Smarter Balanced Assessment Went Under A Peer Review In Delaware…Where’s The Report?

On August 18th, the Delaware State Board of Education held a work session before their regular meeting.  At this session was Jon Cohen, the Vice-President of American Institutes for Research and Tony Alpert, the Executive Director of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium.

sbac

Question… if the test is computer adaptive for each student, then not every student receives the same test.  So how could there possibly ever be mean scores involved with a test that is never the same?  Is that why Delaware Governor Jack Markell called this the best test ever made at a New America conference last year?  Here is the presentation:

That was the presentation.  As you can see, our stalwart State Board of Education took very detail minutes of the work session…

sboe81816worksession

Meanwhile, the Delaware DOE had a meeting with all the district test coordinators on 8/29/16.

Can someone please tell me how Component V from the DPAS-II teacher evaluation system is listed as a “Test Security Incident” for Smarter Balanced?  That seems kind of odd in my opinion.  In the below document, it states the Smarter Balanced Assessment went under a peer review as required by ESEA.  But who was this peer review submitted to?  They talk about “CFA consultants” in the document.  Upon searching for “cfa”, I believe this means “confirmatory factor analysis” based on this document.  Or is that the name of the company doing this “peer review”?  I hope it isn’t like Florida’s peer review that was making everyone ask “Will the real Slim Shady please stand up?”

If this report was due in August, how come we have yet to see a copy of this federally required peer review?  Sounds like a future FOIA!

Why Companies Like Achieve Inc Now Want You To Opt Out Of State Assessments

A blog called NYC Public School Parents published the results of a survey about testing and opt out a couple of days ago.  The findings were a bit bizarre in my opinion.  The fact that it came from Achieve Inc. is very troubling.  For the past couple years, maybe longer, parents have been opting their children out of the state assessment.  That’s a good thing.  But the fact that Achieve Inc. would publish findings that show parents are presumably getting sick of testing and more suburban moms know about opt out is a bit of a farce in my opinion.  At this point, Achieve wants you to opt out.  They want you to complain about too much testing.  They want you, the parents of America, to make such a loud noise that the feds and the states will be forced to change testing environments.  Yes, one of the biggest corporate education reform companies in America is finally in agreement with what we’ve been saying all along!  Finally!  But guess what… this was the plan all along.

If you are royally confused, follow me.  Achieve Inc. helped to set up the Common Core, way back when.  There are some who say they took the work of the Common Core steering committees, ditched it, and came up with their own set of standards.  You know how so many people say “Common Core sucks” and “It’s federal intrustion” and all that stuff?  They are right.  I believe it was intentionally designed to be messed up.  And the tests based off it, like the Smarter Balanced Assessment and PARCC?  They were designed to be bad tests.  No one will say this officially.  But they wanted enough parents to opt out to make some noise.  Not a full-blown, everyone opts out noise.  But enough to draw attention to the subject of assessments.  And they responded.  Florida, Delaware, and many other states conducted Assessment Inventories.  In Delaware, ours was initiated by, who else, Achieve Inc.  These inventories served a double purpose.  It kept the subject of “too many assessments” in the minds of those who followed this type of thing.  It also helped to stop some states from moving forward with opt out legislation.  I’ve seen a Delaware Department of Education email stating our Senate Joint Resolution #2 was a solution against opt out.

You’re still confused.  I understand.  It’s hard to explain this in any way that makes sense.  The Common Core-High Stakes Testing era of corporate education reform is coming to an end.  Very soon.  But that was just a phase.  It allowed the states to get all their data systems in place.  It allowed career & technical education initiatives to get their start.  But the biggest thing Common Core and the state assessments did was open the door to something else.  We are now entering the next phase and the groundwork was laid a long time ago.

