"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

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Saturday, March 9, 2013

Common Core. A Rigorous or a Worksheet Education?

In the legislative hearings for MO SB 210 and HB 616, Common Core proponents insisted the new standards and assessments were rigorous.  Over the next several days, we will be providing examples of Pearson designed CCSS assessments for your review and you can get a hint of what is ahead for your child in Missouri.

The state of New York has implemented CCSS in many schools and you will be seeing actual examples of what we assume the Missouri CCSS proponents would classify as rigor in the classroom.   Are these CCSS aligned examples indicative of the type of rigor that will result in authentic learning for students in Missouri?

From nystoptesting and Is Your Child Getting a "Worksheet" Education?:


Does your child bring home exclusively worksheets? No creative or fun work in the take home folder?  No challenging assignments? If so, your child could be receiving a "worksheet" education.

What is a "worksheet education"? 
When a student only completes "fill in the blanks", multiple choice, and short answer questions during the school day (and homework) they are receiving a "worksheet education".  Many of the these simple exercises are from corporate made workbooks or unit plans.  These mass produced lessons do not challenge our children's curiosity or creativity. 

Why does a "worksheet education" occur?
Some teachers will choose primarily worksheets for our children because it is a simple and easy way to plan and deliver their lessons.  A worksheet education can happen if a teacher shows a lack of effort or creativity.  This can also occur when a teacher is assigned a new grade level or course.  It takes time to "build a course" with their own ideas and lessons.

The major culprit that is contributing to the overuse of worksheets is the use of high-stakes testing to evaluate teachers.   As most states have adopted the use of standardized assessments to judge educators, the pressure to raise test scores has increased.  Teachers who fear low test results may engage in test preparation type work to ready students for the format and style of the state assessments.

The recent adoption of the Common Core Learning Standards is a new factor in the "worksheet education" of some students.  The Common Core has created a new curriculum for teachers to adjust their lesson planning.  In New York  the grade 3-8 state assessments this coming spring will be Common Core aligned even though many teachers have had limited training in the new curriculum standards.  Starting from scratch with new content is a challenge for educators.  In addition many districts have purchased workbooks for their staff to meet the new Common Core standards and teachers are expected to use these expensive programs.

Increasing class size is also a factor in the "worksheet education" of our children.  It is much easier to hand out busy work that only requires students to stare at a piece of paper instead of a creative project.  It can be difficult for a teacher with a large class to plan, maintain order, and help students who are working on complex assignments and activities.

What results from a "worksheet education"?
Students could be receiving year-round test prep which limits your child's critical thinking skills and creativity. Students may be bored and exhibit behavioral problems as they get restless with the "drill and kill" nature of the test prep worksheets.

Sadly, a generation of students may see the "worksheet education" they are receiving as a normal way to learn.  Obedient kids will not complain and parents will think their children are happy and will be satisfied with their child's education despite the fact that their schools are operating in a test prep mode. Think your child is safe because they are in primary grades or pre-K? No such luck, because of the new teacher evaluation systems, our youngest students could be attacked by the worksheet as well.  If your kindergartener is bubbling in answers, it is time to raise the red flag.

Some New York parents may recall their Regents Exam review books from "back in the day" and say "we did test prep and turned out fine".  The old Regents review books were used only briefly towards the end of the year to cram and prepare for those high school exams.  Imagine having to use that same type of dry and boring review style of learning for an entire school year, and then repeat again and again as you progress through school.

The education of our children is at stake.
The drive to raise test scores has harmed the average student's ability to think critically and be creative.  In recent years I have noticed more and more of my middle school students excel at multiple choice and pulling basic facts from a reading, but ask them to analyze or think outside the box about what they have read and many students struggle. In an ELA test prep mode, you will see a short reading passage followed by several multiple choice and a couple short response questions.  This is the exact format of the ELA exam.  Students are drilled in this format to be able to grab the needed content items from the reading passage, but higher level thinking skills are rarely used. 

