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Bombshell: Duncan breaks law – NAEP Now High Stakes Test


In a nutshell: Secretary Arne Duncan violated federal law seeking to punish state school disability programs, got caught big time, and a federal Dept. of Education official is here in Utah on a “routine” visit. Time for a protest.

What you are about to read should result in congressional hearings and Arne Duncan probably being fired as the US Secretary of Education.

Federal law sets forth certain things that can be done under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). No one may circumvent those laws. Only Congress can change laws, but because of the current Executive Branch’s agenda to bring states under federal control, grant-based regulations and mandates have increasingly been created by Secretary Duncan, in violation of the Constitution.

On June 24, 2014, Secretary Duncan circumvented congress and issued mandates for changes in the way state special education programs are evaluated. (http://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/new-accountability-framework-raises-bar-state-special-education-programs)

“To improve the educational outcomes of America’s 6.5 million children and youth with disabilities, the U.S. Department of Education today announced a major shift in the way it oversees the effectiveness of states’ special education programs.”

He then went on to explain what changes he is mandating.

Eight U.S. senators prepared a letter explaining the violations of law involved in Duncan’s action and asked the Secretary a number of very pointed questions. Evidently, Senator Hatch from Utah walked that letter into a meeting, interrupting it, to deliver it to Secretary Duncan. The senators’ letter is embedded at the bottom of this article.

In essence, the mandate changes the way the school funding game is played by suddenly announcing that historical NAEP test score data will be used retroactively to evaluate federal funding on schools that have children with disabilities. As the senators’ letter points out this is a very clear violation of the law.

Duncan calls this new framework, “Results-Driven Accountability.” It’s simply unconstitutional and illegal. The press release states:

“Last year, when the Department considered only compliance data in making annual determinations, 41 states and territories met requirements. This year, however, when the Department includes data on how students are actually performing, only 18 states and territories meet requirements.”

Why are they so eager to tell states they aren’t meeting requirements? So they can enact more requirements. It’s the way things work for those in power. Tell schools they aren’t performing and then punish them with additional requirements.

Utah happens to be coming up short and is on the list of states that “need assistance.” The USDOE continues, “If a state needs assistance for two years in a row, IDEA requires the Department to takeactions such as requiring the state to obtain technical assistance or identifying the state as a high-risk grant recipient.”

So Utah is at risk of losing federal funds due to the feds moving the goal post and mandating, against the rules of the game, that teams retroactively enact the new rules. Suddenly the score that was 14-0, is 0-0.

Now I’m no fan of federal funding in any respect and I’d love to see it abolished, but until we are able to accomplish that, this is an egregious violation of the law and should result in Duncan and maybe others being short-timers on the hill for their actions.

NAEP was supposed to be for a common set of data between the states and was mandated to never be used for high stakes testing determination.

So what kind of “technical assistance” does the USDOE have in mind?

“As part of the move to RDA, OSERS [Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services] will fund a new $50 million technical assistance center – the Center on Systemic Improvement – to help states leverage the $11.5 billion in federal special education funds which they currently receive to improve outcomes for students with disabilities. In addition, OSERS will be working with each state to support them in developing comprehensive plans designed to improve results for children with disabilities.”

Because so many states were suddenly deemed to be below threshold (without knowing that’s how they would be evaluated), we’re going to see a new federal “assistance” center because obviously the states aren’t capable of educating children with disabilities. We “need” that federal help…  (Oh, and Common Core isn’t being pushed by the feds either, of course.)

Interestingly, Gregory Corr, the Director of Monitoring and State Improvement Planning at OSEP (Office of Special Education Programs), is coming to Utah *right now* to do some type of investigation. This is beyond normal. Directors don’t go to states on “routine” visits.  I understand he will be at the State Office of Education on Thursday.

Please come to the Utah State Office of Education (250 East 500 South, SLC) on Thursday at 11:30 am. Help tell the the feds to stop violating the law, stop violating Utah’s sovereignty, and stop messing with children with disabilities. It’s OUR education system. Lets give Greg a “warm” welcome. Bring your signs.


Secretary Arne Duncan Busted


  Secretary Arne Duncan Busted


By |September 24th, 2014|Common Core News|0 Comments

Common Core’s Five Big Half-Truths

By Rick Hess on September 4, 2014 8:33 AM

School is back in session, and debate over the Common Core is boiling in key states. As governors and legislators debate the fate of the Common Core, they hear Core advocates repeatedly stress five impressive claims: that their handiwork is “internationally benchmarked,” “evidence-based,” “college- and career-ready,” and “rigorous,” and that the nations that perform best on international tests all have national standards.

