Archives for category: Education Industry

Jonathan Pelto writes that Rhode Island may impose the SAT as a high school exit examination, despite the fact that the SAT was not designed for this purpose. One of the most basic rules of the testing industry is that tests should be used only for the purpose for which they were designed. The SAT was not designed to be a high school exit exam. The SAT, like all standardized tests, is tightly correlated with family income. Studies continue to show that grade-point-average is a better predictor of college academic performance than the SAT. Back in the old days, before standardized testing became a major industry, the test developers would warn districts and states not to misuse the tests.

Meanwhile, growing numbers of colleges and universities no longer require that applicants for admission submit standardized test scores, neither the SAT nor the ACT.

FairTest reports:

HALF OF “TOP 100” LIBERAL ARTS COLLEGES DO NOT REQUIRE ACT/SAT
SCORES FROM ALL OR MANY APPLICANTS;

MORE THAN 240 “TOP TIER” SCHOOLS IN 2017 U.S. NEWS GUIDE
NOW HAVE TEST-OPTIONAL OR TEST-FLEXIBLE ADMISSIONS POLICIES

A record number of colleges and universities now have test-optional admissions policies. Half of the national liberal arts schools ranked in the “Top 100” by the recently published U.S. News “Best Colleges” guide do not require all or many applicants to submit ACT or SAT scores. The National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest) released the new tally.

“Top 100” liberal arts colleges with test-optional policies include Bowdoin, Smith, Wesleyan, Bates, Bryn Mawr, Holy Cross and Pitzer. Test-flexible policies, which allow applicants to submit scores from exams other than the ACT or SAT, such as Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate results, are in place at Middlebury, Colby, Hamilton and Colorado College.

U.S. News ranks more than 240 test-optional and test-flexible colleges and universities in the top tiers of their respective categories, according to FairTest. For example, the top three regional universities in the north, Providence College, Fairfield University, and Loyola University, are test-optional. So is the number two university in the south, Rollins, the third ranked school in the Midwest, Drake, and Mills College, fifth ranked among western regional universities.

Bob Schaeffer, FairTest Public Education Director, explained the new tally. “Admissions offices increasingly recognize that they do not need ACT or SAT scores to make good decisions. That’s why more than 70 schools have adopted test-optional policies in the past three years. We are particularly pleased by the sharp growth at both selective liberal arts colleges and access-oriented institutions.”

Schaeffer continued, “The test-optional surge gives applicants more control in the admissions process. Teenagers regularly tell us that they are attracted to schools where they will be treated as ‘more than a score.’”

Overall, more than 870 colleges and universities are test-optional for all or many applicants (http://fairtest.org/university/optional). The test-optional pace accelerated after the “redesigned” SAT was unveiled (http://www.fairtest.org/sites/default/files/Optional-Growth-Chronology.pdf).

– FairTest’s new list of top-tier colleges and universities that de-emphasize the ACT and SAT:

http://www.fairtest.org/sites/default/files/Optional-Schools-in-U.S.News-Top-Tiers.pdf

Poor Detroit has been a petri dish for every reformer idea. None of them has worked.

As Peter Greene puts it:

Michigan has run the entire table of reformster ideas– takeover of the district, creation of an achievement district, and charter operators brought in to replace the publics. Detroit is now a reformy buffet. Moreover, Detroit should be a beautiful display of how well the various reformster policies work. Except that it isn’t, because they don’t.

Detroit is a case study in state authorities looking at a system in crisis and saying, “Let’s try anything, as long as it doesn’t involve actually investing money and resources in the children of Those People.” Detroit has been a city in crisis for a while now, and that has allowed leaders to say, “We have a chance to fix education in this city and let some people make good money doing it. And if we can only get one of those things done, well, let’s go with the money-making one.”

When a crisis happens– a hurricane hits, the bottom is ripped out of a local economic driver– that opens up a gaping area of need in a state, officials can respond one of two ways. They can call on people of the state to rally, to provide aid and assistance to the affected communities. Or, they can try to build some sort of firewall between the affected communities and everyone else, try to insure that everyone else is protected from any effects, any cost created by the affected communities. The citizens of a state are like mountain climbers roped together and hanging onto the side of a precipice. When one loses his grip (either because of accident, weather conditions, or because he was pushed), the others can either try to haul him back up, risking trouble themselves, or they can cut the dangler loose. If they’re extra cynical, they can sell the dangler an umbrella “to break his fall,” and congratulate themselves on having saved him before they cut him loose.

