“Summit teachers do not see themselves as disseminators of knowledge”: Summit charter enterprise disappoints and a lawsuit ensues

 

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The difference between parents’ expectations when enrolling their students into a Summit charter school and the reality of the educational experience, or lack thereof, is enormous.

This has been experienced by parents and teachers around the country and will be felt here as well with Summit opening a school in Southeast Seattle.

What parents aren’t aware of is that you don’t need a teaching credential or have experience teaching to be hired by Summit Sierra charter school as an Indeed ad posted by Summit describes. In the ad they also state, “Summit teachers do not see themselves as disseminators of knowledge”.

What exactly do these self-described “facilitators” do? The facilitators answer student’s questions as the students use software programs on various subjects during their three to four 1½ hour sessions each day on computers.

The promise is far different from the reality as reflected in this Facebook post by a parent in Boone County, Kentucky:

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In an article published in the Kentucky Tribune titled Some parents don’t like the new ‘Summit Personalized Learning Platform,’ want to opt out:

…more than 30 parents showed up to a usually empty Site Based Decision Making (SBDM) meeting at Camp Ernst Middle School (CEMS) to express their concerns on Thursday, October 13. This was an impressive turn out given that the meeting was held at 3:30 p.m., a time when many parents are still at work.

The parents said they didn’t know how their children were chosen for this experimental teaching tool. They were told they couldn’t opt out. One parent said she asked Principal Stephanie Hagerty to remove her child from the program, but was told no. Hagerty allegedly told the parent, if she didn’t like it she could send her child to another school. More than one parent attending the meeting said they want back their parental choice, that changing schools or homeschooling isn’t an option.

Some parents, present at the meeting, said they had tried to reach Principal Hagerty, but she didn’t return their phone calls. They claimed that when they showed up in the office she refused to see them.

Some parents started wanting to opt-out when they saw a controversial section on Islam that was only visible using their child’s log-in information. They say, they couldn’t see what their child was learning from the parent portal. The syllabus provided to parents didn’t match what was being taught to their children.

Many parents indicated concern over the amount of screen time contradicting the recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatrics. They recommend no more than two hours of screen time and said the following, “Studies have shown that excessive media use can lead to attention problems, school difficulties, sleep and eating disorders, and obesity. In addition, the Internet and cell phones can provide platforms for illicit and risky behaviors.

Others said their children were finishing too quickly stating some children had completed the curriculum in eight weeks. Some parents said their children were just skipping to the assessments without reading the material. They only had to get eight out of the ten multiple choice questions correct to pass.

Data collection intrusive?

According to Superintendent Poe, the assessments, as well as KPREP, MAPS, and STAR assessments on each student, will be shared with Summit Learning and SCALE in order to evaluate the programs impact. The written agreement with Summit Public Schools Personalized Learning Services indicates sharing with other third party providers including Facebook and Google. The agreement gives Summit Learning permission to collect data from any devices used to access the program, which means parents accessing the program from home or work devices may be susceptible to data collection too. Some parents are upset with their students’ data, and potential their own data, being shared outside of the district.

Despite being asked not to talk about the program, some teachers have described it as a “disaster” saying that it is impossible to have so many students at various stages of progress. Teachers are required to provide 10 minutes of mentoring each week per student. However, many teachers have been unable to meet this goal. Some students are going several weeks before teachers are able to talk with them about their progress. One report indicated that during a summer training some teachers walked out in frustration.

The curriculum was designed by Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning, and Equity (SCALE). The curriculum is aligned to the California standards, not Kentucky. Kentucky hasn’t adopted new social studies standards. Yet parents were told by Principal Brewer at Conner Middle School that the curriculum was being implemented to comply with Common Core Standards. If that is the case, then they don’t comply with the standards currently in place in Kentucky. Some have argued the California standards are below what Kentucky has required in the past. Parents are upset by the choice of a curriculum that lowers standards for struggling schools.

An attorney from the American Center for Law & Justice (ACLJ), Carly Gammill, who is representing some of the parents, says the curriculum is unconstitutional, because it crosses the line between information and indoctrination. She has given the district until Tuesday, October 18 to remedy the curriculum and their social media policy.

For more on what’s happening in Kentucky, see What the NEA probably wouldn’t want you to know about “personalized” learning in Boone County, KY.

For more on Summit charter schools, see:

The inherent racism of Summit “public” (charter) school

A checklist for parents considering Summit Sierra charter school in Seattle

Parents Rebel Against Summit/Facebook/Chan-Zuckerberg Online Learning Platform

ZUCKERBERG AND THE PARENT PUSHBACK VS SUMMIT SCHOOLS; INBLOOM REPRISED?

Summit (Sierra) charter school: The skinny on the Gates-backed school set for Seattle, Brad Bernatek (remember him?) and a host of others

Dora Taylor

 

 

 

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2011 Video: Personalized Learning’s Plan to Replace Teachers? “It means a different staffing model which costs less and works better”

Reposted with permission from  Missouri Education Watchdog.

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…in short, it’s not Blended Learning in my definition if you’re not changing your staffing model and that’s where this gets tough because you’re talking about differentiated staffing.

That means different levels, and distributed teachingThat means some teachers teaching remotely. So if you’re going to staff your school in a different way, that means a different staffing model that costs less and works better.” 

The last few years have seen an astronomical increase in screen time and “blended learning” being required in schools, starting even in preschool and kindergarten.  Many schools require students to pay a fee for a personal Chromebook or similar device (also called a 1:1 program) and students can often take this computer home, which brings with it a new level of privacy,  tracking and security concerns. Many programs are adaptive, with hidden algorithms collecting every key click, and monitoring how a child learns, behaves. This is “personalized learning” and it has many parentseducation advocates and teachers concerned. Even RAND researchers see little evidence to support online personalized learning,  “The evidence base is very weak at this point,” said John F. Pane, a senior scientist and the group’s distinguished chair in education innovation.

Will Digital Personalized Learning Replace Teachers?

Perhaps you have seen headlines like My Teacher is an Algorithm: Silicon Valley Billionaires Want to Replace Teachers with Technology, or How Silicon Valley Plans to Conquer the Classroom, or Technology in the classroom: Robots could replace teachers in 10 years.  People like this teacher have been warning of The Deconstruction of the K-12 Teacher, saying that teachers will become a guide on the side, replaced by personalized algorithms and computer screens. Yet those pushing tech into schools have responded by saying concerns are unfounded, and personalized computer programs were never meant to replace teachers. Case in point, see this 2017 ultimatum from the Clayton Christensen Institute, arguing that “it’s time for a narrative that teachers will be replaced by artificial intelligence to end“.

Apparently, these folks have not seen the recording of Tom Vander Ark’s 2011 presentation to a room full of education leaders. To see Vander Ark’s “Designing Digital Districts” video (his is the third video on the page) click here. Power point here.

In this 2011 ERDI video, Vander Ark essentially says personalized digital learning is more productive and cheaper than teachers and urges leaders to ‘make the shift’.

The video was mentioned in this recent Baltimore news story which caught my eye because of a 2011 Education Research & Development Institute (ERDI) video with presenter Tom Vander Ark. Vander Ark, a fan of personalized learning, has also expressed interested in unbundling billions in the education market.  (Side note: If you aren’t familiar with ERDI and investigations associated with the awarding of lucrative edtech contracts and 1:1 devices, paid edtech consulting fees and paid travel to exclusive conferences, I suggest you read this and start asking who in your district is affiliated with ERDI.)  I have posted an excerpt of the article below but do yourself a favor and read the whole thing. From The Baltimore Post,  Technology as Teacher: Consulting Firm with Ties to Baltimore County Had Big Plans:

“If there ever were any doubt about the Education Research & Development Institute (ERDI) and its promotion of educational technology to school systems, a July 2011 ERDI Innovation Conference makes it abundantly clear.

