I just had to post this comment in a more prominent location because it perfectly illustrates the situation when someone actually takes the time to do their homework on Common Core.
A commenter going by “Anonymous” just posted a comment linking to the Utah State Office of Education’s website where they’ve posted the Complete Resource Guide on the Utah Core Standards, encouraging someone to read the document. Someone did. Here is Tricia’s excellent response.
Thanks, anonymous, for linking to the Common Core Resource Guide. After reading through some of it, it only further solidified my stance against common core.
I found page 24 and 25 particularly horrifying. Talking about the English Language Standards it states, “The effect of implementing standards cannot be researched before they have been implemented. They must be implemented first before we can conduct research on their effectiveness.”
WHAT??? So all kids in the state get to be guinea pigs for the program? Couldn’t we try a small pilot program first? Those who support common core can sign up their children to be the test subjects (but I really wouldn’t recommend it). If the program proves to be successful, then I’d be willing to sign up my children (well, it will be my grandchildren by then, but whatever.)
And then there’s this:
“We, along with other major experts in the reading and literacy field, argue that all students need to be reading more and more informational texts than they currently do. Classroom-based observation research has revealed over the past decade that children read almost no informational texts at all.”
Who are these experts? And why do kids need to read more info text? Where is the proof that this will help them? They read plenty of info texts in math, science, and history. They don’t need to read them in English, as well.
It goes on, “more than 85% of adult reading time is spent reading informational texts. Only 15% of adult reading is literary texts.”
This is proof that MORE ADULTS should be reading MORE LITERARY TEXTS than that STUDENTS should read LESS. And if adults aren’t reading literature, they sure better read it in school or they will never be exposed to it.
But wait. There’s more:
“Our schools have given precious little attention to the reading and learning from informational text. That is precisely the point of the CCS Standards’ increased attention on informational text. Consider for a moment the demands an auto mechanic now has in using diagnostic computer technology to work on your car engine. The manual to be read by today’s auto mechanic is nearly four inches thick of informational text!”
Then let kids read informational text in auto mechanic school. Not English.
Reading info text will only bore them and make them hate reading, not give them a love for great literature.
Literature enriches our lives. It makes us better people. Helps us to think and examine and be aware.
Informational text teaches how to work on a car engine. Not an unimportant skill, but quite limited in its scope and power.
Which do you want for your kids?
South Dakotan’s Against Common Core recently published this alarming information about National Sexuality Education Standards. I don’t expect Utah to adopt this program by choice anytime soon, but when you accept federal money, with federal strings, you sometimes get federal programs shoved down your throat whether you want them or not. By Utah aligning to Common Core and taking federal money for education, it is entirely feasible that this program written by Planned Parenthood could at some point become a national requirement for such states. You can bet there are those in Common Core circles who are banking on it, for the common good of the children of course.
Here’s a link and a clip.
OK, so I just discovered this little secret of Common Core.
And before you say it is not a part of Common Core, because it is “A Special Publication of the Journal of School Health,” please go to page 6 where it says, “The National Sexuality Education Standards were further informed by the work of the CDC’s Health Education Curriculum Analysis Tool(HECAT)3; existing state and international education standards that include sexual health content; the Guidelines for Comprehensive Sexuality Education: Kindergarten – 12th Grade; and the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Mathematics, recently adopted by most states.”
And before you say, “We won’t allow it in our schools. We will go to the school board.” Local control is gone. On page 6, “Specifically, the National Sexuality Education Standards were developed to address the inconsistent implementation of sexuality education nationwide and the limited time allocated to teaching the topic.” The whole idea behind Common Core is to create universal standards.
I wanted to know who would think they know what information was appropriate and at what age my child should learn this “appropriate” information. Here’s what I found out about a few of those on the Advisory Committee. I’ll let you research the rest.
This conversation between a mom and a state school board member was recently caught on film.
In Utah, State School Board elections work like this, which is essentially taxation without representation. We get taxed to fund this entity but then when we try to run a candidate for office they are eliminated by those in power.
1) Everyone who wants to run for a school board seat files an application.
2) All those names go to a special committee comprised of 12 people appointed by the governor.
