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It takes a little sleuthing to figure out what happened.

In a nutshell the game was up when Manuel Alfaro, who was the executive director of assessment design and development at the College Board went online at Linkdin and posted some cryptic messages.  Over time this was his story.

Coleman brought him in a month after his takeover of  SAT by Common Core. Coleman to meet test deadlines simply transferred Common Core’s material over to the SAT data base and had hired Alfaro to create a fake research and development operation to get around copyright laws… Basically his job was to make it look like it was not stolen.

The test was published and distributed before being proof read.  Proof readers were eventually hired but after the test had been sent out… The May 2016 test was this test, it is the one Juniors took in Delaware to determine… whatever…  Small problems in this test were wrong answers marked as right ones, or no correct answer available among the 5 options. Bigger problems involved the “fake” questions now regularly inserted in such tests which do not count towards the score and are only there to test their quality for use in future tests.  These inserted questions were so difficult and time consuming, they prevented students from finishing the test.  Hence the scores of May 2016 will be lower than years past.

However Alfaro though he lived through it, does not have the tests. Therefore he was appealing to several states including Delaware, to use the transparency clauses in their contracts to bypass the College Board’s proprietary restrictions and have them find the questions, answers, and details to back up what he lived through…

His computer has been confiscated by the FBI.  Now, because of this court case, a gag order has been levied upon him and all involved and all relevant documents have been put under court seal.

Simultaneous to this, Reuters is reporting on an East Asian cheating scandal involving the SAT and PSAT  Apparently there is only a small pool of questions which many firms-for-hire to boost scores, already have.  They teach the questions and answers and their customers score very high on these tests.  Sourced out of East Asia Reuters was given 400 of the current questions from an outside source and sent copies of them to the College Board to confirm they were legit.  The College Board pleaded with them not to publish these actual questions and answers since they were the only questions in use this school year.

Bottom line: anyone looking for reassurance that the SAT is a better test under Coleman will be very disappointed.

As Reuters says… the test has never been worse….

“200 hundred items were sent to the Content Advisory Committee for review. Their feedback was scathing. One committee member wrote an 11-page document letting the College Board know that these were the worst items he had ever seen. In the past, he had not seen the worst items because they were rejected due to poor item statistics. In fact, the usual 15-20 percent of the items that are pretested and are rejected due to poor performance, were on the May 2016 test used to hold students and teachers accountable.”

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I got a mailer and was on my way to throw it in the trash (recycling actually) when I made the mistake to look.

“Sean Barney wants to tax the rich to pay more in Social Security Benefits…. ‘

That is awesome!  It caught my attention..”Yay. ‘Bout time someone gets it… Maybe I was too hasty in writing him off… ”

(Because if you don’t know by now, you do live under a rock.. that rock could be one-sided news, I don’t know, but you DO live under a rock.)

All of society’s problems today are caused by less money being in the active economy because it is locked up in the vaults of the 1%…

Everything from schools, highways, hunger, poverty, crime, guns, abortion, religion, climate change, could be solved if we’d just move some of that money from the private economy, into the public one…

And Sean Barney is on the right path…. All our problems come from the huge amounts of money that USED TO BE ACTIVE IN OUR ECONOMY which now, are not there;…  money now lying dormant which could be better served if seniors were spending it to better their lives, and everyone else for that matter.

That a former Carper aide, and former Markell aide, now finally “GETS IT” was reassuring and gave me incredible hope for our future…

But Sean is not alone in the field. There are other candidates, one of which is Bryan Townsend.

Whereas Sean Barney is “getting it” now, Bryan Townsend “got it” 4 years ago.  To paraphrase someone else’s former campaign: we only send one, let’s send our best.

When we were battling the takeover of Wilmington’s schools, Bryan Townsend was there, at the meeting, not for himself, but to argue for our children.

