Archives for category: U.S. Department of Education

I am enjoying the online debate between Rick Hess and Peter Cunningham. Rick is located at the conservative American Enterprise Institute in D.C., Peter runs a blog funded by Walton and Broad and served as Arne Duncan’s Assistant Secretary for Communications in Obama’s first term.


In this post, they debate whether Uncle Sam should tell schools how to improve.


Peter, of course, echoes the Obama administration’s position that this is a proper federal role.


He writes:


With thousands of schools defying every effort to improve after decades of reform, can we really just throw up our hands and quit? Even with the flexibility and financial incentives associated with SIG—multiple models and up to $6M over three years—most states and districts choose the least aggressive and least impactful interventions, presumably to avoid a messy fight over staffing.


Children have only one chance for an education. When states and districts allow chronically struggling schools to continue indefinitely, the federal government has a moral obligation and an economic incentive to step in. When it comes to protecting kids at risk, the buck still stops in Washington.


Rick argues cogently that the feds should not tell schools how to improve because Uncle Sam (Congress and the U.S. Department of Education) doesn’t know how to improve any school.


Rick writes:


Here’s the problem: there’s no recipe for identifying which schools need to be “turned around” or for helping those schools improve. This means that identifying those schools, figuring out how to help them, and then actually doing so are complicated tasks that require a lot of judgment, discretion, and good sense.


Unfortunately, these are not the strengths of the federal government. This is simply because federal officials a] don’t run schools or systems, b] have to write policies that apply to 100,000 schools across 50 states, and c] aren’t accountable for what happens in schools and systems. These three factors mean that federal “school improvement” efforts amount to efforts to write rules and directions that can apply everywhere, including many places where the formulas may not make sense. The result is a whole lot of grudging compliance, a fair bit of aimless activity, and not a whole lot of smart problem-solving.


The results are evident in efforts like the Obama administration’s School Improvement Grant program. There, we’ve spent $6 billion and a third of the schools receiving SIG funds have seen their test results get worse. Of course, it’s hard to find really reliable numbers on all this because the Department of Education hasn’t been forthcoming with the data (and has had to retract flawed data). One can make a case for Andy Smarick’s claim that SIG is “the greatest failure in the U.S. Department of Education’s 30-plus year history.”

In this post, Rick Hess of the American Enterprise Institute in D.C., debates Peter Cunningham, who served as Arne Duncan’s Assistant Secretary for Communications in President Obama’s first term. The subject: Should the federal government mandate teacher evaluation.

Cunningham, not surprisingly, says yes, suggesting that teachers would not be evaluated correctly (I.e. using test scores) without a federal mandate.

Hess opposes a federal mandate.

Here is the beginning of his very fine response:

“School systems should do much better when it comes to teacher evaluation, but Congress should stay far, far away from that process. When it comes to teacher evaluation, where the question is not whether it’s done but how well it’s done, federal requirements are good at spurring commotion and compliance, but lousy at ensuring that complex tasks are done well.

“It’s not like teacher evaluation is a new thing. Schools and systems have done it forever, and they’ve generally been awful at it. Guess what? For all the frustration and furor prompted by the Obama administration’s waivers, little has changed. In states like Florida, Tennessee, and Michigan, 99% of teachers were rated effective before they unveiled new evaluation systems in accord with federal demands—and 98% or 99% were deemed effective under their new systems.”

My thought: Teaching is a very essential profession, even though most teachers are not paid like professionals. If Congress insists on mandates for teachers, why not high-stakes doctor evaluations? Lawyer evaluations? State legislator evaluations? Members of Congress evaluations? Governor evaluations?

For legislators, for example, how often were you absent? How many votes did you miss? Who funded your campaign? Did your votes reflect the wishes of your contributors, or the needs of your constituents? How many bills did you introduce? How many passed? What changes did they produce? Did you help to reduce poverty? Unemployment?

Wonder how doctors and lawyers would respond to evaluations mandated by Congrress?

