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

The Endgame of Corporate Reform, Part 3: Online Learning, Social, Emotional Learning and the Department of Defense

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

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Who is actually running the US Department of Education?

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Former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Eli Broad and recipient Dr. Wanda Bamberg

We have known about the Broad Prize award, representing an award given to school districts by the Broad Foundation, which is proudly displayed in the offices of the Department of Education, and the fact that Bill Gates has populated the US Department of Education (USDOE) staff with his acolytes but it’s another thing to hear about it from someone who spoke to the insiders of this campaign to takeover the public school system from the top down.

To follow is an interview that edushyster conducted with Megan Tompkins-Stange who is an assistant professor of public policy at the Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan and the author of Policy Patrons: Philanthropy, Education Reform, and the Politics of Influence.

When I was first learning about this stuff in 2004, the *new* philanthropy was being described as *muscular* and *aggressive* as opposed to traditional philanthropy. How can there be more gendered terms than those? It’s the idea that you have to use force and a blunt instrument to achieve policy change…

Foundations Unfiltered

Megan Tompkins-Stange spent five years conducting confidential interviews with insiders at some of the foundations most involved in education reform. What they told her will surprise you. Or not…

But it also says something very important about why are these foundation staff members so afraid, and what are they so afraid of? Retribution from the foundations? Social or political censure? Their professional reputations? Often, the only way I could get these folks to talk to me was to offer to meet under the cover of darkness. Given how powerful foundations are in policy, that fear and reticence in and of itself is a really critical thing for us to think about as a democratic society.

EduShyster: You spent five years interviewing insiders at some of the foundations most involved in education reform, and your new book Policy Patrons allows readers to *listen in* on conversations that are, let’s just say, enlightening. I want to give readers a taste by jumping right into a Gates Foundation official’s take on the chummy relationship between the foundation and the Obama administration—or as one Obama staffer describes it in a telling slip of the tongue, the Gates administration.

Megan Tompkins-Stange: I think this is one of the more interesting quotes in the book, because it’s quite self-reflective. On the one hand, the source is acknowledging that the close coupling between Gates and the Department of Education under Arne Duncan was great because it pushed their agenda forward. But on the other hand, they’re acknowledging that it’s somewhat problematic in terms of democratic legitimacy. It was my sense that most of the people I talked to hadn’t engaged—at an organizational level—with the larger question of *What’s our role in a liberal democracy?* or *Is this the right thing for us to do as a foundation?* They were so focused on the work—they talked about *We’re changing things; we’re moving the policy, look at all these things we’ve accomplished.* The democracy part of it was not really a part of the equation in terms of their day-to-day discussions. It was more about, *How do we get the elites who can really move this policy on board?* But it seems like that is changing now in a few contexts.

EduShyster: I should point out that your book is filled with quotes like the one above. In fact, *heavy on hubris* might be an accurate way to describe its contents. We overhear the Broad folks reveling in their success in New Orleans and the failure of the opt out movement, and Team Gates crowing over, well, everything. But both have ended up getting some comeuppance of late—Gates over the Common Core and Broad over Eli Broad’s charter expansion plan in Los Angeles.

Tompkins-Stange: I think what we’re seeing, with Gates and Broad in particular, is that they started from the point of view that *If you apply capital to X problem then Y solution will happen.* For example, if you make a vaccine available, disease will be eradicated. But that worldview hasn’t translated well to education, and the challenge for them now is how do they change their culture and their values in order to better operate within this context? Because what they’ve done up to this point is based on a very strategic, very technical way of looking at the world.  You’re starting to see a real normative concern emerging in the field about not including people in public education reform, and not having the voices of these underrepresented groups that are going to be affected. Maybe now that we’re having this national conversation about power, race and oppression, that’s coming to the fore more as a topic of discussion within foundations.

EduShyster: You take us behind the scenes at foundations that represent two very different approaches: the outcome-oriented philanthropy of Gates and Broad vs. the field-oriented or *bottom up* style of Ford and Kellogg. Explain to us how outcome-oriented philanthropy views the world and, for your concrete goals, I’d like you to use the terms *theory of change* and *logic model* at least once.


Tompkins-Stange
: The outcome-oriented approach is rooted in strategic planning, which uses *theories of change* and *logic models* to map out objectives. As one example, the  theory of change for charter schools might be *Charter schools will introduce competition to the system of education, which will cause non-charters to improve in quality, which will increase achievement for all students.* Underlying that theory of change is an assumption that competition and choice lead to better outcomes. The  outcome-oriented approach is now so broadly accepted that it’s become a simple *best practice.* Who could be against something so obvious as trying to plan strategically to produce impact? As I argue, though, the outcome-oriented approach is anything but neutral and objective. It’s a distinct mode of engagement, defined by values as opposed to dispassionate facts. And these values, which are very managerial, sometimes have a blind spot for democratic processes or incorporating the views of citizens.

EduShyster: The insiders from Gates and the Broad Foundation you talked to offer up various explanations of why they view democracy as a hindrance to achieving maximum scaled-up impact and catalytic change now. My favorite is that democracy and citizen input are trumped by evidence. But some of the most startling quotes in the book come from sources who speak candidly about what one describes as the *rickety* quality of the evidence the foundations rely on. Let’s listen in on a Gates source:

processTompkins-Stange: There was a real cognitive dissonance that people reflected on in interviews. In one breath they’d say that what the foundations were doing was evidence-based. But in the next breath they’d note that the evidence isn’t all that great, or acknowledge the fragility of the evidence’s underlying assumptions. Another Gates source said: *I don’t know anyone in philanthropy who can chart a logic model. All these people just put arrows in between boxes and think it means something.* What’s incredible about these statements is that the informants—who are Gates employees—are saying that these core tools can be applied inappropriately, and yet they’re used to chart and manage policy initiatives that have significant impact in the broader field of education.

EduShyster: While education continues to be dominated by women, the field of transforming it strategically has a distinctly masculine cast. In fact, I often had a strong image in mind while reading your book of an outstretched hand emerging from a well-tailored suit…

Tompkins-Stange: When I was first learning about this stuff in 2004, the *new* philanthropy was being described as *muscular* and *aggressive* as opposed to traditional philanthropy. How can there be more gendered terms than those? It’s the idea that you have to use force and a blunt instrument to achieve policy change, as opposed to listening and acknowledging people’s lived experience, identity and emotions. I think Ford and Kellogg really understood something about institutional change in their cultures. You need to pay attention to people’s values and the things that they hold dear, and to their fears about change, and to building authentic relationships over time. It’s a much less businesslike to the problems the outcome-oriented foundations want to address, and so much less measurable in some ways.

EduShyster: One of the most fascinating lessons from Policy Patrons is how much the *new* philanthropy resembles the *old* philanthropy when it comes to foundations attempting to impose change on communities. I’m thinking of the Ford Foundation’s Grey Areas project which sought to *fix* urban poverty and ran into some, um, very familiar problems.

Tompkins-Stange: The Grey Areas project was a Ford Foundation demonstration project, based on the classic model that philanthropy is the R & D mechanism for the state, wherein foundations would say *We’re going to incubate all of these cool things, and the most successful we’ll transfer to the government and they’ll scale it up.* In many ways it was a very progressive project; the intentions were in the right place. Ford wanted to impact social justice by bringing economic opportunity to high-poverty neighborhoods. But when they actually implemented the program it didn’t work at all. It was a huge disconnect. They had white people running all of these intermediary organizations in a very top down manner, and they weren’t including the field practitioners, who were predominantly Black. People weren’t buying in because they didn’t have ownership. It amazes me that this pattern of foundation-funded initiatives faltering in implementation has been happening for 100 years. It’s exactly what happened with Gates and the Common Core. Maybe in the short term you can move a political agenda, but you can’t change hearts and minds without investing in a much longer-term community oriented strategy.

EduShyster: Based on what sources in the book were willing to tell you, you clearly have an amazing ability to get people to open up and share insights and reflections that they are no doubt regretting now. Any tricks of the trade you want to share?

Tompkins-Stange: I’ve always thought that I missed my true calling, and should be a therapist or minister, because complete strangers have a tendency to tell me their problems and secrets. It’s a very strange thing (and has led to many awkward moments at formal dinners). To their credit, not mine, most of the informants were able to get past the foundation party line and what was on their websites, and to be quite candid and philosophical. I think that’s due to granting confidentiality: give people a mask and they’ll tell you the truth. But it also says something very important about why are these foundation staff members so afraid, and what are they so afraid of? Retribution from the foundations? Social or political censure? Their professional reputations? Often, the only way I could get these folks to talk to me was to offer to meet under the cover of darkness. Given how powerful foundations are in policy, that fear and reticence in and of itself is a really critical thing for us to think about as a democratic society. Should private institutions that operate in the public sphere remain private? Or should they open their doors, expose their failures and challenges as well as their successes, and run the risk of tarnishing their brands and legacies—which were, of course, founded by private individuals?

