Archives for category: Coleman, David

Last week, I posted my thoughts on “Who Demoralized the Nation’s Teachers?” I sought to identify the people and organizations that spread the lie that America’s public schools were “broken” and that public school teachers were the cause. The critics slandered teachers repeatedly, claiming that teachers were dragging down student test scores. They said that today’s teachers were not bright enough; they said teachers had low SAT scores; and they were no longer “the best and the brightest.”

The “corporate reform” movement (the disruption movement) was driven in large part by the “reformers'” belief that public schools were obsolete and their teachers were the bottom of the barrel. So the “reformers” promoted school choice, especially charter schools, and Teach for America, to provide the labor supply for charter schools. TFA promised to bring smart college graduates for at least two years to staff public schools and charter schools, replacing the public school teachers whom TFA believed had low expectations. TFA would have high expectations, and these newcomers with their high SAT scores would turn around the nation’s schools. The “reformers” also promoted the spurious, ineffective and harmful idea that teachers could be evaluated by the test scores of their students, although this method repeatedly, consistently showed that those who taught affluent children were excellent, while those who taught children with special needs or limited-English proficiency or high poverty were unsatisfactory. “Value-added” methodology ranked teachers by the income and background of their students’ families, not by the teachers’ effectiveness.

All of these claims were propaganda that was skillfully utilized by people who wanted to privatize the funding of public education, eliminate unions, and crush the teaching profession.

The response to the post was immediate and sizable. Some thought the list of names and groups I posted was dated, others thought it needed additions. The comments of readers were so interesting that I present them here as a supplement to my original post. My list identified No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, and Common Core as causes of demoralization that tied teachers to a standards-and-testing regime that reduced their autonomy as professionals. One reader said that the real beginning of the war on teachers was the Reagan-era report called “A Nation at Risk,” which asserted that American public schools were mired in mediocrity and needed dramatic changes. I agree that the “Nation at Risk” report launched the era of public-school bashing. But it was NCLB and the other “solutions” that launched teacher-bashing, blaming teachers for low test scores and judging teachers by their test scores. It should be noted that the crest of “reform” was 2010, when “Waiting for Superman” was released, Common Core was put into place, value-added test scores for teachers were published, and “reformers” like Arne Duncan, Bill Gates, Michelle Rhee, Joel Klein, and other became media stars, with their constant teacher-bashing. For what it’s worth, the National Assessment of Educational Progress flatlined from 2010 onwards. Test score gains, which were supposedly the point of all this “reform” activity, were non-existent on the nation’s most consequential test (no stakes attached).

Readers also blamed demoralization on teachers’ loss of autonomy, caused by federal laws and the testing imposed by them, and by the weakness of principals and administrators who did not protect teachers from the anti-education climate caused by NCLB, RTTT, ESSA, and the test-and-punish mindset that gripped the minds of the nation’s legislators and school leaders.

Readers said that my list left off important names of those responsible for demoralizing the nation’s teachers.

Here are readers’ additions, paraphrased by me:

Michelle Rhee, who was pictured on the cover of TIME magazine as the person who knew “How to Fix American Education” and lionized in a story by Amanda Ripley. Rhee was shown holding a broom, preparing to sweep “bad teachers” and “bad principals” out of the schools. During her brief tenure as Chancellor of D.C., she fired scores of teachers and added to her ruthless reputation by firing a principal on national television. For doing so, she was the Queen of “education reform” in the eyes of the national media until USA Today broke a major cheating scandal in the D.C. schools.

Joel Klein, antitrust lawyer who was chosen by Mayor Bloomberg to become the Chancellor of the New York City public schools, where he closed scores of schools because of their low test scores, embraced test-based evaluation of schools and teachers, and opened hundreds of small specialized schools and charter schools. He frequently derided teachers and blamed them for lagging test scores. He frequently reorganized the entire, vast school system, surrounding himself with aides with Business School graduates and Wall Street credentials. Under his leadership, NYC was the epitome of corporate reform, which inherently disrespected career educators.