Time to talk to educators.
Veteran teachers who know their students, grade levels and subjects can build their own lessons over time that are superior to the corporate produced test-prep workbooks that are starting to dominate classrooms.

Parents, before complaining to your child's teacher, find out if some creative work stays at school to decorate the classroom or  to display for special school events.  Ask your child's teacher if they are using workbooks mandated by the school.  Significant sums of money are being spent for these test preparation books in a time of scarce financial resources.  Some teachers may not want to use the workbooks, but feel as though they have no choice.  If the books are mandated, then parents should question school administration as to why their child is receiving a test preparation curriculum.

In New York, Pearson Education has a $32 million dollar contract to produce the state assessments.  It is not a coincidence that Pearson also sells many of the workbooks that our schools use.  Some have wondered why Pearson would get a $468.4 million contract from Texas, yet get significantly less from New York?  Could the small compensation for its test construction in New York be a "loss-leader" for Pearson so it can sell educational materials, including curriculum packets and workbooks, to schools across the Empire State?

Parents need to tell their schools that we expect more for our children.  Let your school leaders and elected officials know that standardized test scores are not a measure of the quality of your schools, teachers or the progress of your child.  Inform the school that you expect your child to get a well-rounded education that emphasizes high-order thinking, creativity and outside the box learning, not test preparation.


How to spot test-prep worksheets
Test preparation worksheets and books often mirror the format of the state exams. 

Example of my son's test prep worksheets.  Second grade does not have a state assessment, but getting students prepared for the format and style is part of the test preparation, even at an early age. Note the short reading passage followed by multiple choice and short response.

Here is an example of the new Common Core aligned Third Grade test from engageny.org

Fourth grade unit test from Pearson.  Again notice the format is similar to the state assessment.

Fourth grade Common Core State Standards aligned math book.

Common Core Opt Out Form for Parents

  • Would you like to fight back against the private trade organizations funded by federal dollars directing your child's education?  
  • Would you like your child's teachers to have more autonomy and professional decision making ability in the classroom? 
  • Would you like your state/school to be able to make decisions on standards and assessments for your child, instead of a 26 state consortia directing copyrighted standards and assessments? 

Here is a form to use opting your student out of classes using Common Core State (sic) Standards from Truth in American Education.

If you believe as a parent or legal guardian you have the fundamental and legal right to direct the upbringing and education of your child, this is a document you will want to sign to stop the standards/assessments used in your child's educational delivery.

Friday, March 8, 2013

MO HB 616 and MO SB 210 Sandra Stotsky Testimony Regarding Common Core

Invited Testimony for a Hearing on
House Bill #616 and Senate Bill #210:
 Bills to prohibit the State Board of Education from adopting and implementing Common Core’s Standards and Tests

Sandra Stotsky
Professor Emerita of Education Reform
University of Arkansas
March 6 and 7, 2013

I thank State Representative Paul Curtman and State Senator David Pearce for the opportunity to support bills prohibiting the State Board of Education from adopting and implementing the standards for public schools developed by the Common Core Standards Initiative—as part of a larger effort to downsize government.  I will explain why Common Core’s English language arts standards and future tests are worse than those Missouri has used in recent years, why Common Core’s ELA standards will lower student achievement and reduce the quality of your teaching force, and why they cannot be changed unilaterally by Missouri no matter what you are told.

My professional background: I was a senior associate commissioner in the Massachusetts Department of Education from 1999-2003 and, among other duties, was in charge of development or revision of the state's K-12 standards in all major subjects, licensing regulations for teachers and administrators, teacher licensure tests, and professional development criteria. I reviewed all states' English language arts standards for the Thomas B. Fordham Institute in 1997, 2000, and 2005. I co-authored Achieve, Inc.'s American Diploma Project high school exit test standards for English in 2004. Finally, I served on Common Core's Validation Committee from 2009-2010.

