All posts by Oak Norton

1:1 Technology – Perceptions by a parent and teacher

1:1 Computer Learning[Editor: In order to protect the identify of this parent, she has asked that I not reveal her name or school. If you are a legislator and would like to speak with her, contact me and I can arrange it.]

“He isn’t learning how to write, he has learned how to beat the system and is rewarded constantly for it.”


I’m a mother of 3 children that use to attend a local elementary in Utah. When the school was built they used much of the money for technology and have since received a few technology grants as well. It is one of the most technologically advanced elementary schools in the state. I am a former teacher and was so excited for my kids to attend here. I was very excited for the technology that was going to be available to my kids, that is once they got to the magic 3rd grade. My oldest, who will be in 5th grade for the 2017-2018 school year, is highly advanced for his age. He taught himself how to read with very few lessons from me, did Upstart at a 1st grade level at age 4, almost completed the whole program through 2nd grade, and currently reads on a 10th grade reading level. I never wanted my son to attend public school because they don’t have enough programs and things set up for kids like him, even in the gifted and talented program which he was accepted into as a 1st grader. I thought that our neighborhood school would be great because all we had to do was get him to that magic grade, 3rd grade, and he would get a netbook and could be challenged. Third grade when his peers would finally catch up and start reading to learn, not learning to read. Kindergarten through second grade was rough keeping him interested in learning but with the help of his teacher’s and my willingness to create activities for him to do at school he did all right. We finally made it to 3rd grade and he got his netbook. Then I began noticing a few things.

First of all, I could email my son at any time during the day and he would respond within an hour or so. His 3rd grade teacher was surprised when she received an email from him one day when she was at a training and the sub couldn’t figure something out. We would email a research paper back a forth for a Martin Luther King contest the district held. I wasn’t really needed in his classroom and I didn’t see many papers coming home, which kind of bothered me but I had another child in school so most of my focus was on getting her caught up because she is slower to learn. I definitely noticed a difference in how things worked. Then I began to worry because if my second child didn’t bring home assignments for me to look at and go over with her she wouldn’t have the same success she had been having but we stayed because it was good.

January of 2017 a Standard examiner article came out saying that our school would now be doing Fusion Learning. We hadn’t heard a thing from our very involved principal, and I had just finished serving my second year as PTA president and usually knew what was going on at the school.  I was there 3-5 days a week either volunteering or taking care of PTA something, but knew nothing of this new program that was to change my children’s lives drastically by reducing the number of teachers at the school with a student teacher ratio of 1:45. That is 2 teachers for every 90 kids and 1 full time aid. I began doing research on this new program and found out it was essentially having the computer teach the kids math and reading for 2 hours a day and the kids would do small group projects with the teachers. One teacher would monitor those on the computer along with the tutor if they weren’t needed with the project based learning, and if kids were struggling with a concept they’d pull those few kids into a small group and teach a lesson then send them back to the computers to get the answers right this time. My oldest was not in 4th grade and I hadn’t realized it yet but his class was piloting the program for the school.

I started looking at the consequences of having kids on the computers so much. The American Pediatrics gives a recommendation of so many hours of electronics time that varies by age, but none of that includes time on computers at school. Why? I found articles saying it could cause psychological issues, could aggravate ADHD, narratives showing that kids were learning to manipulate the computers but weren’t really learning the content or improving their skills. So many articles showing how this was most likely a bad experiment and that honestly we wouldn’t know what it was going to do to the kids long term until this group of kids grows up.

I started paying attention to what my then 4th, 3rd, and 1st graders brought home from school. My 1st grader brought home huge stacks of work each week, my 3rd and 4th graders brought home very little. I, their mom, was slowly being cut out of an important part of their day because I couldn’t see what they were learning, ask them questions, or see how they were doing with their studies and help them gain a better understanding of the concepts they weren’t fully understanding.

I noticed that my 4th grader, the child that has never needed help, needed help on the math homework. At first I scolded him for not paying attention in class, but when it kept happening I asked another parent if she was having the same problems. She said yes, so I knew it wasn’t just my son. I asked him what are you doing during math lessons, what is your teacher doing? He said she corrected papers and called a few kids to do small group things. He at the time, was hardly in these small groups. He was given a list of websites to go to and was to complete the tasks there. The homework didn’t have anything to do with what he was learning on the computers because it went with the districts brand new math program they had just written, which is why he couldn’t complete some of the problems on his own. I asked the teacher why he was struggling and her response was that she wanted her students to have to struggle a little bit as they learn, but this was different for my son. I’m totally fine with him struggling with difficult questions but he wasn’t able to do the basics because he wasn’t being taught on paper, he was being taught by a computer.

I noticed that he had learned how to beat the computer, especially when it came to Utah Compose, and was praised continually for it. Every once in a while he would email me something he had written into Utah compose that he’d gotten a high score on. His writing wasn’t great, definitely not what I would expect from him. His ideas were all over the place but he’s being told by a computer that he is amazing so he didn’t want to listen to me when I’d say this is good but if you put like sentences together you’d make more sense, or ask what does this sentence mean? Why is it here? He told me shortly after starting to use Utah Compose, as a 3rd grader, that to get a high score all he needed to do was use big words, proper grammar, commas, and have long sentences. He isn’t learning how to write, he has learned how to beat the system and is rewarded constantly for it.

