Reader Laura H. Chapman has a provocative critique of the way that money and power has compromised some education leaders. If she looked at the list of prominent education organizations (like ASCD) that have accepted millions from the Gates Foundation to promote Common Core, she would find lots more sludge.

She comments:

Unfortunately this take-over has been aided and abetted by the sludge and compromised integrity of professional organizations that should have an interest in public education. Sludge means slow response to the cascading demand for rating schemes based on flawed metrics. Compromised integrity refers to conflicts of interest and lack of due diligence in looking at federal gift horses in the mouth.

Sludge. Why on earth did the American Statistical Association wait so long to assert that so-called VAM should not be used to judge individual teachers, when that practice began two decades ago and is still promoted by federal policies? http://www.amstat.org/policy/pdfs/ASA_VAM_Statement.pdf

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Integrity. Why do so-called professionals in education operate in an environment where conflicts of interest no longer matter? One of the directors of Pearson International, serving since 2004, and still serving in 2013 is Susan Fuhrman, president of Teachers College at Columbia University and former head of the National Academy of Education. In 2009 for compensation from Pearson was about $100,000. http://www.pearson.com/content/dam/pearson-corporate/files/cosec/pearson_RA-2009.pdf P. 73
http://www.columbiaspectator.com/2013/06/12/letter-teachers-college-students-slam-tc-president-susan-fuhrman

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Integrity. Sharon P. Robinson, President of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) representing 800 programs has served on the board of the scandal-ridden for-profit Corinthian Colleges franchise since 2011. The scandals and lawsuits continue. Why is she still in that President of AACTE with compensation at $340,000 in 2012? http://www.huffingtonpost.com/davidhalperin/head-of-teachers-college_b_5078769.html

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Conflicts of Interest? Why was AACTE so eager to sign on to the professional teacher assessment called edPTA, developed by Stanford scholars. Who in AACTE looked this gift horse from Stanford in the mouth? Why did the Stanford and AACTE outsource the marketing and distribution of edPTA to Pearson for online scoring of teacher candidates? Can either of these non-profit creators/endorsers of edPTA explain the Pearson price point— minimally $300 per student teacher—with Pearson’s free-lance scorers paid $70 per assessment? Where can I find a peer-review of the claims about reliability and validity packaged with this whole scheme?

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Gift Horses. Vanderbilt University has had multi-year grants from USDE to promote pay-for-performance even though research (including their own) has long shown these schemes do not improve school performance or the culture of most workplaces http://www.epi.org/publication/books-teachers_performance_pay_and_accountability/ https://my.vanderbilt.edu/performanceincentives/files/2012/09/Executive-Summary-Final-Report-Experimental-Evidence-from-the-Project-on-Incentives-in-Teaching-2012.pdf p. 6

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Sludge in Slow Motion. Among many others, Linda Darling-Hammond agreed to consult on the SMARTER tests for the CCSS. I wish she had declined and been the able critic and public intellectual speaking against Arne’s “must test em right now” agenda. Now, according to EdWeek, she sees that “good intentions” are not enough. Among other complications, some foreseeable, are these. The tests must have a price point schools can afford. Short and simple means lower costs, but also non-trivial compromises in validity, reliability, as well as coverage of the CCSS. The on-line plumbing for the tests is not present in all schools. Tests have to be reasonably short. There are limits on the number of days that schools can reserve for these tests and mind-bending issues in scheduling up to six hours of tests—about half of the time originally thought to be necessary for respectable coverage and reliability. http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2014/04/23/29cc-promises.h33.html

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Enough.