I will speak briefly to the following points.

1.  That Common Core's English language arts standards won’t lead to college readiness

2.  That they lack a research base, international benchmarking, and qualified authors

3.  What leads to college readiness in the secondary English class    

4.  That Missouri cannot change one single word in Common Core’s standards

5. What Missouri can do to increase student learning in all subjects

1. Common Core's English language arts standards won’t lead to college readiness:  Common Core’s “college readiness” standards for ELA standards have many flaws:

Common Core expects English teachers to spend over 50 percent of their reading instructional time on informational texts at every grade level. It sets forth 10 reading standards for informational texts and 9 standards for literary texts at every grade level, K-12.  (An informational text is a piece of writing written to convey information about something, e.g., gravity, bicycles, nutrition.)  There is no body of information that English teachers have ever been responsible for teaching, unlike science teachers, for example, who are charged with teaching information about science.  In addition, English teachers are not trained to give informational reading instruction—by college English departments or by teacher preparation programs.  They study four major genres of literature—poetry, drama, fiction, and nonfiction—and are trained to teach those genres.

Common Core reduces literary study—what English teachers are trained to teach. Common Core does not specify the literary/historical knowledge students need in its standards.  It offers no specific criteria for selecting literary or informational texts for study. It provides no list of recommended authors, never mind works.  It requires no British literature aside from Shakespeare.  It does not require study of the history of the English language. 

Common Core’s middle school writing standards are an intellectual impossibility for average middle school students. Adults have a much better idea of what "claims," "relevant evidence," and academic "arguments" are. But most children have a limited understanding of these concepts, even if Common Core’s writing standards were linked to appropriate reading standards and prose models. Nor does the document clarify the difference between an academic argument (explanatory writing) and persuasive writing, confusing teachers and students alike.

Common Core’s college-readiness standards are chiefly empty skills.  Skills training (such as how to use Google or a card catalogue or find a main idea) alone doesn’t prepare students for college. High school students need to be taught how to read and understand the content of complex literary texts in order to do “critical thinking.”

It is not surprising that such deficient standards received a grade of B+ from the Fordham Institute and that the Fordham Institute claims Common Core’s standards are superior to those in most states.  Fordham Institute received at least $1,000,000 dollars from the Gates Foundation to promote Common Core’s standards. The top officials at the Fordham Institute changed the evaluation form (and grading scheme) it had used in earlier reviews of state ELA standards in order to claim that Common Core’s ELA standards were better than those in most states. 

2.  Common Core’s standards lack a research base, international benchmarking, and credible authors: Common Core’s Validation Committee, on which I served, was supposed to ensure that its standards were internationally benchmarked and supported by a body of research evidence. Even though several of us regularly asked for the names of the countries the standards were supposedly benchmarked to, we didn’t get them.  Nor did we get citations to the supposed body of evidence supporting the idea that an increase in instruction in informational reading in English or other classes will make students college-ready. 

We did not get evidence on international benchmarking because Common Core is not about “rigor for all,” despite all the parrot talk. In grades 6-12, it is about “rigor for none” or educational rigor mortis.  Its goal is not to increase all students’ achievement—the goal of the Bay State student standards and tests, and teacher standards and tests.  Common Core’s goal is to close the demographic gaps in student achievement the easiest way that Gates and the USDE could figure out—which is why Jason Zimba, the mathematics standards writer told the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Education at a public meeting in March 2010 that college-readiness for Common Core means readiness for admission to a non-selective community college.  The aim of its high school mathematics standards is not to strengthen the high school curriculum and to prepare a regularly increasing number of students for college freshman calculus courses. 