I then started paying more attention to the few math quizzes that did come home. He’d missed a few questions so I asked him to come explain them to me. This was after he told me that he had completed 4th grade math 5 weeks before the school year ended and shortly before the principal of the school showed me a video of him working on a Minecraft area project for math instead of normal math lessons. The question he had missed was labeling a right angle. I asked him what angle it was. He said I don’t know. So I said remember acute, obtuse, right, and asked him to define each for me. He started with right and said a right triangle has 3 right angles. He became upset when I gave him a funny look and asked him to draw that for me. A response like that I would totally understand from my second child but not from him. It’s very out of character. I said well how many right angles can a triangle have. He responded 3.

I spoke with another parent who told me that with his job he sees things like that all the time. People are learning to beat the computers but aren’t really learning the material. He said if you want to see what a kid is really learning you need to give them a paper test, and as a former teacher I completely agree. There is a science to how kids answer questions. You can learn more about what they know by how they answer the question rather than the answer its self. He said if they really wanted to know how well kids were doing with the computer tests they needed to give kids a computer test then give them the exact same test on paper and see what happens. My son could answer questions on the computer but he couldn’t do it on paper because it takes different skills and he was being set up to fail when he reached Jr. High because in the Jr. High and High Schools computers aren’t used in the classrooms as frequently as they are being used in the elementary.

We recently had to get him a new glasses prescription. The eye doctor was shocked at how much his eyes had changed. It has taken me over 2 years to realize that it was probably because of all the computer time at the school during 3rd grade. Now that he has finished 4th grade I’m wondering if his eyes will be even worse.

Toward the end of the school year my 1st grader would come home extremely agitated and I couldn’t figure out why. Was someone picking on him at school, was something else dangerous going on? Little things, like asking him to put his backpack away, would send him into major fits which usually resulted in an object being thrown. I’m pretty sure he has ADHD and I have noticed at home that the more computer time he had the more explosive his behavior would become. He had not yet met that magic 3rd grade when he would get to use the 1:1 computers so that being the cause of his bad behavior never crossed my mind, or so I thought. Without my knowledge the first grade had been using computer programs, such as IXL, for the last half hour of class every day. I only discovered this after I told his teacher that my children would not be returning to the same school next year due to the usage of technology in the classrooms. She asked me to explain why because I had been one of the major supporters at the school. I told her how explosive my 1st grader became when he was exposed to electronics for long periods of time and that I was concerned for him when he did reach 3rd grade and that I was seeing other problems with my older kids. She then made some comment about how they had been using computers for the last little while for the last part of the day. I said that explains a lot about why he is coming home so agitated. Her response was “really, just a half hour at the end of the day causes that?” Yes, just a half an hour caused him to become easily upset at home. He had been overstimulated so even just the simplest tasks became incredibly frustrating for him.

I have since become a homeschool mom and am now seeing more damage that was caused by computer based learning. My children attend a distance charter school program and are required to take a grade level test quarterly. My oldest who was reading chapter books in kindergarten has been praised like crazy for doing mediocre work. Utah Compose told him his writing was amazing and now when I tell him it needs some work we have constant melt downs. My second, when she gets on the computer to take a test she immediately shuts down and won’t even work through the problems with me. Her basic math skills are almost non-existent, I put part of the blame on Common Core because she was never required to memorized her facts, just understand them. She can explain to me very nicely what a multiplication problem is but she can’t tell me what 6×7 is.  This makes division, a major 4th grade math concept, incredibly difficult. We’ve had to take a major step back, almost a full grade level math wise to catch the things she didn’t master when she was using computers as a major part of her learning. She doesn’t learn on computers. She has had so many negative experiences trying to learn on computers in the past she can’t even handle the required tests with me right there and crumbles when she sees the scores. My third knows that he can just click through problems on the computer and get incorrect answers then be done. He hates learning on the computer. It requires a lot of sitting which is very difficult for a normal 7 year old, let alone a 7 year old with ADHD. If any learning is to be done on the computers, and because of our experience last year we use very little, my kids don’t handle it well. Currently computers and technology are strictly for play or research if we can’t get to the library. Some of that play may include learning but it is still just play. It’s become a mess that I am slowly cleaning up. It’s a very long process. We aren’t even learning to type because it caused too many tantrums and anxiety on children whose only concern should be scraped knees, playing basketball, and learning to ride a bike. They now see a computer test and immediately believe they are horrible and will fail.

When I told the principal I was taking my kids out and sending them to a charter school he said that he had just come out of a meeting with some of the biggest CEO’s. They said they don’t hire people from Utah because we don’t have the computer skills needed. They said 1:1 computers should have happened in elementary 10 years ago.

There are so many opportunities to learn how to use computers. What we really need are people who can solve unique problems in a creative manner and by giving kids the same education and searching for box answers we aren’t going to get that. We need kids who can think outside the box. We need kids who have been kids that had an imagination, where they actually had to create something out of sticks, Legos, actually entertain themselves for more than 15 minutes, kids who have read a variety of books and gone on a million adventures. I went from one of the most supportive parents when it came to technology in the schools, to one now that won’t use it with my own children. I have seen the damage it can do and you don’t know what it will do until the damage has been done. Kids are resilient. They bounce back but the longer they are exposed, the longer it will take. I have 3 very different kids. Each one learns so different but the one thing they all have in common is they don’t learn well on a computer.

The School my kids use to attend recently was named as a Utah State Board of Education Reward school. This means that this Title 1 school is in the top 15% of Title 1 schools in the state and they have a high level of student proficiency and student growth. They attribute much of this to the technology usage in the classrooms. To me this means the kids have learned how to play the system, because that’s what I saw with my own son. The school plans to expand this program next year since they have seen such success. They want to mix the computer based education with project based learning. Essentially the kids will be getting a majority of their basic math and reading on computers. It’s a program we will have nothing to do with and other parents in the area are nervous too.