In making these claims, advocates go on to dismiss skeptics as ignorant extremists who are happy to settle for mediocrity. The thing is, once examined, these claims are far less compelling than they appear at first glance. It’s not that they’re false so much as grossly overstated. Herewith, a handy cheat sheet for putting the Common Core talking points in context.

Internationally benchmarked: Advocates tout their handiwork as “internationally benchmarked.” By this they mean that the committees that penned the Common Core paid particular attention to the standards of countries that fare well on international tests. It’s swell that they did so, but benchmarking usually means comparing one’s performance with another’s — not just borrowing some attractive ideas. What the Common Core authors did is more “cutting-and-pasting” than “benchmarking.” Some experts even reject the notion that the standards are particularly good compared to those of other nations. Marina Ratner, professor emerita of math at the University of California, Berkeley, and winner of the 1993 international Ostrowski Prize, has written, “The most astounding statement I have read is the claim that Common Core standards are ‘internationally benchmarked.’ They are not. The Common Core fails any comparison with the standards of high-achieving countries….They are lower in the total scope of learned material, in the depth and rigor of the treatment of mathematical subjects, and in the delayed and often inconsistent and incoherent introductions of mathematical concepts and skills.”  

Evidence-based: Advocates celebrate the Common Core as “evidence-based.” The implication is that whereas we used to make things up as we went along, decisions about why students must learn this and not that in fourth grade are now backed by scientific research. In fact, what advocates mean is that the standards take into account surveys asking professors and hiring managers what they thought high school graduates should know, as well as examinations of which courses college-bound students usually take. The fact is that it’s difficult for anyone to claim that evidence “proves” in which grade students should learn to calculate the area of a triangle or compare narrative styles. Vanderbilt professor Lynn Fuchs has put it well, noting that there is no “empirical basis” for the Common Core. “We don’t know yet whether it makes sense to have this particular set of standards,” she explains. “We don’t know if it produces something better or even different from what it was before.” Looking at evidence is grand, but what the Common Core’s authors did falls well short of what “evidence-based” typically means.

College- and career-ready: Advocates claim that the Common Core standards will ensure that students are “college- and career-ready.” As former Obama domestic policy chief Melody Barnes wrote in Politico last year, “Too often, the path to a diploma is not rigorous enough to prepare our graduates for their next steps.” Critics have observed, however, that the Common Core drops certain high school math topics (including calculus and pre-calculus, about half of algebra II, and parts of geometry) and moves other material to later grades. When asked whether this might leave students less prepared for advanced college math, proponents explain that the Common Core is a “floor, not a ceiling.” Achieve, Inc., a driving force behind the standards, describes the “floor,” explaining that the standards are meant to make sure students can “succeed in entry-level, credit-bearing postsecondary coursework” in “community college, university, technical/vocational program[s], apprenticeship[s], or significant on-the-job training.” The result adds up to something less than the recipe for excellence that the marketing suggests.

Rigor: Advocates declare that the Common Core is more rigorous than the state standards that previously existed. It’s actually quite challenging to objectively compare the “rigor” of standards. After all, one could insist that fifth-graders should master calculus, note that the Common Core doesn’t require this, and thus dismiss the standards as too easy — even though such an appraisal might indicate impracticality rather than rigor. The Common Core’s authors judged that the old standards had too much material but were insufficiently rigorous, which tells us that, in their view, we shouldn’t equate rigor with quantity. Thus, the question is how to weigh subtle claims of relative rigor. More often than not, the case for the Common Core’s superiority rests on the subjective judgment of four evaluators hired by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. These four hired evaluators opined in 2010 that the Core standards were better than about three-quarters of existing state standards. Not an unreasonable judgment, but hardly compelling proof of rigor.

Leading nations have national standards: Advocates have made a major point of noting that high-performing nations all have national standards. What they’re much less likely to mention is that the world’s lowest-performing nations also all have national standards. There is no obvious causal link between national standards and educational quality.

When it comes to the Common Core, advocates have become quite adept at delivering their familiar talking points. They’re quite proud of these. In fact, they think them so compelling that they’re befuddled that popular support appears to be steadily eroding. A more skeptical observer surveys these talking points and sees a series of half-truths and exaggerations that have been trumpeted as fact. As states reassess the Common Core, advocates should be challenged to offer more than stirring rhetoric and grandiose claims. Given how avidly Common Core boosters celebrate “evidence,” they really ought to be able to be able to muster more than, “Trust us, we’re really smart.”