3) That committee interviews the candidates, eliminates everyone against Common Core, and shrinks the pool down to 3 names from however many there were that wanted to run. If you were eliminated by these unelected individuals, too bad.
4) Those 3 names go to the governor who eliminates 1, and generously gives the public the choice of voting for 1 of those 2 candidates.
5) The public gets 2 “safe and approved” choices to vote for.
(In other elections, you file and your name either goes to a body of elected delegates to vet all the candidates and select one to run for their party, or the public just votes for all the candidates in elections)
6) The state board then pulls stuff like this:
May 2, 2013
“…NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Utah State Board of Education requests the support of the citizens of Utah to insist on proper care and vigilance in the effort to secure and protect the sensitive personal data of students and teachers in Utah’s K-12 public education system, especially in seeking the the resources and legislation necessary to strongly secure and protect the aforementioned data ; andRESOLVED, that the Utah State Board of Education calls upon the members of the Utah legislature to pass and/or revise such laws as are necessary to strongly secure and protect the sensitive personal data of students and teachers and to work jointly with the Utah State Board of Education to appropriately define the delicate balance of that privacy with the proper transparency and availability of aggregated and non-identifiable data necessary to provide accountability and oversight of Utah’s K-12 public education system.”
This one contains the usual nonsense about how Common Core had significant public input, and how it was closely reviewed by members of the board before adoption. Both lies shown elsewhere so lets get right to the fun…
“…BE IT RESOLVED that the Utah State Board of Education calls upon the Governor of the State of Utah and the members of the Utah Senate and the Utah House of Representatives 1) to support the goal of career and college ready outcomes for Utah students, 2) to resist the demands calling to “remove Utah from the common core” based on erroneous information, and 3) to collaborate with the State Board of Education in supporting teachers, parents and students during the transition to these new Utah Core Standards.”
The board must be getting pretty desperate to pass such an action. It’s sort of like spitting into the wind though. Our momentum is just beginning to build. We passed 5,000 signatures last night! The more the public learns about Common Core, the less they like it. Yesterday on Twitter there was a national anti-Common Core rally. Here’s how the stats looked between #stopcommoncore and #supportthecore.
Back to the board’s desperation resolution…here’s a few comments.
Item 1) We all support having high schoolers prepared to do anything they want to when they graduate. That’s one of the major reasons we are against Common Core.
“I can tell you that my main objection to Core Standards, and the reason I didn’t sign off on them was that they did not match up to international expectations. They were at least 2 years behind the practices in the high achieving countries by 7th grade, and, as a number of people have observed, only require partial understanding of what would be the content of a normal, solid, course in Algebra I or Geometry. Moreover, they cover very little of the content of Algebra II, and none of any higher level course… They will not help our children match up to the students in the top foreign countries when it comes to being hired to top level jobs.” – Dr. James Milgram, Stanford, the only professional mathematician on the Common Core validation committee
“The standards which I have analyzed in detail many times over, do not signify readiness or authentic college level work, at best they point to readiness for a high school diploma.” – Dr. Sandra Stotsky, ELA validation committee member, former Asst. Superintendent of MA, helping MA design their top rated standards that put them on par with international high achievers
Item 2) We also fully support not removing Utah from Common Core based on erroneous information. All the reasons we state for exiting Common Core are factual, and therefore, should be highly considered by government officials. Initial ignorance on the part of state school board members was forgivable. They hadn’t done their homework and were overly trusting of USOE personnel who told them “we have to have this signed by Monday or we’ll lose funding.” However, now that so much has been made public, their continued loyalty to this agenda brings their own honesty into question. In fact, their own defense of Common Core has become comical with Joel Coleman declaring on his blog that people against Common Core don’t care about standards in education, and Dixie Allen telling Uintah parents that Common Core isn’t costing the state anything. Like anyone but Common Core zombies would believe that nonsense. Desperate and pathetic.
Item 3) The state board wants all elected officials to fall in line and collaborate with them in transitioning teachers, parents, and students to a program designed from inception to standardize children so it’s easier to find the exact formula that makes for smart kids, behavioral test them, and store that data in the world’s most secure longitudinal database. Oh wait, I guess “most secure” would be erroneous so don’t base your decision off those words.