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Related articles:

How Bill Gates pulled off the swift Common Core revolution

Got Dough? How Billionaires Rule Our Schools

How to tell if your School District is infected by the Broad Virus

A Parent Guide to the Broad Foundation’s training programs and education policies

 

 

 

Representative Ruth Kagi is no friend of public education

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Let’s take big money out of politics starting with Ruth Kagi.

There is a race in the 32nd Legislative District in Seattle where an educator, Wesley Irwin, is running against an establishment Democrat who has been in office for too long.

This post will be about the incumbent, Representative Ruth Kagi, who I have mentioned briefly in two previous posts, The Proposition 1B “Preschool for All” Wheel of Fortune: Same players, new game and Money for charters but nothing for public schools? It’s time for a recall in Washington State.

First, let’s look at Kagi’s record on public school education.

On charter schools:

In the Washington State Democrat’s platform is the statement “We oppose charter schools”. This plank in the platform was hard fought throughout the state as one Democratic legislative district after another passed resolutions stating that charter schools are unconstitutional and undemocratic and yet Ruth Kagi voted for Bill 6194 allowing state funding to keep open a handful of charter schools that were deemed unconstitutional by the Washington State Supreme Court. Her constituents voted unanimously against Bill 6194 and against charter schools in any form. See Resolution passed unanimously by the 32nd District Democrats regarding any and all legislative bills that would authorize charter schools in Washington State.

But the chronic under-funding of our public schools did not come to a resolution in that same session.

So much for representing the people.

On class size:

Initiative 1351 reducing class sizes was opposed by Kagi  

On a cost of living wage increase for teachers:

Rep. Kagi also voted to suspend the much needed “Teacher Cost of Living Adjustment” (COLA) in 2013, yet she voted for a tax cut that gave the Boeing Company billions of dollars (Bill 2294) and then received the maximum contribution allowable from Boeing the following year.

On the Common Core Standards:

Kagi voted for the Common Core Standards and the related SBAC tests.

So how could Ruth Kagi consistently vote against the will of the people for several years now?

Well, let’s take a look at some of her contributors:

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and his wife: Donated $500,000 to push the charter school initiative and contributed to keep the charter schools open after the Supreme Court’s decision that charter schools are unconstitutional in Washington State.

Amazon CEO Jeff  Bezos and his wife, big financial supporters of charter schools.

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Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) , push for the privatization of public schools.

The Community Center for Education Results (CCER): Mary Jean Ryan

For a cumulative view of Kagi’s contributors, see FollowTheMoney.org.

Ruth Kagi is endorsed by the League of Education Voters (LEV) (not to be confused with the League of Women Voters). She even gave LEV money in 2014.

And, LEV gave her a big thank you for voting to fund charter schools on their website.

If you’re pro public schools, you do not want to be associated with the League of Education Voters. For more on LEV, see A look back at the League of Education Voters.

Even though Ruth Kagi touts that she is all about the children, her actions say something entirely different.

For additional information on the subjects mentioned in this post, see:

THE CHARTER-PUSHERS: WHO IS BANKROLLING THE $8 MILLION EFFORT (and counting) TO BRING CHARTERS TO WASHINGTON STATE?

The Charter School Bill 1240 and the 1%: An Analysis

A case study of how the ultra-wealthy spend millions to get what they want in school reform

The Proposition 1B “Preschool for All” Wheel of Fortune: Same players, new game

Race to the Tots: Universal (for profit) Pre-K, DFER, KIPP and the suits

Lisa Macfarlane with WA DFER wins the Walton Award for privatization.

The Road Map Project, Race to the Top, Bill Gates and your student’s privacy

Common Sense Questions About the Common Core Test

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

Study shows the Common Core PARCC test does not determine college readiness

Dora Taylor

 

Opposition to the Common Core now has bipartisan support in Washington State

From Truth in American Education:

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Washington State GOP Supports Student Privacy, Opposes Common Core

The Washington State Republicans passed a student privacy resolution at their recent state convention last month in Pasco, WA.  They also passed language opposing Common Core into their state party platform. Opposition to Common Core has crossed party lines, and is truly a bipartisan issue in Washington State. Last year, you may recall, the Washington State Democratic Party passed a resolution opposing Common Core.

Here is the resolution language which was written by our own J.R. Wilson.

Student Privacy Resolution

Whereas, privacy rights of students and parents are not forfeited upon public or private school enrollment and attendance or providing home based instruction; 

Whereas, non-cognitive factors include, but are not limited to, such things as attitudes, beliefs, attributes, feelings, mindsets, social and emotional learning, metacognitive learning skills, motivation, grit, tenacity, perseverance, self-regulation, and social skills; 

Whereas, the collection and retention of personal and non-cognitive data about students and parents is contrary to the right of privacy protected by the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution;

Whereas, the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) intends to begin assessing non-cognitive factors which may be in violation of federal law;

Whereas, the proposed federal Strengthening Education Through Research Act (SETRA S227) expands research and the collection of student level data to non-cognitive factors and social emotional learning and allows for sensitive data prohibited in surveys to be collected in curriculum and assessments;

Be it resolved that parents and eligible students shall be informed of the student level data that is collected and who will have access to it; 

Be it resolved that parents and eligible students shall be entitled to and guaranteed free access to any and all information collected about their child by a local school, the state of Washington or contracted entities with provisions for correcting inaccurate information; 

Be it resolved that local public or private schools or the state of Washington or other entities shall not collect and retain student level personal and non-cognitive data through surveys, curriculum, assessments, or any other means without informed prior written parental consent.

Below is the pertinent language in their platform supporting local control of education and opposing Common Core:

We support the elimination of the Federal Department of Education and returning its control and funding to the States. Teacher performance should be monitored and rewarded at the local level. We recognized the educational needs of students vary throughout the country, which cannot be met with a single mandate requiring one size to fit all. We support the elimination of Common Core standards.

ACT study: Common Core, not ready for prime time

Reposted from Truth in American Education:

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ACT: Common Core Does Not Reflect College Readiness in Some Aspects

ACT released a study called the ACT National Curriculum Study that demonstrates, once again, that Common Core does not prepare students for college the way that advocates have claimed that it does.

ACT first explained they have their own college readiness standards.

Over the past several years, much conversation has taken place about college and career readiness standards. Most of this has emanated from the creation, adoption, and implementation—as well as the politicization—of the Common Core State Standards. ACT was pleased to offer information about readiness to the Common Core development effort, but we should be clear that ACT’s college and career readiness assessments have always been based on its own empirical research and longitudinal data.

The ACT College and Career Readiness Standards describe the skills and knowledge that matter most to success beyond high school. Because of ACT’s extensive research and validation efforts, its College and Career Readiness Standards capture what is a priority for success in different content areas for college and career. ACT college and career readiness assessments provide reporting categories that align directly with ACT’s College and Career Readiness Standards strands to help with score interpretation and to provide actionable insights for improvement.

In their conclusion they found discrepancies with Common Core and what some educators consider to be college readiness.

Although standards are developed to help ensure that all students graduate from high school ready for college and career in English language arts and mathematics, some results of the ACT National Curriculum Survey suggest that some state standards may not reflect college readiness in some aspects.

In English Language Arts nding 2, high school teachers and perhaps some middle school teachers may be emphasizing certain approaches to writing over others due to a concern for source-based writing in response to the Common Core State Standards. But if so, college instructors appear to value some key features of source-based writing (the ability to analyze source texts and summarize other authors’ ideas) much less than the ability to generate sound ideas—a skill applicable across much broader contexts.

In Mathematics nding 1, some early elementary school teachers report that they are still teaching some of the topics omitted from the Common Core State Standards at certain early grade levels, perhaps in part because the teachers perceive that students are entering their classrooms unprepared for the demands that later mathematics courses will make of them.

Also in finding 1, less than half of middle school and high school teachers believe that the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics are aligned “a great deal” or “completely” with college instructors’ expectations for college readiness.

To read the study, go to Truth in American Education.

Related article:

Study shows the Common Core PARCC test does not determine college readiness

Study shows the Common Core PARCC test does not determine college readiness

Is the SBAC any different?

The PARCC tests have been criticized for being administered in high-stakes circumstances before they were validated. PARCC’s rejoinder is they had content validity, meaning that the test was built according to their committee reviewed specifications. But what is missing is predictive validity. That is, does the test validly measure the much vaunted touchstone criteria of “College and Career Ready?” After all, that is the entire rationale for the testing emphasis in schools.

The following is an article posted in Wait! What? that breaks down the study.

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The Common Core PARCC tests gets an “F” for Failure

By Wendy Lecker and Jonathan Pelto

The entire premise behind the Common Core and the related Common Core PARCC and SBAC testing programs was that it would provide a clear cut assessment of whether children were “college and career ready.”

In the most significant academic study to date, the answer appears to be that the PARCC version the massive and expensive test is that it is an utter failure.

William Mathis, Managing Director of the National Education Policy Center and member of the Vermont State Board of Education, has just published an astonishing piece in the Washington Post. (Alice in PARCCland: Does ‘validity study’ really prove the Common Core test is valid? In it, Mathis demonstrates that the PARCC test, one of two national common core tests (the other being the SBAC), cannot predict college readiness; and that a study commissioned by the Massachusetts Department of Education demonstrated the PARCC’s lack of validity.

