A parent posted this in the Utahns Against Common Core Facebook group (join here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/utahnsagainstcommoncore/). She got off the phone with a friend whose 11th grade daughter took the SAGE test yesterday and said one of her essay questions in the exam was:
“How are books bad and why should we focus more on video games because you can control them unlike books? Books discriminate against those who cannot read well and they dictate what you should think.”
Lets see, what’s the purpose of this question? Are you going to argue against the statement given to you? Or are you going to play along and write what the SAGE folks have given you? What’s going to be recorded in this child’s P20W database that SAGE tests provide behavioral data for?
A couple years of these tests and the government will know exactly who the resistor’s and the sheep are. It’s no wonder they don’t want parents and teachers to see these exams. Nothing should be in-between the tester and the testee to introduce a bias against the questions being presented. They need that behavioral data.
Another parent posted:
“A Davis County mother told me her 4th grader has been practicing in class and each prompt gives them three “facts” that they then have to write a 5 paragraph essay on. One prompt was about the Flu off 1918 and these were its facts (with my paraphrasing):
1. Many people died from the flu of 1918
2. The flu virus can mutate
3. It is important that I get the flu vaccine
Basically, it was two facts and one opinion. Not trying to start a debate about flu shots , but should #3 really be a “fact”?”
Another parent posted a couple links to ACT website. The first link describes how ACT Explore is being replaced by ACT Aspire.
“In April 2014, ACT will launch our new student readiness assessment system—ACT Aspire™—the first computer-based, longitudinal assessment system that connects student growth and progress from the elementary grades through high school in the context of college and career readiness.”
Going to the Aspire page we read this:
“To meet this challenge, ACT is developing ACT Aspire—the first digital, longitudinal assessment system to fully connect student performance from elementary grades through high school. ACT Aspire will provide educators and parents with the insights they need to help students get and stay on track by better connecting assessment to teaching and learning.
ACT Aspire will include summative assessments that measure how much students have learned over time, as well as aligned classroom-based assessments that help educators better understand students’ learning needs in individual classes throughout the school year. The aligned assessments will inform teachers about students’ progress toward specific learning standards, so they can better tailor their instruction and resources to help students learn.
ACT research shows the direct link between early assessment and intervention and the improved likelihood of students succeeding in school and reaching their college and career goals. ACT Aspire will help educators identify foundational skill deficiencies earlier, which will provide the opportunity to quickly address weaknesses and build on strengths.”
Why is there such an alignment of standards, testing, curriculum, and intervention taking place? [Get out your tin-foil hat and put it on…] Can you imagine an essay question on evolution where it is presented a fact that man evolved from pond scum and asked students to write an essay taking that single-sided point of view? What if a child resists and states a belief in God? Will there eventually be an intervention to help children not believe in God and “fairy tales” and straighten them out? Presenting one sided arguments and having children write from that perspective does NOT lead to critical thinking skills. It’s the exact opposite. It is indoctrinating and stupifying (to borrow a term from Harry Potter).
Homeschooling and private schools that do not receive state or federal money and don’t participate in Common Core, are your only safe havens. But even with that, most colleges require students take the ACT or SAT in order to get in. There are a number of colleges that don’t require those things, and even BYU has let students in without those tests.
The first step for safety is opting your children completely out of all computer adaptive tests including practice tests. Get off them now. If your charter school has a contract you signed, get out of the charter school. They are worried about their school’s grade from the state more than what is wrong with the system. If you can’t do it this year, do it next. Move toward homeschooling if you can. It’s easier than you think and there are some great programs available online that are totally independent of Common Core.
SAGE tests affect grades 3 and up. AIR that provides this test, is a behavioral testing company. They are not an academic testing company. They are trained psychologists looking for behavioral information in the midst of academics.
Here’s more reasons why you must opt your child out now, including more inappropriate SAGE questions.
If you have questions and fears about opting out and what it means for your child, check out this post and the 2 links at the bottom for Q&A with Alpine SD Board member Wendy Hart.
Some districts are pressuring parents to not pull their children out.
I’ve had a couple emails asking about Dr. Menlove’s letter he said he would write, regarding opting out. He emailed me yesterday and he’s waiting to see if the governor signs SB 122 on parental rights which includes the opt-out for parents. IF YOU HAVEN’T CALLED THE GOVERNOR’S OFFICE YET, DO IT IMMEDIATELY. IF HE DOESN’T SIGN THIS BILL IT SIGNIFICANTLY HURTS THE ABILITY OF PARENTS TO OPT-OUT. Call 801-538-1000 between 8 and 5.
This is Dr. Menlove’s full reply. Again, call the governor to sign SB 122. Then go to the April 4th state board meeting and tell them you want schools and teachers to have no penalty for parents that opt out.
Let me update you on my response to your request.
I prepared a document and shared it with State Board leadership as I previously indicated.
As the Legislative session came to an end, the State Board and USOE leadership identified bills passed by the 2014 Legislature that may be problematic to implement or create some other concern with State Board members. This list included S.B. 122. The concern with this legislation is section (9)(b) that basically says that opting-out by a student does not negatively impact school grading or employee evaluations. Our current policy on opting-out could negatively impact both school grading and teacher evaluations. As such it would be impossible to implement this new Code under our existing opt-out policies. In fact, I am not certain what policy we may adopt that would fully support this new section of the Code.
Last Friday the State Board met to consider possible action on this S.B 122 and a couple of other bills. The result of the discussion on this Bill was that the Board would revisit the USOE policy on opting-out. Yesterday State School Board leadership met to set the agenda for the State School Board meeting on April 4, 2014. It was determined that this item should be considered by the Board on April 4th. Whereas Board action on April 4th may alter the current opt-out policies, I have determined that it is best for me to wait until after the April 4th meeting to issue any statement.
I apologize for this unintended delay. I recognize that there continues to be confusion and inconsistency in information being shared about opting-out. However, for me to issue a statement now and then have to alter that after April 4th, in my opinion, would only add to the existing confusion.
I will issue a clarifying document ASAP following the April 4th State Board meeting.
After asking him to encourage the state board to decouple SAGE exams from school and teacher ratings, he replied:
State law requires that student achievement data be use for both school grading and teacher evaluations. As such, I do not see any way to decouple SAGE from these State law mandated activities. This is my major concern with how to implement these programs fairly while honoring the right of parents to opt-out. Although opting-out has the potential for impacting federal reporting and funding, my major concern is with grading schools and evaluating teachers as mandated in Utah Code.
I replied that “I’m certain there are alternatives like NAEP or the IOWA tests or the old California Achievement Tests we could use. The computer adaptive tests and SAGE in particular are a real problem for a lot of people.”
State Code 53A-1-603 requires the administration of criterion referenced tests or online computer adaptive tests and then goes on to allocate funding for computer adaptive tests and outlines how those tests are to be administered. I do not believe the State Board has the option of not administering computer adaptive tests.
To which I replied: “But under state law, parents have a fundamental liberty interest in the education of their children and if they choose to opt them out of tests, that is up to them. Schools are to play a secondary and supportive role. So regardless of SB 122, the state board should fully support the ability of a parent to opt their child out of tests. Parents are the consumers and have the authority and responsibility to determine what is in their child’s education interest.”
Get your SAGE opt out form here: