Category Archives: News

The Dinner Hour has become the National Deprogramming Hour

Denis Ian, a 30+ year veteran public school teacher in New York, published this on Facebook. With his permission I am posting his writeup here. Denis taught Global History and economics, and was also involved with all sorts of district reforms and innovations. He has a BA and a MS in Education from Iona College in New Rochelle, NY.

The dinner hour has become the national deprogramming hour.

All across America, more and more, parents are discovering that their children are actually attending indoctrinating centers rather than schools … and hauling home the outrageous and almost always wrong, politically-infected version of all things. Perhaps Common Core’s lone, positive fallout is that it has revived the family supper.

Common Core, at the moment, is bad stuff. But it has the potential to become extremely bad stuff. For months, in post after post and article after article, the great debate has been about various lessons and approaches that have emerged. Are they or are they not Common Core sanctioned? I used to think that was a valid question. Not any more.

The very sponsors of Common Core hardly seem to mind these curriculum excursions into their absurdity … such as rewriting American history to coalesce with the current pc mindset. They seem barely shivered by eye-popping, stomach-churning developments in sex education … for the littlest of students … who are now exposed to startling information and vividly detailed sexual escapades … all under the guise of healthy living. The Common Core oligarchs seems somewhat soothed by the politically charged alterations to historical documents and events … provided they tumble to the left of center. In short, Common Core’s whoop seems to be … “Open sesame” … everything and anything is up for “reform”.

Anyone and everyone seems welcomed in the Common Core tent of the macabre. If you’re up for skewering America and its history, hop on board. If you’re inclined toward seedy sexual stuff … welcome home! If you’re in favor of disrupting and disturbing a particular activity like coal or petroleum production … or sanctifying every tree and bog and swamp … then there’s a slot for you in the Common Core mayhem. Itching for a fight about who should control nutrition for kids? You’re welcomed aboard. Cranky about about tenure or teacher sovereignty in the classroom? All aboard. It seems anyone with a beef gets a plate at the Common Core buffet of all-you-can-eat nonsense.

Got beefs? Maybe against the military or the Tea Party? Scribble out a unit or a lesson package. You’re in. Got hang-up about climate change or homosexual marriages? Fire away. Got a bug up your nose about Christianity or religion in general,? Just punch out a screed about fanatics and zealots and it’ll find it’s way into Common Core.

The point? Common Core has given educational cover for a slender minority to pollute the actual education environment with any issue whatsoever … and it seems to give those issues … no matter how hair-brained or offensive … a certain legitimacy. Common Core has become the new “open sesame” because, by its very nature, it suggests that what is, is not acceptable. America must be altered, changed, renovated, rejuvenated, redirected … and most especially … cured. But only if those cure pass a certain muster.

Esteemed historical figures are pilloried at the politically-correct whipping post. Historical documents … which foundationed this nation for centuries … are now seen as attic junk … to be recycled according to the “New Nonsense” of the day.

This is no time to hail this nation. Nope. It needs to be SHAMED. Made to appear as sinful as any other on the planet. It’s time to excoriate those blasphemers who think this is an exceptional nation based on a unique set of principles because, well, it makes us standout a bit too much from the rest of the miserable world. And we can’t have that. No, siree. We’re even cajoled to empathize with the new medievalists … currently on a head-collecting mission in the sands of the Middle East … who will one day rocket us into a modern armageddon of real life-or-death preservation. It now seems wiser to “understand” our enemies than to even question them … to search for the vomit-inducing “root cause” of their bloody neo-medievalism. Ever think we might be playing with a modern Ali Babba who isn’t so randy and dandy as the fictional one of yesteryear? I think not.

In schools today, Christianity is viewed as a dangerous cult, personal responsibility has been replaced by an all-knowing, all-soothing government, and espousing contrarian points of view will get you tattooed as a racist, a xenophile, a homophobe, a sexist, a capitalist-pig, a neanderthal … or a dastardly conservative. Common Core has opened the flood-gates for every miscreant with a special beef to step forward and set the record unstraight … because that is part and parcel of the New Nonsense.

