Revelations of AIR Involvement in Miami Dade & Pasco Mental Screening & Attitudinal Profiling

The American Institutes for Research (AIR) is already extremely problematic both as the creator of the Smarter Balance (SBAC) computer adaptive testing platform and as statewide test provider for numerous other states  that include Florida, Arizona, Montana, West Virginia, and now Ohio.  We have chronicled these problems that include:


As evidence of their student psychological and attitudinal profiling and data mining mounts, AIR continues to prove that they should not be the ones responsible for testing millions of American students via federally mandated, funded, and or supervised tests for either the SBAC federal consortium or for individual states.  Here are the latest revelations:

1) AIR is involved with the US Departments of Education and Justice to implement an Orwellian data gathering, monitoring, and psychological screening program in the Miami Dade Schools and across the country called The Campus Shield Initiative.  This program involves an alarming amount of data collection combined with subjective and ineffective mental health screening of every child in a school, ostensibly to allow law enforcement and school officials to prevent violence.  The program plans are revealed on the website:
"One major recent development in preventative policing efforts is the use of social media by police to circumvent threats. The use of social media in school crime prevention is particularly relevant, considering the rise of Internet threats as precursors to school violence.  With little effort, police are able to access information posted on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or other social media sites.  
 
In order to evaluate the effectiveness of the Campus Shield package, experimental testing will be conducted, which will also contribute knowledge to the field about the impact of such complex interventions. Campus Shield, however, effectively integrates data from RMS, CAD, and MFR, along with data from other law enforcement agencies (including local, county, federal, and state); visitor access and video surveillance records; the M-DCPS Blackboard Connect system; M-DCPS student records; Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers; and social media. This integration of data from multiple information sources presents a major departure from "business as usual" for police agencies and many school districts.
 
Campus shield...develop early warning signals of trouble, including individual students facing mental health issues that may need services (All emphasis added)
 
Here are just a few quotes from experts showing that how difficult it is to actually correctly diagnose children and adolescents with mental illness and or to predict which of those will be violent:
Quotes from Washington Post Interviews of Experts after the Newtown, CT Shooting
  • "'There is no instrument that is specifically useful or validated for identifying potential school shooters or mass murderers,'" said Stephen D. Hart, a psychologist at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver who is the co-author of a widely used evaluation tool. 'There are many things in life where we have an inadequate evidence base, and this is one of them.'"
  • "The task of identifying violence-prone individuals is even trickier with young people, who have shorter histories and whose normal development often includes a period of antisocial behavior"
  • "Over the years, studies have shown that psychiatrists' accuracy in identifying patients who would become violent was slightly better than chance -- "obviously not good enough, given what's at stake for public safety as well as for civil liberties," said John Monahan, a University of Virginia psychologist who helped direct the MacArthur study."
  • The prospect that the most recent massacre, or the next one, could lead to efforts to find young men contemplating the killing of strangers worries many people. Among those expressing concern are some psychologists and former patients forcibly swept into the mental health system and treated against their will. 'I think people are going toward wanting all their kids to be screened in high school for mental illness and violence risk -- and that's a bad idea,' said Gina M. Vincent, a forensic psychologist at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.  'That's my biggest fear of what's going to come out of this.'"
  • "For the general public, there's no screening tool for violence, and nobody expects that there ever will be."
"At present, most psychiatric disorders lack validated diagnostic biomarkers, and although considerable advances are being made in the arena of neurobiology, psychiatric diagnoses are still mostly based on clinician assessment." (Jeste, D (President of the American Psychiatric Association) The New DSM Reaches the Finish Line Huffington Post 12/11/12 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dilip-v-jeste-md/dsm-5_b_2280155.html)

"Childhood and adolescence being developmental phases, it is difficult to draw clear boundaries between phenomena that are part of normal development and others that are abnormal." (World
Health Organization (2001) World Health Report)
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This is the high tech version of the long standing big brother joint effort between the US Departments of Education and Justice called Early Warning, Timely Response that has as one of its seven warning signs of potential violence and instability - "Intolerance for Differences and Prejudicial Attitudes:"
"All children have likes and dislikes. However, an intense prejudice toward others based on racial, ethnic, religious, language, gender, sexual orientation, ability, and physical appearance when coupled with other factors may lead to violent assaults against those who are perceived to be different."
 
Of course these highly subjective "other factors" are never explained.This is quite similar to the Office of Civil Rights within the Department of Education gathering data based on actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity or religion. How does one know what the perceived condition is? There was the exact same language in a bullying amendment for the Senate's Every Child Achieves Act and present in a joint White House and USDOE blog:

Bullying is an epidemic that has gone ignored for too long, and far too many of our young people are targeted and harassed based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. 
 
It is also extremely important to know that the overuse of very ineffective psychotropic drugs with harmful or fatal side effects has proliferated in recent years due to similar mental screening programs like TeenScreen that had to shut down due to lawsuits over consent issues required by the federal Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment, lack of validity studies, and unseemly connections to the pharmaceutical industry.Setting aside for a moment the critical civil liberties issues, the screening in Campus Shield will also be unlikely to be helpful either, because there will be a tendency to use these medications that actually cause violent and suicidal reactions in and of themselves.Here is some of that evidence:
To varying degrees,  all psychiatric drugs are associated with both increased suicidal thoughts and ideation as well as akathesia, an extreme inner sense of agitation, which can and has been associated with at least 64 incidents of violence at schools, including mass shootings like Columbine, Red Lake, and as it appears, Newtown.  There are at least two reports that have not been discredited that Adam Lanza was on some type of medication.  Here is a chart showing the gun related incidents resulting in deaths in the US derived from www.ssristories.org
 
 
The likelihood of this policy turning schools into a politically correct free speech zones with severe curtailment of free speech and religious liberty as well as potential for forced or at least incorrect and dangerous mental health treatment is alarmingly high. As the first set of quotes above from the Washington Post shows, even trained psychiatrists and psychologists cannot accurately determine who is going to be violent among people that have already diagnosed mental illness.The next several quotes in that group show how subjective mental health diagnosis really is, especially for young people.If trained experts cannot get it right, it is highly unlikely that screening based on social media posting is going to be accurate or helpful.There are also major issues of consent and civil liberties that are at risk in this situation.This program should be stopped in its tracks.
 
2) AIR will also be involved in tracking much data about school discipline events in order to monitor if there is discrimination in how discipline is meted out:
"Addressing the Root Causes of Disparities in School Discipline, An Educator's Guide, helps schools and districts address persistent disparities in school discipline. It includes tools to assess and systematically address disparities in a data informed manner that looks at causes that go beyond discipline and may begin earlier in a student's life."
 
This will involve collecting and evaluating a ten page list of data elements about discipline incidents based on "gender, race, ethnicity, disability, and sexual identity, and for other subgroups." Then schools "will learn how to identify and understand the factors that contribute to them by conducting a root cause analysis."
 