This revelation is huge and needs to be repeated. PARCC, the common core standardized test sold as predicting college-readiness, cannot predict college readiness. The foundation upon which the Common Core and its standardized tests were imposed on this nation has just been revealed to be an artifice.

As Mathis wrote, the Massachusetts study found the following: the correlations between PARCC ELA tests and freshman GPA ranges from 0.13-0.26, and for PARCC Math tests, the range is between 0.37 and 0.40. Mathis explains that the correlation coefficients “run from zero (no relationship) to 1.0 (perfect relationship). How much one measure predicts another is the square of the correlation coefficient. For instance, taking the highest coefficient (0.40), and squaring it gives us .16. “

This means the variance in PARCC test scores, at their best, predicts only 16% of the variance in first year college GPA.  SIXTEEN PERCENT!  And that was the most highly correlated aspect of PARCC.  PARCC’s ELA tests have a correlation coefficient of 0.17, which squared is .02. This number means that the variance in PARCC ELA scores can predict only 2% of the variance in freshman GPA!

Dr. Mathis notes that the PARCC test-takers in this study were college freshman, not high school students. As he observes, the correlations for high school students taking the test would no doubt be even lower. (Dr. Mathis’ entire piece is a must-read. Alice in PARCCland: Does ‘validity study’ really prove the Common Core test is valid?)

Dr. Mathis is not an anti-testing advocate. He was Deputy Assistant Commissioner for the state of New Jersey, Director of its Educational Assessment program, a design consultant for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) and for six states.   As managing director for NEPC, Dr. Mathis produces and reviews research on a wide variety of educational policy issues. Previously, he was Vermont Superintendent of the Year and a National Superintendent of the Year finalist before being appointed to the state board of education. He brings expertise to the topic.

As Mathis points out, these invalid tests have human costs:

“With such low predictability, you have huge numbers of false positives and false negatives. When connected to consequences, these misses have a human price. This goes further than being a validity question. It misleads young adults, wastes resources and misjudges schools.  It’s not just a technical issue, it is a moral question. Until proven to be valid for the intended purpose, using these tests in a high stakes context should not be done.”

PARCC is used in  New Jersey, Maryland and other states, not Connecticut. So why write about this here, where we use the SBAC?

The SBAC has yet to be subjected to a similar validity study.  This raises several questions.  First and most important, why has the SBAC not be subjected to a similar study? Why are our children being told to take an unvalidated test?

Second, do we have any doubt that the correlations between SBAC and freshman college GPA will be similarly low?  No- it is more than likely that the SBAC is also a poor predictor of college readiness.

How do we know this? The authors of the PARCC study shrugged off the almost non-existent correlation between PARCC and college GPA by saying the literature shows that most standardized tests have low predictive validity.

This also bears repeating: it is common knowledge that most standardized tests cannot predict academic performance in college.  Why , then, is our nation spending billions developing and administering new tests, replacing curricula, buying technology, text books and test materials, retraining teachers and administrators, and misleading the public by claiming that these changes will assure us that we are preparing our children for college?

And where is the accountability of these test makers, who have been raking in billions, knowing all the while that their “product” would never deliver what they promised, because they knew ahead of time that the tests would not be able to predict college-readiness?

When then-Secretary Arne Duncan was pushing the Common Core State Standards and their tests on the American public, he maligned our public schools by declaring: “For far too long,” our school systems lied to kids, to families, and to communities. They said the kids were all right — that they were on track to being successful — when in reality they were not even close.” He proclaimed that with Common Core and the accompanying standardized tests, “Finally, we are holding ourselves accountable to giving our children a true college and career-ready education.”

Mr. Duncan made this accusation even though there was a mountain of evidence proving that the best predictor of college success, before the Common Core, was an American high school GPA.  In other words, high schools were already preparing kids for college quite well.

With the revelations in this PARCC study and the admissions of its authors, we know now that it was Mr. Duncan and his administration who were lying to parents, educators, children and taxpayers. Politicians shoved the Common Core down the throat of public schools with the false claim that this regime would improve education.  They forced teachers and schools to be judged and punished based on these tests.  They told millions of children they were academically unfit based on these tests. And now we have proof positive that these standardized tests are just as weak as their predecessors, and cannot in any way measure whether our children are “college-ready.”

The time is now for policymakers to stop wasting hundreds of millions of dollars, and thousands of school hours, on a useless standardized testing scheme;   and to instead invest our scarce public dollars in programs that actually ensure that public schools are have the capacity to support and prepare students to have more fulfilling and successful lives.

 

What’s the big secret about the SBAC and PARCC test questions?

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Back in the day, after I took a test and it was graded, I got my test paper back to see what questions I got wrong. It was part of the learning process.

It seems these days that Pearson doesn’t want the students or teachers to know what the questions are, therefore what questions each student needs to review and focus on to further educate themselves.

It has now gotten to the point where if ANYONE shares one question on the PARCC or SBAC tests, they are to be censored and threatened with legal action.

This is education?

An article was written by a teacher about the Common Core Standards PARCC test (the equivalent of the SBAC used in Washington State) and posted on the blog Outrage on the Page. It described the type of questions given, with examples of specific questions and critiqued each one superbly.

The people at PARCC/Pearson, weren’t happy about this and threatened the publisher of the article with legal action.

Because of the threats, the questions were deleted from the article.

Tweets about the article were taken down and Diane Ravitch’s post on the article disappeared off of her blog overnight. Because of these actions, I and other education journalists are reposting the original article that was written by the teacher and sharing it broadly on our websites as well as twitter and Facebook.

Please share widely the following thoughtful article written by an educator about the PARRC test.

The PARCC Test: Exposed

The author of this blog posting is a public school teacher who will remain anonymous.

I will not reveal my district or my role due to the intense legal ramifications for exercising my Constitutional First Amendment rights in a public forum. I was compelled to sign a security form that stated I would not be “Revealing or discussing passages or test items with anyone, including students and school staff, through verbal exchange, email, social media, or any other form of communication” as this would be considered a “Security Breach.” In response to this demand, I can only ask—whom are we protecting?

There are layers of not-so-subtle issues that need to be aired as a result of national and state testing policies that are dominating children’s lives in America. As any well prepared educator knows, curriculum planning and teaching requires knowing how you will assess your students and planning backwards from that knowledge. If teachers are unable to examine and discuss the summative assessment for their students, how can they plan their instruction? Yet, that very question assumes that this test is something worth planning for. The fact is that schools that try to plan their curriculum exclusively to prepare students for this test are ignoring the body of educational research that tells us how children learn, and how to create developmentally appropriate activities to engage students in the act of learning. This article will attempt to provide evidence for these claims as a snapshot of what is happening as a result of current policies.

The PARCC test is developmentally inappropriate

In order to discuss the claim that the PARCC test is “developmentally inappropriate,” examine three of the most recent PARCC 4th grade items.

A book leveling system, designed by Fountas and Pinnell, was made “more rigorous” in order to match the Common Core State Standards. These newly updated benchmarks state that 4th Graders should be reading at a Level S by the end of the year in order to be considered reading “on grade level.” [Celia’s note: I do not endorse leveling books or readers, nor do I think it appropriate that all 9 year olds should be reading a Level S book to be thought of as making good progress.]

The PARCC, which is supposedly a test of the Common Core State Standards, appears to have taken liberties with regard to grade level texts. For example, on the Spring 2016 PARCC for 4th Graders, students were expected to read an excerpt from Shark Life: True Stories about Sharks and the Sea by Peter Benchley and Karen Wojtyla. According to Scholastic, this text is at an interest level for Grades 9-12, and at a 7th Grade reading level. The Lexile measure is 1020L, which is most often found in texts that are written for middle school, and according toScholastic’s own conversion chart would be equivalent to a 6th grade benchmark around W, X, or Y (using the same Fountas and Pinnell scale).

Even by the reform movement’s own standards, according to MetaMetrics’ reference material on Text Complexity Grade Bands and Lexile Bands, the newly CCSS aligned “Stretch” lexile level of 1020 falls in the 6-8 grade range. This begs the question, what is the purpose of standardizing text complexity bands if testing companies do not have to adhere to them? Also, what is the purpose of a standardized test that surpasses agreed-upon lexile levels?

So, right out of the gate, 4th graders are being asked to read and respond to texts that are two grade levels above the recommended benchmark. After they struggle through difficult texts with advanced vocabulary and nuanced sentence structures, they then have to answer multiple choice questions that are, by design, intended to distract students with answers that appear to be correct except for some technicality.

Finally, students must synthesize two or three of these advanced texts and compose an original essay. The ELA portion of the PARCC takes three days, and each day includes a new essay prompt based on multiple texts. These are the prompts from the 2016 Spring PARCC exam for 4th Graders along with my analysis of why these prompts do not reflect the true intention of the Common Core State Standards.

ELA 4th Grade Prompt #1

Refer to the passage from “Emergency on the Mountain” and the poem “Mountains.” Then answer question 7.

  1. Think about how the structural elements in the passage from “Emergency on the Mountain” differ from the structural elements in the poem “Mountains.”