Michigan’s leaders have treated the tragedy and decline of Detroit as an opportunity to sell umbrellas. They have stripped poor non-white citizens of democratic processes, of their very voices, while stripping critical systems like education and water for parts. The ship has been sinking and Michigan’s leaders have decided to fill the lifeboats with bundles of cash rather than human beings.

Reformers are willing to try anything, except spending more money to repair this woeful district. In Detroit, children of the state of Michigan have been used as guinea pigs for every faddish idea.

Kevin Ohlandt, a parent blogger in Delaware, says that Bill Gates no longer even pretends to hide his ultimate goal: to digitize education and put all children online.

He writes:

Bill Gates wants a Federal Student Data Tracking System. That’s right. He also wants competency-based education, more career pathways programs, and personalized learning to take over public education. This is the same guy who funded Common Core. Remember that when you read the document released by the Gates Foundation today. If I had to guess, now that many education bloggers have exposed all the agendas which will lead to the Bit-Coin inspired Blockchain Initiative, the corporate education reformers (clearly led by Bill Gates) have nothing to lose by getting it all out there now. Now I know why U.S. Senator Chris Coons (Delaware) is chomping at the bit for his post-secondary legislation to get passed by Congress.

Read this. Every single word. Read between the lines. This is the endgame they have been pushing for, the complete and utter destruction of public education in anticipation of online education for all. Where you will be tracked from cradle to grave, with data allowed to be looked at through a federal database, which will track everything about you. The sad part is they play to civil rights groups by assuring more success for minorities. They screw over students with disabilities every chance they get. But their manipulation of under-served communities is at an all-time high in this document. Words like “outcome-based funding” scare the crap out of me, and it should for every single American. Look at all the footnotes in the below document. Look at the companies and think-tanks that are reaping immense profits for every bogus report they come out with. Look how embedded this already is in every single state and our national government.

This is all about the workforce of tomorrow. It has nothing to do with education, or liberal education, or liberating education.

Peter Greene delves into 16 policy ideas for education, proffered by Bellwether Education Partners, a consulting group populated by and for reformers.

You will not be surprised that at the top of the list is school choice. Despite any evidence that charter schools are intrinsically superior to public schools, they are the solution put forward, as well as increasing the federal tax breaks to incentivize more investments in charters.

Peter reviews the 16 policies and finds not much new.

He concludes:

Some points worth thinking about, and a whole lot of swift repackagings of the same old reformster profiteering sales pitches. As I said at the top– Clinton already knows all of this and all Trump really wants is a tub of gasoline and a blowtorch, so I’m not sure to whom this pitch is aimed. But it’s on the reformster radar, so it should be on our as well.

In this blog post, Sharon Murchie, a mom-and-teacher in Michigan describes what happened after her daughter’s M-STEP scores arrived. Right into the trashcan! (A hat tip to Nancy Flanagan for sending this post to me on Twitter.)

She writes:

I had not seen the results report before; two years ago, I opted her out. But last year, in a co-parenting compromise with my ex-husband, I allowed my daughter to take the test.

You will be happy to know that my daughter is 100% adequate. Or, to be specific, she is making “adequate progress.” I was surprised at the naming of this progress indicator, since her scores are in the “Advanced” range in Math and English Language Arts, and at the very top edge of the “Proficient” range in Science. But, for a 4th grader approximately 1/3 of the way through her K-12 education, her progress is deemed as adequate. One must suppose then, that her teachers have also been adequate and her school is pretty adequate.

I question the use of this terminology; does “adequate” seem “proficient” or “advanced” to you? I realize that this word, according to google, means “satisfactory or acceptable.” But I challenge you to use this word in conversation and see how it is perceived. In fact, next time you are eating a dinner that your significant other prepared, I dare you to announce that it is “adequate.” And next time you and your significant other are in the midst of…ahem…a romantic physical encounter, I challenge you to announce that he or she is “making adequate progress.” I look forward to hearing about the ensuing conversations. Go ahead and get back to me with the results.

While she waits to hear from us about those conversations, she tells us more about the “inadequacy” of student reports based on the state tests.

