Education Reformers and Gates Foundation Want Free-Flow Of Private Student Data

Last Friday, the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking held a hearing for the handling of data in America’s future.  Make no mistake: this would allow student data to flow out of schools more than it already is.  FERPA would become more of a joke than it already is.  The written statements are now available.  And we see more of some of the names behind these foundations.  Folks like KIPP and the Gates Foundation are knee-deep in this.  We know Bill Gates doesn’t care about student data privacy.  And what company actually talks about how brick and mortar schools should no longer be used for a certain population?  The answers are in here.  This is a must-read.  I’m glad to see some of the data privacy groups were able to get public comment submitted for this.  But what in the heck is “Moneyball For Government”?  There are a lot of names involved with that one!

The Gates Foundation came out with a long report last month on student data.  They want the U.S. Government to lift the ban on a Federal database for student data.  How ironic that President Obama issued an Executive Order creating this commission that would allow for Bill Gates’ dream to come true.  Corporations run this country.  This is all just the set-up that will lead to Smart Cities and Blockchain takeovers of society.  When children lose their individual uniqueness and become a part of the hive.  I am all for transparency of government activity, but not things that should never see the light of day.  Personal information should be private.  If someone wants to make their business public, that is one thing.  But when that choice is taken away from you by what amounts to corporate profits, every single American needs to be concerned about this.  Students are no longer people.  They are the human capital for a return on investment.

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How Safe Is Student Data? If This Commission Gets Their Way, Not Very Safe At All

Yesterday, the Commission on Evidence-Based Practices heard testimony from many organizations about how the federal government uses data to create policy. Many of these organizations were education companies, as seen in the below list. The Commission came out of Public Law #114-140. The hearing was put on Youtube. The video appears after the agenda which shows who testified. A few things to take note of while watching the video: this is a federal hearing, so they record recess time as well. The video doesn’t actually begin until the 17:00 mark. A gentleman from the American Principles Project gives his testimony at the 2:45:50 mark. His testimony is the only one from the side of those concerned with how student data can be used and disseminated. Note the participants behind him and their reactions to what he says.

There are many fighting for the protection of personally identifiable data.  But we aren’t enough.  As Emmett McGroarty explained in his testimony, those who fight to protect student data don’t have the corporate muscle behind it with tons of money to lobby legislators.  But we do our own research on what these companies are doing and what they want to do.  They want to lift the final legal barriers for the sharing of ALL data among government agencies.  And as FERPA law states, student data can be disseminated for educational purposes.  The companies that spoke at this hearing which give me reason for concern are American Institutes for Research, Education Trust, the Workforce Data Quality Campaign, New America, and the Institute for Higher Education Policy.  If you look at these agencies alone, they represent companies who would benefit from student data from pre-school to college and/or career readiness.

When I watch hearings like this, and I only see a few Commission members in attendance, it always leads me to a conclusion that this will become policy and all this is just for show.  The summary of the law appears below the video.  To read or submit public comments for this commission, please go here.

Public Hearing

Rayburn House Office

Building, Room B-318

October 21, 2016

9:00 AM

Opening Remarks

Katharine G. Abraham, CEP Chair

Ron Haskins, CEP Co-Chair

9:10 AM

Panel #1

George Grob, American Evaluation Association

Clyde Tucker, American Statistical Association

9:40AM

Panel #2

Amanda Janice Roberson, Institute for Higher Education Policy

Rachel Zinn, Workforce Data Quality Campaign

Carrie Wofford, Veterans Education Success

Mark Schneider, American Institutes for Research

10:20AM

Panel #3

Rachel Fishman, New America

Tiffany Jones, The Education Trust

Christine Keller, Association of Public & Land-grant Universities

Tom Allison, Young Invincibles

11:10AM

Break

11:20AM

Panel #4

Erin Knowles, United States Parents Involved in Education

Emmett McGroarty, American Principles Project

11:50 AM

Panel #5

Daniel Crowley, National Prevention Science Coalition to Improve Lives

RK Paleru, Booz Allen Hamilton

Quentin Wilson, Public Performance Improvement Researcher

12:30PM

Panel #6

David Medina, Results for America

Kelleen Kaye, The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy

Sara Dube, Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative

1:10 PM

Adjourn

Public Law No: 114-140 (03/30/2016)

Evidence-Based Policymaking Commission Act of 2016

(Sec. 2) This bill establishes in the executive branch a Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking.

(Sec. 3) The bill provides for a 15 member Commission appointed by the President and congressional leaders with consideration given to individuals with expertise in economics, statistics, program evaluation, data security, confidentiality, or database management.

(Sec. 4) The Commission must conduct a comprehensive study of the data inventory, data infrastructure, database security, and statistical protocols related to federal policymaking and the agencies responsible for maintaining that data to:
•determine the optimal arrangement for which administrative data on federal programs and tax expenditures, survey data, and related statistical data series may be integrated and made available to facilitate program evaluation, continuous improvement, policy-relevant research, and cost-benefit analyses;
•make recommendations on how data infrastructure, database security, and statistical protocols should be modified to best fulfill those objectives; and
•make recommendations on how best to incorporate outcomes measurement, institutionalize randomized controlled trials, and rigorous impact analysis into program design.

The Commission shall consider whether a clearinghouse for program and survey data should be established and how to create such clearinghouse.

The Commission shall evaluate:
•what administrative data and survey data are relevant for program evaluation and federal policy-making and should be included in a clearinghouse;
•which survey data such administrative data may be linked to, in addition to linkages across administrative data series;
•what are the legal and administrative barriers to including or linking these data series;
•what data-sharing infrastructure should be used to facilitate data merging and access for research purposes;
•how a clearinghouse could be self-funded;
•which researchers, officials, and institutions should have access to data;
•what limitations should be placed on the use of data;
•how to protect information and ensure individual privacy and confidentiality;
•how data and results of research can be used to inform program administrators and policymakers to improve program design;
•what incentives may facilitate interagency sharing of information to improve programmatic effectiveness and enhance data accuracy and comprehensiveness; and
•how individuals whose data are used should be notified of its usages.

The Commission shall, upon the affirmative vote of at least three-quarters of its members, submit to the President and Congress a detailed statement of its findings and conclusions, together with its recommendations for appropriate legislation or administrative actions.

(Sec. 5) The following agencies shall advise and consult with the Commission on matters within their respective areas of responsibility:
•the Bureau of the Census;
•the Internal Revenue Service;
•the Social Security Administration;
•the Departments of Health and Human Services, Agriculture, Housing and Urban Development, Education, and Justice;
•the Office of Management and Budget;
•the Bureau of Economic Analysis; and
•the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

(Sec. 6) The agencies identified as Principal Statistical Agencies in the report entitled “Statistical Programs of the United States Government, Fiscal Year 2015,” published by the Office of Management and Budget, shall transfer up to $3 million to the Bureau of the Census, upon request, for carrying out the activities of the Commission.

The Bureau of the Census shall provide administrative support to the Commission.

No additional funds may be authorized to carry out this Act.

(Sec. 8) The Commission shall terminate not later than 18 months after enactment of this Act.

The Bidders For The Delaware Social Studies And Science State Assessments

The Delaware Dept. of Education put out a request for proposal for their Social Studies and Science state assessments.  For Social Studies, the bidding ended on 9/9 and for Science, 9/23.  This is the second time the Delaware DOE put out requests for these two tests and some of the same companies bid again.  I went into detail about some of those companies last December.  The last time both the state assessments were included in one big lump.  This time, they separated them.  I had a lot to say about the Social Studies request for proposal last month and how this could lead to embedded stealth testing in a constant online competency-based personalized learning environment.

Delaware System of Student Assessment in Social Studies

socstudiesbidders

Next Generation Science Assessment for Delaware Learners

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The new bidders for these assessments are Measured Progress Inc. and WestEd.  Measured Progress is just more of the same according to Save Maine Schools.  They were the Smarter Balanced vendor in three states last year, but they couldn’t even handle the data capacity and had to shut down testing.  WestEd, though, is no stranger to Delaware.  This is a company that thinks online digital learning games with Curious George are just great for preschool.  They also have an extensive list of clients with some very familiar names.  Ironically, the Delaware DOE hired facilitators from WestEd for their Every Student Succeeds Act Community Conversations, along with Research In Action.  They even went into a partnership recently with NewSchools Venture Fund to expand small business data technology companies in K-12 classrooms.  How ironic that they received grant money from the Small Business Administration to fund ed tech start-ups while they are bidding for contracts that would measure the effectiveness of ed tech instruction with state assessments.  No conflict of interest there!  Strategic Measurement still has the same website as last year.  Both AIR and Pearson are still the lead players in the high-stakes testing arena.  None of these bidders signal Delaware ending the high-stakes testing arena any time soon.

Outside Vendor’s Report On “Student Growth” Portion Of Teacher Evaluations In Delaware Sends Mixed Signals

The Delaware Department of Education sent out a bid solicitation on the DPAS-II teacher evaluation system in Delaware.  They wanted to know how teachers and administrators are doing with the student growth portion of the system, part of Component V.  To say the report gives more sides from the pro-testing crowd would be an understatement.  It is very hard for me to take these reports at face value when they ask a limited amount of questions.

What I find even more interesting is the fact that Research For Action, the vendor who created this report, is not listed as a current Delaware vendor, and there is no current contract or one that recently ended calling for such a report.  But the Delaware DOE paid this company $140,000 on 6/17/16, which is well over the threshold that would trigger a mandatory bid solicitation as required by Delaware state law.  In fact, a contract was signed a few months ago with American Institutes for Research (the current Smarter Balanced Assessment vendor in Delaware) to do a review of the DPAS-II system.  Research For Action is also not listed as a Cooperative contract vendor or a set-aside contractor in Delaware.