When there was no hope to stop bad Sokolian policy from being railroaded through the General Assembly, Bryan Townsend was able to add passable amendments that put those policies under review.  A review that is right now, turning people’s minds against all the one-sided crap once fed to us about how bad all public schools were.

When there was no hope to stop the horrible Smarter Balanced Assessment from being our measuring device (actually there was and his name was Greg Lavelle but that is a story for another time),  Bryan was one of those arguing against it…

When we were deciding to allow marriage to include other than Men/Women, Bryan Townsend weed-killed the General Assembly by moving first to establish a ground floor of logic based on our national beliefs.  The weed-seeds of dissension, divisiveness, division, demolition, were never able to take root….

Immediately upon entering the General Assembly, Bryan Townsend exhibited that he’d gained knowledge of how to manipulate the Delaware’s power structure to get progress for real people initiated…

Markell could take lessons from him.  But then again, these two’s motives are completely opposite.  Markell pushes corporate policy meaning he needs to sneak his diabolical and damaging policies past us We The People, because when We find out what he’s done to us, it makes us angry. His modus operandi has been to say… “oops, fait accompli, sorry you’re too late”.  Bryan argues out loud and in public for how his policies better us all and the positive outcomes we can expect to achieve should we all get behind him and they get implemented.  He makes things happen by consensus, by convincing the opposition they will be better off; not quick sucker punches in the dark while they sleep.

So there may be nothing wrong with Sean Barney after all.   He may make a good Congressperson and carry progressive values into the Senate.  But we have seen over four years that there is someone better.

For all others it would be easy to follow a crowd and be lead to cheer-lead behind a enthusiastic leader, which Hillary supposes to be… WE can expect a majority of members in both Democratic majority of Congressional Houses to do that next session.  But, what we need is someone who is in advance of the mainstream, who is capable of creating and developing and not afraid of the hard work necessary to not just follow, but lead Congress forward into the unknown… For the unknown is what we face…

We only have one, and should send our best… Although all the candidates may be quality individuals and have many redeeming qualities, we can only pick one… Our best is beyond all doubt, highly visible to all, even those emerging out from under their rocks, our Bryan Townsend….

In my lifetime, covering backwards through Carney, Castle, and Carper, we have never put into the House anyone as qualified from the start as is Bryan Townsend…His track record is astounding.  There is no equal comparison in abilities between him or any of the other candidates.  Really, No comparison at all.  His stature is so far above the rest of the field, this endorsement is an easy one and needs no further discussion.

 

 

 

 

Remember this.

As you view the results posted saying how Common Core has improved our teaching over the past year between the first taking and second taking of the tests…. these tests are graded on a curve…

Math 2016

ELA 2016

One cannot compare one year’s test to another because the curve is set each new year to show a different result..

In plain language, this means the level of proficiency is NOT set by the number of right answers…. but is set by how your right number of answers compare to everyone else…

I have seen nothing regarding the cut scores setting remaining consistent between 2015 and 2016. Being changed by the committee overseeing them,  results in better scores (although we can see they were not set much better)…

This was predicted when we first debated Common Core and the Smarter Balanced. It has now come to pass.

Secondly.

If this overall program were working, we should have seen far greater positive results than what we did. There are political reasons as well as financial reasons for this slow improvement… (If you show too much improvement too fast, no one will invest to gain greater improvement..)

Showing one or two percentages of people doing better is not glowing results. Not after two full years of teaching to the test…

The real result is how these same children will do on the next NAEP, the nation’s report card. Overall in both Delaware and the nation, ever since Common Core was affected, those scores (which since the 80’s had always climbed), have gone down…

If you brag about increased Smarter Scores, yet your real report card score goes down, you are no better than those teachers denigrated as passing people into the next grade who failed to meet the expectation…

In conclusion, all of this is completely meaningless. The scores show us nothing for they are arbitrarily made up. The tests show us nothing because they too are made up. The grading shows us nothing because it is made up… Only the NAEP shows us anything now, because it is a test not curved which has been consistent for years… If it shows improvement then this program is indeed working; if it doesn’t, then we need to pull the plug and return to what once worked so well.