Note: This article originally appeared in National Review Online.

By |September 4th, 2014|Common Core News|0 Comments

The Final Nail in the Coffin: The Death of Freedom in Our Schools

By John W. Whitehead – Rutherford.org
August 26, 2014

“Men fight for liberty and win it with hard knocks. Their children, brought up easy, let it slip away again, poor fools. And their grandchildren are once more slaves.”―D.H. Lawrence

No matter what your perspective on the showdown between locals and law enforcement in Ferguson, Missouri, there can be no disputing the fact that “local” police should not be looking or acting like branches of the military.

Unfortunately, in the police state that is America today, we’re going to find ourselves revisiting Ferguson over and over again. Every time an unarmed citizen gets shot by a police officer who is armed to the hilt, or inclined to shoot first and ask questions later, or so concerned about their own safety, to the exclusion of all else, that everything becomes a potential threat, we’ll find ourselves back in Ferguson territory again.

Here’s the thing, though: whether or not it ever gets reported, whether it incites any protests or marches or showdowns of epic proportions, whether it elicits any outrage on the part of the citizenry, Ferguson is already happening over and over again, all around us.

It’s happening in small towns and big cities alike every time a citizen gets stopped and frisked for no better reason than they “look” suspicious. It’s happening on the nation’s highways and byways, where corporate greed disguised as road safety is making a hefty profit off of drivers who have the misfortune of passing a red light camera or a speed camera or a license plate reader. It’s happening in the privately run jails, which are teeming with prisoners doing time for nonviolent crimes that should have landed them with a slap on the wrist and a fine instead of hard time and forced labor.

It’s happening in our airports and train stations and shopping malls, where menacing squads of black-garbed, jack-booted, up-armored soldiers disguised as law enforcement officials are subjecting Americans to roving security checkpoints, allegedly in the pursuit of terrorists. And it’s happening in the schools, where the school-to-prison pipeline is fully operational and busy churning out newly minted citizens of the American police state who have been taught the hard way what it means to comply and march in lockstep with the government’s dictates.

Young Alex Stone didn’t even make it past the first week of school before he became a victim of the police state. Directed by his teacher to do a creative writing assignment involving a series of fictional Facebook statuses, Stone wrote, “I killed my neighbor’s pet dinosaur. I bought the gun to take care of the business.” Despite the fact that dinosaurs are extinct, the status fabricated, and the South Carolina student was merely following orders, his teacher reported him to school administrators, who in turn called the police.

What followed is par for the course in schools today: students were locked down in their classrooms while armed police searched the 16-year-old’s locker and bookbag, handcuffed him, charged him with disorderly conduct disturbing the school, arrested him, detained him, and then he was suspended from school. Stone’s mother was never alerted to the school’s concerns about her son’s creative writing assignment or his subsequent interrogation and arrest.

Keshana Wilson, a 14-year-old student at a Pennsylvania high school, was tasered in the groin by a police officer working as a school resource officer, allegedly because she resisted arrest for cursing, inciting a crowd of students, and walking on the highway. One might be hard pressed to find a teenager not guilty of one or the other at any given time. Nevertheless, the tasering came after the officer grabbed the teenager from behind and pushed her up against a car, without identifying himself as a police officer. “The teenager had to be taken to hospital to have the taser probes removed before she was arrested and charged with aggravated assault on the officer, simple assault, riot, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, failure to disperse and walking on the highway,” noted one reporter.

Rounding out the lesson in compliance, police officers who patrol schools in Compton, Calif., are now authorized to buy semi-automatic AR-15 rifles and carry them in their patrol car trunks while on duty—a practice that is becoming increasingly common, according to Joe Grubbs, president of the California Association of School Resource Officers. A few states away, in Missouri, a new state law actually requires that all school districts participate in live-action school shooting drills, including realistic gunfire, students covered in fake blood, and bodies strewn throughout the hallways.

Now these incidents may seem light years away from the all-too-grim reality of the events that took place in Ferguson, Missouri, but they are, in fact, mere stops along the way to the American police state, and parents with kids returning to school would do well to consider these incidents fair warning, because today’s public schools have become microcosms of the world beyond the schoolhouse gates, and increasingly, it’s a world hostile to freedom.