Utah’s State School Board elections perfectly illustrate taxation without representation, and their duty to serve the public interest is education without representation. Who is their customer? Parents, not the State Office of Education, and not the Governor. Listen to your customers State Board, or your customers will go away. That’s business 101.
If you want to solve this problem, demand that people who want to run for school board are allowed to. No secret handshakes in back rooms anymore that prevent the public from electing the best candidate who meets their desires for education. An elected body that basically has general control of half of Utah’s budget must also be looked at closely because the public will never whittle down 24 candidates to the best 2 to run against each other. As such, it is necessary that elections for such a major fiscally-responsible position be made partisan. There is no such thing as a non-partisan position or race. Look at what happened to Nicole-Toomey Davis when she ran against Kim Burningham for a state school board seat. These people are over a massive multi-billion-dollar budget which draws power and influence like nothing else. Candidates should declare a party affiliation they will run under and let locally elected delegates from their party ask the tough questions and then vote on the best candidate. The best candidates will then square off in a general election and the public will finally have their voice heard on the state school board (and the same should happen for district school board races as well).
If you agree, please contact your legislators today and ask them to give Utah partisan school board races so the public gets the best candidates and not the ones with the most power brokers backing them.
Uh-oh, don’t look now Utah, but our $39 million contract with AIR (http://www.deseretnews.com/article/765628026/Utah-Common-Core-testing-fraught-with-flaws.html) to do computer adaptive testing on our students just hit a snag. In spite of the fact the USOE told the legislature that AIR was the ONLY VENDOR FULLY PREPARED to handle the computer adaptive testing for Utah schools, it appears that assessment was short-lived and shortsighted.
From the Pioneer Press Twin Cities news comes this article, “Computer crash derails math assessment exams for Minnesota students.”
Thousands of students across Minnesota could not take the online state math assessment they spent much of the school year preparing for because of a technology failure Tuesday, April 16.
A computer problem at testing contractor American Institutes of Research, or AIR, prevented students from beginning or completing the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments online, said Charlene Briner, chief of staff for the Minnesota Department of Education.
“It is unfortunate, and it is unacceptable to us,” said Briner, who said the problem was with AIR, the state’s vendor, and not “school infrastructure.”
Jon Cohen, director of assessment for AIR, said servers that process tests experienced two “slowdowns” Tuesday morning as 15,000 students tried to access the system.
Evelyn Belton-Kocher, director of testing, research and assessment for St. Paul, said the difficulties are an example of online testing’s challenges.
“If you don’t have a highly-reliable system, you put a lot more stress on your most vulnerable kids,” Belton-Kocher said. “It’s not a level playing field.”
Robert Schaeffer, spokesman for the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, said the problems Minnesota students and teachers experienced are common when states try to administer standardized test online on a large scale. States have seen repeated problems with programming, infrastructure and the capacity of systems used to administer the tests.
“The assumption is the technology is infallible,” Shaeffer said, adding that contractors make performance promises they can’t keep. “You shouldn’t contract based on promises. You should contract, especially with taxpayer money, based on performance.”
Lets see…15,000 students access the assessments and crash the servers. I think I have to agree with Shaeffer. Utah shouldn’t contract based on promises but based on performance.
If you don’t know much about AIR, they are the official partner of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium which legislators helped pressure the state school board and USOE to drop all affiliations with. If you don’t know much about AIR, please check out these two articles.
This article by Alpine School District board member Brian Halladay, briefly summarizes hours of research on AIR and SAGE and how they are involved in testing behavior, not education.
This article by Tiffany Mouritsen exposes the extreme agenda that AIR supports and has written extensively about on their website including social justice and LGBT. Why can’t Utah find an assessment partner to support that doesn’t spend money on tearing down the moral fabric of society that we value?
We received this report yesterday from someone who attended the Uintah school district meeting last week where USOE representatives spoke about AIR/SAGE testing. This parent requested anonymity. If you are new to this and don’t know what AIR/SAGE is, please read this report on AIR/SAGE by Alpine School District board member Brian Halladay.
I attended the meeting held by Uintah School District last week.
