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Loree Brownfield

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Entries in national assessments (7)

Wednesday
Jan232013

Common Core -- Orwellian Lessons in Florida By Mary Grabar

Common Core -- Orwellian Lessons in Florida

By Mary Grabar

1/19/2013

Ask any college freshman what he knows about communism and he will likely engage in a word association game. “The red scare, McCarthyism,” he will blurt out, displaying lessons well-learned from his textbooks and teachers.

 

One way to go beyond the idea of communism as evidence of paranoia, though, is to recall George Orwell’s Animal Farm. “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others” will be the phrase students recall. Students seem to get that “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs” never works out in reality from this fictional work.

This novel shows how literature can sometimes demonstrate historical realities better than many textbooks.

 

But with the Obama administration’s unconstitutional program of nationalizing education, students will not likely be able to experience the insights and pleasures of novels, like Orwell’s.

 

In 2009, during the economic “crisis,” states were offered part of the $4.35 billion in stimulus funds in a hurried contest called Race to the Top. After the initial application, they were told that they would have to adhere to national standards and testing called Common Core, sight unseen, and without any legislative input. Forty-eight states signed on initially; today, 45 states are committed to CC—although citizens and teachers are organizing against it.

 

The standards, now in place for math and English, emphasize “work and career readiness”--that is for workers who see themselves as global citizens unacquainted with their national and cultural heritage. This became apparent as I read the recent article, “Teachers Get Help with Common Core Lessons Through (sic) CPALMS,” at the NPR site. This was also because one of the CPALMS lessons for English/Language Arts was on Animal Farm.

 

The article explained that as Common-Core aligned assessments and textbooks are being written, the state of Florida is using a federal Race to the Top grant from the Department of Education to develop a site of resources for teachers who are scrambling to adhere to the new standards.

Pinnellas County School Superintendant Mike Grego recently told the Florida State Board of Education that there is “no resistance” to Common Core.

 

At the same time, Florida’s new state superintendant, Tony Bennett, is steamrolling in the curriculum. Bennett, by the way, lost reelection in Indiana, many believe, because of his support for Common Core.

 

The lack of “resistance” may very well be due to the behind-the-scenes maneuvering by the Department of Education that bypassed state legislatures and public input, often gaining the support of Republicans with vague promises of “rigor” and uniform “standards.” Most in the politically informed Tea Party Manatee audience before whom I spoke on the evening of January 8 were not aware of this federal takeover of education.

 

Among the points I made are those from my recent report for Accuracy in Media. National tests (being written by close, like-minded colleagues of terrorist-turned-education-professor Bill Ayers, like Stanford education professor Linda Darling-Hammond) will eventually nullify the idea of private schools and even home schools. Some Catholic and other religious schools are already beginning to adopt Common Core standards as they see college entrance exams being written to CC specifications.

 

The 45 participating states are also required to keep data bases of students from “cradle to career”--to use Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s favorite phrase--and submit them to the federal government, in effect making a national database.

 

Some conservative organizations have protested this unconstitutional power grab by the Department of Education.

 

But the mandate to replace literature in English classes with “informational texts”—with only half the time allotted to literature, and reduced to only 30 percent by the last two years of high school—caught the attention of even the liberal media. They became alarmed that favorites like To Kill a Mockingbird and Catcher in the Rye are to be replaced by such things as EPA directives.

 

Spokesmen tried to alleviate fears. They directed skeptics to the standards: “the Standards require a certain critical content for all students including classic myths and stories from around the world, America’s Founding Documents, foundational American literature, and Shakespeare.” Plus, they “intentionally do not offer a reading list.”

 

David Coleman the well-connected new president of the College Board, which writes and administers college entrance exams, has pointed to these caveats, and repeated the claim that the standards call for evidence-based writing instead of writing based on personal experience and feelings. (See the very funny takedown by the Pioneer Institute’s James Stergios of how the advocate of “close reading,” David Coleman, mixed up Federalist 51 and 10 in an instructional video.)

 

Animal Farm would seem to fall into the category of classical literature that the bureaucrats and educrats refer to in attempts to mollify critics. Those who wrote the ninth and tenth-grade lesson plans for CPALMS (Collaborate, Plan, Align, Learn, Motivate, Share) seemed to have this in mind.

 

First, the novel is put into the broad category of “fables” from Aesop, with a list of those usually taught to young children like “The Tortoise and the Hare.” In typical Common Core fashion, students are to search out “elements” of a fable and then mechanically fill in a chart that is provided as a hand-out in the lesson plan.