As I show in my book A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, within America’s public schools can be found almost every aspect of the American police state that plagues those of us on the “outside”: metal detectors, surveillance cameras, militarized police, drug-sniffing dogs, tasers, cyber-surveillance, random searches, senseless arrests, jail time, the list goes on.

Whether it takes the form of draconian zero tolerance policies, overreaching anti-bullying statutes, police officers charged with tasering and arresting so-called unruly children, standardized testing with its emphasis on rote answers, political correctness, or the extensive surveillance systems cropping up in schools all over the country, young people in America are first in line to be indoctrinated into compliant citizens of the new American police state.

Zero tolerance policies, which punish all offenses severely, no matter how minor, condition young people to steer clear of doing anything that might be considered out of line, whether it’s pointing their fingers like a gun, drawing on their desks, or chewing their gum too loudly.

Surveillance technologies, used by school officials, police, NSA agents, and corporate entities to track the everyday activities of students, accustom young people to life in an electronic concentration camp, with all of their movements monitored, their interactions assessed, and their activities recorded and archived. For example, the Department of Education (DOE) has created a system to track, archive and disseminate data on every single part of a child’s educational career with colleges and state agencies such as the Department of Labor and the offices of Technology and Children and Family Services.

Metal detectors at school entrances and police patrolling school hallways acclimatize young people to being viewed as suspects. Funded in part by federal grants, school districts across the country have “paid local police agencies to provide armed ‘school resource officers’ for high schools, middle schools and sometimes even elementary schools.” As the New York Times reports, “Hundreds of additional districts, including those in Houston, Los Angeles and Philadelphia, have created police forces of their own, employing thousands of sworn officers.” The problem, of course, is that the very presence of these police officers in the schools results in greater numbers of students being arrested or charged with crimes for nonviolent, childish behavior. In Texas, for example, school police officers write more than 100,000 misdemeanor tickets a year, each ticket amounting to hundreds of dollars in court fines—a convenient financial windfall for the states. All too often, these incidents remain on students’ permanent records, impacting college and job applications.

Weapons of compliance, such as tasers which deliver electrical shocks lethal enough to kill, not only teach young people to fear the police, the face of our militarized government, but teach them that torture is an accepted means of controlling the population. It’s a problem that has grown exponentially as the schools have increasingly clamored for—and hired on—their own police forces. One high school student in Texas suffered severe brain damage and nearly died after being tasered. A 15-year-old disabled North Carolina student was tasered three times, resulting in punctured lungs. A New York student was similarly tasered for lying on the floor and crying.

Standardized testing and Common Core programs, which discourage students from thinking for themselves while rewarding them for regurgitating whatever the government, through its so-called educational standards, dictates they should be taught, will not only create a generation of test-takers capable of little else, but it will also constitute massive data collection on virtually every aspect of our children’s lives which will be accessed by government agents and their corporate allies.

Overt censorship, monitoring and political correctness, which manifest themselves in a variety of ways, from Internet filters on school computers to sexual harassment policies, habituate young people to a world in which nonconformist, divergent, politically incorrect ideas and speech are treated as unacceptable or dangerous. In such an environment, a science teacher criticizing evolution can get fired for insubordination, a 9-year-old boy remarking that his teacher is “cute” can be suspended for sexual harassment, students detected using their smart phones during class time can be reported for not paying attention in class, and those accused of engaging in “bullying, cyber-bullying, hate and shaming activities, depression, harm and self harm, self hate and suicide, crime, vandalism, substance abuse and truancy” on social media such as Twitter or Facebook, will have their posts and comments analyzed by an outside government contractor.

As problematic as all of these programs are, however, what’s really unnerving are the similarities between the American system of public education and that of totalitarian regimes such as Nazi Germany, with their overt campaigns of educational indoctrination. And while those who run America’s schools may not be deliberately attempting to raise up a generation of Hitler Youth, they are teaching young people to march in lockstep with the all-powerful government—which may be just as dangerous in the end.

You don’t have to take my word for it. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum provides some valuable insight into education in the Nazi state, which was responsible for winning “millions of German young people … over to Nazism in the classroom and through extracurricular activities.” The similarities are startling, ranging from the dismissal of teachers deemed to be “politically unreliable” to the introduction of classroom textbooks that taught students obedience to state authority and militarism. “Board games and toys for children served as another way to spread racial and political propaganda to German youth. Toys were also used as propaganda vehicles to indoctrinate children into militarism.” And then there was the Hitler Youth, a paramilitary youth group intended to train young people for future service in the armed forces and government.