This is a statement by a group of conservative policy analysts, critiquing Republican efforts to rewrite No Child Left Behind. Their major complaint is that the current bills preserve federal control of education. They want states to make the decisions about when and how often students should be tested. They want the new law to say definitively that the federal government must not interfere with curriculum.

Being conservatives, they want Title I to be portable to promote school choice. They want to eliminate mandates and competitive grant programs.

Read it for yourself.

Arne Duncan seems to have united right and left in wanting to curtail the role of the federal government, though for different reasons. I want federal money to go to public schools. But I agree that the testing mandates and sanctions should be abandoned. When to test and how often to test should be a state function.

You have until February 2 to post your comment about whether the US Department of Education should impose VAM on teacher education. Test-happy DOE wants to evaluate colleges of education by the test scores of students taught by their graduates.

The U. S. Department of Education is forcing Maine to use junk science for teacher evaluations. The legislature enacted a teacher evaluation program, but it was not tough enough for the Feds, says Politico.

“MAINE UNDER THE MICROSCOPE: Education officials in the Pine Tree State are warning that Maine could lose its No Child Left Behind waiver if the state legislature doesn’t take swift action to strengthen its teacher evaluations. The department has aligned itself with the feds in insisting that students’ performance on state assessments be a significant factor in teacher ratings. But the legislature has sided with teachers unions in demanding a more flexible framework. Its rules do call for evaluations to include measures of student learning. But those measures don’t have to incorporate state test scores. Instead, local committees made up mostly of teachers can come up with their own metrics (within certain parameters), such as students with disabilities’ progress toward IEP goals.

– That’s not good enough, Assistant Secretary Deborah Delisle told Maine officials in a letter late last year. After multiple conversations with Delisle’s team, state officials have drafted a bill that they say would meet federal expectations standards and save Maine’s waiver. But it’s far from clear that the legislature will go along. In a recent blog post, state Rep. Brian Hubbell, a Democrat, wrote that federal concerns “may be addressed more productively simply by clarifying Maine’s process.” Delisle’s letter:

“- Even as debate unfolds in Congress about repealing NCLB, Maine officials say they’re determined to renew their waiver to ensure stability for schools. “It puts departments like ours in a frustrating position when we know what the feds expect and spend months and even years putting aligned systems in place, only to have our legislature – often under great pressure from the teachers union – insist on watering those down in the 11th hour,” department spokeswoman Samantha Warren said.”

Senator Lamar Alexander

U.S. Senate

Washington, D.C.


Dear Lamar,


I wish I could be in Washington for the hearings about the reauthorization of NCLB. I can’t make it for two reasons: I wasn’t invited, and I have a date to speak to parents at P.S. 3 in Manhattan who are outraged about all the testing imposed on their children.


I learned a lot about education policy and federalism after you chose me to serve as your Assistant Secretary of Education in charge of research and improvement and as counsel to the Secretary of Education (you). I am imagining that I am still advising you, as I did from 1991 to 1993 (remember that you and every other top administrator in the Department left a day before the inauguration of Bill Clinton, and you told me I was Acting Secretary for the day?).

What I always admired about you was your deliberateness, your thoughtfulness, your ability to listen to discordant voices, and your respect for federalism. You didn’t think you were smarter than everyone else in the country just because you were a member of the President’s Cabinet. You understood federalism. You didn’t think it was your job to impose what you wanted on every school in America. You respected the ability of local communities to govern their schools without your supervision or dictation.


NCLB was not informed by your wisdom. It set impossible goals, then established punishments for schools that could not do the impossible. I remember a panel discussion in early 2002 at the Willard Hotel soon after NCLB was signed. You were on the panel. I was in the audience, and I stood up and asked you whether you truly believed that 100% of all children in grades 3-8 would be “proficient” by 2014. You answered, “No, Diane, but we think it is good to have goals.” Well, based on goals that you knew were out of reach, teachers and principals have been fired, and many schools—beloved in their communities—have been closed.