And beware what college claims both your child and your family fortune … because almost all of them are indoctrinating, finishing schools of the very worst sort. You might not recognize the kid who returns home.

Make time for dinner … and save your child. Often. View each bread-breaking opportunity as if it was the last supper.

Denis Ian

Thank you for speaking out Denis. If you wonder what to talk about with your children, the answer is anything. Teach them economic principles, stories of perseverance, tidbits from history, and so on. A while back I created a website for topics for dinner discussion and you can find some good ones there. I’m going to be growing it again because I need it as much as anyone else.

Personalized Learning or Psychological Profiling?

These headlines about personalized learning in Education Week (see their newsletter below) give a very good snapshot of how psycho-social research and big brother-style data are converging BECAUSE of federal funding.

The goal for states should be to slow down the personalized learning train and give parents the chance to choose, as Dr. Gary Thompson says, “by informed consent,” whether or not they want their child’s academic and behavioral data tracked in order to control what they learn, and how they are disciplined in schools.

As the Fed’s big-data partner, Knewton’s President Jose Ferreira said, “We have five orders of magnitude more data about you than Google has. We literally have more data about our students than any company has about anybody else about anything, and it’s not even close.”

MarketPlace details, “Jose Ferreira imagines a day when “you tell us what you had for breakfast every morning at the beginning of the semester, by the end of the semester, we should be able to tell you what you had for breakfast. Because you always did better on the days you had scrambled eggs.”

MarketPlace continues, “If the right breakfast makes for a better behaved child, that will be measured, too. Teachers are increasingly relying on behavior monitoring software not only to keep kids on track, but to track them, too. With the help of an iPad, the teacher record’s whether or not your child is being helpful and attentive or talking out of turn. The child is rewarded, often with points, for good behavior. Points are taken away when behavior is not so good.”

This explains why the Fed’s gutted FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) regulations so that healthcare and counseling could be provided in schools without parental consent to “improve student outcomes” on test scores. (We’re from the government, and we’re here to help.)

The ironic thing about the MarketPlace article is that James Steyer from Common Sense Media talks about why it’s important that we get a handle on this data surge. Yet, it is HIS company that met with the White House and is helping them get federalized curriculum to teachers through the White House Learning Registry’s data brokerage system.

So many people are out there trying to “do good” in education. But, they are operating off of the wrong principles. If education is about outcomes, than all this data is necessary and desirable to control everyone. If education is about learning and growing, then agency would be inherent and real “choice” in education would automatically exist.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Here’s the Education Week newsletter and link. Notice that the headline makes it sound as if schools are pushing for Personalized Learning, but the truth exists beneath the headline: “Produced with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.” For those who still don’t know, Bill Gates partnered with the Obama administration on Race To The Top and the end-goal was to standardize and digitize learning around Common Core and its associated data standards (see here and here).

Screen shot 2016-01-20 at 2.04.16 PM Screen shot 2016-01-20 at 2.04.45 PM Screen shot 2016-01-20 at 2.05.31 PM

Link to Education Week blog.

NCLB 2002 vs. ESSA 2015

No Child Left Behind (NCLB):2002 vs Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA):2015

(Thank you Wendy Hart for preparing this and Alyson Williams and Jane Robbins for your assistance)

The ESSA has been explained as a significant improvement over NCLB in the areas of federal overreach into education, specifically regarding standards, testing, and accountability measures. In comparing the language between the two bills, this assertion is incorrect. It is true that ESSA gets rid of AYP, but the Secretary of Education and a Peer-Reviewed Committee must approve state plans that may include non-academic and subjective factors that measure ‘student engagement’ or school climate/safety. This summary does not treat the preschool and community learning centers that are also concerns for limited-government conservatives.

In short, this bill purports to fix the problems created under NCLB (some of which were, in fact, created outside of NCLB but incorrectly attributed to it, e.g. Common Core), but there is evidence that it doesn’t, in fact, fix federal overreach, and, in many instances, like in standards and mandated testing, it increases it.