Hitler himself recognized the value of indoctrinating young people. As he noted, “When an opponent declares, ‘I will not come over to your side, and you will not get me on your side,’ I calmly say, ‘Your child belongs to me already. A people lives forever. What are you? You will pass on. Your descendants however now stand in the new camp. In a short time they will know nothing else but this new community.’”

In the face of such a mechanized, bureaucratic school system that demands conformity, indoctrinating and enslaving their minds while punishing anyone who dares step out of line, American school children are indeed powerless. And they will remain helpless, powerless and in bondage to the police state unless “we the people” take the steps to set them free.

By |August 27th, 2014|News|1 Comment

Is Common Core losing the public perception test?

Posted Aug. 26, 2014, 01:38 p.m.

The education standards called Common Core have been adopted in more than 40 states, but according to a Phi Delta Kappa (PDK)/Gallup pollreleased Wednesday, the majority of Americans oppose them.

By the end of 2012, all but a handful of states had adopted Common Core. But the 2013 PDK/Gallup poll showed 62 percent of Americans had never heard of the standards already in place.

Public awareness has grown since then, and so has public concern. Eighty-one percent of poll participants this year had “heard at least a little” about Common Core, and 60 percent said they don’t want it in their classrooms.

“What people are concerned about is their loss of control,” said Emmett McGroarty from American Principles Project, a conservative organization working to fight Common Core.

In April 2009, the National Governors Association and Council of Chief State School Officers, two private organizations, began developing the Common Core standards. Slightly more than a year later, in June 2010, they released the final draft. States quickly adopted the standards, some doing so before the final draft was even out, motivated, many say, to meet “college- and career-ready standards” requirements for federal Race to the Top grants. States did not have time to thoroughly examine the Common Core and “certainly didn’t have time to take it to the people,” McGroarty said.

Another recent poll by Education Next shows rising concern over Common Core. It found only 26 percent of the public in opposition, but that number doubled from 13 percent last year.

The large discrepancy between the two polls could come from the wording of the questions, according toNPR. The PDK/Gallup question simply asks, “Do you favor or oppose having the teachers in your community use the Common Core State Standards to guide what they teach?”

The Education Nextquestion is much longer, explaining “states have been deciding whether or not to use the Common Core, which are standards for reading and math” that “will be used to hold public schools accountable for their performance.” When worded this way, the public appears less opposed to the idea.

Opposition to Common Core might stem from public misunderstanding, Education Next suggests. But Common Core opponents insist they’re not confused.

Common Core advocates say the standards are state-led and voluntarily adopted. But according to apaper from the Pioneer Institute and American Principles Project, the federal Department of Education “used legally suspect means—the Race to the Topcompetition and the promise of waivers from No Child Left Behind—to impose the standards on the states.”

The largest worry among PDK/Gallup poll respondents opposed to Common Core was that the standards would limit teachers’ flexibility and freedom. Common Core supporters note the standards are not curriculum and teachers can still teach as they choose. Opponents say while that is factually true, teachers must align curriculum to the standards or their students will fail standards-based assessments.

Another point of concern about Common Core is how the government will use assessment information. “The means of assessing students and the data that result from those assessments are up to the discretion of each state and are separate and unique from the Common Core,” according to the standards’ website.

But states are aligning assessments to Common Core, and according to the U.S. Department of Educationwebsite, the Recovery Act competition gives states grants to develop “longitudinal data systems to capture, analyze, and use student data from preschool to high school, college, and the workforce.” Not only are citizens concerned about personal privacy, this “encompasses a worldview of the proper role of government that is greatly at odds with American founding principles,” the Pioneer Institute and American Principles Project argue.

According to the polls, Common Core is increasingly at odds with the American people as well.

Emily Scheie
Emily Scheie
Emily is a World Journalism Institute intern.

Arizona election results: Arizona education official John Huppenthal loses re-election bid

Arizona election results: Arizona education official John Huppenthal loses re-election bid


Associated Press

8:30 PM, Aug 26, 2014

2 hours ago


Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal lost his bid for a second term Tuesday, falling in the Republican primary after he admitted making offensive anonymous comments on the Internet while serving as the state’s chief education official.

Diane Douglas won the race after focusing almost all of her campaign on repealing the Obama administration-supported Common Core education standards.

Huppenthal downplayed the role his anonymous blog posts played in the race, attributing the loss to the Common Core issue.