What we DO have (since these tests do not show us anything) is a big waste of money… Make that a huge waste of money…. Money that could have been spent on???

Something like an 11:1 student teacher ratio in all schools over 50% poverty levels….

So do not be persuaded by appeals that improvement is at hand.. For the data included has some rather darkening and troubling implications… The Science and Social Studies DCAS scores have dropped consistently since Common Core was invented and put into practice…

Our Delaware kids ARE becoming dumber and dumber..Our solitary focus on math and ENGLISH has eclipsed time for civics and science. Everyone knows how to understand and speak English, even if they don’t know what an indecent participle is. But science and social studies are the determiner of an ignorant society or a knowledgeable one.. Delaware is becoming more and more ignorant the more we embrace Common Core… readily seen because those two scores are not arbitrarily set on a curve; they are based on the number of right and wrong answers. More Delawareans are getting the answers wrong consistently every year since Common Core was enacted.

So let’s grade Markell’s administration….

Our English(reading) scores have gone down over his administrations (due to test change).
Our Math scores have gone down over his administration (due to test change).
Our Social Studies scores have gone down over his administration.
Our Science scores have gone down over his administration….
Our NAEP scores have gone down over his administration….

How can that be called a success?

Since I’m in Delaware, I couldn’t reveal my signed obligations… But someone in New Jersey can… And likewise, I can reveal questions off the PAARC in New Jersey, whereas no teacher in New Jersey can…..

And it is all legal.  Neither of us violated our signed statements.

Here is what every parent needs to know is on the PAARC for fourth grade.

On the Spring 2016 PARCC for 4th Graders, students were expected to read an excerpt from Shark Life: True Stories about Sharks and the Sea by Peter Benchley and Karen Wojtyla. According to Scholastic, this text is at an interest level for Grades 9-12, and at a 7th Grade reading level. The Lexile measure is 1020L, which is most often found in texts that are written for middle school, and according to Scholastic’s own conversion chart would be equivalent to a 6th grade benchmark around W, X, or Y using the Fountas and Pinnell scale.

However Common Core standards dictate a student should be at level S on this scale by the end of 4th Grade.  The reading material on this test is therefore two grades advanced of the level of stressed teaching recommend even by Common Core. 

Since by Common Core itself, the Lexile measure of 1020 is for grades 6-8….. so why is Pearson putting this in a test to be taken by 9 year olds?

Right out of the gate, 4th graders are being asked to read and respond to texts that are two grade levels above the recommended benchmark. (Which, duh, is why we are telling every single parent to opt out of this test!!! )

“After they struggle through difficult texts with advanced vocabulary and nuanced sentence structures, they then have to answer multiple choice questions that are, by design, intended to distract students with answers all of which appear to be correct except for some technicality.”

Finally students combine a series of these two-year advanced texts, and write an essay based on prompts.  The ELA portion of the PARCC takes three days, and each day includes a new essay prompt based on multiple texts….

Here is a pulled question from the test.

ELA 4TH GRADE PROMPT #1

Refer to the passage from “Emergency on the Mountain” and the poem “Mountains.” Then answer question 7.

  1. Think about how the structural elements in the passage from “Emergency on the Mountain” differ from the structural elements in the poem “Mountains.”

Write an essay that explains the differences in the structural elements between the passage and the poem. Be sure to include specific examples from both texts to support your response.

Now, you are an adult. Could you do this?  Click the links, reread the question, and decided if this is grade appropriate for 9 year olds.  

Common Core standard RL.4.5“Explain major differences between poems, drama, and prose, and refer to the structural elements of poems (e.g., verse, rhythm, meter) and drama (e.g., casts of characters, settings, descriptions, dialogue, stage directions) when writing or speaking about a text.”

