Archives for category: Data

Jason Stanford of Austin asks, what is the point of testing? The answer, he supposes, is to collect data. What is the point of data? Stop and think about it.

“To many, the answer is more testing. And because they’re testing darn near every child in America in most core subjects, now education reformers are going after the K in K-12. The Education Commission of the States says kindergarteners are now being given standardized tests in 25 states as well as the District of Columbia to measure whether they are ready for the rigor of crayons, naptime, and singing the alphabet song.

“These tests aren’t kid stuff, either. In Maryland, where teachers are asking for the state to suspend the tests, the average kindergartener takes more than 1 hour and 25 minutes to complete the tests. Teachers report that students don’t understand that they’re being tested to measure what they don’t know. When these 5-year-olds don’t know an answer, they think they’re stupid. We’re talking oceans of tears here.

“Remind me what the point of the tests is? To one state education official, the tests “will help improve early education,” which confuses things further. Remember, the thermometer doesn’t cook the meat.”

“So let’s go back to the original question: What is the point of data? With standardized tests, the point was supposed to be to diagnose which schools and students needed extra help. At least, that’s how they sold it to Dallas schools in the 1980s, then Texas schools in the 1990s, and then the whole country with No Child Left Behind.”

A regular commenter on the blog, Laura H. Chapman, shares her research on data mining:


Policies on data mining? “The future, like everything else, is no longer quite what it used to be.” Paul Valéry, poet.


It is no surprise that the Gates funded Teacher-Student Data Link Project started in 2005 is going full steam ahead. By 2011 his project said the link between teacher and student data would serve eight purposes:


1. Determine which teachers help students become college-ready and successful,

2. Determine characteristics of effective educators,

3. Identify programs that prepare highly qualified and effective teachers,

4. Assess the value of non-traditional teacher preparation programs,

5. Evaluate professional development programs,

6. Determine variables that help or hinder student learning,

7. Plan effective assistance for teachers early in their career, and

8. Inform policy makers of best value practices, including compensation.


The system is intended to ensure all courses are based on standards, and all responsibilities for learning are assigned to one or more “teachers of record” in charge of a student or class so that a record is generated whenever a “teacher of record” has a specific proportion of responsibility for a student’s learning activities.


These activities must be defined by performance measures for a particular standard, by subject, and grade level.


The TSDL system requires period-by-period tracking of teachers and students every day; including “tests, quizzes, projects, homework, classroom participation, or other forms of day-to-day assessments and progress measures.” Ultimately, the system will keep current and longitudinal data on the performance of teachers and individual students, as well schools, districts, states, and educators ranging from principals to higher education faculty.


This data will then be used to determine the “best value” investments in education, taking into account as many demographic factors as possible, including….health records for preschoolers. but the cradle is next, and it is part of USDE’s technology plan.


Since 2006, the USDE has also invested over $700 million in the Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems (SLDS) to help states “efficiently and accurately manage, analyze, and use education data, including individual student records”…and make “data-driven decisions to improve student learning, as well as facilitate research to increase student achievement and close achievement gaps.” The newest upgrade of the concpt is for these state-wide systems to become multi-state…and a national system. This goes WAY, WAy beyond (and may pre-empt) routine data-gathering by the National Bureau of Education Statistics.


It is not widely known that in 2009, USDE modified the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act so that student data—test scores, health records, learning issues, disciplinary reports—can be used for education studies without parental consent (The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, 20 U.S.C. §1232g). Moreover, a 2012 issue brief from USDE outlined a program of data mining and learning analytics in partnership with commercial companies.


The envisioned data- mining program includes an automated, instant access, user-friendly “recommendation system” for teachers that links students’ test scores and their learning profiles to preferred instructional actions and resources. Enhancing teaching and learning through educational data mining and learning analytics: An issue brief. Retrieved from p. 29).


USDE is also pressing forward a “radical and rapid” transformation of public education. The new system is marketed and funded as “personalized, competency-based learning” 24/365 from multiple sources. It is intended to dismantle place-based schools, seat time, grade levels, subject-specific curricula, traditional concepts about “teachers” and diplomas. Multiple certifications with flower along with an abundace of badges earne for completing learning paths and play-lists of learning options, awarded by profit and non-profit “learning agents.” The role of “teacher” is envioned as a relic, along with the institution of public schools. See USDE, Office of Educational Technology, Transforming American Education: Learning Powered by Technology, Washington, D.C., 2010.