Statement of Purpose“fair, equal, high-quality education, reach minimum proficiency on challenging academic standards”“fair, equitable, high-quality education, close achievement gaps”Focus changed from equal to equitable and from minimum proficiency in academics to closing achievement gaps
Standards“…State shall not be required to submit such standards to the Secretary [of Education].” p. 1445

Challenging standards same for all schools in the state that 1) specify knowledge and skills for students 2) coherent and rigorous content 3) encourage teaching advanced skills 4) coordinate with 6 federal statutes, 5) English, math, science.

Aligned to State standards. Describe 2 levels of high achievement (proficient and advanced). Describe a 3rd level (basic)

Secretary approves plans unless requirements not met. p. 1456

“State shall not be required to submit any standards… to the Secretary [of Education] for review or approval… Secretary shall not…mandate, direct, control, coerce or exercise any direction or supervision over State…standards.” p. 51

Challenging academic content standards: includes requirement for: 1) consultation with Governor, legislature, teachers, etc. 2) coordination with 11 different Federal programs including IDEA, Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOWA) 3) same for all schools in the state with exceptions, 4) English, math, science or others 5) “aligned with entrance requirements for credit-bearing coursework in…higher education…and…career and technical education standards.” p. 48

Specification on US Dept of Ed Review Committee for approving state plans.

Details on when the Secretary can disapprove plans. p. 42-3

Much of the language is similar. . Standards not required to be submitted for approval. Secretary still has discretion to approve or disapprove plans.

Standard specifications much more detailed under ESSA.
ESSA requires coordination with 11 federal statutes instead of 6.
ESSA requires standards to align with post-secondary coursework. The only current widely-adopted set of standards that are aligned is Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards. This alignment continues to set the stage for national standards (Common Core or similar) that will meet this expectation.

Testing ScheduleRequires testing as follows:
In English math, and science at least once:
1) grades 3- 5, 2) grades 6-9, and 3) grades 10 -12.
Involves multiple academic measures including “higher-order thinking skills and understanding;” p. 145095% participation rate required of all students and all subgroups.
Requires testing as follows:
In English and math: 1) in each grade 3 – 8 2) at least once in grades 9-12
In science at least once in 1) grades 3-5, 2) grades 6-9, 3) grades 10 -12.
Any other subject the state deems to requires, on a schedule set by the state.
Involves multiple up-to-date measures, including higher-order thinking skills, may include measures of student growth, partially determined in the form of portfolios, projects. p. 5495% participation rate required of all students and all subgroups.No parental opt-out of testing is allowed that would hold harmless schools or districts with a lower participation rate on required testing. (p.76)Assessment time is limited (p.76)
Testing has actually increased under ESSA. However, most state plans already include testing of every grade level, starting in 3rd grade at a minimum. But NCLB only requires 3 tests in the 3 different subjects throughout a child’s K-12 experience. ESSA requires 2 tests over 7 years and 1 test over 3 years minimum.

ESSA has greater detail given to other measures that ‘may’ be included on assessments.

95% participation rate maintained. Penalties follow for lower participation, effectively nullifying parental opt outs of testing for federal purposes. State laws allowing parental opt out are allowed, but meaningless for district and school accountability.

The limitation on assessment language has the effect of increasing federally-incentivized testing (under this Act) and reducing local or state testing. Since this is federal law, the federally-required tests will be given. Should additional testing exceed the limit under this part, the state and local assessments will be dropped. It is an increase in federal testing, in practice.

WaiversThe term ‘waiver’ applies to the section it is in. It is to be initiated by the LEA or State Education Agency and could be granted for things such as financial hardship, natural disaster, or if the state could find a better way to meet a given objective.