One conference presenter in particular had a very specific message at the Atlanta event for education leaders and their school systems: that computer-centered learning for kindergarten through 12th grade was coming, and those in the audience would be making the changes – very soon.

“I want to give you a quick and conceptual look at why I think the pivot to ‘personalized digital learning’ is a really big deal, like one of the three or four of the most important things happening in the world,” said Tom Vander Ark, an author, speaker and investor in more than 70 technology companies.  “Secondly, I’m going to talk about how that’s going to happen in most of your schools,” he said.

“[Vander Ark] told the education leaders that they should “be launching in September (2011), a Blended 6-10 math program” and “have a team of teachers work with two to three to 400 students” virtually and online.

“You ought to be piloting special services online. Speech therapies have had big developments in the last year and can deliver better and cheaper and faster speech therapy online,” he said.

Vander Ark, who mentioned the cost savings of using technology in place of teachers several times during his presentation, also said he started the first kindergarten to 12th grade online school in the country, but that “this stuff has not made enough of a difference as it should.”

Nonetheless, the Ed-Tech mogul told the audience of education leaders that the reason the 2011 push was different was because, in addition to providing students with a computer-based environment in order to “improve learning,” changing staffing was also now seen as imperative.

Vander Ark told the audience of education leaders that the reduction in teachers would “improve productivity.” “It means a different staffing model which costs less and works better,” he said. “It means a tough set of conversations…” -Baltimore Post  [Emphasis added] http://thebaltimorepost.com/technology-teacher-consulting-firm-ties-baltimore-county-big-plans

Vander Ark’s presentation goes on to define the difference between edtech and Blended Learning. Watch at about 9 minute mark:

“Blended Learning is different. It is an intentional shift in the learning environment, to an online environment for at least a portion of the day to improve student learning.

So there’s an intentional shift in the modality of learning to boost student learning. And secondly, that shift is made to increase school productivity, staffing and facilities productivity. That means more learning and less money.

…in short, it’s not Blended Learning in my definition if you’re not changing your staffing model and that’s where this gets tough because you’re talking about differentiated staffing.

That means different levels, and distributed teachingThat means some teachers teaching remotely. So if you’re going to staff your school in a different way, that means a different staffing model that costs less and works better.” He also goes on to discuss working with policy makers and unbundling education.  Listen here.  Watch here.

67 minute mark:

“In closing comments, it’s time to plan the shift. You’ll be moving to an online assessment environment… it’s a great timeline to use as a lever to make this shift. Part of that 3 yr plan out to include provisions for “bring your own technology” to help create high access environments, part of that shift ought to include a set of blended pilots, Blended upper division STEM, Blended Math 610, Blended special services… Pick a great partner, FL Virtual, APEX, NC Virtual, Connections Academy,  K12.  … Make your state a partner, work with your county and Superintendents. You’re not in this alone.” -Tom Vander Ark, 2011 ERDI Forum

This Vander Ark video (along with videos of other presenters) is posted by Discovery Education and will likely disappear. WATCH the entire video; it is informative. Vander Ark talks about Jeb Bush’s Digital Learning Now, Data Quality Campaign, Virtual Schools, Common Core necessitating online assessments and how that can be leveraged to advance blended online learning in the classroom. He talks about education disrupter Clayton ChristensenInnosight and his book,  The Rise of Blended Learning.

Where is the independent evidence to support digital “personalized learning”?

As this recent Chalkbeat article suggests, there doesn’t seem to be real evidence.  From Chalkbeat’s Why ‘personalized learning’ advocates like Mark Zuckerberg keep citing a 1984 study — and why it might not say much about schools today:

“The results of a 1984 study have become a popular talking point among those promoting the “personalized learning” approach advanced by Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg’s philanthropy. The results from the 1984 study underlying it have essentially never been seen in modern research on public schools. Still, the results have become a popular talking point among those promoting the “personalized learning” approach that Zuckerberg’s philanthropy is advancing. One video created by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative features an illustration of a 50 on a graph zooming upward to hit 98. The New Schools Venture Fund, another influential education group that backs personalized learning, cites the same work by Benjamin Bloom. But a close look at the study raises questions about its relevance to modern education debates and the ability of new buzzed-about programs to achieve remotely similar results.” -Chalkbeat [Emphasis added]

What now?

We know screens are addictive. We know that Wi-Fi connected devices emit cancer causing radiation and the American Academy of Pediatrics warns that children should avoid exposure to wireless devices.  READ THAT.

(Note, the AAP doesn’t say wireless devices cause cancer only at home, or only when not using devices for educational activities. We’re pretty sure the radiation effects are the same regardless of the content. However, there is likely more radiation in a classroom with children surrounded by 1:1 wireless devices.) We also know that screens are linked to depression, obesity, suicide, ADHD, sleep disturbance, retinal damage.  We know that data collected by hidden “personalized learning” algorithms can be used to predict and profile a child and those algorithms can be wrong.  We also know that student data is a trillion dollar market.

Why did policy makersschool board membersteachers unions, jump on the artificial personalized learning bandwagon to sell out teachers and students? Did they buy into the Vander Ark gotta make the shift sales pitch without evidence to support personalized learning’s effectiveness or researching its health risks? Are these same policy makers and Silicon Valley folks going to repackage and rebrand personalized learning, give us a new name for the online learning system that collects and remembers and analyzes every click? Will they repackage personalized learning as something “new” like  competency based (blockchain) education and tell it is somehow different and better and safer?

We need to hold tech companies and educrats accountable. Parents need to be given the choice of textbook and face to face human teacher, rather than screen learning. Sensitive data (biometric, medical and mental health, behavioral evaluations) should never be collected or leave the school without parent consent. In recent days, former Silicon Valley folks have acknowledged problems with the tech industry: Why I Left Silicon Valley, EdTech, and “Personalized” Learning  and Early Facebook and Google Employees Form Coalition to Fight What They Built (Humane Tech).

Let’s hope these ex-Silicon Valley folks and policy makers will truly help us protect children. Let’s hope they will give parents a voice.

What do you think?

A few interesting links.

ERDI  July 2011 Vision, Design, Implementation, and Results

“View the archive of a group of the nation’s preeminent school district and education technology leaders discuss best practices during a unique forum – Technology in Our Schools.  ERDI Innovation 2011 was an unparalleled opportunity to hear from outstanding educators and committed corporate partners as they discover creative ways to addresses unmet needs in schools.” See the videos posted here.

Global Silicon Valley, circa 2012, American Revolution 2.0 How Education Innovation is Going to Revitalize America 

“Anytime, anywhere learning” is a reality, and mass distribution is just an App Store away. It also helps that the iPad has had faster adoption in the education market than any  technology in history. Other tablets including Microsoft’s Surface are on the way, allowing invisible and ubiquitous computing.”  Additionally, the power of “app stores” will be an important and overarching force for the foreseeable future. With the tracks of IT laid over the past several decades, companies such as Microsoft, Apple and Google, the primary providers of app stores, give content providers the ability to reach tens of million of people swiftly without needing to create a traditional distribution network. The implications are enormous as new education content – etextbooks, games, activities,videos – can be instantly sent to a large user base and updates can be pushed frictionlessly”…   “Every click is captured”  …”Individualized learning that becomes more personalized with every click. Adaptive technology, like we’ve seen from consumer leaders such as Amazon, Pandora and Netflix, will become transformative in the education industry. Integrating data will allow teachers, parents and students to have a proactive learning experience—diagnosing, prescribing and dynamically reassessing based on the individual student. Ultimately, we believe courses will be disaggregated from the institution and be selected a la carte for a personalized education program.“

2015 Global Silicon Valley Vision 2020
McKinsey Global predicts education data will unlock $1.2 trillion

Data Quality Campaign, funded by Bill Gates, launched to improve the quality, accessibility and use of data in education was launched today at the Council of Chief State School Officers and US Department of Education’s Data Summit.

