All posts by Oak Norton

The Federal Strings We’ve Signed Onto

Wendy HartThis timeline of events was prepared by Alpine school district board member Wendy Hart. Thank you Wendy for your above-and-beyond the call of duty efforts.


On May 1, 2009, the SBOE was told about the Common Core standards development. The group, headed by Achieve, Inc, the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), wanted the State Board to sign an MOU by the following Monday (May 4, 2009) to participate in the development of the standards. Originally, the Board was asked to vote to approve the MOU, but, upon finding that there was no action item on the agenda for this topic, they were asked to give ‘general direction’. So, the CCSS MOU between Utah, NGA, and CCSSO was agreed to without any formal action by the SBOE. It was signed by Governor Huntsman and State Superintendent Patti Harrington.

The CCSS MOU [, p.88] was important for several reasons. Utah agreed to the following:

  1. Common Standards development, and then adoptions: ‘…a process that will…lead to the development and adoption of a common core of state standards.’
  2. Assessments (tests) that are aligned across the states, ie. Common state tests. ‘The second phase…will be the development of common assessments aligned to the core standards developed through this process….assessments that are aligned to the common core across the states.’
  3. Textbooks and curricula alignment. ‘Align textbooks, digital media, and curricula to the…standards.’
  4. Adoption of the standards within three years. ‘Adoption…Each state adopting the common core…may do so in accordance with current state timelines…not to exceed three (3) years.’
  5. Eighty-five (85) percent of the English and Math standards MUST be the CC standards. States ‘may choose to include additional state standards beyond the common core. States…agree to ensure that the common core represents at least 85 percent of the state’s standards in English language arts and mathematics.’
  6. Increased federal role in education. ‘the federal government can provide key financial support…in developing a common core of state standards and …common assessments, such as through the Race to the Top Fund,….teacher and principal professional development…and a research agenda.’

The MOU also gave states a greater chance at qualifying for the Race to the Top program, funded by the 2009 stimulus, that would allow states to compete for $4.35 Billion. In order to compete, a state got more points if it had common standards (Common to a significant number of states), and the only thing that met that criteria was this Common Core project.

Race to the Top (RTTT) [] ties everything together with its 4 assurances:

  1. Common Standards and Assessments, aka Common Core and either the SBAC or PARCC testing consortia (the only 2 available at the time)
  2. Statewide Longitudinal Database System
  3. Improving teacher effectiveness: creating a statewide teacher evaluation system that ties student scores to teacher evaluations
  4. Identifying and Improving Low-performing schools, possibly removing them from locally-elected school boards

Utah applied for RTTT Phase 1 funds and was rejected. The SBOE decided to apply again for Phase 2 RTTT funds. In May, 2010, the State Board Chair, Debra Roberts signed the MOU to join the Federally-funded SBAC testing consortium. This was also done without any sort of Board approval. In fact, she informed the board that she had signed the ‘application’ for membership. The SBAC MOU requires the board to adopt the CCSS by December 31, 2011, and the SBAC testing by the 2014-15 school year. (, p.286)

It was also in the May meeting that the Board was told about the Statewide Longitudinal database (SLDS), funded with a $9.6 M federal grant. The SLDS grant requires tracking of individual student and teacher information, making it interoperable with other state agencies and other states. No discussion of privacy or informed parental consent is mentioned. (

On June 2, 2010, the official CC standards were released. On June 4, 2010, the Board was asked to adopt the CC standards ‘on first reading’ and to ‘accept the whole thing as it is.’ Supt. Shumway explains why the Board is adopting on first reading: ‘The reason for that is various, sort of, strategic reasons as we may find ourselves in an interview relative to our Race to the Top application.’ The board votes, unanimously, to accept the whole CCSS, 2 days after it is released and on first reading in order to be strategic in its RTTT application. In August, the board votes again, on third reading, to adopt CCSS.

In short, the SBOE had no formal votes on two MOU’s that obligated the state to more than just standards.

Side note: The same 4 ‘assurances’ in the RTTT were required in the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund (SFSF) that Governor Huntsman and Supt. Harrington signed for in April, 2009. In order to be eligible for RTTT, the state had to have had both Phase 1 and Phase 2 SFSF applications approved by the US Dept of Ed (USDOE).