NCLB has introduced an unprecedented level of turmoil into the nation’s public education system. Wearing my conservative hat, I have to say that it’s wrong to disrupt the lives of communities, schools, families, and children to satisfy an absurd federal mandate, based on a false premise and based too on the non-existent “Texas miracle.” Conservatives are not fire-breathing radicals who seek to destroy community and tradition. Conservatives conserve, conservatives believe in incremental change, not in upheaval and disruption.


I urge you to abandon the annual mandated federal testing in grades 3-8. Little children are sitting for 8-10 hours to take the annual tests in math and reading. As a parent, you surely understand that this is madness. This is why the Opt Out movement is growing across the nation, as parents protest what feels like federally-mandated child abuse.


Do we need to compare the performance of states? NAEP does that already. Anyone who wants to know how Mississippi compares to Massachusetts can look at the NAEP results, which are released every two years. Do we want disaggregated data? NAEP reports scores by race, gender, English language proficiency, and disability status. How will we learn about achievement gaps if we don’t test every child annually? NAEP reports that too. In short, we already have the information that everyone says they want and need.


NCLB has forced teachers to teach to the test; that once was considered unethical and unprofessional, but now it is an accepted practice in schools across the country. NCLB has caused many schools to spend more time and resources on test prep, interim assessments, and testing. That means narrowing the curriculum: when testing matters so much, there is less time for the arts, physical education, foreign languages, civics, and other valuable studies and activities. Over this past dozen years, there have been numerous examples of states gaming the system and educators cheating because the tests determine whether schools will live or die, and whether educators will get a bonus or be fired.


I urge you to enact what you call “option one,” grade span testing, and to abandon annual testing. If you keep annual testing in the law, states and districts will continue to engage in the mis-education that NCLB incentivized. Bad habits die hard, if at all.


Just say no to annual testing. No high-performing nation does it, and neither should we. We are the most over-tested nation in the world, and it’s time to encourage children to sing, dance, play instruments, write poetry, imagine stories, create videos, make science projects, write history papers, and discover the joy of learning.


As I learned from you, the U.S. Department of Education should not act as a National School Board. The Secretary of Education is not the National Superintendent of Schools. The past dozen years of centralizing control of education in Washington, D.C., has not been good for education or for democracy.


The law governing the activities of the U.S. Department of Education states clearly that no federal official should attempt to “exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, [or] administration….of any educational institution.” When I was your Assistant Secretary and Counselor, I was very much aware of that prohibition. For the past dozen years, it seems to have been forgotten. Just a few years ago, the current administration funded tests for the Common Core standards, which will most assuredly exert control over the curriculum and program of instruction. The federal tests will determine what is taught.


The nation has seen a startling expansion of federal power over local community public schools since the passage of NCLB. There is certainly an important role for the federal government in assuring equality of educational opportunity and informing the American people about the progress of education. But the federal role today is taking on responsibilities that belong to states and local districts. The key mechanism for that takeover is annual testing, the results of which are used to dictate other policies of dubious legality and validity, like evaluating teachers and even colleges of education by student test scores.


Sir, please revise the federal law so that it authorizes the federal government to do what it does best: protecting the rights of children, gathering data, sponsoring research, encouraging the improvement of teaching, funding special education, and distributing resources to the neediest districts to help the neediest students (which was the original purpose of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965).


In closing, may I remind you of something you wrote in your book of advice:

No. 84: Read anything Diane Ravitch writes about education.

—Lamar Alexander, Little Plaid Book, page 44

I agree with you.


Yours truly,


Diane Ravitch


The most contentious issue in the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (currently named No Child Left Behind) will be the federal role in mandating annual testing. The latest polls show that it is opposed by a majority of parents and educators, but Secretary Duncan has staunchly insisted it is necessary; 19 civil rights groups endorsed his position, even though the children they represent all too often are negativrly afrcted by such tests. Since minority children, English learners, and children with disabilities are disproportionately stigmatized by standardized tests, it is bizarre to assert that standardized tests are guarantors of civil rights.