Bill and Melinda Gates Postsecondary Success Advocacy Priorities 2016: Table on page 7 that shows centralized interoperable national student data system.

World Bank: From Compliance to Learning

UN SDG 4 Data Digest, Strengthening National Data to Monitor Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG4 – Education Data) http://sdg.iisd.org/news/un-agencies-partners-call-for-open-interoperable-data/  page 26: Producing education data at the national level; page 52: Data quality analysis of household surveys; page 54: The Data Alignment process will enable education systems to examine and report on the current level of alignment of national assessment programmes with the UIS Reporting Scales (see Box 9) and will be implemented in six steps (UIS and ACER, forthcoming).  See their web page with infographics, short video and executive summary. Go to the source of SDG 4 data, with a set of data tables, country profiles and related resources.

Future Agendas for Global Education 2035 pdf and enlargeable year-by-year Global Ed Futures MAP

The National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development (SEL): 2016 commission formed to create and standardize scores for student emotions and tie to ESSA. Will issue recommendations and report 2018.

STUDY: Increases in Depressive Symptoms, Suicide-Related Outcomes, and Suicide Rates Among U.S. Adolescents After 2010 and Links to Increased New Media Screen Time Screen use in teens may account for depression and increased suicide rates.  Abstract:  “In two nationally representative surveys of U.S. adolescents in grades 8 through 12 (N = 506,820) and national statistics on suicide deaths for those ages 13 to 18, adolescents’ depressive symptoms, suicide ­related outcomes, and suicide rates increased between 2010 and 2015, especially among females. Adolescents who spent more time on new media (including social media and electronic devices such as smartphones) were more likely to report mental health issues, and adolescents who spent more time on nonscreen activities (in ­person social interaction, sports/exercise, homework, print media, and attending religious services) were less likely. Since 2010, iGen adolescents have spent more time on new media screen activities and less time on nonscreen activities, which may account for the increases in depression and suicide. In contrast, cyclical economic factors such as unemployment and the Dow Jones Index were not linked to depressive symptoms or suicide rates when matched by year.”

Cellphones and wireless devices emit cancer causing radiation and the American Academy of Pediatrics warns that children should avoid exposure to wireless devices.

Apple Investors Warn iPhones and Other Technology May Be Hurting Children

-Cheri Kiesecker

Indiana Parents Concerned About Summit Charter School and Online Learning

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There have been concerns expressed by parents around the country about online learning and specifically about Summit charter schools which devote their educational experience to online learning. It’s a cheap platform and has great financial benefits for the owners of the schools. The schools receive the per student allotment for public school attendance which ranges from $5,000 to $10,000 per student based on their geographical location but the cost is low, providing students with laptops, if necessary, and software programs. There is a teacher of sorts who can answer questions via email. The student must check in physically with the school on a weekly or monthly basis.

Summit opened a school, which is basically a virtual school, in a predominately minority neighborhood in Seattle, a community which is the typical target of these predatory enterprises.

For more on Summit, see:

The inherent racism of Summit “public” (charter) school

A checklist for parents considering Summit Sierra charter school in Seattle

Parents Rebel Against Summit/Facebook/Chan-Zuckerberg Online Learning Platform

ZUCKERBERG AND THE PARENT PUSHBACK VS SUMMIT SCHOOLS; INBLOOM REPRISED?

Summit (Sierra) charter school: The skinny on the Gates-backed school set for Seattle, Brad Bernatek (remember him?) and a host of others

 

A fellow public school advocate shared the following article with me about parents in Indiana who have concerns about a Summit charter school online program that came into their community.

-Dora Taylor

From the Indiana Gazette by Chauncey Ross:

Summit Learning issue continues to simmer

Parents and other school district residents reminded the Indiana Area school board on Monday that their dissent of the Summit Learning program hasn’t waned, even though the administration scaled back the program and put it on “opt-in” status for the 2018-19 school year.

Summit is a brand of mass customized learning, a style of teaching that relies on students following a computer-based curriculum and relying on online sources to achieve goals set in their classes. Instead of delivering lectures to entire classes, teachers tailor their instruction to individual students based on their pace of learning.

“Just because a lot of parents are not here doesn’t mean it has been deemed OK. It is not,” said Thomas Kauffman, a parent of a sixth-grader in the pilot program. He questioned whether the administration has actively polled parents of fifth-graders and the current sixth-graders for what they want for their kids next year.

“Traditional school should be the norm. We’re still very concerned,” he said.

Parents began protesting the Summit program in October, complaining that it was a radical departure from traditional forms of instruction, that it was introduced on short notice, and that the online resources provided in the California company’s curriculum were inappropriate for Indiana County students in the 10- to 12-year-old age range.

“I come to the meetings again and again because of the fear that this will become mainstream and there will not be an opt-in later,” said Julie Brunetto. “That is my biggest concern as I have a third-grader coming up.”

Brunetto said her older child, a sixth-grader, has been uplifted since Summit was rolled back.

“She is excited about certain classes that have been taken off … excited that there is discussion, not just lectures, but discussion and excitement about the subject again.”

Brunetto also warned that if Summit becomes mandatory for students, she would move her family from the district.

“That scares me to death and that’s why I will be here for every meeting.”

Mihaela Nowak acknowledged that the science and social studies classes have reverted to the traditional teaching method while Summit is used only for math and English Language Arts classes.

She, too, said she stood for other parents who were unable to attend the meeting.

“We have invested in child care, we have families, we have jobs. We have put a lot into this. If one of us is here, all of us are here,” Nowak said.

“We communicate constantly with parents from eight other states who are fighting this same fight,” Nowak said. “We are not the only district who saw this, constantly being belittled and pushed back by the administration that doesn’t understand that this is not good. This is a bad program, bad to the core, and we feel very strongly about that.”

Board members handled only one matter related to Summit on the business agenda, the administration’s request to authorize travel for eight staff members for updated training on the Summit Learning program from March 11 to 13 in Hyattsville, Md.

The board delayed action.

District Superintendent Dale Kirsch said the training is part of an organized sequence of sessions and would be unlike another session set for the summer.

Those listed to attend include Assistant Superintendent Jeff Boyer and Junior High Principal Michael Minnick. The others are sixth-grade teachers or mentors who consult with students to guide their progress in Summit, but only two of the teachers use Summit in their classrooms.

While Summit would cover the costs of the conference and lodging, the administration proposed allowing $250 each for transportation and other expenses.

Board members hesitated to approve the request, in part “due to the uncertainty of Summit,” several said.

They voted 6 to 3 to table the request until February. Board President Walter Schroth and directors Barbara Barker, Tom Harley, Terry Kerr, Tamara Leeper and Ute Lowery approved the delay. John Barbor, Julia Trimarchi Cuccaro and Doug Steve voted no.

 

Additional reading:

One Parent’s Experience with Basecamp, Summit’s Personalized Learning Platform

PARENTS REBEL AGAINST SUMMIT/FACEBOOK/CHAN-ZUCKERBERG ONLINE LEARNING PLATFORM

 

20 Million for Online Learning in Philadelphia? Speak Up Now if You Value Human Teachers.

Reposted with permission from Wrench in the Gears

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We are an underfunded district with a student body comprised primarily of students of color and students who live in poverty. Classes are crowded. Functioning school libraries are almost nonexistent. Building conditions are hazardous. Enrichments have been stripped from the curriculum, replaced by punitive test-prep programs. There are many ways $20 million could be spent to create safer learning environments for our children and support authentic education. Instead, the School Reform Commission seeks to enrich private interests by pushing Philadelphia’s vulnerable children onto online platforms that will mine their data and generate value for educational technology impact investors. See my research on impact investing in Philadelphia here.