But nowhere does it say children should be comparing the structural elements between a passage and poem.  This is something most all adults would fail as well, since the entire ELA lexicon has changed since they were in school. Structures have completely different names now.

So why is Pearson putting this in the PAARC for fourth graders, age 9 years?

The answer:  to drive scores lower so they can sell book on how to improve your child’s score.

The entire enterprise of analyzing text structures, called the New Criticism, is a literary theory that dominated American literary criticism in the middle decades of the 20th century, and has since been left there.  So why are we making children perform what professors forced on their college students in 1950?

ELA 4TH GRADE PROMPT #2

Refer to the passages from “Great White Shark” and Face the Sharks. Then answer question 20.

Question 20: Using details and images in the passages from “Great White Sharks” and Face to Face with Sharks, write an essay that describes the characteristics of white sharks.

This prompt assesses a student’s ability to research a topic across sources and write a research-based essay that synthesizes facts from both articles.  CCSS RI.4.9 says: “Integrate information from two texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.” Fine. But remember, this is being done on middle school grade level reading. 

This is unfair. It is the equivalent of  trying to assess children’s math computational skills by embedding them in a word problem written in a foreign language that the child cannot read.)  No one can say this correctly assesses a student’s ability at grade level…

So why is Pearson putting this in the PAARC for fourth graders, age 9 years?

The answer:  to drive scores lower so they can sell book on how to improve your child’s score.

ELA 4TH GRADE PROMPT #3

  1. In “Sadako’s Secret,” the narrator reveals Sadako’s thoughts and feelings while telling the story. The narrator also includes dialogue and actions between Sadako and her family. Using these details, write a story about what happens next year when Sadako tries out for the junior high track team. Include not only Sadako’s actions and feelings but also her family’s reaction and feelings in your story.

 

Nowhere, and I mean nowhere in the Common Core State Standards is there a demand for students to read a narrative and then use the details from that text to write a new story based on a prompt. That is a new pseudo-genre called “Prose Constructed Response” by the PARCC creators, and it is 100% not aligned to the CCSS. Not to mention, why are 4th Graders being asked to write about trying out for the junior high track team? This demand defies their experiences and asks them to imagine a scenario that is well beyond their scope.

So why is Pearson putting this in the PAARC for fourth graders, age 9 years?

The answer:  to drive scores lower so they can sell book on how to improve your child’s score.

 

Now it is no secret that many of us find the Common Core Standards to be ridiculous in the first place… Read them, and quickly agree….  However… that is beyond the point of this article.  It’s point is to “point out” that the Pearson Test does not even conform to the Common Core standards it is supposed to represent….. In other words, it is impossible to teach to… because this test is so far advanced over what the students are capable of reaching, and it gives prompts that are completely off the chart over what Common Core is supposed to be teaching at this grade level.

In all aspects this test is a colossal failure.  And therefore it is important that it gets stopped.

The best way and only way to stop it (barring a state legislature coming to its senses and voting to remove either the Smarter Balanced or the PAARC from their entire state), is for large numbers of people to opt out….

If these tests are meaningless because no one shows up to take them, then the point will hit legislators hard and corrective action will be taken if not sooner, then later after all of those royally pissed-off parents vote, and they no longer find themselves in office.

This is the best way because it puts you the parent in control of the fate of your children…

Now that you have seen the tests let us look at the administration’s arguments why they insist you should not opt out…..

“Assessments are an important tool for teachers and families to have,”  Jack Markell 2016

Are they?  Now that you have seen what these assessments are, tell us how they do anything to help teachers and families…  “Damn it Junior, you failed the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  No computer for you this summer; no breakfast or dinner either…”

“Minority and other at-risk students will slip through the cracks if there is no objective measure of performance,”  Jack Markell 2016

So how do they benefit, if they are already struggling through poverty just to keep up with their white peers, and then get slammed by an assessment two grade levels above their best possible hope of attainment… If you push children off a cliff to the rocks below and tell them to flap their arms as wings, will they learn to fly?