“We feel fine,” he said. “We understand that the Common Core issue was a raging forest fire.”

In the November election, Douglas will face David Garcia, an Arizona State University professor who defeated high school English teacher Sharon Thomas in the Democratic primary.

The GOP contest normally would have received little attention but was transformed when it was revealed that Huppenthal made anonymous rants on the Internet.

He called welfare recipients “lazy pigs” who mooch off the government despite having flat-screen TVs in their living rooms, while comparing the Planned Parenthood founder to Nazis. He bashed Spanish-language media and said, “This is America, speak English.”

Huppenthal broke down in tears at a June news conference as he apologized for his actions and said that anonymous discourse has long been a cornerstone of Democracy, citing examples of Founding Fathers who wrote under pseudoynms during the 18th century.

The race focused heavily on Common Core. Douglas fiercely opposes the program, calling it “top-down government control of our education system.”

Huppenthal has been forced into an awkward position on the issue. He has long backed Common Core, but said during a debate with Douglas that he “never supported the standards.”

The standards have been adopted by most states and were approved by the state Board of Education with little opposition in 2010. But they have become a popular talking point in Republican primaries around the nation as GOP candidates court voters on the right.

Douglas said she would represent Arizona residents, and not Washington D.C. or corporations.

“It’s going to take the same as we did in the primary: Appeal to the moms and dads of Arizona,” Douglas said in an interview after she was declared the winner. “They want control back over their children’s education.”

Garcia called Douglas a single issue candidate without the necessary background in education for the post. He said he would work to get more funding and support for teachers.

“We need to get away from standardized testing and measure what matters,” Garcia said.

The superintendent has a large role in determining state education policy along with the governor, the Legislature and the state Board of Education. The superintendent is a Board of Education member and oversees the state Department of Education, an agency whose main job is to funnel funding to school districts and charter schools.


By |August 27th, 2014|News|0 Comments

Louisiana Gov. Jindal to reportedly sue federal government over Common Core



Louisiana’s Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal.AP

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal reportedly will file a lawsuit against the Obama administration in federal court Wednesday, claiming that the Department of Education has illegally manipulated grant money and regulations to force states to adopt the controversial Common Core standards.

A draft copy of the lawsuit was provided to The Associated Press by the governor’s office. Jindal planned to file it Wednesday in the federal court based in Baton Rouge.

In the suit, Jindal argues that the Education Department’s $4.3 billion grant program “effectively forces states down a path toward a national curriculum” in violation of the state sovereignty clause in the Constitution and federal laws that prohibit national control of education content. The suit will ask a judge to declare the department’s actions unconstitutional and to keep it from disqualifying states from receiving Race to the Top funds based on a refusal to use Common Core or to participate in one of two state testing consortia tied to the department’s grant program.

The legal challenge puts Jindal, who is considering a 2016 presidential bid, at the forefront of a dispute between conservatives and President Barack Obama, bolstering the governor’s profile on the issue as he’s trying to court conservative voters nationwide.

“The federal government has hijacked and destroyed the Common Core initiative,” Jindal said in a statement. “Common Core is the latest effort by big government disciples to strip away state rights and put Washington, D.C., in control of everything.”

The Common Core standards are math and English benchmarks describing what students should know after completing each grade. They were developed by states to allow comparison of students’ performance. More than 40 states, including Louisiana, have adopted them.

When the state education board adopted the standards in 2010, Jindal supported them, saying they would help students to better prepare for college and careers. He reversed course earlier this year, however, and now says he opposes the standards because they are an effort by the Obama administration to meddle in state education policy.

The governor’s change of heart is not shared by lawmakers, the state education board and his hand-picked education superintendent, all of whom refuse to jettison Common Core from Louisiana’s classrooms. Jindal tried to derail use of the standards by suspending testing contracts, but a state judge lifted that suspension, calling the governor’s actions harmful to parents, teachers and students.

Turning to federal court represents a new tactic in Jindal’s efforts to undermine Louisiana’s use of the standards.

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan has criticized the governor’s opposition to Common Core as politically driven. In a June interview with “CBS This Morning,” the secretary said of Jindal’s switched position: “It’s about politics, it’s not about education.”

The Obama administration embraced the standards and encouraged states to adopt them as part of the application process for the Race to the Top grant program. Two state testing consortia — the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium — received $330 million from the grant program to develop standardized testing material tied to Common Core.

