles to hurdle at first grade levels before. They have not been deprived of calculus in high school math before. This is all new. This is all totally unproven. This is so dangerous as we have no idea what the consequences will be, good or bad. We are putting unfounded, undeserved faith in people like noneducator David Coleman who wrote the ELA standards. We are putting all our eggs in a soggy paper basket.

Math: Thousands of Utahns disagree with your assessment of what good math teaching should look like. You are entitled to your opinion, but I can tell you that my son’s friends’ mothers (of children who remained in public school when I took my son out to home school him two years ago) now tell me their children cry and hate school, and ask their mothers (who are not as willing) to please home school them also. This is tragic. And these mothers always say the children’s cries of discontent center on the bad “new” math– which is Common Core math. These are fifth graders.

Money: We took millions from the feds for their ed reforms– which specifically included Common Core and SLDS. Utah took these many millions in exchange for adoption of four federal education reforms. Part of the money, $9.6 million from the feds, built the student-snooping system they wanted, which we now call the Utah State Longitudinal Database System. As part of that SLDS grant, we agreed to PESC common data standards. This agreement is stated on page 4 of section 1 (page 20 on the PDF) of Utah’s 2009 ARRA Data Grant: “The UDA will adhere to standards such as… the Postsecondary Electronic Standards Council (PESC)…”

“The State Core Model is a common technical reference model for states implementing state longitudinal data systems (SLDS). It was developed by CCSSO as part of the Common Education Data Standards (CEDS) adoption work with funding from the Gates Foundation…The State Core Model will do for State Longitudinal Data Systems what the Common Core is doing for Curriculum Frameworks and the two assessment consortia. The core purpose of an SLDS is to fulfill federal reporting (EDEN/EDFacts)…”

Those are their words, not mine.

Obama gave governors $53.6 billion from the “State Fiscal Stabilization Fund” contained in the federal stimulus. The money, used in exchange for the adoption of four federal ed reforms, was given conditionally: These reforms are detailed on the US Department of Education’s website. They are:

1.Adopt College-and-Career Ready standards [COMMON CORE] and high-quality, valid and reliable assessments [SAGE/AIR].
2.Develop and use pre-K through post-secondary and career data systems [SLDS].
3.Increase teacher effectiveness and ensure equitable distribution of qualified teachers. [FORCED REDISTRIBUTION]
4.Turn around the lowest-performing schools [ACCORDING TO THE FEDS’ DEFINITION, NOT OURS].

How anyone can say with a straight face that the feds aren’t involved with Common Core, is beyond me. They even redefined the term “college and career readiness” as “standards common to a significant number of states” which is only Common Core, on their federal site.

As for right-wing rhetoric or left-wing rhetoric, there’s as much left-wing rhetoric condemning Common Core (tests and standards and student data snooping) as there is right-wing rhetoric, anyway.

Left wing criticism of Common Core/SLDS: Diane Ravitch, Paul Horton, Mass Sen. Ed Markey (D)

Right wing criticism of Common Core/SLDS: Pioneer Institute, Heritage Foundation, Cato Institute, The Blaze network, Fox News network.

And there are right wingers who praise it –or refuse to condemn it– (notably Jeb Bush, Rush Limbaugh, Gary Herbert) just as there are left-wingers.

Thanks again for talking and listening.

Christel

———————-

Christel – since you choose to post my responses – I am through trying to help you understand the REAL truth.

So sorry!

Dixie

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Dixie,

I appreciated your openness, which seemed so much more courteous and open-minded than other USOE and USSB representatives have been to the teachers and public who have asked to talk with them about Common Core.

I am sorry that you aren’t comfortable with others reading your responses. I feel people have a right to know what their board representatives really think and what they see as the truth, especially where their children are concerned.

As you know, all state school board correspondence is open to the public via GRAMA legal requests as well.

Christel

——————-

Meme Unconstitutional Common Core Christel Swasey

Fighting With the Utah State Office of Education   4 comments

https://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com/2013/12/05/common-core-movie-building-the-machine-trailer/

I am impressed by the new Common Core movie trailer (that I shared yesterday) and I do hope it gets a million views.

So, today I sent out an email link to the new Common Core documentary movie to many people I thought would be interested in it, both friends and foes: The state and local school boards, the Governor’s office, my representatives, newspapers, friends, relatives, etc.

One of these email link recipients was Sydnee Dickson, a Utah State Office of Education curriculum bureaucrat. (To see more about her, click on this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B1VnpQuJQsY or see this older post or read this to see her earlier attacks on me.)

syd

I think you might find Sydnee Dickson’s response to the trailer today, revealing:

SYDNEE DICKSON: I watched the trailer and noted at the end that it is directed and funded by Michael J. Smith, President of the Home School Legal Defense Association and Michael P. Farris, attorney at parentalrights.org. The message in the trailer focuses on the false assumptions of federal takeover, dumbing down of education, lack of parental control, etc.

ME: False assumptions? I’d like to see evidence that they are false. I think they are true.

SYDNEE DICKSON: I am sure that you do and I respect your perspective… I just don’t share it. I appreciate you keeping us in the loop, however, as things are produced supporting your claims. It helps us know what people are concerned about.
Syd

ME: I would like to know what evidence you are basing your perspective upon. Since you used the term “false assumptions” I want to know how you arrive at that term and perspective. This is, after all, an intellectual, academic debate and evidence is important in order to establish truth. If you are willing, I and many others would be very happy to see it. Thank you.

SYDNEE DICKSON: We have provided plenty of evidence and have exhausted this debate with you. I am not interested in trying to change your mind; but am most interested in supporting students, teachers, and parents in ensuring their students are ready for their future. I know you believe this is important as well. I am happy to talk about how the Utah Core Standards play a part in this.
Syd

ME: Syd, your office has never provided evidence (beyond repeating opinions from Gates-funded organizations) that Common Core can ever help Utah children to succeed –because such evidence does not exist.

Common Core is an experimental, unpiloted program pushed for financial gain alone, at the expense of true college readiness, and you and I both know it.

The way to support students, teachers and parents would have been to build Utah’s future on time-tested standards, not Common Core. The way to support them would be to defend their (our) rights to locally controlled education, curriculum and testing, which the Common Core system is not. You know this as well as I do.

Even the term “Utah Core Standards” is deceptive; you know as well as I do that English and math standards in Utah ARE Common Core standards. I resent the deception.

You say that you simply “disagree” as if there were two equally viable and equally valid sides to the argument. The fact is, either you or I are alarmingly, frighteningly wrong.

We both cannot be correct. I say Common Core will do horrible, uncalculable damage to our future as Utahns; you say it’s nothing but a blessing. We cannot both be right! Is there no truth?

Proponents of Common Core should at least try to prove their system is academically legitimate and in harmony with the Constitution of the United States (separation of powers, decentralization, checks and balances). If not, why be a proponent? For money only?

If you are not even willing to discuss it, dismissing me as simply someone who “sees things differently” than you do, then you imply that the long-term effects do not matter, either.

I would venture to guess that I care a lot more about this than you do. I don’t get paid as you do, to fight about Common Core. The least you can do is stand up for your side of the argument if it is to be believed or discussed honorably.

(Waiting to hear back from her. I have a feeling I will never get any real answer.)

———————

Update: Two more exchanges:

———————

On Fri, Dec 6, 2013 at 2:36 PM, Dickson, Sydnee wrote:

Christel,

Our evidence has included letters and public testimonies from those who directed the writing of the standards and actually wrote the standards. You have called my statements from face to face meetings with the architects “not credible” on websites and you have indicated in the past that their testimony isn’t credible because they were funded in part, by the Gates Foundation. We have sent you and posted various documents which you and your peers reject as evidence. I spend most of my time working with teachers, principals, and district leaders on issues of high quality instruction and educator evaluation. I serve on panels, present at meetings, etc. on behalf of people interested in the CORE and am happy to continue to do so. It isn’t worth my time to continue to restate what we have already addressed. I merely included you on the email to the Board as you are the one who initiated the film trailer.

I would like to reiterate a point regarding the naming of the Utah Core. Utah has had CORE standards since 1984. I was a teacher at the time, using the standards. Our standards are continually reviewed and revised. We have never tried to hide the fact that we adopted the Common Core ELA and mathematics standards. We have been very up front about that. However, when they were adopted, they replaced our ELA and mathematics standards and are now Board adopted Utah Core Standards. You will find across the country that states have named them various things, based on the process of review in their particular state. They might be called ___________(state) College and Career Ready Standards, __________(state) Common Core Standards, or ___________(state) Core Standards. It varies. I am linking you to a aggregated website that shows all of the state websites addressing the CCSS https://sites.google.com/site/commoncoreinthecloud/the-other-49. This was developed by a state office employee in North Dakota.

I have never stated that the CCSS is “nothing but a blessing”. I do believe they are a key piece of reform that will help our students be better prepared to meet the demands of today’s economy. The irony is that for the first time in history, states have done exactly what the federal government thinks we can’t do. We’ve come together to create a set of standards to enable us to share resources, help military families be mobile without penalty to their children in schools, create a common set of standards that are more comparable on NAEP and other national reports, and allows for higher levels of collaboration among educators as we speak the same language. We are already getting great data out of a couple of our early adopting districts and exciting things are happening in classrooms all across Utah. We definitely still have work to do but, the potential for our children to achieve higher standards is exciting. I wish nothing but the best for you and your family, Christel, and hope that you have a wonderful holiday season.

Syd

Sydnee,

Letters and opinions supporting Common Core are only as credible as the scientific data behind them. The architects of Common Core were businessmen, not content experts, and they had zero data driving their decision-making. This is common knowledge. They never even meant for Common Core to prepare kids for legitimate university (4 year) study nor for STEM careers. If you click on that link you will see the Common Core creator state that the standards were “not only not for STEM, they are also not for selective colleges.”

They just want everything standardized.

Their being funded by Gates does create a conflict of interest, absolutely. But even without the monetary motivation, these testimonies are not credible because they are not based on empirical evidence. Empirical evidence means testing the theories upon which Common Core rests: like, actually testing (for many years, on many many students) the theory that diminishing narrative writing and reading in favor of increasing technical writing and informational reading is legitimately better in the long run. (The same goes for the theories of Common Core’s weak math theories.) These dramatic transformations ARE UNTESTED.

It doesn’t matter who thinks they’re a good idea or who doesn’t– you cannot testify with validity to what has never been tried, any more than you can come back from a location to which you have never been.

This is why people who are actually experts in curricular content such as Dr. Christopher Tienken, Dr. Sandra Stotsky, and Dr. James Milgram, should be heeded. Dr. Tienken calls this Common Core “educational malpractice” because it’s based on nothing but marketing. Nothing. Else.

But even if the standards were academically legitimate, time-tested, proven, and in actual fact, better than what we had, I would still be opposed to them on Constitutional grounds. Liberty matters to me!

It is not an accurate statement to say that “states have come together to create a set of standards.” There was nobody from Utah who was sent to serve on that Common Core creation board. Brenda Hales who works with you said this in a Heber meeting. Nobody from Utah helped because the creators “didn’t want it to become a Constitutional convention.” And indeed it was not.

The states did not create these standards and that will always be a lie no matter how many times proponents repeat it.

The standards were funded by Gates, and were created by two unelected clubs, CCSSO and NGA, who have no voter accountability whatsoever. CCSSO and NGA are totally un-transparent, private D.C. clubs. Clubs! NGA and CCSSO are not Constitutionally recognized entities that are valid spearheads to speak for and decide for the actual people of Utah, any more than Miss Teen Utah is a politically valid representative for the citizens of our state.

These two clubs have copyrighted OUR standards. Where is the representation for you and me? Where is our voice? Where is Utah’s identity in all of this? Beyond being permitted, like house pets, to add 15% to the D.C.-created standards, there is no voice for Utah anymore.

The state school board gave away our authority– their authority! They had no right to do this. The board did, under the Utah Constitution, have the right to set Utah’s education standards, but they had no right to hand their assigned role over to the clubs of D.C. as they have done, or to delegate that authority out.