It has come to my attention that the Philadelphia School Reform Commission plans to earmark nearly $20 million for contracts with online learning and data management companies to be spent over the next two years. The full resolution list is available here. Screenshots of resolutions A7 and B12 follow.

We are an underfunded district with a student body comprised primarily of students of color and students who live in poverty. Classes are crowded. Functioning school libraries are almost nonexistent. Building conditions are hazardous. Enrichments have been stripped from the curriculum, replaced by punitive test-prep programs. There are many ways $20 million could be spent to create safer learning environments for our children and support authentic education. Instead, the School Reform Commission seeks to enrich private interests by pushing Philadelphia’s vulnerable children onto online platforms that will mine their data and generate value for educational technology impact investors. See my research on impact investing in Philadelphia here.

If you live in Philadelphia and value education that happens in community, in relationship, in the space that is created between teachers and students learning together, please take a moment to contact me with a video or text comment expressing your opposition to these resolutions. Details can be found in the attached flyer. I am asking for submissions of video or text comments by February 12 so I can put something together before the meeting.

It would also be wonderful if local people could sign up to testify at the February 15, 2018 meeting which begins at 4:30pm at 440 N. Broad Street. You need to call 215-400-4180 the day before to register. Consider identifying a generalized topic for your testimony since they limit the number of people testifying on a specific issue.

Resolution A-7: $9.5+ million for an integrated data and instruction system.

Resolution B-12: $10 million for online courses and adaptive instructional programs

-Alison McDowell

Editor’s Note:  Is your school district considering “leveraging online instructional models and materials” with the justification that this move will make teaching more effective? 

It’s worth finding out.

Keep an eye out for big contracts – needing board approval – to purchase online adaptive instructional materials from vendors like: Edgenuity, Achieve 3000, Imagine Learning, Teachtown, Learning A-Z, Lexia Learning, iReady, Waterford Research Institute, or ThinkCERCA.   -Carolyn Leith

The US Department of Education’s Digital Promise to Advance the Ed-Tech Field, CBE, and Online Learning

Reposted with permission from Missouri Education Watchdog.

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In 2011 the US Department of Education (USDoE)  launched the nonprofit Digital Promise,  and Digital Promise helped create The League of Innovative Schools. (Click to see map of Innovative Schools in your area).  Digital Promise and the League of Innovative Schools are involved with Relay Graduate School, Bloomboard, the use of standardized student hand gestures, realtime data from student white boards, data badges (micro-credentials) and Competencies. Click to see details.  According to former US Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan’s speech, the nonprofit marriage of Federal Government and Edtech, Digital Promise was created ” to advance the education technology field”.

Duncan: Digital Promise

However, launching  Digital Promise in the U.S. was not enough.  The nonprofit GLOBAL Digital Promise was  launched in 2013.  Global DP’s work “supports learner agency” and US DP and Global DP  have “a formal agreement and informal relationships between the two organizations [to] enable deep and fluid collaboration.”  One has to wonder, what kind of  information and resources are shared in this formal and informal relationship?

Digital Promise Global

Digital Promise’s roots go deeper than its launch in 2011. Digital Promise was previously authorized in the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008, and Arne Duncan reminded us of that at the 2011 DP launch when he said,

Duncan: Digital Promise Higher Education

The US Department of Education has been ACTIVELY engaged in promoting businesses, corporations, and edtech in public education.

In 2012 the USDOE joined with the FCC in creating “DIGITAL TEXTBOOK PLAYBOOK,” A ROADMAP FOR EDUCATORS TO ACCELERATE THE TRANSITION TO DIGITAL TEXTBOOKS

Digital Text Books

The US Department of Education later followed up on its promise to advance the edtech field and accelerate the transition from textbook to online education with their Open Education Resources, #GoOpen initiative in 2015.  Once again the USDoE joined forces with others: Department of Defense (Federal Learning Registry) , Microsoft, Amazon, Edmodo,  and a host of others to deliver this “free” online curriculum.  You can see from the USDoE Press Release that it appears that Microsoft will be handling the interchange of data sharing.

The seemingly urgent push to transform education into a global workforce talent pipeline, creating k-12 badge pathways, allow workforce to “utilize student data and develop curriculum to meet market demand”,  measure 21st century (non-cognitive) soft skills and competencies,  creation of workforce data badges /credentials and Competency Based Education (CBE) seems to be coming from the many sectors mentioned in Digital Promise.

This excerpt from a 2015 NGA  letter to all states explains the workforce-education competency based transformation and also mentions the NH Innovative testing model as an example of future CBE assessments:

“Communicating the Change (page 14) policy change to a CBE system is unlikely to occur unless a governor who supports a move toward CBE can communicate the need for change, the potential value of CBE, and strategies to overcome the associated challenges. The basic message a governor can communicate is that a CBE system is responsive to the learning needs of individual students. CBE would benefit students and families, teachers, communities, and businesses. Well prepared individuals have a greater potential to be productive members of society who better use taxpayer money by staying in the education system only for as long as necessary to meet their professional goals. Despite the appeal of CBE and its potential benefits, the structure does not fit within society’s current entrenched vision of education and existing policies.

State policymakers and the public at large habitually picture desks, a blackboard, and students facing a teacher at the front of the classroom when thinking of a typical K-12 educational environment. Higher education produces a similarly traditional vision of 18-year-olds in ivy-covered buildings. These systems do not work for enough of today’s students. CBE is one way to respond to the evolution in the demands of current students and offers a new way to overcome existing shortcomings. Governors are well positioned to lead and encourage a discussion on the potential value of a move toward CBE.”

“K-12 Policy Environment  – If governors want to discuss the benefits of CBE for K-12 students, they should emphasize the ability to provide more personalized instruction so that far more students can meet more rigorous and relevant standards, regardless of background, ability, or stage of development. CBE is designed to meet students where they are and get them the help they need when they need it so that they can master the defined standards of learning. In a CBE system, the support and incentives are in place to increase the likelihood that students have mastered content and are ready for the next step. Maine produced several communication resources to educate the public about its progress toward a CBE system. The Maine Department of Education home page prominently features the state’s plan, Education Evolving, for putting students first and a separate Web site devoted to CBE in the state.  In addition to providing easy-to-navigate resources, the state created several informational videos that explain what CBE is and how it is benefiting Maine’s students. Governors in other states can use similar resources and work with their departments of education to develop plans and tools to publicize the benefits of CBE to students, families, educators, and state and local policymakers.”

Governors who seek to move their states toward a CBE system should consider several policy changes to overcome the barriers embedded in the current system. In a CBE program, the role of the educator and how he or she delivers the content can look different from current practice. Educators must be able to guide learning in a variety of ways, not simply supply content. Changing the role of the teacher has significant implications for teacher-preparation programs, certification, professional development, labor contracts, and evaluation. Computer-based learning is likely to be even more important in a CBE system than in the current time-based system. In addition, robust assessment is a key element of CBE, designed to facilitate more flexible and better testing of students’ learning. Assessment is frequently tied to accountability in K-12; therefore, policymakers might have to reconsider what they want their accountability systems to measure.

Finally, policymakers who want to implement CBE will need to figure out how to fund the transition to such a system and create the right incentives
for educators and administrators. If policymakers want to pay for student learning instead of seat time, they will have to fundamentally change the way they budget and allocate dollars to school districts and higher education institutions.”