Michael Bloomberg, former Mayor of New York City, billionaire funder of charter schools and of candidates running for state or local offices who supported privatization of public schools. He claimed that under his leadership, the test-score gap between different racial gaps had been cut in half or even closed, but it wasn’t true. He stated his desire to fire teachers who couldn’t “produce” high test scores, while doubling the size of the classes of teachers who could. His huge public relations staff circulated the story of a “New York City Miracle,” but it didn’t exist and evaporated as soon as he left office.

Reed Hastings, billionaire funder of charter schools and founder of Netflix. He expressed the wish that all school boards would be eliminated. The charter school was his ideal, managed privately without public oversight.

John King, charter school leader who was appointed New York Commissioner of Education. He was a cheerleader for the Common Core and high-stakes testing. He made parents so angry by his policies that he stopped appearing at public events. He was named U.S. Secretary of Education, following Arne Duncan, in the last year of the Obama administration and continued to advocate for the same ill-fated policies as Duncan.

Betsy DeVos, Trump’s Secretary of Education despised public schools, unions, and teachers. She never had a good word to say about public schools. She wanted every student to attend religious schools at public expense.

Eli Broad and the “academy” he created to train superintendents with his ideas about top-down management and the alleged value of closing schools with low test scores

ALEC (the American Legislative Exchange Council), which writes model legislation for privatizing public schools by opening charters and vouchers and lowering standards for teachers and crushing unions. More than 2,000 rightwing state legislators belong to ALEC and get their ideas directly from ALEC about privatization and other ways to crush public schools and their teachers.

Rupert Murdoch, the media, Time, Newsweek, NY Times, Washington Post for their hostility towards public schools and their warm, breathless reporting about charter schools and Teach for America. The Washington Post editorialist is a devotee of charter schools and loved Michelle Rhee’s cut-throat style. TIME ran two cover stories endorsing the “reform” movement; the one featuring Michelle Rhee, and the other referring to one of every four public school teachers as a “rotten apple.” The second cover lauded the idea that teachers were the cause of low test scores, and one of every four should be weeded out. Newsweek also had a Rhee cover, and another that declared in a sentence repeated on a chalkboard, “We Must Fire Bad Teachers,” as though the public schools were overrun with miscreant teachers.

David Coleman, the architect of the Common Core, which undermined the autonomy of teachers and ironically removed teachers’ focus on content and replaced it with empty skills. The Common Core valued “informational text” over literature and urged teachers to reduce time spent teaching literature.

Margaret Raymond, of the Walton-funded CREDO, which evaluates charter schools.

Hanna Skandera, who was Secretary of Education in New Mexico and tried to import the Florida model of testing, accountability, and choice to New Mexico. That state has one of the highest rates of child poverty in the nation, and the Florida model didn’t make any difference.

Governors who bashed teachers and public schools, like Chris Christie of New Jersey, Andrew Cuomo of New York, and Gregg Abbott of Texas

“Researchers” like those from the Fordham Institute, who saw nothing good in public schools or their teaching

Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado, who turned Denver into a model of “reform,” with everything DFER wanted: charter schools and high-stakes testing.

Poorly behaving students and parents who won’t hold kids accountable for bad behavior

Campbell Brown and the 74

The U.S. Department of Education, for foisting terrible ideas on the nation’s schools and teachers, and state education departments and state superintendents for going along with these bad ideas. Not one state chief stood up and said, “We won’t do what is clearly wrong for our students and their teachers.”

The two big national unions, for going along with these bad ideas instead of fighting them tooth and nail.

And now I will quote readers’ comments exactly as they wrote them, without identifying their authors (they know who they are):

*Rightwing organizations like the American Enterprise Institute, (AEI), the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, the Heritage Foundation, even the allegedly Democratic-leaning Center for American Progress (CAP) for publishing white papers masquerading as education research that promotes privatization.

*Wall St moguls who invented Social Impact Bonds (SIBs) to gamble on & profit from preK student test scores.