Welcome to the Competency-Based Education era!  Instead of your child advancing through grade levels, they will now advance once they master the material.  Don’t get me wrong.  The state assessments will still be there.  But parents most likely won’t even know when their child is taking it.  Because it won’t be the same test.  It won’t be students cooped up taking the same test over a period of weeks in the Spring.  It will be all year.  The same tests, that we have loved to hate, they will still be here.  They may tweak them up a bit, but they aren’t going anywhere.  They laid the trap, and we all fell in it.

How is this even possible?  Through modern technology.  Through personalized learning.  Don’t be fooled by the term personalized learning.  There are actually two kinds.  The concept has been around for decades.  More one-on-one instruction from teachers, personalized on that student’s strengths and weaknesses.  A very humanistic approach which I don’t have an issue with.  But what the corporate education pirates want is the same thing, but take out the teacher.  Substitute it with technology.  With computers, and the internet, and cloud-based systems, and blended learning.  The teachers will still be there, but they won’t be the in front of the classroom teachers anymore.  They will facilitate, and guide the students through what the computer is teaching them.  Some states may push back a bit on this, and compromise with a blended learning system, which is a mix of both.  But make no mistake, the eventual destination is the demise of teacher unions and public education as we know it.

So if public education is gone, will we all have to pay for private school?  We kind of already are.  They are called charter schools.  The first one opened up in the early 1990s.  It has been a slow invasion ever since.  Even though charters represent less than a quarter of the schools in America, they have gained such a foothold in America that their supporters have overshadowed those who oppose them.  Charter schools, no matter what anyone tells you, are not public schools.  They don’t operate the same, and they aren’t held accountable in the same ways.  In charter heavy states, the laws have been written so they get a little bit more of this, a little bit less of that.  They are corporations.  With bylaws and boards that aren’t elected by the people, but among themselves.  Many of them are non-profit organizations, while some of the chains are very much for profit.  But they are not held to the same standards as regular schools.  Those that are horrible wind up shutting down.  These usually surround incapable buffoons who decide to steal from the kitty and get rich quick.  These idiots usually get caught, at one point or another.  They are non-union, and teachers don’t have the same protections as public school teachers.  But we pay for charter schools.

When you pay a local school district with your school taxes, they have to send part of those funds to the charter schools.  Any student from that district who attends a charter school?  You are paying for them to go there.  It comes out of a district’s local funds.  You send that proportion of the students costs to the charter.  There are different buckets of money where your school taxes go.  Some go towards buildings and repairs.  But a lot of them go to the actual student’s share of the pie.  And if they go to a charter, those funds follow them.  As a result, some school districts are left with much less funds over they years.  And since some charters like to pick and choose who they get, even though getting them to admit it is a lesson in futility, they take the better kids from the school districts.  Leaving the school districts with the harder to reach kids.  The ones who the charters don’t want.  If you think lotteries are really random, think again.  Some have very carefully worded interviews, some do kindergarten screenings, and some even have actual pre-acceptance tests.  They don’t want regular school districts anymore, and they are openly at war with public education.  They like to throw out that their enemies are the oppressors and they are the victims.  I hear this rhetoric a lot.  But it’s the whole chicken and the egg scenario.  But in this case, one did come first and the other has been like locusts swarming on public education as we know it.  They have the backing of billionaires.  Those billionaires set up the funds for them, through shell companies all over the country.  Even the feds are in on it.  So what does any of that have to do with testing?

The way things are now, the full-scale privatization of American schools can’t possibly move forward with the blessing of the teacher unions.  But they can infiltrate those unions, and slowly but surely get them to move over to their side of thinking.  We see it all the time.  The National Education Association just finished up their annual representative assembly down in D.C.  One of the biggest topics was charter schools.  Hillary Clinton gave a speech to the NEA members and when she mentioned charters, she got booed.  But behind the scenes, there were several new business items different members of the NEA introduced.  Controversial business items.  Ones that called out the leadership for cavorting with the enemy.  Ones that called for less testing and less labeling and punishing.  The ones leadership wanted, they passed.  The ones they didn’t were either defeated or bundled up and sent to a committee.  Where they will most likely never be heard from again.  Not in their current form at least.  Far too many in the teacher unions are well aware they are under attack but their defensive posture is “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em!”  That Kumbaya seat at the table is a red herring.  It will be a feast.  A feast of crows and vultures picking at the bones of public education.