The meeting appeared to be a training on the new assessments for Common Core that will cost $30 million. The guy turned his back on the room and spoke quietly when he said ‘$30 mil’, so I’m not sure I heard him correctly. He was more than happy to face the room and speak loudly about how great these assessments will be and how very much we need them–in his opinion. (Note-his job is dependent on him holding to that opinion.)
A little more than halfway through the meeting, he finally allowed questions. He would NOT allow questions before that. When question time came, it was very clear that the majority of the people in the room were unhappy parents, not educators there for his training. With a great deal of pressure from parents, it was decided that some common core questions would be answered by Dixie Allen of the state school board.
All individuals interested in common core questions being answered were invited to get up and move to a smaller room to talk with Dixie. By the time everyone had gathered in the smaller room, common core was on a screen at the front of the room and Dixie was prepared to give a presentation. Parents tried to ask questions and Dixie tried to give a presentation.
When it became clear that Dixie’s intent was to deliver a Common Core ‘sale’, one parent specifically requested that questions be answered first and the presentation be given second because people were obviously wanting their questions answered now. Dixie said no, but eventually had to give in because the questions wouldn’t quit coming. We didn’t have to watch or listen to a big presentation from Dixie, but we did have to listen to her state several times that common core standards are higher (to which one parent consistently replied ‘no, they’re not’ every time). She also told the parent in the room who knew the most about Common Core that she (Dixie) didn’t want that mom asking anymore questions because the mom gave comments, informing other parents of the details so Dixie could not shut them down completely. Obviously, Dixie is frightened of the truth getting out.
Dixie also denied being the homeschool teacher for 2 of her grandchildren in her home. (I think the count was 2.) She later backtracked on that one and admitted that she teaches one grandchild who is in 9th grade right now and homeschooled because of bullying. (A difficult to fully believe claim because the junior high principal here is quite strict and everyone else says this principal put an end to bullying in that school when she was first put in as principal, long enough ago that bullying in that school would have ended by the time Dixie’s grandchild would have entered the jr. high.)
Dixie also repeatedly stated that Utah must do Common Core because otherwise we cannot buy curriculum to match our core because we don’t spend enough money on education and therefore the curricula vendors don’t cater to us. No one in the room agreed with her on needing more money, but she made this claim repeatedly. Then when the question “How much will these new curricula materials to match common core cost us?” was asked, the answer was “Nothing, we’re making our own.”
None of the parents in the room said anything, but note that the argument that we need to do common core so we can buy materials to match our core falls when you consider that we’re not buying the materials!
In short, no one in the meeting was convinced that common core was a good idea. Parents talked afterwards, exchanging their contact info and more information on common core. One parent had watched a program on the miserable failure of common core in Michigan and was there with her notes in hand, asking questions and providing details of how bad things are in Michigan. Dixie tried very hard, but unsuccessfully, to refute the points this good mom made throughout the meeting. Another mom mentioned that history has proven how very dangerous a national curriculum can be, but many people in the room are unaware of that and just thought she’s a little paranoid.
I left the meeting thinking that Dixie is either completely ignorant of the facts surrounding common core or she is an outright liar. I spoke with some people who know her personally the next day and they told me that she just truly believes in big government, so she wouldn’t even be able to see the facts. It was interesting to watch her at the meeting. Dixie is an elected representative of the people, but you couldn’t tell. Elected representatives should listen to the people, treat them respectfully, and do as the people want. Dixie did none of that. As an elected representative of the people, she ARGUED with them and spoke condescendingly when they didn’t understand education lingo. It was very sad.
Dixie did state that Utah might not adopt the science part of common core because of pressure from the ‘right wing’ in the state. She also said that Utah might try to vary from common core by more than the 15% allowed, but there will be no attempt to get out of common core.
Sadly, the powers that be cannot admit they’ve made a mistake and are completely disrespectful to the people who gave them power and pay the taxes that support them and their decisions.