We didn’t need Common Core to “enable us to share resources.” We didn’t need Common Core to “help mobile families.” Less than 1% of American students move from state to state. Empirical fact. We didn’t need Common Core to create a one-language standardized system in order to collaborate. America is too diverse to be shacked to one language or one system. And those who control this new “language” do not have our local best interests at heart. The goals of those D.C. clubs and their funders will always be served before the goals of Heber City under the Common Core.

I have no personal reason to fight with you. The reason I fight is that these principles MATTER to me. Freedom and local control matter to me more than any of these talking points of the proponents of the core matter to me. I see them as the foundation for all that is good and right.

I do not agree with the president of the NCEE, Mark Tucker, who in promoting Common Core says that the “United States will have to largely abandon the beloved emblem of American education: local control.”

Maybe you agree with him.

I do appreciate your well wishing and your good holiday cheer and wish you the same happy season as well. If I lived on your street, I’d be baking you cookies and my kids would come caroling to your door. But I predict that your office and the USSB office will receive a lot more grief before this is over, as more and more people wake up to what has happened.

Thanks for the discussion.

Christel

The Federal Fist: No Formula Funding if States Reject Common Core   6 comments

First, the federal government forces Americans to choose between giving our hard-earned educational tax dollars to them –or going to jail. Next, they promise to give back some of that money –so we can stretch it tightly across our educational budgets– after the feds pay themselves most of it.

So far, so bad.

Then, the feds threaten that they will withhold even that little bit of our money if we don’t merrily skip to the illegitimate tune of Common Core.

Do the fact check.

The Department of Education in the Department’s Blueprint for Reform uses these sweet sounding words: “The goal for America’s educational system is clear: Every student should graduate from high school ready for college and a career…” Nice. (Note to self: whenever the government says something deafeningly obvious, to which nobody could raise any argument, beware: watch what the other hand is doing.)

And meanwhile– the Department slyly alters and sets in stone the new definition of what it will mean in their documents and funding formulas to be “ready for college and career.”

See their official definition:

College- and career-ready standards: Content standards for kindergarten through 12th grade that build towards college- and career-ready graduation requirements (as defined in this document) by the time of high school graduation. A State’s college- and career-ready standards must be either (1) standards that are common to a significant number of States; or (2) standards that are approved by a State network of institutions of higher education, which must certify that students who meet the standards will not need remedial course work at the postsecondary level.

(As far as I know, there is no state that has chosen to use option #2– which is using higher ed to certify that state standards are college and career ready.)

So, college and career ready standards MUST BE COMMON to a significant number of states?

Why? On whose authority? Since when is “everybody’s doing it” a legitimate reason to jump off a cliff?

What if every state in the USA had lousy standards and yours alone had good ones? (Hello, Massachusetts!)

What if your state defined college and career readiness in a completely different way than “a significant number of states” defined it? Why the choke-collar? Why the peer pressure? If Common Core is so great, why the need for federal bullying?

Is bullying too strong a word? Read on.

Back in 2011, the Department of Education was already promising to punish those who push back against Common Core, saying:

“Beginning in 2015, formula funds will be available only to states that are implementing assessments based on college- and career-ready standards that are common to a significant number of states.”

So if your state refused to administer a common core aligned test, you’d lose federal dollars.

Is this why the Utah State School Board refuses to hear us when we point out endless evidence that we must reject Common Core? We point out endlessly that these standards are sub-par, that they’re an experiment on children, that they set up a data surveillance web on citizens without their consent; that the standards rob students of most of the classic literature their parents read in high school, that they put students at least two years behind international competitors by seventh grade in math (according to Dr. James Milgram, official member of the Common Core validation committee, who refused to sign off on the legitimacy of the standards) –and more.

——————————————————————————————————–

Other Thoughts On Funding Schools

— I am done with my post. But I have more to say.

Even if money is the reason the USSB/USOE won’t say no to federal mandates, it still doesn’t make sense to me.

By far, the largest piece of the school funding pie is paid by LOCAL property taxes. The next largest piece is paid by STATE funds. The puniest piece of our school funding pie is paid using federal money.

Why are our state leaders not standing up to the federal demands with a clear “N” “O” when these federal demands clearly go against our best interests? Why do we let the federal govermment dictate education locally, when they hold neither the constitutional nor the actual funding authority over us? Why?

When I ask questions of our state superintendent, state school board, and the Utah State Office of Education, I feel like I’m yelling into a dark and endless pit where only my own voice echoes back to me. Is anybody at the wheel? Is anybody at the Utah State Office of Education or the State School Board doing any kind of homework on this subject?

How do parents and taxpayers feel about the fact that so much of our educational spending is diverted away from students and teachers, back to the ever-growing State Office of Education, the State School Board, and countless administrators and their support staff– rather than being spent purchasing actual school supplies and activities for students or for salaries for much-needed teachers and aides? (Needed school aides and other staff have been let go or not rehired locally –because of tough budgetary concerns. Why is the budget so tight? Hint: it’s not the legislature’s fault.)

Statewide, we have administrators and superintendents pulling in very fat paychecks. Administrative departments, paid advisory boards, paid research committees, and other wastes of money within the Federal, State and Local Offices of Education grow and grow, using our tax dollars, misapplied tax dollars.

And still, teachers and parents are ground to financial shreds.

Teachers have to purchase virtually everything for the classroom –except the textbooks and desks– out of their own paychecks. I know; I’ve done it for years.

Parents are told that they must purchase virtually everything for their students –despite having previously paid via property taxes for the privilege of attending public school (there are now locker rental fees, textbook rental fees despite having virtually no textbooks, class membership fees, planner fees, sporting fees, and on and on and on; I’m taking this list from my high school students’s actual fee paperwork from Wasatch High School, a fee list which totals almost $400 this year. That doesn’t even begin to count the fact that I have to purchase sport uniforms, musical instruments, and other participation fees and supplies. Nor does it count the fact that my child has to go door to door, selling things to neighbors to make more money for sport participation– or get dropped from the team.) This would be okay if it was a private school. But it’s a supposedly tax-funded public school.

Something isn’t as wrong with not having enough educational funding; something’s definitely wrong with how that funding is being mis-applied both locally and on the state and federal levels.

Is anybody fighting for proper use of taxpayer monies in educational decision-making?

Governor Herbert promised us in a face to face meeting that he’d do an independent cost analysis of Common Core. That was 1.5 years ago. He has not kept his word.

And what would ever motivate the USSB or USOE to analyze its spending? Not gonna happen. They’ll cry to the legislature that they’re underfunded, but they won’t assess how they’re spending what they already have.

Educational government spending has become a self-serving, messy, messy, messy mess.

Does Opting Out Mean a Student is Labeled Nonproficient? Force-Feeding Students Ed Testing Reforms   6 comments

“A teacher shall consider students’ summative adaptive assessments in determining students’ academic grades for the appropriate courses and students’ advancement to the next grade level… Students not tested due to parent request shall receive a non-proficient score which shall be used in school accountability calculations.” -Proposed amendment to Utah Senate Bill 175

After I read that a Utah student who opts out of common core testing will be labeled “nonproficient” and that his or her school will be punished in accountability scores, I was stunned.

So I wrote to my state school board representative and the state superintendent for clarification. I still don’t know who wrote the amendment or whether it will be law soon. Here is the email string.

Martell or Dixie,

Please explain why USOE documents now say that students who opt out of common core testing will be given a nonproficient score and their school will suffer “accountability” punishments. I have not and will not allow my high school student to take state standardized tests. She takes a pencil and paper alternative so that her school teacher (not the entire state) knows how she’s doing. Up till now this has never affected her straight A record. It has not harmed her schools’ scores.

Am I to understand that new policies will damage her record and her school’s record?

Thanks for taking the time to explain.

Christel Swasey
———————————————

Christel,

Unfortunately the State Board of Education and the Utah State Office of Education do not write the legislation that requires our schools, districts and state to provide data on school performance for our students, their teachers, their schools, districts or the state. We are required under several legislative mandates to provide data on student performance in relationship to our schools, teachers and our state. Thus if we have parents and students that refuse to provide such data via the assessment systems provided to evaluate student success, we cannot provide the necessary data to the state or national legislative mandates that require such data. It is not that we wish to punish anyone for “accountability”, but as a state organization, we must live by the rules as well as those we serve.

Christel, I would highly encourage you to read a book I just rediscovered from Gerald W. Bracey called “On the Death of Childhood and the Destruction of Public Schools”. It was written in 2003 based on the fallacy of “No Child Left Behind” calling the Act “The Plan for the Destruction of Public Education: Just Say No”. To me it speaks volumes of how far we have come in regard to this act and how long it has taken parents to recognize the expectations it brought to our school system.

Needless to say, as a teacher, a mother, a grandmother, I believe our State Office of Education and our State Board are doing the best they can to limit the intrusion, while abiding by the legislation that we must enforce. I hope you will take the time to look deeper into this issue and others you rail against.

Dixie
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Dixie,

I do aim to fully study the history of education reform once I don’t feel so threatened by the suffocating power of Common Core.

But thanks, and I will take the book recommendation for later. Right now, I have no time.

Because of this school board’s decision to implement Common Core —without ever sending out a memo to teachers, letting us know that our kids and our teaching careers were going to be forever strangled by the transformations of Common Core-– because of that decision, I have to homeschool my kids and give speeches and write articles to try to knock sense into those who do not study these things– none of which I did before, none of which I want to do, none of which I get paid to do.

My time, my life, has been redefined by this school board’s terrible, terrible decision.

This is why I “rail” against the decision. I “rail” for liberty. I rail for legitimate education that puts kids, not fat bank accounts of educational sales companies, first.

I’m sorry that it bothers you. I am doing what I feel compelled to do. I am trying to save something precious.

Christel
———————————————————

Martell, do you agree with Dixie on this? Was it the legislature, and not the USOE or USSB who created the language that says that a student who opts out of the common core test will be labeled “nonproficient”? Do you agree with, or disagree with, this language? If you disagree will you join me in writing a letter to our legislature to amend the language so that no student nor school will be punished for excercising their free agency?

——————————————————-

Then I wrote to a few legislators who are concerned with education:

——————————————————-

Dear Legislators,

Please direct me to those who are writing proposed amendments to SB 175. I would like to meet with them to discuss deleting the proposed changes.

The amendments effectively stop a parent’s or student’s ability to opt out of the secretive, nontransparent Common Core tests and the related mandatory behavioral indicators assessments (See HB 15 line 59) and the related SLDS federal surveillance* program.

In SB 175’s new wording,

1. Schools will be punished if students opt out of the Common Core tests.

2. Students will be punished if they opt out of the Common Core tests, not just with a crashing G.P.A. due to the mandated “non-proficient” score to be received for opting out (which is, of course, inaccurate and dishonest labeling for an opt-out) but also because Common Core tests will count on a student’s academic grade and will help determine whether he/she advances to the next grade.

3. Parents will be punished because any good university will decline allowing a student to enter who has a suddenly-crashed G.P.A., due to having opted out of the Common Core test.

“A teacher shall consider students’ summative adaptive assessments in determining students’ academic grades for the appropriate courses and students’ advancement to the next grade level… Students not tested due to parent request shall receive a non-proficient score which shall be used in school accountability calculations.”

Years of straight A’s and hard work will be marginalized whenever the parental right is exercised, to opt out of Common Core testing, a punishment for following the dictates of conscience.

Utah education reforms such as this one are out of control. Please stop this freedom-suffocating trend.

Christel Swasey
———————————————————————————————————————-
I will publish their responses when I get them.

Even Salt Lake Police Will Root for Anti-Common Core Demonstration Friday at USOE: Teachers and Parents Against Common Core   2 comments

When Carie Valentine, a mother against Common Core, secured the proper permit yesterday to have a peaceful demonstration against Common Core this coming Friday, she also called the Salt Lake Police to let them know about the event.

The officer on the other end of the line told her that he was thrilled that Utahns are not backing down and asked her to continue the fight, saying that he spoke for many in his office.

Wow.

So, this Friday, outside the State School Board’s monthly, all-day meeting, Utah teachers, parents and citizens will demonstrate against Common Core. The peaceful demonstration has been organized for many reasons.