It’s frustrating because we are assigned to this school, we can’t get a variance to attend another school as they are full with the children that are in their boundaries. Many parents here can’t homeschool or take their kids to a charter. We are a very low income area. In most families both parents have to work just to make the house payment. I have had a few parents come ask me what to do. This isn’t a charter school where you know what you are getting into when you sign up for the lottery, these kids and families have no choice but to send their kids to this experimental program. The principal said that charter schools are going to catch onto this soon and that then the district would be saying why didn’t we do it first when we had the chance. This program probably will work for some kids, and it will look very good on computer based tests but if we really want to see how this computer based learning works we need to give children the same test twice, once on computer and once on paper. Multiple studies are beginning to show that we learn different on paper vs on the computer.

There is a time and a place for technology but from my experience the classrooms in elementary schools are neither the time nor the place. We really don’t know what this is doing to the kids. Studies are beginning to show the technology aggravates ADHD, children are learning to beat the system, and parents are slowly being pushed farther and farther out of their children’s school lives. Please don’t continue to put 1:1 technology into the classrooms until we know the full effects. Allow parents to choose to put their kids into these programs, not just force them into them because they were assigned to the school. Stick with the tried and true paper, pencil, and books. It takes more time, more preparation but the things that are worth the most usually take the longest. Teaching isn’t easy and it is so nice to have a computer grade all your students writing assignments then tell you how they did or to teach math for you so you can help your kids who just don’t get it but it also eliminates your ability to see how they solved a problem. There truly is a science to how kids answer questions. I can look at a students’ work and see exactly why they missed a math problem. I can tell if they were just goofing off to get done quickly, if they don’t understand the concept at all and need extra help, or if they just made a simple addition or subtraction error but understand the concept taught. When a computer is correcting the assignments all I get is the score. A 35% looks the same in a child who has clicked to get done, a child who needs extra help, and a child that forgot to borrow. The difference is one gets it and doesn’t need the extra help from the teacher, one needs a 5 minute reminder, and the other really needs my extra time.

My son was the star pupil in the school. The child they talked about at parent teacher conference saying this would be so amazing, look at what he has done. I’m going to spend part of this upcoming school year undoing what was done as we move to a new school without technology. Please consider my story before expanding this program. Take the time to do the research before using this to solve the teacher shortage. We do have a teacher shortage, our students deserve better but as we “race to the top” we are forgetting learning isn’t quick sprint. It’s a marathon. Some are faster than others, and that’s ok. We aren’t all the same, we don’t all think the same. That’s ok, as long as we learn to get along and care for each other. That is something a computer will never be able to truly teach.

Free Speech is Dead – Guard Your Child’s Curriculum

Oppression Just Ahead - Free Speech is DeadDeep within the halls of the company formerly known by the motto “Don’t Be Evil,” lurks evil. Google isn’t the only one of course. Massively huge companies setting political agendas and engaging in mass manipulation of the public is no surprise these days. You’ve got to protect *your type* of thinking after all. You don’t want someone sharing a viewpoint and convincing others it’s true if it contradicts your viewpoint and you have the power to deny that brush with truth…

Do you know what’s happening around you?

Prager U, that makes thoughtful 5-minute videos explaining different topics has had 30 of their harmless videos restricted on YouTube. Oh wait, they aren’t harmless. They espouse a conservative non-politically correct viewpoint and Google doesn’t want young people exposed to those dangerous ideas. They are now forced to sue Google owned YouTube. If you want to sign their petition or donate to their lawsuit, visit https://www.prageru.com/petitions/youtube-continues-restrict-many-prageru-videos-fight-back.

Twitter jumped into the fray this week as well in the latest undercover video by Project Veritas. They admit to Shadow Banning people where a person might have a ton of followers but those followers don’t get their tweets and they just think nobody is engaging with them.

Further proving their biased bona-fides, Twitter threatened to share Trump’s private messages, even deleted ones, with the FBI.

Try this one too: Google’s New ‘Fact-Checker’ Is Partisan Garbage

Surely this doesn’t extend to education though! That’s SOOOOoooo non-partisan that the mere idea of vetting by political parties is anathema to liberals. “Schools can’t be partisan” they cry. Wake up! They’re already as partisan as it gets and it’s destroying this country.

We already KNOW indoctrination is fully active in education. Partisan elections are to shine a light on candidates by close examination of a segment of society. No more hiding behind meaningless campaign slogans like “For the Children!” Duh! Who isn’t?

Project Veritas already showed that Pearson and other publishers were using the Common Core curriculum market they monopolize to try and change views about Christianity, the 2nd Amendment, and many other topics they have a strong bias against. Check it out here:

Common Core Investigation

That’s printed curriculum that can be viewed by parents with a little effort. So what are parents to do about digital content they can’t easily see? It’s most certainly happening and even worse. With digital platforms, you can track behaviors and attitudes and manipulate the content directly serving up what a publisher deems important for that student to be exposed to. “Intelligent” systems aren’t quite what they’re cracked up to be, and the curriculum just keeps expanding. Planned Parenthood helped create the new Common Core sex ed curriculum. The Next Generation Science Standards will be full of bias and Utah was promised we’d never go down this road yet we are. You can’t stop a freight train, but you can bail out and get on another track.