Reading researchers have acknowledged there is no research to support Common Core’s claim   about the value of informational reading instruction in the English or other classes. It is also the case that the organizations that developed these standards (CCSSO and NGA) and that promoted them (NASBE, PTA, Achieve, Inc.), as well as recent reports on the “validity” of Common Core’s standards by one scholar at the University of Oregon and another one at Michigan State University, have all been funded by the Gates Foundation. None offers evidence that Common Core’s standards meet current entrance requirements for most colleges and universities in this country or elsewhere.  Moreover, the Gates Foundation chose the chief writers of Common Core’s standards in English language arts and mathematics. Neither has ever taught in K-12.

3.   What leads to college readiness in secondary English classes? The study of complex literature in the English class, not informational texts, leads to college readiness.  Students have to be taught how to “read between the lines.” Literary study was the focus of the Massachusetts 1997 and 2001 ELA standards, considered the “gold standard” among state ELA standards long before Massachusetts students scored in first place in grades 4 and 8 in reading on NAEP—and stayed there. 
Moreover, from about 1900—the beginning of uniform college entrance requirements via the college boards—until the 1950s, a challenging, literature-heavy English curriculum was understood to be precisely what pre-college students needed.  From the 1960s onward, the decline in readiness for college reading (acknowledged in the Common Core document) reflected in large part an increasingly incoherent, less challenging literature curriculum that was propelled by the fragmentation of the year-long English course into semester electives, the conversion of junior high schools into middle schools, and the assignment of easier, shorter, and contemporary texts—often but not always in the name of multiculturalism.

By reducing literary study, Common Core’s 50/50 mandate decreases students’ opportunity to develop the analytical thinking once developed in just an elite group by the vocabulary, structure, style, ambiguity, point of view, figurative language, and irony in classic literary texts.  It also reduces the quality of those who become English teachers.  Most English teachers want to teach literature, a major reason they become English teachers.

4.  Why Missouri cannot change one single word in Common Core’s standards: The two organizations that developed Common Core’s standards have copyrighted their documents. States that have adopted Common Core’s standards cannot change one word of the standards in them, even if their teachers find the standards confusing, placed at inappropriate levels, or poorly written. States can add up to 15% of their own standards but must assess this 15% themselves.  This 15% is above and beyond what is in the Common Core standards.  

5. Why Missouri’s own ELA Standards didn’t increase student learning enough:  The fact that the Bay State’s standards seem to have been more effective than those in other states can be attributed to the simultaneous changes in the academic requirements for teacher and administrator training programs, licensure tests, and professional development. High quality in a state’s standards is not enough.   Raising the academic bar for admission to an education school and embedding the content of strong academic standards into its educator preparation programs, licensure tests, and professional development will over time lead to increases in achievement for all students in reading and mathematics, as it did in Massachusetts.  

Final Comment
Let me repeat some basic points of fact first.  (1) Common Core’s standards are NOT internationally benchmarked and will not make us competitive. No country has ever been mentioned as a benchmark.  (2)  Common Core’s standards are NOT rigorous. The Gates Foundation wanted to make a sale.  Would any state have adopted them if it wasn’t told they were rigorous?   (3) There is NO research or research evidence to support Common Core’s stress on “informational” reading instruction in the English class or in any other high school subject.  (4)  Missouri does not need Common Core to find out how Missouri students compare with Idaho students.  It can use NAEP’s results to find out.

All state standards need to be reviewed and revised if needed at least every five to seven years by identified Missouri teachers and discipline-based experts in the arts and sciences, and parents.  In addition, all state assessments should be reviewed by Missouri teachers and discipline-based experts in the arts and sciences before the tests are given.  This can’t happen with Common Core’s standards and assessments.  Missouri has lost control of the content of its children’s education under Common Core.  Its main task is simply to pay for its costs. The future costs for staying with Common Core will far outweigh the costs for leaving while leaving is still possible.

Principal's Common Core Conversion from Supporter to Anti-Common Core Advocate

"A fool with a tool is still a fool.  A fool with a powerful tool is a dangerous fool.A fool with a tool is still a fool.  A fool with a powerful tool is a dangerous fool."