That ends the report but I wanted to note that I personally had 2 state school board members tell me last year that Utah would never adopt the Common Core science or social studies standards. Teacher and former state representative David Cox spoke with State Superintendent Martel Menlove a month ago and Dr. Menlove told him that Utah would not adopt the Common Core social studies standards. Yet just a week ago we learned that Utah is participating in the CREATION of those social studies standards. You can express your displeasure with the state school board by emailing them at Board@schools.utah.gov. It’s time for partisan school board elections where candidates aren’t carefully selected by a committee and then filtered by the governor.
Jared Carman put together a great opt-out form you can print and send to the state notifying them that they may not compel your child to participate in computer adaptive testing and may not share your child’s personal information with AIR, the federal government, or any other 3rd party. If everyone would print one of these out for each of your children and mail to the state superintendent, it would certainly be helpful to show our officials that we want them to take this matter seriously.
Not sure if you want your child to take a computer adaptive test? Not sure what the harm is?
“We’ve been absolutely staggered by realizing that the computer has the capability to act as if it were ten of the top psychologists working with one student.You’ve seen the tip of the iceberg.Won’t it be wonderful when the child in the smallest county in the most distant area or in the most confused urban setting can have the equivalent of the finest school in the world on that terminal and no one can get between that child and that computer?”
Dustin H. Heuston, “Discussion-Developing the Potential of an Amazing Tool,” Schooling and Technology, Vol. 3, Planning for the Future: A Collaborative Model (Southeastern Regional Council for Educational Improvement), p. 8.
With permission, I am posting this letter that Dr. David Wright, math professor at BYU, and one of only a couple mathematicians that helped create the A- rated 2007 Utah math standards, wrote to legislators concerning the problems of Common Core implementation from the USOE. We have previously published several posts about significant problems with the USOE math texts. You can read here about Dr. Jim Milgram’s statement on the low quality of Common Core math compared to high achieving states, and former Department of Education math expert Ze’ev Wurman commenting how Utah’s implementation plan outlined in our No Child Left Behind waiver application would actually hurt math in Utah. It matches up with exactly what Dr. Wright is saying in this letter. This letter is stunning because it also reveals a problem that may prove to be the dismissal of several USOE employees.
Dear Senators Osmond and Weiler,
I see that Diana Suddreth sent a “Your Action is Needed” email to defend the Utah Math Common Core. She is encouraging letters of support for the Utah Common Core and is concerned that the Common Core is under a “vicious attack.” She is inviting her supporters to send letters to both of you.
As a mathematics professor and someone who is very aware of the details of the Common Core, I would like to comment on what I feel is the awful way the Common Core Math Standards have been implemented by the USOE.
1. The Core was implemented before there were textbooks. In fact, some of those who favor the Utah Core do not even feel that textbooks are important. When I hear Suddreth say, ”And teachers are empowered by creating units of study for students that go beyond anything their textbooks ever provided” I know something is seriously wrong.
2. The Core was implemented before there were assessments in place.
3. The standards do not dictate any particular teaching method, but rather set goals for student understanding. However, the USOE has used the implementation of the new Core to push a particular teaching method; i.e., the “Investigations” type teaching that was so controversial in Alpine School District.
4. Evidence of the type of teaching promoted by USOE comes from the textbook used for the secondary academy, 5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematics Discussions (Margaret S. Smith and Mary Kay Stein) as one of the primary resources. The book is about the kind of group learning envisioned by Investigations and Connected Math (the sequel to Investigations).
5. The Mathematics Vision Project was created in partnership with the USOE. It has developed integrated secondary math material for the Utah Core. They openly admit that their “teaching cycle” is similar to the model of the Connected Mathematics Project. Here is a statement about their teaching method:
As students’ ideas emerge, take form, and are shared, the teacher orchestrates the student discussions and explorations towards a focused mathematical goal. As conjectures are made and explored, they evolve into mathematical concepts that the community of learners begins to embrace as effective strategies for analyzing and solving problems. These strategies eventually solidify into a body of practices that belong to the students because they were developed by the students as an outcome of their own creative and logical thinking. This is how students learn mathematics. They learn by doing mathematics. They learn by needing mathematics. They learn by verbalizing the way they see the mathematical ideas connect and by listening to how their peers perceived the problem. Students then own the mathematics because it is a collective body of knowledge that they have developed over time through guided exploration. This process describes the Learning Cycle and it informs how teaching should be conducted within the classroom.