So here comes an interesting debate in the conservative National Review. Michael Petrilli of the conservative Thomas B. Fordham Institute and Rick Hess of the conservative American Enterprise Institute take issue with Jonah Edelman of the corporate reform Stand for Children.

Stand for Children is an active and politically savvy opponent of teachers and teachers’ unions. A few years ago, Jonah Edelman boasted at an Aspen Ideas Festival about his role in buying up all the best lobbyists in Illinois so he could ram hostile legislation down the throats of teachers across the state and make it near impossible for the Chicago Teachers Union to go on strike. He was wrong about the latter, because the CTU garnered overwhelming support for a strike and followed through in 2012. Edelman pulled a similar stunt in Massachusetts, having collected millions of dollars from hedge fund manager to make war on teachers and their benefits and job security.

In the present case, Petrilli and Finn chastise Edelman for supporting an expansive federal role in education.

They write:

“In the piece, Edelman denounces efforts to shed some of No Child Left Behind’s more onerous and unworkable provisions as a “threat” to “your kids’ future.” He then recounts a parade of horribles from the last century. “Linda Brown was denied the opportunity to attend a nearby public school because she was black,” he reminds us. “Black students were denied access to a public high school by segregationist Governor Orval Faubus.” And states and districts weren’t meeting the “special needs” of students with disabilities.

“This is a shopworn parlor trick — equating conservatives concerned about federal micromanagement of schooling in 2015 with the “states’ rights” segregationists of two or three generations past (who, for what it’s worth, were overwhelmingly Democratic)….

“But this sort of rhetorical sleight-of-hand has not held up particularly well. Debating whether the federal government should tell states how to label, manage, and “improve” schools (all on the basis of reading and math scores) is a far cry from debates over whether states should be allowed to deny black students access to elementary and secondary schools. Moreover, those who, like Edelman, celebrate Uncle Sam’s expertise and the effectiveness of federal bureaucrats fail to acknowledge how often federal bureaucrats have gotten it wrong — and put in place laws and regulations that have gotten in the way of smart, promising reforms at the state and local level.

“What are the issues that have Edelman so worked up? Republicans on Capitol Hill make no secret that they envision a reauthorization of No Child Left Behind that will significantly reduce the strings attached to federal education dollars. Among the possible actions: Allowing states to test students every few years rather than annually; getting the federal government out of the business of telling states how to design school-accountability systems or address low-performing schools; and making clear that (contrary to the Obama administration’s designs) the federal government should have no role in dictating state reading and math standards.

“Casual followers of the education debate might notice that these changes seem both modest and sensible. Yet Edelman insists that if Congress dares to go down this path, “disadvantaged students will lose out, and millions of young people who could have become hard-working taxpayers will end up jobless, in prison, or worse.” (Worse?)….

“The deeper problem is that Edelman and his allies fail to grapple with the very real harm that federal education policy has caused, especially in the past decade. This is baffling, given his own admission that No Child Left Behind is “deeply flawed” and that “federal interventions don’t always work as intended.” But his solution — to simply update the law more regularly — indicates a misunderstanding of the realities of the legislative process (Congress updates laws when it will, not on the schedule of us pundits) and of the root problem. The real issue is not just that specific provisions of NCLB are problematic (though they are); it’s that the federal government is destined to mess up whatever it touches in education. That’s because it’s three steps removed from actual schools, with states and local districts sitting between its good intentions and its ability to ensure good results.

“All the federal government can do is pass laws telling federal bureaucrats to write rules for the states, whose bureaucrats then write more rules for school districts, which in turn give marching orders to principals. By the time this game of telephone is done, educators are stuck in a stifling, rule-driven culture that undermines the kind of practical discretion that characterizes good schools.