From Valerie Strauss in The Washington Post Principal: ‘I was na├»ve about Common Core’:

Here’s a powerful piece about how an award-winning principal went from being a Common Core supporter to an opponent. This was written by Carol Burris, principal of South Side High School in New York. She was named the 2010 New York State Outstanding Educator by the School Administrators Association of New York State. She is one of the co-authors of the principals’ letter against evaluating teachers by student test scores, which has been signed by 1,535 New York principals.

Here is a real life example of how common core will operate.  It doesn't look so wonderful and clear and concise in practice:

Many of the teachers in my high school are also the parents of young children.  They come into my office with horror stories regarding the incessant pre-testing, testing and test prep that is taking place in their own children’s classrooms.  Last month, a colleague gave me a multiple-choice quiz taken by his seven-year old son during music.  Here is a question:

     Kings and queens COMMISSIONED Mozart to write symphonies for celebrations and ceremonies. What does COMMISSION mean?


        to force someone to do work against his or her will

        to divide a piece of music into different movements

        to perform a long song accompanied by an orchestra

        to pay someone to create artwork or a piece of music

Whether or not learning the word ‘commission’ is appropriate for second graders could be debated—I personally think it is a bit over the top.  What is of deeper concern, however, is that during a time when 7 year olds should be listening to and making music, they are instead taking a vocabulary quiz.

I think that the reason for the quiz is evident to anyone who has been following the reform debate.  The Common Core places an extraordinary emphasis on vocabulary development. Probably, the music teacher believes she must do her part in test prep. More than likely she is being evaluated in part by the English Language Arts test scores of the building. Teachers are engaged in practices like these because they are pressured and afraid, not because they think the assessments are educationally sound. Their principals are pressured and nervous about their own scores and the school’s scores. Guaranteed, every child in the class feels that pressure and trepidation as well.

end this principal's testimony on why she turned from being a supporter to an anti-common core advocate to your state senators and representatives.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Common Core Math Taught to an 8 Year Old.

House Bill 616 was heard early today in Jefferson City and pro CCSS folks testified how wonderful and clear and concise the new standards are.  Missouri is beginning to implement them in classrooms so the results of using the new standards are difficult to measure.  Since a big attraction for some teachers and administrators is that the standards/assessments are all the same across state lines, maybe those proponents might just want to read the story below about an actual CCSS math problem encountered by a third grader in New York and think if this wonderful and clear and concise set of standards will actually raise student achievement.  Such standards might not raise achievement, but rather, frustration and a distaste for math.

If this is a typical day in the life of a child in math class, it's no wonder CCSSI puts a disclaimer on its standards so it can't be sued if students don't reach proficiency levels.

From huffingtonpost.com and Misadventures in the Common Core:

My daughter -- a bright, fun-loving 8-year-old who isn't easily rattled -- was reduced to tears in school yesterday. Apparently, while working on a math lesson involving fractions, she wasn't "getting it" the way that she thought she should, and her frustration mounted and her eyes welled up and, later, when her teacher talked to her in the hallway on the way to gym class, she lost it and she cried and cried.

I know this because her teacher -- a committed professional who does wonderful work with her class of third-graders -- cared enough to call us at home to tell us. When asked, she said that lots of kids were feeling frustrated by this particular lesson. The reason, we learned, is New York's recent embrace of the "Common Core" that has been adopted by 46 states. It's the latest experiment put into place by educational policy experts who continually jockey to get the newest big ideas into the classroom.

When I first heard about the Common Core, I was excited. Many of the college students I teach are unprepared to do the kinds of textual analysis and critical thinking that I expect of them, and what I had heard about the Common Core made it seem promising. One article that I read in The Atlantic made it sound, well, revolutionary.

Maybe it will be. The Common Core might turn out to be one of the best reforms in K-12 education in decades. It's all still pretty new and its cumulative impact on the intellectual development of students might turn out to be a great thing. What I know right now, though, is that it is asking third graders to approach math in ways that seem terribly unsuited to them.