*Rogues Gallery. One body blow after another. A systematic 💦 water boarding with no respite. And then we add the Broad Foundation who sent Broad-trained “leadership” so drunk on arrogance and ignorance that the term “School Yard Bully” just doesn’t capture it.
Operating with the Imprimatur and thin veneer of venture capital, plutocratic philanthropy, these haughty thugs devastated every good program they laid eyes on. Sinking their claws instinctively into the intelligent, effective and cultured faculty FIRST.A well orchestrated, heavily scripted Saturday Night Massacre.

*Congress and the Presidents set the stage, but the US Department of Education was instrumental in making it all happen. They effectively implemented a coherent program to attack, smear and otherwise demoralize teachers. And make no mistake, it was quite purposeful

*This list is incomplete without members of Democrats for Education Reform. Add in Senator Ted Kennedy, whose role in the passage of No Child Left Behind was critical. Same for then Congressman and future Speaker of the House, John Boehner, who noted (bragged!) in his recent autobiography that he was essential in keeping President George W. Bush on track with NCLB.

*Let’s not forget Senate Chair Patty Murray. She has been an important player in keeping the worse of Ed Reform legislation alive.

*You have presented a rogue’s gallery of failed “reformers” that have worked against the common good. In addition to those mentioned, there has also been an ancillary group of promoters and enablers that have undermined public education including billionaire think tanks, foundations and members of both political parties. These people continue to spread lies and misinformation, and no amount of facts or research is able to diminish the drive to privatize. While so called reformers often hide behind an ideological shield, they are mostly about the greedy pursuit of appropriating the education that belongs to the people and transferring its billions in value into the pockets of the already wealthy. So called education reform is class warfare.

*The Clintons, whose 1994 reauthorization of ESEA set the stage for NCLB

*Don’t forget the so called ‘liberal’ media, publications such as the New York Times and the Boston Globe who have published pro charter piece after pro charter piece, while simultaneously dumping all over public schools

*I’d like to include a cast of editorialists like George Will, Bill Rhoden, and many others, who have parroted the plutocratic-backed Ed Reform line. Armstrong Williams would certainly be part of this.

*Going back even further into the origins of this madness, I would add to Diane’s excellent rogues gallery those unknown bureaucrats in state departments of education who replaced broad, general frameworks/overall strategic objectives with bullet lists of almost entirely content-free “standards” that served as the archetype of the Common [sic] Core [sic] based on the absurd theory that we should “teach skills” independent of content, all of which led, ironically, to trivialization of and aimlessnessness in ELA pedagogy and curricula and to a whole generation of young English teachers who themselves NOW KNOW NEXT TO NOTHING OF THE CONTENT OF THEIR SUBJECT, typified by the English teacher who told one of the parents who regularly contributes comments to this blog, “I’m an English teacher, so I don’t teach content.” So, today, instead of teaching, say, Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” as part of a coherent and cumulative unit on common structures and techniques and genres of poetry, one gets idiotic test-practice exercises on “inferencing” and “finding the main idea,” with any random piece of writing as the “text.”

*It’s driven by how teachers have been treated the past 4-5 years, especially during the pandemic. Teachers are first responders. We should have been on the list of first-to-be-vaccinated. Schools should have strict mask and vaccine mandates. Teachers are professional educators. We should not be told what and how to teach by ignorant, conspiracy-driven MAGA parents. Public education is a cornerstone of democracy, and we teachers are motivated by a sense of civic duty. We are demoralized by attempts to destroy public education, led by anti-education bible-thumping “leaders” like Betsy DeVos and (in my home state) Frank Edelblut. Public education is being dismantled by gleeful right-wingers, while naive, well-intentioned moderates wring their hands and do little to defend it. It’s tiring to be under constant attack on the front lines, with no support. That’s why teachers are leaving today.

*One tiny example of a routine phenomenon. Teachers got the message pretty clearly: They were at the bottom of the pecking order. The absolute bottom. Micromanaged and undercut at every turn.Excellent points. The heavy handed top-down, bureaucratic demands for “data,” basically serve one goal, to justify the existence of administration.Don’t forget the voracious appetite of publishing companies…We had a district administrator prance around in our “professional; development days” tell use could not read novels or other picture books to the students…ONLY USE PEARSON.”And then 7 or so years later, the district made us THROW OUT every book from Pearson, and they bought new crap curriculum…that program was written by testing industry, not educators, I think it was “Benchmark,” real junk.