Every time the unions give in, every time they give up just that one little piece of what used to be theirs, they are dying a slow death.  They incorporate the education reformers ideas and then you start hearing talk about “the whole child” and “community centers”.  And how there is too much testing, and we need to support that idea.  As our school districts try to become community centers, they won’t realize it is a losing proposition.  It is an unsustainable effort, unless they get help.  That help will come from outside organizations.  Like the United Way, and foundations, and those who are dedicated to helping the plight of low-income and minority children.  The civil rights organizations will say Yes, Yes, Yes!  Money will flow all over the place.  The districts will think they have it made.  Add more pre-school!  Bring them in as early as possible.  We have grant money flowing.  We won’t have to pay for it.  Who cares about the charters, we have tons of money.  Until they don’t.  And that’s when they pull the plug.  Who is this “they” I speak of?  All those outside companies, the states, the feds and their grant money.  It will run out.  The districts won’t even see the man behind the curtain until it is too late.

Districts who promised parents they would take care of their children will all of a sudden, in a blink of an eye, go bankrupt.  The states will take them over.  They already did it in some cities with testing and accountability schemes crafted by random luck or things like Race To The Top.  Those schools became, you guessed it, charter schools.  But this will be much more epic in scope.  It will be called the end of public education.  Schools that over-borrowed to become what the education reformers wanted them to be, all under the guise of the Every Student Succeeds Act.  So what happens to the teachers?  The ones that are still in the profession by that point?  The ones who haven’t jumped ship because of the stringent regulations and accountability schemes?  And the evaluations based on the high-stakes tests that companies like Achieve Inc. now want parents to opt out of?  By this time, the personalized digital learning empire will be in full swing.  The state assessment will be broken up into chunks at the end of each learning chapter.  For students taking the online Social Studies class, for example, they will take the state assessment portion of the Civil War chapter one week, and a month later they will get the one on The Reconstruction.  Or maybe two months later depending on how not proficient some of those students are.  How quickly they can grasp the concepts.  By this time, most of those who fought the reformers will either give in and settle into their facilitator role or will have left the profession.

With the testing, don’t be shocked at all if you hear one name coming up a lot.  That would be Questar.  They are NOT their own company.  They are owned by American Institutes for Research (AIR), the un-credited creator of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  Yeah, I know, the states made it!  And I have a bridge in Brooklyn I’m willing to sell to you as well.  They have their hooks in quite a few states, the most recent being New York and Tennessee.  The PARCC test got the most bad press and AIR took advantage of that.  So your kid will take the smaller high-stakes test which will also be an end-of-unit test.  Which will also determine students’ class grades.  Will parents be able to opt out of that?  It was one thing when the tests didn’t mean anything.  Now they will mean everything!  But it doesn’t stop there.  Because everything will be online and through cloud services, that means all your kid’s data is being meticulously tracked.  All the way down to how long it takes them to type something.  The “researchers” will use this data to determine what the best career your child will “do best” at when they are older.  Career pathways, beginning at the very youngest of ages.  Probably in pre-school with the latest screams to get more of that going.  It all looks great on paper, and they want you to think it’s great.  It’s how they will own your child.  The future corporate America.  Education won’t be education anymore.  It will be a high-tech recruiting facilitator-led community-centered we own your kid once we get our hooks into them.   And if all of this isn’t enough, they will bet on the results through social impact bonds.  And get paid for their perceived success margins.  Companies.  Your child is a profit center, but your kid won’t see any of the results except the ultimate Big Brother.

Any parent, teacher, or student needs to speak up NOW.