I don't just mean things like the worksheet that included a rectangle divided into six sections with written instructions asking students to shade one-fifth of it.

[Note: As I wrote the above sentence, my daughter -- who had been in bed for an hour and should have been asleep -- came downstairs in tears, saying that she was still upset by what happened in math class. After talking about her frustrations, she fell asleep beside me on the sofa.]

No, I'm not talking about the typographical error on an official New York State Common Core third-grade math worksheet, though such a boneheaded mistake does little to inspire confidence.
What I mean by math problems unsuited to third-graders are ones that go something like this: Two kids are served brownies. One kid, "Julian," eats one-half of a small brownie and the other kid, "Debbie," eats one-eighth of a big brownie. Julian claims that he ate more than Debbie (because one-half is more than one-eighth). The students are asked to explain why Julian's claim is false, using words and pictures, and then use words and pictures to make that supposedly false statement into a true statement.

I guess that what the students are supposed to realize is that because the brownies are different sizes (though what kind of adult would cut unequal-sized brownies for kids?), one-half isn't necessarily bigger than one-eighth. That's true, but without knowing the size of each brownie, there really isn't enough information to determine which brownie piece is bigger. Maybe Julian really did eat more than Debbie.

More to the point though, is this question: How in the world is that problem supposed to help a third-grader learn fractions? Third-graders are concrete thinkers and they are just learning the basics of fractions. Why throw in a poorly-written word problem that asks them to explain an abstract concept such as the idea that one-eighth of a larger whole may be bigger than one-half of a smaller whole? Until they fully understand the basics of halves and eighths -- and unless there is a picture showing the relative sizes of each whole -- such abstractions only muddy the waters of learning.

Then there is the problem of dividing a "whole" into two "halves," calling each half a new whole, and then asking the students to divide the new whole into new halves. My daughter looked at the problem and she knew that she wasn't seeing two new wholes. She was seeing two halves of the original whole that still stared back her from the page.

More insidious still is a worksheet that seems determined to confuse students by its use of two very similar sounding, and similar looking words. The instructions for Column A read: "The shape represents one whole. Write a fraction to describe the shaded part." Below the instructions are a variety of shapes with different fractions shaded. The same shapes and shades are found in Column B. This time students are instructed: "The shaded part represents one whole. Divide one whole to show the same unit fraction you wrote in A."

These third grade students are expected to keep in mind not only the lesson on fractions, but also the fine distinction between the words "shape" and "shade" in determining wholes and fractions. It's absurd.

I don't know how my daughter will do in math today or in the coming weeks. I hope that with her teacher's guidance, and with the support of her mother and me, she'll make the adjustments she needs to make in order to regain her confidence in understanding the math concepts that she was already beginning to understand before the new standards and their worksheets came along.

Until then, we'll just keep reassuring her that the problem isn't her ability to understand math; the problem is how she's being asked to understand math. The problem is the experimental "big idea" that she's unknowingly become part of.

(Note: All of the math problems I've described -- including the one with the typographical error -- can be found here.)

Follow Mark Rice on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@RankingAmerica

To remind our readers: per the Common Core copyright, the standards/assessments may not be changed or altered in any way.  What would you do if your child came home with such a math problem?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Packed Hearing for MO Senate Bill 210 (Anti-Common Core)

A packed room heard testimony from both sides on the Common Core issue in Jefferson City today.  One witness not heard from because of time restraint was James Shuls.  His written testimony may be found here, Missouri Should Avoid Implementation of the Common Core:

First, I will discuss the arguments that supposedly support adoption of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and demonstrate why these arguments are vacuous. Moreover, I will demonstrate that if the real objective of CCSS is the centralized planning of education standards, then the CCSS do not go far enough. Next, I will offer what I suggest will be the real impact of implementing the CCSS.