“Louisiana now finds itself trapped in a federal scheme to nationalize curriculum,” the lawsuit says. “What started as good state intentions has materialized into the federalization of education policy through federal economic incentives and duress.”

Louisiana received more than $17 million from Race to the Top and joined the PARCC consortium. It also received a waiver from certain federal education requirements under a program enacted by the Obama administration in 2011 that Jindal’s lawsuit says was designed to coerce states to use Common Core or risk the loss of billions in federal education funding.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

From Education Week – Michael Barber’s grand plan with data ‘Ocean’ of Digital Data to Reshape Education, Pearson Report Predicts

By Benjamin Herold on March 19, 2014 11:24 AM

A compelling vision of the data-driven future of K-12 schooling? Or a chilling description of a brave new educational world in which even students’ smallest actions are converted to digital data and used to build permanent “learner profiles”?

A new report from London- and New York City-based educational publishing powerhouse Pearson is likely to generate both reactions, depending on whom you ask.

Released this week, “Impacts of the Digital Ocean on Education” is intended as “an aspirational vision of what success might look like” in the rapidly changing world of “big” educational data and personalized learning.

Report authors Kristen DiCerbo and John Behrens of Pearson’s Center for Digital Data, Analytics, and Adaptive Learning sketch out a vision in which end-of-year, summative tests of narrowly defined skills and content knowledge are replaced by a constant stream of digital data generated by “in vivo naturalistic tasks” that thoroughly blur the line between assessment and instruction.

Such data—generated from a variety of sources and activities, and focusing on students’ social connections and interactions, rather than just their isolated individual experiences—would be constantly tracked and used to update profiles that follow each student across classrooms, grades, and schools, helping facilitate more customized learning experiences for each.

“The devices and digital environments with which we interact are designed to record and store experiences, thereby creating a slowly rising ocean of digital data,” DiCerbo and Behrens write in the report. “We believe the ability to capture data from everyday formal and informal learning activity should fundamentally change how we think about education.”

Just as big data and analytics have transformed finance, insurance, retail, and professional sports, the report says, they will change education. Until recently, the authors write, data collection and storage was expensive, limited, and isolated, and students’ educational records were not portable, easy to share, or able to be quickly analyzed.

But the digital revolution has changed that reality, DiCerbo and Behrens contend. They argue that the abundance of increasingly fine-grained data available to educators “can help pinpoint the moments when learning occurs or a learner’s approach to a problem changes” and then be used to help tailor suggestions or recommendations to help each student’s learning continue.

What does that look like in practice?

Every keystroke, mouse-click, and move of the cursor that a student makes would flow into the “digital ocean,” alongside a stream of contextual information generated by sensors built into the devices and software the students are using. E-books, for example, might track not only how many pages a student reads, but how much time he or she spends on each page, which word definitions are looked up, what text is highlighted, the difficulty of the reading material in a given text, where the book is being read, and with whom the student is electronically discussing it.

“Rather than thinking of a multitude of individual, isolated items, the digital ocean encourages us to think about integrated activity.” DiCerbo and Behrens write.

DiCerbo has been at the forefront of early efforts to use data to personalize learning via her involvement in GlassLab, which recently released SimCityEDU, a learning and assessment game that makes use of the “digital ocean” and data-mining principles she and Behrens describe.

The authors acknowledge “potential sandbars” in this ocean. Privacy and ownership of data is a big concern, they say. Data security—which they define as the ability to keep students’ information hidden, and not just the abstract right to do so—might be an even bigger challenge.

Some are likely to take a much closer look at those issues. Concern among parents, advocates, educators, and policymakers about lax protection of students’ sensitive information is growing, fueled in part by revelations of both data breaches and data-mining practices of large online-educational-service providers like Google.

Nevertheless, “we are in the midst of a great social shift,” the authors conclude.

“For those of us who have emerged from the digital desert, the challenge is to move beyond the understanding of new technology as a means to acquire previous ends, and to reinvent our conceptualizations to take advantage of a digital-first-, data-first world

By |August 23rd, 2014|News|0 Comments

Don’t Turn Kindergarteners Into Test-Taking Minions

WFTV 9 in central Florida reports that Florida plans to implement means-testing of Kindergarteners.

Yes you read that right.

An excerpt:

Channel 9′s Lori Brown found out that the state is requiring districts to develop tests for every subject taught in kindergarten.

The state law requires Orange County to develop 15 different tests for kindergarteners.

The subjects 5-year-olds will be tested on will range from physical education to art.