 

DOERFA

DOERIA

DOERFAFY2015

Now I did find a contract with Research In Action that ended on 6/30/16 which did require an evaluation of DPAS-II.  Are these the same companies?  Since the report below shows them as Research For Action, I would assume they are.  The Delaware DOE did award a contract to Research For Action Inc. that went from 3/19/15 to 8/31/15 for the amount of $225,000.00.  Since the second awarded contract gave a fixed amount of $181,117.62, can someone at the Delaware DOE please tell me why we have already paid this company $450,742.04 for work that is $44,624.42 over the two contractual amounts?  Or is there, once again, some other contract hidden away on the state procurement website under yet another different name for this company?

I wish I could get paid over $450,000 to come out with a seven page “briefing” once every couple of years, interview a few teachers and administrators, and call it a day.  More DOE magic at work!  Or, as some call it, cash in the trash.  And we once again wonder why Delaware schools are underfunded (much more for this topic coming up on this blog).

The “briefing” is below:

 

Delaware DOE Hits All-Time Low With A Very Scummy Move Against Teachers…

Those no-good, rotten bastards at the Delaware Department of Education have done it again.  This time the after-effects will cause much more than a ripple.  This is going to really damage relations between the Delaware DOE and the Delaware State Education Association.  Things were supposed to be better with Secretary of Education Godowsky, but they really aren’t.  Instead, we have more humiliation for the educators of our state. This post does have an update at the bottom. Continue reading “Delaware DOE Hits All-Time Low With A Very Scummy Move Against Teachers…”

Opt Out: “The Data We’re Receiving Would Look Like Swiss Cheese”, The Easter Egg At A Congressional Hearing On Student Privacy

On Tuesday, the Education and Workforce Committee held a Congressional hearing called “Strengthening Education Research and Privacy Protections to Better Serve Students”.  With one parent advocate, one data guy from the Georgia Department of Education, and two corporate schills (yes, there were two, more on that one later).  The hearing was stacked with U.S. Representatives who are, shall we say, sympathetic to the data-testing regime.  We all know the type!

If you looked at the witness list for who was giving testimony at this hearing on the EdWorkforce website, you can see who they were:

WitnessList

So who are these people?  Rachael Strickland is the co-founder and co-chair of the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy.  Neil Campbell is the Policy Director for Next Generation Reforms at the Foundation for Excellence in Education (Jeb Bush’s company).  Jane Hannaway is with the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University.  Robert Swiggum is the Deputy Superintendent for the Georgia Department of Education.  But one of these four has another job, which the Education and Workforce Committee did not include on their website.  During the hearing, this person’s other job wasn’t even discussed at all.  But it is a whopper.  So which one was it?

The day before the hearing, I received an email from the EdWorkforce Committee notifying me of the hearing.  They had the exact same witnesses in the email, but one of them has a different job:

EdWorkforceCommitteeEmail

Take a good look at Dr. Jane Hannaway… Institute Fellow, American Institutes for Research.  Also known as AIR, this is the company that was instrumental in creating the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  They are my state’s vendor for Smarter Balanced.  They are all over the place.  Now why would the United States Education and Workforce Committee not mention that glaring fact at all?  Why would they not include it on their website and have the witness, sworn to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth, not mention this at all?  In fact non-Government employees are required to fill out a “Truth In Testimony” form prior to any Congressional hearing.  Ms. Strickland and Mr. Campbell both listed their affiliated sources, but Ms. Hannaway didn’t list any organizations.  Even though she wrote about her affiliation with AIR in her testimony, it wasn’t spoken out loud.

There are some key points I want to highlight from Hannaway’s testimony, with my thoughts in red:

Almost every state has developed an individual student level longitudinal administrative data system. These data systems have substantive and technical research advantages, as well as efficiency virtues.

Substantive, technical, and efficiency virtues: Can we say cha-ching?  Show me the money?

Because the data are existing working files – created, maintained and used by the state for administrative purposes – they are readily available for approved research purposes.

I have no doubt the states are making these “readily available”.  And I’m sure they pay a pretty penny to make it so!

Having data already in hand means the turnaround time for getting feedback on the results of new policies is short, allowing informed decision making about whether to discontinue, modify or continue particular policies and practices. Indeed, some decisions of interest can be made almost in real time.

Decision making, policies, practices: This lady is combing through your child’s data.  She doesn’t at a government agency, but I’m sure she does work for government agencies.  How are these corporations setting policy?  Very frightening…

The files include data on all students and all teachers in the state over a number of years. So data on students of interest for a particular intervention or for a particular study, say 8th graders, or high performing students, or disadvantaged students can be easily selected.

“A particular intervention”… sounds like something every parent should worry about.  Note the word “all”: all teachers, all students.  They have it set up so they can “shop” through the data for any possible category they want.  I didn’t underline this for emphasis.  It was underlined in her testimony.

Indeed, because teachers can be linked in the data to their students and students’ test scores, teachers can also be compared in terms of their performance. Indeed, some of the most important finding from studies using longitudinal data have focused on teacher effectiveness.

Because that data has given us so many unreasonable conclusions, I find that data inconclusive.  And yet, here is Hannaway continuing to use the biggest fallacy of our time…

For example, regression discontinuity designs can assess the effect of, say, receiving an award on subsequent behavior by comparing results for students just above and below the performance award threshold.

In other words, they set the “performance award threshold”, aka, the high-stakes standardized test scores, based on a point where there would always be some above or below the threshold.  We will NEVER have maximum proficiency.

The advantages in terms of policy insights of individual education data are also substantially expanded when linked to later individual measures in areas beyond education, such as labor market (employment and earnings), justice and health outcomes.

Basically, she is saying we are going to use this data to track and catalog every individual student and determine your outcome for you based on high-stakes standardized testing data.

The state anonymizes the data before researchers receive them. Each student is assigned a state-constructed unique student id (USI) that is used by researchers to link data for each student across years and schools.

So instead of giving a name and social security number, I’ll call this the number of the beast scenario.  For “each student”… has anyone read “Revelations” recently?

Hannaway said, when asked about opt out and what it does to the data: “The data we’re receiving would look like Swiss cheese.”  She couldn’t have said it any better!  If you never had a reason to opt your child out before, know that your child’s “unique” number of the beast, assigned by your state, is given to all education agencies who ask for it from your state.  They base conclusions and policy and decisions, which become laws, based on that crappy test your child takes once a year.  Do your child a favor: make some Swiss cheese for companies like American Institutes for Research.  It is the ONLY way this nonsense will ever stop!  We need MORE Swiss Cheese!

To watch the full video, watch below.  The hearing doesn’t begin until the 6:37 mark.

Campbell looks really nervous at several points during this hearing.  He keeps wringing his hands.  Is that because he is afraid of what will come out or guilt?  Or is he generally a nervous guy?

I love how Swiggum says that states own the data.  Really?  Does the Delaware DOE “own” the data on my child?  His academic performance, social-emotional behavior, all that… they “own” it?  I don’t think so.  If they own it, they should take better care of it!

Delaware DOE Has No Desire To Dump Common Core Or The Smarter Balanced Assessment

money_burning

Last week, the United States House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the Every Student Succeeds Act.  The US Senate will most likely vote on the bill this week and it is expected President Obama will sign the bill.  This will get rid of the No Child Left Behind mandates imposed on all the states.  It gives states more control.  It explicitly says states can come up with own state standards and they do not have to be tied to Common Core.  In Delaware, I see absolutely no indication of Governor Markell or the Delaware Department of Education dumping Common Core or it’s bastard offspring, the Smarter Balanced Assessment.

On October 27th, the DOE submitted a proposal for contract bids on an Early Literacy Initiative.  The bidding on this closed last Friday, 12/4.  The contract calls for a vendor to go into four Delaware schools, three traditional district schools and one charter school.  From the Request for Proposal:

 

DEEarly2

Delaware and literacy rates for the most at-risk students have never been something to brag about.  I fully support all children learning to read, but if the motivation is so they do better on the Smarter Balanced Assessment, I have serious issues with that.  I don’t think increased “rigor” is going to help the students whose needs are not being met.  For those who want to bash me for this, it is all designed for increased proficiency on the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  Why?  Good question.  Governor Markell was the one who wants students with disabilities to go from 19% proficiency on SBAC to 59% in six years.  Like that rigor rubber band isn’t going to snap!  This is what standards-based IEPs are all about, and anyone saying they aren’t is either lying or is unaware of the true motivation.

 

DEEarly3

Which schools will be a part of this experiment?  Are these current priority or focus schools?  The DOE should really give more information on these schools so the vendor can know exactly what they are getting into.  There is a huge difference between MOT Charter School and East Side, or Warner Elementary and Hartly Elementary.  Are these schools the DOE is going to pick for this even aware of what is coming with this contract?  And who were the bidders?

 

DEEarlyLiteracyInitiative

I am very familiar with four of these bidders: American Institutes for Research (AIR), Public Consulting Group (PCG), Amplify, and University of Delaware.  But 95 Percent Group and Institute on Community Integration (ICI)?  Never heard of them.  I checked out 95 Percent Group’s website and I always get nervous when I see only three people listed as employees for a company like this.  I’m sure they have more, or maybe they don’t.  The Institute on Community Integration is through the University of Minnesota.  Whereas 95 Percent Group has a small staff listed, ICI has tons of staff listed on their website!  This happens with university programs like this.  I hate to see AIR and PCG get even more involved in any aspect of Delaware education.  It is very sad that the DOE has more faith in these companies than they do in our own schools and teachers.  But since someone has to be the mediator between these companies and all our schools, it helps to make their existence even more important than it really is.