Full Testimony (PDF)

Common Core Example? A Humorous Assessment of David Coleman's SAT

Need a chuckle?  Read this piece from The Washington Post SAT to be updated and this tongue in cheek assessment fashioned in the language of Common Core:

Read the article here.  It pokes the holes in David Coleman's push to align the SAT to Common Core State standards.

The readers aren't impressed with Coleman's plan either:

We need more hip hop questions.


Thanks, Alexandra. re: original Actual Life Math Question, the closest correct answer is D. A better answer is E - quietly excuse yourself to go to the bathroom and once there, climb out the window and disappear for a few days. The time delay puts all the pressure on the cheap tablemates since they have to deal with the angry restaurant manager over the bill (if you run screaming from the table as in D, you get blamed for it immediately). If the bathroom has no window, stand on the toilet, pop open a ceiling tile, and climb up to escape through the plenum space above the ceiling. A return air duct would be ideal but most are too small to wiggle through like in the movies (though no doubt YOU could do so, Alexandra, yes?).


If it's college success skills you want to test, make sure test takers have full access to wikipedia, and make sure that, for a fee, they can purchase someone else's test answers.


On the actual life math question, there should be an answer E) put it on someone else's credit card, to match the thinking of the current generation and Washington D.C. 

See Jane. See Jane run.

What was Jane doing?
A) walking
D)don't know, I can't read

Monday, March 4, 2013

Common Core is Not Just About Standards, it's also about Data Mining.

Who knows where your child's data will end up and for what purpose?

We've written through the years about Common Core and have been concerned about the data mining allowed to occur now that states use common assessments.  The data mining is not just centered on educational information.  This educational reform also requires personal information on students and their families.  This is to create a managed workforce based on student data gathered from educational facilities and with the expansion of FERPA allowing information to flow freely, this information will be supplied to research firms, contractors and other interested parties.

Seattle Education reports on a grant received by school districts to gather this data:

One of the deals that we made with the devil when it comes to accepting Race to the Top dollars is the relinquishing of our children’s information.

Gates and others have begun to collect information about our children from New York to LA and it is about to happen in Seattle thanks to the efforts of the Road Map project, et al, falling all over themselves to receive a pittance of educational funding, $40 M to be split between 7 districts in our state. That’s $5.7M if it were to be divided equally.

To put that into perspective, West Seattle High School’s budget for this year is a little over $6M and that does not include building upkeep or other building costs including utilities.

The money will not go into established programs or to help with our budget crunch which happens to be a $32 M shortfall in Seattle, but is to go to “assessing” students starting in pre-school. Assessments basically mean testing on a long-term basis. This is not sustainable but oh well, there is some pie in the sky reasoning about receiving yet another largesse from Bill Gates, and maybe someday we would be able to continue to pay for everything that we have promised to deliver forever.

Per a previous post, A Race to the Top Winner. Really?, the following is the information that people want culled from our students’ “data”.