1. Normally, the public may only speak at USSB meetings if a request is made ahead of time, and only two minutes are given per person, with a firm limit on numbers allowed to speak.

2. There is a long history with most of the members of this board, that demonstrates a refusal do adequate research about the experiment called Common Core or to acknowledge that there are terrible, sobering academic flaws, and even unconstitutional flaws, in the new agenda. The board tends to use talking points rather than evidence or references, such as pilot studies, references to laws, or empirical data, to make their parroted claims that the Common Core system is legitimate. Many citizens feel that this atmosphere of no debate is an anti-intellectual, un-American stance.

3. There are numerous, serious concerns about the 518-page agenda to be addressed in the meeting, (including a tax-funded propaganda campaign to push common core acceptance on schools, media and parents).

4. The board did not provide a thorough public and media vetting of the transformative changes to our children’s educational experience prior to implementation; and Common Core cannot be amended without Utah asking permission from unelected D.C. groups who copyrighted the standards Utah uses. Local control has thus been opted away by the board.

5. There appears to be no escape now for parents who object to Common Core’s tests (for many reasons, including behavioral assessments mandated by HB 15). Why? SB 175 mandates that any child who opts out of Common Core testing will be labeled “non-proficient” and the child’s teacher is forced by the state to give the child a bad grade and the school will be punished. It reads: “A teacher shall consider students’ summative adaptive assessments in determining students’ academic grades for the appropriate courses and students’ advancement to the next grade level… Students not tested due to parent request shall receive a non-proficient score which shall be used in school accountability calculations.” Opting out of tests, standards or attendance quotas should be a parental decision, God-given. As long as we are a free country, the state should take a back seat to parental conscience. But most of the education reforms happening in Utah display a disregard for parental (or teachers’) conscience and agency.

Many who would stand up and protest can not do so; they have to be at jobs at 8:30 on a Friday morning; or they are children, who don’t have a voice to articulate their displeasure with the Common Core situtation; or they are principals, staff and teachers whose jobs depend on them appearing to agree with Common Core’s implementation in Utah.

Keeping that in mind, if you can make it, please come. Know that you likely represent thousands who cannot join us Friday.

———————————————-
Where:

Utah State Office of Education
250 East 500 South
Salt Lake City, Utah, 84114

When: beginning 8:30 a.m. this Friday, August 2.

Who: All are welcome.
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From Carie Valentine, event organizer:

“…[W]hen I found out about Common Core I was upset and even angry that our state would make such radical and damaging changes to our education system. Since that time, many good parents just like you have worked tirelessly to get the word out about Common Core. Parents are not being educated by our own state school board and so we have had to educate ourselves.

The rally at the capitol was amazing. The [many hundreds of] people that showed up to voice their opposition was inspiring. I would like to continue that momentum and demonstrate in front of the state education offices. Their last meeting before the traditional school schedule begins is this Friday, Aug 2. Please join me to send them a message that we are in this for the long haul.

I have secured the proper permit for a demonstration this Friday at the State School Board Offices in Salt Lake City. This is considered a spontaneous demonstration.

…I have also called the SLC police dept. and they know we are coming and the officer I spoke with was thrilled we aren’t backing down. He asked us to continue the fight and said he spoke for many in his office.

If you have access to a bigger bank of people, please pass the word along. These are our children, our tax dollars, and our schools. You have my permission to give out my email address to others who want to come. Please try and make time. We are all busy but this is important.

This is a chance to let them know we are not going away. If you are coming, plan on attending the public comment period from 8-8:30 and the picketing will be from 8:30am-9:30am. Please make your own sign and if you have an button wear that. Here are the “rules”.
We can’t block the sidewalk or the entrance to the building. We can’t (shouldn’t) swear or yell through bull horns. We can hold signs and chant something clever about “no common core”. We can’t prevent movement of pedestrians on the sidewalk. Please email me your confirmation so I can have an idea of how many of us there will be.

If you would like to speak to the board directly the public comment period will be from 8-8:30.

You must sign up in advance. I tried attending and signing up at the meeting and they took the sign up away before I could put my name on it.

To sign up to speak at the board meeting in advance, contact Board Secretary Lorraine Austin at (801) 538-7517.

To picket outside, there is no need to sign up in advance, but if you want to give us a head count, email Carie Valentine at carie.valentine.2@q.com

Common Core Watch   1 comment

In Utah, lawmakers and the Utah State School Board are hotly debating solutions to the problems created by the adoption of Common Core.

I wanted to share this one, to the Utah School Board from Pleasant Grove’s Representative Brian Greene.

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On Thu, Jul 25, 2013 at 5:30 PM, Brian Greene wrote:

The 15% rule is a “red herring” and entirely inconsequential. The fact that K-12 assessments used by 90% of the states will be aligned to the CC standards, and the SAT & ACT will be aligned to the CC standards, will preclude any deviation from the standards by states that have adopted CC. For any state to deviate even 5% will put their public education system at a comparative disadvantage relative to other states, and will compromise their students’ chances of gaining acceptance to the most competitive universities and colleges.

All the federal Dept. of Education needs to do now is to triumphantly watch and wait as states blindly consolidate their independence and sovereignty into a tidy package that can be swiftly raided. In light of the recent attempts by the federal government to inject itself into this “state-led” process, and the proclamations of success by President Obama and Arne Duncan for encouraging adoption of CC by 46 states, it is naïve to think that the federal government will take a hands-off approach once CC is fully implemented in 90% of the states.

Even if you believe that CC is the best ever advancement in education, it should be rejected on the basis that states are being complicit in creating a structure that significantly increases the risk of and opportunities for a complete federal takeover of all education.

Utah can have assessments that allow its students to be compared with students from other states, or Utah can have its independence—but we are foolish to believe we can have both.

Brian Greene

Utah House of Representatives

Utah County – District 57

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Representative Green hit the nail on the head.

What’s happening outside Utah? Here are some highlights, which Heartland Institute collected this week: (See full article here: http://news.heartland.org/education )

Common Core Watch

• TEST COSTS: One of two Common Core testing groups announces a price hike for the national tests. Georgia immediately withdraws from plans to administer the tests. The price hike puts the national tests above what several states currently pay for state-controlled tests.

• HIGHER TAXES: The FCC commissioners release more details on their proposed Common Core tax through the federal program known as E-Rate. The big news: Instead of calling for an end to the troubled K-12 tech subsidy, this is the first time a Republican commissioner instead suggests ways to revamp and expand it. A few weeks earlier, the federal agency discussed increasing phone taxes by $5 per line per year to subsidize the tech buildup necessary for Common Core tests.

• CLOSED LIPS: A Kansas board of education member wants to know why the people who worked on national science standards had to sign confidentiality agreements. Shouldn’t public affairs be conducted in public? he asks. That same question hangs, unanswered, over the English and math Common Core standards.

• FLORIDA: The state’s top legislators tell Superintendent Tony Bennett to drop national Common Core tests. The federally funded national testing group is still low on details lawmakers want, just one year out from their tests hitting school computers.

• OHIO: A lawmaker plans to introduce a bill to reconsider Common Core. Gov. Kasich indicates he’ll veto it.

To read the rest from Heartland Institute, click here.

Response to UT School Board Member Dave Thomas on Common Core   1 comment

http://utahpubliceducation.org/2013/07/10/sit-in-my-seat/#comment-97870

When I saw that a Utah State School Board member had taken the time to (sort of) answer my questions about Common Core, I was grateful. When I realized that he had not read previous rebuttals on these same topics, I was discouraged. I don’t think they are studying what we have been asking them to study.

Here’s today’s letter. Here’s the link that it was based on. Here’s the list of questions that his letter was based on.

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Dear Mr. Dave Thomas,

I appreciate you taking the time to answer previously unanswered questions about the Common Core agenda.

Unfortunately, the questions were incompletely and not directly answered.

I hope to someday meet in person, to have an open discussion using source documents; until that meeting is offered, I will try writing point by point.

No evidence to support the experiment

You answered question #1 by giving Fordham’s opinion of Common Core. That’s not empirical data nor is it evidence of field testing. No research has ever been done to prove that Common Core will help our students. It’s theoretical and experimental.

We need to see a long-term pilot study of students trying out Common Core to know that it works better. There is no research to support Common Core’s claims –because it is an experiment.

Reduction of literature

You answered question #2 by saying that ELA does not reduce literature. This is untrue. It is common knowledge that informational text is to be the main type of reading for students in Common Core English classes. Common Core testing companies, curriculum writing companies, and teachers all know it. You can see it in the standards themselves. It is unrealistic to think that math and science teachers will be teaching literature; the split is going to harm the amount of literature kids read in English classes. Saying otherwise does not reconcile with the textbooks coming out right now, that are Common Core aligned. While some people believe it’s better to focus on informational texts (I do not) the point is, where were the dissenting voices? Where was the debate? How did this huge transformation toward informational text happen without obvious, noisy vetting?

Math Problems

If integrated math was universally seen as superior, and was beyond debate, then why is there so much arguing going on about whether its viable as a math system among top educators? Why didn’t the Utahns get to debate whether we’d use integrated math, of which not everyone shares your high opinion?

It is common knowledge that Algebra II is taught at the eighth grade level in top performing Asian countries. James Milgram who was the mathematician who rejected Common Core when he served on its validation committee, said:

“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.“

You mention Dr. Hung-Hsi Wu. But for every Dr. Hung-Hsi Wu who approves of this type of math, there’s a Yong Zhao and a Ze’ev Wurman and a James Milgram, arguing just the opposite.

The point: The majority of Utahns never got to argue out this vitally important transformation of what we are to teach our kids.

Amendability

On the issue of amendability, you slid right past discussion of the 15% cap that the federal government placed on the standards after they were copyrighted by the CCSSO/NGA. Utah can only amend these standards by 15% and that 15% will not be on the common core nationally-aligned tests. We only amended cursive by asking for permission from the CCSSO/NGA. It says so, right on the USOE website: “By Permission.” Where’s the autonomy in that?

Data Collection

On the Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems (SLDS) tracking and the Common Core tests’ data collection issue, you correctly say that the federal government is requiring aggregated student data to be given. However, you do not admit that Utah is collecting increasing amounts of student information, both academic and nonacademic, using schools as data collectors for the SLDS, and that AIR will collect even more when it administers the Common Core aligned tests.

AIR is partnered with SBAC, which you failed to mention. And SBAC is under obligation to share its collected student data with the federal government. What evidence is there that AIR and SBAC don’t share collected data? The National Education Data Model and the Common Educational Data Standards and the Data Quality Campaign– all federal groups– ask for personally identifiable information down to voting status and bus stop times.

You are correct that this is not part of the standards, but it is part of the overall Common Core agenda and it is part of the President’s vision for education, and it confirms what eScholar CEO said at the White House Datapalooza event –that “Common Core is the glue” without which the masses of student data could not be so easily shared.

Testing

You say that “Utah is not part of any of the Common Core testing consortiums,” but the test that we have opted to use (AIR) is partnered with one of the Common Core testing consortiums (SBAC) and it is totally Common Core-aligned. I see no benefit to choosing AIR over SBAC. Do you? In fact, in light of the “behavioral indicators” that HB15 (line 59) mandates that the CAT tests will be collecting, and in light of the fact that AIR is a behavioral testing institution, with a mission to apply behavioral research, I think we are in over our heads as far as attempting to hold any type of student psychological data privacy inviolable –while remaining with AIR.

Constitutionality

It is not true that “No one from outside our state is setting standards, creating tests or monitoring them as part of Common Core.” Private interest groups in D.C. have written the standards we now call “Utah Core,” for math and English. It is unrepresentative to allow our state school board to cede control of standards, testing, or to give access to school-collected data to groups outside Utah.

Pushback on Federal Overreach

I would like thank you and anyone on the state school board who has been “fighting federal intrusion into public education,” but I personally haven’t seen any evidence of it. I see the exact opposite happening; whatever comes from D.C., our state school board seems to applaud and obey as if there were no G.E.P.A. law, as if there were no constitutional prohibition for federal “accountability” from states in educational matters.

