Laura Chapman, retired arts educator, explains the goals of standardized testing:


She writes:



“Here is another reason to opt out.


Test scores are collected and then marketed by This non-profit is a sophisticated and well-funded system for gathering test scores and other information about students and parents, then selling that information. The website literally sells ads and licenses for access to test scores and other data on schools–public, private, and charter–with expansions planned for pre-school and daycare-centers.


This national data hog is funded by billionaire foundations unfriendly to public schools. The logos of the Gates, Walton, Robertson, and Arnold Foundations are prominently displayed. A list of 19 other supporters includes the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, Bradley Foundation, Goldman Sachs Gives, and New Schools Venture Fund among others. All of these supporters want to make public schools an artifact from the past.


Parents, if you patronize the tests, you feed the data hogs, and this one is one of the biggest.


Do not be naïve. Test scores are worth a lot of money and they are grist for publicity campaigns for projects and policies within and beyond your state. Here is an introduction to how greatschools uses test scores.


“The overall GreatSchools Rating is an average of how well students at a given school do on each grade and subject test. For each test, ratings are assigned based on how well students perform relative to all other students in the state, and these ratings are averaged into an overall rating of 1 to 10.”


“The distribution of the GreatSchools Rating in a given state looks like a bell curve, with higher numbers of schools getting ratings in the “average” category, and fewer schools getting ratings in the “above average” or “below average” categories.”


For states where ratings can also include student growth and college readiness information, the overall GreatSchools Rating is an average of how well students do on each sub-rating.” There are three sub-ratings.


1. Test Scores: “The test score sub-rating examines how students at a school performed on standardized tests compared with other schools in the state. Specifically, this rating compares student proficiency rates for each grade and subject with all schools in the state. “ (Note that “proficiency” is not defined).


2. Student Growth: This “sub-rating looks at how much progress individual students have made on reading and math assessments during the past year or more. This sub-rating is based on student growth models, which can vary from state to state. (Greatschools recycles data from each state’s value-added measure, percentile growth calculation or comparable “growth” measure. Growth is a euphemism for a calculation that requires the test scores of individual students for more than one year. These calculations, based on gains in test scores, are notoriously misleading. They assume, for example, that there are no major differences in the math and reading tests that a student takes in the third and the fourth grade).


3. College Readiness: This sub-rating combines a high school graduation rate with data about the student scores on college entrance exams (SAT, ACT). These “are indicators of how well schools are preparing students for success in college and beyond.”


Now comes the “weighting” of these dubious measures derived from test scores. Here you go. Begin quote:


Sub-ratings are weighted equally, though actual weights depend on the amount of data available per school and what grades that school serves.


For instance, a K-5 school has no college readiness data, so the overall rating would be based 50% on student achievement and 50% on student growth.


In contrast, the rating for a high school with data for all three measures would be based 33% on student achievement, 33% on student growth, and 33% on college readiness.


Each sub-rating represents how a school compares to all other schools in the state on each measure, and these sub-ratings are averaged into an overall rating.” More detail is at


It is not surprising that this system gives the highest possible rating to the notoriously test-driven Success Academy in NY. Take a look at some other ratings here


Poke around the greatschools website to see how this non-profit can operate as a mega for-profit operation serving big box stores, and multiple industries— financial, real estate, charter expansions, testing and text publishers.


The gigantic “partner” basket at this website offers eclectic fare: It includes Walmart, Target, Yale Center for Social Emotional Intelligence, Survey Monkey, Forbes, US Department of Housing and Urban Development, Dunn & Bradstreet, US Department of Education, Goldman Sachs, and more .


“The website says that “A range of partners have been critical to GreatSchools’ success. We are grateful to these partners, a sampling of which can be found here.”


Look at the list and remember this is JUST a sampling and notice how partners are categorized.


CONTENT: 321 Fast Draw; Algonquin Books; Ashoka Foundation; Bay Citizen; California Watch; College Board; Common Sense Media; DK Publishing; Film Sight Productions; IDEO; Learning Ally; Learning and Leadership Center; Mind/Shift; National Center for Learning Disabilities;; Reading Rockets; Scholastic; Treasure Bay, Inc.; UCLA Department of Psychology; US Department of Education; Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence.


COMMUNITY AND FAMILY ENGAGEMENT: Families Empowered; Hillsborough County Public Schools; Iridescent Learning; KIPP; Magnet Schools of America; Miami Dade County Public Schools; Rocketship Education; Stand Up for Students; Step Up for Students; US Department of Housing and Urban Development


RESEARCH: Gallup Education; SurveyMonkey (see also Licensees); SRI; Rockman Et Al.


MARKETING & OUTBOUND MEDIA:; Common Sense Media; Forbes; NBC News Education; The Bully Project; Univision.


LICENSEES:, Brain Pop; Digital Map Products; Dunn & Bradstreet; Fannie Mae; Maponics; Michael & Susan Dell Foundation; Military Child Education Coalition; Move Sales, Inc.; National Association of Charter School Authorizers; National Housing Trust; Onboard Informatics; Policy Map; Realtors Property Resource; SurveyMonkey; Target, US Department of Housing and Urban Development; Walmart; WolfNet; Zillow.


What do these “partners get” for signing on? At minimum, it is the opportunity to become an advertiser or license holder who can gain access to your student’s test scores—for a fee.


The greatschools website gives you some ad rates that direct you to


At the bottom of the great schools rate page you can see that these advertising packages are offered via the Rubicon Project (bottom right of the page. Click on Rubicon Project to see what this “project “is.)


The Rubicon Project is the name for a company that scoops all of greatschools data and ratings and comments and personal information from users of the greatschools website and puts them in Rubicon’s “Advertising Automation Cloud.”


This data warehousing operation “brings buyers and sellers closer together on a robust advertising technology platform. One of the largest cloud and Big Data computing systems in the world, the Automation Cloud leverages over 50,000 algorithms and analyzes billions of data points in real-time to deliver the best results for sellers and buyers,” with 300 real-time data-driven decisions per transaction.”


Follow the money. The billionaire foundations gather the test scores and other information about schools. They are notoriously in favor of market-based education. The scores are translated into their dubious but “custom” rating scheme with direct links to Zillow (who has paid for a high end license).


The data and ratings and user data from the website migrate out from the greatschools website to Rubicon. For a fee, Rubicon facilitates rapid and custom access to the data and ratings from their “cloud,” (a data warehouse), promising clients they can “Efficiently find your target audience;” “build brand awareness,” “acquire new customers, and re-engage existing customers.”


I hope that this information gives parents another reason to opt out of the tests.


Greatschools has test data from every state, has a map of district boundaries searchable by zip codes, and it is seeking data well beyond that required by state or federal regulation such as such as schools safety, cleanliness, and parent involvement.


Do not feed the data hog. Do not make the billionaires smile. Opt of the tests.