*I’d like to mention how I often lose my student teachers when they see the edTPA requirement. They switch majors, and the teaching pool gets even smaller.

*After Skamdera in NM came the TFA VAM sweetheart Christopher Ruszkowski. At least he had 3 years in a classroom, Skammy had none, but the Florida model, you know?

*Children’s behavior is in large part in response to the drill and kill curriculum and endless testing and teaching to the test that has been driving public education since NCLB and the back-to-basics movement that ushered it in. No room for creativity, no room for self expression, no room for innovation. Highly scripted Curriculum like Open Court turned children into little automatons, barking their answers like well trained dogs and turned teachers into task masters. It was a drive to dummy down the curriculum for fear of teaching too much free thinking. And a drive to turn teachers into testing machines and teacher technicians, easily replaced by anyone who can walk in a classroom and pick up the manual. Only it doesn’t work. It was and is developmentally inappropriate and the resulting rebellion in the classrooms if proof of that. No wonder teachers are leaving in droves!

*Under threat of closure of the MA school board in the mid 1800s, Horace Mann turned to the cheapest labor he could find, literate northern females, and deployed the Protestant ethic “teacher as a calling” trope to institute state free-riding on teachers (as opposed to the free-riding of which teachers are accused). Everything in this piece is correct except for the “almost” in the final paragraph. There’s no “almost” about it … free-riding on teachers is an operational feature of a system imported from Prussia, designed to produce cheap, obedient labor by underpaying women. As of 2012, teachers would need to make around 1/3 higher salaries to be paid on the same level as their professional peers. Everyone mentioned in the article is simply this generation’s enactment of the long-standing, systemic class war that preys on gender and race to continue and exacerbate inequity. While naming the current situation is very important, we also need to discuss, address, and shift these deep issues.

*It’s the boiled frog effect over the last 50 years that began as a response to mini-courses, sixties curriculum, obsession over college attendance, professors and teachers walking out to protest with their students, Viet Nam… and the Civil Rights Act. Since 1964, Intentional segregation influenced Local, state, and federal decision making on transportation, health care, insurance, zoning, housing, education funding, hiring, and more. When whites fled the cities and insured two sides of the tracks in towns and two systems evolved, quick fixes became that accumulation of bad decisions and leadership – and slowly, slowly, deterioration became acceptable.

*The list is not dated. It’s illustrative of the accumulation of negativity, quick-fix seeking, acronym-filled, snake-oil salesmen, desperate mayors and governors, obsession with rankings, publisher fixation on common core, NCLB votes hidden under the shadow of 9/11, and keep-everyone-happy state and national professional organizations.

*At the end of 2021 it is far right and left of politics and their rhetoric like CRT and homophobic slurs. So much for especially the “Christian Right.” In their god’s (yes lower case since not The Lord Jesus Christ’s New Testament words of love) name they exclude instead of include to share the good news/word.

*Data, data, data. Yesterday, I commented that I feel sympathetic toward the anti-CRT petitioners. I do. They’re not bad people. They’re just afraid of changing social rules. Their actions are demoralizing, but not dehumanizing. Wealthy corporations and individuals on the other hand , through their untaxed foundations, gave carrots to governments the world over to give the stick to education so that greater profits could be made through privatization and data monetizing. I was once called a 2. I was once labeled the color grey. I was numbered, dehumanized by test score data in an attempt to make education like Uber or Yelp. Not just demoralized, dehumanized. It’s not just who but what dehumanized teachers. It was the wrongheaded idea that education can be measured and sold by the unit. That idea was insidious. The marketing ploy to make my students into consumers who consider their efforts junk unless they are labeled with the right number or dashboard color was insidious. I have no sympathy for the investor class. They are not people with whom I disagree about social issues; they are hostile, corporate takeover wolves out to tear the flesh of the formerly middle and deeply impoverished classes for profit. Not one of the investors in education “reform” or any of their revolving door bureaucrats is any friend of mine. The list of who is long. The list of what is short.