I have to ask though, what the hell are we even doing anymore?  All of these companies have one goal when they take on these state vendor roles: increasing the scores on the state assessments.  Whether they reach their goal or not, it is a faulty measure of success because state assessments do not provide an accurate assumption of student success.  By driving students to do well on these tests, all they are getting paid for is essentially helping teachers teach to the test.  That isn’t education.  It is a false narrative written by folks like Governor Jack Markell.  We need to stop reading this story.  We need to demand our legislators strip the DOE of spending our taxpayers funds for “cash in the trash” programs like this.  Every time the DOE signs a contract like this, with some contracts never seeing the light of day, we allow the DOE to continue this practice.  Most of us aren’t even aware of this.  Enough is enough…

So Who Bid On The Social Studies And Science State Assessments In Delaware?

Cashinthecan

The Delaware DOE is getting ready to pick a vendor for their high-stakes rigorous grit-worthy state assessments for Science and Social Studies.  Some of these were the companies I expected to see and some I never heard of before in my life!  This is the world of corporate education reform.  Every time you think you have a good handle of what companies are out there, a few more rise to the surface.  All bids were due to the Delaware Department of Education by November 30th.  The DOE is giving an estimated date of 12/18 for the recipient of the contract to be announced.

So let’s start with the obvious suspects: American Institutes for Research (AIR) and Pearson.  AIR is the vendor of choice for the DOE on the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  They were also the vendor for DCAS.  They also implemented state assessments in Florida and Utah that did not go over well with the public.  Pearson, the father of the PARCC assessment, is taking a huge hit after their bungled test.

Strategic Measurement & Evaluation Inc. comes from Lafayette, IN.  Coincidentally, they have as one of their clients the Indiana Department of Education, along with the Michigan counterpart.  But what is really fascinating is the testimonial section of their website.  There are only two names on there.  One is John King, the upcoming US Secretary of Education.  It turns out he used this company when he ran schools in New York City.  Another woman worked in NYC around the same time.  She was the Vice-President of School Supports for the NYC Charter School Center.  We in Delaware know this woman by her current title, Chief Executive Officer of the Community Education Building in Wilmington, none other than Aretha Miller.  Yes, I noticed their website address is “escoreny” as well.  Turns out they have a revamped website coming soon called “smeasurement.com”.

The other company, MetriTech is something of a mystery.  Not for the obvious reason.  If you go to their website, you better bring a magnifying glass or zoom to 150% or greater.  Not that I’m impressed with any of these companies, but at least have a good website!  Their list of clients includes Chicago Public schools and a couple state DOEs, but in looking at their product, it seems geared towards ELL students.  But they are based out of Champaign, IL.  So maybe they have some political connections or something.

So who will win the big contract?  If I had to guess, I would go with Strategic Measurement and Evaluation.  Pearson and AIR are becoming toxic names associated with the Smarter Balanced Assessment and PARCC.  MetriTech looks like they need financing to get a good website going.  But then again, SME has an old website.  Who knows!  I’m sure whoever it is, kids will hate it, teachers will prep students for it, and parents will want to opt their kids out of it!

 

DOE16082

 

Delaware DOE Cleared Of Audit Investigation I Had No Clue About!!!!

How about them apples?  The Delaware Department of Education was cleared in an investigation surrounding their travel expenses.  Delaware has very specific rules about spending state funds for travel, and the Delaware Auditor of Accounts investigated the DOE.  It turns out, someone gave the State Auditor a tip that the DOE worked cushy travel plans into their contracts with American Institutes for Research and Great Schools.  Which would cause the contract to go up, and more money coming out of taxpayer pockets.  How does this even happen and I have no idea it is going on?  I wonder who tipped them off and what they based the complaint on.  Maybe an ex-employee?  Nah, Murphy’s law says it wouldn’t be that guy…

My favorite part about the below audit report: they reviewed the contracts with these companies.  Now I should see if I can FOIA a contract that is part of a state audit investigation from the State Auditor’s office.  The report did find about $42.00 in expenses without receipts.  Shut them down!!!!  The abuse must stop!!!!  I am wondering if the State Auditor goes in order of complaints received.  Cause we still haven’t seen that Family Foundations Academy audit from a year ago.  What’s up with that?

There will be more about American Institutes for Research later on tonight in another article.  Stay tuned!

The Tentacles Of Corporate Education Reform And How They Pull Parents Down The Rabbit Hole

Embedded in the latest Elementary/Secondary Education Act reauthorization are initiatives and agendas that will transform education as we know it. This is not a good thing. Nothing in Delaware currently going on (WEIC, Student Success 2025, Statewide Review of Educational Opportunities) is original. This is happening across the country. The result: students plugged in to computers all the time who will only advance once they have gained proficiency in the Common Core-infused personalized learning technology. The benefits will not be for the students.  They come in the form of financial benefits which will belong to the corporate education reformers, hedge fund managers, and investors. Tech-stock will go through the roof if the current ESEA reauthorization passes, and companies like Schoology, Great Schools and 2Revolutions Inc. will become billionaires over-night. Meanwhile, our children will indeed become slaves to the system. The future is here!

The ESEA reauthorization has morphed into the classic quote from Obi-Wan Kenobi in the original Star Wars movie: “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.”  If you actually think this latest round of ESEA legislation that will come to a vote next Wednesday will reduce testing, you have been sucked down the rabbit hole!

Who is Schoology?  I’ve heard their name countless times in the past year.  I figured it was long past time I dove into this company that is essentially invading every single school district and charter in the First State.  Especially given the information regarding the upcoming ESEA reauthorization vote coming on 12/2.

Schoology offers a cloud service for personalized and blended learning.  For those who aren’t aware, personalized learning is defined by a Great Schools sponsored company as the following:

Personalized learning is generally seen as an alternative to so-called “one-size-fits-all” approaches to schooling in which teachers may, for example, provide all students in a given course with the same type of instruction, the same assignments, and the same assessments with little variation or modification from student to student.

But this is what it really is: a cash-cow bonanza for corporate education reform companies, especially those on the tech side who are pushing their internet-based modules out faster than you realize.  Schoology opened shop in Delaware with the BRINC partnership between the Brandywine, Indian River, New Castle County Vo-Tech and Colonial school districts.  These four districts used Schoology as the base for their personalized learning partnership, and the Caesar Rodney and Appoquinimink districts have joined as well.  The News Journal wrote a huge article on Schoology last March, and reporter Matthew Albright wrote:

Schools must figure out how to create the right infrastructure, providing enough bandwidth and wireless network capacity. They have to settle on the right computers or tablets and find ways to pay for them, configure them, and teach students how to use them.

And, while many teachers have taken their own initiative to find new educational tools, schools and districts have to find ways to train teachers in using these systems and make sure all educators are on the same page.

In Delaware, a group of districts has banded together to work out the best way to deal with those challenges.

The consortium is called BRINC, after the four school districts that originally participated: Brandywine, Indian River, New Castle County Vo-Tech and Colonial. The group added two more districts, Appoquinimink and Caesar Rodney, this year.

Over a year ago, I was distracted away from this by a company called 2Revolutions Inc.  After their appearance at the annual Vision Coalition conference, I looked into 2Revolutions and did not like what I was seeing.  My eye was on 2Revolutions coming into Delaware as a vendor, and I completely missed Schoology who was already here.  Meanwhile, 2Revolutions invaded the New Hampshire education landscape.  Schoology is not much different.  But they don’t just provide a cloud service in Delaware.  According to the minutes from the Senate Concurrent Resolution #22 Educational Technology Task Force in Delaware, Schoology has also integrated with e-School and IEP Plus.  In a press release from Schoology on 5/20/14, the company announced they were integrating with SunGard K-12 Education (the creators of e-school and IEP Plus):

SunGard K-12 Education’s eSchoolPLUS, an industry-recognized student information system, helps educational stakeholders—students, school administrators, district staff, teachers, parents, and board members—easily manage and immediately access the summary and detailed student information they need, when they need it.

While this seems like a good thing, it is a tremendous amount of data which is now in Schoology’s hands.  Schoology is also branching out like crazy all over the country.  They just announced a contract with L.A. Unified School District, as well as Seattle Public School District and Boulder Valley School District.  In terms of financing, they just secured their fourth round of financing with JMI Investments to the tune of $32 million dollars.  This brings their total financing amount to $57 million over the past couple years from investment firms.  The trick to all of this is in the surface benefits: the cloud-based service where teachers can share instruction is free.  But where it goes from there is unchartered territory, according to Tech-Crunch:

On the other side, there is an enterprise-grade product meant for school districts and universities, that gives richer functionality to administrators to hook into back-end student information systems, build out campuses and building maps, and far more. Schoology said that the price (which is per student, per year) is scaled down for larger clients, but he wouldn’t share the general price range for Schoology Enterprise.

Schoology also provides “assistive technology” services for professional development, according to more minutes from the SCR #22 Task Force:

The creation of comprehensive online professional development using the Schoology platform for both Delaware and Assistive Technology Guidelines documents.

The task force is also going to recommend the following:

Provide district/charters the opportunity to buy-into using Schoology with K-12 students at minimal cost. Increase funding to support growth of the use of Schoology that will drive the per student cost down.
Support the use of Resources within Schoology for sharing teacher-created content and OER.