This is turning school discipline into identity politics.The far more likely reason that certain minority students have greater problems with discipline is not because of racial discrimination, but because they are sadly more likely to be from families that have only one parent.This has been borne out in myriad studies of students from single parents regardless of race having worse outcomes in areas related to academic achievement, discipline, crime, drug use, and teen pregnancy.Conversely there is strong research in a study of over 20,000 minority students by Dr. William Jeynes of the University of California at Santa Barbara showing complete elimination of the achievement gap if those students are from two parent families and those families have religious involvement:
 
The Effects of Black and Hispanic 12th Graders Living in Intact Families and Being Religious on Their Academic Achievement.
Jeynes, William H.
Urban Education, v38 n1 p35-57 Jan 2003
Used data from the National Educational Longitudinal Survey to examine the impact of student religious commitment and living in intact families on academic achievement among black and Hispanic 12th graders. Students with intact families and high levels of religiosity scored as well as all white students on most achievement measures and higher than their black and Hispanic counterparts without intact families or high religiosity.  (Emphasis added).
 
Instead of punishing already stressed schools about disparate discipline, the federal government and states should promote two parent family formation by not punishing paternal involvement in welfare policy and reforming no-fault divorce laws.
 
3) AIR is psychologically profiling students by promoting the use of the extremely subjective Gallup Student Survey to study school climate in the Pasco County schools that even it admits has no validity studies to justify its use:
 

This chart from AIR clearly states that the Gallup Student Survey has "no available tests of validity." In fact, of the seven studies and surveys listed in this document to be used for teacher evaluations, only one has any real validity studies listed and that is for principals, one is supposedly validated by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that is also doing studies with wireless skin conductance bracelets to measure heart rate of students as a means of measuring emotions, and all of the other five say, "no available tests of validity."
 
This is quite tragic, because AIR is already involved in putting forth student tests that are not valid and (see also confirmation from Utah officials), which are already being used for life changing high stakes purposes that include graduation, grade promotion, and teacher evaluations.They are compounding their crime by using invalid subjective surveys that are to be combined with these invalid tests that should have been validated as part of the $220 million Florida taxpayers have already spent for this ridiculous scheme.But instead despite assurances from the commissioner in testimony, there are no studies anywhere, and therefore citizens had to call for another validity study and have the state squander another $600,000 to only get one bid and hire a company that is not independent, but tied at the hip to AIR via sharing multiple employees.
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This all shows that the FL DOE did not do its due diligence on AIR, that jumping from the PARCC frying pan to the AIR/SBAC fire was an enormous mistake, and that all of Florida should follow Seminole Superintendent Walt Griffin's wise advice and use already vetted nationally norm referenced tests on paper.

Posted in Psychological Manipulation. Tagged as AIR, American Institutes for Research, Campus Shield, Gallup Student Survey, mental screening, perceived sexual orientation.

Startling Validity Failures from Florida's AIR FSA Contract

It is getting very hard to keep up with the American Institute for Research's educational malfeasance in the testing realm.  Parent Advocate Deb Herbage and Dr. Karen Effrem of FSCCC have reviewed the 2245 page contract between AIR and the Florida Department of Education.  Here are just a few of those revelations as Alpine spends another $600,000 of Florida taxpayer funds to do a validity study that should have already been done and that Commissioner Stewart promised was done.  The public has been told this test is going to cost the public $220 million over six  years. It is very important to verify what has been paid for has been done.

The following information was taken directly from the executed contract Contract #14-652 for the development of the state assessment (FSA) and Algebra I, Algebra II, and Geometry End of Course (EOC's) exams executed on 6/3/14. The contract was signed by Pam Stewart (FLDOE) and Vickie Brooks (AIR). [The full 2245 page contract is available at the Florida CFO website with all page numbers referencing this document].

1) Potentially Missing Linking, Validity and or Field Studies Have Florida Taxpayers Paid for Work Not Completed?

The FLDOE required in its ITN (Invitation to Negotiate) that:
7.6.0. Scaling, Equating, Scoring and Special Psychometric Studies (Pg. 77)
Excerpt from the ITN" Other than the annual regular psychometric operations, such as sampling, test construction, and SES for the assessment system, the contractor will conduct a set of special psychometric studies for these assessments, described in Section 7.6.3.6. (Pg. 77)
The contractor must show evidence that the Department's preferences are psychometrically defensible and operationally feasible. The respondent may include in the reply a different proposal for scaling, equating, and scoring of these assessments to obtain assessment results that are valid, reliable, and accurate. (Pg. 165)

AIR said in numerous places in its proposal that became the executed contract that its tests are psychometrically valid and reliable. Here is one example:

AIR's Assessment Program offers psychometric and statistical services that stand alone in terms of quality and innovation. The integration of psychometrics with statistics and sampling sets AIR apart from the competition. Although testing firms often bring expertise in psychometrics, the quality of those services depends dramatically on the samples on which the data are based. Typical samples used in state testing programs can undercut the best psychometrics, leading to volatile test results from year to year and inaccurate classification of examinees. AIR combines expertise in sampling and psychometrics; all of our samples are optimized, and our statistics accurately reflect the complexities of the sample designs.

All of the following validity, field testing, and linking studies were agreed to by AIR and were due before the 2015 FSA ELA and math and the EOCs were given in the list of deliverables in the executed contract::











They were supposed to be verified by email from AIR to the FLDOE that they are completed.  We are attempting to verify if they have been completed, but instead of getting a direct response by Vince Verges who is the program manager (p. 2) and is responsible, according to the contract, for supervising the deliverables, he has referred us to the financial office within FLDOE:
 
7.7.9 Reimbursable Funding Categories
Six funding categories are designated for specified program functions and may be used only for those functions. Use of these funds requires authorization by the Department contract or program manager or program area leads. (p. 392-393)
 
If these studies regarding validity and field testing had been completed by the end of 2014 as shown above, why did Commissioner Stewart or the FLDOE not provide them to legislators as promised after her March 4th 2015 testimony proclaiming that the FSA was field tested in Utah and that it was "absolutely psychometrically valid and reliable"?
 
One document sent to senators from the FLDOE to verify the commissioner's testimony had nothing to do with the FSA or Utah test.  It was the technical report on the old FCAT and EOC tests.  Even it admitted that after all the years those tests had been in use, there is still doubt about whether they are valid for use in high stakes decisions:

Less strong is the empirical evidence for extrapolation and implication. This is due in part to the absence of criterion studies. Because an ideal criterion for the FCAT 2.0 or EOC assessments probably cannot be found, empirical evidence for the extrapolation argument may need to come from several studies showing convergent validity evidence. Further studies are also needed to verify some implication arguments. This is especially true for the inference that the state's accountability program is making a positive impact on student proficiency and school accountability without causing unintended negative consequences. (Emphasis added).

Aside from this not being about the same test, based on different standards, using a different developer and from a different state, the above quote completely negates the validity of the FCAT, which had been in place for years, much less the FSA which is still being put together on the fly.
 

If after the many years that we have had the FCAT 2.0, they STILL don't know if the test is adequately measuring and having a positive effect on student proficiency, that the use in accountability is valid, and that this whole system is not having unintended negative consequences, how in the world can they say anything about the validity of the FSA? There is nothing here to answer the questions about the Utah field test. In fact, the word Utah does not appear in above quoted report.