Write an essay that explains the differences in the structural elements between the passage and the poem. Be sure to include specific examples from both texts to support your response.

The above prompt probably attempts to assess the Common Core standard RL.4.5: “Explain major differences between poems, drama, and prose, and refer to the structural elements of poems (e.g., verse, rhythm, meter) and drama (e.g., casts of characters, settings, descriptions, dialogue, stage directions) when writing or speaking about a text.”

However, the Common Core State Standards for writing do not require students to write essays comparing the text structures of different genres. The Grade 4 CCSS for writing about reading demand that students write about characters, settings, and events in literature, or that they write about how authors support their points in informational texts. Nowhere in the standards are students asked to write comparative essays on the structures of writing. The reading standards ask students to “explain” structural elements, but not in writing. There is a huge developmental leap between explaining something and writing an analytical essay about it. [Celia’s note: The entire enterprise of analyzing text structures in elementary school – a 1940’s and 50’s college English approach called “New Criticism” — is ridiculous for 9 year olds anyway.]

The PARCC does not assess what it attempts to assess

ELA 4th Grade Prompt #2

Refer to the passages from “Great White Shark” and Face the Sharks. Then answer question 20.

 Using details and images in the passages from “Great White Sharks” and Face to Face with Sharks, write an essay that describes the characteristics of white sharks.

It would be a stretch to say that this question assesses CCSS W.4.9.B: “Explain how an author uses reasons and evidence to support particular points in a text.”

In fact, this prompt assesses a student’s ability to research a topic across sources and write a research-based essay that synthesizes facts from both articles. EvenCCSS W.4.7, “Conduct research projects that build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic,” does not demand that students compile information from different sources to create an essay. The closest the standards come to demanding this sort of work is in the reading standards; CCSS RI.4.9 says:“Integrate information from two texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.” Fine. One could argue that this PARCC prompt assesses CCSS RI.4.9.

However, the fact that the texts presented for students to “use” for the essay are at a middle school reading level automatically disqualifies this essay prompt from being able to assess what it attempts to assess. (It is like trying to assess children’s math computational skills by embedding them in a word problem with words that the child cannot read.)

ELA 4th Grade Prompt #3

  1. In “Sadako’s Secret,” the narrator reveals Sadako’s thoughts and feelings while telling the story. The narrator also includes dialogue and actions between Sadako and her family. Using these details, write a story about what happens next year when Sadako tries out for the junior high track team. Include not only Sadako’s actions and feelings but also her family’s reaction and feelings in your story.

Nowhere, and I mean nowhere in the Common Core State Standards is there a demand for students to read a narrative and then use the details from that text to write a new story based on a prompt. That is a new pseudo-genre called “Prose Constructed Response” by the PARCC creators, and it is 100% not aligned to the CCSS. Not to mention, why are 4th Graders being asked to write about trying out for the junior high track team? This demand defies their experiences and asks them to imagine a scenario that is well beyond their scope.

Clearly, these questions are poorly designed assessments of 4th graders CCSS learning. (We are setting aside the disagreements we have with those standards in the first place, and simply assessing the PARCC on its utility for measuring what it was intended to measure.)

Rather than debate the CCSS we instead want to expose the tragic reality of the countless public schools organizing their entire instruction around trying to raise students’ PARCC scores.

Without naming any names, I can tell you that schools are disregarding research-proven methods of literacy learning. The “wisdom” coming “down the pipeline” is that children need to be exposed to more complex texts because that is what PARCC demands of them. So children are being denied independent and guided reading time with texts of high interest and potential access and instead are handed texts that are much too hard (frustration level) all year long without ever being given the chance to grow as readers in their Zone of Proximal Development (pardon my reference to those pesky educational researchers like Vygotsky.)

So not only are students who are reading “on grade level” going to be frustrated by these so-called “complex texts,” but newcomers to the U.S. and English Language Learners and any student reading below the proficiency line will never learn the foundational skills they need, will never know the enjoyment of reading and writing from intrinsic motivation, and will, sadly, be denied the opportunity to become a critical reader and writer of media. Critical literacies are foundational for active participation in a democracy.

We can look carefully at one sample to examine the health of the entire system– such as testing a drop of water to assess the ocean. So too, we can use these three PARCC prompts to glimpse how the high stakes accountability system has deformed teaching and warped learning in many public schools across the United States.

In this sample, the system is pathetically failing a generation of children who deserve better, and when they are adults, they may not have the skills needed to engage as citizens and problem-solvers. So it is up to us, those of us who remember a better way and can imagine a way out, to make the case for stopping standardized tests like PARCC from corrupting the educational opportunities of so many of our children.

censored money

Post script by the editor:

I just came across this cartoon on Facebook and wanted to share it.

Parcc

A related article:

NJ Teachers Union President: PARCC Is a Flawed Assessment

 

 

 

 

Common Sense Questions About the Common Core Test

Common-Sense-10095641.jpg

I came across this article today while Googling information about the SBAC and is well worth a read.

From eduresearcher by Roxana Marachi, PhD:

Critical Questions about Computerized Assessments and SmarterBalanced Test Scores

A recent report from the Public Policy Institute reveals that the majority of California’s public school parents are uninformed about the new tests their children took this past year. And despite numerous concerns regarding the lack of validity, technological barriers, biases, and test administration problems, “test scores” soon will be released to the public.

The following includes adapted selections of a letter I sent to the California State Board of Education for the July 2015 State Board of Education meeting.  My purpose in sharing this information is to draw attention to the lack of scientific validity of the test scores that are soon to be released to the public and to promote critical thinking about issues of fairness, accessibility, data security, and standardization in the test administrations.

It is important to consider that unless assessments are independently verified to adhere to basic standards of test development regarding validity, reliability, security, accessibility, and fairness in administration, resulting scores will be meaningless and should not be used to make claims about student learning, progress, aptitude, nor readiness for college or career (see Legal Implications of High Stakes Assessments: What States Should Know).

QUESTIONS: 

Q1: How is standardization to be assumed when students are taking tests on different technological tools with vastly varying screen interfaces? Depending on the technology used (desktops, laptops, chromebooks, and/or ipads), students would need different skills in typing, touch screen navigation, and familiarity with the tool.

Q2: How are standardization and fairness to be assumed when students are responding to different sets of questions based on how they answer (or guess) on the adaptive sections of the assessments?

Q3: How is fairness to be assumed when large proportions of students do not have access at home to the technology tools that they are being tested on in schools? Furthermore, how can fairness be assumed when some school districts do not have the same technology resources as others for test administration? 

Q4: How/why would assessments that had already been flagged with so many serious design flaws and user interface problems continue to be administered to millions of children without changes and improvements to the interface? (See report below)

Q5: How can test security be assumed when tests are being administered across a span of over three months and when login features allow for some students to view a problem, log off, go home (potentially research and develop an answer) and then come back and log in and take the same section? (This process was reported from a test proctor who observed the login, viewing and re-login process).

Q6: Given serious issues in accessibility and the fact that the assessments have yet to be independently validated, how/why would the SmarterBalanced Assessment Consortium solicit agreements from nearly 200 colleges and universities to use 2015 11th Grade SBAC data to determine student access to the regular curriculum or to “remedial” courses?http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/curriculum/2015/04/sbac.html.

Projected failure rates disproportionately impact youth of color, students with special needs, and English Language Learners, cut scores have yet to be validated, and the use of the test scores may be argued to contribute to systemic barriers that already limit access to higher education for students from historically underserved populations.

[Chart data from SBAC / Screenshot from post on J.Pelto’s Wait, What blog] 

Screenshot 2015-07-12 16.11.25
Q7: [Background] I participated in the cut-score setting process during October of 2014 as I had learned through a public announcement on social media about the opportunity to take part. According to their own documents, SBAC confirms that 7% of their feedback about the cut scoresetting was from the “general public.” Smarter Balanced is inviting anyone who’s interested—you don’t have to be a teacher or even work in education—to register to participate in the “standard-setting” process.

It was apparent by the lack of screening that as long an individual had a pulse and an email address, any member of the public who so wanted was given open access to at least 30 test itemsand answers considered for use in the assessments. Despite signing an electronic statement promising not to share any information from the activity, anyone (including test-prep profiteers) could have downloaded within a matter of minutes dozens of test items developed for use by the consortium. It is appalling that such an epic breach of security would be allowed in the process of test development.

Screenshot 2015-07-03 20.25.38

Q7: Given the open access of hundreds of test-items to large numbers of unscreened participants who took part in the public cut-score setting procedures, how can the State Board of Education ensure the security of test items used by the SmarterBalanced Consortium?