The SCR #22 Educational Technology Task Force was brought forth by Delaware Senator Bryan Townsend, and sponsored by Senator David Sokola, State Rep. Earl Jaques, State Rep. Trey Paradee, and co-sponsored by Senator Colin Bonini. While this task force is going on, there is another task force called the Student Data Privacy Task Force, which came from an amendment to Senate Bill 79, sponsored by Senator Sokola.  Sokola and Jaques also sponsored the current Senate Joint Resolution #2 Assessment Inventory Task Force. I firmly believe every single one of these task forces, aside from having very similar legislators behind the scenes, will also serve to bring about the complete immersion of Delaware into personalized learning. I wrote last month about the clear and present danger behind the data collection occurring with Delaware students.  But it doesn’t just stop at personalized learning because at a state and national level there is a big push for “competency-based education”, which I wrote about a few weeks ago.

Competency-Based Education, also called Proficiency Based Learning, is a process where students do not advance until they have mastered the material. Instead of a once a year standardized assessment, students will be tested at the end of a unit, on a computer. Think Smarter Balanced Assessment broken up into numerous chunks throughout the year. This “stealth” testing will effectively “reduce the amount of testing” but would also give the exact same tests but at a micro-level. This is also an opt-out killer as parents would have no way of knowing how often their child is being tested, nor would they likely have access to the actual questions on the mini-assessments.  Meanwhile, as President Obama and soon-to-be-former US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan mirror Delaware’s Senate Joint Resolution #2, parents and educators are saying “Yes, yes, yes!” but bloggers like myself are saying “No, no, no!”

Save Maine Schools, a blog written by a teacher from Maine named Emily Talmage, has delved into this digital nightmare in great length.  Talmage bought the product these companies were selling until she wisely began to question the motives behind it all.  Maine, along with New Hampshire, Alaska, and Delaware, is one of the state guinea pigs where the experiment of Personalized Learning and Competency-Based Education is at the forefront.  All four of these states have smaller populations and are led by reform-style education leaders.  Talmage recently wrote about what has been going on while we were testing:

The fact is, the state-led testing consortia , which promised to use our tax money to bring us high quality tests that would get our kids “college and career ready”, were actually business consortia, strategically formed to collaborate on “interoperability frameworks” – or, to use simpler terms, ways of passing data and testing content from one locale to the next (from Pearson to Questar, for example, or from your local town to the feds).

Just as the Common Core State Standards were intended to unleash a common market, so, too, was the effort to create a common digital “architecture” that would allow companies like Questar and Pearson and Measured Progress and all the rest to operate in a “plug in play” fashion. (Think of Xbox, Nintendo, PlayStation, and all the rest teaming up to make a super-video-game console.)

The upcoming ESEA reauthorization, called the “Every Student Succeeds Act”, is filled with easter eggs and cash prizes for companies like Schoology, as seen in the below document from EdWeek.

That is a ton of federal money going out to schools from legislation designed on the surface to halt federal interference in education.  It sounds like Race To The Top all over again, but on a much bigger scale.  The tentacles from the feds reach deep into the states with this latest ESEA reauthorization, and behind the US DOE are all the companies that will feast on tax-payer funds.

The bill also allows for further charter school expansion and the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools recently said:

The National Alliance congratulates the conference committee for taking another step forward in the bipartisan effort to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. While we have not yet seen the full text of the conference agreement, we are pleased to learn the proposal would modernize the Charter Schools Program, supporting the growth and expansion of high-quality charter schools to better meet parental demand.

When the opt-out movement grew in huge numbers earlier this year, many civil rights groups protested opt-out as a means of putting minority children further behind their peers.  What they don’t realize is the current ESEA reauthorization will ensure this happens!  Even the two largest teacher union organizations are jumping on this version of ESEA.  The American Federation of Teachers wrote a letter urging ESEA to pass as soon as possible.  National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen Garcia wrote:

We look forward to working with the congressional conference committee members to ensure that we produce a bill that, when signed by the president, gives every student the opportunity, support, tools, and time to learn.

How much do these civil rights groups and leaders of teacher unions really know about what is inside this bill?  Do they understand the danger of rushing this ESEA version to a vote and what it will mean for the future of education and children?  Don’t the teacher unions realize this will be the death knell for the future of teachers in America?  Once personalized learning is embraced by all public schools in America, teachers will become moderators or facilitators of the personalized learning modules.  The demand for “old-school” teachers will greatly diminish, and teacher qualifications will simply become how to review and program these digital instructional items.  The vast amount of money and resources will pour into technology and only the school leaders will be the ones with high salaries.  The current teacher salary models in each state will become a thing of the past.  With the charter school protections written in this bill, more and more charters will open up that will drain away local dollars.  With each state able to come up with their own accountability systems, the schools with the highest-needs students will slowly give way to charters.  Rinse, wash, repeat.  If I were a public school teacher that is in a union, I would seriously question why the national leaders are endorsing this.

Even American Institutes for Research (AIR), the testing vendor for the Smarter Balanced Assessment in Delaware and holds numerous other contracts with other states and the US Department of Education is in on this new “digital age”:

As part of the Future Ready initiative, President Obama hosted more than 100 school superintendents at the White House during a November 19, 2014 “ConnectED to the Future” summit.  Superintendents signed the Future Ready District Pledge indicating their commitment to work with educators, families and communities to develop broadband infrastructures; make high-quality digital materials and devices more accessible; and support professional development programs for educators, schools and districts as they transition to digital learning.

But it doesn’t stop there, because AIR wants districts to invest heavily in all this technology:

Effectively using technology is an essential skill in today’s workforce but also critical to advancing teaching and learning. Today’s students aren’t just digital natives: they increasingly use digital devices to complete school assignments, stay informed, and network with peers around the world. A tipping point for technology and schooling may be in store soon:  instead of merely enhancing teaching and learning, technology may transform both by better accommodating individual learning styles and facilitating collaboration. Whether through the deeper learning, personalized learning, or blended learning approaches districts are exploring and investing heavily in now, technology could finally help your state unlock instruction—educational policy’s “black box”—and ultimately close achievement gaps.

It all comes back to closing those damn achievement gaps, based on the very same state standards and standardized testing that are creating those very same achievement gaps.  This is something AIR excels at, creating the “need” and then selling the “fix”.  Some have theorized, but been unable to prove due to an inability to get into AIR’s contracts and financial records, that companies like WestEd, Questar, Data Recognition Corp. (the “human scorer” company for the Smarter Balanced Assessment in Delaware), and Measurement Inc. are merely shell companies for AIR.  AIR seems to be controlling so much of what is in education.  So much so, it is hard to tell the difference between AIR and the Council of Chief State School Officers.  Which brings us back to Delaware Governor Jack Markell.

This is a man who has been involved in corporate education reform for well over ten years, possibly longer.  He worked at McKinsey and Associates in the 90’s as a consultant, and after coining Nextel, he became the State Treasurer for Delaware, a role he served from 2001-2009.  Since then, he has served as the Governor of Delaware and been behind every single education reform movement that has swept the country.  When Markell served as the President of the National Governor’s Association in 2013, he attended some very big events.  Including the Milken Institute Global Conference.  While in attendance, he served on several panels that were not open to the public and were considered private “by invitation only”.  Why would an elected official, sworn to uphold the best interests of his state, serve on private panels for huge investment firms?  The panels Markell served on at the Milken conference were “Global Capital Markets Advisory Council” (along with Tony Blair, Michael Milken, Eric Cantor and Rupert Murdoch) and “K-12 Education Private Lunch”.  Those were the only two panels Markell talked on, both private, and both closed to the public.

Jack Markell, the great violator of parental rights, who vetoed opt-out legislation in Delaware that overwhelmingly passed the Delaware House and Senate, is one of the key political figures and puppet masters behind all of this.  With close ties to Achieve, McKinsey, the Council of Chief State School Officers, the Rodel Foundation of Delaware, New America, and the Center for American Progress, Markell is a very dangerous man in education.  Markell’s ambitions are not for the good of the citizens of Delaware.  His constituents are the very same companies behind the latest ESEA reauthorization, personalized learning, competency-based education, and the public shaming of educators everywhere unless they happen to belong to a charter school.  He was even involved in the creation of Common Core:

He has also served for three years as Chair of the National Board of Directors of Jobs for America’s Graduates, co-chair of the Common Core Standards Initiative and chair of the Metropolitan Wilmington Urban League.

The last of those groups is a civil rights organization in Delaware’s largest city, Wilmington.  When Markell first announced his “original” idea of assessment inventory, he was joined in the press conference by the head of that organization at the time.

In Delaware, we are led by a tyrant who leads the charge in education reform and allows the money-sucking vampires like Schoology to come in and pocket funds that allow bloated classrooms.  Companies like Schoology will make damn sure students with disabilities, children from poverty, and at-risk youth are always behind their peers.  This is what their services thrive on, the constant demand to fix education.  As our US Congress votes on the ESEA reauthorization, keep this in mind: it is not meant for every student to succeed.  It is all about the money.  Follow it, and you too will see the path to success.

What can parents and teachers do?  Aside from following the money, which is a mammoth task and all too frequently a lesson in humility, look at your local, state and national leaders.

Look at legislation and regulations.

What initiatives and plans are your district boards, charter boards, and state boards of education voting on?

For charter school parents, do you ever question why the boards of charters are appointed rather than elected?

Do you ever look at “task forces”, “working groups” and “committees” in your state and wonder who is on them and why there were appointed?

Does  your state sell the term “stakeholders” in determining policies but many of the same people serve on these groups?

Which of your state legislators are introducing legislation that seems harmless on the surface but has caveats and loopholes deeply embedded into it?

Which legislators are up for re-election and could be easily swayed for promises of future power?

Which legislators are running for higher office?

What policies and laws are your state Congress representatives voting on?

What is your Governor up to?  Do you see news blips about them speaking at private organizations but it is not on their public schedule?

Do you see action by legislators that seems to defy the beliefs of their individual political party?

Do you see education leaders and legislators comingling with lobbyists in your state Capital?