And in addition, efforts to verify that the Utah test had been validated have been unsuccessful. As extensively described by the Utah blog, What is Common Core? Education Without Representation, prominent Utah child psychologist Dr. Gary Thompson offered a $100,000 reward for evidence on validation that was never claimed. Here is a letter from a Utah school board member to Senator David Simmons (R-Altamonte Springs) to verify that the Utah State Office of Education had never supplied the requested validation documents, documents that according to Stewart, if the Utah test was validated, should be easily available:


 

2) FLDOE Did Not Ask Testing Company (AIR) to Produce Validity Studies on Using Test Scores for the Extremely Consequential High Stakes Decisions of High School Graduation and Third Grade Promotion in the ITN.
FLDOE in its Invitation to Negotiate (ITN), mentions the requirement for the contractor to set cut scores for the high stakes decisions of retention and graduation:

The contractor is responsible for facilitating the Department's process to establish achievement levels and associated cut scores for the Florida Standards ELA/L, Mathematics, Algebra 1, Algebra 2, and Geometry Assessments; achievement levels, passing scores, retention cut for grade 3 ELA/L, graduation standards for ELA/L, and achievement levels and passing scores for the Algebra 1, Algebra 2, and Geometry Assessments in consultation with Florida educators and citizens. (Emphasis added p. 170)

Because FLDOE did not even ask for any company to make sure that their tests were valid for these extremely important decisions, AIR had to offer to provide these additional studies:
  • We also provide as a separate cost option other validity studies that may be useful to support the goals of the state. These studies are not requested in the ITN, and for this reason, we propose them as optional studies AIR is prepared to implement for Florida if selected.
  • These studies are centered on the high-stakes nature of the test scores and their uses in student-level promotion/graduation and the teacher accountability system using test scores.
  • The additional validity studies we propose focus on evidence needed to support the following uses of the test scores in the Florida accountability system:
  • Evidence to support the use of the grade 3 level 2 cut score for determining student level promotion decisions
  • Evidence to support the use of the level 3 cuts as a graduation requirement for the
  • end-of-course exams (Emphasis added p. 909).
Unfortunately, there is no evidence on the deliverable list that FLDOE accepted the offer to do them there is no mention of third grade or graduation on the list of deliverables.

How many lives has Florida already ruined with this unsubstantiated policy given that the FCAT technical report already admits they still need more information that these policies are having the desired effect? (See full quote from FCAT validity study in question 1). How many more will be affected by this decision not to verify the use of the FSA for these policies? In what legal and financial jeopardy will this decision not tovalidate the cut scores for the high stakes decisions place the state and the taxpayers of Florida?

Contact Information:
Dr. Karen Effrem , Executive Director of  Stop Florida Common Core Coalition
1-866-376-5550
dockaren@flstopcccoalition.org

Deb Herbage
Parent Advocate
Common Core Discussion Group
1-617-771-3184
dezignzbydeb@verizon.net
 

Posted in Testing. Tagged as AIR, Alpine, American Institutes for Research, Deb Herbage, Dr. Karen Effrem, FSA, Pam Stewart, testing, Utah, validity.

Analysis of Amendments & Votes for HR 5 - The Student Success Act

The US House of Representatives completed the consideration of their version of the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) currently called No Child Left Behind (NCLB) on July 8th. This process began in February but was halted thanks to the great opposition by all of us working together - parents, teachers and other citizens that oppose the ever expanding federal role in education.

While this bill is definitely much better than the Senate Every Child Achieves Act (ECAA), it still has many fatal flaws.  (See also HERE). These include:

  • Cementing of Common Core via the requirement in state plans that must be approved by the secretary that states have college and career ready standards
  • Continuation of the federal mandate of annual tests with their continued psychological profiling and data mining
  • Removal of the prohibition on attitudinal profiling in the mandated statewide tests
  • No real enforcement mechanism for states that are bullied by federal interference in standards or tests such as Common Core
The vote was a very narrow 218-213 with every single Democrat opposing the bill due to not enough federal control but ultimately doing the right thing and 27 Republicans opposing it due to still too much control. We thank all who voted against this bill, but especially mention and thank the Republicans who were courageous enough to stand against their leadership in order to support the rights of students, parents, teachers, and local school districts over corporations and the federal government.  We especially thank the Florida delegation who had the most no votes of any state in the country -  Republicans Clawson, DeSantis, Miller, and Yoho and Democrats: Graham, Brown, Grayson, Castor, Murphy, Hastings, Deutch, Frankel, Wasserman Schultz, and Wilson. :

Amash (MI) Graves (LA) Meadows (NC)
Brooks (AL) Graves (MO) Miller (FL)
Buck (C0) Hice (GA) Rohrbacher (CA)
Clawson (FL) Huelskamp (KS) Rothfus (PA)
DeSantis (FL) Jones (NC) Sanford (SC)
DesJarlais (TN) Jordan (OH) Sensenbrenner (WI)
Fleming (LA) Joyce (OH) Stutzman (IN)
Gibson (NY) LoBiondo (NJ) Wenstrup (OH)
Gohmert (TX) Massie (KY) Yoho (FL)
 
There were 139 amendments offered to the Rules Committee for consideration.  Leadership allowed 48 of those to come to the floor for consideration.  Of those, 25 passed on a voice vote, 5 passed by roll call and the rest failed or were withdrawn.  As we did with the Senate NCLB rewrite called The Every Child Achieves Act (ECAA), here is a recap of major amendments and their votes based on various topics.

STANDARDS, TESTING AND ACCOUNTABILITY:  
Salmon R-AZ) Opt-Out Amendment 846 "Allows parents to opt their student out of the testing required under this bill and exempts schools from including students that have opted out in the schools' participation requirements." This was the best piece of language in HR 5 and was likely the amendment that garnered enough conservative support for the bill to pass.  The amendment passed 251-178. All but eleven Republicans supported it and all but 19 Democrats opposed it. In the Florida delegation,  we thank all the Republicans except Curbelo, Nugent, and Ros-Lehtinen who opposed it. We also thank Florida Democrats Graham, Grayson, and Murphy.

Zeldin (R-NY) Standards Opt-Out Amendment 53 "Allows a State to withdraw from the Common Core Standards or any other specific standards." This very bipartisan amendment passed by a vote of 373-57 with only 57 Democrats voting in opposition. The only Florida member to vote against it was Rep. Wasserman Schultz. However, it is largely symbolic, because, as explained by the American Principles in Action document discussing the bill's problems, HR 5 requires the alignment of state standards, assessments, and accountability systems to the Common Core:
a. The Statement of Purpose in Sec. 1001 of HR 5 is defined using the exact same language as Common Core's college-and-career-ready: "[T]o graduate from high school prepared for postsecondary education and the workforce without remediation." (Sec. 1001). It is a requirement in HR 5 that state standards, assessments, and accountability systems align with the statement of purpose in Sec. 1001.
b. If the Secretary claims that any part of the plan submitted by the state fails to fulfill the requirements of the Act that is, that in his opinion, it fails "to [prepare students to] graduate from high school prepared for postsecondary education and the workforce without remediation"the Secretary can deny the state plan. Sec. 1111(e)(2).
c. States will be pressured into keeping the Common Core rather than risk having their plans disapproved for using different standards or aligned assessments.