EduShyster pays a visit to Salem, Massachusetts, where “school choice” has enabled the affluent families to go to some highly-resourced schools, while the less-affluent go to less-resourced schools.


If you want to see how bizarre and brain-dead “reform” is, look no farther than Salem. There, the town has fallen in love with jargon and data, and looks to edupreneurs to solve all problems by supplying edumanure.


She writes:


“At the center of the Open System beats an edupreneurial heart, one belonging to Empower Schools, founded by edupreneur Chris Gabrieli, whose list of political connections is as long as an extended school day, and Bret Alessi, former Education Pioneer and current Mass 2020 visionary. What precisely Empower Schools does, other than BELIEVE IN OPEN SYSTEMS…and produce case studies like this one, remains a bit vague-ish. What I can tell you is that Empower has quickly one over powerful friends aka *aligned leaders,* like Massachusetts Commissioner of College and Career Readiness, Mitchell D. Chester, who recently sang Empower’s praises to the Boston Globe in a story on how school partnerships with edupreneurial groups like Empower are failing to produce results…..Everybody who is anybody
But I digress. The important thing is that the Salem schools bus is hurtling towards a new system, an Open System, and that everyone who is anyone appears to be on board, from the city’s politically ambitious mayor, to the members of the Salem Partnership, to the members of the Community Advisory Board of the Salem Partnership, to the members of the Salem Education Foundation. In other words, everybody who is anybody in the city is *highly aligned,* jargonically speaking, behind a vision of what the city’s students need to succeed. A *laser-like focus on instruction* and *frequent assessments.* The Open System comes with transportation — and to quote district leaders, *data drives the bus.* And that teachers don’t just want to teach, they want to Teach Plus co-captain the data bus.”


But what happens when one family says “No, we don’t want our child to take the tests?” Shockingly, the family won the right to opt out. They have been joined by five other families. Hopefully there will be more. How will the “data bus” function if there is no data? Stay tuned. Will the data bus veer out of control? Or will it continue to drive right over the cliff with the children of Salem?



Recognizing that Race to the Top may be defunded in the next budget, Peter Greene explains the program’s original purposes, priorities, and policies.


Greene calls it a “giant turkey” with its neck on the chopping block and warns that it is too soon to celebrate. It might be saved at the last minute.


After surveying its many parts, he concludes:


“Yes, when lost in the haze of debate and discussion, sometimes it’s best to go back to the basics. Here it is– exactly what the feds wanted. Good paperwork. A teacher rank and rate system based on student test scores that would drive everything from training. More charters. More school takeovers.

“While the document says that RttT ‘will reward states that have demonstrated success in raising student achievement,’ that’s not really what it rewards. It rewards states for remaking their education systems along the lines demanded by the feds. And though the document promised that the best models would spread their reform ideas across the country, five years later, there are no signs of any such spreading infection. But then, there are no signs that any of these federal ideas about fixing schools has actually improved education for any students in this country.

“If Congress actually manages to shut this mess down, there will be no cause for tears.”

Be sure to read the first comment about the turmoil unleashed by Arne Duncan, and the effect of chaos on students.

On December 3, I engaged in conversation with Errol Louis of Néw York 1 and Andrea Gabor, Bloomberg Professor of Journalism at Baruch College.

The subject was “the uses and misuses of data in education.” If you have nothing better to do, you might enjoy watching.

Edward F. Berger, blogger in Arizona, knows that our education leaders are obsessed with data, but the one datum they don’t track is what happens to the kids who were pushed out or dropped out of their schools.


He writes:



Where are the follow-up studies of those dropped on their heads by the schools? We don’t have information – at least not in any district or charter schools I know of – about the kids pushed out of schools. We like to call them “dropouts,” but they really are “push outs.” For whatever reason, these kids are damaged and forced out as soon as they reach the legal age to drop them. We need to track them. My state, known as the “Wild West of Charter Schools,” has what may be the highest push-out rate in the US. It is created by ideologies that have failed, but are still in place and never accountable.