So far, the requirements of the USDOE were done from an incentive perspective: we’ll give you the possibility of more money in exchange for your compliance with our demands. With the advent of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Waiver, the compliance was tied to punishments—lack of control over funding, and a potential loss of funding, for poor schools. Since the states had already put the 4 reforms into place, there was no reason to not sign onto the Waiver. The Waiver got rid of the insane requirement that every student in the state would be proficient in English and Math or the school would face sanctions of their Title 1 monies. With such a draconian requirement and funding punishments in place, who wouldn’t want out? And if all that you needed was to agree to continue doing what you were already doing, it sounded great. So, in 2012, the SBOE applied for and received a Waiver from NCLB. (The Waiver, arguably, was not valid under NCLB.) The initial waiver was for 2 years. Subsequent waivers have only been offered for a single year. This allows the USDOE to include whatever additional requirements they want, knowing that no state with a Waiver will want to get out of it, even as the requirements become more controlling.

It’s really a brilliant strategy.

  1. Offer money and other incentives for the 4 reforms
  2. Get SBOE’s across the nation to adopt your reforms for the ‘bribes’ that you offer in a voluntary manner. That way there is plausible deniability that the Feds coerced the states. “Come, little state, do you want some candy?”
  3. Once the 4 reforms are in place, offer to mitigate bad law with an agreement to continue those 4 reforms.
  4. Once the mitigation is in place, then draconian punishments are now associated with withdrawal from any of the 4 reforms.
  5. Once so many states are on board with the 4 reforms, the free market is, naturally, reduced to only catering to this national education model, originally incentivized by the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund in 2009.


April, 2009: State Fiscal Stabilization Fund application, signed Governor and State Superintendent

May, 2009: CCSS MOU signed by Governor and State Superintendent. No formal Board Vote.

May, 2010: State Board Chair Signs SBAC (testing consortia) MOU. No formal Board Vote. Also, signed by the Governor and the State Superintendent.

June 2, 2010: CCSS standards are released

June 4, 2010: State Board votes to accept the standards, in whole on first reading, in preparation for an interview about the RTTT application with the US Dept of Ed. RTTT, Phase 2 application reported to the SBOE as having been submitted.

August 6, 2010: State Board votes again to accept the CC standards, in whole.

June, 2012: First Waiver from NCLB granted to Utah


Quotes from SBOE meetings:

May 1, 2009:

Dr. Brenda Hales: “They would like to have us to sign a memo of agreement by Monday if we’re going to do it.”

Dr. Hales: ” Another con is although states are going to have lots of impact, in fact they’re going to have the opportunity to review the standards, they are not going to allow the states to have, to take a team to be a part of this.”

Dr. Hales: ”and the reason they’re doing it is because the other pro to this, the money that’s coming out for Race to the Top, the RF funds that are half billion, not million, half billion dollar grants are at least partially dependent upon the states having standards that can be looked at in terms of international benchmarks.”

Dr. Hales: “They want the Race to the Top grant to be individual states, but part of the criteria for showing that you are part of the group that is worthy of Race to the Top grant, can’t think of any other word, is that you’ve worked with other states on different issues so, in other words, you don’t put in a grant, it’s an odd mix of highly cooperative and highly competitive funding because what they’re talking about is you have to be cooperative with each other to qualify and then you compete as an individual state for the money and a half a billion is no small chuck of change.”

Janet Cannon: I was ready to make a motion and the thought just ran through my mind, you know, we do have the option of opting out but we are also putting ourselves in a position where we can apply for, have a better opportunity to apply for funds and grants and so forth. So my motion is- Oh.

[Unknown]: I have a problem [inaudible.] This is an information item.

Janet Cannon: Oh, I have listed as an action item, national common standards under tab number seven.

[Unknown]: My agenda says information

Debra Roberts: Oh, the agenda does say-information, but the yellow sheet says anticipated action.

Laurel Brown: Yeah, but the anticipated action is that we’ll discuss the materials.

Janet Cannon: Oh, ok. I was just looking up at the top that says action.

Brenda Hales: You can give me general direction.

Debra Roberts: Okay. Is the Board comfortable with giving Brenda some general direction to move forward on the national common standards and signing a MOU?

Laurel Brown: I’m comfortable with that.

David Thomas: I’m a dissenting vote.

June 4, 2010:

Laurel (Committee report) 7:00: Recommending that the board adopt the common core of states standards as a framework on first reading and we have time for the board members to go in and study this material and then we have second and third reading in August. The momentum in terms of this, although we can do it at any point in time, it is something we probably want to move ahead on more quickly rather than later. Acceptance of the Common Core standards does have some bearing in terms of the points that we receive for our second application for the funding from the federal government. So that would need to happen quite quickly. There is some angst among some people in terms of having to accept a common core standard, and so some of you may still be at that level. Many of us have already gone through that and feel ready to move ahead. We need to bear in mind that if Utah accepts the Common Core standards as iterated by that committee and it has been vetted through multiple people and agencies….if we do it, we accept the whole thing as it is. We don’t nit-pick and wordsmith this, it’s accept it. Then at that point, in terms of using it as a framework, we can plug in the details…map out the curriculum in terms of what’s actually going to happen in the classroom…. we can add to it, we just can’t take away any of that curriculum.