Parents, it’s time to home school or engage in something you can trust to see the curriculum. If you’ve been nervous about it in the past, it’s far easier than you realize and there are tons of resources available to you online. Protect your child not just from political indoctrination, but give them the gift of freedom of time to learn things they have a real desire to learn. There are so many ways to educate and so many more schools popping up all over the place to support these ideas. One that is opening this fall in North Utah County is Alpine Valley Academy which is a self-directed learning school. These schools tend to create 14 times as many entrepreneurs as public schools (per graduate capita). Other options abound. Just look up home school groups and ask around. Some of the charter schools in your area might be doing really creative things for home schoolers such as Canyon Grove Distance Education or My Tech High.

A Teacher’s Lamentation (and a rant)

This was posted to Facebook and I thought it worth sharing. The nonsense teachers go through is only going to increase. Those who care about teaching are retiring in droves, leaving those who don’t mind playing the game in the system which will only make it more and more difficult to get “authentic” teaching.

<rant>Unless we stop the computer adaptive tests and the INSANITY of this accountability and test culture (NOT being pushed by parents), we will destroy the next generation. Please, state board and legislators, end school accountability, school grading, computer adaptive tests, competency-based education, database tracking, and all the other soul-destroying nonsense you’ve enacted. Reverse it before it’s too late.

True accountability is between three people. Parent, student, and teacher. That’s it. If you think because it’s tax money paying for our schools that it gives you the right or creates an obligation to prove to the rest of the state and the federal government just how much standardized learning is being done in the classroom, you’re wrong.  You’re damaging teachers, students, and families. Free the schools. Free the teachers. LOCAL CONTROL IS LOCAL. Let communities run their own programs and do what’s best for families. Drop the state rules and let local schools and families do what they feel is best. Success and failure will be at the hands of the free. Not the hands of those with governmental power to dictate what should be taught and when. Where there is no agency there is no development of the mind.

Oh, and you administrators who accept this nonsense without speaking out, where’s your soul? </rant>

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A Teacher’s Story From Facebook:

Tampa Bay, Florida teacher describes growing frustrations of a system in place that snuffs out creativity and life. Is this teacher a complainer? No! They are speaking out for the sake of children and the daily damage done. “After 22 years, I don’t know if I have it in me anymore. I am a teacher. I will always be a teacher. I love teaching, but this isn’t teaching. Everything I am required to do is about preparing my students for “the test.” I spend all day, every day, ramming test prep down my students’ throats. Then I do what seems like 8,000 reams of paperwork each week to prove that I’m ramming test prep down my students’ throats. There is no joy in this for them. I see their blank faces with eyes glazed over. There is no fun or excitement in learning, for they are not really learning.
This past weekend I spent literally every waking hour working, taking breaks only to do laundry and prepare food for my son. I wrote my lesson plans with all of the required “non-negotiables” included and explained. I examined my data to make decisions about what skills might need some reteaching and what skills could be practiced and reinforced in centers. I dutifully created my differentiated centers and made them rigorous (a term that has no business in education). I printed off copies of things on my own printer, using my own ink and paper, because we only get 1000 copies per month. I laminated, cut, and put things in folders to make sure I was all ready for today. Then, in the middle of my ELA block this morning, my principal walked in to do a walk-through. Apparently, this go round was focused on centers because she asked to see mine as she did for all of my teammates, I later learned. Well, I figured this one would be easy after everything I did over the weekend. She looked at them, asked me a couple of questions, and left. My observation notification came through after school and I looked. Imagine my surprise when I received a Basic for Danielson Domain 1e: Designing Coherent instruction. My principal’s only comment… “While it’s good to see differentiated centers there needs to be paired texts and writing in your centers.” Make no mistake, I am open to criticism, especially when criticism is constructive and valid. This, however, is neither constructive nor valid. This is about playing a game. This is about making up a fault that isn’t included in the rubric when you can’t find one that is. This is about making sure that teachers don’t get too many points so we can keep those merit-based raises to a minimum.
This is what education has become. It’s a game, it’s inauthentic, it’s draining. They’re putting out the fire that has blazed inside of me. They’re destroying my soul and my passion. I don’t know what to do now. I am a teacher. I will always be a teacher. I love teaching, but this isn’t teaching.”

Dr. Duke Pesta on the Dangers of Government Schools

Dr. Duke Pesta spoke at the Newquist breakfast event on 9/30/17 and gave an incredible presentation on Common Core and the dangers in and coming to public schools. Please watch this important presentation and then go register for the 2017 Agency-Based Education conference where among other inspiring presentations, you can see if home schooling is right for your family and how to get started. If not home schooling, there are loads of other options including Freedom Project Education (online private school) which Dr. Pesta works for, and many more.

Prosperity 2020 and Fascist Education

Each new thread our state government braids between the Department of Workforce Services and the education system in our state just makes it harder and harder for Utah to sever the cord being created by societal central planners. For decades, society’s central planners have wanted national database tracking from cradle-to-grave to provide for big business to have their optimum input: a well-trained workforce. Exhibit A is Marc Tucker’s letter to Hillary Clinton in 1992. Tucker and his organization have been funded by Bill Gates who as we know, funded Common Core’s creation with the CCSSO and NGA.

People no longer look to history for warnings. If they did, they might notice the dangerous parallels we are following that led to darker times in history. Soon enough, unfortunately, people will remember the phrase, “history repeats itself.”

I’m not an economist or an historian. But if anyone takes the time to study it out a little, it’s easy to see the vast framework marrying government to business (ie. Fascism) in the lucrative education industry. From the White House Learning Registry, to CEDS (Common Education Data Standards), to SLDS (Statewide Longitudinal Database Systems), everything is pretty much in place to control exactly what our children are taught, tested on, and rewarded for, and to create behavioral profiles to know just what they’re suited for…according to the central planners.