It is nice that the NASBE told the USDE to stay out of Common Core; but the USDE clearly laughed at that message. In fact, according to the U.S. Secretary of Education, “in March of 2009, President Obama called on the nation’s governors and state school chiefs to develop standards and assessments.” Secretary Duncan seems to think it was President Obama’s idea to have Common Core. It never was “state-led” in any way.

Spiral of Silence

If you would like to see evidence of a culture of silence, simply ask teachers to fill out an anonymous survey as we have done. Teachers won’t speak out –unless, like me, or Susan Wilcox, or Margaret Wilkin, or David Cox, or Renee Braddy– they are Utah teachers who have retired, semi-retired, or are soon to retire.

Teachers value their jobs and therefore, fear speaking out.

Not State-Led

While you assert that Common Core was state-led and that it “was the brainchild of the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers,” according to the U.S. Secretary of Education, Common Core was originally President Obama’s brainchild. He says, “in March of 2009, President Obama called on the nation’s governors and state school chiefs to develop standards and assessments.”

Utahns do not elect our governor to represent us on a federal stage; for that, we have representatives and congressmen. Were they asked to analyze Common Core before our state adopted the agenda? Not even close.
Cost

Do you believe that not having done a state cost analysis of Common Core implementation was wise?

Do you believe that the total transformation of all Utah schools to a different set of standards, tests, teacher trainings, and textbooks, will not require any additional funding? I don’t. I also cannot believe the claim that “there was no more impact to textbooks than there normally is,” when teachers are telling me that they have put excellent, even newly purchased, textbooks into permanent storage, because all new Common Core aligned materials must be bought. If indeed this is somehow true, that there was no increase to schools because of Common Core, let’s see the line-item proof to be transparent with taxpayers.

Imposition of Federal Standards

You implied that those of us who want to return to educational liberty want to “impose the federal NAEP standards on Utah,” but this is false. We want to control education locally.

Christel Swasey

Utah Credentialed Teacher

Heber City

Deseret News Op-Ed: We’re Not Misinformed; We Know What Common Core Is And We Reject It.   4 comments

Hooray, Hooray! Today, the Deseret News published my op-ed. Here’s the link and the text:

Utah state delegates officially disapproved Common Core when they passed the anti-common core resolution this year by a 65 percent vote.

Was that not enough for our state school board and governor?

Gov. Gary Herbert continues to promote the Common Core-dependent Prosperity 2020 initiative. And the state school board continues to label teachers and others who long to reclaim local control and who want legitimate, non-experimental education standards, “the misinformed.”

The fact is, we are not misinformed; we know what Common Core is, and we reject it.

The board won’t even respond to requests for specifics about what we’re so misinformed about.

Now, despite the Utah anti-common core resolution passing; despite the examples of Michigan, Indiana and other states passing time-out bills against Common Core implementation; despite Obama’s recent announcement that he plans to tax Americans to pay for Common Core technologies in his ConnectEd Initiative; still, Utah’s school board has not softened its rigorous-praise-of-Common-Core talking points and is moving it forward as if nothing is wrong.

In fact, the board markets Common Core as being beyond debate; it’s so minimalistic, so consensually adopted, so protective of privacy rights and so academically legitimate (none of which is true) that it is too big to fail and is beyond any future need for amendments (which is indeed fortunate for them, since there is no Common Core amendment process).

Something is truly amiss when experienced Utah teachers with credentials, like me, are perpetually rejected for requests to the state school board to discuss the pros and cons of Common Core. The board doesn’t want a two-sided discussion.

The board is silent on these simple questions:

Where is a shred of evidence to support the claim that Common Core improves education?

Where are any studies showing that the reduction of literary study improves college readiness?

Where is some evidence that slowing the age at which students learn math algorithms improves college readiness?

Where is any amendment process for Utah’s math and English standards, under the copyrighted Common Core?

How can one opt out of the Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems (SLDS) tracking and the Common Core tests?

Where is the legal — constitutional — authority for people outside our state to set our local standards and to create and monitor our tests?

Why does Utah stand by while Obama announces that he will redesign schools and tax all Americans to pay for it, without Utah putting up a fight?

Why is there a spiral of silence culture now, that demands everyone pretend to agree; where is freedom of expression and freedom of speech in the common agenda, now that teachers and principals don’t speak out for fear of losing their jobs?

How on earth can anyone call Common Core “state-led” when unelected boards that operate behind closed doors, that are not accountable to the public, developed and copyrighted the standards, bypassing voters and the vast majority of teachers and legislators?

Where is the line-item cost analysis of taxpayers’ money being spent on Common Core technologies, teacher training and texts?

When will state leadership address Common Core’s specific damages with the people who elected these leaders to serve us, rather than bowing to every federal whim?

Will the board and governor ever stand up to the Department of Education’s tsunami of assaults on liberties?

Will they continue to fight against local teachers and citizens who rightfully demand local liberty and who rightfully ask for proven, non-experimental, amendable standards — following the example set by the national and world-leading education system in Massachusetts, prior to Common Core?
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Truth in American Education also published the article. This one’s actually a later draft, and is a bit better, with links to references. http://truthinamericaneducation.com/common-core-state-standards/were-not-misinformed-we-know-what-common-core-is-and-we-reject-it/

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?

Dr. Gary Thompson on Common Core A.I.R. Testing   5 comments

Dr. Gary Thompson is an African American Doctor of Clinical Psychology from Utah.

He doesn’t mess around.

He recently posted the following letter, which he wrote in response to the Common Core testing company, American Institutes for Research (AIR).  The letter has to be shared. If you don’t have time to read it all, here’s the toothpaste-cap-sized serving of what he’s saying:

1. A.I.R., the testing company to which Utah has written out a check for $39 million to write Common Core tests, will not answer specific, professional, focused questions and lacks the professional qualifications to do what it has set out to do.

2. Dr. Thompson says that “The continued dissemination of non-data supported conclusions of Common Core by leaders in our education community, and specifically AIR, regarding testing and privacy issues, despite receipt of well documented concerns from educational, legal and psychology experts from around the country, is nothing short of malfeasance of duty.”

3. Dr. Thompson calls for the resignation of John Jesse, Director of Assessment for the Utah State Office of Education; Brenda Hale, Associate Superintendent of Public Schools; and Debra Roberts, Chairperson for the Utah State Board of Education.

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Here is the intro.

Public Response Letter to Mr. Jon Cohen – American Institutes for Research

*Note: In light of Dr. Thompson’s recent appointment to the Board of Trustees at the Utah Law & Disability Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, it must be noted for the record that his opinions are independent, and do not represent the official positions of any one Board member or employee of the Center or their affiliates.

Introduction:

In early March of 2013, we as concerned parents of children in public schools in Utah, wrote a detailed letter upon the request of Utah State Superintendent Dr. Martell Menlove regarding our serious trepidations about privacy and testing issues surrounding the implementation of “Common Core.” In it, we expressed strongly that our children would be pulled from Utah public schools unless these concerns were addressed, or in the alternative, at least acknowledge that they were “a work in progress”.

After I accepted a national television appearance, Dr. Menlove was kind enough to invite  both Mr. Flint and I into his office where the conversation started out with him sincerely asking, “What can we do to ensure that your daughter Zoey will be enrolled in a Utah public school Kindergarten?”

We described our concerns verbally, but we were asked to write down our apprehensions, as well as appropriate suggestions for changes for the Utah State Office of Education to consider implementing prior to Common Core arriving at full speed in the State of Utah.

We both spent an entire weekend drafting our 12-page letter to the Superintendent and presented an email copy to him, as well as to the entire Utah State Board of Education. Dr. Menlove was kind enough to call my home three weeks later to let me know that our concerns “were heard”, our clinic was a “wonderful asset” to the community, and he appreciated all of the hard work that we do for the children in the State of Utah.

Apparently he forwarded the letter to AIR, and AIR responded to Dr. Menlove specifically about our concerns. The original AIR letter link in response to our concerns is cited below:

http://www.schools.utah.gov/assessment/Adaptive-Assessment-System/AIR-Letter-to-Superintendent.aspx.  The following is our joint response to the letter:

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Here is the whole letter.

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Dear Mr. Cohen:

The Utah State Office of Education was kind enough to post your rejoinder to our inquiries into possible professional practices regarding AIR on their state webpage. Both Attorney Edward D. Flint and I have reviewed your letter. We would both like to thank you in advancefor the kind tenor of your response. In our state, apparently a titanic issue with parents is whenever many of them have questioned the accuracy or efficacy of issues surrounding Common Core, they are publically branded as “right wing, conspiracy theorists wearing tin foil hats.”

We both wish to thank you for your professional tone by not dragging political or religious ideology into an issue that is purely about science, law, parental choice, and common sense. Clearly, neither Mr. Flint nor myself have ever been accused of, or confused with being “right wing nut bags.”

The vast majority of your response letter dealt with Mr. Flint’s privacy concerns. I will cut and paste Mr. Flint’s direct response in the latter parts of this letter under the section titled “Privacy Issues”.

As for the issues regarding disability and learning disorders, you devoted a grand total of exactly 74 words (compared to my to my 8 pages of written concerns) regarding issues associated with Adaptive Testing and Common Core. Here is the exact quote from your letter regarding disability issues and the Common Core:

“On a final note, Dr. Thompson expresses concern about the tests appropriately serving students with disabilities. AIR has a long history of serving students with disabilities, and we have invested in making our testing platform the most accessible possible. In addition, we always advise our clients to design tests that adhere to the principles of fair testing outlined by the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities guidelines for adaptive testing, which can be found at  http://www.c-c-d.org/task_forces/education/CCD_Computer_Adaptive_Testing_final.pdf

Here are my professional thoughts regarding your paragraph:

1. You state that you have a “long history of serving students with disabilities.”

Yet you failed to provide a single reference or smidgen of evidence that you have designed adaptive tests/assessments for children of color, gifted children, or children with specific learning disabilities that are scientifically reliable or useful. Providing data links to pilot studies of successes you have had with these, and other groups of children with “learning quirks” in regards to adaptive testing would have been the appropriate professional response to a interested “shareholder” in your corporation. Whereas my tax money is funding this $39,000,000.00 endeavor, I indeed have the strong attitude that you work for the parents of public school children in the State of Utah. Your responses along these lines lacked intellectual rigor and were disingenuous at best.

2. You stated, “we have invested in making our testing platform the most accessible possible.”

Where is the data from pilot studies that support your claim?  If is only accurate “as much as possible,” then certainly you are aware that certain groups of children will most likely statistically slip through the proverbial cracks with your adaptive testing design. Who are these kids? What have you done to encourage these children from avoiding potential emotional/psychological harm from opting out of this test you are designing? Your response along these lines again lack intellectual rigor and again was professionally affronting to me.

3. You stated in the paragraph, “we always advise our clients to design tests that adhere to the principles of fair testing….”.

Who in UTAH is designing this new adaptive common core test?  What qualifications does this person have? I assume that Mr. John Jesse, Director of Assessment for the Utah State Office of Education, is not this person, whereas he does not have the training or experience to design such a complex, adaptive test for every public school child in the entire State of Utah.

If someone was found in our State to design this test, please tell me why a $39,000,000.00 check was written out to your company to design this test? Your attempt to conceptualize Utah as “design partner” is either a direct lie, or a mistake on your part. For $39,000,000.00, Utah taxpayers and parents expect a certain degree of honesty and/or accuracy from a company that is designing the most important test in the history of our state.

4. Speaking of accuracy, you referred us to link via this sentence:

“In addition, we always advise our clients to design tests that adhere to the principles of fair testing outlined by the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities guidelines for adaptive testing,which can be found at  http://www.c-c-d.org/task_forces/education/CCD_Computer_Adaptive_Testing_final.pdf. ”

The link in the letter you drafted and posted to the entire State of Utah to view as evidence of your concern for children with disabilities in Utah was THE CATALINA ISLAND CONSERVANCY.

I simply am speechless.

As far as the Washington D.C. based, non-profit special interestgroup, “Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities” is concerned, the guidelines on their webpage are bereft of any references towards specific practices regarding at risk children and adaptive testing. This may have something to do with the fact that it appears that absolutely none of their Board of Directors has any type of formal, graduate school level education or clinical training experience with children displaying disabilities in assessment settings. I could go on for days regarding my concerns about CCD, but time is a limiting factor.