6. The USOE does hold students back. This is not the intent of the Common Core, but it is Utah’s implementation. I regularly judge the state Sterling Scholar competition. Almost all of the bright kids take AP calculus as a junior or even earlier because they were taking Algebra 1 by seventh grade. Now it will be difficult to get that far ahead. The National Math Panel made it clear that there was no problem with skipping prepared kids ahead. The Common Core has a way for getting eighth graders into Algebra 1 which the USOE has ignored.
7. The USOE chose the “uncommon” core when they picked secondary integrated math. Hardly anyone else is doing this program. So there are no integrated textbooks except the one that the USOE is developing. I have been told that this is the “Asian” model, but I am very familiar with the textbooks in Hong Kong and Singapore. The Mathematics Vision Project Material does not look like Asian material, it looks like Investigations/Connected Math.
8. There is substantial information that Diana Suddreth, Syd Dickson, Brenda Hales, and Michael Rigby of the USOE participated in unethical behavior in the awarding of the Math Materials Improvement Grant. The USOE chose reviewers (including Suddreth and Dickson) who were conflicted. Suddreth helped the University of Utah choose a principal investigator who was her own co-principal investigator on a $125 K grant . According to the USOE internal email messages, the required sample lesson of the winning proposal contained “plagiarized material.” The sample lesson had “no text” instead it contained 79 pages of “sample materials” (some of which was plagiarized) for a teacher study guide including problems for discussion and homework. The adaptive performance assessment program for the winning proposal was non-existent. The principal investigators redefined “adaptive assessment” to be something that was never intended.
David G. Wright
I am a Professor of Math at BYU, but this letter is written as an educator, parent, and concerned citizen and does not represent an official opinion from BYU.
Brigham Young University has a policy of academic freedom that supports the pursuit and dissemination of knowledge and ideas. The university does not endorse assertions made by individual faculty.
This comment from Michele Alder was recently made and ties right into this: “My kids are in a charter school that teaches an advanced curriculum, and the school is being pressured to change their methods and curriculum which would be a big step back. My neighbors from France have their kids go to the same school as my kids and they found this advanced curriculum a year behind where they were in France. This means that the (Utah Core) Public School Math is now two or more years behind Europe, a fact that the presenters to this SAGE/AIR meeting contended saying, ‘these new standards will help us keep catch up with Europe.’”
Destroying the notion that the anti-Common Core movement is some right-wing, tea party effort, someone pointed out the World Socialist Web Site has a couple of articles expressing big concerns with Common Core.
This first post is about what Common Core is, how it’s bankrolled by the Gates Foundation and other corporate interests, and major publishers like Pearson and McGraw-Hill stand to reap massive profits. Good for the socialists!
This second post is by a California kindergarten teacher sharing her concern that the standards are not age appropriate. This is exactly what happens when you implement standards that have never been tested. In Matthew Sander’s excellent article in the Deseret News last week, he points this out as well. We are using untested, unproven standards that have no track record of success. The CA teacher notes how ridiculous the content timetable is for kindergarteners and how they are supposed to be using 50/50 informational texts to narrative.
Alisa Ellis is sharing this great letter she used to opt her children out of state testing. You can easily modify this to your needs and opt out your children as well. Happening right now in schools, it’s CRT tests. By next year it will probably be the AIR/SAGE adaptive tests unless we succeed in getting those thrown out. These tests are not only dangerous for behavioral tracking, but have other concerns as well as they are designed to have all children hit 50% scores by increasing or lowering the difficulty based on their performance on each question. Some students may only have a 15 question test, while others could be forced to answer 100 questions to complete the test.
I would add one word of caution. Some teachers may use the state test in some way for student grading. You may want to include a statement such as, “if you plan to use this test in my child’s grade for some reason, I ask that you make an exception and not factor this state test into their final class grade.”
The opt out letter I sent my child’s teachers (I copied the Governor, state superintendent, local superintendent, and principal):
Ms. ________, Ms. ________, and Ms. _______,
________ thoroughly enjoys all of your classes. Thank you.
I’m guessing you know my name and the research I’ve been doing into the education reform taking place in the United States. If not, I’d be happy to share my research with you.