For teachers, where does your local union and state union stand on these issues?  Your national?

Parents: if your school has a PTA or PTO, what are their collective stances on these critical issues?

Do you know if your State Board of Education is elected or appointed?

Find out who your state lobbyists are.  Read.  Search.  Discover.  Question everything.  Email your state legislators and Congress representatives when you don’t agree with something you believe will have no direct benefit for your individual child.  Vote for those who you think will stand against this bi-partisan regime of education vampires.  Question those who sit on the sidelines and do nothing.  Push them.  Make your voice heard.  .  Look into initiatives going on in your state, or research groups looking into school funding or redistricting.  Part of the ESEA reauthorization has states looking at “weighted funding”, whereby funds would pour into more high-needs schools.  As well, the reauthorization would allow more Title I dollars to go into the “bottom” schools than they currently do.  When I say “bottom”, these are schools usually with the most high-needs students who do not do well on the standardized tests.  In many states, these schools become charter schools.  Once again, rinse, wash, repeat.

One thing to keep in mind is the corporate education reform movement is everywhere.  Like a secret society, they have embedded themselves and they are hiding in plain sight.  In every single one of the groups mentioned above.  Some of the people I am asking people to look into may not even realize they are a part of these agendas.  Some may just think they are doing the right thing.  For folks like myself, Diane Ravitch, Mercedes Schneider, Emily Talmage and countless others, our job is to expose and name them.  We discover the lies and call them out.  We are the last line of defense before your child’s worthwhile education is completely gone, lost in the shadows and truckloads of money behind those who would dare to steal your child’s benefit for their own future.  Unless you are part of the wealthy and elite, your child’s fate is being decided on next week during the vote for the ESEA reauthorization.  Most of you don’t even realize this.  Many that do have been duped and fooled into believing this is the right thing.  Many of us have been fighting the evil standardized test and opting out, and the whole time they have been plotting and scheming in closed-door meetings with companies to bring about the last phase of corporate education reform: the complete and utter brainwashing of your child wired into a never-ending state of constant assessment and proficiency based on the curriculum that they wrote.  They fooled the bloggers as well.  But we are the resistance, and we will not stop the defense of our children.  We will protect our schools and our communities from the corporate raiders.  We will keep opting out and fighting for the rights of others to do so as well.  We will not be bought or sold into the devious and intrinsic methodologies they seek to perpetuate on our society.  We will fight, not because we gain personal reward or acclaim, but because it is the right thing to do.

If You Thought Delaware Had Issues, Check Out The Monstrosity Created By AIR In Florida!!!!

I love posting guest articles.  It is always refreshing to get other opinions out there.  This one hails from Deb Herbage down in Florida.  I’ve known Deb for a couple months now and we share many of the same thoughts.  Her post is based off the Florida state assessment, the FSA.  While it isn’t the Smarter Balanced or PARCC, it was created by the very same vendor Delaware has for the Smarter Balanced Assessment: American Institutes for Research!  We need a hero, and Deb is already one of them!

280 Days

Written by Deb Herbage

11/18/2015

 

It has been 260 days and 8 months since my daughter sat for the FSA (Florida Standards Assessment) at her elementary school here in Florida and we still have no scores.  260 days and 8 months  ago she took the first of many tests that were supposed to tell her teachers where her learning deficiencies are.  A test  that was supposed to show academic improvement.  A test that was supposed to show  performance data.  A test that was supposed to show us, her parents, results.   What we received was appalling.   What we received was not a report telling us about her learning deficiencies, academic gains or performance.  What we received was deeply disappointing.  Two  sheets of paper (stuffed in her backpack) showing her “percentile rank” – one for ELA and one for math.  THAT’S IT.  This test that was supposed to revolutionize education.   This test that we paid AIR $176 million dollars is an embarrassment and a flop.  It’s worse than a flop – it’s an epic failure of monumental proportions.  A big disappointment.   A rip-off. 

We are now into our second quarter of the new school year and we STILL have no scores.  I do not know how my daughter scored on the FSA and I probably never will.  Her teachers do not know if there were any learning gains or deficiencies but it would be a moot point at this stage of the game considering the test was 8 months ago.  All the empty promises of a cost-effective test, a test that could be scored instantaneously, a test that provided immediate results, all just that – empty promises.  This test was written and designed for one purpose and only one purpose – accountability.  This test was designed to evaluate my daughters teachers, school and district.  This test was never about the students.   The Superintendents in the state of Florida called the accountability system “severely flawed” and “lacking credibility and validity” after the validity fiasco.  Governor Scott and the FDOE are moving ahead with the “severely flawed” and “incredulous and invalid” test results to grade our schools and evaluate our teachers.  It was never about the students.  That is quite evident now.

As a parent – I am deeply concerned at the current state of education in the state of Florida.  I am deeply concerned that my daughter is not getting the education that our tax dollars support.  I am deeply concerned that the damage being done to her and all the students in the state of Florida will be unmeasurable and hopefully not irreversible.

The FDOE, the FL senators, Governor Scott and the FL legislators seem to think this is okay since they are the ones that put this in place.   They seem to think that leaving our kids, teachers and schools in limbo for 8 months and using “invalid and incredulous” results to hold our kids, teachers and schools accountable is okay.    It’s time to man up.  Stop pointing the finger of blame at our teachers and schools and take responsibility for your failures and clean up the horrendous mess you created.  We didn’t ask for this – it was forced upon us.

If I am to believe the test scores that have been released across the country– then Florida will fall right in line with the rest of the country and fail either 54% or 70% of our students next month when the cut scores are set.   All across the country the SBAC/AIR and PARCC (testing consortia) results have been slowly released –  trickling in and they are not good.  Another big disappointment.  Another epic failure.    They are going to tell us our kids “failed”.  They will want us to believe our kids are not “college or career ready”.  They can tell us that because they control the numbers and make them what they want them to be.  The only failure I see is the test.  The big disappointment, epic failure of a test.   260 days for this?

How bad does it have to get before someone, ANYONE does something to put an end to this?  How many more kids will be labeled as failures before someone acts?  How many more hours and days of real, quality instructional time will our kids have to miss for unnecessary test prep and test taking before someone does  something?  How many more kids will be labeled and sorted before anyone does something?  How many more teachers will be driven out before someone does SOMETHING?  All it takes is one.   A coward hides behind lies and deceit.  We need a hero because we have a lot of cowards.  Who will be our hero? 

If the folks in Tallahassee think for one second that parents are more concerned with “percentile ranks” than they are with their child’s education then clearly they are not listening to parents, teachers, the public or students.   They should be ashamed of themselves for labeling our kids as failures when that title deservedly goes to them.  Time to end the malfeasance and man up and stop hurting our children.  Maybe we will have our test scores by then, until so we will continue our act of civil disobedience by opting out of the test so we don’t have to wait another  260 days.

Deb Herbage

American Institutes for Research Screwed Up Mailing of Numerous SBAC Scores For Families In Delaware

Last night, a presentation on the Smarter Balanced Assessment results was given to the Christina Board of Education by Dr. Dan Weinles, the Supervisor of Assessment, Research & Evaluation for the district.  It was revealed that Delaware’s testing vendor American Institutes for Research royally screwed up on mailing the test scores to well over 1,000 families just in Christina alone, and probably accounts for well over 10,000 families in Delaware if the same mistake occurred statewide.

NOTE: The State Department of Education’s (DE DOE) test vendor (AIR) did not include apartment numbers in its mailing list. As such, many Smarter Assessment parent reports have been returned by the US Postal Service. To date, the Christina School District has received well over 1,200 returned reports. The DE DOE retrieved returned parent reports on Friday, Oct. 9, and the test vendor has committed to re-mail these reports with corrected addresses.

For a company that is so obsessed with proficiency, that is a huge and colossal mistake on their part.  But it isn’t just AIR that screwed up.  Christina reported there were numerous issues with the DOE’s reporting of participation rates in Christina.  Which I find ironic since Penny Schwinn said the DOE “rounded up” the participation rates as much as they could.  Did the DOE intentionally try to make Christina look bad? Again?  You can read the full presentation below:

The Data Consortium That Allows Student Information To Be Shared With Hundreds Of Companies & Universities Globally

One picture. Nine cross-state collaborations. And a company that houses all of the big testing companies and many of the big education reform players as well as some unusual shockers. What in God’s name has the DOE done now? What the hell is “student interventions product, data tagging” and all this other nonsense? Now I can see why Delaware Senator David Sokola and Attorney General Matt Denn were in such a huge rush to get Senate Bill 79 passed. But the original legislation was not what passed. It was the SS1 amendment that was the true goal. Have to say I’m very disappointed Delaware seems to think it can share student data with whoever the hell they want.

And then there is this very disturbing document, taken from Colorado’s Statewide Longitudinal Data System Grant application for a potential award from the US Department of Education for this year:

12088161_1631093473798876_7639148365207500198_n

And what is this, in the July 2015 newsletter from the CCSSO website:

Privacy Workgroup

The privacy workgroup would like to welcome Pat Bush from Delaware as the newest CIO-lead for the group. He joins current CIO leads- Melinda Maddox from Alabama and Marcia Bohannon from Colorado. The leads are meeting this month to continue discussions around the development of a privacy toolkit for SEA leadership and will also identify priority areas for the workgroup to focus on during the new program year.  

For those who may not be familiar with CCSSO and SEA, CCSSO is the Council of Chief State School Officers and SEA stands for State Educational Agencies which in Delaware is the Department of Education. Why would the DOE need a privacy “toolkit”?