 

Did anyone consider, though, that the comparison to a fable for preschoolers might be insulting to teenagers? The teacher’s version of the chart has the blanks filled in, with the element of the “problem” described as “Power can make the animals corrupt; they struggle to take care of the farm and with leadership.”

 

The “resolution” is “The farm ends up being worse with the animals in control because of too much power and corruptness by the pigs.” The “moral/lesson” is “Power Corrupts, and Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely.” (The source for this quotation, the conservative historian Lord Acton, is not mentioned, however.)

 

All this is very general. And when one compares it to other sample lessons in Common Core and its standards, one sees that it is deliberately so. While one small mention is made in a sheet on the “elements of a fable” that Animal Farm is “satirized Stalinist Communism, in particular, and totalitarianism, in general” it is clear that the novel is to be taught in a historic vacuum. The pointed criticisms of communism are generalized to an indictment of a vague sense of too much “power.”

 

This exercise recalls one that gave consternation to teachers when they were instructed to read Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address without emotion and without providing any historical context. Common Core reduces all “texts” to one level: the Gettysburg Address to the EPA’s Recommended Levels of Insulation.

 

This leveling is demonstrated in another lesson plan at CPALMS that involves the historical young adult novel Kidnapped in Key West, where teachers are told to “avoid giving any background context or instructional guidance at the outset of the lesson while students are reading the text chorally.”

 

This kind of “close reading” presumably “forces students to rely exclusively on the text instead of privileging background knowledge and levels the playing field for all students as they seek to comprehend the text.”

 

Leveling the playing field is a primary objective of the Obama Department of Education, and Common Core presents a means to do so by encouraging such “close” or “deep” reading. Reading the “text” “chorally,” which Merriam-Webster defines as "sung," implies reading aloud in unison. It ensures that all students, including struggling readers, are brought along with the group.

 

Such objectives are in line with Darling-Hammond’s educational agenda. The former Obama education transition team director is in charge of using $176 in Race-to-the-Top funds to develop tests for one of two consortia and is implementing her “five-dimensional grading rubric” of personal responsibility, social responsibility, communication skills, application of knowledge, and critical and creative thinking.

 

This assessment philosophy had the dubious distinction of placing her Stanford New Schools on California’s list of the lowest-achieving five percent. Now about half of American students will be required to take her tests.

 

The sample test questions released by her consortia give no indication that acquisition of knowledge is important. As I noted in my other reports, social responsibility is the aim of the new curriculum materials being developed. They follow Arne Duncan’s stated purpose for schools: to be part of the “battle for social justice.”

 

Many have been fooled by rhetoric that simply repeats the talking points of the Department of Education and the well-connected leftists in the education field who will profit from our tax dollars by selling teacher training, software and hardware, and Common Core-aligned curricula. Bernie Reeves even called David Coleman an “education hero” in American Thinker. I thought it might be a satire, or Newspeak.

 

Duncan, who worked with Bill Ayers in Chicago on education issues, is on the same page, as is Darling-Hammond. Obama’s signature education initiative has been dubbed “Obama Core” for good reason. It is an Orwellian re-education campaign.

 

Florida’s sample lesson for teaching, among all things, Animal Farm, provides an illustration of how this is being done.

 

Mary Grabar earned her Ph.D. in English from the University of Georgia and teaches in Atlanta.

 

http://townhall.com/columnists/marygrabar/2013/01/19/common-core-orwellian-lessons-in-florida-n1490561

 

Sunday
May202012

Protect Alabama's Children--Call Gov Bentley Before 5-24 To Say No To HB588

Why no to HB588--please stand in the gap for the children...

 

  • There is an Alabama bill for Gov Bentley to sign by Thurs-- HB588 (hit ok when link comes up empty) which supposedly grades each school--which is nothing new as they have had this since '95 but the wording is such that it can open the door to the assessments determined by the State Sup of Education and move us to Common Core Standards.
  • Common Core Standards is so bad that both Alabama House and Senate signed a join resolution SJR49 to direct the Alabama Board of Ed to get us out of common core.
  •  Even US House of Representatives against it:  "There is widespread agreement that current elementary and secondary education law is failing students. Committee Republicans have advanced legislation to revamp No Child Left Behind and return responsibility for student achievement to state and local leaders. While Secretary Duncan has claimed to share this goal, he has chosen not to work with Congress on rewriting the law – instead advancing a conditional waivers scheme that rewards states for adopting his preferred policies. Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL) reiterates that education cannot be improved through executive fiat, and urges Secretary Duncan to stop working against the committee and instead join congressional efforts to enact lasting reforms in our schools."  Excerpt from Education and Workforce Committee