Business, which has been clamoring for a seat at the trillion dollar school table, is asked by government to step in and save the day. “Please Big Business, tell our schools what you need and we’ll make sure it’s taught so you have a properly trained workforce. We’ll ensure that no child is left behind. You just provide the list of skills and computer adaptive software they need and we’ll pay you to teach them. Don’t you worry about school boards or parents. They don’t know what’s best for their own children and with the convenience of compulsory education, your common training for the youth will become ubiquitous. We will create the greatest generation of workers the world has ever seen. (Oh, and we’ll also set up the regulations to control you for our great strategic vision.)

Anyone that studies what’s happening around the country can put this picture together without much effort, if they are willing to see it.

Now I’m NOT saying all these people involved with Prosperity 2020, the Salt Lake Chamber, or at the Utah Office of Education, are Fascists. I’m saying they are moving us toward Fascist education, wittingly or not. I’m also saying that once everything is firmly in place it’s a quick trip from governmental control point A to point B and so on. I am sure most of these good folks are just obsessed with the economy and making sure kids get jobs after graduating from high school or college. That’s certainly how most politicians get their re-election talking points!

This email from the Salt Lake Chamber instigated this article showing this connection I’m talking about.

It’s all about career training. Learn this, master this skill, take this test, etc… All pointed toward a common goal, rather than a diversity of personal goals.

C.S. Lewis said, “If education is beaten by training, civilization dies.”

Is there a role for business in education? Certainly. It just shouldn’t be setting the focus. For the rest of the story on business and family involvement in education, please check out this article by Autumn Cook on Agency Based Education’s website, called, Aligning Education with the Needs of the Family.

Classical Education, the Counter

What is the counter to workforce training education? It’s often called classical education. You can Google plenty of resources on it, but here’s a wonderful short essay by Terrance Moore called, “A Classical Education for Modern Times.” That can serve as one example. In short, one might say it is an education foundation for the mind and heart instead of training a person in skills for the workforce.

A well-trained person may always have a job based on their skill set. As long as their industry continues to exist.

A well-trained mind can learn just about any skill, and can problem solve by seeing and creating opportunities. They become the ones who run the businesses and employ the skilled laborers. There’s a reason the elite and powerful in this country send their children to expensive private schools instead of putting them in the Common Core public schools they create for the masses.

Classical education is making a strong surge, particularly among home schoolers who have given up on public education in an effort to protect their children or make sure they get the education that is right for them. Freedom WORKS for helping every child get the education that is right for them.

I hope school board members and business owners will focus on meeting the unique and diverse needs of each individual child, as seen and encouraged by their own families, rather than on the labor pool they want right now. Doing so, will in fact, solve both problems, in unexpected and magnificent ways.

 

New Data Collection Bill Sponsored by Sen. Hatch

In an almost unbelievable surprise, Senator Orrin Hatch has introduced the College Transparency Act of 2017 – along with Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) – as a “modernization” of “the college reporting system for postsecondary data in order to provide greater transparency for students, families, institutions, and policymakers.”

A press release about the bill states:

The College Transparency Act of 2017 will provide actionable and customizable information for students and families as they consider higher education opportunities by accurately reporting on student outcomes such as enrollment, completion, and post-college success across colleges and majors, while ensuring the privacy of individual students is securely protected. Most importantly, this information will tell students how other prospective students have succeeded at an institution, and help point them towards schools best suited to their unique needs and desired outcomes.

In other words, a new longitudinal database to track students. Simultaneously…

HOUSE COMPANION BILL TO REPEAL BAN ON COLLECTING STUDENT-LEVEL DATA: A pair of House lawmakers this week filed companion legislation to a Senate effort aimed at overturning a federal prohibition on tracking the educational and employment outcomes of college students. Reps. Paul Mitchell (R-Mich.) and Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) introduced legislation that would establish a new “secure, privacy-protected postsecondary student data system.” The bill would allow the Education Department to more comprehensively capture student success and employment outcomes of students, broken down by college and major.

 Both lawmakers are members of the House education committee, which is chaired by Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) who has been a vocal opponent of repealing the ban, citing data privacy concerns and questioning whether it’s the proper role of the federal government to collect the information. Read the bill text here and Politico coverage from earlier in the week here.

Senator Hatch’s bill sets up:

[S]haring agreements, with other Federal agencies to create secure linkages with relevant Federal data systems, including data systems of the Office of Federal Student Aid, the Department of Treasury, the Department of Defense, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Social Security Administration, and the Bureau of the Census.

Conservative commentator Michelle Malkin also covered student data collection in a recent episode of her CRTV show Michelle Malkin Investigates.

“Rather than protecting student privacy, the government is a complicit partner in eroding it,” Malkin observed. “We’ve gone from No Child Left Behind to Every Child Data Mined.”

Malkin stressed the role of the federal government in the collection of private student data in her show commentary:

The government is not only joining in but also encouraging and mining the data of our children. Washington meddlers are already on the ground and in our schools gathering intimate information on your family. Through Common Core, the feds are funding and mandating invasive longitudinal databases, collecting highly personal information. It’s data they’ll have forever, data that can never be unseen, your children’s privacy ripped away as they tracked from womb to tomb.

“The data-mining octopus keeps growing more arms and tentacles,” Malkin recently told Breitbart News. “It’s inescapable.”