Back to Senate Bill 79 w/SS1.  This bill was rushed through the 148th General Assembly by Senator David Sokola under the hand of Delaware Attorney General Matt Denn.  Below is the lobbying activity on this one bill:

SS 1 FOR SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 8/11/2015 Robert L. Byrd Delaware Business Roundtable Education Committee, Inc.
SS 1 FOR SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 7/6/2015 Cheryl Heiks Google
SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 7/6/2015 Cheryl Heiks Google
SS 1 FOR SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 7/2/2015 Melissa Hopkins Rodel Foundation of Delaware
SS 1 FOR SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 6/22/2015 Rhett Ruggerio Delaware Charter School Network
SS 1 FOR SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 6/22/2015 Jordan Seemans Delaware Charter School Network
SS 1 FOR SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 6/19/2015 Kimberly B. Gomes Delaware Business Roundtable Education Committee, Inc.
SS 1 FOR SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 6/19/2015 Kimberly B. Gomes Amazon
SS 1 FOR SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 6/19/2015 Robert L. Byrd Amazon
SS 1 FOR SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 6/19/2015 Rebecca Byrd Delaware Business Roundtable Education Committee, Inc.
SS 1 FOR SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 6/19/2015 Rebecca Byrd Amazon
SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 6/19/2015 Rebecca Byrd Amazon
SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 6/17/2015 Ron Barnes Google Inc.
SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 6/15/2015 Melissa Hopkins Rodel Foundation of Delaware
SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 6/15/2015 Paul Herdman Rodel Foundation of Delaware
SS 1 FOR SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 6/11/2015 Christopher V. DiPietro MICROSOFT CORPORATION
SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 6/3/2015 Christopher V. DiPietro MICROSOFT CORPORATION
SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 5/18/2015 Deborah Hamilton Google
SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 5/12/2015 Scott Ward MICROSOFT CORPORATION
SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 5/12/2015 Jeremy Kudon MICROSOFT CORPORATION
SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 5/5/2015 Rebecca Byrd Delaware Business Roundtable Education Committee, Inc.
SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 5/5/2015 Kimberly B. Gomes Delaware Business Roundtable Education Committee, Inc.
SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 5/5/2015 Robert L. Byrd Verizon Delaware LLC
SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 5/5/2015 Robert L. Byrd Delaware Business Roundtable Education Committee, Inc.
SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 5/5/2015 Robert L. Byrd Amazon
SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 5/5/2015 Kim Willson Delaware Charter School Network
SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 5/5/2015 Rhett Ruggerio Delaware Charter School Network
SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 5/5/2015 Jordan Seemans Delaware Charter School Network
SS 1 FOR SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 8/11/2015 Robert L. Byrd Delaware Business Roundtable Education Committee, Inc.
SS 1 FOR SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 7/6/2015 Cheryl Heiks Google
SS 1 FOR SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 7/2/2015 Melissa Hopkins Rodel Foundation of Delaware
SS 1 FOR SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 6/22/2015 Rhett Ruggerio Delaware Charter School Network
SS 1 FOR SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 6/22/2015 Jordan Seemans Delaware Charter School Network
SS 1 FOR SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 6/19/2015 Kimberly B. Gomes Delaware Business Roundtable Education Committee, Inc.
SS 1 FOR SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 6/19/2015 Kimberly B. Gomes Amazon
SS 1 FOR SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 6/19/2015 Robert L. Byrd Amazon
SS 1 FOR SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 6/19/2015 Rebecca Byrd Delaware Business Roundtable Education Committee, Inc.
SS 1 FOR SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 6/19/2015 Rebecca Byrd Amazon
SS 1 FOR SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 6/11/2015 Christopher V. DiPietro MICROSOFT CORPORATION

To anyone who thinks Senator Sokola is trustworthy and is looking out for kids, think again.  But Attorney General Matt Denn’s involvement and the imperative rush to get this through…that’s a headscratcher.  Similar bills went through in other states, and nearly all of them had the same amendments added and the lobbyists swarmed in to make sure the following language was added, which is taken from the final legislation for Senate Bill 79:

(6) Nothing in this subsection prohibits an operator from using student data for any of the following:

a. Maintaining, delivering, supporting, evaluating, or diagnosing the operator’s Internet website, online or cloud computing service, online application, or mobile application.

b. Adaptive learning or customized student learning purposes.

(7) Nothing in this subsection prohibits an operator from using or sharing aggregate student data or de-identified student data for any of the following:

a. The development and improvement of the operator’s Internet website, online or cloud computing service, online application, or mobile application, or other educational Internet websites, online or cloud computing services, online applications, or mobile applications.

b. Within other Internet websites, online or cloud computing services, online applications, or mobile applications owned by the operator, and intended for school district, school, or student use, to evaluate and improve educational products or services intended for school district, school, or student use.

c. To demonstrate the effectiveness of the operator’s products or services, including their marketing.

When are Governor Markell and the Delaware DOE going to stop allowing all this data sharing?  Not anytime soon.  And don’t think this is just Delaware.  A company called IMS Global Learning Consortium has ALL the major players involved.  They are an umbrella company for data to be shared between all of these companies, with companies that do business with the Delaware DOE and two Delaware School Districts bolded for emphasis:

Contributing Members

Act, American Institutes for Research, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Blackboard, California State University, Data Recognition Corporation, ETS, EduCause, Harvard Business Publishing, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, IBM, Indian River School District, Intel, Learning.com, Lumen, McGraw Hill Education, Measured Progress, MediaCore, Microsoft, National Student Clearinghouse, Northwest Evaluation Association, Pacific Metrics Corporation, PARCC, Pearson, Public Consulting Group, Qualcomm Education Inc., Questar, Samsung, Schoology, Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium and numerous other companies and universities in the United States and around the world.

Affiliates

ACE Learning, College Board, Google, Red Clay Consolidated School District, Scantron, Scholastic, SunGard K-12 Education (houses Delaware e-school and IEP Plus), WestEd and many more.

And then they have hundreds of Alliance Participants. You can see what all the members get for their dues to IMS.  Pretty extensive list.

When you are a member, you get shared access of the whole network.  And which school district does the DOE praise the most and just had an administrator from that district join the State Board of Education? Indian River. And what district will be the recipient of the Wilmington Christina School District students? Red Clay Consolidated.

This company that charges outlandish fees to belong to their network has all the major education players. American Institutes for Research is the vendor for the Smarter Balanced Assessment. Want to know what that means Delaware parents? That means YOUR child’s test results are most likely filtering through this network of companies and universities and school districts. All over the world.

And take a wild guess where they are incorporated?

Delaware parents: by letting your child take the Smarter Balanced Assessment, you are saying it is okay for all these entities around the country and the globe to see your child’s information. It’s okay for them to see the psychometric information American Institutes for Research uses as a result of these assessments. Yes, the Delaware Department of Education isn’t on there. But guess what, the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium and American Institutes for Research are. And so is their scoring vendor, Data Recognition Corporation. And if Delaware ever changes the state assessment, I’m sure one of the many other testing companies on this list will gladly put in a bid.  But you can change that.  Aside from the obvious misuse and abuse that comes from Smarter Balanced, we are now learning the data from it is the true goldmine. The only way to stop this is to refuse to have your child take this test. Opt your child out now. Unless, once again, you are okay with all this…

Delaware legislators, this is just yet another reason why you need to override Governor Markell’s veto of the opt-out legislation: House Bill 50. You don’t think the Governor knows about all of this data swapping? Of course he does!

While Delaware didn’t win an award for this year’s Statewide Longitudinal Data System grant, it is very interesting to see the requirements for this, which can be found here,especially Section V.

Are we human? Or are we data?

Unraveling The Gordian Knot Around The Delaware DOE, AIR, DRC, CCSSO & SBAC

For many years, the Delaware Department of Education enacted policies and procedures with most of Delaware not aware of what was really going on.  This is changing at an exponential rate.  A Gordian knot is described as an unsolvable problem.  For years, folks in Delaware took whatever the DOE said as the gospel truth and there was nothing they could do about it.  The times, they are indeed changing…

For example, Senate Joint Resolution #2.  Sponsored by Delaware State Senator David Sokola and State Rep. Earl Jaques.  This resolution creates a task force to do away with unnecessary assessments because “students are being tested too much.”  Now I am hearing the DOE wants to increase the amount of interim assessments for the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  So we will get rid of the tests that actually give immediate feedback for instructional growth, but have more tests aligned with the Smarter Balanced?  You have got to be kidding me.  I always knew this was a ploy to fight opt-out, but now we are seeing the scorpion sting coming from the backend.  They want ALL the assessments kids get to be tied to Smarter Balanced, all for scores on THIS test.  And let’s not even get into how much more money this will give the vendor for Smarter Balanced, none other than American Institutes for Research (AIR).  As if $38 million between DCAS and Smarter Balanced weren’t enough…

In a couple newsletters from the Delaware System of Student Assessments (DeSSA), they talk about Data Recognition Corporation (DRC) being the scoring vendor, but never reveal the actual contractual relationship between AIR and DRC, even though other states were openly talking about it.  In fact, it appears the DOE did everything they could to avoid anything seen as issues with the Smarter Balanced Assessment during all of the House Bill 50 debate.

The key words in this newsletter from May of 2015, which talks about the “assessment inventory” are as follows:

Ultimately, the overall goal of this project is to provide a balanced system of assessments incorporating a minimum amount of high quality testing while meeting accountability needs and the needs of the educators supporting student growth and maximizing time for instruction.

Source: DeSSA May 2015 Newsletter

We are also finding out how much AIR and DRC are closely tied.  DRC is not just a test scoring vendor.  In fact, DRC was recently announced as the testing vendor for the Badger Exam in Wisconsin.  And there are already accusations surrounding campaign contributions to Governor Scott Walker from DRC President Susan Engeleiter.  DRC is the scoring vendor for Delaware’s Smarter Balanced essay portions of the test.  But the Delaware DOE never announced this.  In fact, they danced around the question for quite a long time.  They said nothing about it.