The Secretary has no power to establish new terms. p. 1972

Illegal NCLB Waivers from letter dated Sep. 23, 2011 terminated after Aug. 1, 2016. p. 7-8
The term ‘waiver’ applies to the section it is in. It is to be initiated by the LEA or State Education Agency and could be granted for things such as financial hardship, natural disaster, or if the state could find a better way to meet a given objective.The Secretary has no power to establish new terms. p. 819 – 822
ESSA modifications of language are more administrative than substantive.

In 2011, the Secretary of Education granted waivers from penalties under NCLB in exchange for new terms, including, for all practical purposes, using the Common Core standards. NCLB contains no provision for this, and scholarly articles, such as Vanderbilt Law Review, April 2015 ( call the use of this power unconstitutional. “This Article demonstrates that this exercise of power was beyond the scope of the Secretary’s statutory or constitutional authority. “ In short, the Secretary violated NCLB. There is no recourse for the states under either NCLB or ESSA to prohibit similar action from occurring.

Common CoreNothingState retains the right to enter in to voluntary partnerships with other states. Zeldin amendment added in the House. Prohibits penalties should states choose to exit Common Core.Since NCLB didn’t require Common Core, only the unconstitutional waiver process, there is no practical effect to this legislation. It’s a nice ‘Sense of Congress’, but the required alignment of standards to credit-bearing coursework and career (see above) will enshrine Common Core and nationally ‘certified’ programs and processes to meet this requirement.
AccountabilityAdequate Yearly Progress (AYP):
State establishes a measure of proficiency and standards for that proficiency, as well as a
timeline for AYP that leads to 100% proficiency in 12 years (2014) . Measures of different subgroups defined. Interim goals that require minimum proficiency requirements toward the 100% proficiency by 2014. Indicators of proficiency must be valid and reliable. pp. 1446-8
AYP is replaced with Long-term goals:
1) improved academic proficiency on annual assessments (see above)
2) high-school graduation rates
3) terms of goals are the same for all students and subgroups
4) may include student growth measures
5) another statewide valid and reliable indicator
6) indicator(s) of school quality, may include: student engagement, educator engagement, access and completion of advanced coursework, postsecondary readiness, school climate and safety, any other measure chosen by the state. pp. 80-85
AYP proficiency requirements on state-determined tests and standards are now removed. They are replaced with state-determined measures of improvement on state-determined standards and tests. As noted above, the state-determined standards and tests have greater requirements in federal legislation under ESSA than under NCLB.

Additionally, the measures of improvement include much more than academic achievement, and cause concern for parents that the state will requirement assessment of things outside their purview. What does the state’s assessment of student engagement or school safety look like? How is this to be objectively measured?

Prohibitions on Federal GovernmentSec. 9527 “Notwithstanding any other provision of Federal law, no State shall be required to have academic content or student academic achievement standards approved or certified by the Federal Government, in order to receive assistance under this Act.” p.1983Sec. 8527 “Notwithstanding any other provision of Federal law, no State shall be required to have academic content or student academic achievement standards approved or certified by the Federal Government, in order to receive assistance under this Act.” p. 844Identical or similar language in both prohibitions sections. ESSA includes more detail “including via grant, cooperative agreement, …” But legally, they cover the same ground.

The Federal Strings We’ve Signed Onto

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s really a brilliant strategy.

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


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

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

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

June 2, 2010: CCSS standards are released

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

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

June, 2012: First Waiver from NCLB granted to Utah


Quotes from SBOE meetings:

May 1, 2009:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Unknown]: My agenda says information

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

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

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

Brenda Hales: You can give me general direction.

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

Laurel Brown: I’m comfortable with that.

David Thomas: I’m a dissenting vote.

June 4, 2010:

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

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

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

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

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

SAGE Validity Part 2: Dr. Thompson Responds

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

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

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

David L. Thomas

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

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

This blog post is about the “forest”:

1.  What exactly IS validity?  (See below)

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

SAGE Validity Test FAILS Utah

SAGE Validity Test Discourages Use of Student Test Scores

By Brian Halladay and Wendy Hart

Board Members, Alpine School District

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


This post continues with:

Feds Confess Truth About Common Core – They Coerced

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

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