The reader of this site will recall earlier this year when we brought as much pressure as possible on legislators and state school board members to exit from the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC). Utah had signed on as a governing member of this consortium which obligated us to use their tests and that was destructive of our state control of education. The State Board of Education had voted 4-10 against leaving the SBAC early in the year or late last year, but by summer we had got a commitment that the board would vote to leave the SBAC. In their August 2012 board meeting, the State Board voted 12-3 to exit. This article documented the vote and it made an important prediction which has come true.
The article said that someone within the USOE had passed information on to us that the Request for Proposal for state assessments was being specifically written by the USOE in such a way that they would have to choose a vendor that would use the SBAC’s assessments. When I published this charge, at least one state board member told me that was ridiculous.
This week the State Board appointed committee chose the “American Institutes for Research” as the assessment writer.
The USOE prepared a Powerpoint presentation (Link) on this selection and on slide 2 we see that AIR is the “Only organization currently delivering statewide, online adaptive tests approved for ESEA accountability.” The ESEA was our waiver application for No Child Left Behind. Really? AIR is the ONLY organization we can use? We’re already testing an adaptive assessment system. Why can’t we continue with that? Perhaps it’s because it’s not AIR.
Who is AIR you ask?
“AIR is partnering with the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, a state-led consortium committed to developing tests that use technology to better measure student knowledge and to make tests accessible to all. The Smarter Balanced tests will be delivered online and include innovative items and performance tasks that take advantage of the potential of technology.”
Ahhh, so AIR is partnered with the SBAC and they are the ONLY organization to meet the RFP requirements. What a shocker.
Their mission statement says, “AIR’s mission is to conduct and apply the best behavioral and social science research and evaluation towards improving peoples’ lives, with a special emphasis on the disadvantaged.” Who are these disadvantaged they refer to and why would they focus on behavioral improvements in people’s lives?
One of the worries we had in working with the SBAC was that the lead researcher was Linda Darling-Hammond who co-wrote the book “Learning to Teach for Social Justice.” The concern was that test questions themselves could contain indoctrinating questions. Since we’ve already seen the USOE creating group-think indoctrinating questions for use in textbooks in Utah, it’s clearly a valid concern that Linda Darling-Hammond’s goals of social justice in the classroom will be realized through test questions. If you’re not sure what these other questions could look like that would be indoctrinating, check out these examples.
A quick browse of AIR’s website shows they have sections on “LGBT Youth,” “Inclusive Development,” “Commitments to the Clinton Global Initiative,” “Child Labor,” “Workforce Development,” “Health Care Delivery,” and “Behavior Change.” Several sections deal with mental health issues in youth and one includes the “Good Behavior Game.”
Why it is that Utah can’t find partners that match our values is beyond me. This left-wing, multiculturalism nonsense is why Utah can’t rise above the rest of the nation in academics. If we focused on educating our children in factual knowledge, we would soar above other Common Core states. It’s painfully obvious that the people in charge of education in this state are as extreme as they come in left-wing agendas and it’s time some of them were fired. Please contact your state legislators and send them this article and ask them strip the USOE of their funding and give it to local districts to control their own standards, assessments, and curriculum. It’s clear the fox is guarding the hen house in Utah education.