Goodlatte (R-VA) Local Assessments Amendment 28
"Would provide flexibility to localities by providing States with the authority to allow local educational agencies to administer their own, locally designed academic assessment system, in place of the State-designed academic system. The same requirements as laid out by this Act for State-designed academic assessments would also apply to any locally designed academic assessment."
This passed by a voice vote.  Because it still requires all of the heavy handed federal alignment and control discussed above for the local tests as for the state assessments, it is not very likely to restore any local control over assessments.

Bonamici (D-OR) Assessment Funding Amendment 46 "Amendment allows State educational agencies and eligible entities to use Local Academic Flexible Grant funds to audit and streamline assessment systems; eliminate unnecessary assessments; and improve the use of assessments." This passed by voice vote but as also explained above will not solve the testing control by the federal government nor the problems of psychological profiling, data mining, or over-testing. 

Wilson (D-FL) Assessment Transparency Amendment 42 "Requires school districts to be transparent in providing information to parents at the beginning of the school year on mandated assessments the student will have to take during the school year and any school district policy on assessment participation" This somewhat helpful, but largely symbolic language passed on a voice vote. As Lee County, Florida Board of Education found out when they tried to exercise their rights under the Florida Constitution to opt out of the statewide assessments, they were immediately threatened with loss of federal and state funds, recalling of board members, and other sanctions to the point that they had to rescind their vote within a week.

STATE PLANS:
Already complicated enough and making the states subservient to the US Department of Education with the secretary's' approval or disapproval of state plans, the House accepted by voice vote two more stipulations for the state plans and data collection.  One was by Michigan Democrat Lawrence on foster youth and the other was by Texas Democrat Castro on college readiness for homeless youth.

SHORTENING THE REAUTHORIZATION PERIOD
Because of the justifiable concern of cementing federal overreach or bad policy in place for 7-14 years as happened with NCLB, several amendments were submitted to shorten the ESEA/NCLB reauthorization period.  One was by Scott Garrett (R-NJ) shortening from 2021 to 2017 and another was by Glenn Grothman (R-WI) shortening the renewal from 2021 to 2018. The one that was accepted via voice vote was by Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education Subcommittee Chairman Todd Rokita, (R-IN) that shortened the period from 2021 to 2019.

MENTAL HEALTH/PSYCHOLOGICAL PROFILING AND MANIPULATION:
There are several concerning provisions in HR 5 discussed in the paper about federal psychological profiling and manipulation and the APIA paper on the Student Success Act.
The rewrite of the section that discusses state standards, assessments and accountability leaves out the key protection that prohibits the federally mandated state tests that "evaluate or assess personal or family beliefs and attitudes."  This was one of the few good pieces of language in No Child Left Behind.
  • HR 5 dictates particular types of testing that are extraordinarily expensive, have a history of failure, and are designed to inject more intrusive psychological data-collection and psychological profiling/manipulation into the assessments. Sec. 1111(b)(2)(B)(viii), (xiv).
  • HR 5 maintains NCLB's requirement that the state assessment produce not just test scores, but "individual student interpretive, descriptive, and diagnostic reports." Unlike NCLB, HR 5 requires assessment on behavioral/skills-based standards rather than truly academic standards. The data produced under this language could resemble a psychological profile of the student. Sec. 1111(b)(2)(B)(xi). States in the PARCC or Smarter Balanced assessment consortia are obligated to make those profiles available to USED.
  • HR 5 does nothing to stop the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) from implementing its planned and unconstitutional affective profiling
  • Title I funding includes funding for coordination of all sorts of health and social services, including mental health.
Believe it or not, despite all of these problems, this House bill is still much better than the Senate bill in this area of mental health.  Chairman Kline and the House Republicans are to be thanked and congratulated for not adding any more provisions on this topic. They turned down the Grayson (D-FL) Well Being Assessment Amendment 55  that "Requires the Secretary of Education to conduct an assessment of the impact of school start times on student health, well-being, and performance." This further opportunity for psychological data gathering fortunately was defeated by a vote of 198-228 with most Democrats (all but 5) voting in favor and most Republicans (all but 18) voting in opposition.

This is starkly unlike the amendments to ECAA in the Senate that added several more mental health provisions on top of too many that were already there.  Both NCLB rewrites plus the education research bill, Strengthening Research Through Education (SETRA), plus plans in the NAEP, and the Common Core standards and tests themselves show an enormous need for the language prohibiting psychological profiling that is in Senator David Vitter's Student Privacy Protection Act (SPPA S 1341).  Unfortunately, such language is nowhere to be found in the House Student Privacy Protection Act (HR 3157) that was just introduced on July 21st by Reps. Todd Rokita (R-IN) and Marcia Fudge (D-OH).

This issue is critical to be dealt with in the ESEA/NCLB rewrites, in SETRA, and in the modernization of the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) in this new privacy bill HR 3157.  However, given the influence of the corporations that thrive on our students' psychological data or profit from the sale of dangerous and ineffective psychotropic medications, whether that will happen remains to be seen.
 
EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION:
HR 5 does not contain the terrible baseline Early Learning Alignment and Improvement Grants found in the underlying Senate ECAA bill or the other "pay for performance" early childhood amendment that passed discussed in the analysis of ECAA.  For that, the House is to be thanked. The House did pass one early childhood amendment by Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA) that "requires local education agencies to develop agreements with Head Start and other agencies to carry out early childhood education activities." This seemingly innocuous amendment that passed by a voice vote, unfortunately ties every single pre-K program to the national early childhood Head Start standards that are required 11 times in the federal Head Start statute, that are being correlated to K-12 Common Core standards, and deal with such controversial issues as gender identity (p. 31).

Still, it is hoped that these problems can be discussed both for the conference committee for the ESEA/NCLB and for the upcoming reauthorization of Head Start. Unfortunately the president and the Democrats support early childhood programs and that will be an issue in conference discussions.

CONCLUSION:
Please continue to contact your members of Congress and make them aware of the many dangers in both ESEA/NCLB bills, especially during the upcoming August recess.  The goal for conference committee according to Senator Alexander is to get a bill that the president will sign. Political analysts believe that another major goal of the education and political establishment is to take education/Common Core/federal control out of discussion of the presidential election so that it will not continue to be a difficult issue for Jeb Bush who supports the terrible ECAA bill and the other pro-Common Core candidate John Kasich.  There is also speculation that the establishment interests do not want a potentially conservative president to be able shape federal education policy and actually curtail the federal role.  Bills that accomplish any of those goals would be disastrous.

Posted in Federal Education. Tagged as early childhood education, HR 5, opt-out, Psychological Profiling, Rep. Curt Clawson, Rep. Jeff Miller, Rep. John Kline, Rep. Matt Salmon, Rep. Ron DeSantis, Rep. Ted Yoho, Rep. Todd Rokita, Rep. Vern Buchanan, statewide tests, Student Success Act.