[Additional note (not included in original letter)] 
One might also consider issues of students sharing test-related topics and posts on social media as potential security breaches of content.
With a three month testing span and countless new apps for anonymous sharing, the possibilities are endless.   Still, testing companies seem laser-focused on following students’ visible social media feeds with controversial surveillance strategies that have led to serious privacy concerns (here, here, and here) in states with the PARCC versions of CCSS tests administered by Pearson.  While public awareness and concern has focused primarily on Pearson’s activities, the SmarterBalanced Assessment Consortium has also been critiqued for its policies on student monitoring.  As we consider issues of test security, we should acknowledge the thousands of potential, alternate, creative hashtags or other communication tools that youth may use aside from the obvious #PARCC #SBAC and #SmarterBalanced tags to discuss their experiences with the assessments.  Let’s take a look at how [in]effective it was for the College Board to require sworn statements from test-takers to refrain from posting about the PSAT on social media:

Screenshot 2015-07-06 00.11.09Screenshot 2015-07-03 23.15.00

Q8: Will the California State Board of Education hold the SmarterBalanced Assessment Consortium member states and test developers accountable to adhere to the basic terms, timelines, conditions, and agreements described in the Race to the Top Assessment Development Proposal?

http://www.edweek.org/media/sbac_final_narrative_20100620_4pm.pdf [Note: Pages 47-50 offer detailed descriptions of intended features of the assessments and proposed supports for implementation. Readers are encouraged to compare and contrast these descriptions with what has actually been developed (evidence below).] 

Q9: Since data gathering for the development of the SmarterBalanced Assessments has been conducted through a Federal Research Grant, and the Public Policy Institute has determined that the majority of parents have been uninformed about the new tests, how can the State Department of Education and/or SmarterBalanced Consortium ensure that Basic Protections of Human Subjects were upheld during the pilot and field test administrations over the past two years? http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocfo/humansub.html.

Is it the responsibility of the SmarterBalanced Testing Consortium, the Federal Government, or State/District Board of Education Trustees to ensure that student and parental rights and ethical protections of Human Subjects were not violated in the process of developing the new tests?

Q10 (Background): As you are aware, ETS (Educational Testing Services) has been provided the multi-million dollar contract to administer and score the tests in Californiahttp://www.kcra.com/news/whos-grading-your-kids-assessment-test-in-california/31857614.According to the following article “ETS has lobbied against legislation to require agencies to “immediately initiate an investigation” after complaints on “inadequate” testing conditions. It alsolobbied against a bill designed to safeguard pupil data in subcontracting.”  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2015/03/30/report-big-education-firms-spend-millions-lobbying-for-pro-testing-policies/

Q10a: How will the State Board of Education ensure the student data being provided to 3rd party entities (unbeknownst to many parents and students) would be secure?

Q10b: What are the responsibilities of the State and Districts to inform parents of how their children’s data may be used by 3rd party entities should they choose to take part in the testing?

Evidence of Testing Barriers and Implementation Problems

The Board is encouraged to consider the following evidence documenting serious concerns regarding the validity, reliability, security, accessibility, and fairness of the SmarterBalanced Assessments.

SmarterBalanced Mathematics Tests Are Fatally Flawed and Should Not Be Used documents serious user-interface barriers and design flaws in the SmarterBalanced Mathematics assessments. According to the analyses, the tests:

  • “Violate the standards they are supposed to assess; 
  • Cannot be adequately answered by students with the technology they are required to use; 
  • Use confusing and hard-to-use interfaces; or 
  • Are to be graded in such a way that incorrect answers are identified as correct and correct answers as incorrect.

No tests that are so flawed should be given to anyone. Certainly, with stakes so high for students and their teachers, these Smarter Balanced tests should not be administered. The boycotts of these tests by parents and some school districts are justified. Responsible government bodies should withdraw the tests from use before they do damage. Read the full report…

Rasmussen notes that the numerous design flaws and interface barriers had been brought to the attention of the SmarterBalanced Assessment Consortium during the Spring 2014 pilot test and remained unresolved during the Spring 2015 test administration.

There are also misrepresentations of technology interface features in public awareness campaigns to inform parents and students about the new tests. According a video on the BeALearningHero.org website, fractions spontaneously appear [in fraction form] on the screen as a visual feature of the new assessments:

However, the actual screens that students encounter on the tests are completely different than what is shown above and the process of entering even one fraction into the text space provided is problematic.

Why are the actual screen representations of the tests not provided in the public education campaigns?

Further evidence of testing problems are included in the following clip with a selected portion of the transcript from the NAACP Press Conference on SBAC Testing in Seattle. The segment below is by Jesse Hagopian and the rest of the full Press Conference includes additional evidence and perspectives:

[Segment starts at 7:00 Minutes from original video] …

 

“SBAC testing in Seattle has been an unmitigated disaster. We have had reports across this city of absolute testing meltdown in building after building. You’re going to hear today from some of the people who have experienced that first hand. They’ve experienced the technological gliches that have wasted hours of instructional time. They’ve experienced their computer labs and their libraries shut down for weeks at a time and unable to be used for research. And they’ve experienced the human disaster of labeling kids failing and seeing the impact that that has on children and crushing their spirits, turning them off to education… and you’ll hear that I think in graphic detail…”

Hagopian continued,

“…these tests are invalid… the SBAC test is invalid. That’s a bold statement. How can I make that claim? It’s not based on my own estimation. It’s based on the SmarterBalanced Consortium itself. The SmarterBalanced Consortium has acknowledged in a memo, that the test has not been proven to be externally valid.And yet our state rushed to implement this test all across the state?”  See also http://sco.lt/729uev

In Maine, educators also have expressed concern regarding the validity of the SBAC exams. In Test Fatally Flawed, School Officials SayScott McFarland, Mount Desert Elementary School Principal posited:

“I’ve seen enough of it, seen enough glitches to know that it’s invalid data.”

From EdSource April, 2015 

“Laura Bolton, a teacher at William Saroyan Elementary in Fresno, who spoke to EdSource earlier about her students’ keyboard challenges, recently gave the Smarter Balanced midterms to her 3rd-graders. She said her students struggled with the instructions and added that they were not appropriate for the age of her students.”

The article also describes high school students’ experiences with instructional and user-interface barriers: A ninth grader quoted in the article, for example said “she didn’t know how to make the online calculator work on the test.”  The following excerpt from another article described that “Everyone was freaking out,” … with “students struggling to find the calculator and other function buttons on their tablets.”  

An 11th grader was quoted as indicating that “There was no paper available” to work out math problems.“We’d have to draw on the computer screen [with a stylus]. Being on a computer was distracting.”

From a Parent comment in “SBAC in Ca”:

“According to my child, there were numerous technical problems with test administration. Not much of the questions addressed things they had learned. Confusing. Bandwidth continued to be a problem along with tablets accepting answers. As parents, our district failed to notify us when testing would take place. Normally we are inundated with information about dates, times, how to feed our kids, how much sleep they needed, etc. Had I known when these tests would take place, I would have opted my child out. We get no feedback from the school, district or the state of results, which seems immensely wrong. I have to based this all on what my child told me as my school and district told me nothing.” (Emphasis added)

From a Principal/Administrator: “Accessibility in SmarterBalanced”:

“Our district recently completed the Smarter Balanced Field Test. I was very disappointed with accessibility features of the assessment. I have heard and read that the assessment has unprecedented accessibility features and provides avenues for students to participate. The accommodations and embedded features were incredibly confusing for students with disabilities and struggling learners. Students needed to click and drag or click and highlight. The use of language glossaries were found to be inaccurate on many occasions. I’m concerned about the quality checks in place for language translations and the manner in which student can locate a word to see the glossaries. Likewise, we were told that devices needed to be certified to use with the assessment. There are currently ”no” certified devices. Sad to develop a system that looks good on paper and creates a ”good story” for accessibility but falls short with real world application. To my knowledge there is no means established to get feedback on the accessibility features. That too is disappointing. How will improvements be made if there isn’t a means to solicit input from users? I fear that we will be faced with the same issues next year.” (Emphasis added)

From a Teacher who teaches Mild and Moderate Special Day classes:

“I feel it is unfair that my SDC students are being required to take grade level state tests when they are not taught or learning at that grade level. I would like my 8th grade students whom are learning 4th grade math, to take the test at the 4th grade level. There is no point in throwing complex algebra problems to students who are working on their basic math facts. This does not tell use anything about what the students know or what they are gathering from school.”

From a Teacher in LAUSD on using ipads for the SBAC testing:

“Today was the worst day I have had in a classroom for 20 years.
At my school we received the ipads last Thursday. We started testing today.
1. I have never used an ipad, and had no training whatsoever. They had them on campus for a week, yet they did not train us to use them and navigate how to help students out.
2. It took 45 minutes to get my 35 students logged in, both sessions.
3. We got kicked off during a session due to the fact that the server was busy.
4. Many of the readings were too long for the students.
5. Students had trouble highlighting text.
6. Some students could not answer questions because they could not see them on the Ipads.”

From a Media Specialist on pilot tests:

“After administering the language arts and math pilot tests for smarter balanced, teachers gave me their feedback. The tests were extremely time consuming; some students were sitting for over two hours. The structure and content of the test were not age appropriate. Teachers found the level of student frustration to be very high–students were actually angry and acting out during the testing sessions.Students were giving up on questions based on the lengthy reading passages presented–even strong readers. One teacher described the testing sessions as ‘child abuse.’” (Emphasis and links added)

From a Teacher:

“We have been teaching critical reading strategies in all subjects at my junior high. I was very surprised to not see any easily accessible tools to mark the text on the language portion of the SBAC, including underlining key words or phrases, numbering paragraphs, marking out incorrect answers, and more. If we are to test our students with screen after screen of completely filled, multiple columns of text, we should have at minimum, easy to use tools to apply these strategies.”

