Ten things you need to know about Amplify

privacy 1. Amplify is owned by Rupert Murdock of News Corp. Joel Klein, the divisive ex-chancellor of New York City schools, is the leader of News Corp’s education division.

2. Murdock spent $360 million to buy Wireless Generation, which was rebranded as Amplify.

3. Amplify “partnered with inBloom to custom-build the open-source software that forms the infrastructure for inBloom’s system.” The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Carnegie Corporation of New York provided funding for inBloom.

4. Student privacy advocates were alarmed by inBloom’s plans to compile, store, and share student data –without parental permission. Data included names, test scores, grades, disciplinary and attendance records, special education status and IEPs.  inBloom later folded.

5. The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium paid Amplify $12.5 million to write formative assessments “aligned to the Common Core State Standards and the Smarter Balanced assessment system.”

6. Students take three 1.5 hour Interim Amplify Tests for ELA and Math. In addition, there are 24 Quick Checks per grade level for each subject.

7. In 2014, Seattle Public Schools signed a $244,750 contract to pilot Amplify’s product mClass Beacon in 50 schools.

8. District wide, students in Seattle Public Schools who took the Amplify assessments had a passing rate of 45-50% for ELA and 35-40% for math. Seattle Public Schools has decided not to share student scores with parents or posted results on the Source.

9. Now Seattle Public Schools wants to implement Amplify across the district at an estimated cost of $433,160.80.

10. Amplify has a horrible student privacy policy. It trumps district policy and allows Amplify to hand off personal student information to others and to use it to develop new products and for marketing purposes.

The District must make public their agreement with Amplify concerning student privacy before any action is taken to approve yet another contract with this company. Please write the school board at:

Sharon Peaslee:  sharon.peaslee@seattleschools.org

Sherry Carr:  sherry.carr@seattleschools.org

Harium Martin-Morris:  harium.martin-morris@seattleschools.org

Sue Peters:  sue.peters@seattleschools.org

Stephan Blanford:  stephan.blanford@seattleschools.org

Marty McLaren:  martha.mclaren@seattleschools.org

Betty Patu:  betty.patu@seattleschools.org

Post Script:

One of our readers found these interesting items in the School Board Briefing/Proposed Action Report for the Amplify contract.

In section XI titled timeline for implementation/community engagement –there is nothing about community engagement  It’s like it was just left out, ignored.

XI. TIMELINE FOR IMPLEMENTATION / COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT Upon approval a contract with Amplify will be executed and development of common assessments within the platform will begin.

Weird, right?

Second, in the last section, there is language about Amplify’s Beacon Platform being a “SBAC Blueprinting tool.” Here it is:

SBAC blueprinting tool: A district user can create a blueprint based on SBAC claims and targets for ELA and clusters for Math. Moreover, a user can set Lexile, number of constructed response items, and DOK goals for each assessment within a blueprint. being a “SBAC Blueprinting tool.”

It would be nice for the district to explain in a clear, jargon-free manner what exactly this means.

–Carolyn Leith

8 thoughts on “Ten things you need to know about Amplify

  1. None of this is much of a surprise. I worked for Amplify and have some insight into company dynamics. Constant pilfering of accounts by senior leaders who insisted on “owning accounts” that hardworking sales staff had developed, extremely poor leadership from top to mid-level, and a propensity for rolling out products before they worked all destined Amplify to the graveyard of failed companies. Throw in their affinity for putting school privatization mavens in upper level positions and the entire failure starts to look like a win for social justice. Good riddance!

  2. Amplify is now also on the brink of bankruptcy: “News Corp Is Negotiating With Investors to Sell Its Failing Edtech Arm, Amplify.”

    Also, “Big Hype, Hard Fall for News Corp.’s $1 Billion Ed-Tech Venture”: http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2015/08/26/big-hype-hard-fall-for-news-corps-ed-tech-venture.html

    Please see more in an Open Letter to the CA State Board of Education on Release of [False] SBAC Scores (also relevant for Washington State): http://eduresearcher.com/2015/09/08/openletter/

    I will reblog the Seattle Education post about Amplify onto EduResearcher.com as well. Thanks for your research on this.

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