The report itself is so…ahem…inadequate. For example, the color-coded Performance Bands at the top of each section read from left to right. The left indicator is Not Proficient, and the right side is Advanced. However, the Performance Level Descriptors at the bottom of the page begin with “Advanced” on the left and move to “Not Proficient” at the right. Who created this graphic? Why would a performance band read from left to right in the visual section of the graphic and then from right to left in the explanations? And then, for the sake of clarity, the Science section is broken into disciplines with points earned/possible points reported. No pointy-up or pointy-down triangles in science. Science gets Numbers! And science is apparently so unscientific, that the margin of error spans 3 performance levels. Luckily, my daughter may possibly be partially proficient, proficient, or advanced, but she is not to be deemed adequate in science.

I dare you to ask a 4th grader what is wrong with this report. Have them analyze the modeling and the data analysis. Have them explain to you what this report means. I look forward to hearing about those conversations.

Everyone is unhappy with the state tests, even the state of Michigan, as well it should be.

The State of Michigan, to its credit, is very concerned about the M-Step scores. Students are scoring very poorly on this test that has been redesigned two times in the two years it has been administered. And so, the State, based on M-Step scores, is threatening to take aggressive action and “rid the state of failing schools.” Instead of spending time and resources making sure that schools have the resources they need, the State will close those failing schools. They might also create a new test, administered 3 times a year, to replace the current test that replaced the old test that replaced the test before that one. Because clearly, the answer to poor test scores is more testing.

I would instead challenge the State to do something truly revolutionary. I would challenge them to go into those failing schools and make sure that there are enough teachers there to teach the students. I would challenge them to make sure that the schools had enough funding to buy chairs. I would challenge them to make sure that students have access to community supports and a standard of living that allows for walls full of books and access to museums and to higher education and to apples.

I challenge the State to actually do something about it, instead of forcing students to sit on milk crates to take more meaningless tests that result in poorly designed nonsensical reports. I challenge the State to make adequate progress.

Mercedes Schneider has been watching the money flowing in to Massachusetts from out of state to influence voters to lift the cap on charters.

While more than 100 school district boards have voted against Question 2, while the teachers’ union opposes it, it has the passionate support of hedge fund managers in New York City.

Thus far, about $12 million has been allocated to fight for charters; most of that money comes from out of state.

About half that much has been spent to defeat Question 2, mostly from the teachers’ unions, which understand that the charters will kill the union and remove teachers’ rights.

Will Massachusetts allow millionaires and billionaires in New York to create a dual school system in their state and privatize public money meant for public schools?

This post was written in 2014, but it remains relevant today. DFER (Democrats for Education Reform) raises large sums of money from hedge fund managers to promote charter schools. The free market has been very good to hedge fund managers, and they think that public schools should compete in a free market too. They are not in the game to make money, but to promote their ideology of free-market competition. DFER and its related organizations, like Education Reform Now, and Families for Excellent Schools, are spending millions of dollars in places as far-flung as Denver and Massachusetts. It may be confusing to the public to see “Democrats” promoting school choice and accountability, since these have always been Republican ideas for school reform. But, it made no sense to create a group called Republicans for Education Reform because Republicans don’t need to be convinced to private public schools.

Leonie Haimson, parent advocate (and a member of the board of the Network for Public Education), asks:

How did this happen? How did our electeds of both parties enable corporate interests to hijack our public schools?

Her answer:

A small band of Wall St. billionaires decided to convert the Democratic party to the Republican party, at least on education — and succeeded beyond their wildest dreams – or our worst nightmares. And now we have electeds of both parties who are intent on helping them engineer a hostile takeover of our public schools, which has nothing to do with parent choice but the choice of these plutocrats.

What can you do about it?

Contact the Network for Public Education and find out how you can become active in your local or state organization that supports public schools and opposes privatization.

If you live in Massachusetts, join parents and educators who are fighting Question 2, which would allow unlimited expansion of charters to replace public schools.

Get involved.

In a shocking story in Reuters, we learn that the newly redesigned SAT will have negative effects on many students–especially those who are neediest–because of the mathematics portion of the exam.

The story is part of a series.

Renee Dudley writes for Reuters:

In the days after the redesigned SAT college entrance exam was given for the first time in March, some test-takers headed to the popular website reddit to share a frustration.

They had trouble getting through the exam’s new mathematics sections. “I didn’t have nearly enough time to finish,” wrote a commenter who goes by MathM. “Other people I asked had similar impressions.”

The math itself wasn’t the problem, said Vicki Wood, who develops courses for PowerScore, a South Carolina-based test preparation company. The issue was the wordy setups that precede many of the questions.

“The math section is text heavy,” said Wood, a tutor, who took the SAT in May. “And I ran out of time.”