In the same newsletter from above, the DOE is very careful about how they word things:

Delaware non-machined scored online items are being hand-scored by the Data Recognition Corporation (DRC). Delaware student items are being scored using the rubrics and student samples validated by educators from Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium states, including educators from Delaware.

Hand-scored results will then be combined with machine-scored results for reporting purposes. Our score reports will then be sent from our Delaware online platform vendor, American Institutes for Research (AIR).

Parent reports are scheduled to be sent out early August, providing student scores for testing in ELA/literacy and mathematics. An interpretative guide will also be distributed to support full understanding of the document.

The whole newsletter is actually chock full of information.  Too bad parents don’t get this newsletter.  But in the March 2015 newsletter, it indicates more about DRC, and the qualifications for their scorers.

High Expectations for Summative Scorers:

Step 1 – Screening

Four-year college degree in relevant scoring content area

 Educational/work experience related to scoring subject

 Prior scoring experience is considered

Step 2 – Interview

Personal interview

 DRC content-area proficiency assessment

Step 3 – Training

Item training

 Reliability calibration/validation

Step 4 – Ongoing Validation

Read-behind validation

 Ten percent double-scoring, supervisor review

 Ongoing accuracy review

Step 5 – Retraining (if warranted)

Re-assignment of scoring and all previously scored work

 Follow-up tracking for accuracy

 Dismissal from process and rescoring of scored work

Source: DeSSA March 2015 Newsletter

The DOE confirmed at the May 2014 Governor’s Advisory Council for Exceptional Citizens that none of these portions of Smarter Balanced would be graded in Delaware.  This article from Oregon Save Our Schools shows a great deal of concern with DRC as the “human scoring vendor”…

…confirmed that the test vendor (AIR) is subcontracting with a company called Data Recognition Corporation, DRC, to manage scoring of constructed responses.  They operate in much the same way the Measurement Incorporated and Pearsons scores the tests using random temp workers paid low wages. DRC is paying $13/hour, like Pearsons while MI pays $10.70. They all make the only qualification, a BA or 4 year degree in any subject. These low wage temp workers are not educators and not qualified to evaluate our students. They work under conditions that are not conducive to good assessment, sitting for hours reading huge volumes writing of students they don’t know.

So what is the relationship between AIR and DRC in terms of standardized assessments?  They both have strong ties to overall education policy due to their business relationship with the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO).  These corporations pay a “membership” fee to get in, and then reap the benefits through numerous contracts with testing consortiums and state education agencies like the Delaware DOE.

Led by Executive Director Christopher Minnich, CCSSO describes itself as:

The Council of Chief State School Officers is a nonpartisan, nationwide, nonprofit organization of public officials who head departments of elementary and secondary education in the states, the District of Columbia, the Department of Defense Education Activity, and five U.S. extra-state jurisdictions. CCSSO provides leadership, advocacy, and technical assistance on major educational issues. The Council seeks member consensus on major educational issues and expresses their views to civic and professional organizations, federal agencies, Congress, and the public.

But good luck getting into any of their closed-to-the-public meetings.  In fact, they stress this is by invitation only.  As I reported last night, Mark Murphy and former Delaware Secretary of Education Lillian Lowery were both on the Board of Directors, but due to their recent resignations, they can’t be on the Board.  But that doesn’t mean other members of the DOE aren’t participating in the many different work groups within this organization.

Delaware DOE has a hand in the following groups at CCSSO: Accountability Systems and Reporting, Assessing Special Education Students, Science, Social Studies Curriculum and Instruction, and Supports and Interventions.  While CCSSO is very strict about quoting from their website, it is worth poking around at the CCSSO website to see exactly how many of the grand announcements coming out of the Delaware DOE actually come from this organization.  Everything from their recent announcements about educator effectiveness, to school leader programs, and even the Delaware School Success Framework seem to come from work done in this group.  Keep in mind this is a company, and it is not the United States Department of Education.  But they certainly assist in setting policy while they get paid handsomely by states and businesses.

Their business members, which they call “corporate partners”, include the following: American Institutes for Research, Data Recognition Corporation, Educational Testing Service (ETS), McGraw-Hill, Microsoft, Pearson, Scholastic, Amplify, Apple, College Board, ACT, IBM, Questar, Texas Instruments, and numerous other assessment and technology companies.  These members join at a Tier level, between 1-3, based on the amount of their entrance fee.

If you look at the contracts web page for the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, you can see how many of these “corporate partners” are directly aligned with development of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.

States also have to pay for CCSSO’s services.  Delaware alone has paid $770,572.00 since Fiscal Year 2011 in annual membership fees and payments.  All of the companies CCSSO works with have made billions of dollars on testing American public school students.  American Institutes for Research is at the top of the pack.  Some have theorized that the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium IS American Institutes for Research, but this has not been proven definitively.  But it is more than obvious AIR benefits from the need for high-stakes testing as blogger Mercedes Schneider wrote last year:

AIR does not question the self-defeating role that test-driven reform plays in compelling states to set “safe” state goals for an unrealistic NCLB  (including the lowering of state standards and watering down of state tests) in order to not have principals and teachers fired and schools declared failures and taken over in order to be “turned around” or handed over to privately managed, under-regulated charters. AIR assumes that test-driven reform is good and will result in some undefined international superiority evidenced by America’s achieving The Best Test Scores In the Universe.

But there is another home-hitting, *economic* reason for this AIR “CCSS and assessments” push:

AIR NEEDS CCSS because AIR is counting on profiting from CCSS assessments. 

AIR is the company that designed the pre-National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) tests which soon became the NAEP test as we know it.  They published report after report about how our schools were failing.  They were heavily involved with CCSSO who developed the Common Core State Standards (CCSS, not to be confused with CCSSO).  Then they developed the Smarter Balanced Assessment, many of the psychometrics for the test, and the algorithms for the test which creates the adaptive portion of the test.  And because so much of this is proprietary, they won’t even let state DOEs contract out the scoring vendor of THEIR test.  Only they can sub-contract.  Which they do to DRC, all the time.  But DRC is also known to be a recruiter for AIR, an assessment vendor, and other similar functions.  In this crazy world of corporate education reform, it is very hard to tell AIR and DRC apart.  But at the top of the assessment game, it’s AIR.  They not only created the need for the Smarter Balanced Assessment, they created the test, the benchmarks, the algorithms, and they are well-connected with the company that scores the essays from the test.  It’s all a big win for AIR as Schneider wrote in the above link:

So, for AIR to analyze state standards and assessments, compare those to national and international assessments, and find in favor of a set of standards that it cannot test because doing so would require AIR use assessments that do not yet exist but are nonetheless declared imperative for America to compete internationally– that is decidedly suspect given AIR’s past, current, and future aim to profit off of CCSS assessments.

But AIR doesn’t just get rich from state DOEs.  They have over 20 contracts with the United States Department of Education as well, as I reported in April in a very extensive article about AIR.  If you look at the contracts web page for the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium you can see how many of these “corporate partners” are directly aligned with development of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.

AIR also “helped” the Delaware DOE with their state educator equity plan, which drew the wrath of numerous inner-city school districts once the News Journal published a story blasting Delaware educators, especially those in Wilmington schools.

Source: Page 8, Delaware Excellent Educators For All Plan

AIR and DRC have their hands all over the education landscape.  And Delaware seems to be an easy target for their extensive work.  But our children do not benefit from their empire.  Delaware citizens are lied to all the time from state officials, or they aren’t given pertinent information.  Our educators are ridiculed and humiliated constantly, and the DOE doesn’t care.  They want this.  Make no mistake, this is a vast network of companies and US Government agencies, with tentacles everywhere, not just in education.  To untangle it all would take a great deal of time, and every time you think you have it figured out, like a hydra, two more take its place.

Since all of this culminates in the Smarter Balanced Assessment, the easy solution is the most obvious: REFUSE THE TEST!  Take away the fruit of all their labors, and what are they left with?  These companies have tried to mold public policy in their own self-serving interest to make more money!  At the end of the day, this conspiracy is all about money.  They are corporate invaders trying to take over public education because they want to make more money by privatizing it all.  This isn’t one political party that’s doing all of this.  It’s bi-partisan.  Because there is one thing that makes the world tick: money.  Either you have it or you don’t.  And in corporate education reform, these companies are getting it by the truckload every day!  You don’t have to be a prophet to see the profit.  But you do have to care to see this is not good for children at all.

Breaking News: Delaware DOE Has NO Contract w/Scoring Vendor for Smarter Balanced…Who Does?

For the past couple days I have been emailing the Delaware Department of Education for simple answers to simple questions:

Why does Delaware Online Checkbook show no payments going out to the scoring vendor for the Smarter Balanced Assessment?  Is it under a different name than Data Recognition Corporation?  If you do not pay them, who does?

I received no responses until I included more names on the email of folks who do not work at the DOE.

From: Kevin Ohlandt <kevino3670@yahoo.com>
To: Blowman David (K12) <david.blowman@doe.k12.de.us>; Murphy Mark <mark.murphy@doe.k12.de.us>; “sgodow@udel.edu” <sgodow@udel.edu>
Cc: Haberstroh Susan Keene <susan.haberstroh@doe.k12.de.us>; Schwinn Penny <penny.schwinn@doe.k12.de.us>; May Alison <alison.may@doe.k12.de.us>
Sent: Monday, September 21, 2015 10:38 AM
Subject: Data Recognition Corporation

Good morning all,

I’m not sure who would be able to answer this question, so if none of you are able to could you please forward this to the appropriate party at Delaware DOE to answer this question.