Analysis of Amendments and Votes for the US Senate Every Child Achieves Act

Karen R. Effrem, MD - Executive Director

Sadly, despite clear and detailed warnings from parents, teachers, activists, and policy experts, the US Senate passed its rewrite of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB)/Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) called The Every Child Achieves Act (ECAA S1170) on July 16th by a vote of 81-17.   Three Democrats voted against the bill because of not enough government control, but nonetheless did the right thing.  It is extremely clear that big government and big business interests, who are supporting pro-Common Core candidates like Jeb Bush, John Kasich, and Hillary Clinton, are colluding to cement federal control over American education.

We would like to thank the following senators for their opposition votes to the overall bill:
NAYs --17
Blunt (R-MO)
Booker (D-NJ)
Crapo (R-ID)
Cruz (R-TX)
Daines (R-MT)
Flake (R-AZ)
Lee (R-UT)
Moran (R-KS)
Murphy (D-CT)
Paul (R-KY)
Risch (R-ID)
Rubio (R-FL)
Sasse (R-NE)
Scott (R-SC)
Shelby (R-AL)
Vitter (R-LA)
Warren (D-MA)
Florida's other US Senator Bill Nelson did not vote on the bill or any amendments as he is recovering from cancer surgery. We wish him well.

Three of the five presidential candidates in the Senate Ted Cruz (R-TX), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Marco Rubio (R-FL) voted no. Bernie Sanders (I-VT, a member of the Socialist Party running for president as a Democrat) voted for the bill. The fifth, Lindsey Graham (R-SC), did not vote. Senator Sanders offered one amendment on youth unemployment that was rejected (see below). Senators Rubio and Graham did not offer any amendments to the bill, nor did they make any statements about it afterwards.  Here are the statements of Cruz, Paul, and Sanders:

Cruz:
 "While this bill makes some improvements to the status quo, it ultimately falls short of empowering parents and local school districts. To that end, it is a missed opportunity for meaningful change.

"Decisions regarding our children's future should be placed in the hands of those closest to students, and that is teachers and parents. This is why I introduced an amendment to give states the flexibility to develop their own accountability standards, rather than meeting criteria outlined by federal bureaucrats in the Washington cartel. This type of federal control has led to the failed, top-down policies that produced Common Core. We also had the opportunity today to significantly advance school choice for low-income students, giving them a chance to succeed at a public or private school of their choosing. Unfortunately, my colleagues in the Senate rejected these amendments, perpetuating the same tired approach that continues to fail our children.

"When the federal government is in charge, the most common outcome is accepting the lowest common denominator. When it comes to the future of our country and our children's future, the lowest common denominator is simply unacceptable. We can do better and our children deserve better."

Paul:
"I believe education is the great equalizer, but Washington's intrusion in the classroom leaves most kids behind. This bill is not the solution, as it retains some of No Child Left Behind's biggest flaws a lack of adequate parental choice, a federal testing mandate, and continued support for Common Core," Sen. Paul said.
 
Sanders:
"On Thursday, the Senate passed the Every Child Achieves Act, which would fundamentally reform No Child Left Behind. The law would replace the current high-stakes standardized testing model with an approach that would give Vermont significant flexibility to determine how to intervene in struggling schools. As a member of the Senate Education Committee, Sanders had a role in crafting the bill and successfully fought to lower the stakes on standardized testing and to preserve a federal after-school program that serves thousands of low-income students around Vermont. The bill also included a pilot program written by Senator Sanders that would allow states to develop innovative alternatives to standardized testing."
 
Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN), who co-authored the bill with Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA), boasted after the bill passed about the "remarkable bipartisan consensus."   He tried to make those that voted  against the bill sound extreme by declaring that ECAA fixed about 80% of the problems with NCLB and that even Ronald Reagan said to be happy with getting 80% of what one wants.

Well, aside from the fact that things were not fixed, but made worse with this bill, here is a little history lesson for the senior senator from Tennessee.  There was an even more remarkable bipartisan consensus in Congress in 2001 when NCLB passed the Senate floor under Senator Edward Kennedy and President George W. Bush by a whopping 91-8 vote. Only eight senators had the constitutional and educational understanding to know what a disaster NCLB would be at this same point in the process. That number has more than doubled with ECAA, so from that perspective, the forces of educational freedom are actually making some progress. We especially also want to thank Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) who voted against NCLB as a congressman and remained consistent to vote against ECAA as a senator.  Also important to note is that Senators Mike Crapo (R-!D) and Richard Shelby (R-AL) voted for NCLB in 2001 and had the great sense to change their votes due to the major continued federal overreach, psychological profiling and expansion of invasive, Common Core aligned early childhood programs for ECAA and the strong work of the grassroots in their states.  They deserve great thanks for that!

It is very concerning that several senators look to be making the same disastrous mistake again of imposing punitive, ineffective, invasive, annual statewide testing on our students and teachers and all of the other flaws of NCLB that are falsely promised to be fixed in ECAA along with all of its new problems:
Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Michael Enzi (R-WY), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), John McCain (R-AZ), Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), ECAA Co-Author Patty Murray (D-WA), Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Jeff Sessions (R-AL),  Debbie Stabenow (R-MI), and Ron Wyden (D-OR) [James Inhofe (R-OK) voted against NCLB off the Senate floor, but voted for the final NCLB bill and voted in favor of ECAA].

Although the overall bill passed, there were a few small bright spots:

Senator Alexander listened to the grassroots and realized the huge error of removing the prohibition on attitudinal testing in the statewide assessments.  In an amendment adopted by voice vote on July 16th, he restored the prohibition in NCLB to make sure the state assessments "do not evaluate or assess personal or family beliefs and attitudes, or publicly disclose personally identifiable information." Here are statements released by Emmett McGroarty of American Principle in Action and myself in praise of this result:
Emmett McGroarty, Director of Education at American Principles in Action, said, "We are pleased that Senator Alexander has heard the concerns of parents and citizens and reinstated the prohibition on attitudinal testing in the statewide assessments. This is a good start. However, this addresses only one of the severe privacy and data collection problems with ECAA. Much more needs to be done to protect children."

Karen Effrem, M.D., president of Education Liberty Watch and executive director of the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition, added, "We hope this is an indication that Congress is going to rein in the many other places in ECAA, in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), in the Strengthening Education Through Research Act (SETRA), and in early childhood programs where federal regulation authorizes the federal government to collect personal information on the dispositions, emotions, and attitudes of American children."

The Senate also rejected, by a vote of 45-52, a universal preschool and home visiting program offered by Senators Robert Casey (D-PA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), and others that would have been implemented on top of the already very concerning Preschool Alignment and Improvement Grants that we have explained.  Senator Alexander should be thanked for leading the opposition to this nanny state expansion, even invoking one of our talking points about "Baby Common Core," instead calling it "Kindergarten Common Core." All of the Republicans correctly voted against this bad amendment, except for Graham and Rubio, who did not vote. Sanders voted in support.

The Republican majority also rejected another huge expansion of mental health grants offered by North Dakota Democrat Heidi Heitkamp by a vote of 58-39 (60 votes were needed for passage). Given that there are already more than 10 other places that ECAA expands mental health programs and psychological profiling of our children, this amendment was completely duplicative and unnecessary. Of the presidential candidates, Paul and Rubio correctly voted no, Sanders voted yes, Cruz and Graham did not vote. All Democrats voted yes and all Republicans voted no except: Ayotte (NH), Cassiday (LA), Collins (ME), Daines (MT), Ernst (IA), Heller (NV), Kirk (IL), Moran (KS), Murkowski (AK), Portman (OH), Sullivan (AK), and Thune (SD).