“During the Obama years, this problem has only grown worse. Convinced of their own righteousness and brilliance, Obama’s education officials have pushed all manner of half-baked ideas on the country (especially the demand that states evaluate teachers largely on the basis of test scores); helped turn potentially promising ideas into political hot potatoes (see Common Core); and embarked on ideological, deeply harmful crusades (using legal threats, for example, to discourage schools from disciplining minority students)….”

What Secretary Duncan has achieved in his six years in office is to persuade many liberals and conservatives that the U.S. Department of Education has abandoned any sense of federalism and has assumed far too much control. While liberals are uneasy about trusting either state or local government with the future of education, they are just as wary (or warier) of the heavy-handed power of the federal government. Duncan himself has become a symbol for many of the federal government’s abandonment of public schools and its commitment to privatize public schools “with all deliberate speed.” Duncan’s demand for annual testing and his determination to evaluate teachers based on students’ test scores–practices not found in high-performing nations–has put him on the wrong side of history. He simply ignores the failure of his pet policies, as well as the protests of parents and educators. His self-righteousness is no substitute for evidence and democratic governance.

Stephanie Simon of Politico has an interesting analysis of President Obama’s education legacy. While some credit him for his contribution to increasing early childhood education, the likelihood is that his legacy will be a great fizzle because of his unquestioning allegiance to standardized testing. Many Republicans are thinking of restoring greater control to the states and gutting annual testing, but Arne Duncan considers annual testing to be non-negotiable.

Here is Peter Greene’s take on Duncan’s “vision” for NCLB: more of the same. The status quo. Not a whiff of innovative thinking. Greene asks why Duncan is recommending a rewrite of NCLB:

“Why is he doing it now, when he’s had his way for the past several years? The answer is obvious– if the GOP really rewrites ESEA, all of Duncan and Obama’s reformy work will be trashed. Duncan’s announcement is not a clarion call to change a single comma of the administration’s policy– it’s an announcement that he intends to preserve it against the GOP onslaught that’s about to begin. For all intents and purposes, Duncan has had the ESEA rewrite he’s wanted for five years, and the GOP is threatening to take it away from him. Duncan is jumping on the bus before he is thrown under it, but there will now be a hell of a battle over who’s going to drive and where the bus is going to go.”

Curiously, the Obama administration is more devoted to the principles of NCLB than Republicans.

This is an excellent letter to the U.S. Department of Education, which patiently explains the harm caused by value-added modeling (VAM). It was submitted by a Néw York group called “Change the Stakes,” which opposes high-stakes testing. The letter was written by psychologist Dr. Rosalie Friend, a member of Change the Stakes. It is a good source for parents and educators who want to explain why testing is being overused and misused.

USDOE’s Proposed Regs for Teacher Education Programs

Change the Stakes submitted these comments in response to the U.S. Department of Education’s proposal to impose new accountability measures on teacher education programs,

The U.S. Department of Education has proposed that teacher education programs be rated by the employment, placement, and performance of their graduates. Ratings of the performance of graduates would include the test scores of the students who are taught by graduates of those programs.

Change the Stakes (, an organization of New York City parents and educators promoting alternatives to high-stakes testing, opposes this proposal.

Rating teacher education programs by what teachers do after they leave the programs is unrealistic. The decisions made by graduates and their employers are not determined by the teacher education programs. Teacher education programs are already assessed by professional accrediting boards that understand the nuances of teaching and learning.

The accountability procedures imposed on K-12 schools have diverted astounding amounts of money and time from teaching and learning. The accountability procedures have not led to any measurable improvement in student achievement. Extending these ill-conceived procedures to teacher education programs is counter-productive. Attaching high stakes to evaluation leads to the distortion of the processes that are being evaluated, as documented by Dr. Donald Campbell, the pre-eminent social scientist.

Teaching is a difficult profession. Industrial-type accountability procedures distract from the focus on teaching and learning. We want teachers to learn how to engage children in learning new ideas and using those ideas to reason and solve problems. At the same time, teachers must be able to assist children with developing socially and emotionally. This requires dealing with enormous differences among children’s backgrounds and personalities. Of course, teachers must also be expert in the skills and materials they teach. Teacher education programs must prepare teachers to think on their feet and respond to the ever changing conditions under which they labor, not to drill children for shallow, regimented tests.