Even hard hearted minority parents who see the exact questions their Afro-American children will now have to answer, even the most starry-eyed of them can now see that their entire race will be targeted and “black-listed” as being “below standard” unless they all opt out and we get rid of this test and replace it with one more realistic.

Business groups that believe results should be measured when billions of dollars are spent on schools  Jack Markell 2016

Business groups need to go fvck themselves.  You’ve read the questions! How do questions two grade levels advanced show results of billions of dollars?  In fact, if these business groups had any moral fiber whatsoever, they should have been the ones pouring over every one of these tests with a fine tooth comb, before these ever got disseminated to rate students, parents, teachers and schools.  What kind of business group would support testing children at two grade levels over what they have ever learned?

Not only should they go fvck themselves, but they should do it in hell and skip purgatory!

Lawmakers also should take note that federal law mandates annual tests and that states that do not meet certain participation levels could lose federal funds.  Jack Markell 2016

Now that you have read these questions real 9 year olds have to answer… let us put that phrase exactly as it was stated…..

“Lawmakers also should take note that federal law mandates annual tests (not aligned with Common Core and scored two grade levels above every student taking them), meet certain participation levels or lose federal funds….”

I hope by now you can see the insanity of this entire program… If the tests did measure proper standards at proper grade levels, which is what we all automatically assumed would be what would happen, then all of this might make some sense…..

But that is not reality.  The reality is that these tests are designed on purpose to FAIL HUGE PERCENTAGES OF OUR STUDENTS….

No if‘s… No and‘s…. No but‘s….

You must opt out, or lose your kids to a life of video games and social media.  That’s exactly where I’d go if I were a student in this zoo we created for them today. The only way to regain any semblance of credibility for any educational program in the United States, is to quickly get rid of these tests …..

In no way do we benefit from failing HUGE PERCENTAGES OF OUR STUDENTS, all because they instinctively did not know what they will eventually learn two years hence…..

  • Opt out.
  • Scream at your legislator.
  • Protest.
  • Make damn sure the following:  Sokola, Jaques, and Schwartzkoph all lose this November.

 

Just don’t do nothing…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He lost. The teacher who was number one in the state before having her children tested, who then failed her evaluation after having her tested children scored by the state, whereas the both years’ children’s scores were practically identical, has won.  She was deemed to have been treated unfairly by the VAM test developed by then head of New York’s Public Education John King, now the new Secretary of Education for the US.

The judge was clear.  The teacher had a high bar to reach to prove her low evaluation was based on solely on actions “taken without sound basis of reason or regard to the facts”.

To this she proved…“.In sum, the court found the petitioner has met her burden of establishing that her growth score and rating on for 2013-14 was indisputably arbitrary and capricious.”

The decision should qualify as the persuasive authority for other teachers challenging growth scores throughout the country.  The positive outcome of this decision was in part due to the expert testimony of the following, whom I’ll include here for future lawsuits to reference.

Professor Darling-Hammond,

Professor Pallas,

Professor Amrein-Beardsley,

Professor Sean Corcoran

Professor Jesse Rothstein 

(Please click the links for contact references)…

New York Supreme Court Judge Roger McDonough stated his decision was strictly for this case and he could not go beyond it to rule all evaluations “null and void”, because the evaluation process has since been changed.  But even so, this is the first time a judge has ruled that tying evaluations to a standardized test is “arbitrary and capricious”.  There are 49 other states out there who right now, all need their own court case to lock this bad policy in a casket six feet deep where it belongs….

Standardized tests do not belong in an evaluation process.

 

Emerging studies presented recently at the American Educational Research Association national conference suggest new ways to emotionally support students during transitions—and how badly things can go wrong when students don’t feel supported.

2,119 students in 10 middle schools were interviewed across the country, with about 60 percent of students in poverty.