“ To deliver high-quality instruction in a CBE model, educators require access to assessments that measure learning progress along the way so that they can modify their teaching based on each student’s progress toward mastering the desired content and skills. To draw on the power of those assessments in a CBE system, assessments should be offered on a flexible timeline instead of during one window at the end of the semester or school year. No state has yet figured out how to make the switch to such a model at the K-12 level, but New Hampshire is working toward that goal.
read more here.

And if that weren’t enough, there is also a WORKFORCE Data Quality Campaign, whose focus is using K-16 student data to fuel workforce needs. As you can see, they were “giddy” when “The U.S. Departments of Education and Labor released joint guidance to help states match data for Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) reporting. (For more on School Workforce and data badges see here, here, here, and here.)

SLDS federal funding

DATA and DOLLARS

Click this Workforce Data Quality Campaign’s site to see their analysis of the White House’s proposed 2017 budget as it relates to DATA.  The 2017 Federal budget more than doubles monies for SLDS and creates all kinds of new, vague data gathering projects.Aligning student data bases and workforce pathways is also in line with the US Department of Labor-Workforce Data Quality Initiative which plans to use personal information from each student, starting in pre-school, using the states’ SLDS data system.

Workforce Data Quality

KnoweldgeWorks,  iNACOL,  Edutopia are just a few of the edtech organizations who have managed to influence policy and declare the need for online Competency Based Education, “personalized learning”, online “blended learning”, and measuring children’s social emotional soft-skills (SEL).

Keeping track of all the reforms and special interest groups is a difficult task. Luckily, there are a few maps for you to follow.  We suggest you look at the Global Education Futures map or do a quick search in the GEF Executive Summary.  Additionally, Silicon Valley has created a History of the Future playbook, listing the hurdles of incorporating edtech into education, they list the problem and what they did or plan to do, to “fix” it.

The push to advance online education does not take into regard the warnings and mounting evidence of health effects, inappropriate use of screen time, concerns over data privacy and profiling children, and the repeat studies that say online education does not enhance student learning and blended learning fares even worse.

Why then, is every sector promoting edtech, online competency based assessments and workforce data badges? ….Could it be the money?

24 Graduation Credits, OSPI Superintendent Chris Reykdal, and the Push for Competency-Based Learning

achieve

After an exhausting presidential election, those in power expect us to checkout and stop paying attention.

Here’s a few good reason to stay vigilant.

In Washington State, the race for Superintendent of Public Instruction was very close. Chris Reykdal ended up winning with a little less than 28,000 votes.

Why is this important?  

First, winning with 1% of the vote isn’t a mandate.

Second, there’s some evidence to suggest Reykdal may be interested in promoting or even strengthening competency-based learning in Washington State.

What’s competency-based learning?

Competency-based learning is a form of instruction where the curriculum is delivered by computer, rather than by a human teacher.

There’s different models for this type of instruction, depending on the amount of time students spend using a device to access their class work.

Blended learning mixes face-to-face instruction with student, self-paced learning on a computer or other electronic device.

Virtual schools deliver instruction exclusively online.

The Value of Competency-Based Learning Hasn’t Been Proven.

Here’s something to think about: there’s almost no evidence showing online or the classroom equivalent, competency-based learning, to be effective.

First, let’s look at some indirect evidence.

The Online Charter Study produced by CREDO and The Center for the Reinvention of Public Education found negative academic growth for students enrolled in online charter schools as compared to their peers in traditional public schools.

How bad was the negative impact?

For math, online charter students lost the equivalent of 180 days of learning. Reading faired somewhat better, with a lost equivalent of 72 days.

screen-shot-2016-12-24-at-7-05-51-pm

The NEPC Virtual Schools Report 2016 has more specific information on the performance of the blended instruction model.

Here’s a few of the highlights:

Traditional schools have the best overall performance. Blended schools the worst.

Multiple or expanded measures of school performance reveal that virtual school outcomes continued to lag significantly behind that of traditional brick-and-mortar schools. Blended schools tended to score even lower on performance measures than virtual schools, although this may be influenced by the fact that blended schools serve substantially more low-income students.

Blended schools’ on time graduation rates were half ( 37.4% ) the national average.

The evidence on graduation rates aligns with findings from school performance measures, contributing to the overall picture of school performance. Only 131 virtual schools and 26 blended schools had data specific to on-time graduation in 2013-14. The on-time graduation rate (or four-year graduation rate) for full-time virtual schools and blended schools was half the national average: 40.6% for virtual schools, 37.4% for blended schools, and 81.0% for the nation as a whole. The graduation rates for virtual schools have worsened by 3 percentage points over the past few years, even as graduation rates in the country have been improving about 1 percentage point each year.

This interesting bit was buried in the study’s conclusion.

The rapid expansion of virtual schools and blended schools is remarkable given the consistently negative findings regarding student and school performance. The advocates of full-time virtual schools and blended schools remain several years ahead of policymakers and researchers, and new opportunities are being defined and developed largely by for-profit entities accountable to stockholders rather than to any public constituency.

Jim Horn at Schools Matter found these damning studies.

Both came to the same conclusion: the tech behind competency-based learning has advanced, but the concept itself has not benefitted from these technical improvements and the educational outcome for students remain unimpressive.

From the study, Competence-Based Education and Educational Effectiveness:  A critical Review of the Research Literature on Outcome-Oriented Policy Making in Education.

The paper assesses the empirical evidence for outcomes of competence-based education which are envisaged by policy-makers, and gives some interpretations of how the topic is handled in the political processes. This is achieved by a review of the research literature as documented in bibliographical databases which cover academic publications and in more practical material. The searches were generic, and included not only specific competence- expressions, but also terms as ‘outcomes’ and ‘learning’. The staggering conclusion of this exercise is that there is hardly any evidence for the effectiveness of competence-based education despite the long period since the 1970s when the approach came up in the US. Whether this is an artefact of the operationalization of the outcomes of competence-based education or not, it seems that there is only very little attention to testing the policy- assumptions that competence-based education is a worthy educational innovation. As this is quite disturbing, it is recommended that more efforts are being made to prove (or falsify) the putative added value of competence-based education initiatives.

https://www.ihs.ac.at/fileadmin/public/soziologie/rs111.pdf

From the study, New Interest, Old Rhetoric, Limited Results, and the Need for a New Direction for Computer-Mediated Learning.

The pace of technological advancement, combined with improvements technology has brought to other sectors, is leading policymakers and educators alike to take another look at computers in the classroom, and even at computers instead of classrooms. In particular, advances in computational power, memory storage, and artificial intelligence are breathing new life into the promise that instruction can be tailored to the needs of each individual student, much like a one-on-one tutor. The term most often used by advocates for this approach is “Personalized Instruction.” Despite the advances in both hardware and software, recent studies show little evidence for the effectiveness of this model of integrating technology into the learning process.

http://nepc.colorado.edu/publication/personalized-instruction

24-Credit Graduation Requirement: A Backdoor for Online Learning?

Chris Reykdal is very proud of Washington State’s 24-Credit Graduation Requirement.

As a legislator who voted for our state’s robust home-grown teacher-principal evaluation system and one of the authors of our state’s new rigorous 24-credit graduation framework, I am disappointed in the federal government’s decision to repeal our waiver.

Here’s my biggest concern: Achieve is also excited about the possibilities created by Washington’s 24 credit requirement.

Who’s Achieve?

Achieve is most famous for it’s work helping the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers create the common core standards. Achieve also acted as the project manager during the development of the PARCC Assessment. Fair warning, Achieve also oversaw the writing of the Next Generation of Science Standards.

Achieve is funded by Corporate America and chaired by Mark B. Grier, who also happens to be Vice Chairman of Prudential Financial, Inc.