Read more at: http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2017/05/18/bipartisan-bill-introduced-to-repeal-ban-on-student-data-collection/

Parents: 1, SAGE test: 0

Brooke Wardle posted this hilarious and awesome exchange on Facebook and gave permission for me to share it. Syd is Brooke’s child. Dr. Gary Thompson is the other one mentioned below, a friend of Brooke’s and well know to readers of this site.

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So this just happened…
Syd: Dad, my teacher is insisting I take MAP testing as an alternative to Sage since I opted out.
Me: No you don’t.
Syd: She is insisting.
Me: Tell her to call me.
Syd: I did. She said it would not matter.
Me: Hold one sec. (calls Gary Thompson) Gary, can you run by Syd’s school for me. I have you on my emergency contact list to check Syd out. They’re trying to force her to MAP test.
Gary: No problem. I’m actually only about a minute away.
Me to Syd: Syd, Gary is going to check you out.
Syd: OK

Gary walks into school to check Syd out. Principal walks out.
Gary: I’m here to check Sydney out of school or make sure she makes it to the library to work on homework while the other students do their Sage testing.
Principal: We are required to give her an alternative test.
Gary: No, actually you’re not.
Principal: It is a Utah School Board requirement.
Gary: (holds up his phone) Michelle, what is the board’s policy on this?
Michelle: She is under no obligation to take it and the school should honor the parents wishes.
Principal: Who is that??
Gary: Michelle Boulter from the State Board of Education.
Principal: Oh……
Gary: So, is she coming with me or going to the library?
Principal: She is going to the library.

Gary leaves the building
Calls Michelle back

Gary: So, what did you think?
Michelle: What was the name of that school? I need to add them to my audit list………

Boom
Parents 1 Sage testing 0

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Need info on opting out of SAGE? Go to our opt-out page which links to the state form and laws.

Rigged Assessments

Until this morning, I had never heard it summarized this well. Privacy is the foundation of freedom. On its face, the article below is not about privacy or freedom, but it is inherently part of the issue of rigged assessments. Why? Because those who have built our education system for the last century have been more interested in education as a tool for social engineering than a tool of knowledge transmission. To accomplish that goal, you must gather information about people, their behaviors, attitudes, and beliefs. There must be a loss of privacy to accomplish these goals.

SAGE exams are created by a behavioral testing company. The next alarming trend that MUST BE STOPPED, is that of embedded assessments where students don’t even know they’re being assessed. This is also a violation of privacy and another erosion of freedom. The digital age is unlocking vast potential for good and evil. Stop the evil. Read Wendy’s article and understand what’s happening. Then read this article on the Huff Po entitled “I can’t answer these Texas standardized test questions about my own poem” to see how ridiculous Common Core testing for ELA is.

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Article by Wendy Hart, Reprinted from: http://iaheaction.net/rigged-assessments/

We all know that polls can be skewed and that ‘what everybody knows’ may not be so. Similarly, assessments and assessment data can be gathered, used, and presented in various ways to feed an agenda.  Just because a child is said to be proficient on a state assessment doesn’t mean he or she actually is ‘proficient’ in the way parents want him or her to be.

When I was in school, my teachers would give us tests to help figure out how much of what they were teaching we had actually learned.  Then, the state stepped in and started giving assessments to make sure teachers were teaching what the state wanted them to teach.  And now?  We’re told the assessments are great, but we are just supposed to trust.  We can’t see the assessment questions.  The algorithms (mathematical formulas) determining which questions come next or whether you have a higher or a lower score are kept secret. The State Boards of Education or the assessment vendors, themselves, can move and change the ‘proficiency’ levels at will.

We take it on faith when a student passes a math assessment it means the student is proficient.  Is it possible to rig an assessment?  Not only is it possible, but it’s also being done all the time.  I have four examples of how the assessments are and have been manipulated to provide different results than most people expect.  This is being done without oversight, without insight into what is occurring, and certainly without permission from parents.

The first example is assessing not just what a student is supposed to know but making them do the problem in a particular way. Ask yourself, does this create a disadvantage for a child who knows the math facts but hasn’t been shown a particular way of doing things?

This problem is an example of a Common Core Math Standard from First Grade:

Add and subtract within 20, demonstrating fluency for addition and subtraction within 10. Use strategies such as counting on; making ten (e.g., 8 + 6 = 8 + 2 + 4 = 10 + 4 = 14); decomposing a number leading to a ten (e.g., 13 – 4 = 13 – 3 – 1 = 10 – 1 = 9); using the relationship between addition and subtraction (e.g., knowing that 8 + 4 = 12, one knows 12 – 8 = 4); and creating equivalent but easier or known sums (e.g., adding 6 + 7 by creating the known equivalent 6 + 6 + 1 = 12 + 1 = 13).   

This question doesn’t just assess whether a student knows how to do an addition word problem, but it assesses whether a student has been trained on the Making Ten Strategy as outlined in the standard.  Could a student solve 8+6 without knowing the Making Ten Strategy?  Yes, of course.  Does using the Making Ten Strategy indicate critical thinking?  Or does it simply indicate a student has been instructed in this strategy?  Would you be able to succeed as a mathematician without learning this Making Ten Strategy in First Grade? Have you successfully used addition in your life without thinking about the Making Ten Strategy?

Many parent complaints about Common Core Math come from having to show the various methods for getting the answer or having to explain why an answer is correct.

Parent:“When I was in school, we did it this way.”

Child: “I have to do it this other way or it will be marked wrong.”