*Jonah Edelman (Founder, Stand on Children); brother Josh Edelman (Gates Foundation: Empowering-?!–Effective Teaching; SEED Charter Schools); Charles & David Koch. Pear$on Publishing monopoly&, of course, ALEC (interfering in our business for FIFTY long years!)

Who is responsible for the widespread teaching exodus? Who demoralized America’s teachers, the professionals who work tirelessly for low wages in oftentimes poor working conditions? Who smeared and discouraged an entire profession, one of the noblest of professions?

Let’s see:

Federal legislation, including No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top.

George W. Bush; Margaret Spellings; Rod Paige (who likened the NEA to terrorists); the Congressional enablers of NCLB; Sandy Kress (the mastermind behind the harsh, punitive and ultimately failed NCLB).

Erik Hanushek, the economist who has long advocated for firing the teachers whose students get low test scores; the late William Sanders, the agricultural economist who created the methodology to rank teachers by their students’ scores; Raj Chetty, who produced a study with two other economists claiming that “one good teacher” would enhance the lifetime earnings of a class by more than $200,000; the reporters at the Los Angeles Times who dreamed up the scheme of rating teachers by student scores abd publishing their ratings, despite their lack of validity (one LA teacher committed suicide).

Davis Guggenheim, director of the deeply flawed “Waiting for Superman”; Bill Gates and his foundation, who funded the myth that the nation’s schools would dramatically improve by systematically firing low-ranking teachers (as judged by their students’ scores), funded “Waiting for Superman,” funded the Common Core, funded NBC’s “Education Nation,” which gave the public school bashers a national platform for a few days every year, until viewers got bored and the program died; and funded anything that was harmful to public schools and their teachers; President Obama and Arne Duncan, whose Race to the Top required states to evaluate teachers by their students’ scores and required states to adopt the Common Core and to increase the number of charter schools; Jeb Bush, for unleashing the Florida “model” of punitive accountability; and many more.

We now know that ranking teachers by their students’ test scores does not identify the best and the worst teachers. It is ineffective and profoundly demoralizing.

We now know that charter schools do not outperform public schools, as many studies and NAEP data show.

We now know that public schools are superior to voucher schools, and that the voucher schools have high attrition rates.

We now know that Teach for America is not a good substitute for well-prepared professional teachers.

Who did I leave out?

We have long known that students need experienced teachers and reasonable class sizes (ideally less than 25) to do their best.

Given the vitriolic attacks on teachers and public schools for more than 20 years, it almost seems as though there is a purposeful effort to demoralize teachers and replace them with technology.

Tom Loveless is an experienced education researcher who taught sixth grade in California. He has long been skeptical of top-down solutions to classroom-level problems. In this post, he explains why Common Core failed.

The theory of standards-based reform is that if everyone has the same curriculum and the same instruction, no one will fall behind. Thirty years ago, I wrongly believed that, and I supported the idea of national standards written by those in the field. But it is perfectly obvious that students in the same school with the same teachers using the same curriculum and having the same instruction do indeed have different outcomes. Having the same standards, curriculum, and instruction does not assure equal outcomes for all students. David Coleman, the architect of the Common Core, and Bill Gates, who funded the standards, did not know that.

He writes:

More than a decade after the 2010 release of Common Core State Standards in English language arts and mathematics, no convincing evidence exists that the standards had a significant, positive impact on student achievement. My forthcoming book next month—“Between the State and the Schoolhouse: Understanding the Failure of Common Core”—explores Common Core from the initiative’s promising beginnings to its disappointing outcomes.

While the book is specifically about Common Core, the failure of that bold initiative can only be understood in the context of standards-based reform, of which Common Core is the latest and most famous example. For three decades, standards-based reform has ruled as the policy of choice for education reformers.

The theory of standards-based reform rests on the belief that ambitious standards in academic subjects should be written first, guiding the later development of other key components of education—curriculum, instruction, assessment, and accountability. By promoting a common set of outcomes, standards-based reformers argue, the fragmentation and incoherence plaguing previous reform efforts could be avoided.