Finally, the Republicans led by Alexander wisely rejected the Markey (D-MA) amendment (SA 2176) to establish a federal climate change education program. The amendment failed by a vote of 44-53. All of the Republicans exceot two joined by Democrats Heitkamp (ND) and Tester (MT) opposed this controversial and scientifically unsound language while all of the Democrats/Independents voted for it joined by Republicans Ayotte and Kirk.  Graham did not vote.

Here is a recap of some of the other important amendments and votes that were largely disappointing for those wanting educational freedom in this now approximately 1000 page bill based on category (Please see the Congress.gov website for all of the amendments offered with links to language and a list of status, the Senate website for specific roll call votes on the amendments and S 1177 itself, and Education Week  for other summaries.)

TESTING:
Cruz amendment (SA 2180) to get rid of federal testing mandates This failed by a vote of 40-58. Presidential candidates Paul and Rubio joined Senator Cruz in voting for this important amendment.  Sanders voted against this great amendment favored by many Democrat teachers and Graham did not vote. All Democrats voted against this amendment and all Republicans voted for it except: Alexander, Ayotte, Capito (WV), Cochrane (MS), Corker (TN), Flake (AZ), Gardner (CO), Kirk, Portman, Rounds (SD), and Thune.  It is very sad that Republicans who say they are for smaller government voted against this effort to send control of testing back to the states and districts.

Lee amendment (SA 2162) to allow written parental testing opt out    Sadly, this also failed by a vote of 32-64. Every single Democrat and nineteen Republicans voted against this fundamental right of parents to direct the education of their children. Of the presidential candidates, Cruz and Paul correctly voted for this important amendment while Sanders voted against it, and Graham and Rubio did not vote.

Paul amendment (SA 2218) to permit parental opt out without being counted against the 95% participation mandate This is quite similar to the Salmon amendment that was one of the few really strong pieces of language to pass in HR 5, The Student Success Act, the House version of the NCLB rewrite. Senator Alexander did not allow this amendment to the floor.

Tester amendment (SA 2129) to reduce testing mandate to three times in grades 3-12 for English and math instead of annually This was never allowed to the floor for debate.
Isakson amendment (SA 2194) "to require local educational agencies to inform parents of any State or local educational agency policy, procedure, or parental right regarding student participation in any mandated assessments for that school year" This largely symbolic amendment will be basically useless for protecting parental opt-out rights due to the 95% participation and other mandates in the main bill, but it is all the administration, leadership of both parties, and the corporate interests were willing to accept.  It passed by a vote of 97-0 with Graham and Rubio not voting.

Murphy amendment (SA 2241) to reinstate the high stakes testing accountability of NCLB Fortunately, this failed by a complete party line vote of 43-54, with Democrats and Sanders supporting, Republicans opposing, and Cruz and Graham not voting. Teachers are appalled that the Democrats voted to return to the "test and punish" paradigm of NCLB.

Kirk amendment (SA 2161) to re-establish more test based accountability as in NCLB This amendment similar to the Murphy amendment also failed by mostly party line a vote of 40-56 (60 votes were required) with Democrat Tester and Independent King joining most all of the Republicans in opposition; Republicans Hatch, Heller, Kirk and Murkowski joining Sanders and the rest of the Democrats in support; and Cruz, Graham, and Blumenthal (D-CT) not voting.
 
PSYCHOSOCIAL PROFILING & MANIPULATION We described the positive development above of the rejection of the Heitkamp amendment, but unfortunately there were two other amendments that passed that will add to the already numerous provisions expanding this completely unacceptable federal activity in K-12 education:
Brown amendment (SA 2100) to restore the Full Service Community Schools grants from NCLB Despite Alexander's opposition, the horrific grant program that turns schools into a second or even first home for children and reduces parents to "breeders and feeders," passed 43-51.  Among the purposes of the program are to "ensure that children have the physical, social, and emotional well-being to come to school ready to engage in the learning process every day."  The grantee is supposed to do a means assessment that "identifies the academic, physical, social, emotional, health, mental health, and other needs of students, families, and community residents," which will include all sorts of mental health data gathering. The list  of services that can be offered is 23 items long and included mental health services and "other services consistent with this part." All of the Democrats plus Republicans Ayotte, Blunt (MO), Capito, Collins, Fischer (NE), Hoeven (ND), Isakson (GA), and Portman voted for this nanny state expansion while all of the rest of the Republicans, including presidential candidates Cruz and Paul wisely voted against it, Sanders voted for it, and Graham and Rubio did not vote.

Blunt amendment (SA 2195) to expand school based mental health services This amendment to add even more mental health services was unfortunately adopted by a voice vote.  This will result in more psychological profiling and data gathering, more improper and subjective mental health labeling, and more drugging of children with psychotropic medications that have harmful if not fatal side effects. (See HERE for citations).

Franken Amendment (SA 2093) "To end discrimination based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity in public schools" - This highly subjective, unconstitutional amendment failed by an unfortunate mostly party line vote of 52-45 (60 votes were required for passage. Ayotte (NH), Collins (ME), Kirk (IL), Heller (NV), Johnson (WI), Murkowski (AK) and Portman (OH) were the Republicans voting in support along with all of the Democrats). Presidential candidates Cruz and Paul rightly voted against this amendment and Sanders not surprisingly voted for it, while Graham and Rubio did not vote.   Senator Alexander led the opposition rightly saying that this is not a federal issue, but one belonging to states.  Regardless of one's views on this issue, it would be impossible for the federal government to fairly enforce a discrimination policy based on "perceived sexual orientation or gender identity" just as it is with the bullying bill or the athletic policy allowing transgendered athletes to play on the teams of their choice instead of their biological gender that have recently passed in Franken's home state of Minnesota. Completely inappropriate issues about gender identity and family structure diversity are appearing in preschool curriculum and state and national Head Start pre-K standards, which makes the preschool language that passed in ECAA all the more dangerous.

EARLY CHILDHOOD While appreciative that the Casey universal preschool amendment was defeated, there is still plenty of early childhood in the underlying Senate bill, so we do not understand why Republican Orrin Hatch (UT) had to have another early childhood provision addedl:

Hatch amendment
(SA 2082) to include "such as pay for success initiatives that promote coordination among existing programs and meet the purposes of this part"
This will require much more data gathering for the controversial pre-K assessments dealing with psychosocial issues, which is ironic because Hatch is supposed to be the data privacy guru in the Senate and he offered an amendment (see below) to "study student privacy issues." Alexander added it under an agreement and it unfortunately passed by a voice vote.