Road Map On-Track Indicators
The following is a list of the Road Map Project on-track indicators. These are reported annually against specific targets.
% of children ready to succeed in school by kindergarten
% of students who are proficient in:
3rd grade reading
4th grade math
5th grade science
6th grade reading
7th grade math
8th grade science
% of students triggering Early Warning Indicator 1*
% of students triggering Early Warning Indicator 2*
% of students who graduate high school on time
% of graduating high school students meeting minimum requirements to apply to a Washington state 4-year college
% of students at community and technical colleges enrolling in pre-college coursework
% of students who enroll in postsecondary education by age 24
% of students continuing past the first year of postsecondary
% students who earn a post-secondary credential by age 24
* Early warning indicators are for 6th and 9th grade students. EW1: Six or more absences and one or more course failure(s). EW2: One or more suspension(s) or expulsion(s)
Other Indicators to be Reported
The following is a list of the Road Map Project contributing indicators. These are reported annually or whenever possible, but do not have specific targets. These contributing indicators combined with the on-track indicators make up the full list of Road map Project indicators.
% of children born weighing less than 5.5 pounds
% of eligible children enrolled in select formal early learning programs
% of licensed childcare centers meeting quality criteria
% of families reading to their children daily
% of children meeting age-level expectations at the end of preschool
% of children enrolled in full-day kindergarten
% of students taking algebra by the 8th grade
% of students passing the exams required for high school graduation
% of English language learning students making progress in learning English
% of students taking one or more Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate courses
% of students absent 20 or more days per year
% of students who make a non-promotional school change
% of students motivated and engaged to succeed in school
% of students attending schools with low state achievement index ratings
% of females age 15-17 giving birth
% of 8th graders reporting select risk factors on the Healthy Youth Survey
% of students exhibiting 21st century skills
% of students who graduate high school by age 21
% of high school graduates completing a formal career and technical education program
% of eligible students who complete the College Bound application by the end of 8th grade
% of graduating College Bound students who have completed the FAFSA
% of students who directly enroll in postsecondary education
% of students who did not complete high school on time who achieve a postsecondary credential
% of students employed within 1 and 5 years of completing or leaving postsecondary education, including wage
It's not theory anymore.  It will be coming to your school district in the future.  Your superintendent may declare he/she doesn't compile this type of data, but you can see this is an important component of common core.  Not only do we need to compare student test scores, we need to compare their birthweight, if their parents read to them, their level of motivation, etc.

Stephanie Simon writing in Reuters K-12 student database jazzes tech startups, spooks parents has uncovered data mining on children and has documented where it goes:

(Reuters) - An education technology conference this week in Austin, Texas, will clang with bells and whistles as startups eagerly show off their latest wares.

But the most influential new product may be the least flashy: a $100 million database built to chart the academic paths of public school students from kindergarten through high school.

In operation just three months, the database already holds files on millions of children identified by name, address and sometimes social security number. Learning disabilities are documented, test scores recorded, attendance noted. In some cases, the database tracks student hobbies, career goals, attitudes toward school - even homework completion.

Local education officials retain legal control over their students' information. But federal law allows them to share files in their portion of the database with private companies selling educational products and services.
 Entrepreneurs can't wait.

"This is going to be a huge win for us," said Jeffrey Olen, a product manager at CompassLearning, which sells education software.

CompassLearning will join two dozen technology companies at this week's SXSWedu conference in demonstrating how they might mine the database to create custom products - educational games for students, lesson plans for teachers, progress reports for principals.

The database is a joint project of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which provided most of the funding, the Carnegie Corporation of New York and school officials from several states. Amplify Education, a division of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, built the infrastructure over the past 18 months. When it was ready, the Gates Foundation turned the database over to a newly created nonprofit, inBloom Inc, which will run it.

States and school districts can choose whether they want to input their student records into the system; the service is free for now, though inBloom officials say they will likely start to charge fees in 2015. So far, seven states - Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Massachusetts - have committed to enter data from select school districts. Louisiana and New York will be entering nearly all student records statewide.

"We look at personalized learning as the next big leap forward in education," said Brandon Williams, a director at the Illinois State Board of Education.

Read more here.

One should shudder to read the statement from Mr. Williams from the IL State Board of Education.  Remember the Illinois Data Set that has been waiting to be rolled out with data sets pertaining to student blood test results, eye color, voting status?  Here's the plan to keep students on the right track: a national based GPS system for your student so he/she will never get lost along life's way.  

Like a car navigation system, the learning management systems of the future will know the current location of each learner and be able to plot multiple, individualized paths to the Common Core and other academic goals. Students will be able to select preferences of modality of instruction, language,and time. And, like a car navigation system, even if they decide to take a detour, the system will always know where they are, where they want to go, and multiple paths to get there. (pg 8 of 126)
How do you feel about multiple agencies and private organizations tracking your child's every move and data points? If you believe your child is a piece of inventory and human capital, this a suitable and desirable tracking mechanism. 
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