In addition, you also failed to detail how AIR works specifically with CCD as such might concern the development of the pending $39,000,000.00 Utah adaptive test. How often have your test designers consulted with CDC? What specific advice did the CDC give you concerning our unique population of children? Did the CDC make your aware that Utah has the highest number of children diagnosed with Autism in the entire United States?

If so, what specific professional guidance did the CDC give to AIR in regards to designing test for children with Autism? Would you be so kind to share this information with my fellow parents in the State of Utah?

I will not rehash the vast majority of my concerns to you again. I do believe you have a copy of our last letter. In that letter I provided multiple avenues by which AIR and the Utah State Department of Education can alleviate our “paranoia” by at least considering the implementation of several transparency features into your $39,000,000.00 contract with the citizens and parents of the State of Utah.

Let me refresh your memory with a few nuggets of change to consider from our previous letter:

1. “Anyone who states that AIR does not have the capacity to input selected variables that measure “behavioral characteristics”, along with variables that measure language arts, science or math is sorely misguided. It would be relatively “easy” to design a language adaptive test that has behavioral characteristics embedded into the design of the test.”

2. “Someone, independent of AIR, MUST have access to every single item on the tests being designed in order to insure and that absolutely ZERO behavioral indicators are being measured on tests that parents in Utah believe are only measuring “reading, writing and arithmetic”.

3. “A truly independent review by three independent, Board Certified, joint Ph.D. level psychometricians and licensed clinical psychologist, of all of the test items developed by AIR to ensure that there are no line item variables that could be reasonable utilized to measure“behavioral characteristics” as such may be defined by the American Psychological Association, or Journals published by this group.”

4. Implying, as was done in the USOE Alpine Town Hall Meeting, that any disability group in the country has approved a test (that has not yet to be designed) for the valid use with these populations, is disingenuous at the very least, or a flat out, deliberate misrepresentation to the parents of Utah (and the rest of the country) at worst.

5. An “opt out option” for children with disabilities until data of validity and efficacy is published and disseminated to the public, which ensures fair and accurate measurement of academic achievement.

Your letter failed to even acknowledge reflection of these common sense suggestions and protections for our $39,000,000.00 investment with AIR.

Per se, as far as your response to our clinic’s concerns that were outlined to Superintendent Menlove, I find it to be nothing but a piece of disingenuous public relations rubbish that is affronting in its lack of clarity and references. In a nutshell, you have asked the entire State of Utah to simply “trust you.”

Perhaps you have not spent any recent time in our great state. It would not be an exaggeration to state that the vast majority of Utah citizens have become a little queasy regarding believing authority figures in politics and business regarding positions of fiduciary and moral trust. Common Core, good or bad, is undisputedly the largest experiment of academic and assessment change in the history of our country. With such a grand experiment, the word “trust” should never be uttered.

I strongly suggest that both AIR and the Utah State Office of Education step up to the plate with some real answers, as opposed to the public relations fluff that we as parents are tired of digesting. Your joint, continued efforts of quasi-deception by proxy might incite this highly intelligent, bi-partisan, independent group of Utah parents to descend 10,000 strong to have their voices heard on the steps of our Capitol. Outsiders may make fun of our dominant culture, may laugh regarding our Utah Jazz, however we draw the line where it comes to the health and safety of our children. Our children will not become your psychological and academic guinea pigs without reasonable pilot-study data, specific to our unique population of children and teenagers.

Privacy Issues:

The vast majority of your letter was in response to attorney Flint’s concerns regarding data mining and related privacy issues. The following is a direct quote from Mr. Flint that I received this morning after he reviewed your letter to Dr. Menlove:

“AIR responds to our concerns about privacy, misuse of data and the protection of the database by re-stating that their contract precludes misuse or dissemination and would violate existing laws. I think we can all agree on that, however, it completely fails to answer the questions posed.

For example, in my letter to Superintendent Menlove, I cited a number of instances where both governmental and private agencies have lost or misplaced data while transferring it via flash drive, and the numerous instances of professional hackers obtaining the most sensitive and private information from medical and other databases.

The government agencies and companies that were “victims,” were also all required by law and contract to not disclose, disseminate or negligently lose the data, and to have sufficient firewall and other protections against hackers. They failed. Miserably.

AIR is in no better position than the dedicated public servants who have utterly failed us on a regular basis. They ignore the new 21st Century realities of data-mining and the veracity of how valuable data is sought after by many organizations for many, including nefarious, purposes. AIR dangerously skips past my concerns for the numerous exemptions to obtaining parental written consent, such as “academic surveys” or the oft-repeated abuses now being reported in other states that have implemented Common Core.

Like the Utah State Office of Education, they simply say “trust us, we’re professionals.” What they really mean is “screw you, we’re in charge here.”

It appears off hand that you failed to impress a trial lawyer with 26 years of litigation experience, as well as a father of a young son with Asperger’s Disorder.

Conclusion:

The repeated refusal of education leaders in positions of trust to responsibly address privacy and testing concerns (as well as other well documented concerns regarding curriculum development) surrounding Common Core may ultimately result in potential academic and emotional harm to a significant portion of Utah’s public school children. The repeated refusal to even responsibly acknowledge the very possibility of potential harm to children in our communities borders on delusional thought processes.

The continued dissemination of non-data supported conclusions of Common Core by leaders in our education community, and specifically AIR, regarding testing and privacy issues, despite receipt of well documented concerns from educational, legal and psychology experts from around the country, is nothing short of malfeasance of duty.

In plain terms, you are experimenting with our children without our consent. Such actions are not acceptable to any parent in the State of Utah, regardless of political or religious affiliations. It’s time for some “new perspectives” to be heard in various education circles.

As such, I would deferentially request that Mr. John Jesse, Director of Assessment for the Utah State Office of Education; Ms. Brenda Hale, Associate Superintendent of Public Schools; and Ms. Debra Roberts, Chairperson for the Utah State Board of Education resign from their respective professional and/or political duties prior to the commencement of the 2013-2014 public school academic year.

(Superintendent Menlove is new to the political jungles associated with Utah, and appears to be making an active effort in trying to wrap his head around the massive changes he inherited from Washington D.C. and his predecessor. In addition, I believe that he is a man of integrity.)

As an alternative to resignations of the above named parties, I would respectfully request that both the Utah State Office of Education, as well as the Utah State School Board, discuss and objectively educate parents via their respective official websites regarding areas of Common Core that have not been vetted in a reasonable and proper manner via pilot studies (e.g.,testing issues), as well as acknowledge that potential exists for the misuse of private “educational” data. This new transparency and intellectual honesty will result in allowing parents to make individual decisions regarding either opting out of Common Core, or making arrangements for alternative educational instruction for their respective children.

Mr. Cohen, your role at AIR will be key to ensuring that USOE honors our request for more in-depth, and objective scientific and legal transparency, as well as building bridges of trust between you and the community of citizens who are paying for your services. I think I speak for and in behalf of tens of thousands of Utah parents who believe that trust must be earned when it comes to the process and execution of educating our children. The days of signing “blank checks of trust” are done in our state…especially when such involves $39,000,000.00 and our children.

This is all very simple: Prove your claims with scientifically reliable pilot data, or in the alternative, acknowledge potential deficits in a clear and concise manner so that parents, who are the true experts of their children, can make decisions regarding their unique kids and their continued involvement (or not) in Common Core.

One size does not fit all.

Best Regards,

Gary Thompson, Psy.D.

Edward D. Flint, Attorney at Law

  • Dr. Thompson can be reached for comment at drgary@earlylifepsych.com.
  • Mr. Flint can be reached for comment at specialedflint@gmail.com.

Dr. Thompson’s appearance on The Blaze t.v. show with Glenn Beck is highlighted below.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7NjqOBEc3HU

Fighting the Adoption of Common Core-aligned Science Standards and Textbooks   1 comment

None of us have enough time to process, comprehend and then fight against all of the intrusions on our time and our God-given rights and liberty.

But some things are more important than others.  And fighting the adoption of Common Core-aligned science standards and textbooks must be high on the To-Do list.

Heartland Institute’s Joy Pullman explains it in a great article found here.  http://heartland.org/policy-documents/research-commentary-common-core-science-standards

She writes: “Individual liberty advocates counter that centralization in education is as foolish and damaging as centralizing the economy. They note the ideological tendencies of science education toward politics as a substitute for actual science, particularly in the area of highly debatable global warming alarmism, which is falsely assumed as reality in these standards. The standards also promote a simplified understanding of science and are still incoherent despite revisions…. They ignore central scientific concepts and push a progressive teaching style that has been proven to erode student learning…”

Yet textbook companies are rewriting science to align to the false assumptions of common core, so even those states who wisely rejected the common core or who aim to do so, will likely end up with common core textbooks anyway.

Here’s a letter I wrote to my local and state school boards and superintendents today.

Dear Superintendent and School Boards,
Our homeschooling group attended the Leonardo Museum in Salt Lake City yesterday. What a wonderful museum.  The Mummy exhibit was fascinating, the hands-on digital learning activities were great, the craft workshop and prosthetics exhibits and art were absolutely engaging for visitors of all ages.
But in the multi-room exhibit entitled “Human Rights Exhibit,” visitors were shown not only ecology art, but vocabulary words in the context of the claim that human behavior is killing plant and animal life –and will likely kill off the human race.  There were paintings of futuristic apartment projects teetering dangerously close to the ocean, on islands and cliffs.  The captions stated that because of the FACT of global warming and oceanic flooding, people will be living like this.
I use this as an example of the unscientific assumptions and lies being taught all around us, which are also loading the common core-aligned science standards and science textbooks coming our way.
Let’s not turn a blind eye to the ongoing politically-based rewrite of actual science.  Let’s stand independent of this.  Let’s actually teach the kids hard science based on settled facts as we did in all the wise years up till now.
For a detailed list of news articles and science reviews of Common Core science standards and textbooks, please read this.
We have Martell Menlove’s word that Utah will never adopt Common Core science and social studies standards.  But with the majority of textbook companies belonging to the monopoly of the insanely unrepresentative system of Common Core, we as a state have to go out of our way to find true science for our kids.  Let’s do it.
Thanks for listening.
Christel Swasey
Utah Teacher
Heber City
——————————————————-
Green Insanity in the Schools Update:
You have to read this woman’s blog.  First, she and her husband protested the Disney-like green propaganda film that was shown to the elementary school children to “teach” them that humans are destroying the earth. Then she was banned from volunteering in the school.  Then she was reinstated.  Sigh.
——

How Long Until Utah “Complies” With Federal Requests for Hundreds of Data Points on Individuals?   16 comments

Today I called Jerry Winkler, Utah Information Technology Director to ask questions about the federally paid-for  State Longitudinal Database System
He was very gracious and I appreciated his willingness to answer questions.
I asked him if he could verify the information I’d received from the state school board, that the reason that a Utah student is not able to opt out of the SLDS tracking system, is because of limitations of technology.
( I had received that idea from the state school board:  “Current data systems do not allow for individual student data to be withheld from the data submission process.”
But Jerry Winkler told me that it’s not a technology limitation.
“It’s a policy question,” he said, and directed me to inquire further about the policy from Carol Lear, the top lawyer at the Utah State Office of Education.
I shuddered.  I know more than I want to about  Carol Lear, the top U.S.O.E. lawyer.   Just FYI:  Carol Lear told me last year that since “the whole point is to be common” — it was of no importance that there’s no amendment process to Common Core.   She also told me she believed a cost analysis had been done on Common Core in Utah, when there had not –and still has not.   She displayed zero respect for the 10th Amendment and the  General Educational Provisions Act. and told me that she had never heard of the Cooperative Agreement and she thought it was a hoax.  Finally, she refused to respond to further questions and told me to go talk the the public relations department.  With no sense of valiance in defending states’ rights, would Lear balk at caving in to any request the federal Dept. of Education made of Utah?
Back to today:
I asked Jerry Winkler how compliant our state has been, so far, to the requests from the federal government at the Data Quality Campaign and the National Data Collection Model, those federal websites which request hundreds of non-academic data points about children from schools (including nicknames, family, voting, income, health and psychological information, etc.)
He verfied that Utah does submit information gathered by schools to the federal government, but assured me that right now, Utah is giving only aggregated (grouped) information to the federal government (He verified that this takes place at the portal called the Edfacts Exchange )
Winkler said that right now, Utah is keeping dis-aggregated data (personally identifiable data) inside the state at the SLDS database.
“Who or what would change that?” I asked, “At what point will Utah give in to federal requests to give up disaggregated (personal) data to the federal government, as well? Who makes the call to be more “compliant” with the federal requests?
Carol Lear, he said.  She is the one who would make the call.
Yikes.
Jerry Winkler also told me he believed that students could opt out of being tracked by the State Longitudinal Database System at the local LEA level, but if the data was entered by the LEA, it would automatically be sent to the SLDS and Utah Data Alliance, at which point opting out would end.
I had not heard this.  I will be asking my LEA how to accomplish that.
I asked Jerry Winkler if he had read of the Department of Education’s destructive alterations to federal FERPA (privacy law) and of the lawsuit over the matter, brought by the Electronic Privacy Information Center.
He had not heard of it. 