One mother asked her child’s teacher if he could simply do the standard algorithm on all his math homework because the multiple strategies were causing him stress.  The teacher said if he didn’t learn the strategies, he wouldn’t do well on the state assessment.  Once the mother indicated her child would not be taking the assessment, the teacher readily agreed to give credit for just the standard algorithms.  The reason for the multiple methods?  To do well on the assessment.

A review written in 2011 by Dr. Stephen Wilson of Johns Hopkins University states the following about the Common Core SBAC test (then under development).  He says, “It appears that the assessments will focus on communication skills and Mathematical Practices over content knowledge.”

Furthermore, “Mathematical Practices, or what was usually called ‘process’ standards in most states, do little more than describe how someone pretty good at mathematics seems to approach mathematics problems. As stand-alone standards, they are neither teachable nor testable. Mathematics is about solving problems, and anyone who can solve a complex multi-step problem using mathematics automatically demonstrates their skill with the Mathematical Practices, (whether they can communicate well or not).”

In short, we see Dr. Wilson’s concerns demonstrated in the above example: the process of getting the answer is of greater importance than the actual mathematical abilities most people think the assessment should be assessing.

A second example comes from Utah’s SAGE (end-of-year) sample assessment for Third Grade. This question is supposed to assess a deeper understanding of division than simply asking if a child knows the answer to 12 ÷ 4. Unfortunately, in creating a more convoluted problem, the assessment question can be solved without knowing anything more than how to count and how to write a division problem. Division facts, themselves, are not necessary.

 

SAGE Math Test QuestionThere are lots of kids who can divide things equally by putting them in different boxes without knowing 12 ÷ 4 = 3.  Supposedly, by dragging the stars and dragging the numbers, you are assessing higher-order thinking.  But what you are really assessing is the child’s familiarity with the software interface, the format of the problem, and whether they can count and relate counting to division.  But they don’t have to know 12 ÷ 4 = 3.

Would a child who knows her division facts be able to do this problem anyway?  Most likely.  However, it is also true this question doesn’t distinguish the child who does know her math facts from the one who does not.

A third example has to do with reading comprehension.  It dates back to the 1980’s but illustrates that what is on an assessment and how it is asked can be used to manipulate and ‘direct’ a student’s thought processes.  I quote Dr. Peg Luksik who worked for Pennsylvania’s Department of Education.  From her video :

‘A sample question said: “There’s a group called the Midnight Marauders and they went out at night and did vandalism. I (the child) would join the group IF…”

“…my best friend was in the group.”

“…my mother wouldn’t find out.”

There was no place to say they would not join the group. They had to say they would join the group.’

Dr. Luksik states that while this was listed as a citizenship assessment, the internal documents stated, “We’re not testing objective knowledge. We are testing and scoring for the child’s threshold for behavior change without protest.”

Additionally, Dr. Luksik discusses another state’s Reading Assessment question: “If you found a wallet with money in it, would you take it?”

She asked, ‘Do you read better if you say “yes”? Or do you read better if you say “no”? Or were they assessing a child’s honesty on a state assessment with their name on it…?’

Clearly, these are examples of assessment questions that were not assessing either citizenship or reading as you and I would define them.

And finally, before a single Utah student took the state’s SAGE assessment in 2014, the head of state assessments warned local school board members that student test scores were going to drop by 10 or 20 points.  He also stated there was no way to correlate the previous test results with the SAGE results.  So, how did he know this?  The point was they knew what the target proficiency rate was.  Utah was looking for a proficiency rate in the 40’s.  And as they went through the process of setting those proficiency scores, they did so after the first round of testing. Then they modified the scoring to make sure the result fell within that 40% range*.  So, in one year, did Utah kids lose 20 points of knowledge?  Or does it simply mean the Powers That Be decided only 40% of the kids got to be labeled ‘proficient’ regardless of what they actually knew?

The only sure way of knowing an assessment is truly measuring academic content and grading it appropriately requires transparency with the assessment questions, the assessment methodology, and independent verification procedures.

Instead of wondering how kids are doing on state assessments and whether a school is “good” based on the assessment scores, we need to be asking what are these assessments supposed to be measuring and how do we know they really are measuring what they claim?

*Alpine School Board Study Session Audio September 23, 2014, Additional Media->Study Session @ 45 minutes. http://board.alpineschools.org/2014/09/18/september-23-2014-board-meeting/

 

Wendy Hart is the mother of three children.  She and her husband Scott have lived in Highland, UT for 17 years.  She was raised in Cupertino, CA, and moved to Utah to pursue her B.S. in Mathematics from Brigham Young University.  She has worked as a programmer and manager in several hi-tech companies in Utah, and owns her own database migration company.  Wendy is honored to serve the citizens of Highland, Alpine, and Cedar Hills, UT as a member of the Alpine School District Board of Education.

 

Comprehensive Sexuality Education

Something we should all be concerned about is the level of sexual information dispensed by the education system without parental consent or knowledge.

A few years back, we learned that the Obama administration was giving $75 million a year to Planned Parenthood to deliver comprehensive sexuality education. What are they teaching? Basically that no kind of sex is wrong, and the only “unsafe” sex is becoming pregnant. From their teaching guide:

‘Abstinence, means choosing not to do any sexual activity that carries a risk for pregnancy or STD/HIV,

We know that employees of Planned Parenthood worked on the Common Core National Sexuality Standards which moves their “education” agenda into elementary school to Kindergarten ages. Utah hasn’t adopted these yet to my knowledge, but no doubt there are those who want it implemented.