  • HB588 was passed at the end of the legislative session had a rider that sounded great as it was going give award to schools (that rider has since been removed) . 
  • Common Core Standards will mean what is going to be taught in the future will be determined by Washington instead of by each state and our local school boards will just be a rubber stamp.  Due to enticement of Race To the Top federal funds most states agreed to adopt to the conditional common core standards (yet making states think they can get out of it).
  • Common Core Standards (promoted by Obama and Arne Duncan) is supposed to make kids college and career ready but most parents do not know that eventually their right to affect what will be taught in Alabama schools will be lost and--parents will have to instead picket Washington DC. (unconstitutional).
  • The leadership we have seen listens to Planned Parenthood and had a Founder of the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network(GLSEN) as key person promoting Safe Schools in the Dept of Ed (Google the name of Kevin Jennings and pray because he is one of those that has the ears of the Dept of Ed ).  Indoctrination should be a big concern- see this much touted 33 min documentary 180 movie that will propel you to action--you will want to share with your church specially youth!


Do we dare take a chance on our children's future in the hands of those?

Please call Gov Bentley and ask him not to sign HB588--it is better not to open the door to Common Core Standards--call 334 242-7100.  Start Mon as you only have til 5/24.

Also in the future homeschoolers and private school will face same problem if this passes as the new Pres David Coleman of the College Board ( he is over SAT and ACT will probably follow ) is the architect of Common Core Standards and he wants all to be aligned to Common Core Standards. 

Go to TruthinAmericanEducation.com and see the collaborative efforts to control the minds of our children.  Hitler was able to do it and destroyed many and Pres Reagan said "never again"...Your help is needed--a simple phone call before Thursday (May 24) will mean so much.  Please get others to call (334) 242-7100 starting Monday.


Excerpt from Alabama Senate Joint Resolution 49 (SJR49)

WHEREAS, the Legislature has learned that the United States Department of Education is funding the development of
national curriculum guidelines, modes, and materials as well as national assessments based upon the initiative's standards, thus creating a national curriculum and testing system; and

WHEREAS, the Legislature is very concerned with the federal government's intrusion in Alabama's right to set curriculum and standards and the powers duly delegated to the board to do so; and
WHEREAS, this body finds that the conditional No Child Left Behind (NCLB) waiver plan will result in the United States Department of Education leveraging the states into a de facto long term national system of curriculum, programs of instruction, and instructional materials, notwithstanding the absence of legal authority in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and that this system will bind states indefinitely to the common core standards, Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers and SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium (PARCC-SBAC) assessments, and the curriculum and instructional modules that arise from those assessments; now therefore,


BE IT RESOLVED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF ALABAMA, BOTH HOUSES THEREOF CONCURRING, That by copy of this resolution provided to the State Superintendant of Education for distribution to the board, we hereby encourage the State Board of Education to take all steps it deems appropriate, including revocation of the adoption of the initiative's standards if
necessary, to retain complete control over Alabama's academic standards, curriculum, instruction, and testing system.


----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Try to follow this--

  1. The House and Senate passed SJR 49 (above) yet at the same time there is HB588 (seemed innocent until you hold it up in the light).  HB588 can move us right along opposite to what US Congress and our own Alabama Legislature urges the Alabama State Board of Ed-- to get out of Common Core Standards.
  2. 2012-05-04  Article School Grading and Rewards Legislation Progresses in Legislature "If the legislation passes, development and implementation of the programs would be based on the State Board of Education’s proposals for revising the current assessment and accountability systems. This plan was presented to the Board at the work session on April 26th. " Update- the school rewards was put in HB588 but was removed and is not in the bill before Gov Bentley.
  3. So what is this plan presented at the work session on April 26th?  Here is a link to a report on that session but below is a very interesting point:  "The ARMT+ (as opposed to the ARMT, no plus) will eventually be aligned to the Common Core State Standards that Alabama adopted last year."
  4. Tommy Bice plans to ask the United States Department of Education (USDOE)  to freeze Annual Measurable Objectives (AMOs) at the 2010-2011 level for Alabama’s students.  This is allowable for states seeking flexibility under guidelines established last September by President Obama and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.The last opportunity to submit a request for flexibility will be Sept 6.  However approval is again contingent on adopting common core standards:
  5. Each state granted a waiver agreed to three specific reform criteria: Adopting the Common Core Standards—essentially standardized curricula for specific classes, holding schools accountable for improving student performance (particularly for minority and disabled students) and establishing a system to evaluate teachers.