Students who frequently distracted themselves, accepted their emotions, asked for help, and reappraised the situation to change their perspective had higher levels of what the researchers called “school and general well-being.” Students who felt they had more internal control were coping in healthier ways.  By contrast, students who mentally rehashed the stressful situation—called “ruminating”—fared worse.

Results of which were a no-brainer to real parents… A revelation to “corporate educational “experts””.

The “test” applied strategies used to alleviate stress among college students, to those in middle school.

The students in the test were given made-up quotes allegedly written by real students the year before which showed they too had apprehensive stress.   “I felt like I had a knot in my stomach the first four months,” read one such quote..

At the year’s end, the results including grades, test scores, and surveys of general well being, were considerably higher in those classes who were led to believe that stress was a temporal factor, that teachers were there to help,  and given the inceptional idea that  “the knot” would disappear. It acted as a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Also important, an additional study focusing on those students who DID NOT get any well-being treatment. found that district policies can backfire when leaders don’t take students’ emotions into account.

In the 2016 book When School Policies Backfire: How Well-Intentioned Measures Can Harm Our Most Vulnerable Students, researchers found the school community felt betrayed by the closure—it had been assured the school would not be closed before the school board voted to do so—and students felt blamed for the closure even a year later.

The district had dubbed the closure a “rescue mission” intended to settle students into higher-performing schools and boost their graduation chances. Instead, students’ academic progress declined. While students had grown on average 20 points per year in math and 19 points in reading from 6th through 10th grade on annual district tests at their previous school, in the years after the closure they lost 2.3 years of typical score growth in math and 3.7 years in reading. Their likelihood of dropping out of high school doubled as their graduation rate fell.

It is obvious to all, that the push for testing has destroyed any emotional well being in students and therefore is the anathema to real learning and successful graduations.

Every parent and grown up adult, knows by experience in life, that learning and emotions are intermittently mixed.
Now, if we could only get some grown up adults in charge of the Delaware House and Senate Committees, on the state School Board, into the Delaware Department of Education, and even into Rodel, we as a state might begin the process of returning Delaware’s schools back to the progress they were making before “Corporate Reforms” came in and ruined absolutely everything….

They did, you know, ruin everything…

 

 

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Having read Kevin’s account of the Donna Johnson trying to make the case for banning public comment at State Board meetings, a case that baffled everyone in the room, it opens a door into what is really going on….

There is a standard question on corporate profiling questionnaires which asks whether you think it is funny when someone falls down…. Although the corporate answer to that is: what does the boss think, in real life outside the corporate world, the answer depends on how close our relationship is to the victim… if it’s our mother, it’s not funny.

Watching Donna Johnson fall down and keep slipping as she tries to regain her footage each subsequent time, reminded one of that question. There I’m sure were some who gleefully watched her twist in the wind… But even Kevin says he felt sorry for her…

Things like this would be funny if it didn’t affect 130,000 of Delaware’s children… And the dialogue that took place under questioning from House Education members, made an overall picture very clear.

WE are in a transitioning phase…. The DOE which once was stacked to the top with corporate whores, now has those whores all heading for the door… What once made very good sense in a corporate bubble, now with no bubble walls to bounce off the echoes, lacks the high frequency of repetitions required to make it become absorbed as truth.

In the past, and correct me if I’m wrong, if Donna Johnson would make a nonsensical statement, Mark Murphy would chime in with nonsensical word salad, then Penny Marshall would add some nonsensical word dessert and Paul Hefferman would follow up with nonsensical word coffee and his word nuts, and listeners would be too full of words to take in anything else without first going to the word toilet….

And that is how so much crap became law……

Now without the support, the idiocy is wide open…  bringing us to this probably important question… Can the Department of Education do its job if it is seen as being staffed by idiots?

And no, they are not idiots.  They are smart people in the wrong place at the wrong time.. They have one agenda which is charter propagation…  In a water where everything is pro-charter they function fine.. If they have to leap out of that environment, before they could always trust gravity would  bring them back into the ocean in which they were comfortable.

