FL Testing Firm AIR is Also Deeply Involved in Data Mining

Not only is the American Institutes for Research  (AIR) receiving $220 million of our tax dollars to develop the Common Core aligned replacement for the FCAT and heavily involved in subjective psychological testing and controversial social issues, but they are also deeply involved in the data mining of our children and their teachers.  According to AIR's own website:


The National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research (CALDER) is a joint project of AIR and scholars at Duke University, Northwestern University, Stanford University, the University of Missouri, the University of Texas at Dallas, and the University of Washington.

AIR admits that CALDER will be studying individual data on students and teachers, including Florida students:

CALDER, which previously was located at the Urban Institute, strives to inform education policy development through analyses of data on individual students and teachers over time...Currently, CALDER is working with data from Florida, Indiana, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Texas, Washington, and Washington, D.C." (Emphasis added)

So, individual data on Florida students is already being mined and used by this private entity for purposes that may or may not have any benefit for those children or teachers, but for government power and corporate profits.  Given the major loopholes in FERPA that we have reported, it is also quite likely that this is being done without parental consent. Here are the issues they say are being studied with this individual data:

CALDER studies a wide range of education policy research topics, including: state and local education finance, school accountability, standards and assessment, teacher recruitment and retention, teacher quality, school administration, child development, early childhood education...
 
This is more evidence that the assurances from the legislative leadership, governor's political machine, the Department of Education, and the State Board of Education are deceptive, false and more lipstick on the Common Core pig.  Do not stand for your children to be used as another kind of pig Guinea pigs! Demand that Florida withdraw from the Common Core "Florida" standards, the AIR Common Core psychological profiling tests, and this womb to tomb data collection system. Thank you! (Updated 5/21/16 due to changed link).

Indiana Pulls Out of Common Core, but New Standards May be More Lipstick on a Pig

Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed a bill today that requires the state to develop its own standards.  That is indeed welcome news.  However, there is concern by activists in Indiana that the same type of "lipstick on a pig"  process used in Florida is happening there.  According to Erin Tuttle at Hoosiers Against Common Core:


The established negative aspects of Common Core haven't been removed, like lengthy jargon-filled process standards, and any redeeming aspects, such as requiring students to know by memory their addition facts, are gone. It's more of what parents oppose and less of what they want.

The process is moving the standards backwards, not forward. Still, we are told to sit and wait, like good little comrades, and let the powers that be do what they want, which is obviously a Common Core rebrand. After two rounds of drafts, the analyses performed by the IDOE showed that the English standards for grades 6-12 are 90% Common Core.  That's not a lot of progress. (Emphasis added).
 
The powers that be may have millions of dollars for slick ad campaigns, but  they will not and cannot deceive the millions of informed and passionate parents and grandparents that refuse to let the education and privacy of their  precious children be destroyed.
 
 

More Lipstick for the Pig - Don't Accept the Lies!

Despite the fact that we have three more co-sponsors for HB 25 by Rep. Debbie Mayfield to pause Common Core, the legislative leadership, the Department of Education, the State Board of Education, the political people working for the governor, and the other proponents of Common Core are lying to you!

Here are the lies being perpetrated on you, the parents and taxpayers of Florida followed by the truth and facts 
1)      LIE: The changes adopted by the state board, the name change and removing the references to Common Core from statute mean that we have Florida's standards now.  "Florida is on a different path."
 
TRUTH: Removing references in statute to Common Core to diffuse political toxicity may be the kind of tactic that worked in George Orwell's1984, but does not "change the path" Florida is traveling.  That "path" is leading our children, our teachers and academic excellence right over a cliff.  Changing the name from Common Core to Florida's Standards does nothing to make them Florida's standards, but just creates a "perception of deception" or as Representative Hood described, putting "lipstick on a pig"  (See our analysis and video of testimony by Randy Osborne, Catherine Baer and Meredith Mears here.) The 98 changes that the commissioner herself called "minor" and testified will not affect the tests or the instructional materials, that she and other officials stated during the hearing process would not be significant, that hundreds of people protested against at the February 18th hearing, and 77 out 0f 80 testified against at that same hearing do not take us out of Common Core.   Changing 0.8% of 11,000 standards does not make these standards "Florida's standards."
 

2)   LIE: Florida is out of the PARCC assessment and the assessment about to be chosen is unique to Florida and based on these new "Florida Standards."
 
 
TRUTH:  Apparently the spin doctors are ignorant or refusing to look at the abundant evidence that all five of the testing companies competing for the Florida contract are fully Common Core aligned.  The recent news stories by the East Orlando Post and WUSF show that the current leading candidate for the testing contract, AIR (American Institutes for Research), are developing the test for SBAC (Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium), which is the other federally funded, federally supervised national testing consortium testing the national Common Core standards.  In addition, AIR bills itself as "one of the world's largest behavioral and social science research and evaluation organizations." This is more evidence that psychological teaching and testing is part of Common Core and the standards, by whatever name they are deceptively being labeled that are taught and tested in Florida, despite the concerns raised in the governor's executive order.
 