DATA PRIVACY There is much disturbing individual data gathering, including data on socioemotional issues that happens already thanks to Common Core related assessments, the current provisions in ESEA and other federal law and the 2012 regulatory gutting of the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).  There are also several data privacy bills that have been introduced including Senator David Vitter's Student Privacy Protection Act (SPPA), S 1341, which is the only one that deals with psychological data gathering.  While appreciative that they restored the prohibition on psychological data gathering in the statewide assessments, that provision is only one small step to protecting the minds and rights of conscience of our children.  So it is very disturbing that all the Senate can muster is a provision requiring a symbolic study commission to deal with student privacy issues.  Senator Hatch, author of the important but weakened Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA) is the author of that amendment.  It appears that the Obama administration efforts to expand data collection and the big business interests (Gates, Exxon) and  foundation partners (Jeb Bush's former foundation Foundation for Excellence in Education) such as those found in the Data Quality Campaign held sway over the Senate instead of parents and privacy advocates.  The amendment passed unanimously with a vote of 89-0 with the following 11 senators not voting:

Not Voting 11
Blunt (R-MO)
Cruz (R-TX)
Graham (R-SC)
Kirk (R-IL)
Murkowski (R-AK)
Nelson (D-FL)
Paul (R-KY)
Risch (R-ID)
Rubio (R-FL)
Toomey (R-PA)
Vitter (R-LA)

MISCELLANEOUS:
Coons (D-DE)/Rubio amendment (SA 2243) to establish American Dream accounts This bipartisan amendment to establish a trial grant program leading to college savings accounts had a number of competing interests. It supported the conservative value of saving for college in an effort to help poor children succeed and promotes dual enrollment which cuts college costs, but it is another federal spending program that requires much individual data collection to monitor if students are "college ready," which currently means compliance with Common Core.  It passed with a large majority vote of 68-30 with an interesting breakdown.  Conservative Ted Cruz joined fellow presidential candidates Rubio and Sanders and all of the Democrats in supporting it, along with establishment and conservative Republicans Ayotte, Blunt, Capito, Cotton, Crapo, Daines, Gardner (CO), Hoeven, Inhofe, Johnson, Kirk, McConnell, Risch, Sasse, Scott, Sullivan, Toomey, and Vitter.  All of the rest of the Republicans led by Alexander and including presidential candidate Paul voted in opposition.  Graham did not vote.

Sanders amendment (SA 2177) to reduce youth unemployment This amendment was to correct a very real problem of high minority youth incarceration by a very incorrect method of raising taxes to sponsor another ineffective federal program.  What Sanders and the federal government need to realize is that their social policies since the 1960s that have exploded the rates of out of wedlock births are what is responsible for this tragic circumstance.  Fortunately, this failed by vote of 43-55 mostly along party lines. Democrat Manchin and Independent King (ME who usually caucuses and votes with the Democrats) voted in opposition and Graham did not vote.

CONCLUSION:
This bill will have to be reconciled with the better, but still significantly flawed House bill, HR 5 The Student Success Act that barely passed the House on July 8th with every single Democrat and 27 conservative Republicans opposing it. President Obama has already issued a veto threat if the bill is too much like the House bill.  He apparently is not very pleased with the Senate bill either, but has fallen short of a veto threat.

Despite any discouragement, we must keep fighting to save the hearts and minds of our children and give them education for a free nation.  Please continue to inform your members of Congress about the many problems with both of these bills and demand that they leave these bills alone until after the next election. Anything that this president would sign would not be supportive of local control, parental rights and teacher autonomy given his administration's track record with Common Core and Race to the Top.
 

Posted in Federal Education. Tagged as Common Core, early childhood education, Every Child Achieves Act, Hillary Clinton, Jeb Bush, John Kasich, opt-out, Psychological Profiling, S 1177, Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Lamar Alexander, Senator Lindsey Graham, Senator Mike Lee, Senator Patty Murry, Senator Rand Paul, Senator Ted Cruzz, statewide testing.

Reasons to Support the Student Privacy Protection Act - S 1341 by Senator David Vitter

Karen R. Effrem, MD Executive Director
The following is a more detailed analysis of why congressional members' support of Senator David Vitter's (R-LA) privacy bill, the Student Privacy Protection Act (SPPA), S. 1341[1] is so important. This bill is the culmination of many discussions and the attentive listening of Senator Vitter with constituents, parents, pro-privacy attorneys and physicians, and others who have spent years fighting the data collection[2] associated with the Common Core standards and aligned assessments and the mental screening of children. Here is important information that will show that this legislation is a major step forward in improving student data privacy and protecting students' freedom of conscience and freedom from government directed psychological profiling.

SPPA Prohibits Psychological Screening:
One of the most exciting parts of SPPA, especially for analysts and activists like the author, who has been fighting mental screening and the over-diagnosis and drugging of children as young as infancy for more than a decade,[3] is the prohibition on psychological testing and the strengthening of the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment.  After defining various terms, the bill does not merely require consent for mental screening and assessment or surveying of psychological attitudes with federal funds (a completely inappropriate federal activity), it fully prohibits psychological screening and profiling. The only exception is for special education evaluations, which is already current law. Significantly, the bill extends the prohibition of psychological screening and profiling to assessments, and thus would also ban the more horrific features of the Common Core assessments.
Here is the key language of SPPA:

''(2) IN GENERAL.--Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no funds provided to the Department or Federal funds provided under any applicable program shall be spent to support any survey or academic assessment allowing any of the following types of data collection via assessments or any other means, including digitally[4] (Emphasis added):

This language protects a long list of affectively related surveying and testing parameters,[5] and is much more protective of students in this area than any other legislation, state or federal, introduced anywhere.

SPPA Closes the PPRA Loophole that Allows Psychological Screening in Regular Classroom Curricula and Assessments:
PPRA, which requires parental consent before surveying or evaluating students on eight categories of sensitive information[6], contains loopholes that render the privacy protections moot in the case of curriculum and assessments:

(4) Exceptions
(A) Educational products or services
Paragraph (1)(E) [the eight areas of sensitive information requiring parental  consent for surveys] does not apply to the collection, disclosure, or use of personal information collected from students for the exclusive purpose of developing, evaluating, or providing educational products or services for, or to, students or educational institutions, such as the following:
(iii) Curriculum and instructional materials used by elementary schools and secondary schools.
(iv) Tests and assessments used by elementary schools and secondary schools to provide cognitive, evaluative, diagnostic, clinical, aptitude, or achievement information about students (or to generate other statistically useful data for the purpose of securing such tests and assessments) and the subsequent analysis and public release of the aggregate data from such tests and assessments. (Emphasis added)

The Vitter language to include assessments in the prohibition on psychological testing and screening was designed specifically to close this gaping loophole.  This is also especially relevant because of the very recent news that the National Assessment of Educational Progress plans to assess non-cognitive, social emotional parameters[7]:

The nation's premiere federal testing program is poised to provide a critical window into how students' motivation, mindset, and grit can affect their learning...
...The background survey will include five core areas--grit, desire for learning, school climate, technology use, and socioeconomic status--of which the first two focus on a student's noncognitive skills, and the third looks at noncognitive factors in the school.