The approach is inherently top-down and regulatory, with standards developed by policy elites and content experts at the top of the system. The other components, all of which are bolted to the academic standards, grow in importance downstream and are often under the control of practitioners. The book focuses on curriculum and instruction, the what and the how of learning. They are key to the production of learning in classrooms.

Despite the theory’s intuitive appeal, standards-based reform does not work very well in reality. One key reason is that coordinating key aspects of education at the top of the system hamstrings discretion at the bottom. The illusion of a coherent, well-coordinated system is gained at the expense of teachers’ flexibility in tailoring instruction to serve their students. Classrooms are teeming with variation. An assumption of Common Core advocates is that variation in learning occurs primarily because of schools and classrooms possessing disparate, and all too often, indefensibly low standards—that if schools were brought under a common regime of high expectations, children who are falling behind would catch up or never fall behind in the first place.

Please open the link and read the rest of the article.

Please remember that the College Board is a nonprofit.

But Mercedes Schneider reminds us that the people who work at this nonprofit make a lot of money.

If you scan the list of executive salaries, you might begin to understand why the SAT is so expensive to consumers.

And you might cheer on the FairTest list of more than 1,000 colleges and universities that have become “test-optional,” because they recognize that a student’s score on the SAT or the ACT is less valuable as a predictor of college success than the same student’s four-year grade point average.

Schneider reviewed the College Board’s most recent tax filings.

She calls it a “lucrative racket.”

Total revenue in 2016 was $916M, just shy of one billion dollars, $3.3M of which derived from government grants. The greatest revenue generator was “AP and instruction,” at $446M, followed by “assessments,” at $338M.

piggy bank cash

As for 2016 lobbying expenses: The College Board spent $2.3M (a drop in the billion-dollar bucket of its total revenue), with the following explanation:

The College Board contacts legislators and their staff to provide data and statistics on K-12 education and college admissions and to encourage them to support appropriations for education.

If your nonprofit breaks a billion in revenue, then $2M spent on lobbying becomes relatively nothing. In addition, “providing data and statistics” is probably far enough removed to be considered as not actively lobbying.

But let’s move on to the few who profit the most from nonprofit College Board.

The highest paid independent contractor by far was another testing entity, Educational Testing Services (ETS), at $359M.

Former Common Core “architect” and College Board president, David Coleman, drew $1.7M in total compensation in 2016, $512K of which is “bonus and incentive compensation.” Note that as of 2019, Coleman is no longer president and is “just CEO.” The person replacing Coleman in 2019 as president, Jeremy Singer, made $871K in total compensation in 2016 as chief operating officer.

fanning-cash-2

Former Gates Foundation policy director, Stefanie Sanford, who left Gates in December 2012 for chief of policy at College Board, pulled $597K in total compensation in 2016.

Then she has a fairly long list of other well-paid executives who do the significant work of the College Board.

See, if you teach students, you don’t earn much, but if you test them, you can drive a Porsche.

 

Can you believe this? The College Board gave the SAT IN Asia in 2017, released the questions and answers, then recycled the same test in the USA in 2018.

Mercedes Schneider has the story here.

 

Michael Hynes, Superintendent of the Patchogue-Medford School District on Long Island in New York, writes here about the tyranny of the College Board, which rules over the lives of students by supplying expensive tests of limited value. He says it is time to slay the dragon.

“For the reader who doesn’t know what The College Board is: it is the ultimate gatekeeper and judge-jury-executioner for millions of students each year who dream to enter college and it literally is a hardship for many families due to the test taking expense.

“Schools and families have no other choice because there is no other game in town, aside from a student taking the ACT exam.

“The College Board claims to be a non-profit organization, but it’s hard to take that claim seriously when its exam fees for the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), Advanced Placement test (AP), services for late registration, score verification services and a multitude of other related fees are costing families and schools millions of dollars each year.

“Eleven years ago this “non-profit” made a profit of $55 million and paid nineteen College Board Executives’ salaries that ranged from three hundred thousand dollars to over one million dollars a year.