From an Administrator:

“I recently took the 3rd grade sample test for SBAC. I was truly horrified and felt panic-stricken for the children who may potentially interact with this type of assessment. While the content rigor was greatly increased, my biggest concern was all of the varied technology responses that a 3rd grade student would have to have mastered to be able to present the correct answer. I highly suspect that students will know answers but will get them incorrect because they don’t know how to manipulate the varying technology skills required to show the correct answer. As a highly proficient adult, I had difficulty manipulating the technology required to plot points on a graph and when I returned to the directions for guidance, the directions fell short of what I needed to know. If my prediction is correct, we will not only have poor-looking data, but will also have false data.” (Emphasis added)

***

My letter to the Board is to encourage responsible, ethical, and legal communications about the assessment data that will apparently soon be disseminated to the public. Students’ beliefs about themselves as learners will be caught up in the tangle of any explanations surrounding the assessments, and as we know, decades of research demonstrate the power of student belief to be a factor impacting subsequent effort and persistence in learning.

To be transparent to the public regarding the current status of the assessments, the Board is encouraged to consider full disclosure regarding the lack of validity of the assessments as well as the numerous complaints that have been documented regarding the problematic administrations of the tests. While this may be difficult from a public relations standpoint, to misrepresent the scores as valid or accurate would likely lead to more serious problems. If the State does plan to base policy decisions on test scores provided by the SmarterBalanced Assessment Consortium (including this year’s full field administrations as any form of “baseline” for future comparisons), again, please consider the full range of legal and ethical implications.” 

[End of letter segment]

___________________________________________________________________________

[September 2015 Update]

To hear the State Board of Education discussion on the SmarterBalanced Assessments, including further questions that remain unanswered by the Executive Director of the SBAC at the September 2nd, 2015 California State Board of Education meeting, please click on the video below and view from ~1:45:00.  

Screenshot 2015-09-03 21.18.13

Please also see an Open Letter to the State Board of Education on the SBAC Test  including written comments made publicly by Dr. Doug McRae, a retired test and measurement specialist who has been communicating concern about the lack of validity of the SBAC Assessments directly to the State Board of Education over the past 5 years. His September 2nd, 2015 public comment may be viewed on the video linked to the image below from 02:50:55 – 02:52:52. The Open Letter has also been translated to Spanish and is accessible here: Carta abierta a la Junta de Educación del Estado de California respecto a la publicación de calificaciones [Falsas] #SBAC.  

An interview with Washington State Superintendent Candidate Erin Jones

 

erin jonesErin Jones is running for Washington State Superintendent to be in charge of the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI). According to the OSPI webpage, it is “the primary agency charged with overseeing K-12 public education in Washington state”.

Presently, Ms. Jones is School Director for Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) in Tacoma. Erin Jones is NOT a public school district director as is implied by her in all of the information she provides to the public. AVID is a product sold to school districts that promises students will be able to achieve through self-discipline and focusing on the Common Core Standards. The work is done with hired tutors.

According to her LinkedIn profile, Erin Jones was a volunteer in a public school in North Philadelphia, a substitute in South Bend, IN, a private school teacher, an ELL instructor, a classroom teacher in English and French Immersion in Tacoma, an instructional coach and AVID tutor in Spokane, an assistant State Superintendent (working for the current superintendent, Randy Dorn), and now a school district director for AVID in Tacoma.

Ms. Jones received the (Michael) Millken Educator of the Year Award as an educator while teaching at a high school in Spokane, WA. Today, Milken is a leading figure in the education reform movement and is one of the founders of the nation’s largest cyber charter chain, K12.

For more on K12, which is in our state now under the Alternative Learning Experience (ALE) umbrella, see:

From Junk Bonds to Junk Schools: Cyber Schools Fleece Taxpayers for Phantom Students and Failing Grades

Cashing in on Kids: K12

Diane Ravitch: What is Legal Fraud?

Two years ago, Ms. Jones testified in favor of Rainier Prep charter school in front of the Charter School Commission and now says she regrets that action. Rainier Prep charter school is enrolling students for next year.

Ms. Jones largest donors so far include Teach for America, Inc. (TFA), the League of Education Voters and Stand for Children but at the time of the interview Ms. Jones said she was not aware of who her donors were.

Editor’s Note: The up-to-date list of donors can be found in the post OSPI State Superintendent Candidate Erin Jones’ list of donors: A who’s who of corporate ed reformers thanks to Stand for Children lobbyist Jim Kainber.

Ms. Jones attended the ultra-conservative Roanoke Conference but said during the interview she knew nothing about the conference until she arrived and found out who was attending. Ms. Jones said she went to hear the panel on education. The panel on education was titled “What strategies can work to save charter schools” featuring Chad Magendanz, Lisa MacFarlane with Democrats for Education Reform (DFER), the Chairman of Summit charter schools and Beth Sigall with the Eastside Education Network.

Jones received an endorsement from Jami Lund with the anti-union Freedom Foundation who wants to see teachers’ salaries decided by the state and, coincidentally (?) Erin Jones agrees with him.

Erin Jones states she’s against the amount of standardized testing and teaching to the test and yet sees no problem with the Common Core Standards.

Ms. Jones stated in the interview that Teach for America, Inc. (TFA) could be a credible substitute for districts that may have a teacher shortage and are better than substitute teachers although substitute teachers are required to be certified, but TFA, Inc. recruits have only five weeks of rudimentary training and a college degree in any subject. TFA, Inc. recruits are not certified.

Ms. Jones sat on the Parent’s Union’s board, but did not know who the funders were. The Parents Union was originally formed in Los Angeles by Steve Barr, founder of the Greendot charter school chain to promote charter schools and bust the teachers union.

Most recently she said that “teaching transgenderism” in school was not appropriate and that such instruction could cause students to “feel additional pressure to ‘choose an orientation’”, as if it were a choice, or as she later states, choosing a “lifestyle”.

Since then she has also tried to walk that statement back but it looks like the die has been cast. You can only fool some of the people some of the time.

Erin Jones is very adept at telling people what they want to hear.

With so much at stake and the pressure of Gates’ money that has been granted to the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction and Gates’ $2M grant to the Mary Walker School District to explore the option of expanding charter schools in our state, we need to be thoughtful about who we want to run our schools statewide.

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Post Script:

From a reader’s comment:

According to the PDC, Jones has received a $1,000 contribution from a David Yunger. The PDC lists Yunger as an entrepreneur, but a LinkedIn search reveals that he is a VP for Pearson.

http://web.pdc.wa.gov/MvcQuerySystem/CandidateData/contributions?param=Sk9ORUUgIDEwOQ====&year=2016&type=statewide

https://www.linkedin.com/in/davidyunger

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To follow are excerpts from the interview I had with Ms. Jones on Saturday, February 27, 2016. A transcript of the entire interview can be found here.

Carolyn Leith, my co-editor, and I spent an hour with Erin Jones, asking her questions on the following topics.

Teach for America, Inc.

Dora: The first (question) is about Teach for America. They’re your biggest contributor, your largest donor so far in your PDC file. Tell me what your thoughts are about Teach for America.

Erin: So, first of all, I didn’t even know who the donor was when he donated.  So he donated I think, I think it’s Sean, who donated?

…And he wasn’t somebody that I asked for a donation from. He donated as soon as my website went up. I used to know the original director of Teach for America, Lindsey Hill. So I knew her, or I know Lindsey and I have a student that was a Teach for America student, who now actually teaches, I just hired him this year in Tacoma. I’ve done some training for them. I don’t want them to take over.

Dora: As State Superintendent how would you feel about them (TFA recruits) teaching in public schools?

Erin: So, how would I feel about them teaching? I think that we, for right now, need to figure out some ways, whether it is Teach for America…I would prefer that we in district, figure out ways to recruit, whether it’s from Para-educators, whether it’s from our substitute teachers, we’re gonna have to address our teacher shortage somehow.

Dora: You believe there is really a teacher shortage?

Erin: I know in Tacoma there’s a teacher shortage, we still have five buildings right now that I know of, and I don’t know all of the buildings in Tacoma, because I just work in middle and high school, but we still have five buildings that have had subs. This year. All year. So there’s definitely a shortage of teachers. And sixty percent of our teachers are retirement age in Tacoma. So it’s gonna be an issue that we have to address.

Dora: Okay. Well, Teach for America (recruits are) trained basically to teach in charter schools, are you aware of that?

Erin: Well, they’re not though. They’re trained here…and I understand other places in the country…but I have worked with their training model, because one of my students that I’ve taught as a middle school kid who went to Whitworth, became Teach for America, and so they actually had me come in and teach Cultural Competence to them. And it wasn’t to teach in charter schools, they were to teach in, they were teaching in Federal Way, they were teaching in Seattle at the time.