Both Microsoft and Boeing are corporate funders of Achieve. If you live in Washington State, please note both companies have put tremendous effort into avoiding their fair share of state taxes. Taxes, which fund our public schools.

Since its formation, one of Achieve’s main purposes is to give corporations a direct route to state officials. This allows a push for business friendly education policies without the prying eyes of the public or local school boards.

It’s also important to remember that the common core standards were basically the specs for the education software that is now being rolled out with the competency-based education model.

Profit or Public Good?

Remember the part in the NEPC Virtual Schools Report about the expansion of virtual and blended schools being driven by profit seeking edutech companies rather than student need or the public good?

In a 2014 Report [ achievecbptheimperativeforstateleadership ], Achieve outlined how state leaders could leverage college and career readiness to shift away from traditional schools to competency-based learning.

In some states, leaders and educators have determined that to realize the promise of high expectations for all students that reflect a clear learning progression toward and beyond college and career readiness, students will need access to a far more personalized approach to learning. The traditional time-based system, they have concluded, has not served all students well – even when policy and practice were centered on a floor of minimal proficiency. The system holds little hope for helping all students reach, and have the opportunity to exceed, the level of preparation needed for college and career readiness. In these states, there is an increasing urgency to move away from the traditional system that has produced such inequitable results and toward a competency-based system in which students and their mastery of knowledge and skills – not time and the calendar – form the center.

One of the strategies suggested by Achieve to advance competency-based learning was the use of competency based credit accumulation or advancement.

For CBP to advance, states may need to do more than just allow districts and schools to use competency-based approaches for graduation and credit accumulation/advancement. Many states have learned that simply offering flexibility does not necessarily catalyze action and that they need to take actions that range from encouraging or supporting districts to strongly incentivizing use. States may need to take action to define competency-based graduation requirements or competency-based methods of awarding course credit – and to do so with an eye toward ensuring that determinations that students have completed required standards or otherwise reached competency reflect rigor and comparability across districts. States also can take more intermediate steps through policy or practice.

In March of 2016 [ 04cbl-1 ], The Washington State Board of Education met to discuss competency based learning. The key policy considerations were:

  • How could competency-based learning fit into a career and college-ready framework?
  • Are there gaps in state policy that need to be addressed to best support rigorous and aligned competency-based crediting?
  • What guidance would be useful for districts to implement competency-based crediting?

Guess who attended the meeting?

Alissa Peltzman, Vice President for State Policy and Implementation Support for Achieve.

Even more interesting, the guidelines [exhibitf_competency-basedcreditinghandbook ] created for districts to implement competency-based learning includes information pulled directly from Achieve’s white paper:  Advancing Competency-Based Pathways To College and Career Readiness Series. The Imperative of State Leadership.

It’s worth reading the whole document. Of particular interest is Table 1, which explains how credit can be earned in Washington State.  Here’s some highlights:

cbe_better

 

online_better

Remember how Randy Dorn used ALE’s to skirt the Supreme Court’s ruling against charter schools? They’re mentioned too.

ale_better

Where Does Reykdal Stand on Competency-Based Learning?

Here’s Reykdal’s response to a question about edutech from a state superintendent questionnaire on  Seattle Schools Community Forum:

How does “EduTech” – the increasing use of technology and learning-based instruction – fit into your view about the future of education?

As a former classroom teacher and an almost fourteen year executive in the community and technical college system, I’ve watched edutech evolve. Like so many industry-driven things it was not good as a stand-alone approach in the early years of online learning, competency-based assessments, and open-course materials. While still problematic in places and with some tools, we have learned that blended instruction is the strongest model – teacher led instruction infused with technology. To do this well at scale, it requires professional development. Our educators are growing their skills in the use of edutech but it requires constant investment in their knowledge, skills, and abilities. What we must never do is replace high touch with high tech, especially when the issue for many students is not academic struggle but rather social-emotional needs. There is no software for love, caring, and diagnosing emotional distress. Technology is a supplement to instruction; it should never be used as a parallel system of instruction. When we believe we can ignore income inequality, generational poverty, and racial inequities in our schools with canned software and dynamic standardized tests we are in trouble.

To sum up: Chris Reykdal appears to be OK with blended or competency-based learning which he defines as “teacher led instruction infused with technology” as long as it’s not used to create a “parallel system of instruction” -even though and here’s the kicker – his push for 24 credits, set the stage for the State Board of Education to go ahead and create that edutech reliant parallel system of instruction.

Here’s my concerns about competency-based learning. 

First, even though the value of competency-based learning is unproven, the cost in dollars for school districts to implement this experiment is far from neutral.

Second, if this technology is unproven, at best we are experimenting on children – at worst we are robbing a generation of kids a quality education.

Third, the architects of ed-reform see competency-based instruction as a way to finally be rid of those pesky teachers.

The edutech “thought leaders” want a classroom of peers taught by a human teacher to be a premium service for the rich. Our children will get ed-tech and even more data collection.

So much for public education as a social good or incubator for democracy.

Conclusion

So where does Chris Reykdal stand on competency-based education?

It’s anyone’s guess.

I would like to point out that WEA-PAC contributed $85,000 to the Forward With Education PAC which produced and ran TV ads in support of Reykdal’s campaign.

Many dues paying, rank and file teachers may not be pleased to learn their union helped elect a candidate who would, at best, like to see even more ed-tech in their classrooms and, at the very worst, may be opening the door for the demise of their profession.

-Carolyn Leith

Seattle Public Schools IT Head John Krull answers our questions…well, sort of

istock_laptop_classroom1.jpg

John Krull agreed to answer our questions about what is happening in terms of technology and software programs planned for Seattle Public Schools.

As Krull states in his letter of application for the position within Seattle Public Schools, “I implemented a blended and personal learning infrastructure for 87 urban schools improving overall student engagement”.

To put that in plain English, “blended and personalized learning” means that a student works in front of a computer the greater part of the day and the teacher is then able to manage over 40 to 50 students in a classroom, theoretically, which is a way to cut cost.

This is a popular approach for online charter schools like Summit charter school.

Computers or laptops are programmed with packaged lessons that many times have not been vetted by parents or teachers or as in Seattle, by the school board. There is also experimental software using a Social Emotional Learning (SEL) program that is integrated into the computers to determine a student’s mindset and attitude.

Then there is the concern of student privacy and the culling of personal information that can be provided to third parties with no protections by FERPA.

We raised a red flag when we discovered that John Krull had been hired by Seattle Public Schools after working in Oakland with their public school system which I wrote about in The Progressive.

The following are the ten questions we submitted to John Krull, Chief Information Officer for Seattle Public Schools, with Krull’s answers after each question.

  1. Why did you decide to move to Seattle after two years in Oakland?

I thoroughly enjoyed my almost four years as Chief Technology Officer in Oakland. While there, I led a team that made numerous advancements in use of technology in students’ education.

Seattle Public Schools presents another exciting opportunity to leverage technology to provide the best educational experience for students in an area I call home. I have spent 20 years in the Seattle area where I attended the University of Washington, taught in Shoreline Schools and worked at Microsoft and I look forward to the next 20 years too.

  1. Are you familiar with the Homeroom software? Apparently, it has been installed in some Seattle schools as a pilot program. If you are familiar with the program, what do you see as its value? Do you know what the cost is to buy, install and implement the program along with technology upgrades to sustain this program if it is used within the entire SPS school system?

Seattle Public Schools is testing Educational Data Solutions’ Homeroom software solution as part of improving our data systems. It is part of the district’s strategy to implement Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) to help students according to their individual needs and eliminate opportunity gaps. Both district and school staff will be able to use data collected to enhance and shape supports for their students. Right now we are field testing in 15 schools at a cost of $105,000. Full deployment at all schools will cost approximately $376,750.