Dr. Stotsky Sets the Record Straight on English Language Arts 70/30% @ USOE   9 comments

Is it logical to say that writing and literature will be effectively taught by all subject teachers?  All teachers do not have adequate training in grammatical, literary and editing background teach writing and literature.  But our Utah State Office is claiming that this will be the case.  A letter, seen below, from Tiffany Hall of the Utah State Office of Education, will serve as evidence.
The USOE is telling legislators and parents that nothing is really being taken away by Common Core, but informational text is being added to English literature in all classes and across all subjects:
The study of literature is not limited or reduced by the Standards,” writes Tiffany Hall of USOE, “Rather, we are looking at a more comprehensive view of literacy that includes a focus on reading information text in all content areas—and not just reading, but reading and writing with purpose and understanding in every subject area.” 
Does that make sense?  Can you imagine P.E. teachers, math teachers, and woodworking teachers effectively sharing the burden of teaching reading and writing skills, including literature and informational texts?  This is how we cut down on remedial college work?
Please.
Before I post the USOE’s letter, here are two messages from Dr. Stotsky– a video, (above) and an explanation (below) from an email I received this week dealing with the misleading statements being put out by the Utah State Office of Education.
Dr. Sandra Stotsky, as you recall, served on the official Common Core Validation Committee and refused to sign off on the validity of the standards because they were so academically weak.

———- Forwarded message ———-

From: Sandra Stotsky

Christel,
This needs to be explained over and over again.  The reading standards for ELA are divided into 10 informational standards and 9 literature standards.  That division goes from K to 12.   It affects high school English as well as middle school English.
It means that over 50% of the reading instruction must be devoted to informational reading and less than 50% to poetry, drama, and fiction.   The 30/70 division is from NAEP and is for the selection of reading passages on NAEP reading assessments.  It is specifically NOT for the English curriculum.
   
Just because David Coleman thinks that the NAEP chart is for the English curriculum doesn’t mean that it is.   He does want informational reading in other subjects.  But he refuses to clarify his stupid misunderstanding of the NAEP percentages.  He doesn’t know how to read tables and charts.
If Tiffany really thinks the 30/70 split means what she thinks it does, ask her how the English teacher can take care of 30% literary reading on a weekly basis (or daily basis) when she only teaches English 20- 25% of the school day or week.   Where is more literary reading to be done to get kids up to the 30% Tiffany thinks kids should be doing?  What other classes will literary reading be done in, if 30% of what kids read every day or every week must be literary and the English teacher is only 1 of 5 subject teachers?
–Dr. Sandra Stotsky
———————-
From USOE’s Tiffany Hall:
Hello—
I appreciate your concern about the Utah Core Standards limiting the study of literature in English classes. I studied and have taught English literature, and if I felt that students were not going to be reading high-quality literature as a part of their K-12 education, I would be devastated.
The study of literature is not limited or reduced by the Standards. Rather, we are looking at a more comprehensive view of literacy that includes a focus on reading information text in all content areas—and not just reading, but reading and writing with purpose and understanding in every subject area. You are correct that we already have these informational  books; we are now focusing on using them more effectively, and in supplementing them with authentic reading from the appropriate content discipline.
The evidence of this can be found in the  Utah Core Standards , which you can read here: http://www.schools.utah.gov/CURR/langartsec/Language-Arts-Secondary-Home/LangArts-CE-web.aspx
I’d like to guide you to a few specific places for evidence relative to your concerns about literature and instruction in English Language Arts (ELA) and how the Utah Core Standards are focused on creating a culture of literacy in schools.
On page 3, the Standards state “The Standards insist that instruction in reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language be a shared responsibility within the school. The K–5 standards include expectations for reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language applicable to a range of subjects, including but not limited to ELA. The grades 6–12 standards are divided into two sections, one for ELA and the other for history/social studies, science, and technical subjects. This division reflects the unique, time-honored place of ELA teachers in developing students’ literacy skills while at the same time recognizing that teachers in other areas must have a role in this development as well.”
This section continues on page 4, where there is a table indicating the recommended distribution of literary and informational passages by grade. This table shows a 50-50% split between literary and informational text in grade 4; 45-55% in grade 8; and 30-70% in grade 12. However, this refers to reading over the entire school day, not in a student’s English Language Arts course alone.  The Standards strive to balance the “reading
of literature with the reading of informational texts, including texts in history/social studies, science, and technical subjects…” The level and quality of reading informational text in all subjects is a critical element of creating independent readers who can read and understand a wide variety of texts that are present in career and college settings.
So what do the Standards say about reading in English Language Arts courses? In addition to literature, they also include literary nonfiction. A good example of what these two categories mean can be found page 65, where literary fiction and literary nonfiction texts are sampled. These are not required texts; the choosing of texts remains a local decision. These are offered to illustrate the range of high-quality reading. For example, these are the sample texts listed for students in grades 11 and 12:Literary Fiction:
“Ode on a Grecian Urn” by John Keats (1820)
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (1848)
“Because I Could Not Stop for Death” by Emily Dickinson (1890)
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925)
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston (1937)
A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry (1959)
The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri (2003)Literary Non-Fiction:
Common Sense by Thomas Paine (1776)
Walden by Henry David Thoreau (1854)
“Society and Solitude” by Ralph Waldo Emerson (1857)
“The Fallacy of Success” by G. K. Chesterton (1909)
Black Boy by Richard Wright (1945)
“Politics and the English Language” by George Orwell (1946)
“Take the Tortillas Out of Your Poetry” by Rudolfo Anaya (1995)

These selections have merit for their content and their writing. An ELA teacher has the opportunity to link themes and subjects across the full range of literary choices: novels, poems, dramatic works, essays, speeches, memoirs, etc. As an English teacher, I always tried to provide a variety of reading choices for students. Great literary works are how we understand other people, other times, and other cultures. Students need examples of many kinds of great writing.

In Appendix B, found here http://www.schools.utah.gov/CURR/langartsec/Language-Arts-Secondary-Home/APPENDIX-B.aspx, the Standards provide a list of exemplary texts. (These are not required texts, but rather examples of appropriate reading selections.) Please look at the Table of Contents, beginning on page 5, for a listing of readings organized by grade level. You will notice informational readings are included in addition to stories and poetry. Informational reading is an important part of helping students answer questions and learn content in the elementary classroom. However, the topics and presentation are interesting and grade-appropriate. At the elementary level, all subjects are generally taught in the same classroom and by the same teacher, so a wider range of topics is included in these lists.

You’ll notice that by the grades 6-8, the  examples of Informational texts have been grouped by content area (ELA, History/Social Studies, and Science, Mathematics, and Technical Subjects); the ELA texts are literary nonfiction. And, you will probably also notice that the lists of fiction and poetry contain many of your favorites—there are certainly many of mine, including Chaucer, Faulkner, Hemingway, and Shakespeare.

I completely and fundamentally agree with your statement, beautifully written: “Great writing creates great writers. We learn how to write best from studying great literature. We learn about shared values. We learn the consequences of both good and bad choices without having to experiment personally. We learn about our rich culture and heritage when we study the works of Robert Frost and Emily Dickinson and others.” And when I look at the suggested readings in the Standards, these readings are reflected. They are the study of English and Language Arts.

I am not sure from whence the claim that we are replacing literature with “tracts from the EPA” or “dry technical writing” stems. As you have seen in the Standards, the writing is high-quality, appropriate, and interesting.

The Standards outline reading in all the content areas, including writing created by and for scientists, historians, engineers…every field has writing and communication that is important to the work that field supports. While I might not pick up a computer programming manual to read for fun, I know that there are many people who would, and I’m grateful that we are all different in our interests and reading. I am also glad that teachers in all the content areas will choose appropriate informational texts for their students to read and develop content knowledge and communication fluency. As a concerted effort, as a collaborative school, students will have the opportunity to read and learn what they will need to know in our society.

And I will always believe that includes Macbeth and To Kill a Mockingbird.

Thank you for your concern. I hope that examining the evidence—the actual Standards document—has assured you that students in Utah are reading high-quality literature in their ELA classrooms—and reading high-quality writing in all the content areas.

Tiffany Hall, MA, M.Ed.
K-12 Literacy Coordinator
Teaching and Learning
Utah State Office of Education
Please note: Utah has a very broad public records law. Most written communications to or from state employees regarding state business are public records available to the public and media upon request. Your email communication may be subject to public disclosure.

No More Databases Tracking Our Kids Without Our Consent!   4 comments

I want to share this most VITAL point recently articulated on the Utahns Against Common Core website by Utah parent Oak Norton:

“We totally agree [with the State Office of Education] that we should strengthen privacy laws. In fact, the most secure way to secure our children’s personally identifiable information is to NOT STORE IT IN A DATABASE.  It’s pathetic that the USOE and State Board signed us onto this whole mess with grant and wavier applications and now go running to the legislature (whom they constantly criticize for interfering in education), and ask them to protect them from themselves. HELLO??? Who signed the waivers and applications? The Board President, State Superintendent, and the Governor.

The best way to protect this data is to unwind it.”

USOE Still Dodging Honest Debate, USOE Asking Teachers for Stories About Common Core Agenda   6 comments

The Utah State Office of Education  sent out this email to state curriculum directors yesterday, labeling calls by teachers, senators and parents who ask for honest debate on the many constitutional, academic and privacy-related issues of the Common Core agenda, “vicious” attacks.  The recipients of the email have been removed to protect privacy.  The links have been added to clarify the email.

 

Sent: Monday, April 29, 2013 3:55 PM
To:
Subject: [Curriculum Directors] Your action is needed

As you are probably aware the Utah Core based on the Common Core is under vicious attack. Opponents of the core cite reasons against the core ranging from fears about data collection to federal government intrusion. They have specifically begun attacking the mathematics core, in some cases because it “holds students back” and in others because “students who were formerly receiving good grades are now struggling”. These complaints have caught the attention of the legislature and some members of the Utah Board of Education.

At the same time, everywhere I go I am hearing stories of student successes that far exceed previous expectations. I am visiting with teachers who tell me about engaged students who are doing real mathematics, not just copying problems out of textbooks. And teachers are empowered by creating units of study for students that go beyond anything their textbooks ever provided. Wonderful things are happening in Utah!

The time is now to contact policymakers and reassure them that the adoption of the Core was the right thing to do and give them specific evidence of how the integrated model is supporting student learning of mathematics. It’s ok to recognize challenges, but it is critical that policymakers understand that the Core has already had a positive impact on student learning and is likely to result in changes that really will close achievement gaps in the future. I cannot stress enough how important it is that policymakers hear directly from teachers regarding what is happening in their classrooms. The teachers do not need to advocate for the core, just give evidence of the results.

Please invite teachers to send their stories to their own legislators and State Board of Education members. Also, letters to Aaron Osmond aosmond@le.utah.gov and Todd Weiler weiler@le.utah.gov may have extra pull because of their roles in the Utah Senate. Copies sent to USOE, either to me or to Brenda Hales Brenda.hales@schools.utah.gov are also appreciated. The legislators and other policymakers need real information. If we do not voice our thoughts now, we may not have another chance.