John Kline, the Republican chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce said that's unacceptable—states should be allowed to set their own standards.  "What I don't want is those decisions to be made by Washington—either dictated in law by us, or by the Secretary of Education," he said.

.
----------------------------------------------------


 The Old Deluder Act--what started the first schools (remember what the founders intended.) It Is important today as children are being destroyed in body, mind and soul.  Please read Mrs. Donna Garner's detailed study to help America see the truth for the sake of the children.  May God help us.


"It being one chief project of that old deluder, Satan, to keep men from the knowledge of the Scriptures, as in former times by keeping them in an unknown tongue, so in these latter times by persuading from the use of tongues, that so that at least the true sense and meaning of the original might be clouded and corrupted with false glosses of saint-seeming deceivers; and to the end that learning may not be buried in the grave of our forefathers, in church and commonwealth, the Lord assisting our endeavors.


It is therefore ordered that every township in this jurisdiction, after the Lord hath increased them to fifty households shall forthwith appoint one within their town to teach all such children as shall resort to him to write and read, whose wages shall be paid either by the parents or masters of such children, or by the inhabitants in general, by way of supply, as the major part of those that order the prudentials of the town shall appoint; provided those that send their children be not oppressed by paying much more than they can have them taught for in other towns...


It is time for the Body of Christ to take the premiere fighting position they did in the beginning of this nation.

 

Here's a  summary perspective from Jim Stergios in  TruthInAmericanEducation.com:

The long and the short of it is that the Gates Foundation and the federal government payed a whole lot of nonprofit organizations to review, advocate for, manage, design and enforce the standards and assessments.  These organizations all ran around pretending that they were acting in a disinterested manner in support of improving education.  They even cite each other as disinterested scholars and experts who are all collaborating for the good of children.  But in fact they are all either on the payroll of the Gates Foundation or the Obama Administration.  The American education system has become non-democratic and Bill Gates and Barack Obama have become Judge, Jury, and Executioner on what American schoolchildren learn.  And all of the nonsense about standards being validated, benchmarked, and based on objective research is a lot of hogwash.  It turned out that almost the entire nonprofit education advocacy world was for sale to special interests (the Gates Foundation and the Obama Administration).  And a whole lot of people are becoming very rich cooperating with them, cashing large checks, and pretending to be objective and disinterested...go to link above for entire article.

Saturday
Oct152011

National Federation of Republican Women Resolution To Defeat National Standards--Pass On To Your State--Call Congress To Defund Common Core

NATIONAL FEDERATION OF REPUBLICAN WOMEN RESOLUTION
Defeat National Standards for State Schools
Passed Unanimously at the NFRW36th Biennial Convention
Kansas City, MO – October 1, 2011
WHEREAS, The national standards-based “Common Core State Standards” initiative is the centerpiece of the Obama’s Administration’s agenda to centralize education decisions at the federal level;
WHEREAS, The Obama Administration is using the same model to take over education as it used for healthcare by using national standards and boards of bureaucrats, whom the public didn’t elect and can’t fire or otherwise hold accountable;
WHEREAS, National standards remove authority from States over what is taught in the classroom and how it is tested;
WHEREAS, National standards undercut the principle of federalism on which our nation was founded;
WHEREAS, There is no constitutional or statutory authority for national standards, national curricula, or national assessments and in fact the federal government is expressly prohibited from endorsing or dictating state/local decisions about curricula; and
WHEREAS, The Obama Administration is attempting to evade constitutional and statutory prohibitions to move toward a nationalized public-school system by (1) funding to date more than $345 million for the development of national curriculum and test questions, (2) tying national standards to the Race to the Top charter schools initiative in the amount of $4.35 billion, (3) using the Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI) to pressure State Boards of Education to adopt national standards with the threat of losing Title 1 Funds if they do not, and (4) requesting Congress to include national standards as a requirement in the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary School Act (No Child Left Behind);
BE IT RESOLVED, That the National Federation of Republican Women vote to encourage all State Federation Presidents to share information about national standards with their local clubs; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That State Federation Presidents ask their members to (1) contact their State Boards of Education members and request that they retain control over academic standards, curriculum, instruction and testing,  (2) contact their Congress Members and request that they (i) protect the constitutional and statutory prohibitions against the federal government endorsing or dictating national standards, (ii) to refuse to tie national standards to any reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, (iii) defund “Race to the Top” money, and (iv) prohibit any more federal funds for the Common Core State Standards Initiative, including funds to assessment and curriculum writing consortia, and (3) spread the word about the threat of a federal government takeover of education.
Submitted by:  Alabama Federation of Republican Women
Elois Zeanah, President
Co-Sponsors:

Nebraska Federation of Republican Women            
Delaware Federation of Republican Women                
Wisconsin Federation of Republican Women
Georgia Federation of Republican Women
Tennessee Federation of Republican Women

 

Why?--See what's brewing:

 

http://socialjusticemath.blogspot.com/

http://truthinamericaneducation.com/common-core-state-standards/national-curriculum/

http://www.cityonahill.tv/city-on-a-hill-blogs/2011/9/23/going-back-to-tyranny-is-america-losing-or-giving-up-her-fir.html

 

 Warnings from Leaders Who Have Researched Both Sides Of The Story and What They Found To Be True:  Al State Board Member -Betty Peters, Texas--Donna Garner--Al Fed Of Rep Women Elois Zeanah and others.

 

 

Tuesday
Apr122011

States Beginning To Figure Out They Will Be Left Holding The Bag With National Assessments They Can't Afford to Implement--Will Governors Be Seeing Wisconsin's Woes In Their Own States Soon?

 

The Other Shoe Drops:  National Testmakers Worried”

by Donna Garner

4.12.11

 

Summary of worries revealed in this Education Week article (posted below):

 

1.  High expectations for these national assessments may outpace the ability of states to pay for the technology required to administer them.

 

2.  Both of the consortia have to provide -- for each tested grade level and course -- benchmark assessments (a.k.a., periodic, formative) and summative assessments (a.k.a. finals).

 

3.  The consortia are worried that the tight timelines set by the feds won’t allow for well-done piloting of the assessments.

 

4.  Both consotia have to create formative and summative assessments that are of equal content and difficulty and which can be taken by all types of students.

 

5.  The national assessments were originally intended to save states money, but the federal grants contain no money for administering the assessments. 

 

6.  States are beginning to figure this out and are worried they will be left with national assessments they cannot afford to implement.

 

Donna Garner

Wgarner1@hot.rr.com

 

=================================

 

http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2011/04/12/28aera.h30.html?tkn=UPOFcmH8A3r0yI7V24Ln%2FSE7SKR6Bu7TcRC8&cmp=clp-edweek

 

Published Online: April 12, 2011

Includes correction(s): April 12, 2011

Experts See Hurdles Ahead for Common Core Tests

By Sarah D. Sparks

 

As America’s “next-generation” assessments for common core academic subjects begin to take shape through two state consortia projects, researchers and test developers alike are beginning to worry that expectations for the tests may outpace states’ technology and budgets.

Michigan and Louisiana education officials and leaders of the two consortia tasked with developing the new assessments—the 25-state SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium, or SBAC, and the 26-state Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC—discussed challenges to the tests at a panel here at the annual meeting of the National Council on Measurement in Education.

The panel was organized by the Council of Chief State School Officers, one of two Washington-based group that spearheaded efforts to create new common standards for college and career readiness, now adopted by 44 states and the District of Columbia.

The tests are expected to roll out in 2014, and “the amount of innovation we’ll be able to carry off in that amount of time is not going to be that much,” warned Joseph Willhoft, the executive director of the SMARTER Balanced Consortium. “There’s an expectation that out of the gate this [assessment] is going to be so game-changing, and maybe after four or five years it will be game-changing, but not immediately.”

Both consortia received grants through the federal Race to the Top Assessment competition created in the federal economic-stimulus law to develop new tests based on the common standards. Each consortium must develop computer-based tests for each tested grade level and subject, as well as optional interim benchmarking tests to allow teachers to monitor how students progress and change instruction accordingly.

Both groups are developing both the end-of-year summative tests that can be used by any state in the country, and the ancillary benchmark tests that teachers or principals can use to track the progress of individual students or groups throughout the year.

The SMARTER Balanced Consortium’s tests are intended to go beyond simply moving questions from a paper to a computer screen, to adapt the difficulty of each question as students progress on the test. Ideally, individual test items will be tagged with the accommodations allowed for students who require them based on a disability or limited English proficiency, according to Laura M. Slover, the senior vice president of the Washington-based Achieve, Inc., which is helping develop assessments for PARCC.

Yet all of that is still in the works.

“One of the biggest problems I’ve seen with state assessments and national assessments is they are typically not done on a budget and a timeline that allow people to go out and do the pilot testing and tryouts that you would like,” said Mark D. Reckase, a professor of measurement and quantitative methods at the University of Michigan. “I’ve looked at the timelines for this, and they are fast; there will be incredible pressure to just get it done.”

Moreover, making sure the tests will serve their intended accountability use has become trickier in the wake of high-profile, test-based teacher evaluations, such as that done in Los Angeles last fall. “If we are trying to look in a crystal ball about educator evaluation … That is likely to be the most difficult use of any data we put out and therefore requires the most thought and care in designing the models,” said Joseph Martineau, the director of educational assessment and accountability for the Michigan Department of Education, part of the SBAC.

PARCC plans to train thousands of teachers both in how the assessments will work and how the resulting data can be used for accountability or classroom instruction, said Ms. Slover. “One of the purposes [of the consortia project] was to really change assessment, both the way it’s done and the way it’s experienced by the students and teachers in the classroom,” Ms. Slover said. “As we think about how to transform the test to make it more useable for teachers, teachers have to embrace it and think it’s something being done for them and with them—and not to them.”

Mr. Reckase warned that mistrust of the new tests during the transition could cause delays. “There’s a tendency to want redundant systems, computerized and paper-and-pencil, … but that causes a whole other set of problems because now you have to make sure the two tests are equivalent and ensure they work for all students.”

Betting on Technology

Ms. Slover said the consortia are “betting heavily” that emerging technology will help them create tests that can balance accountability on multiple levels—from annual student achievement reporting to ancillary data used to evaluate programs and curricula—with formative test information to help teachers tweak instruction for different students throughout the year. “One cannot be done at the expense of the other, so balancing those is critical, and then you add the cost factor into that,” she said. “Innovation in technology happens at lightning speed, so we are betting heavily on the fact that in four years there will be a new way of doing things, that iPads will be easily accessible or that handheld devices will be very affordable and will change the way we do testing in our schools.

“But we’re betting on that, and it does worry me,” she said. “I think technology is not really fully embedded in the world of classrooms at this point.”

Even among classrooms with computer and Internet access, state officials agreed there are few brick-and-mortar schools that fully integrate technology into instruction, which may make it harder for students to adapt to taking tests via computer.

Changes Difficult

Scott Norton, Louisiana’s assistant state superintendent for student and school performance, said states must be careful to get the tests right in the first shot. While jointly developing tests was intended to save states money, the grants do not include money for administering the new assessments long-term, and it will be harder to make adjustments to the tests once they are completed, because so many states will need to sign off on changes.

“The cost makes me the most anxious,” Mr. Norton said. “In today’s world if we have a [testing] cost problem, we own that: We can print on lighter paper or something. I’m not sure that holds up when we don’t own it alone. If we get into a test we can’t afford, we’re really left holding the bag.”

Vol. 30, Issue 28

 



Tuesday
Apr122011

Here's a Way Congress Can Save Money and Improve Education

“Congressmen: A Great Place To Cut Funding -- National Assessments”

by Donna Garner

4.9.11

 

Almost daily I continue to submit my requests to Congress, asking them to cut the federal funding of Common Core Standards, Race to the Top, and the national assessments.  

 

Besides the obvious -- that CCS/RTTT is a federal takeover of the public schools and lies way outside the provisions of the U. S. Constitution -- American taxpayers simply cannot afford it. 

 

Besides the cost of states’ dumping their own textbooks, standards, and tests in order to implement the Common Core Standards, the cost of the national assessments alone would be horrendous!

 

An education technology expert whose name I shall keep confidential explained to me how expensive the national assessments would actually be, and the costs would fall squarely on the shoulders of local taxpayers.

 

To take the national assessments, every student in a school (K-12) would be required to have his own individual technology device because the multi-media, interactive assessments are to be given online; and students would continually be taking formative assessments (a.k.a., periodic, benchmarked) throughout the entire school year.

 

The USAC Universal Service Fund, which is presently tacked onto the price of all of our cell phones and home phone bills, already supplies Internet Access (IA) at a reduced fee for every public school and library in the country.

 

 

The USAC spends $2.5 Billion each year just on telecom, IA, and building infrastructure to these schools and libraries. Therefore, the costs are very substantial already. 

Recently the federal government put $10 Million into a pilot project to give Internet Access (IA) to individual school students.  The federal funding for this pilot project, which provides only the IA, was eaten up almost instantly by just a few school districts. 

 

For us to understand the scope of the problem, we must realize that states such as Texas have 1,237 separate public school districts and charters, 8,435 campuses, and over 4.8 million students.  California has 1050 districts.  The nation has over 35,000 districts.  

Unfortunately, there is not a cost-effective way to deliver IA to every public school student without their also paying a $30 a month IA fee along with the cost of the technology device.  In fact, the cost of the device itself is becoming incidental to the monthly fees over which AT&T, Verizon, and other companies are salivating.

This is similar to companies giving a free cell phone to a customer if he signs up for the two-year plan; the companies know the monthly fees will more than make up for the cost of the devices themselves. 

As people in the telecommunications industry consider the money to be made under the Common Core Standards, Race to the Top, and the national assessments, talks have begun surfacing about building mesh networks around the public schools. This would allow Internet Access (IA) to everyone living around the schools (the outliers), and they could use the same IA that the feds through the USAC fees are currently purchasing at the school sites.   The “gotcha” is that the outliers would be required to pay the monthly technology usage fees. 

A huge fiscal problem is that building out these mesh networks around all the public schools in America would cost billions, and the USAC fees would not pay for this part.  

It is easy to see why AT&T, Verizon, Microsoft, Cisco, and Dell are all planning on benefitting from the implementation of the Common Core Standards, Race to the Top, and the national assessments. [From the very first moment that Obama came into the White House, Bill Gates has been using his moneybags to promote CCS/RTTT.)  

As usual, it would be the taxpayers who would have to foot the bill for these national assessments and the technology infrastructure required.  

ACTION STEP:

Please contact your Congressmen and ask them to cut immediately the funding for the Common Core Standards, Race to the Top, and the national assessments.

 

Donna Garner

Wgarner1@hot.rr.com

 

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As a follow-up to this Education Week Teacher article (posted below), please read my March 18, 2011, article entitled “Taxpayers, Grab Your Wallets.” 

 

http://www.navigator-news.com/component/content/article/3-local/251-taxpayers-grab-your-wallets

 

 

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http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/living-in-dialogue/2011/04/high_tech_testing_on_the_way_a.html

High Tech Testing on the Way: a 21st Century Boondoggle?

Excerpts from this article:

by Stephen Krashen and Susan Ohanian

When the plans to create Common Core Standards were announced, Secretary Duncan told us that it would be accompanied by assessments to enforce the standards. We were also told that developing standards would be relatively inexpensive, but developing assessments, by contrast, will be a "very heavy lift financially" (USA Today, June 14, 2009).

It is gradually becoming clear that the lift will be extremely heavy. The new tests will be computer-based, administered online, and "will make widespread use of smart technology. They will provide students with realistic, complex performance tasks, immediate feedback, computer adaptive testing, and incorporate accommodations for a range of students" (Duncan, 2010). Duncan noted that "with the benefit of technology, assessment questions can incorporate audio and video. Problems can be situated in real-world environments, where students perform tasks or include multi-stage scenarios and extended essays."

An example:
The National Education Technology Plan 2010 (U.S. Department of Education; Office of Educational Technology) describes one kind of testing that is being developed, testing that takes place "in the course of learning" (xvii) and that tries to find out what students are thinking while doing projects:

As students work, the system can capture their inputs and collect evidence of their problem-solving sequences, knowledge, and strategy use, as reflected by the information each student selects or inputs, the number of attempts the student makes, the number of hints and type of feedback given, and the time allocation across parts of the problem.

(pages 29-30: "Assessing during online learning").

Aside from the mind-control aspect of this kind of testing, how much will it cost, in addition to the cost of developing, testing and revising the new tests?

If we are going to have computer-based tests, and if they are to be delivered to students via the internet, the first requirement is that all students need to be connected to the internet. A recent article in the New York Times gives us some idea of what will be involved. The article begins by noting that money is scarce these days:

Despite sharp drops in state aid, New York City's Department of Education plans to increase its technology spending, including $542 million next year alone that will primarily pay for wiring and other behind-the-wall upgrades to city schools ... and $315 million for additional schools by 2014...

(New York Times, "In city schools, tech spending to rise despite cuts," March 30, 2011)

Buried deep the article is a statement by "city officials" that the huge expenditures for technology are primarily to make it possible for students to take computerized national standardized tests.

We can expect this to happen nation-wide. If the New York figure is extrapolated to the entire country, the cost to connect all children to the internet will be at least 50 times the cost of connecting New York City alone, or $25 billion (New York City enrolls one million students, the USA as a whole, over 60 million). This is only to connect students to the internet. The whistles and bells needed to do "computer adaptive testing" with audio and video will cost more.

Technology, of course, continues to develop all the time, and consumers have repeatedly demonstrated their willingness to discard the old and embrace the new, even at considerable expense. We can expect that after every student is connected, sooner or later the set-up will become obsolete and need to be replaced, either in part or totally. The schools, we predict, will cheerfully pay up, eager for the "newest" technology, and the computer companies will cheerfully accept their money.

The billions spent so that students can take national tests will have a huge payoff for the entire computer industry in other ways. This was enthusiastically announced by Education Secretary Duncan's Chief of Staff and former CEO of the New Schools Venture Fund, Joanne Weiss. Weiss noted that because all students will have internet access in order to be tested, technology companies can now profit from one giant national market for all their educational products:

The development of common standards and shared assessments radically alters the market for innovation in curriculum development, professional development, and formative assessments. Previously, these markets operated on a state-by-state basis, and often on a district-by-district basis. But the adoption of common standards and shared assessments means that education entrepreneurs will enjoy national markets where the best products can be taken to scale

(Weiss, 2011)

Of course, the administration has argued that these will be new and better tests, more sensitive to growth in learning, able to chart student progress through the year, and able to probe real learning, not just memorization. Before unleashing these "improved" tests on the country, however, there should be rigorous investigation, rigorous studies to show that these measures are worth the investment. Right now, the corporations and politicians insist that we take on faith the claim that these tests are good for students. Such claims exhibit a profound lack of accountability…

The Department of Education plans to use American students as experimental subjects to try out an extremely expensive, time-consuming and dubious testing program that will engulf classrooms. If it fails, the effect on students will be devastating, with schools robbed of money, and a generation of students poorly educated, teacher professionalism subsumed by data management, and schools robbed of funds for anything but technology repair. But the testing and technology companies will win, profiting regardless of the success or failure of their products and always ready to convince us that the next versions will be better…

Dr. Stephen Krashen is a professor emeritus at the University of Southern California. He has written numerous books on his research into literacy and language acquisition. In recent years he has emerged as a persistent voice pointing towards the basic steps we should take to build literacy and strong academic skills for our students.

Susan Ohanian, a longtime teacher, has written 25 books on education, including When Childhood Collides with NCLB and co-authorship of Why Is Corporate America Bashing Our Public Schools? Since the passage of NCLB, she has run a website of resistance, www.susanohanian.org, which received the NCTE George Orwell Award for Distinguished Contribution to Honesty and Clarity in Public language. She is a fellow at National Education Policy Center and an editor at Substancenews.net

 

Donna Garner

Wgarner1@hot.rr.com

 

 



Saturday
Feb052011

Latest on Obama and Education--Perspectives From Donna Garner

Audio Link

 

Hear insight from former teacher (now activist) Donna Garner on what is going with our children's education throughout the nation.  Get update on the latest about the common core states standards and what you can do in the fight for good education for your children.  With the men such as Kevin Jennings (founder of GLSEN) that Obama's administration has chosen to head our children's education--all parent must be very concerned and become involved.  First--get yourself and everyone you know armed with the truth and then fight for your children's future is at stake by making sure Congress hears from you!

Saturday
Sep042010

Nationalizing or Federalizing Education-CCSI--The Inside Story Parents And Teachers Must Know

 

 

 

 Betty Peters (5 min video)

 

 

Part II  of CCSI (60 min audio)

 

Audio Link

Hear the true story on the CCSI or Common Core Standards Initiative from the people involved with the process like Professor Jim Milgram, Professor Sandra Stotsky, Betty Peters, Penny Wolcott, Donna Garner among others.  Be shocked and act on the information that shows this so called goal to make our kids college and career ready is in need of debate and input from parents and local and state boards. One example is the math standards sets children up for what mathematicians know as "shopping cart math" which sets us behind instead of a leader in the world of math. English standards makes room for an agenda which has been looking for such a vehicle to change America's thinking by molding its young. Please listen and get informed and follow some of the advice of the speakers  to make a difference as the parents and local school boards control are fast being set up to be ineffective when the CCSI gets through the whole country.  Constitutional rights are at stake in this Pandora's box known as CCSI.

Betty Peters is a board member of the Alabama State Board of Education 

Dr. R. James Milgram, professor of mathematics at Stanford University,has been a member of numerous boards and committees, including the National Board of Education Sciences, a body created by the Education Sciences Reform Act of 2002 “to advise and consult with the Director of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) on agency policies.” 

Sandra Stotsky is a professor in the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas, and holds the 21st Century Chair in Teacher Quality.

Peyton Wolcott--investigative journalist--activist--with strategy that works

Beth Schultz--very concerned mom-activist-blogger--math educator

Donna Garner--retired teacher, effective activist

All of the above really cares for our children--let us do our part.


 Link to Part I on CSSI

Link to Part III on CSSI and other recent interviews