19:45: Brenda Hales: We know you haven’t had time to look, so if the board adopts on first reading, then it gives you time the next month and a half to review it for second and third in August.

(Debra Roberts?) Laurel, our expectation then is to have the board vote on first reading. Does everyone understand that? So, even though the committee approved it on first reading, it’s coming to you for first reading and then we’ll do second and third reading in August.

20:00: Shumway: The reason for that is various, sort of strategic reasons as we may find ourselves in an interview relative to our Race to the Top application.

All those in favor, say “Aye”.. “Aye” Any opposed? Thank you.

Help Stop NGSS in its Tracks

Utah’s state board was misled in April by the state superintendent. He sent them an email either knowingly or unwittingly, telling state board members the new science standards were Utah created. Here is his email.

TO: Members, Utah State Board of Education
FROM: Brad C. Smith
Chief Executive Officer
DATE: April 9-10, 2015
ACTION: Release Grades 6-8 Science Standards Draft for 90-Day Public Review
The Utah State Office of Education in collaboration with the Utah science education community (composed of Utah science teachers, Utah district science curriculum specialists, and Utah higher education representatives) has created a revised draft of the Utah Core Science Standards for grades 6-8. The revision is based on addressing concerns about the format of current science standards in multiple documents and presenting a single vision for college and career readiness in science education. The draft responds to feedback from multiple stakeholder groups including parents, teachers, district administrators, university personnel, and the State Board Standards and Assessment committee.

Superintendent Smith has thus far refused to answer several questions I have asked him concerning this email either verbally or in writing. We’ve known they were not Utah created for over a year now and that they were word for word exactly what the NGSS. There was no “draft” with feedback from multiple stakeholders, parents, teachers, admin, etc…In fact, last fall there was a training in these standards held at Weber State for teachers to get fully on board with them even though they had not been adopted or put through any type of public review process. It’s a total sham.

As a result of this email from the Superintendent, and no doubt plenty of testimony from USOE (which very well could have deceived the superintendent into sending out such a false email above), the state board released these NGSS standards into the public for a 90-day review period.

That review period pointed out dozens of serious issues with the standards on a wide range of topics. You can watch the Provo meeting here for an idea of concerns people raised.

As a result of these concerns, the state board asked that the concerns be addressed. The USOE got right to work and has now released the new draft of the standards for a 30-day period of review. The public needs to comment on these standards, but most importantly, contact your state board member and ask him/her not to vote these standards in. There is a very small subset of publishers that have materials ready for NGSS. Teachers are not trained in this method of teaching. Several teachers spoke out about this in that Provo meeting linked to above. This is a disaster waiting to happen. And to top things off, the USOE’s rewrite of NGSS is exactly that, simply a minor rewrite of the same standards.

Link to comment on standards (must comment immediately. I think the deadline is November 9th):

Link to find your board member and contact him/her:

Contact info for your board member:

Vince Newmeyer, a member of the science standards parent review committee has typed up this review of the standards. Please read it.

Review of the USOE October Proposed “Utah SEEd” Standards

revised 26 October 2015

USOE Admits that they Seek to adopt the National Next Generation Science Standards1

The Utah State Office of Education has come out with another draft of the proposed science standards on the 9th of October for a SHORT 30 DAY review. Your response is urgently needed!

Executive Summary:

The October draft of the “Utah SEEd” standards remain in character and precept simply the national Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), which is the complement2 to the national Common Core State Standards (CCSS) which Utah adopted and which invited so much protest. The only NGSS performance standards that have been dropped from the October draft had to do with perfectly acceptable standards related to kinetic energy and a standard on sensory organs and the brain. Only two standards were added from Utah’s existing Science Standards. Essentially all of the reasons3 4 for rejecting the national NGSS standards from the April revision (then feigned as “primarily Utah” derived SEEd standards5) remain with the October version of the “Utah SEEd” NGSS standards. Though there are minor changes, a mostly NGSS Utah State standard will almost certainly produce a curriculum of essentially all of NGSS as teachers and districts seek NGSS compatible material for textbooks and lesson plans, etc. Any standards founded on NGSS should be rejected so that Utah can develop true Utah standards in character and values. Please respond to the online survey ( but also Call and Email the Board members as well as Ricky Scott, the State Science Specialist, and Brad Smith the State Superintendent Now!