But now, they keep coming down  on land…. And watching them flop about is kind of sad.

At stake is can the Department function with this rift?  And that is why I think Godowsky needs to set his future goals in public education,  determine which members of his staff can get him there and who needs to go elsewhere, and create one team all on the same page, so we can put the shenanigans forever associated with the tenure of Mark Murphy, behind us.

If you didn’t first see the legal expert’s video go here and then come back….

It is not a warning, but just a reality check as to what “could” happen you you as a parent if you allow your child to take the Smarter Balanced Assessment…

Moving forward now, here is what that new legislation should address.

Whereas behavioral, class attendance, class performance and traditional forms of data like grades have been collected, now there is greater interest in collecting metadata which is information about how a child is interacting with the program, interacting with the software, data which is highly marketable and a lot of companies are scrambling to obtain that data. They are looking at it to assess school products, to assess teachers’ teaching methods, and to assess a child’s future in order to open and close doors long before a child reaches the hallway those doors are on.

The question hereto unasked, unsolved and unanswered, is how are we going to structure that access to data…  so it is fair to children, to parents, to teachers, to schools….

The worst-case-scenario is abuse of these to harm children.. instances where they are improperly tracked and improperly labeled and improperly sent down wrong pathways they shouldn’t be sent.

All because of bad data practices….

Before going forward, we need to have “good” data practices implemented and have teeth in the law so even bad people will want to do good…

Necessary to this is a blanket protection on ALL data acquired on a child… All data is unavailable to anyone outside those directly involved. The scope of protection…. has to be very broad….

Next step is to establish very clear use restrictions…. as in what can this data be used for?… Make it open and shut… “Can this data be used by Skippy Peanut Butter?”  “Let us check the clear use restrictions.”  “No, it does not allow transference of data to Skippy Peanut Butter”….  Open and shut.

Then we need to add a flexible option, so educated parents can choose to “opt in” on having other sources of information disseminated about their child…  It becomes the parent’s choice whether their child’s data can be used and to whom those additional users may be.

And finally to all of these there should be added some type of repercussions, which are strong enough to make violating any of these tenants, financially risky.

Currently there is none. Nada.  The only restriction is in FERPA  The Federal government can withhold money from a school district if there is a violation of FERPA. In the 41 years of FERPA, that has never happened. If a school district violates your child’s privacy, if the State violates your child’s privacy, if a vendor violates your child’s privacy, as a parent, you have no private right of action.

In this environment, your child’s data once acquired, is available to all. John Carney can even acquire a list of marginal students and call their parents to get their votes.  Everything is wide open.

As a society we often venture into new territory first, learning as we go.  The first cars didn’t have brakes because you just previously told the horse to slow down; the thought did not cross their inventor’s minds until racing down the road. When we went into Iraq, we didn’t have a plan on how to govern once we took over.  Dick Cheney didn’t think of it. We’d just take it and suck out their oil.

Today, we don’t let just anyone drive. They have to demonstrate they know how. Likewise today we don’t let anyone set up and operation room and extract live organs. They have to prove they are capable in knowledge and ability.

Therefore we really shouldn’t allow the Smarter Balanced to go forward until we fix these problems it leaves in its wake. Should we?

Here is the approach which should be taken. WE need a figurehead bill put up that WHEREAS’s all the facts listed above, to preface a bill advocating the immediate eradication of the Smarter Balanced for security reasons, as our one test in Delaware. This won’t pass nor is it intended to.. It’s purpose is to create a lightning rod for all educational wonks on both sides to focus their attention upon. Despite a probable prognosis for failure, the full-press  floor fight for its passage should be passionate, since that is what drives public scrutiny and shapes public opinion.