3) LIE:  The data protection bills going through the legislature will protect student data privacy while relying on the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
 
TRUTH: Again, information is being presented that is misinformed, ignorant, or knowingly deceptive. As we have documented since last year during the fight over SB 878, the infamous data mining bill, any "FERPA exceptions" render proposed data protections completely meaningless.  There is an entire section of the FERPA regulations titled "99.31 Under what conditions is prior consent not required to disclose information?" that is explained in detail in our response to the deceptive letter to Arne Duncan signed by 34 chief state school officers, including Pam Stewart, trying to give the impression that individual student data will not be given to the federal government, when both PARCC and SBAC clearly admit that it will be.  To be meaningful, any data protection bill must not be based on the non-existent protections in FERPA and must prohibit psychosocial teaching, testing and data collection.  

Please contact Governor Scott, your senator, and your representative to let them know that you will not tolerate this.  Demand that they pull Florida out of the Common Core national standards, tests, and data collection system! Governor Scott has the power to remove Florida from Common Core by taking us out of the memorandum of understanding that Charlie Crist signed putting us into Common Core.

Also please demand hearings for HB 25/SB 1316!  Here are the committee chairs with links to their contact information:
 
Rep. Marlene O'Toole - House K-12 Policy Committee
Rep. Erik Fresen - House Education Appropriations Subcommittee
Senator John Legg - Senate Education Committee
Senator Bill Galvano - Senate Education Appropriations Subcommittee

 

Lead Testing Company for Florida Has CCSS & Psych Testing Ties

In their ongoing efforts to deceive the public into believing that new non-Common Core tests are being developed for the state of Florida, a committee within the Department of Education has recommended that the commissioner choose the American Institutes for Research (AIR) to write the state tests in English and math that will be fully Common Core aligned. However, several media outlets are already doing a good job of showing how disingenuous that concept really is.

Jacob Engels of the East Orlando Post clearly documented that AIR is writing the test for Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC), the OTHER federally funded and supervised national testing consortium besides PARCC:


AIR in a Power Point presentation that is on the Utah State office of Education website, openly highlights the fact that they proved the test delivery for the Smarter Balance Consortium.
 
The Smarter Balance Consortium is a consortium of states throughout the country that have come together to try and create a centralized testing system much like PARCC. PARCC as you may remember was the national consortium that Florida was a part of until the Governor abruptly ordered the DOE to pull out of it because it was the Common Core's testing platform.  It was perceived to be an overreach by the federal government and a first step toward a national take over of education.
 
The Tea Party, which has been a big supporter of Governor Scott, has been the primary adversary of PARCC and the Common Core standards. So it seems odd that now the DOE would reverse course pulling out of PARCC, but choose what appears to be the twin sister of PARCC.  I can't imagine this decision would sit well with Scott's Tea Party base that has spilled blood, getting Florida to move away from the Common Core standards and forced the Governor to get out of the national consortium (PARCC). And lets not forget that the Governor is not the only candidate running this fall. The state legislature has a vested interest as well and I doubt they want to try and defend a surrogate sister of PARCC and one that has a spotty record.
 
Lynne Hatter of WUSF found similar issues in her reporting about the tests:

Florida's English and Math FCAT tests were supposed to be replaced with ones aligned Common Core standards. But pushback from critics has led officials to back away from those standards and from the PARCC testing consortium--a group of more than 20 states that had agreed to share the exams.  The Florida Department of Education allowed testing companies to bid on developing new exams, and earlier this week a committee recommended the American Institutes for Research to be Florida's new testing company. AIR has helped build and implement state exams for Ohio, Minnesota, Utah and Oregon, to name a few. And while the company's head of testing, John Cohen, declined to talk specifically about the company's bid for a Florida contract, he did talk about how Oregon's tests are administered:

"In fact, the state testing director from Oregon is now the Chief Operating Officer of smarter balanced," he said.

Smarter Balanced is the *other* Common Core-aligned testing consortium. Cohen says the Oregon model uses computers to administer exams--and AIR tests can run on both new and old machines -- everything from old PC's to new ipads.

Here is an illustration of how the computer adapted testing works:

There is no way using this that there will be uniform testing across the nation of Common Core standards as proponents claim, much less across a single classroom, because the tests will change from person to person.  One computerized testing gurul, Dr. Dustin Heuston with the WICAT group (World Institute for Computer Assisted Technology) said back in 1986:
"We've been absolutely staggered by realizing that the computer has the capability to act as if it were ten of the top psychologists working with one student.
You've seen the tip of the iceberg."

What is very important to know but was not reported in either story is that AIR describes itself as "one of the world's largest behavioral and social science research and evaluation organizations." This is more evidence that psychological teaching and testing is part of Common Core and the standards, by whatever name they are deceptively being labeled that are taught and tested in Florida, despite the concerns raised in the governor's executive order.

In addition, if AIR is developing tests for SBAC, then one has to wonder if they signed a similar agreement to PARCC and SBAC to give the US Department of Education individual student test data for "research" and "linking."

This "bait and switch" is unacceptable.  Switching from one federal test to another is not making these "Florida's test" any more than the "minor" and cosmetic changes to the standards made them "Florida's standards."  Please let your legislators know that you expect to be treated more intelligently and with far more respect than this. Florida's standards and tests need to be Florida's in more than name.

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