“That trend continues today.

“Cost aside, it is hard to fathom and understand how the College Board has claimed a monopoly-like status over our public school system.

“Over the years it has literally convinced school administrators, school board trustees, teachers, parents and students they can’t live without what they sell. They sell classes and tests to schools like Big Pharma sells pills to consumers.

“They sell as much as they can and jack up the prices just enough where most people won’t complain. They have convinced my beloved public education system, the university system and pretty much the solar system that if students don’t take the PSAT, the SAT and now multiple Advanced Placement tests during a child’s tenure in high school, then those students won’t be competitive and have the same opportunities to be successful in life as the ones who drink the College Board Kool-Aide.

“We bought this story hook, line and sinker without many of us asking the question…why and how did we let this get so out of control?”

Time to slay the dragon.

Michael Hynes is Superintendent of the Patchogue-Medford School District on Long Island in New York State.

He writes about his contempt for the College Board.

He writes:

“Reader beware. Before you read my thoughts about the educational sacred cow and standardized testing machine known as the College Board, you should know up front that I am no fan of the College Board CEO/President David Coleman who years ago was the architect of Common Core.

“Most of us in the educational world know of the Common Core State Standards and the “test focused education reform movement” that accompanied it was a fiasco that still plagues American schools today.

“Mr. Coleman was on the English Language Arts writing team and his good friend and eventual partner at Student Achievement Partners (SAP) Jason Zimba was a leader on the Common Core Mathematics team. Student Achievement Partners is a non-profit organization that researches and develops achievement based assessment standards.

“Interesting enough, it was funded in part by Bill Gates. The final nail in the coffin for me was when I realized Mr. Coleman, his former assistant and Mr. Zimba were founding board members for Michelle Rhee’s StudentsFirst, an organization that lobbies for standards driven educational reform.

“Do you see a pattern?

“Now Mr. Coleman leads the College Board money-making machine and this educational monolith is the church that most public schools worship several times a year.

“For the reader who doesn’t know what The College Board is: it is the ultimate gatekeeper and judge-jury-executioner for millions of students each year who dream to enter college and it literally is a hardship for many families due to the test taking expense.

“Schools and families have no other choice because there is no other game in town, aside from a student taking the ACT exam.

“The College Board claims to be a non-profit organization, but it’s hard to take that claim seriously when its exam fees for the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), Advanced Placement test (AP), services for late registration, score verification services and a multitude of other related fees are costing families and schools millions of dollars each year.

“Eleven years ago this “non-profit” made a profit of $55 million and paid nineteen College Board Executives’ salaries that ranged from three hundred thousand dollars to over one million dollars a year.

“That trend continues today.

“Cost aside, it is hard to fathom and understand how the College Board has claimed a monopoly-like status over our public school system.

“Over the years it has literally convinced school administrators, school board trustees, teachers, parents and students they can’t live without what they sell. They sell classes and tests to schools like Big Pharma sells pills to consumers.”

Read on.

Renee Dudley of Reuters has dug deep into a story that seldom reaches public view: the internal battle inside  the College Board–sponsor of the SAT–that followed the arrival of David Coleman.

 

Or, how the architect of the Common Core imposed his “beautiful vision” on the SAT and created massive disruption inside the organization.

 

“NEW YORK – Shortly after taking over the College Board in 2012, new CEO David Coleman circulated an internal memo laying out what he called a “beautiful vision.”

 

“It was his 7,800-word plan for transforming the organization’s signature product, the SAT college entrance exam. The path Coleman laid out was detailed, bold and idealistic – a reflection of his personality, say those who know him.

 

“Literary passages for the new SAT should be “memorable and often beautiful,” he wrote, and students should be able to take the test by computer.

 

“Finishing the redesign quickly was essential. If the overhaul were ready by March 2015, he wrote in a later email to senior employees, then the New York-based College Board could win new business and counter the most popular college entrance exam in America, the ACT.