There are no funds to repair the damages and help the push-out kids get caught-up. Few community colleges can provide the remedial work and tutoring necessary for these damaged human beings to master the essential skills and pass the GED – or at the least, get the basic skills necessary for employment. As it stands, few employers will hire them. The military doesn’t want them. They have no futures. We are creating a massive welfare generation of very angry alienated citizens.


Parents sold on school choice, pull their children out of comprehensive public schools and enroll them in partial schools in the hope that this choice will deliver a better education. Then two things happen: 1)The partial school works for their child and what has been left out of a comprehensive education may not hurt the child’s chances. 2)The partial school must show progress on test scores and college admissions. Kids that don’t perform well are most often dropped and kicked back to the district school. They arrive back in the district schools way behind the other students who have experienced teachers and a comprehensive curriculum. As they experience the failure built into this reality, they most often drop out, or fade until they are passed on to get rid of them….Tests have been forced on our schools by those who buy into a business model for education and believe more data will make schools accountable and better. The irony is that they have not collected and analyzed the data about children failed by the schools as a result of failed ideologies.


Don’t we have an obligation to follow these young people and find out what happened to them after they left school?

Caitlin Emma, who writes for, here reviews the threat to student privacy posed by online courses.

While students are taking these courses, the provider is gathering a treasure trove of information about each of them. This data may later be sold to marketers, who see students as customers.

There is a federal law that is supposed to protect student privacy, but in 2011-12, Secretary Arne Duncan oversaw a weakening of FERPA regulations, removing key protections.

Companies working together, like Pearson and Knewton, are gathering confidential student data whenever your child goes online.

Why should corporations advertise when they can use Big Data to identify their target audience? Race to the Top required states, if they wanted to be eligible for federal cash, to create a massive student data warehouse, to open more charters, and to adopt “college and career ready standards,” I.e. Common Core. Clever, no? A bonanza for certain corporations.

This is scary stuff.

The third and final installment in the National Council of Thanksgiving Quality (NCTQ) advisories offers helpful advice about how to continue rating your own Thanksgiving dinner (and that of your neighbors).


And don’t forget the Pledge:


Our Pledge (Talking Turkey):

At NCTQ, we will continue to publish reports that represent the terrible quality of your family’s Thanksgiving Dinner. We will continue to support and publish research on standards and best practices for Thanksgiving Dinner, and we will work to impose those standards on your family. We will use whatever research we can find or create to forward these goals. We will lobby politicians and corporate sponsors to achieve our ends. We seek to standardize all Thanksgiving Dinners, so all US families can be sure they are presenting the best Thanksgiving Dinner for their children. We will also create and support private corporations that will derive enormous profits from delivering a high-quality Thanksgiving Dinner to your family. We will not rest until every child has the high-quality Thanksgiving Dinner he or she deserves.

When you hear about NCTQ, think TURKEY!!



Do you want to know how to rate your Thanksgiving dinner?


The National Council on Thanksgiving Quality has established absolutely crucial standards that you can apply in your home to your own Thanksgiving dinner.


Here are some of the standards that make the difference between a highly effective Thanksgiving dinner and a horrible family experience that will bring shame to your household:


Thanksgiving Turkey should have at least a 73% degree of crispiness, with a slightly darker than golden finish on the skin.
• At least ¾ cups of juice should squeeze from each 2.3 pounds of cooked Thanksgiving Turkey.
• Lasagna should not be an ingredient in Thanksgiving Dinners.
• Stove Top Stuffing must be used, without sausage or oysters. Corn meal stuffing may be substituted, but it is not recommended, as corn meal stuffing is not as effective generally as a stuffing made from Stove Top.
• Yams must be fresh, but butter nut squash may be frozen.
• A table of effective food temperatures has been established and must be followed.


Do it right and you can Race to the Top of your neighborhood. Break the rules and you may be subject to a fine or seizure of your home and loss of employment.

This is a must-read on Thanksgiving Day.


Why settle for the mediocre Thanksgiving Day ceremonies when you can raise standards, every child can have a high-quality meal, and no child will be left behind?


You can begin by rating your own family’s Thanksgiving dinner.


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