The Background:

In April, when the first publicly presented draft of the “Utah SEEd” standards was released for the 90-day public review, the USOE tried to falsely cast the proposed standards as a Utah grown, Utah values effort. In spite of the many notices to them that their charade was not working, and that those who have investigated knew that the proposed standards were word-for-word taken from the NGSS performance standards, yet the USOE persisted in this masquerade even up through the last public meeting held on the standards. For one of many examples, you can watch Diana Suddreth parrot the tired line at that last public hearing in Salt Lake City on the standards that

the standards … have been developed over a process of about three years in conjunction with primarily Utah science educators but with input from others along the way,”6

and yet there were not five words difference between the proposed Utah performance standards and the NGSS performance standards. How could this April draft be a “Utah” driven process which lasted, as Dianna said, “about three years?” Within the final document there was no copyright notice. One would expect to find a copyright notice, like the one specified by the copyright holder of the NGSS (“© Copyright 2013 Achieve, Inc. All rights reserved.”) if it were a copy, but less than 5 words of no significant difference and no copyright notice?

Why such subterfuge in the presentation of these standards? Almost certainly it is because USOE officials gave assurances through multiple representatives on multiple occasions (after the heat they received in the way the “Common Core” with all of its baggage was slipped in) that Utah would not adopt further national standards. See Youtube Utah’s Science7

After the review for the first publicly released draft had been completed, the board voted and sent the draft back for a fundamental re-write. Further, there were promises made from a USOE official that the rewritten document would not be just a thesaurus translation but have a foundationally different character on controversial issues, such as global warming and Darwinian evolution. Well did it happen?

The New Draft:

The largest change in the character and nature of the standards, as presented to the board of education, is that the standards are no longer cast as a Utah derived proposal but that Utah “…SEEd standards remain based on the Next Generation Science Standards.”8 No longer are they falsely casting this as a Utah grown, Utah values effort, but they are admitting that this is a national standard which they are attempting to adopt. But neither are they completely straight forward with the issue. More completely, the forward material says “Most SEEd standards remain based on the Next Generation Science Standards (emphasis added).”9

In this case “most” means that all of the performance standards proposed are fundamentally NGSS performance standards with the exception of three (3). Two standards are drawn from concepts in the current Utah standards, and one is a further explanation of the greenhouse gas concept. All of the rest of the standards (that is all but these three) are NGSS either exact wording, a thesaurus translation, or in four cases a combination of several NGSS standards. It is interesting to note that long before this standard was released, this author made a list of 27 performance standards from the proposed April NGSS “Utah SEEd” standards which were of a potential concern (depending on how they actually ended up being taught). Only seven of the 27 concerning standards showed some improvement in wording in that they were stated in less dogmatic terms or were re-framed in a manner that brought less concern to one degree or another. Of those seven standards that appeared to have a less bias or concerning cast to them, only three (two of which was of low concern to begin with) really made it on the concern list. That is the sum that could be claimed to be an improvement! The only other adjustment was that the perfectly acceptable performance standards related to kinetic energy were removed, and also a standard about “sensory receptors respond to stimuli by sending messages to the brain” was also removed. It is likely these minor changes reflect more the changes that will be adopted in future versions of the NGSS and not a fundamental change from internal Utah motivations.

The retention of NGSS problematic standards persists even down to the widely discredited notion that embryological development follows the claimed evolutionary development or “Ontogeny Recapitulates Phylogeny” in NGSS MS-LS4-3 or 7.5.4 in the October draft. This notion and fabricated evidence to promote the notion was erroneously advanced by Ernst Haeckel in the late 1800s. It is now and has been for some time widely recognized, by those who have studied embryological development in depth, to be completely false10. For just one example, Erich Blechschmidt commented in his 1977 book The Beginnings of Human Life.

“The so-called basic law of biogenetics [Ontogeny Recapitulates Phylogeny] is wrong. No buts or ifs can mitigate this fact. It is not even a tiny bit correct or correct in a different form, making it valid in a certain percentage. It is totally wrong.”11

Sometime ago, while the 90 day public review of the science standards proposed in April were under way, I pointed out that the word-for-word effort to adopt the NGSS was a measure of the allegiance of USOE to remain true to the NGSS national standard. Now, with this October revision we see that the resolve of USOE to adopt the NGSS has not diminished. The USOE even doggedly clings to NGSS tenants that have for a long time been discredited. Further, this shows that the USOE has every intention to adopt all of the NGSS K-12 in which the larger portion has not even been discussed.