Then invisibly, under the radar, 4 new bills need to be quietly slipped through, addressing the plugging of each of the 4 holes illuminated above…  Bill 1) We need state blanket protection of all data. Bill 2) We need to determine exactly who, what, where that data will be allowed to go. Bill 3) We need to allow parents the right to “opt in” into allowing further data to be disseminated. And finally Bill 4) we need some type of gigantic bankruptcy-causing-punitive-damage and jail for anyone violating a child’s privacy without the express permission of his parents.

By then (if our crystal ball is correct) the Smarter Balanced will most likely have been replaced with another test (unless it scores a magnificent save this year) and the above protections will be in place long before any new test (if any at all), materializes…

 

There is now no protection of children’s privacy and therefore by implication, their parents’ privacy…

As a parent if anyone violates your child’s privacy, such as putting your child’s data on a porn site, you the parent have no private rite-of- action….

We cannot emphasize it more clearly… Opt Out Your Child Today…….

Under No-Child-Left-Behind, large numbers of mandates were decided in Washington DC by the Department of Education…

State Boards had to wait to find out that which they would have to deal,  then decide how to work with it…

Under the new ESSA that is changed.  State Boards are the ones now given the ultimate power to decide education in that state…  In a theoretical contest between Washington DC and the state, the state is now given top-right…

Many state school boards are not prepared for this… whether their state elects or has their governor appoint them, they are laypeople who are far removed from the daily grind which education extracts.  Often having never set foot in a classroom since their high school graduation, they are now thrust into making policy that affects ever child under their control.

Often meeting only 8-10 times a year as a ceremonial function,  they are now tasked with overseeing policy. Over the past several years, the membership of state boards has become younger and more diverse. While, in the past, sitting on a state board was the crown jewel for an accomplished educator, board members now range from bankers, lawyers, and doctors to outspoken parents of action.

As an example of who can be on these boards, residents in the East Texas region will soon decide whether to elect to the state board Mary Lou Bruner, a retired kindergarten teacher who has said in widely publicized Facebook posts that she believes that a young President Barack Obama worked as a gay prostitute, that the country should ban Muslims, and that the Democratic Party killed President John F. Kennedy.

Often these board members approach education only from a philosophy and are intent only on forwarding that philosophy onward, often putting them at odds with those who have a more practical focus on how to educate children.

In the past, board members were inconspicuous stewards convening in sparsely attended, daylong meetings where they debated education policy.

The ESSA law now adds plenty more to their plate. In the coming months, boards will be tasked with revising teacher evaluations, school report cards, and ways to intervene in their lowest-performing schools…..

Which means the window of opportunity to make changes to our state’s education system exists from now till June 1st.

Delaware citizens have a tool in a General Assembly at their disposal and policy elected and signed, does set the parameters of our state boards.

So whereas some may think OPT OUT is a dead issue, suddenly it becomes live again.  Whereas some may think we are solidly committed to the smarter balanced future, suddenly getting rid of it becomes a real possibility again.

The National Conference of State Legislatures says more than 500 bills regarding state standards and assessments have been proposed across the country so far this year.  Resentful that a massive wave of common-standards adoptions four years ago bypassed their chambers and subjected them to intense political heat, state lawmakers are taking steps to claim some of the authority that state boards of education have traditionally held over academic standards.

So now is an important time.. It is the equivalent of maneuvers done during the advent of the No-Child-Left-Behind which set policy for 15 years hence.

As a state we need to steer to these future goals which are open yet structured enough to insure that every child gets a first class education worthy of the First State…..

  • Let teachers teach. They know your children best.
  • Work toward an 11:1 student/teacher ratio in all classes k-5 and 9th grade where the school lunch level is over 50%.
  • Divorce teacher accountability and school accountability from tests.  Use tests only to benefit the child.
  • Replace the Smarter Balanced test with one that is beneficial in giving us information on how well our child is doing….
  • Begin phasing out charter schools by making their authorizer the district board in which their school resides…

Parents who step up can now make great changes in education for years to come.