 

“Perhaps the biggest change was the new test’s focus on the Common Core, the controversial set of learning standards that Coleman himself helped create. The new SAT, he wrote, would “show a striking alignment” to the standards, which set expectations for what American students from kindergarten through high school should learn to prepare for college or a career. The standards have been fully adopted by 42 states and the District of Columbia – and are changing how and what millions of children are taught.
“Redesigning the SAT to reflect the Common Core has solidified Coleman’s influence as one of the most powerful figures in education. He has emerged as “the arbiter of what America’s children should know and be able to do,” Diane Ravitch, former assistant secretary of education for President George H.W. Bush, wrote in her blog.

 

“But Coleman’s “beautiful vision” for remaking the exam soon met some harsh realities.

 

“”Internal documents reviewed by Reuters show pitched battles over his timeline to create the new test and whether the push to meet the deadline could backfire.

 

“The documents, which include memos, emails and presentations, reveal persistent concerns that aligning the redesigned SAT with the Common Core would disadvantage students in states that rejected the standards or were slow to absorb them. The materials also indicate that Coleman’s own decisions delayed the organization’s effort to offer a digital version of the exam.

 

“Today, less than a year after the new SAT debuted, the College Board continues to struggle with the consequences of Coleman’s crash course to remake the SAT and its companion, the PSAT, a junior version of the exam.”

 

The question now: what will happen to the Common Core-aligned SAT in the era of Trump, who claims to hate Common Core. If state’s drop Common Core, the SAT may be out on a limb.

 

Mercedes Schneider writes here about the strange events surrounding Manuel Alfaro, an ex-College Board employee who has been complaining loudly about the defects of the redesigned SAT.

His home was raided by the FBI, very likely searching to find out if he was the one who released 400 test items to the media.

The day after the raid, he wrote a long commentary about the flaws of the new SAT.

This is an astonishing post by Mercedes Schneider. She details the charges of a whistle blower at the College Board, who was hired by David Coleman but couldn’t tolerate the manipulation of test items and use of U reviewed items that were fixed after the actual testing. Manuel Alfaro has left the employ of the College Board, but he couldn’t remain silent about the abuses he witnessed.

Alfaro writes:

David Coleman and the College Board have made transparency a key selling point of the redesigned SAT. Their commitment to transparency is proclaimed proudly in public documents and in public speeches and presentations. However, public documents, such as the Test Specifications for the Redesigned SAT (https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/pdf/test-specifications-redesigned-sat-1.pdf), contain crucial statements and claims that are fabrications. Similar false claims are also included in proposals the College Board wrote in bids for state assessments—I got the proposals from states that make them public.

To corroborate my statements and allegations, I needed the College Board to administer the tests. If I had gone public before the tests were administered, the College Board could have spun this whole matter as “research” or some other nonsense. Now that the PSAT and SAT have been administered; now that the College Board has committed an insurmountable violation of trust; we the people can decide the future of the SAT.

He goes into great detail about the manipulation of data, the lack of transparency, and violations of trust at the College Board.

This is the open letter that he circulated to the staff at the College Board:

Dear Colleagues:

Over the last year, I’ve explored many different options that would allow me to provide students and their families the critical information they need to make informed decisions about the SAT. At the same time, I was always seeking the option that would have minimal impact on your lives.

I gave David Coleman several opportunities to be a decent human being. Using HR and others, he built a protective barrier around himself that I was unable to penetrate. Being unable to reach him, I was left with my current option as the best choice.

For me, knowing what I know, performing most tasks at the College Board required that I take a few steps onto a slippery slope. Where my superiors stood on that slope was influenced by the culture at the College Board, but ultimately it was their personal choice. They chose to conceal, fabricate, and deceive instead of offering students, parents, and clients honest descriptions of the development processes for item specifications, items, and tests.

I feel bad for all of us and wish that there was a better solution. Like you, I owed allegiance to the College Board, but my first allegiance was, is, and always will be to the students and families that we serve. Please understand that. Millions of students around the world depend on us to protect their best interests. When we forget that, and put the financial interests of the organization first, it is easy to justify taking a shortcut here and a shortcut there in an attempt to meet unrealistic organizational goals.

You are good people. You just need better bosses.

Best wishes,

M