Diana Suddreth, STEM Coordinator

Secondary Mathematics

Teaching and Learning

Utah State Office of Education

250 E. 500 South

PO Box 144200

Salt Lake City, UT 84114-4200

801-538-7794

diana.suddreth@schools.utah.gov

 

——

So, the USOE is inviting teachers to speak out.  I thought that was what I was doing.
Please invite teachers to send their stories to their own legislators and State Board of Education members.”

Now, I invite teachers to truly do this.  Send your stories anonymously if you fear career repercussions for telling the State you don’t like to be micromanaged.  Tell them the truth:  that whatever’s okay about Common Core, we are free to do without the federal mandates.  Whatever’s bad, we should be able to amend.  The Constitutional right to self-direct education by states has been violated.  SPEAK UP NOW or lose your chance, maybe forever.

Send letters and stories to legislators, the school board (at board@schools.utah.gov ), newspapers, and send a copy here, in the comment area.  I will repost as a guest post.

 Also, remember to take the optionally anonymous teacher survey at Utahns Against Common Core.

BYU Math Professor David Wright on Common Core Math   12 comments

This letter (posted at Utahns Against Common Core) is written by a BYU professor to help Utah legislators know the facts about Common Core math. Other important letters on this subject from other math experts to the State Office oF Education are posted here.

Dear Senators Osmond and Weiler,

I see that Diana Suddreth sent a “Your Action is Needed” email to defend the Utah Math Common Core. She is encouraging letters of support for the Utah Common Core and is concerned that the Common Core is under a “vicious attack.” She is inviting her supporters to send letters to both of you.

As a mathematics professor and someone who is very aware of the details of the Common Core, I would like to comment on what I feel is the awful way the Common Core Math Standards have been implemented by the USOE.

1. The Core was implemented before there were textbooks. In fact, some of those who favor the Utah Core do not even feel that textbooks are important. When I hear Suddreth say, ”And teachers are empowered by creating units of study for students that go beyond anything their textbooks ever provided” I know something is seriously wrong.

2. The Core was implemented before there were assessments in place.

3. The standards do not dictate any particular teaching method, but rather set goals for student understanding. However, the USOE has used the implementation of the new Core to push a particular teaching method; i.e., the “Investigations” type teaching that was so controversial in Alpine School District.

4. Evidence of the type of teaching promoted by USOE comes from the textbook used for the secondary academy, 5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematics Discussions (Margaret S. Smith and Mary Kay Stein) as one of the primary resources. The book is about the kind of group learning envisioned by Investigations and Connected Math (the sequel to Investigations).

5. The Mathematics Vision Project was created in partnership with the USOE. It has developed integrated secondary math material for the Utah Core. They openly admit that their “teaching cycle” is similar to the model of the Connected Mathematics Project. Here is a statement about their teaching method:

As students’ ideas emerge, take form, and are shared, the teacher orchestrates the student discussions and explorations towards a focused mathematical goal. As conjectures are made and explored, they evolve into mathematical concepts that the community of learners begins to embrace as effective strategies for analyzing and solving problems. These strategies eventually solidify into a body of practices that belong to the students because they were developed by the students as an outcome of their own creative and logical thinking. This is how students learn mathematics. They learn by doing mathematics. They learn by needing mathematics. They learn by verbalizing the way they see the mathematical ideas connect and by listening to how their peers perceived the problem. Students then own the mathematics because it is a collective body of knowledge that they have developed over time through guided exploration. This process describes the Learning Cycle and it informs how teaching should be conducted within the classroom.

6. The USOE does hold students back. This is not the intent of the Common Core, but it is Utah’s implementation. I regularly judge the state Sterling Scholar competition. Almost all of the bright kids take AP calculus as a junior or even earlier because they were taking Algebra 1 by seventh grade. Now it will be difficult to get that far ahead. The National Math Panel made it clear that there was no problem with skipping prepared kids ahead. The Common Core has a way for getting eighth graders into Algebra 1 which the USOE has ignored.

7. The USOE chose the “uncommon” core when they picked secondary integrated math. Hardly anyone else is doing this program. So there are no integrated textbooks except the one that the USOE is developing. I have been told that this is the “Asian” model, but I am very familiar with the textbooks in Hong Kong and Singapore. The Mathematics Vision Project Material does not look like Asian material, it looks like Investigations/Connected Math.

8. There is substantial information that Diana Suddreth, Syd Dickson, Brenda Hales, and Michael Rigby of the USOE participated in unethical behavior in the awarding of the Math Materials Improvement Grant. The USOE chose reviewers (including Suddreth and Dickson) who were conflicted. Suddreth helped the University of Utah choose a principal investigator who was her own co-principal investigator on a $125 K grant . According to the USOE internal email messages, the required sample lesson of the winning proposal contained “plagiarized material.” The sample lesson had “no text” instead it contained 79 pages of “sample materials” (some of which was plagiarized) for a teacher study guide including problems for discussion and homework. The adaptive performance assessment program for the winning proposal was non-existent. The principal investigators redefined “adaptive assessment” to be something that was never intended.

Regards,

David G. Wright

I am a Professor of Math at BYU, but this letter is written as an educator, parent, and concerned citizen and does not represent an official opinion from BYU.

Brigham Young University has a policy of academic freedom that supports the pursuit and dissemination of knowledge and ideas. The university does not endorse assertions made by individual faculty.

— — — — —

Thank you, Dr. Wright, for your courage in speaking out.

The USOE’s Diana Suddreth has called the movement to stop common core a “vicious attack.”  The State School Board’s Dixie Allen has said that we (teachers and parents against common core) are “creating turmoil in our state.”

In our defense:  1) we do not wish to disparage personally the USOE or the USSB or Governor Herbert’s staff, despite their endless claims, in the face of truckloads of evidence to the contrary, that Common Core is a benefit to Utahns.  We do have much against the fact that as a state, we’ve sold out our kids to common core– to its slashing of local control, slashing teacher autonomy,  slashing the right to amend our own education standards, deleting legitimate and proven academic standards, and ending student privacy.

I would appreciate not being called names, such as special interests, turmoil-makers or vicious attackers –since we have made no personal attacks, and are not making but are losing our personal money in this fight for true principles, our rightful duty to defend;  and since we’re  the ones trying to clean up the turmoil our leaders created by signing away local rights, privacy and standards, without letting us know it.

Personal pride, personal investment in the common core agenda, personal career investment related to the common core agenda, and social loyalties are not more important than LEGITIMATE education standards, student PRIVACY rights, PARENTAL consent requirements for state systems in testing students and in collecting student data, and most of all, they are not more important than constitutional, LOCAL control.

Common Core must be stopped.

Utah State Office of Education at Uintah School District: On Common Core Testing   4 comments

Guest post by a parent who requested that his/her report would be anonymously published

I attended the meeting held by Uintah School District last week.

The meeting appeared to be a training on the new assessments for Common Core that will cost $30 million. The guy turned his back on the room and spoke quietly when he said ‘$30 mil’, so I’m not sure I heard him correctly. He was more than happy to face the room and speak loudly about how great these assessments will be and how very much we need them–in his opinion. (Note-his job is dependent on him holding to that opinion.)

A little more than halfway through the meeting, he finally allowed questions. He would NOT allow questions before that. When question time came, it was very clear that the majority of the people in the room were unhappy parents, not educators there for his training. With a great deal of pressure from parents, it was decided that some common core questions would be answered by Dixie Allen of the state school board.

All individuals interested in common core questions being answered were invited to get up and move to a smaller room to talk with Dixie. By the time everyone had gathered in the smaller room, common core was on a screen at the front of the room and Dixie was prepared to give a presentation. Parents tried to ask questions and Dixie tried to give a presentation.

When it became clear that Dixie’s intent was to deliver a Common Core ‘sale’, one parent specifically requested that questions be answered first and the presentation be given second because people were obviously wanting their questions answered now. Dixie said no, but eventually had to give in because the questions wouldn’t quit coming. We didn’t have to watch or listen to a big presentation from Dixie, but we did have to listen to her state several times that common core standards are higher (to which one parent consistently replied ‘no, they’re not’ every time). She also told the parent in the room who knew the most about Common Core that she (Dixie) didn’t want that mom asking anymore questions because the mom gave comments, informing other parents of the details so Dixie could not shut them down completely. Obviously, Dixie is frightened of the truth getting out.

Dixie also denied being the homeschool teacher for 2 of her grandchildren in her home. (I think the count was 2.) She later backtracked on that one and admitted that she teaches one grandchild who is in 9th grade right now and homeschooled because of bullying. (A difficult to fully believe claim because the junior high principal here is quite strict and everyone else says this principal put an end to bullying in that school when she was first put in as principal, long enough ago that bullying in that school would have ended by the time Dixie’s grandchild would have entered the jr. high.)

Dixie also repeatedly stated that Utah must do Common Core because otherwise we cannot buy curriculum to match our core because we don’t spend enough money on education and therefore the curricula vendors don’t cater to us. No one in the room agreed with her on needing more money, but she made this claim repeatedly. Then when the question “How much will these new curricula materials to match common core cost us?” was asked, the answer was “Nothing, we’re making our own.”

None of the parents in the room said anything, but note that the argument that we need to do common core so we can buy materials to match our core falls when you consider that we’re not buying the materials!
In short, no one in the meeting was convinced that common core was a good idea. Parents talked afterwards, exchanging their contact info and more information on common core. One parent had watched a program on the miserable failure of common core in Michigan and was there with her notes in hand, asking questions and providing details of how bad things are in Michigan. Dixie tried very hard, but unsuccessfully, to refute the points this good mom made throughout the meeting. Another mom mentioned that history has proven how very dangerous a national curriculum can be, but many people in the room are unaware of that and just thought she’s a little paranoid.

I left the meeting thinking that Dixie is either completely ignorant of the facts surrounding common core or she is an outright liar. I spoke with some people who know her personally the next day and they told me that she just truly believes in big government, so she wouldn’t even be able to see the facts. It was interesting to watch her at the meeting. Dixie is an elected representative of the people, but you couldn’t tell. Elected representatives should listen to the people, treat them respectfully, and do as the people want. Dixie did none of that. As an elected representative of the people, she ARGUED with them and spoke condescendingly when they didn’t understand education lingo. It was very sad.
Dixie did state that Utah might not adopt the science part of common core because of pressure from the ‘right wing’ in the state. She also said that Utah might try to vary from common core by more than the 15% allowed, but there will be no attempt to get out of common core.
Sadly, the powers that be cannot admit they’ve made a mistake and are completely disrespectful to the people who gave them power and pay the taxes that support them and their decisions.

– Anonymous attendee at UT State Office of Education Common Core presentation to Uintah School District

U.S.O.E. Informational Meetings on Common Core Tests: Clueless on the Big Issues   5 comments

Did you watch the Deseret News live feed of the Davis District meeting tonight?

I had an “A-ha!” moment, as I again watched Judy Park of the Utah State Office of Education present information about the Common Core tests.

I realized that Judy Park just does not know the answers to the big, big questions that are being asked.  She isn’t actually being dishonest; she is simply clueless.  It’s tragic.  I feel almost sorry for her.

What makes me say this?

One example:  When parents asked about the data collection issue she seemed to be blissfully unaware that the Utah State Longitudinal Database System collects personally identifiable information on every student –without parental consent and without any opt-out alternative.

“There’s federal laws. There’s all the protection in the world,” she said, and added a little simile:

As banks can’t give away your money, databases can’t give away your personally identifiable information, she said.

Really?

— Does she not know that there’s a huge lawsuit going on right now because the Department of Education has loosened and ruined privacy regulations so entirely that parental consent has been reduced from a legal requirement to an optional “best practice”??

— Does she not know that the State Longitudinal Database System is federally interoperable, and that that was one of the conditions of Utah receiving the grant money to build the SLDS in the first place?

— Does she not know that the SLDS is under a (totally unconstitutional) mandate to report to the federal government via the “portal” called the EdFacts Exchange?