JaKell Sullivan recently received a copy of Salt Lake Magazine in which an article appeared, written by Susan Lacke, entitled, “Sex (Mis)Education.” JaKell posted this comment and quote from the article.

Our legislators will get hit hard this legislative session with the argument that we must implement Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE = Common Core-aligned global/national standards and curriculum teaching a perverted view of human sexuality) in order to fight the pornography epidemic. See this from Salt Lake magazine’s 6-Page article promoting CSE, and make sure your legislators are aware of this tactic.

“It’s hard to fight a public health crisis when we’re not sure exactly what it is. Besides, how would we fight it? Even Gov. Herbert admits the public health crisis declaration is symbolic: Herbert says it’s a step to let “our young people know that there’s a particularly psychological and physiological detriment that comes from addiction to pornography.”

…”There is little legal recourse to actually limit access to sexual imagery–the Internet will always be available on phones or laptops. Victoria’s Secret catalogues will always be in the mail. Reality TV will always have hookups and breakups and one-night stands. Dirty pictures will always be on Twitter.

Republican Sen. Todd Weiler, who sponsored the declaration, emphatically declared “no boy or girl needs to see those images to learn how families are created.” But they’re seeing them anyway. What’s more, boys and girls are actually seeking out those very images, despite being told not to. What other choice does a curious kid have?

Due to lack of proper sex education in homes and schools, many of the youth are turning to adult films and other means of media, which do no always depict healthy sexuality,” says Utah board-certified sex therapist Shannon Hickman. When parents and school are not properly educating children and young adults about sex, it can lead youth to porn for answers.”….

One reply to her post by Rhonda Hair is what triggered my desire to create this post. It’s a quote from C.S. Lewis. Always brilliant, Lewis tears this old argument to shreds.

Rhonda’s comment:

Here is good food for thought – turns out that C.S. Lewis addressed this very claim in “Mere Christianity”, chapter 5. Hopefully here’s enough to leave you wanting to study the whole chapter:

“Everyone knows that the sexual appetite, like our other appetites, grows by indulgence. Starving men may think much about food, but so do gluttons; the gorged, as well as the famished, like titillations.

“You find very few people who want to eat things that really are not food or to do other things with food instead of eating it. In other words, perversions of the food appetite are rare. But perversions of the sex instinct are numerous, hard to cure, and frightful. I am sorry to have to go into all these details, but I must. The reason why I must is that you and I, for the last twenty years, have been fed all day long on good solid lies about sex. We have been told, till one is sick of hearing it, that sexual desire is in the same state as any of our other natural desires and that if only we abandon the silly old Victorian idea of hushing it up, everything in the garden will be lovely. It is not true. The moment you look at the facts, and away from the propaganda, you see that it is not.
They tell you sex has become a mess because it was hushed up. But for the last twenty years it has not been hushed up. It has been chattered about all day long. Yet it is still in a mess. If hushing up had been the cause of the trouble, ventilation would have set it right. But it has not. I think it is the other way round. I think the human race originally hushed it up because it had become such a mess. Modern people are always saying, “Sex is nothing to be ashamed of.” They may mean two things. They may mean “There is nothing to be ashamed of in the fact that the human race reproduces itself in a certain way, nor in the fact that it gives pleasure.” If they mean that, they are right. Christianity says the same. It is not the thing, nor the pleasure, that is the trouble. The old Christian teachers said that if man had never fallen, sexual pleasure, instead of being less than it is now, would actually have been greater. I know some muddle-headed Christians have talked as if Christianity thought that sex, or the body, or pleasure, were bad in themselves. But they were wrong. Christianity is almost the only one of the great religions which thoroughly approves of the body-which believes that matter is good, that God Himself once took on a human body, that some kind of body is going to be given to us even in Heaven and is going to be an essential part of our happiness, our beauty, and our energy. Christianity has glorified marriage more than any other religion: and nearly all the greatest love poetry in the world has been produced by Christians. If anyone says that sex, in itself, is bad, Christianity contradicts him at once. But, of course, when people say, “Sex is nothing to be ashamed of,” they may mean “the state into which the sexual instinct has now got is nothing to be ashamed of.”
If they mean that, I think they are wrong. I think it is everything to be ashamed of. There is nothing to be ashamed of in enjoying your food: there would be everything to be ashamed of if half the world made food the main interest of their lives and spent their time looking at pictures of food and dribbling and smacking their lips.

“…In the first place our warped natures, the devils who tempt us, and all the contemporary propaganda for lust, combine to make us feel that the desires we are resisting are so “natural,” so “healthy,” and so reasonable, that it is almost perverse and abnormal to resist them. Poster after poster, film after film, novel after novel, associate the idea of sexual indulgence with the ideas of health, normality, youth, frankness, and good humour. Now this association is a lie. Like all powerful lies, it is based on a truth-the truth, acknowledged above, that sex in itself (apart from the excesses and obsessions that have grown round it) is “normal” and “healthy,” and all the rest of it. The lie consists in the suggestion that any sexual act to which you are tempted at the moment is also healthy and normal. Now this, on any conceivable view, and quite apart from Christianity, must be nonsense. Surrender to all our desires obviously leads to impotence, disease, jealousies, lies, concealment, and everything that is the reverse of health, good humour, and frankness. For any happiness, even in this world, quite a lot of restraint is going to be necessary; so the claim made by every desire, when it is strong, to be healthy and reasonable, counts for nothing. Every sane and civilised man must have some set of principles by which he chooses to reject some of his desires and to permit others.”

For more information watch this video by Family Watch International which explains the comprehensive sexuality education plan.