 

Delaware Children Are Pawns To American Institutes for Research & Not Just For The Smarter Balanced Assessment

“When you are using the test for accountability, you’re not really using it to measure the kid, but you are using it to measure the school or the teacher or the district.” Jon Cohen, President of Assessment at American Institutes for Research

Today we find out the Smarter Balanced Assessment results for Delaware.  This test was designed by American Institutes for Research.  They also created DCAS.  Known as AIR, they are everywhere.  Your child is a mere data point to them so they can help states hold schools and districts accountable for their own tests.  I first wrote about them at the end of April, and what I found shocked me then.  Watch this video, and think of your child taking this assessment.

This is a company who promises Delawareans they will keep your child’s data safe.  Which is interesting, considering they can’t do the same for their own employees so how safe is your child’s information?  This is a company that proudly boasts on their own website how they delivered 60 millions tests to students this year, including 12 million Smarter Balanced Assessments.  But they aren’t just satisfied with American students, they have their paws in international organizations as well with their project called “International Development, Evaluation, and Research”:

IDER is developing a benchmarking tool as part of the World Bank’s System Assessment and Benchmarking for Education Results project that will allow countries to analyze their progress in implementing curriculum based learning standards. The tool will be developed in conjunction with extensive research on the conditions and policies needed to promote standards-based education systems.

I wrote last week about how these assessment developers really operate, and the very dangerous implications it can have for students, especially those with disabilities.  But did you know AIR’s founder, John Flanagan, was heavily involved in eugenics experiments to help the “superior” race.  You can read about this very sordid past with the practice of eugenics which is defined as:

Eugenics: the science of improving a human population by controlled breeding to increase the occurrence of desirable heritable characteristics. Developed largely by Francis Galton as a method of improving the human race, it fell into disfavor only after the perversion of its doctrines by the Nazis.

In a sense, what the corporate education reformers are doing with education isn’t really different than what the eugenics movement attempted.  They are trying to improve the student population by controlled standardization to increase the occurrence of desirable outcomes: the complete destruction of a particular “race” of education: public education.  What companies like AIR do is create the conditions and situations for our schools to be seen as “failing” and then set up the method by which to prove it, tests like Smarter Balanced.  As seen in the accountability matrices for Delaware, and the fact that future priority and focus schools will be based on these measurements, and they are all based on the Smarter Balanced Assessment, is it any wonder our schools aren’t improving?

Even when states like Florida, who withdrew from the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, still used AIR to implement their state assessment, major problems still occurred.  So much so that their own Governor issued a findings report on AIR’s psychometric practicalities and the bungling of the test last Spring.  That report just came back, but unfortunately Florida’s Governor used education reform companies who are well-connected with their Governor to issue the report.  Furthermore, the analysis was done using AIR employees as part of the state’s Technical Advisory Committee.  You can read it all here:

http://www.flgov.com/wp-content/uploads/pdfs/FSA_Final_Report_08312015.pdf

This is a company who has their hands in every aspect of education: assessment, turnaround schools, discipline, achievement, academic standards, accountability, teacher evaluation, and more.  Aside from a few states, I have not seen AIR mentioned as one of the chief education reform companies, but in my eyes, as well as thousands of others, they are at top of the list.  They have received over $1 billion dollars from the US DOE, and in just five years, $38 million from Delaware.  What are the results of this companies assessments in our state?  What progress has been made?  We all know the answer to that.  Remember this company and the above video when you hear so much about the Smarter Balanced Assessment today and in the coming weeks.  Remember their dark history and their very influential present.  Remember they’ve had their hands on Delaware student data for over five years now.  And ask yourself, why does this company know EVERYTHING about my child?  After you finish reading this article, go to AIR’s website.  Peak around, check them out.  See how many countries they are involved in.  See how many different areas of everyday life they have a direct hand in.  Do the research yourself, and if you still don’t have that queasy, unsettling feeling in the pit of your stomach, if you aren’t horrified by this company, then do some more research.  Look into all these companies.  And ask yourself, how in the world did education ever become about this…

An Inside Look At The Dark Minds Of The High-Stakes Testing Regimen of DOE and AIR

The below document is disturbing on many levels.  It is the minutes from a joint meeting from the Delaware Department of Education and American Institutes for Research.  Many assumptions are made on both parts, and they just run with it.  Of particular assessment is the second paragraph of page four and the last paragraph on page seven.  I am beginning to understand why the DOE really doesn’t get special education.  The very fact that they would not defend their own students to these data freaks at AIR is astonishing.