  1. Homeroom allows the collection of sensitive behavioral information and there is concern by parents that too much student information is being requested by the software. Do you know who is privy to this information and would it include the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) and Seattle’s Department of Early Learning? Do you know if the information will it be tracked as a student continues through high school?

The safety and security of our students is a top priority, including when it comes to collecting personal student data. Currently, discipline data is recorded in PowerSchool and will flow to Homeroom for reporting. This flow, along with training, will improve how data is collected and stored which will allow us to better support the district’s MTSS strategies.  All student information is stored according to retention rules set by the state and will be stored through high school.

  1. What is the Technology Plan for Seattle Public Schools? Will you be writing a new or revised Technology Plan as you did for Oakland Public Schools? 

The Technology Plan for this year and the next 3 years is outlined in the Buildings, Technology and Academics IV (BTA IV) Levy information. You can see the plan under the Technology section of the Seattle Public Schools Levies Information published in Winter 2016 https://bta.seattleschools.org/assets/Uploads/documents/Levies%20Information-Winter%202016%20brochure-Final.pdf .

Implementing our plan is the result of close collaboration with the district’s Curriculum, Assessment, and Instruction, Student Services, Strategy & Partnerships, Business & Finance, HR, and Operations Departments to make sure our technology investments are implemented to align to the district’s strategic plan. Here is a link to the district’s strategic plan. https://www.seattleschools.org/district/strategic_plan

  1. Are you familiar with CASEL? If so, what is your role to be with this program?

I am familiar with CASEL. Currently, the district follows a different Social Emotional Learning (SEL) model. While I don’t have an active role in the direction of SEL, I do believe SEL can be applied to the digital world. For example, Responsible Decision Making applies as much to the physical as the online world.

  1. Do you have a plan for notifying parents of the information that is gathered by software distributed to schools within the Seattle school district including Homeroom?

Again, the safety and security of students is a top priority, including all personal data collected by the district. Here is a link to the district’s policy procedure for collection of data as part of Superintendent Procedure 3231SP: (http://www.seattleschools.org/UserFiles/Servers/Server_543/File/District/Departments/School%20Board/Procedures/Series%203000/3231SP_sig.pdf).

  1. On the Seattle Public Schools’ website it notes that you wrote a paper titled “How Do You Measure Return on Investment of EDtech” and another paper “Creating a Platform for Staff and Student Growth”. There were no links provided to these papers. Please include a link in your response or a pdf that we can post.

Here is a link to an article written for Edsurge by a colleague who worked on our presentation “How Do You Measure Return on Investment of Edtech”…  https://www.edsurge.com/news/2016-08-18-how-can-we-measure-edtech-s-return-on-investment Unfortunately, I don’t have any documents supporting my presentation, “Creating a Platform for Staff and Student Growth”, on the internet. I do detail many other presentations on my website, http://www.johnkrull.org/

  1. What are your views on the use of devices such as laptops by young children, particularly between kindergarten and second grade? In Oakland, Clever badges are used by the youngest students to start up their laptops.

My department and staff is dedicated to supporting the use of all devices used by all students across the district. While the district’s education staff make grade-level device decisions, we are looking at Clever badges as a possibility to make logging into devices easier.

  1. You state on the Seattle Public Schools website that you have a vision and commitment for an “equitable, supportable, standardized and secure environment to improve teaching and learning.” What are your definitions of “standardized” and “secure”?

As the largest school district in the Pacific Northwest, we serve more than 53,000 students. This includes providing district technology staff “standard” equipment like computers, projectors, and document cameras to name a few, so they, in turn, can provide students with the best educational experience. The Seattle school district is dedicated to eliminating opportunity gaps for all students and supporting their individual needs. That includes supporting students through access to technology. “Secure” means we use applications and systems that comply with all FERPA and district rules, policies, and procedures to make sure we protect and maintain privacy. The safety and security of our students is a top priority.

  1. You tweeted about IMS Global in January of this year. What is your relationship with IMS Global?

I serve on an advisory panel for IMS Global that is working to develop standards to have education applications work together.

*****************

There you have it. Our questions and concerns were not truly addressed but maybe Krull is thinking more about the technology itself and not what role technology should have in the classroom. That’s a discussion parents and educators should be having now, before IT departments are allowed to pursue their vision.

Recommended articles:

Someone is driving the curriculum in Seattle Public Schools and it’s not educators, parents or the school board

EFF Survey Reveals Gaps in Protecting the Privacy of K-12 Students Using School-Issued Devices and Cloud Apps

McD Happy Meal online schools for all in Seattle with SPS IT Officer John Krull

Washington State’s Digital Promise School Districts: Creating new markets for personalized learning snake oil

Tech Tip o’ the Day for Seattle Public Schools: How to get kids and teachers in front of computers all day

Oops! Study Shows Computer Use in School Doesn’t Help Test Scores

 

 

Tech Tip o’ the Day for Seattle Public Schools: How to get kids and teachers in front of computers all day

 

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The following email was brought to my attention today. It was sent to all Seattle Public School staff.

From: Cranston, Gary

Sent: Tuesday, May 16, 2017 12:35 PM

Subject: Tuesdy Tech Tip 5/16/17: Apply TODAY for Summer Blended Learning Institute, Immersive Reader, and Public Folders in OneDrive

Teachers,

This week’s tech tip includes information about how to apply for the 2017 – 2018 Blended Learning Summer Institute, use the Immersive Reader Learning Tool with Office 365 or the Office Lens app, and create a public folder in OneDrive.

Gary

Blended Learning Summer Institute 2017: Cohort 2 August 18, 21 and 22

Click here to apply for the Blended Learning Summer Institute and view additional information about the program.

Blended learning combines online digital media with traditional classroom methods. It provides some element of student control over time, place, path, or pace.

In this series of paid professional learning activities, you will:

  • Explore different blended learning strategies to find the one that works best for you and your students.
  • Design online resources to support personalized learning.
  • Collaborate with other teachers to share resources and strategies.
  • Provide feedback to DoTS and the IT team regarding use of 15 laptops in a blended learning classroom model.

**********

The terms “blended learning” and “personalized learning” refer to having a student in front of a computer the greater part of a school day, just like the term “school choice” actually refers to charter schools, the privatization of public schools. The terms are palatable and sound ideal to many as a positive leaning experience but those are just marketing terms. When you dig down into what software marketeers are actually referring to, it’s completely different. There is nothing personal about using a software program on a computer compared to interacting with a teacher and students.

In an article I wrote describing blended learning, I stated:

Online charter schools, which the capital venturists like to refer to as “blended learning”, is basically putting a student in front of a computer where they are to read, do their lessons and take tests.

Sports, history and the arts are not part of this program, just the basics.

The reason for the proliferation of these enterprises is that they are cheap to run and generate lots of revenue. At this time, Rocketship, one of the largest online charter chains, has recently increased its student to teacher ratio from 40:1 to 50:1. There is very little overhead, no gym, cafeteria, janitors, staff, just a CEO/Principal/Superintendent and administrative staff. The students do their work at home on a computer and communicate with their teachers via e-mail. The parents communicate with the teacher via phone on a schedule set up by the charter school. That’s the “blended” part, communicating with the teacher via e-mail, phone or “special software” that is promoted by these enterprises.

I believe there is a place for this kind of arrangement, when a student is not able to physically attend school, this would be a good option for those situations but that’s not how the online charter chains see it. They won’t be happy until they can get as many students as possible on a computer 6 to 8 hours a day. It’s all about the money.

The desire by private businesses, like DELL computers, is to sell computers and software. They see school districts as another cash cow as they did with charter schools.

So teachers, unless you want to be replaced with software, I suggest you pay attention to what’s going on in your district. Parents, unless you want your student in front of a computer all day in school, start asking questions.

Related articles:

How Online Learning Companies Bought America’s Schools

Profits and Questions at Online Charter Schools

Washington State’s Digital Promise School Districts: Creating new markets for personalized learning snake oil

Washington State’s Digital Promise School Districts: Creating new markets for personalized learning snake oil

Students of Online Schools Are Lagging

Online (Blended) Learning

Ten questions for Seattle Public Schools’ IT Lead John Krull re: EdTech in schools and student privacy

The endgame of corporate reform in public school education: Part 1, What do Betsy DeVos and Seattle Public School’s IT Lead John Krull have in common?

The Ballad of Joseph Olchefske: Middle College, Ed-Reform Market Failure, and the March of Online Learning

An Explosion in Lobbying Around For-Profit K-12 Programs

The inherent racism of Summit “public” (charter) school

Dora Taylor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Someone is driving the curriculum in Seattle Public Schools and it’s not educators, parents or the school board

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Shortly after publishing a post titled The Seattle school board is asking the question: Where should technology fit into the education of K-12 students? on how the school board wanted to deliberate and have a conversation on the role of technology in Seattle public schools and therefore hold off on large purchases of computers and software, the board voted the next week to buy laptops for half of the students in seven schools.

What will be on the laptop is anyone’s guess.

The curriculum for Seattle Public Schools is overdue for a review and has not been done by the school board. The reason for this delay is because the staff involved with curriculum within the Seattle Public School administration has been dragging their feet.  My guess is that the software  installed on these laptops will have the narrow focus of the Common Core Standards with its concomitant testing and whatever else someone decides to upload to the computers but at this time, it’s anyone’s guess.

At Middle College high school in Seattle with a mostly minority population, a software called Edgenuity was installed for students. The focus of the school is theoretically on social justice. Now there are complaints by students and staff that the software curriculum is racist. No one apparently went through and thoroughly vetted the software before having it installed.

This begs the question, who’s in charge of what Seattle students learn and see when on a computer screen?

So far, it’s not the board because the question has not been asked by them. It’s certainly not local educators or parents to ensure the content is appropriate and within the goals of the school community.

If John Krull has his way, every student in Seattle will have a laptop and teachers will be relagated to the title of “coach” for 30 plus students. This is what occurred in Oakland where Krull was head of IT before making his way to Seattle. Now the Oakland school district is $30M in the hole but hey, all the kids have laptops! My guess, though, is no one knows what’s on them but John Krull and a few others.

Dora Taylor

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Ten questions for Seattle Public Schools’ IT Lead John Krull re: EdTech in schools and student privacy

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Ten questions for Seattle Public Schools’ IT Lead John Krull re: EdTech in schools and student privacy

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John Krull has agreed to answer some questions about what is happening in terms of technology and software programs planned for Seattle Public Schools.

As Krull states in his letter of application for the position within Seattle Public Schools, “I implemented a blended and personal learning infrastructure for 87 urban schools improving overall student engagement”.

To put that in plain English, “blended and personalized learning” means that a student works in front of a computer the greater part of the day and the teacher is then able to manage over 30 students in a class, theoretically, which is a way to cut cost.

Computers or laptops are programmed with Common Core Standard packaged lessons and its associated testing which becomes an integral part of the software. There is also experimentation with using a Social Emotional Learning (SEL) program that is integrated into the computers to determine a student’s mindset and attitude.

Then there is the concern of student privacy and the culling of personal information that can be provided to third parties with no protections by FERPA.

We raised a red flag on this website when we discovered that John Krull had been hired by Seattle Public Schools after working in Oakland with their public school system and I wrote about it for The Progressive.

Mr. Krull has agreed to answer some questions for us and he will have an opportunity, in a second article, to air his disagreement with what has been written so far on this website.

The following are the ten questions we submitted to John Krull, Chief Information Officer for Seattle Public Schools on April 14th.

1. Why did you decide to move to Seattle after working for two years as Chief Information Officer in the Oakland public school system?

2. Are you familiar with the Homeroom software? Apparently, it has been installed in some Seattle schools as a pilot program. If you are familiar with the program, what do you see as its value? Do you know what the cost is to buy, install and implement the program along with technology upgrades to sustain this program if it is used within the entire SPS school system?

3. Homeroom allows the collection of sensitive behavioral information and there is concern by parents that too much student information is being requested by the software. Do you know who is privy to this information and would it include the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) and Seattle’s Department of Early Learning?  Do you know if the information will it be tracked as a student continues through high school?

4. What is the Technology Plan for Seattle Public Schools? Will you be writing a new or revised Technology Plan as you did for Oakland Public Schools? 

5. Are you familiar with CASEL? If so, what is your role to be with this program?

6. Do you have a plan for notifying parents of the information that is gathered by software distributed to schools within the Seattle school district including Homeroom?

7. On the Seattle Public Schools’ website it notes that you wrote a paper titled “How Do You Measure Return on Investment of EDtech” and another paper “Creating a Platform for Staff and Student Growth”. There were no links provided to these papers. Please include a link in your response or a pdf that we can post.

8. What are your views on the use of devices such as laptops by young children, particularly between kindergarten and second grade? In Oakland, Clever badges are used by the youngest students to start up their laptops.

9. You state on the Seattle Public Schools website that you have a vision and commitment for an “equitable, supportable, standardized and secure environment to improve teaching and learning.” What are your definitions of “standardized” and “secure”?

10. You tweeted about IMS Global in January of this year. What is your relationship with IMS Global?

Related posts:

EFF Survey Reveals Gaps in Protecting the Privacy of K-12 Students Using School-Issued Devices and Cloud Apps

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How exactly did the Department of Defense end up in my child’s classroom?

McD Happy Meal online schools for all in Seattle with SPS IT Officer John Krull

The US Department of Education’s Digital Promise to advance the ed-tech field and online learning in public schools

Washington State’s Digital Promise School Districts: Creating new markets for personalized learning snake oil

Oops! Study Shows Computer Use in School Doesn’t Help Test Scores

ACT study: Common Core, not ready for prime time

Video: Clinical Child Psychologist: The Common Core Standards are developmentally inappropriate

Common Sense Questions About the Common Core Test

How we got the Common Core Standards: Federal Manipulation Through Race to the Top

Who wrote the Common Core Standards? The Common Core 24

The facts about the Common Core Standards

Submitted by Dora Taylor

What Corporations, Bill Gates and the Department of Defense Have Planned for Public Education: A video

 

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The Learning Lab at Rocketship Si Se Puede Academy in California.

 

 

Alison McDowell, editor of Wrench in the Gears, gave a presentation titled Future Ready Schools: How Silicon Valley and the Defense Department Plan to Remake Public Education  on Saturday, March 25, 2017 at the Lake City Library in Seattle.

To follow is a video of the talk on Education Reform 2.0.

 

 

27 minutes into this video, Alison touches upon the IT Tech for Seattle Public Schools, John Krull.

You can find the slides used in the presentation here.

A big thanks to Alison for coming to Seattle and giving this eye opening presentation.

The event was sponsored by Parents Across America Puget Sound.

Related articles:

McD Happy Meal online schools for all in Seattle with SPS IT Officer John Krull

WA State House Bill 1518: “The Summer Step-Up Act” re: Social Emotional Learning: Why are we experimenting on low income four-year old’s?

How exactly did the Department of Defense end up in my child’s classroom?

The endgame of corporate reform in public school education: Part 1, What do Betsy DeVos and Seattle Public School’s IT Lead John Krull have in common?

Save Maine Schools

Submitted by Dora Taylor