The College Board, the maker of the exam, had reason to expect just such an outcome for many test-takers.

When it decided to redesign the SAT, the New York-based not-for-profit sought to build an exam with what it describes as more “real world” applications than past incarnations of the test. Students wouldn’t simply need to be good at algebra, for instance. The new SAT would require them to “solve problems in rich and varied contexts.”

But in evaluating that approach, the College Board’s own research turned up problems that troubled even the exam makers.

About half the test-takers were unable to finish the math sections on a prototype exam given in 2014, internal documents reviewed by Reuters show.

The problem was especially pronounced among students that the College Board classified as low scorers on the old SAT.

A difference in completion rates between low scorers and high scorers is to be expected, but the gap on the math sections was much larger than the disparities in the reading and writing sections.

The study Reuters reviewed didn’t address the demographics of that performance gap, but poor, black and Latino students have tended to score lower on the SAT than wealthy, white and Asian students.

In light of the results, officials concluded that the math sections should have far fewer long questions, documents show. But the College Board never made that adjustment and instead launched the new SAT with a large proportion of wordy questions, a Reuters analysis of new versions of the test shows.

The redesigned SAT is described in the College Board’s own test specifications as an “appropriate and fair assessment” to promote “equity and opportunity.” But some education and testing specialists say the text-heavy new math sections may be creating greater challenges for kids who perform well in math but poorly in reading, reinforcing race and income disparities.

Among those especially disadvantaged by the number of long word problems, they say, are recent immigrants and American citizens who aren’t native English speakers; international students; and test-takers whose dyslexia or other learning disabilities have gone undiagnosed.

“It’s outrageous. Just outrageous,” said Anita Bright, a professor in the Graduate School of Education at Portland State University in Oregon. “The students that are in the most academically vulnerable position when it comes to high-stakes testing are being particularly marginalized,” she said.

College Board CEO David Coleman, the chief architect of the redesign, declined to be interviewed, as did other College Board officials named in this article.

Read the rest of the article, which contains more detail.

Some states plan to use the SAT as a graduation exam, which should not happen because the test was not designed as an exit exam but as a measure of college readiness. In the past, testmakers would warn states against misusing their test, but this is apparently not happening now. The College Board is supposed to be a nonprofit, but the SAT is its biggest money maker. Now that nearly 900 colleges and universities are test-optional, meaning that students seeking admission to not need to supply either SAT or ACT scores, the College Board has to maintain its revenues and does not warn about the misuse of the SAT.

What will those states that use the SAT as a high school graduation test do when half the seniors can’t “pass” it? What will the young people who can’t get a high school diploma do?

Mitchell Chester, the state commissioner of education in Massachusetts, is a huge supporter of charter schools, Common Core, and PARCC testing (he was chair of the PARCC group). He approved a charter school for Brockton, despite loud community opposition. He recently met with parents at the Brockton High School, and when he mentioned the new charter for Brockton, he was met with boos and hissing. The Brockton charter was not ready on time, but received state permission to open in Norwood, 22 miles away. Chester defended the charter on grounds that it was able to recruit nearly 300 students from the Brockton public schools. Parents were unhappy because the Brockton public schools have seen budget cuts, which they attribute to the charter school.

Brockton High School, which has been repeatedly honored (including a front-page story in the NY Times) for excellence, enrolls more than 4,000 students. The charter school, New Heights, will enroll 315 (not there yet). The thousands of students at the public high school will lose programs so that the state can open a charter school to serve the same community.

If New Heights reaches an enrollment of 315 students by October, it will receive $3.96 million in state and local funds, based on early projections, Reis said.

Brockton parents like Dominique Cassamajor said that money would be better spent on Brockton Public Schools, including the elementary school attended by her 9-year-old daughter, especially when the district is already dealing with a difficult budget.

“I don’t like it at all,” Cassamajor said. “I know people who have kids in the new school, but it’s just taking away funds from Brockton Public Schools. Everybody has their choices. But to me, it’s taking away money from most of the kids. The classroom already has a deficit. That’s why we are doing the Brockton Kids Count campaign.”

So what is the logic in Brockton? Open a charter for 315 kids and take resources from the high school that serves 4,000+ kids?

Cheri Kiesecker is a Colorado parent who pays close attention to technology that invades student privacy.

She left the following warning as a comment:

In response to the question about GAFE. Below are a few links that may be of help.
GAFE, Google, Chromebooks… seem to suffer transparency issues on how they track and use and analyze student data. When parents have asked to see what data points Google collects, how that information is analyzed, who it is shared with, there are no transparent answers.