Dora: Well, you understand that they have about five weeks of training before they go into basically high needs schools.

Erin: Yes.

Dora: You think that’s okay?

Erin: No, I don’t think that’s the best thing at all…I think people need to have years of training and being in buildings. I guess what I’m saying though, right now, in Tacoma I’m saying that subs who’ve had zero training who are teaching outside of their field, and going in for two and three weeks without any lesson plans… That also is not a good solution. So, my preference would be that we… So right now what we’re doing in Tacoma is that we’re actually training our subs over the summer. So, I led training this summer for substitute teachers…so that at least we’re sending people in, with more training than they’re getting. Most districts don’t have any training for subs, which I think is criminal.

About the League of Education Voters (LEV) and charter schools

Dora: The third person on your list of donors, another one of your larger donors, is Kelly Munn with the League of Education Voters. They also feature you on their blog occasionally. So, what are your thoughts on that organization?

Erin: So, I have done a lot of work…when I first went to OSPI after my last year in the classroom, I ran their Center for the Improvement of Student Learning … it used to be the family and community engagement arm of OSPI, but it was defunded. From that I met Kelly Munn for children and family engagement work. And so, I did a lot of speaking for them (LEV), especially with immigrant families, and particularly talking about the transition from middle school to high school, because that’s my expertise area. I taught middle school and I moved to high school, and at the time I had three kids that were middle school transitioning. So, that is my connection to them. I think they do really great work around community engagement, with a population that is not served well by PTA. Now, at the time that I was doing work with them at OSPI, charter schools was not part of their big push.

Dora: It has been for a long time.

Erin: Right, but… the part of the work that I did, had nothing to do with charter schools. It was all around transition, it was all around, how do we engage families who don’t speak English, or don’t feel like they connect with school. And so, Kelly Munn is, it’s ironic because she had an event, maybe about eight months ago, and one of the things she said is, “you know I love Erin.” “She doesn’t support our charter school work.” And it was funny, because she started out…the introduction of me, with the group by saying, “Erin and I don’t see eye to eye on everything, she doesn’t support charter schools, and yet I still think she wants what’s best for kids and teachers.” And that’s why I support Kelly. Now, I’ve been pretty vocal about being anti charter schools, so I have an email from her that I could show you, that she is pretty upset with me right now. Which I’m fine with. She knew from the beginning, I don’t support charter schools. And, she was clear about that in the very beginning.

About testifying for Rainier Prep charter school in 2014

Dora: Well, you were in front of the Charter School Commission in 2014.

Erin: Mmm. In front of their leadership team…

Dora: …where you spoke in support of Rainier Prep charter school.

Erin: Yes, in support of Maggie, yes…

Dora: No, you said you were in support of Rainier Prep.

Erin: Yes, who’s Maggie. Maggie is one of my principals.

Dora: Well okay, but it was a charter school, you were in front of the Charter School Commission.

Erin: Yes…

Dora: So, you’re against charter schools but…

Erin: And that’s probably the most unfortunate presentation. To be really honest with you. Maggie and I have talked about that, many times. She is one of probably the best principals that I worked with in Federal Way. Do you know Maggie O’Sullivan?

She hired me. Yeah, she was my principal at Wildwood Elementary too. One of my favorite principals. And I should not have done that. Because I realized, and at the time I wasn’t thinking about this work, and so it was just really supporting her and I feel really badly about that. I’ve told her, I love her as a principal, and I think she is going to do great work. The movement itself I don’t support. And it’s really unfortunate, that was a mistake for me. Politically that was a mistake that I made and it is really unfortunate and she and I have had many conversations since then, about that, and I felt like I was going to support a great friend, who took an entire year off, didn’t take a salary, to plan a school. And what I told her is I wish every principal had the opportunity to take a year, to plan a school, and, not have regulations…

Dora: It (Rainier Prep) could have been under the ALE umbrella.

Erin: It could have. No and I agree with that now. I realize that, I realized that afterwards. I talked to, also to the superintendent, why am I blanking of Highline, oh my gosh, Susan?

Dora: Susan Enfield

Erin: Yes, Susan Enfield. So Susan and I have talked about that over time too… probably the board could have taken that school…she loved Maggie, and the board probably should have taken that school and made it part of, and made it an alternative learning environment, and so Susan and I have had long words about that too because now it’s really tarnished Maggie’s reputation and even Highline, it’s put them in a complicated position.

About the donations given by Stand for Children, Don Nielson and Greendot charter schools

Dora: Okay, now you’ve got other supporters, you’ve got  Stand for Children, Green Dot, Don Nielsen…

Erin: They are people…

Dora: Yes.. I understand they are people…

Erin: But I have 400 some odd thousand contributors.

Dora: But the thing is that these people expect a return on their investment.

Erin: If, okay, if I’m gonna make $300,000, their little $200 or $300 or $1500, is not gonna buy…I didn’t ask for the money. People gave me money.

Dora: Well, would you give it back to them? Would you say, “You know what, I really don’t want to be, at all related to your group at this point. I think it would be better, if you just took the money back.”

Erin: So I guess, I guess what I would say is if I lived my life…I know what I stand for and I’ve been pretty clear verbally and in public about what I stand for, and there’s nobody that can buy me.  It’s just, there’s nobody that can buy who I’m gonna be and what I’m gonna stand for.

The Roanoke Conference

Dora: What about the Roanoke Conference? Did you attend that?

Erin: I did, yeah. So, and my whole purpose of attending is this is a non-partisan position. I need to hear from both sides. And actually I’ll be really honest, I was mortified by what I heard. So their whole conversation around education, I just went for one hour to hear their education panel. Because actually the organizer of Roanoke …was my former pastor’s son, out in Spokane. And he invited me to speak on the panel, and I said, “Well, you know, I’m not a Republican, and I don’t support charter schools.” So suddenly I wasn’t on the panel anymore. And I said well, I’d be interested in hearing though, what they had to say because, I was just curious…I was more mortified by what they had to say than I was before I arrived. And one of the pieces that I think people need to know, Chad Magendanz is really open about, “I’m going for vouchers.” And I’m glad I was sitting there, because, people could say, “oh, vouchers aren’t coming up.” But to hear him physically say it in front of a whole audience of people was, um, pretty profound and disturbing. So I did go.

So I used to train with the students and Teri Hickel was the director of that program in Federal Way. And she happened to be there, and so she invited me to sit with her, and I did. And I’ve been mentoring her student(s) through Federal Way for the last four years.

About the Common Core Standards

Dora: There was, on the Teachers United site…a couple of quotes that they attributed to you. One was on the Common Core Standards. You said, “As a teacher, I don’t think that Common Core necessarily will help or hurt us,” Jones said in an interview. “The content is fine, but really it’s all about the teaching. People are really panicking about Common Core. While I don’t think that Common Core is the right thing to panic about, it’s become a distraction.”

Erin: And I still believe that. I think that the test is a problem. So I think for me right now what I worry about, because I’m with teachers all the time, I’m worried about changing the standards yet again, in four years. I would prefer to have different standards right now, but I feel like right now the test is the thing that we’ve really got to worry about, and the test and the standards are two very different things in my mind. Standards are just a road map. They’re not curriculum, they’re not content, it’s the roadmap for, here are the different elements that you, that need to be covered in a year. At some point. The test is I think what’s putting undue pressure on teachers, and on students…When I’m called in to talk to third graders who are crying because they’re stressed out about a test…if we could take away the high stakes of testing, so that people don’t feel like we’re on this crazy path to “I’m gonna be evaluated by this”, and yeah, evaluation also shouldn’t be associated with testing, but I think the test is really for me, the biggest, the bigger problem than the standards. We need to have standards, at some level. Are Common Core the best? I don’t think they’re the best, but I think right now, where our focus needs to be is paring back the test, and making sure that it’s a usable tool for classroom teachers, and it gives them information to help them inform their practice.

Dora: Well the SBAC can’t be modified. It’s trademarked. It’s registered.

Erin: Well we don’t have to use it then. We don’t have to use it, then.

Dora: It’s kind of a gray area, right now.

About Gates money and OSPI

Dora: How do you feel about Randy Dorn and OSPI accepting money from Bill Gates?

Erin: So I think, Gates money is everywhere. And so I feel really conflicted about that. I think there are things Gates does that are good, and I think there are things Gates does that are bad. I don’t think it’s all around, Bill Gates is evil, but I think what’s dangerous about Gates is this assumption that because I’m rich, I know everything about education. He’s not an educator. I think, he does live in Washington State, so this notion that he could give money to the state is…but when it becomes such large sums that it now drives what’s happening, politically, that’s a problem.

Dora: If you ever can get ahold of one of their grant summaries, like we did for the Mary Walker School District, there are a lot of strings attached. He (Bill Gates) doesn’t just give money. He wants, what he expects is very clear, very clearly defined.

Erin: And I’m not sure, what did he recently give money for, besides Mary Walker?

Dora: He’s been giving millions to OSPI (over) the last several years.

Erin: I mean, I think that’s problematic, when there’s, there’s a person who’s giving millions, I think there’s an assumption then that there’s something he wants.