The forward material of the new draft claims various other improvements such as more clarity, implementations from the Fordham report, removal of age inappropriate material, and such12. It is ironic that the added clarity largely comes from the adoption of additional verbiage from the NGSS such as NGSS Clarification Statements, either word-for-word or closely tied language. These Clarification Statements had previously existed in drafts produced prior to the April draft but they did not go out to public review. Furthermore, I had stated from the beginning of the April review period that USOE almost certainly had every intention of reincorporating the Clarification Statements in one form/method or another and now here they are emerging just as predicted. As for changes made related to the Fordham report, I see no significant evidence of such. It appears to be a lip service only claim. The last thing I will comment on in this area is the statement that “Age Appropriateness” adjustment have been made as performance standards which encouraged “students debate with evidence about climate change and human effects on the environment were removed from 6th grade.” Yes they were removed from 6th grade only to reappear in the 8th grade standards. Still 8th grade is not what I would consider age appropriate.

Summary NGSS founded NGSS results

While we see that there were minor adjustments for the better, the fact remains that these are NGSS performance standards with mere token deviations. Therefore, when districts and teachers seek to further develop their curriculum, and consider that the State has essentially adopted the NGSS, books, lesson plans, and other sources which teachers and districts will be looking for to further support their curriculum which were developed by others to be NGSS compliant, we will find the full NGSS in every detail will be right back into the classroom, complete in its materialistic and biased character. The USOE has previously pledged to reject further adoption of national standards by multiple representatives at multiple forums13. The reasons for rejecting such national standards has not diminished nor have they varied in any significance from what was offered in the April draft.

Reject the adoption of the October draft of the “Utah SEEd” standards.


Vincent Newmeyer

Link to comment on standards (must comment immediately. I think the deadline is November 9th):

Link to find your board member and contact him/her:

Contact info for your board member:


1 USOE now admits in, “Utah Science with Engineering Education (UT SEEd) Standards Release for 30-day Review,” October 8-9, 2015 page 7, that “Most SEEd standards remain based on” NGSS. Later in this text we will see that USOE definition of “most” means it is essentially all NGSS.

2 See paper “What? NGSS is Common Core Science???”

3 See paper “Issues With Next Generation Science Standards Proposed for Adoption in Utah and the Adoption Process”

4 See paper “Rebuttal To ‘Why the Critics of the Next Generation Science Standards are Wrong: A Position Paper'”

5 Youtube SLC Standards Review Meeting May 19, 2015 (the last)

6 Youtube SLC Standards Review Meeting May 19, 2015 (the last)

8 Utah Science with Engineering Education (UT SEEd) Standards Release for 30-day Review, October 8-9, 2015 page 7

9 Utah Science with Engineering Education (UT SEEd) Standards Release for 30-day Review, October 8-9, 2015 page 7

10 Besides the example given, you may also want to read Jonathan Wells’ article “SURVIVAL OF THE FAKEST”

12 Utah Science with Engineering Education (UT SEEd) Standards Release for 30-day Review, October 8-9, 2015 page 7

SAGE Validity Part 2: Dr. Thompson Responds

After sharing what Alpine school district board member’s Brian Halladay and Wendy Hart wrote concerning the results of the validity test Florida performed on Utah’s SAGE test, Dave Thomas, a state school board member wrote several legislators a brief rebuttal. He stated:

I read the Independent Verification of the Psychometric Validity for the Florida Standards Assessment, Evaluation of FSA Final Report (Alpine Testing Solutions, August 2015) and came to an entirely opposite conclusion. The report expressly validated the SAGE test (see Conclusions 1,2,5, and 6).  The problems noted in the report (see Conclusions 4, 7, and pp. 77-103) were not the result of an invalid SAGE test, but rather these had to do with Florida’s administration of the test (technology problems, login issues, head phone issues, insufficient training of the proctors, and late delivery of materials) and the fact that SAGE is aligned to the Utah Core Standards and not to the Florida standards (pp. 47-48).  While the two sets of standards are similar, the Report notes that there are differences which make SAGE not fully aligned to the Florida standards.  For example, Florida uses Algebra I, Geometry and Algebra II, while Utah uses an integrated math model.  Such differences present problems for the long term use of the SAGE test in Florida.  Consequently, the Report rightly recommends that Florida get their own test.  This discussion about misalignment is the reason I have long discouraged reliance upon NAEP, which uses its own standards to compile its test; standards that are not aligned with Utah.

I would highly recommend reading the Conclusions to the Report (pp. 118-121)..   I would caution all policy makers to be careful about focusing on isolated comments in a 150+ page Report which may be taken out of context.

David L. Thomas

In response to Mr. Thomas’ statement, Dr. Gary Thompson wrote the following rebuttal.