I have looked on Delaware Online Checkbook for any payments sent to the scoring vendor for the Smarter Balanced Assessment, Data Recognition Corporation, and I have seen no payments sent to them which is very unusual.  Are payments sent to them under a different vendor name or does American Institutes for Research send them their payments?

Thank you,

Kevin Ohlandt


From: Kevin Ohlandt [mailto:kevino3670@yahoo.com]
Sent: Wednesday, September 23, 2015 10:12 AM
To: Blowman David; Murphy Mark; sgodow@udel.edu
Cc: Haberstroh Susan Keene; Schwinn Penny; May Alison
Subject: Re: Data Recognition Corporation

Hello again,

I am not sure why anybody is responding to this email.  I have found, consistently, when the Delaware DOE does not respond to very specific questions like this, there is something to hide.  I can find the answers other ways, but it will not make the Delaware DOE look good.  Is there another organization paying for Data Recognition Corp’s services?  If so, why?

I’m sure you do not see it this way, but I am actually trying to work with you folks, but when I get no response or vague comments without facts, it speaks volumes.

Respectfully,

Kevin Ohlandt


From: May Alison <alison.may@doe.k12.de.us>
To: Kevin Ohlandt <kevino3670@yahoo.com>; Blowman David <david.blowman@DOE.K12.DE.US>; Murphy Mark <Mark.Murphy@DOE.K12.DE.US>; “sgodow@udel.edu” <sgodow@udel.edu>
Cc: Haberstroh Susan Keene <susan.haberstroh@doe.k12.de.us>; Schwinn Penny <Penny.Schwinn@doe.k12.de.us>
Sent: Wednesday, September 23, 2015 12:33 PM
Subject: RE: Data Recognition Corporation

Kevin,

Thank you for your inquiry. To confirm, we received your public information request on Sept. 21. Under the FOIA statute (http://www.doe.k12.de.us/domain/196), the department’s response is due by Oct. 12. 

In this case, we have no records in response to your request. The Delaware Department of Education does not have a contract with nor has it made any payments to Data Recognition Corporation.

Alison


So there we have it, the Delaware Department of Education has no contract with Data Recognition Corporation.  So who does?  While in the area I went to the DOE office in the Townsend Building and spoke with Alison May.  I reiterated the information she conveyed to me in her email, and she advised me AIR has a sub-contract with Data Recognition Corporation.  For those of you who may not be aware, AIR is American Institutes for Research, the actual testing vendor for the Smarter Balanced Assessment in Delaware, along with many other states.  AIR pays Data Recognition Corporation to score the very same test they created.  Nobody knows how much.

To add insult to injury, Data Recognition Corporation was part of my FOIA request to the Delaware DOE last March.  The one where they overcharged nearly $7000.00 based on a legal opinion generated by the Delaware Attorney General’s office when I filed a complaint.  At no time during the constant email exchanges between the DOE and myself, and to my knowledge, since it is mentioned nowhere in the response to my FOIA complaint, did they convey this to the Attorney General’s office as well.  Six months later we are just now finding out this information.

Stay tuned, because I have a lot more to say about this and the many connections with Data Recognition Corporation and American Institutes for Research.  In the meantime, just put American Institutes for Research in the search box on this blog, and tell if you think it is right that this company which has made $38,000,000.00, just in Delaware alone, hires the scorer for their own assessment.  The plot thickens…

Interesting FYI: When I went to speak with Alison May, in the Cabinet Room next door there was a meeting.  It was the Accountability Framework Working Group.  To be a fly in the wall during that meeting…

 

Thomas Fordham Institute Data Guy Went On Rick Jensen, Listen To What Happened!

One of my favorite talk-show radio hosts in Delaware is Rick Jensen on WDEL.  While I may not always agree with him on every issue, we stand united in our hatred of Common Core and both actively advocate for parent opt-out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  Or as Rick calls it, the “Not So Smarter Balanced Assessment”.  He had this guy from the Thomas Fordham Institute on the show today.

I love how this guy refuses to call Common Core a curriculum.  Really?  Then why is it I put an article up with a copy of my son’s math homework a year ago, and it generated 15,000 hits in less than 24 hours?  Because parents across America were Googling this homework that night, when kids all across the country had the SAME homework, with teachers teaching to that math that day.  If that is just a standard, then I strongly suggest this man buys a dictionary and learns the difference between standards and curriculum.

And let’s not forget one thing that most folks don’t know.  The NAEP test, that has been a “steady” barometer of our children’s success in America, is based on tests designed by American Institutes for Research.  Who is also a vendor for numerous states and their standardized assessment, including all the Smarter Balanced Assessment states.  Of course kids would do worse on a test they helped create against a test they helped create.  A company like that doesn’t get $38,000,000.00 from a small state like Delaware, and who knows how much at a national level, if all children are succeeding.  They need kids to fail this test, in great numbers, so they can continue their profit margins.  That’s what it’s all about.  So when these “think tank” guys talk about how much we need this data, they need that data so they can line their pockets with taxpayer money.  It’s not about the kids.  It’s never been about the kids.  It’s about greed, pure and simple.

Why are these Fordham guys showing up in the News Journal and WDEL all of a sudden?  Because folks like Dr. Paul Herdman of Rodel are asking them to.  Because they know opt-out numbers are going to go through the roof next spring, and they want to get the spin control out now.  Because these corporate intruders, and that’s what they are, are scared to death of the 148th General Assembly overriding Governor Markell’s veto of House Bill 50.  But like the Smarter Balanced Assessment itself, they will fail.  Because they are missing the crucial ingredient in all of this.  A parent’s love for their child.  There is nothing greater aside from the Almighty Himself!  So Jack, Paul, Mark, all of you, listen up.  We will not give up.  We will not surrender.  We will not stop.  We aren’t idiots who believe whatever lines you throw our way.  We are parents.  We are our children’s voice.  You all need to stop before you embarrass yourselves even further.

Delaware Smarter Balanced Results: Who Cares? It Really Doesn’t Matter

I’m sure if you go read the News Journal or any of the other Delaware media right now, you can read all about the release of the Smarter Balanced Assessment results.  But guess what?  None of it matters.  That’s right, it doesn’t matter.  It won’t impact your child (they are in a new grade), it won’t count against teachers (they got another skip year from it counting against them on their teacher evaluations), and it won’t count in the state’s School Report Card (cause it’s the first year).  So really, does this have any bearing on your child’s education?  No, it doesn’t.  These tests never did.

It’s all about the companies getting the data, and telling us “Your schools are failing.”  And how we need to fix them, and close the proficiency gaps, and get our kids college and career ready, and and and….blah blah blah

I have no clue what these results are going to say because  I wasn’t invited to their embargoed press junket yesterday.  I can only guess what they are going to say.  I can picture Governor Markell saying something like “Most of our teachers were rated effective last year, but as we see with these test results, our students are not getting an effective education,” or his usual “There has never been a better time to be a person with the right skills, and never a worse time to be a person with the wrong skills.”  He loves that one!  Whatever he says, whoever he wants to blame, know that he doesn’t know any better.  He has been swallowed by greed.  He doesn’t care about your kid.  He truly doesn’t.  He cares about his buddies, the ones that are making money hand over fist at the expense of your child, or your student.  He will smile for the camera, and write his big words, and take his tough-guy stance, but at the end of the day, he’s a snake.  Inside, he is coiling and hissing, and waiting to strike.  He already gave Eve the apple, and he’s just slithering around waiting for his next victims.  Don’t believe a word he says, cause it’s all a pack of lies.

The Delaware DOE and their accomplices over at American Institutes for Research (AIR) are just as guilty as Markell.  The DOE has no skin in this game, they are just “following policy”.  Policy they helped to create.  If Markell is the snake, they are the worms eating away at the apple that is public education.  And the testing freaks over at AIR, who scare the living daylights out of me, they are the embodiment of evil.  They set everything up for this moment, this time.  When their decades of education “policy” got them to the exact place they wanted to be.  They put the sticks in the pit, threw some gas on it, and waited.  Now they have struck the match, and they are watching it all burn.  Which is what they have wanted this whole time.

It doesn’t matter what your kid scored on this test.  All you need to do is stop having your kid take this test.  You can REFUSE THE TEST.  Don’t let these companies (and the DOE is a very big company with lots of high-paid employees) turn your kid into something they don’t want your child to be: data.  Your child is a living, breathing, unique gift on this planet.  Your child is different than everyone else, because they are their own person.  With real thoughts and emotions.  They want to take that away from your family.  They want to standardize your child.  Don’t let them.  Don’t you dare!

My son won’t take the Smarter Balanced Assessment this year.  He is safely tucked away somewhere outside of the battle, and things like Common Core and standardized assessments, they don’t matter for him, at least not for a long time.  So if this is the case, why do I care?  It’s simple… I do.  I care about all the victims of this grand larceny of public education.  I care about the teachers and the schools.  I care about the parents, most of which don’t have the first idea about what is happening to their child 180 days of the year.  But most of all, I care about the kids.  The ones who can’t speak for themselves.  The ones who don’t have enough voices speaking for them.  The ones whose hopes and dreams are drowning while the adults who should know better plot and scheme and say they are the ones “doing it for the kids”.

I’ve been writing about this stupid test for fifteen months, and fought the DOE and the Governor every step of the way.  And I will continue to fight this until this test is gone, along with all the greed and fraud that came with it.  For fifteen months, we’ve been on the defensive.  Now we have the ball, and we are taking it all the way down the field for the biggest touchdown of all.  Our next move will be the one NOBODY saw coming!

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!