If anything, this document shows what our students are to these data freaks at AIR- nothing but even more data for them to dissect and disseminate.  The cold and callous way students are discussed in terms of high-stakes testing chilled me to the bone.  These are children, not data.

As well, Brian Touchette with the DOE gives mention to something called the Duckworth/Grit analysis.  Angela Duckworth is a  psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania who has made over a million dollars with her “grit” method, which revolves around “growth mindset”.  Grit and rigor…flip sides of the same coin…

Some things to keep in mind with this presentation.  This is December 2013, six months before the Delaware General Assembly voted on House Bill 334, which made Smarter Balanced the state assessment in Delaware.  The DOE advises AIR they have already committed to the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, without any change in the law.  Why is this important?  There has been differing opinions of when Delaware bought the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  Governor Markell said one thing and former Secretary of Education Mark Murphy said another.  This proves Delaware was very much committed to SBAC at least half a year before it was written into state law…

Delaware DOE Plans To Make Teachers Scapegoats For Smarter Balanced Scores, Don’t Fall For It Parents!

The spinsters at the Delaware DOE are at it again.  They have the Smarter Balanced scores, and they know they are terrible.  So how do you get the public behind you?  How does a State Department remain unscathed in the whole debacle?  You blame.  You scapegoat.   But it won’t work.  One, because I know.  Two, because parents aren’t as dumb as you think they are and you have ALWAYS underestimated them.  And Three, it makes absolutely no sense at all.

A couple years ago, the DOE wanted teachers to submit potential material for the Smarter Balanced Assessments.  This is not a lie.  This happened.  But it’s what American Institutes for Research (AIR) and their psychometrics division did with that material that made the Smarter Balanced Assessment what it is.  The devious ways in which questions were created, the whole “wrong answer is right but a right answer with a bad explanation is wrong” came from the demented people who created this test.  The folks behind AIR have been crafting public policy for three quarters of a century.  Did you really think they wouldn’t create a test that served their perverted worldview?

Teachers are NOT to blame for what so many of us parents opted our children out of.  That rests solely on the Delaware DOE and their contracted vendors.  Like the one we have spent $38 million on the past five years, AIR.  Delaware teachers also did NOT set the benchmarks for these tests.  That was done by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium.  They set the cut scores last November.  And I’m sure the states will adjust them accordingly to serve their own purposes.

The spin that is about to be thrust upon this state most likely didn’t even come from the DOE or Governor Markell, but one of the consultants the DOE loves to hire.  Here is a novel idea DOE: if you want to solve the whole problem with the Smarter Balanced scores, just get rid of the test.  Problem solved!

An Inside Look At AIR: The Most Terrifying Company In Education Reform

The scariest company making millions of dollars from the Delaware Department of Education is not who you would think.  It’s not Pearson, or Amplify, or even the Rodel Foundation.  It is a company which has been a part of education policy longer than Common Core was even an idea.  This company sowed the seeds for No Child Left Behind and they even helped to tear down one of Bill Gates original education reform agendas.  This company is American Institutes for Research, otherwise known as AIR.

AIR is the contracted vendor to create and distribute the Smarter Balanced Assessment, the state standardized assessment in Delaware.  But they have been around in Delaware since long before this.  They were also the testing vendor for the Delaware Comprehensive Assessment System (DCAS) in Delaware.  To date AIR received over $35 million dollars from the Delaware DOE as per Delaware Online Checkbook.  How did Delaware bargain students to such a company? Continue reading