Vice-Chair Thomas’s response…failed to answer many important issues vital to the economic, educational, financial, and moral health of our community.   His non-response was a attempt to get stakeholders in education to focus on irrelevant “trees” at the expense of the “forest” comprised of our children.    That is unacceptable to me as citizen, father, and local clinical community scientist.

This blog post is about the “forest”:

1.  What exactly IS validity?  (See below)

2.  Did the Utah SAGE test undergo a validity study? (No. See below) 

3.  How important are validity issues in educational testing to your children? (Extremely.  See below)

4.  Will the next 9 pages be the most important education information considered for parents of Utah and Florida’s “divergent learning” students?  (Probably.  See below)

To continue, reading Dr. Thompson’s expert analysis, please go directly to his article here:

The Test Validity Trojan Horse: Utah and Florida’s Dangerous Game of Education Poker With Our Public School Children


C-Span discussion on “Drilling Through the Core” book

The Pioneer Institute recently released a book on why Common Core is bad for American Education.  After an introduction by Peter Wood on how Common Core will harm our education system, experts from different fields pick apart the standards, the adoption process, the lowering of college standards, the enormous cost of CCSS, the destruction of the arts and history, and the overall lowering of the bar. Those experts include some names you’ll find familiar like Milgram, Stotsky, and Wurman, whose contributions to education have been critical in an age of bad educational theories and fads.

If you don’t understand Common Core, please pick up a copy of the book. If you do understand Common Core, get further educated on the issues by getting the book.

C-Span also just hosted a book discussion which you can watch here:

SAGE Validity Test FAILS Utah

SAGE Validity Test Discourages Use of Student Test Scores

By Brian Halladay and Wendy Hart

Board Members, Alpine School District

Florida has done what Utah has been afraid to do. They have performed a validity test on the SAGE test administered by the American Institutes for Research (AIR) on the assessments of grades 3-10 ELA, grades 3-8 math, Algebra 1, Algebra 2, and Geometry.

The validity test, performed by Alpine Testing and EdCount, was performed to test whether or not the test scores were valid for a specific use. In other words, does the test work or not?

Once the validity test was completed, Alpine Testing and Edcounts reported their findings to the Florida Senate K-12 Committee on September 17, 2015. The full video can be seen here.

What significance does this have for Utah? As can be seen from the video (and in their report) the field testing wasn’t performed primarily on Florida’s test. They used Utah’s test (thank you, Florida, for paying for Utah’s validity test.)

What Alpine Testing said in their comments to Florida is astounding. I have outlined some key points from the video:

At 44:50- Many items found in the test didn’t align with the standard that was being tested.

At 47:70: Test scores should only be used at an aggregate level.

At 48:15 – They recommend AGAINST using test scores for individual student decisions.

At 1:01:00 – They admit that “test scores should not be used as a sole determinant in decisions such as the prevention of advancement to the next grade, graduation eligibility, or placement in a remedial course.”

At 1:20:00 – “There is data than can be looked at that shows that the use of these test scores would not be appropriate

Alpine Testing was the only company that applied to perform the validity study for Florida. Once awarded the contract, they teamed with EdCount, the founder of which had previously worked for AIR.

So, what we have is a questionably independent group stating that this test should not be used for individual students, but it’s ok for the aggregate data to be used for schools and teacher evaluations. If this sounds absurd, it’s because it is. If it’s been shown that this test isn’t good for students, why would we be comfortable using it for the grading or funding of our schools and teachers? The sum of individual bad data can’t give us good data. Nor should we expect it to.

What more evidence is needed by our State Board, Legislature or Governor to determine that our students shouldn’t be taking the SAGE test? This test is a failure. How much longer will our children and our state (and numerous other states) spend countless time and resources in support of a failed test, or teaching to a failed test?

Utah deserves more. Our children deserve more than to waste their time with this nonsense. Opt your children out of this test, write your State School Board, Legislators and Governor and let’s put our focus on what works best for the education of our children.


This post continues with:

Obama orders federal agencies to use behavioral data on citizens

This week President Obama signed a new executive order to “help” government be more accommodating to citizens. He plans to do this not through asking what people need, but by using behavioral data on citizens to help them understand what they really want.

Here’s the announcement…full of increasing government involvement in our lives…

An article at the Daily Caller points out the involvement of Cass Sunstein on this project. Cass is a full blown Marxist who Glenn Beck has been talking about for years as a major worry for being Obama’s “regulatory Czar.”

“The initiative draws on research from University of Chicago economist Richard Thaler and Harvard law school professor Cass Sunstein, who was also dubbed Obama’s regulatory czar. The two behavioral scientists argued in their 2008 book “Nudge” that government policies can be designed in a way that “nudges” citizens towards certain behaviors and choices.”

The desired choices almost always advance the goals of the federal government, though they are often couched as ways to cut overall program spending.

In its 2013 memo, which was reported by Fox News at the time, the White House openly admitted that the initiative involved behavioral experimentation.

“The program has already existed in an experimental form, but now Obama has formally established the federal “Social and Behavioral Sciences Team,” ordering them to to use psychology and experimental behavior data to make government more user-friendly.”

Thanks to JaKell Sullivan for pointing out these links and for this insightful commentary on Facebook.

The problem is two-fold:
1. The Federal Executive Branch is deciding what outcomes they want to achieve on political issues like: global warming, water use, electrical use, food choices, healthcare choices, education choices
2. Then, they are using our tax dollars to: pay researchers who will support their goals and use (and manipulate) research data to propagandize us.

The Federal Executive branch will use this power to control, not improve choice.

The Whitehouse’s Learning Registry claims they can now get “between websites” to “filter” the content that reaches teachers and children. This is pure information control.

Here’s the Whitehouse’s video talking about the Learning Registry:

Jenny Baker also replied with this quote from Bernay’s, the author of “Propaganda.”

“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of.” – Edward Bernays (“the father of public relations”), Propaganda, 1928 (note that Bernays’ book, Propaganda, begins with the above quote).

Why is this troubling? Where does the government obtain behavioral data on citizens? How are they getting it? Well we know one way is through the statewide longitudinal database systems they funded in each state and through SAGE tests by AIR, a behavioral research company. Why did Utah legislators pass a bill a few years back to include collecting behavioral data on students through computer adaptive testing (it has been removed now by a subsequent law but AIR still collects it)? What can you do when you know someone’s personality, values, beliefs, and behaviors? Manipulate them with propaganda designed to be most effective. Why else do you hire reams of psychologists to “help” citizens take advantage of government programs?

Shock Admission: OECD: Computers do not improve results

The OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development ) has just released a report stating that increasing the use of technology in the classroom does not actually improve results.

Among their findings:

  • Students who use computers very frequently at school get worse results

  • Students who use computers moderately at school, such as once or twice a week, have “somewhat better learning outcomes” than students who use computers rarely

  • The results show “no appreciable improvements” in reading, mathematics or science in the countries that had invested heavily in information technology

  • High achieving school systems such as South Korea and Shanghai in China have lower levels of computer use in school

  • Singapore, with only a moderate use of technology in school, is top for digital skills

“One of the most disappointing findings of the report is that the socio-economic divide between students is not narrowed by technology, perhaps even amplified,” said Mr Schleicher.

Sort of makes you wonder what the CEO’s of tech companies know since they send their children to computer-free private schools.

Feds Confess Truth About Common Core – They Coerced

Eventually those behind the scenes of frauds either slip up or get so arrogant they openly admit what they did all along. Now we know.

“Joanne Weiss was the director of USED’s Race to the Top (RttT) program, the vehicle through which states were bribed to accept Common Core and the aligned assessments. In an essay recently published in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Weiss confessed that USED used strong-arm tactics to transform states’ standards and assessments systems: ‘[W]e forced alignment among the top three education leaders in each participating state — the governor, the chief state school officer, and the president of the state board of education — by requiring each of them to sign their state’s Race to the Top application. In doing so, they attested that their office fully supported the state’s reform proposal.'”

First, do no harm – Analysis by Utah Child Psych Center

I received a copy of this analysis and post it here with permission of the authors. The Early Life, Child Psychology and Education Center of South Jordan, Utah, has done an analysis of statements and positions of the U.S. Department of Education pertaining to Common Core assessments.  I will post the forward of the document below, but you can obtain the 44 page report by clicking this link.

PDF Download-Primum Non Nocere – First, Do No Harm: An Ethical & Psychology-Based Analysis of The U.S. Department of Education’s Change In Common Core Testing Policies for Divergent Learning Children In Public Schools

Early Life Child Psychology CenterForward:

Primum non nocere in Latin means “first, do no harm.” One of the elemental precepts of ethics, taught across disciplines and throughout the world, this ancient principle holds that given an existing problem, it may be better not to do something, or to do nothing, than to risk causing more harm than good. It reminds
the doctor, the psychologist and the educator that he or she must  consider possible damage that any intervention might do and to invoke Primum non nocere when considering use of any intervention that carries a less- than-certain chance of benefit.