Most kindergarteners will be required to take seven of the tests.

“Turning a child into a test taking minion at the age of 6 or 7 is not good for a child,” said parent Kathleen Oropeza.

That is absolutely horrifying.  State Legislators who think that is a good idea should first have their head examined, and then drummed out of office when they are up for reelection.

On a similar note, there are schools in Iowa, starting this school year will start teaching kindergarteners how to code.  I kid you not.

All of this on top of standards that are developmentally inappropriate.

This is not the Kindergarten of my childhood, and it is no wonder that child psychologists, child development experts and social workers have shown concern about the developmental appropriateness of the standards.  They are causing stress as New York teachers have seen.   It will happen in your state ass well.


By |August 23rd, 2014|News|0 Comments

Key to better education is more expert teachers: researcher

EDMONTON – John Hattie, the renowned international expert on teacher excellence, is barnstorming in Alberta this week, speaking to groups of educators across the province, and delivering a message certain to make many principals, teachers and the odd provincial education minister extremely nervous.

Hattie says there’s far too much focus on things that will do little to improve student success — such as reducing class size, focusing on transformational ideas and leadership, advocating for discovery or inquiry-based learning, and labelling kids with learning disabilities and learning styles — and not nearly enough time and money spent on the one thing that matters: raising the level of teacher expertise.

Over the past three decades, Hattie, a New Zealand educational researcher and author of the acclaimed Visible Learning series of books, has dug in and dissected more than 1,100 meta-analyses of educational practice, studies which have looked at 60,000 papers on 240 million students. His goal has been to figure out what is crucial to learning in school and what is secondary.

Perhaps his least popular finding is that reducing class sizes enhances student achievement, but not by much. “It does have an effect,” Hattie says. “The problem is it’s very small.”

Many countries, like Canada, have paid dearly to reduce class size with little positive impact on student achievement. “If you look at countries (such as Poland and Turkey) who use that same money in teach expertise, you get dramatic rises,” Hattie says.

One problem is that in smaller classes, teachers don’t change their habits, but keep teaching as if they had a large class, Hattie says.

Educational research also doesn’t support the notion of classifying kids with various disorders or learning styles, Hattie says. “It’s pop psychology rubbish that’s perpetuated in our system … It’s absolutely almost criminal how we classify kids and label.”

Teachers certainly need to understand each child and to use all kinds of strategies to reach each one, but labelling the kids doesn’t help, Hattie says. “That’s great he’s got that learning style, but let’s give him some other ones, because when that one doesn’t work, what is he going to do?

“We have to stop seeing labels as stopping points and start seeing them as starting points, and seeing the fact that we can make a difference. The medicalization of teaching bothers the heck out of me.”

Hattie is also leery about Alberta Education’s recent fixation on discovery or constructivist learning, where the teacher is a facilitator and even elementary-aged students fixate on project and group work, with little or no focus on memorizing math facts and word sounds.

The evidence shows this inquiry-based learning model has limited success, Hattie says. “I would seriously wonder why you would take on something that we know is below average.”

The personalized, discovery style of teachers can work, but only after students have accumulated the right amount of knowledge so they’re ready to dig in deeper, Hattie says. “I have no trouble with all the constructivism notions at the right time, but if they dominate, I think they miss the point completely.”

Hattie isn’t a big fan of a massive curriculum rewrite either. “All those people who want to spend hours and money on curriculum change, it’s not going to make a difference.”

The good news for Alberta? Hattie estimates that 60 to 70 per cent of our teachers are doing the numerous and varied effective things it takes to get children to learn well.

Excellence abounds here, he says. “One of my messages, particularly to the politicians, is: ‘Don’t look outside, don’t look to Finland, don’t look around the world. It’s here in Alberta right now.’ ”

The real job, Hattie says, is having school principals get into the classrooms, figure out which teachers are having success and which are not, then working with the ones who need it.

All this talk of high-concept transformational change led by principals and educational leaders has to go. As Hattie puts it: “Transformational leaders, for God’s sake, get out of the school, you’re doing damage.”

There is a plethora of techniques that can help a teacher, such as understanding how children develop and practising effective feedback. Hattie digs into dozens of key concepts at length in his new book with Gregory Yates, Visible Learning and the Science of How We Learn.

With that in mind, the first homework assignment of new school year shouldn’t be for students, it should be for every teacher, principal, education prof, Alberta Ed bureaucrat and potential education minister or premier: read Hattie’s new book.