On McCleary and the funding of education

Dora: Another quote attributed to you on their (Teachers United) website about McCleary… “It’s important that we fund education at a higher level. Washington being 40th in the nation is to me criminal. But money is not our biggest issue. It’s how we spend the money we have and how we will support our teachers.”

So, do we have adequate funding here (in Washington State)?

Erin: No. We don’t. No. But what I guess what I’m saying though is untiI…I don’t think the legislature’s gonna move, to be really transparent, until, we actually value teachers, and that’s the, culturally, as an  American culture, that’s where I think our biggest problem is. I think we have a bunch of legislators, who think this is not an issue they need to deal with. Because they don’t see teachers as being really all that important. And that’s what I think we need to get to, is how do we value teachers and see them as the most important adults in the life of our children? And when we can see that… So, do we need funding? Heck yeah. But I don’t see the legislature really feeling any crisis or urgency until they actually see our profession as one that’s the greatest profession on the planet. And that’s really what I was trying to say with that.

About standardized testing

Carolyn: How could you restructure testing to help people gain some time during the day for less coverage the (class) material. So, instead of covering five chapters, we would be back to the normal two. …So those are things that you would be in control of.

Erin: Well, not exactly. The legislature’s more in control of that.

Carolyn: With the ESSA, roughly, you’re supposedly going to have more control if you’re the head of the OSPI.

Erin: Hopefully they will not have made those decisions until I get there. You know what I’m saying, because a lot of those decisions are being made right now, by the current state superintendent. And what I’m hoping is that they will all not be made. Every day there are new changes being made by OSPI. And so it remains to be seen what will be left open. But I guess my opinion as a classroom teacher, is, we’ve gotta pare back on the testing… In Tacoma took us 4-6 weeks on average to test kids. And so, for example, kids would take a test for two hours in the morning. Well, guess what, kids aren’t doing any work after that. So if I’m a second grader and I’ve been sittin’ at a computer for two hours, you are not getting any more learning outta me. So we’ve now lost that entire day. And so one of the things that I, I wanna talk about, is how do we pare that back.. My preference would be two days of testing a year. That would be my dream, my dream length: a pre-test in the fall, and a post test in the spring. And something that’s usable by teachers. I think what pains me right now, being at a district level, is the tests don’t even come back until kids are gone. And so what is the point? Right? So we’ve just spent 4-6 weeks testing, and you don’t even get that data back until after kids have gone home for the year. So what’s the point? …We’ve gotta have that honest conversation. What’s the point? What is the test for then? ‘Cause it’s not helping me as a teacher with the kids I have right now. And if I’m just getting those kids, what does that test even mean for me? As I get them for the next year. That is problematic.

About recess

Carolyn: So my ten year old has a question…She wants to know, what you’re going to do for recess.

Erin: Oh, yay. I love that question.

Carolyn: For actually kids getting recess… when it comes to recess, it doesn’t happen. So how are we going to do that for every kid?…So, in the state, so they all get recess, and we document it, and it if there’s a problem, we come to you, and what do you do?

Erin: So I think there are a couple things that I think about recess. Number one, I think it’s problematic how we’re instructing right now. So, we’re asking kids from early on to high school to sit for five to six hours a day. Which, just development…even for adults, it’s just, that’s criminal. We can’t, we as adults, know how to play that game. So we can play the game, but even if we’re asked to sit for four or five hours or two hours, we’re not listening, we’re checked out, right? And so, one of the things, I didn’t need to read research about this, I just needed to have my own children, is every ten to fifteen minutes, we need as teachers, to be getting kids up and moving. So I think that’s part of the problem, that we’re asking kids to sit all day. And so, you know what, they’re squirrelly now, right? If we are, we’re just squirrelly inside. We know how to hold it down really well. So I think part of the problem is that we are not moving kids around, enough. And so I learned that, as a French immersion teacher, my kids were dancing…I knew. Like every twelve minutes a bell would go off and if I hadn’t moved my kids, I was moving my students, and we were doing something physical. So I think that’s problem one. We need to talk about the importance of physical movement, and not keeping kids, sitting in a chair, for five hours. That’s just crazy-making. Problem two: they’ve gotta get outside. I mean it’s just, it has to happen. And really the younger the kids, probably the more times in a day they need to get outside. And so that needs to built into every system. And that’s something again, I don’t get to make those laws, but as the bully pulpit, this is stuff that’s important to me, because I watched my own kids. I have a son who’s ADD, he’s not ADHD. But he needed that, like just get up and move. He’s also dysgraphic. He can’t physically write. So imagine what it’s like for a kid like that, who can’t physically write, is now frustrated, ‘cause I have to sit here for six hours. I can’t do this well, and now you’ve got me stuck. And guess what, I’m staring out the window, ‘cause now I’m not engaged. And so I learned from my own kids, we need to be up and moving, and we need to create spaces for every kid to feel successful. And that’s what I want to talk about, as the state superintendent.

Carolyn: What would you say about withholding recess as a punishment?

Erin: Oh, it’s ridiculous. That is, that’s criminal. Because the very kids that we tend to withhold it from, are the very ones who need to move. And I believe the kids who get in trouble, right, are the kids who don’t do well sitting still. I, we’re over diagnosing ADHD, and ADD. And part of it is because we’re asking kids to sit still for so long. We wonder why they get fidgety. Well maybe that’s your sign that they need to be moving. But again as administrators, we need to give our teachers permission, and encourage them, get kids up and moving. This is how our brains learn.

Carolyn: I think there’s a problem though that teachers feel like they have so much pressure…to do all the curriculum, that they’re stuck in the middle… and they’re behind, and to do more work so the kids are sitting for an hour…and they’re second graders. And then they act up…and then they miss recess…

Erin: Exactly. And that’s criminal. And now you’re compounding the problem. I think the other reality is…um, we just know this as adults too… So, we’ve got all this curriculum to get through, right? That we have five pages we’re supposed to get through today. I’m just gonna push through. Have the kids learned any of that? No. ‘Cause they’ve just sat still, and they are taxed out. So maybe you got to page five, but nobody learned page five. Actually people stopped learning after about page three. And so really having those honest conversations about what, how does, how do we learn, as human beings, both as children and as adults?

Carolyn: How would you solve that problem though, ‘cause we are confined by the amount of money we have for teachers, by the length of the school day…So part of the problem I think with recess is people feel this pressure to cover the material, and we only pay for so much time, and so recess is lost…or eroded. Lunch is lost or eroded… So I think from the upper level, things need to be changed.

Erin: Right, and I think at the top, as the state leader, I need to model, and talk with…so I’m not in charge of building administrators, but you know what, the leader at the top models what superintendents do, and then that trickles down. And guess what? This is not a conversation that Randy Dorn is having. He’s not talking about this stuff. I think this is stuff that needs to be talked about. I think we need to have professors come and talk about the actual brain chemistry that happens when kids…I mean we’ve got all of it, right here at UW, we have folks who could talk with us about the fact that just covering material is not, it’s not doing us any good. It’s killing our kids, and we’re frustrated as teachers. ‘Cause we, we know our kids aren’t learning.

Submitted by Dora Taylor

Post Script:

We will be interviewing all of the candidates for State Superintendent.

Next up is Larry Seaquist.

 

 

 

 

Common Core Standards: It’s all about the money

A popular “single” from the 70’s, “For the love of money”. Play it while reading this post or even sing along!

From Truth in American Education:

Textbook Publishers Being “In It For The Money” Isn’t a Real Surprise

James O’Keefe, a conservative activist who runs an organization called Project Veritas, is well known for undercover video work he has done in the past. He has turned his attention to the Common Core State Standards.  The subject of his first video is Dianne Barrow who is a former accounts manager for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

“I’m in it to sell books. Don’t even kid yourself for a heartbeat,” Barrow told an undercover representative of Project Veritas.

“It’s all about the money. What are you, crazy? It’s all about the money,” Barrow added. “You don’t think that the educational publishing companies are in it for education, do you? No, they’re in it for the money.”

She also admitted that she hates kids.

Let’s take a step back. How long was Barrow with the HMH? The Daily Mail reports that their CEO said less than a year.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s CEO, Linda Zecher, told DailyMail.com on Tuesday morning that her company ‘is as appalled by these comments as we expect readers will be.’

‘These statements in no way reflect the views of HMH and the commitment of our over 4,000 employees who dedicate their lives to serving teachers and students every day.’

‘The individual who made these comments is a former employee who was with HMH for less than a year,’ she added, referring to Barrow’s firing on Tuesday.

It is highly unlikely that she had any insider knowledge of the company and there isn’t evidence that this is a belief that is held company-wide. Barrow also had nothing to do with the creation, adoption and implementation of the standards.

What was revealed is that textbook publishers, in particular account managers, do what they do for money. Does this really surprise anyone? It shouldn’t they are, after all, a for-profit business. Will this knowledge advance our cause? Not really. It sounds bad (because it is bad), but regardless of what the standards are textbook and curriculum publishers are in the business of making money.

Here’s the video below:

 

Some things never change.

Dora Taylor