— Has she not seen the hundreds of data points that the federal government is “inviting” states to collect and share on students at the National Data Collection Model?

— Has she never studied the Utah Data Alliance and the Data Quality Campaign?

— Is she unaware that the Federal Register (following the shady alterations by the Dept. of Ed to federal FERPA privacy regulations) now redefines key terms such as who is an authorized representative and what is an educational agency, so that without parental consent and without school consent, vendors and corporate researchers can access data collected by the SLDS (State Database)?

— Does she not know that state FERPA is protective and good, but federal FERPA is utterly worthless because of what the Dept. of Education has done?

Ms. Park said:

“FERPA [federal privacy law] doesn’t allow that,”   and:   “I don’t believe that,” and “Personally identifiable information is not even in our state database.”

Dear Ms. Park!   I wish I could believe you.

But last summer, at the Utah Senate Education Committee Meeting, we all heard (and Ms. Park was in the room) when Utah Technology Director John Brandt stood up and testified that “only” a handful of people from each of the agencies comprising the Utah Data Alliance (K-12, Postsecondary, Workforce, etc.) can access the personally identifiable information that the schools collect.  He said it to reassure us that barring dishonesty or hacking, the personally identifiable information was safe.  But he simultaneously revealed that the schools were indeed collecting that personal information.

Sigh.

Why don’t our leaders study this stuff?  Why, why?

Even Ms. Park’s secondary title, which is something about “federal accountability” is disturbing.  It’s an illegal concept to be federally accountable in the realm of state education.  Has nobody read the 10th Amendment to the Constitution at the State Office of Education?  Has no one read the federal law called the General Educational Provisions Act, which forbids —FORBIDS— the federal government from supervising, directing or controlling education or curriculum in ANY WAY.

I am not the only one flabbergasted at what I saw and heard on that live feed of the Davis District meeting today.

 

This portion is reposted with permission from clinical psychologist Gary Thompson.

Gary Thompson:

I’m mortified at USOE.

I’m half tempted to shoot off (another) letter to the State Superintendent of Schools demanding that they stop all future “informational”meetings until they themselves either know the correct answers, or can be honest and simply state, ” we are investigating these issues currently, and we will get back to you when we know the answers.”

Anything other than that is pure deception, and if they (Judy Park, ect) are deceiving tax paying parents, then they should be asked to resign from their positions of trust. If I here one more meeting filled with deception and plausible deniability, I may take it upon myself to publicly ask for those resignations myself in a very public manner that will make the my Glen Beck appearance look like minor league.

It is just common respect. THEY asked for my letter of assistance and clarification. Attorney Flint and myself spent an entire weekend drafting it for them and the parents in our community.

Their response over a week later?

Crickets.

Not even a thank you note….and then they have the gall to present a LIVE feed to the entire State filled with definitive answers to parents questions that not only could they not answer during our 2 hour in person meeting, but asked for our assistance to clarify the issues they did not understand.

How hard would it had been to simply say, “We do not know.” ???
Ms. Parks response to questions regarding adaptive testing to children with learning “quirks” (out new name for disabilities) was so devious and deceptive that I had to turn it off.

Alisa Olsen Ellis, don’t you ever stop this fight as long as you have life in you.

God bless you.

-Gary Thompson

— — —

Please, if you live in Uintah District, attend the meeting about the Common Core (AIR/SAGE) tests to be presented by the USOE on

April 25, 2013 @ 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm at the  Maeser Training Center 1149 North 2500 West Vernal,UT 84078 USA

 

USOE/Davis School District Meeting Today on Common Core – Please Come if You Can   1 comment

Today from 4 to 6 PM

District Office / Kendell Bldg (2nd Floor) 70 East 100 North in Farmington, Utah

USOE to present Common Core Testing System to Public

Please attend the Davis School District meeting today at  4:00 p.m.   The press is reportedly going to be there, too.

If you are in the vicinity, please attend the meeting today and ask your questions about AIR/SAGE.  If you need a list of questions, you can borrow these:

  • Where can I read our state’s cost analysis for implementing Common Core and its tests?
  • What is the amendment process for Common Core standards if we find out they are not working for us?
  • Where can I see for myself the evidence that Common Core standards have been proven to be of superior quality and that they are internationally benchmarked?
  • Where can I see for myself evidence that Common Core’s transformations (deleting cursive, minimizing classic literature, moving away from traditional math, etc.) –will benefit our children?
  • What is the American process of representation of individuals in the Common Core education and assessments  system?
  • Does it seem good that the meetings of the standards writers (the CCSSO/NGA) are all closed-door meetings?
  • I read that there is a 15% cap on a state adding to the Core; so what do we do if we need to add a whole lot more to actually prepare our children well?
  • Although I have been told that Common Core is state-led, both my legislator and I missed any invitation to discuss this before it was decided for us; please explain the analysis and vetting process for the upcoming national science and social studies standards.
  • The Constitution assigns education to the states, not to the federal government.  Also, the federal General Educational Provisons Act (GEPA) states: “No provision of any applicable program shall be construed to authorize any department, agency, officer, or employee of the United States to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution, school, or school system, or over the selection of library resources, textbooks, or other printed or published instructional materials by any educational institution or school system…“    In light of this, please explain why our state has agreed to intense micromanagement by the federal government under Common Core testing.

 

 

You may want to read these posts before the meeting.

http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/the-air-stinks-of-sage /

http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/asking-questions-in-meetings/

https://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com/2013/04/12/parents-demand-real-answers-at-alpine-district-meeting-on-common-core-a-i-r-tests/

https://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com/2013/04/08/judy-park-introduces-common-core-sage-tests-to-wasatch-school-district/

“Much has been said about Common Core – by those who support it and those who oppose it. To me, the greatest benefit of Common Core is the fact that it has generated an army of parent activists who have educated themselves on the implementation of national standards, USOE regulations, and the data mining of students academic and personal information. We should all take note of the trends taking place in education.”   – Utah Senator Margaret Dayton

Shortlink: http://bit.ly/Zg4q6E

Dear Utah State School Board   4 comments

Feel free to use this letter if it helps.  I sent it today.  If others wish to add their voices to mine, the board’s email is : Board@schools.utah.gov.

The Governor needs to hear from us, too.

———

Dear USOE and State School Board,

Parents and teachers like me are so very tired of reading lies about Common Core, which are stated (and published) repeatedly by the USOE and Utah State School Board, and which are then replicated across school district websites all over Utah. I’m writing to ask you to provide references to prove the claims are honest– or remove the claims. One or the other.

We’re tired of being told, for example, that there is a Utah Core. Most people do know that it’s the Common Core for Math and English. It’s misleading to say “Utah Core” unless you are talking about P.E. or history or other standards.

Some of you have not done much research about Common Core and you have been fed only the claims given you by Common Core proponents –such as Pearson, Wireless Generation, Bill Gates, and others, who stand to make a lot of money implementing Common Core.

You read Gates’ own publication, Education Week. You listen to the groups Gates has paid (bribed) to advocate for the untested experiment of Common Core, including the national PTA, the Council of Chief State School Officers, the National Governor’s Association, the Harvard Newsletter, Manhattan Institute, Fordham Foundation and others. Gates admitted in a NY Times interview that he spent $5 Billion– billion– dollars pushing HIS version of education reform. So the marketing has been good. But the product is defective. You of all groups ought to study this thoroughly.

Sometimes people forward their emails from you to me. I am aghast at the unreferenced, untrue responses, such as “Common Core is an improvement” and “We still have local and parental control” and “We aren’t spending money on Common Core that we wouldn’t already be spending on education standards,” and “Common Core is academically rigorous.” These are absurd statements to anyone who has done their homework on Common Core.

Why not provide references for your ongoing claims to increase your trustworthiness in the public eye? If you are telling the truth, please show us. If not, it’s time to ‘fess up.

Parents deserve referenced truth. These are our kids. These are our tax dollars. And you are not telling the truth: that Common Core is an unproven, unwanted experiment –for which you’re using kids as guinea pigs.

The standards are not Utah’s. And they are not academically nor constitutionally legitimate. If I am wrong, please show me.

In education, as in medicine, the motto should be “First Do No Harm.”

Where is the evidence that Common Core standards are not harming our students? Where is the empirical data upon which this transformative alteration to Utah education was based?

More specifically, can you point me to a study that shows that not teaching kids how to convert fractions to decimals is better college prep in the long run? Where is the study that shows that lessening the teaching of classic literature and of narrative writing is going to benefit children as adults? Where is the proven, long term study that shows that informational text is more beneficial than classic literature?

If there is no such research, then why on earth have you foisted this hogwash on our kids– and called it “rigorous”!?!!

It does not even make sense. Rigorous? Running a mile is rigorous to a couch potato but it’s a dumbing down to an athlete. One size fits all can never be accurately described as “rigorous” and I pray you will quit abusing that word across our good state.

The adoption of Common Core is, ironically, dataless decisionmaking. It is decision making based on the wealth and influence of extreme politics, not based on the American principle of voter representation and local public vetting.

Where is the proof to back up the claim that Common Core is state-led? How can it be state-led when nobody in the state even knows about it? No legislator has a clue. No school board except the state school board was ever allowed to vet or vote upon this huge change to education. How can it be state-led when it’s written behind the closed doors of the NGA/CCSSO and there’s no amendment process?

Where is the proof that the Common Core is academically legitimate? We know it was developed by noneducators: David Coleman, the NGA and the CCSSO. We know it was most heavily funded and promoted by noneducators. We know it has been politically hijacked by the Dept. of Education and that Obama and Sec. Duncan claim to have given it to states (further crushing the claim that it was state-led). We have endless references for these things. Yet this board and office continually fails to provide a shred of evidence for its Common Core promoting claims.

I find this to be a terrible example to the rest of the educators and students of this state.

If I were teaching an English class today, would I say to my students, “Oh– you didn’t provide references in your research paper? Well, no big deal. Neither does the Utah State Office of Education or the State School Board” ?

Where is the proof that Utah still has control of her education system? There’s a solid copyright on the Common Core. There’s a 15% no-alteration rule. Ridiculous. That is the opposite of local control.

If Utah wants to teach sky-high, way past the mediocre Common Core, 15% does not cut it. If Utah wants to prevent corporate researchers, hackers or the federal government from accessing private student data collected in the State Longitudinal Database System (which we all know is interoperable with the federal database, and was paid for by the federal government and is modeled after their desires, not ours) — we cannot protect our kids’ privacy. Because the Common Core tests will collect all the information and will track the kids in the P-20 and SLDS. This is common knowledge today. By remaining in Common Core, you tie parents’ hands behind their backs. No parents can opt their children out of the SLDS tracking. This is unacceptable!

Common Core Standards, tests and data collecting tentacles are a tragic, horrific joke and as you know, the people who will suffer most are the children and the teachers.

For what is far from the first, and likely far from the last time, I implore you to please answer these issues with references.

If you can’t, then your duty to the people of Utah is to get us out of Common Core.

Integrity demands it.

Christel Swasey

Heber City Parent

Credentialed Utah Teacher

Utah Parents Need to Attend the Common Core Test Presentation Meetings!   1 comment

I’m posting an update for Utah parents who can and should attend the public meetings in their areas to pose questions about Common Core to the presenters from the Utah State Office of Education. http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/event-calendar/ This link will show addresses, dates and times if you click on the name of the district. This week will feature Logan, Weber, Juab, Nebo and Bountiful district meetings. Next week: Davis, Uintah, North Ogden, Payson. Then it’s South Utah County.
Coming Up:

TODAY

April 16, 2013 @ 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm – LOGAN DISTRICT   –  Logan District Office, Board Room 101 West Center Street Logan,  UT USA

April 16, 2013 @ 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm – WEBER DISTRICT – District Office, Board Room 5320 Adams Avenue Parkway Ogden,UT 84405

See the full calendar here: http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/event-calendar/

Parents Demand Real Answers at Alpine District Meeting on Common Core A.I.R. Tests   9 comments

Yesterday I attended the Alpine School District meeting, where U.S.O.E. representative John Jesse, director of assessments, gave a presentation about the new Common Core testing system created by the American Institutes for Resea