Teachers’ working conditions are a major factor in their professional achievement. Social conditions, school culture, school leadership, class assignments, and relationships among colleagues are all important in determining both students’ and teachers’ success. Management expert, W. Edwards Deming, said, “It is the structure of the organization rather than the employees, alone, which holds the key to improving the quality of output.” All these factors are independent of teacher education programs.

Perhaps the most wrong-headed part of the proposal is the use of student test scores in assessing the teachers who graduated from the programs. Using student scores to evaluate teachers and then to use that “so-called” data to rate their teacher education programs is unsound and unacceptable for the following reasons.

Low Reliability of Standardized Test Results

Value-added modeling (VAM) cannot be accurately used for a small sample such as a single class. The aggregation of student test scores to derive a score for an individual teacher has been demonstrated to be wildly unstable, especially while assigning scores to a given teacher from year to year or even from class to class. The American Statistical Association has warned against the use of VAM for teacher evaluation. Using these unreliable figures to draw conclusions about the programs that educated teachers is folly.

Low Validity of Standardized Test Results

Tests cannot adequately account for every factor outside of a teacher’s instruction that impacts how students perform on a test because there are far too many other factors affecting students’ scores. Research shows that whatever teachers’ impact is, it accounts for only 1-14% of student variability in standardized test scores. If the teacher’s score is based on factors other than the teacher’s influence, it is not valid.

Studies since the 1966 Coleman report continue to show that nothing affects student achievement as much as the student’s home. Parents in poor families cannot provide their children with the same social and learning supports and enrichment that affluent and middle-class parents can provide. Furthermore, well-funded schools in prosperous communities consistently get higher test scores than cash starved schools in poverty-stricken neighborhoods.

A teacher’s effectiveness is directly affected by the composition of the class assigned to that teacher even within the same school. What kind of academic background do the children have? Are their goals aligned with the school’s goals? How cooperative are they? How well behaved or self-regulated are they?


The entire process of professional training of an educator is exceptionally complex. While a school of education affects the resulting quality of the professional educator, so much more goes into their success. Any evaluation of such an institution should be developed to be inclusive of all the contributing factors, not simply the ones for which quantitative data (however invalid and unreliable) are available.

Ignoring these additional factors and the research supporting them is an injustice not only to the programs the Education Department plans to rate but also to students, teachers, parents, and communities alike.


American Statistical Association. (2014). ASA Statement on Using Value-Added Models for Educational Assessment.

Baker, E. L., Barton, P. E., Darling-Hammond, L. D., Haertel, E., Ladd, H. F., Linn, R. L., Ravitch, D., Rothstein, R., Shavelson, R. J., & Shepard, L.A. (2010). Problems with the Use of Student Test Scores to Evaluate Teachers: Briefing Paper 278. Washington, DC: Economic Policy Institute.

Campbell, D.T. (1976). Assessing the Impact of Planned Social Change. Dartmouth College, Occasional Paper Series, #8.

Greene, D. (2013). Doing the Right Thing: A Teacher Speaks. Victoria, Canada: Friesen Press.

Haertel, E.H. (2013) Reliability and validity of inferences about teachers based on student test scores. William H. Angoff Memorial Lecture Series. Princeton, NJ: Educational Testing Service.

Johnson, S.M., Kraft, M.A., & Papay, J.P. (2012). How Context Matters in High-Need Schools: The Effects of Teachers’ Working Conditions on Their Professional Satisfaction and Their Students’ Achievement, Teachers College Record, 114:1-39.

Viadero, D. (2006). Race Report’s Influence Felt 40 Years Later: Legacy of Coleman study was new view of equity. EdWeek [Online] Available

These comments were written by Dr. Rosalie Friend, Educational Psychologist and a member of Change the Stakes.

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.


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