I am writing to let you know that ______ will not be taking the CRT’s this year. I recognize that there is nothing new about the testing taking place this year but feel that I must take a stand. This is nothing personal with you or your teaching. You are excellent and I appreciate your willingness to spend time educating children.
I have been studying the increasing push for data. While I recognize that data has great value, I don’t agree with the blatant disregard by the Federal Department of Ed of parental authority. Last year’s changes at the Federal level to privacy laws cause me great concern.
January of 2012, the FERPA (Federal Education Rights and Privacy Act – governing what student records schools can share) laws were changed due to a request by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.
• Page 52 of the new FERPA document outlines 11 different ways Personally Identifiable Information (PII) can be shared by schools without parental or student consent.
In Utah we accepted $9.6 million in Stimulus Funds to develop our State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS).
SLDS FAQ sheet: http://www2.ed.gov/programs/slds/factsheet.pdf
We have been assured that no one wants to release our children’s information but the fact is the State of UT does not currently have the proper protections in place to prevent Personally Identifiable Data to be released. Someone’s word isn’t good enough when it comes to our children, we must have the proper protections in place. Until there is a remedy to this problem my children will not be participating in end of year testing. Terms like “de-identified data” and “dis-aggregate” data are not acceptable. There are so many data points being collected assigning a child a number does not protect their identity.
Utah may not currently be releasing student level data to private interest groups or the Federal Department of Ed but we have a system set up making that possible. Utah must shore up our student privacy laws and reject the data push currently stemming from the Department of Education.
I’ve heard many teachers upset about the more stringent teacher evaluations and placing blame on the legislators for these laws. The fact is, before the law was written the State office and Governor’s office accepted grants (see below) and waivers agreeing to such evaluations.
As a teacher you should also be aware that the SLDS grant UT (according to the SLDS FAQ page) accepted also called for tracking individual teachers, by name and linking teachers to students they teach and then tracking the student’s performance. This is in order to “…help identify teachers who are succeeding…and find teachers who are struggling…” I do not agree with so much emphasis being put on high-stakes testing when evaluating teachers. I’ll explain why below.
I have 7 very different and all very bright children. They all test differently. A test can never measure home life, stress in a child’s life, parental support or lack thereof, or sheer determination on the part of a child. It just can’t. I don’t support the notion that schools and teachers should be graded on these high-stakes test scores. This narrows the curriculum as teachers are forced to teach to the test. The NCLB waiver did not solve this problem created from NCLB.
My _______ scores very well on these test (top 8% in the Nation) and also does decent in school but falls dead center in his class. He never passed the GATE tests but has consistently competed with those GATE students since the 2nd grade.
My _______ child score fairly well on these tests, but not in the very top; yet, she has been the #1 student in her class for several years running due to hard work and determination. A test simply can’t measure one’s ability to work hard. She is not taking easy classes either.
_______ has a very high amplitude. He does well on tests and in school. My point is each child is different. A test, no matter how great, cannot measure a child’s worth.
Just to be clear, I am not opposed to testing but I am opposed to high stakes testing especially when it is collecting so much data on our children and being so heavily used to determine the effectiveness of a teacher.
I thank you for honoring my wishes. Tomorrow I will not be in town when the CRTs are being administered. ______ can be sent to sit in the office or library during testing. I trust that you will not punish _______ in any way, shape or form for my taking this stand. Please advise if the CRT was to be used toward his class grade. If this is the case, I hope we can come up with a solution at the local level without involving high-stakes testing. _______ is very bright and scored in the top 5% of the Nation in all subjects of the IOWA test a few years ago but I don’t believe that can truly measure what he is capable of.
You may want to take some time looking through the 200 page document from the Data Warehouse in UT http://www.schools.utah.gov/warehouse/Specifications/Warehouse-Data-Dictionary.aspx.
The National Center for Educational Data has scrubbed their site tonight so I can’t send you to see the 500 data points they recommend. http://nedm.sifassociation.org/datamodel_review/eiebrowser/techview.aspx?instance=studentElementarySecondary
Thank you for your time,