As objective, local clinical community scientists, we at Early Life Child
Psychology and Education Center have had no previous interest or involvement in education public policy or in politics. Our involvement now stems from observations as professionals, is founded on ethics, and must increase as we see that as a consequence of changes in education policy, many children’s lives are being fractured.

We are not a special interest group: within the walls of our Education Psychology Clinic are professionals from diverse cultural, political, ethnic and religious backgrounds, united under one cause: the ethical and safe practice of administering psychological assessment, therapy, and educational interventions to “divergent learning” children who reside in our respective communities in Southern California, and Salt Lake City, Utah. We are African Americans, Caucasians, Latinos, Asians, progressives, tea party activists, socialists, LGBT, traditionally married and single parents, agnostics and conservative Christians.

The harmony we share as a diverse group of clinicians-educators, dedicated to serving the needs of children, has not been duplicated by the diverse group of political and corporate public policy makers who have been entrusted with decision-making power. We here note: that agenda-laden political and corporate partnerships, entrusted with power, have made life-altering decisions regarding education policies for children in public schools, placing their interests above the direct needs of children, resulting in ground-level chaos we have heretofore never seen.

This paper is written not only because of our professional observations of increased numbers of suffering public school children whom our clinic serves; it is also written in response to recent public policy changes, initiated by U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan under the 2015 reauthorization of No Child Left Behind, regarding assessment practices and states’ loss of authority over the education of our nation’s “special education” children. Those new policies and the cited research, upon which they claim to be based, are herein examined.

Under the light and concept of ethics, using ethical application of peer-reviewed science toward the subject matter of testing and mental health, this paper examines the influence of each on education policies. It will be clear to objective readers that Secretary Duncan’s policies do not share the ethical professionals’ commitment to the standards set by the American Psychological Association’s (APA) Code of Ethics. The US Department of Education’s interpretation of cited “studies” used to justify policy changes have been dangerously manipulated and are utilized to achieve political goals at the expense of millions of public school children.

We strongly encourage politicians, policy makers, and state education leaders to examine education policies under the light and scope of ethics, as opposed to catering to the requests of corporate and political special interests. Failure to do so will result in harm to our nation’s vulnerable divergent learning children, including African American, Latino, autistic, dyslexic, gifted, mentally ill, poverty-stricken, and “learning disabled” children.

Parents, not governments, are and must always be the resident experts of their own children.

May readers be endowed with discernment and wisdom as they ponder the effects of policy in the service of children.

School Board Member Recommends Opting Out of SAGE

Brian Halladay, a school board member in Alpine School District and one of the only people in the state to really dig into AIR and their SAGE test, shared the following with me and gave permission to post it.


The SAGE Test is an unreliable, unverified test that our children from 3rd-11th grade are taking not just once, but up to three times a year. These tests aren’t scored by their teachers, but rather by the American Institutes for Research (AIR). This company is the one of the world’s largest social and behavioral research organizations. Your child’s proficiency is being scored by a bunch of behavioral researchers. No teacher is scoring, or has the ability to score, an individual child’s SAGE test.

Your child is taking a test for 8 hours (4 hours for math and 4 hours for English) that their teacher can’t see the questions to. This test is designed to have your child fail. Gone are the days when a student could feel a sense of achievement for getting 100% on a test. This test is touted to be “rigorous.” If your child gets a correct answer the test will continue to ask harder and harder questions until they get it wrong (who knows if what is tested was actually taught in the classroom?) Put simply this means your child likely will come home grumpy, anxious, or depressed after they take this test. With over 50% non-proficiency this will affect more than half the students that take it.

The teacher is almost as much of a test victim as the child. Having no idea of the test questions, they are starting to be evaluated on a test they can’t see. I believe we’re starting to see this leading to more experienced teachers leaving, and an increase in teachers with little to no experience not knowing the pre-SAGE environment.

Points to consider:

  1. When did we allow testing to become more important than education?
  1. Your child’s data is subject to being shared with people and organizations without your consent. There is nothing that prohibits AIR or any its multiple organizations from accessing your child’s data. As long as AIR doesn’t make a profit from the data without the USOE’s consent, they can use it for anything they want.
  1. This test has no contractual provisions that prevent it from collecting BEHAVIORAL data. AIR has a long history of collecting behavioral data, and seeing they’re a behavioral research organization, don’t you think they will? (Just look up Project Talent).

Last year, two fellow board members and I wrote a letter to our State Superintendent asking him to address our concerns, of which we’ve had no response.

If your parental instinct is kicking in, I would ask that you at least consider opting your child out of taking this test. State law allows any parent to opt their child out. Even if you don’t decide to opt out, talk with your teacher, know when your child is taking this test, and make sure your decision is in the their best interest.