Many privacy organizations and advocates have concerns and questions about the algorithms used and data collection/ sharing in GAFE.
Google Chromebooks are pre-set to send student data, all user activity, back to Google.

This article explains how ChromeSync feature tracks students. Some schools purposely leave the SYNC feature on. Others, however, turn off Sync before asking students to use Chromebooks. MANY schools and parents are NOT AWARE of the Chrome Sync tracking feature.

https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2015/10/internet-companies-confusing-consumers-profit

This blog does a great job explaining GAFE issues in Where The Sidewalk Ends: Wading Through Google’s Terms of Service for Education:

Google defines a narrow set of applications as “core” Apps for Edu services. These services are exempt from having ads displayed alongside user content, and from having their data used for “Ads purposes”. However, apps outside the core services – like YouTube, Blogger, and Picasa – are not covered by the terms of service that restrict ads. The same is true for integrations of third party apps that can be enabled within the Google Apps admin interface, and then accessed by end users. So, when a person in a Google Apps for Edu environment watches a video on YouTube, writes or reads a post on Blogger, or accesses any third party app enabled via Google Apps, their information is no longer covered under the Google Apps for Education terms.

To put it another way: as soon as a person with a Google Apps for Education account strays outside the opaque and narrowly defined “safe zone” everything they do can be collected, stored, and mined.

So, the next time you hear someone say, “Google apps doesn’t use data for advertising” ask them to explain what happens to student data when a student starts in Google apps, and then goes to Blogger, or YouTube, or connects to any third party integration.” read more…

https://funnymonkey.com/2015/where-the-sidewalk-ends-wading-through-googles-terms-of-service

EFF COMPLAINT against GOOGLE

The privacy watchdog group Electronic Frontier Foundation filed a complaint with the FTC about Google’s deceptive tracking of students.
Chrome books are set to send back students’ entire browsing history to Google but that is not all.

Google’s Student Tracking Isn’t Limited to Chrome Sync

Many media reports on (as well as at least one response to) the FTC complaint we submitted yesterday about Google’s violation of the Student Privacy Pledge have focused heavily on one issue—Google’s use of Chrome Sync data for non-educational purposes. This is an important part of our complaint, but we want to clarify that Google has other practices which we are just as concerned about, if not more so.
In particular, the primary thrust of our complaint focuses on how Google tracks and builds behavioral profiles on students when they navigate to Google-operated sites outside of Google Apps for Education. We’ve tried to explain this issue in both our complaint and our FAQ, but given its significance we think it’s worth explaining again.

To understand what’s going on, you first have to understand that when it comes to education, Google divides its services into two categories: Google Apps for Education (GAFE), which includes email, Calendar, Talk/Hangouts, Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Sites, Contacts, and the Apps Vault; and everything else, which includes Google Search, Blogger, Bookmarks, Books, Maps, News, Photos, Google+, and YouTube, just to name a few.

Google has promised not to build profiles on students or serve them ads only within Google Apps for Education services. When a student goes to a different Google service, however, and they’re still logged in under their educational account, Google associates their activity on that service with their educational account, and then serves them ads on at least some of those non-GAFE services based on that activity.

In other words, when a student logs into their educational account, and then uses Google News to create a report on current events, or researches history using Google Books, or has a geography lesson using Google Maps, or watches a science video on YouTube, Google tracks that activity and feeds it into an ad profile attached to the student’s educational account—even though Google knows that the person using that account is a student, and the account was created for educational purposes.

This is our biggest complaint about Google’s practices—that despite having promised not to track students, Google is abusing its position of power as a provider of some educational services to profit off of students’ data when they use other Google services—services that Google has arbitrarily decided don’t deserve any protection. read more

https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2015/12/googles-student-tracking-isnt-limited-chrome-sync

Google and other apps may be “free”, but as privacy experts warn, your child’s data is the price. GAFE is just one example of needing transparent and enforceable privacy laws to protect students and why schools and teachers should read the privacy policies, terms of service surrounding data collection and use…and communicate that information with parents before signing a child up for GAFE or any app. Ideally, every parent should be given the choice to opt-in, as many parents are not aware of data privacy issues surrounding edtech.
…and as privacy groups warn, Google is playing with [COPPA] fire in promoting GAFE to children under 13.

http://www.cio.com/article/2855414/google-will-target-kids-with-redesigned-versions-of-its-products.html