SPPA is also vitally important because of already documented intent of the Common Core standards and aligned assessments to psychologically manipulate and profile students (see these statements from U.S. Department of Education (USED) and other national education organization documents[8]):
  • "[A]s new assessment systems are developed to reflect the new standards in English language arts, mathematics, and science, significant attention will need to be given to the design of tasks and situations that call on students to apply a range of 21st century competencies that are relevant to each discipline. A sustained program of research and development will be required to create assessments that are capable of measuring cognitive, intrapersonal, and interpersonal skills." (Emphasis added).[9]
  • "There are important opportunities to leverage new and emerging advances in technology (e.g., educational data mining, affective computing, online resources, tools for teachers) to develop unprecedented approaches for a wide range of students."[10]
  • "In national policy, there is increasing attention on 21st-century competencies (which encompass a range of noncognitive factors, including grit), and persistence is now part of the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics."[11] (Emphasis added.)
  • "National model standards often contain elements of social and emotional learning. For example, 42 states and two territories are in the process of adopting the Common Core Standards in Math and English Language Arts, which contain standards on communication (especially speaking and listening), cooperation skills, and problem solving."[12] (Emphasis added.)
  • "ASCA [American School Counselors Association] Mindsets & Behaviors align with specific standards from the Common Core State Standards through connections at the competency level."[13] (Emphasis added).
  • "There are many other Common Core Standards that these social and emotional basic skills can be integrated with."[14] (Emphasis added.)
 
SPPA Prevents Psychological Profiling of our Students through the IES/NCES Reauthorization (SETRA):
SPPA actually preemptively prohibits social and emotional research on school children to prevent expansion into socioemotional research by the Institute for Education Sciences and The National Center for Education Statistics in S. 227, the Strengthening Research Through Education Act (SETRA) by Senator Lamar Alexander, about which several organizations have warned.[15]

Here is the problematic language in SETRA:
"and which may include research on social and emotional learning, and the acquisition of competencies and skills, including the ability to think critically, solve complex problems, evaluate evidence, and communicate effectively. . . "[16] (Emphasis added).

USED is already in flagrant violation of the Tenth Amendment and probably the Fourth Amendment with the amount of data collected and disclosed on individual children, families, and teachers. The Vitter language stops the federal government from researching the thoughts, feelings, attitudes, and behaviors of free American citizens, especially innocent children:

''(4) NO NATIONAL ASSESSMENT USING PSYCHOLOGICAL DATA
.--No funds provided to the Department or to an applicable program may be used to pilot test, field test, implement, administer, or distribute in any way any federally sponsored national assessment collecting any psychological data or any federally sponsored research on social-emotional data in education. (Emphasis added).

This bill stops the unacceptable expansion of IES and NCES into the realm of affective research in their SETRA reauthorization.

SPPA Adds Important Protection against 2nd Amendment Data Collection to PPRA:
SPPA contains all of the same important protective elements as the current PPRA statute, and adds "Personal or family gun ownership," to prevent nosy bureaucrats from snooping into if and how students and their families are exercising their Second Amendment rights.

SPPA Helps Limit the Millions of Data Points on Students, Teachers, and Families Collected by Third Party Vendors:
SPPA changes the term "education records" to "education data." There are myriad types of data outside of "educational records" that are already being collected without parental consent, especially by third-party vendors. A Politico investigation[17] showed that private corporations have access to up to "ten million" data points on every child and described one company's efforts:

"Interactive Health Technologies stores multi-year fitness records on students, based on data from heart monitors they wear in P.E., and integrates them with 'unlimited data points' from the classroom, including behavioral and nutrition records."

The term "student record" originated in 1974, when the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) was first written, and when records were on paper and kept in filing cabinets.  There were no online/digital data gathering, no cloud computing, and no student longitudinal databases.

The idea for the change in terminology came from testimony by Professor Joel Reidenberg, a law professor and privacy expert from Fordham University Law School (to be distinguished from the decidedly pro-Common Core Thomas B. Fordham Institute), who has been one of the few pro-privacy experts to be allowed to testify in Congress, amongst the corporate shills and bureaucrats who want to grab as much student data as possible.  Here is an excerpt from his testimony[18]:

Update the definition of "Educational Record"
FERPA covers "educational records" in a very narrow sense and contemplated only those records that were originally kept in central administration files such as transcripts. The statute also specifically carves out an exemption for "directory information" including a student's name, address, date of birth, telephone number, age, sex, and weight.
 
The 1974 definition and the directory information exclusion no longer make sense in 2015. Much of the data gathered and used in the context of online services will be outside the scope of the existing definition. For example, metadata gathered from a learning app used by a child in school that was then compiled to create a profile of the child for content delivery would not be an "educational record" and would fall outside the bounds of FERPA. Similarly, information developed by a school's transportation company identifying the street corners where 6th graders wait to take the school bus would fall outside FERPA and could be disclosed for advertising purposes and even possibly disclosed to non-custodial parents. Likewise, a child's homework assignment saved or shared with a teacher on a third party service would not be an "educational record" and would not be protected by FERPA.

For meaningful protection of student privacy in this environment, FERPA needs to encompass any information gathered about children for educational and school related uses. This would include profiles, whether or not identified to specific students, if those profiles will have an effect on the child's education or school related services.
 
This is a very important update to FERPA.

SPPA Reins in Data Collection by Third Party Contractors:
While there is always more work to do, SPPA goes a long way to rein in third-party contractors and actually imposes financial penalties and allows private lawsuits for data breaches and disclosure of data.  In addition, SPPA requires parental consent for ALL personally identifiable information accessed by third-party vendors, including directory information and student ID numbers[19]:

"(8) LIMITATIONS ON THIRD PARTY USE.--Notwithstanding paragraph (1) or any other provision of this section (not including paragraph (6)), no funds provided to the Department or under any applicable program may be provided to an educational agency (including a State educational agency) or institution that allows any third party (including any contractor or other person acting under direct control of the agency or institution) to access student data of students, including personally identifiable information and directory information, unless--
"(A) the agency or institution receives consent from the parents of the student for the student data to be made available to the third party;
"(B) prior to receiving the consent described in subparagraph (A), the agency or institution provides the parents with notice, not less than 30 days before the records would be provided to such outside party if consent is obtained, that informs the parent--
"(i) of the student data that would be accessed;
"(ii) that the student data will only be made available if the parent consents;
"(iii) that the parent have the ability, under subsection (a), to access the student data of their students held by the agency or institution or outside party, and a description of the process to make corrections for inaccurate data; and
"(iv) that the agency or institution and the outside party are liable for any violation of this section and that the remedies described in subsection (k) are available;   (Emphasis added)

SPPA Prevents Federal Government Data Cross Matching and Career Tracking:
SPPA requires any data outside the district to be "aggregated, anonymized, and de-identified."  It also prohibits federal data cross matching, longitudinal tracking, and career tracking.[20]

Look at Who Is Supporting and Opposing SPPA:
Perhaps the best indicator of the value of SPPA is the enemies it has drawn. The Data Quality Campaign, which is heavily funded[21] by pro-Common Core groups and anti-privacy corporations that stand to profit from access to our children's sensitive data, has attacked SPPA and lamented that Sen. Vitter's "intent is to respond to parents' concerns" (DQC meant this as a criticism!)[22]. In addition, the American Education Research Association, another group that makes its living on our children's data, is opposed.[23] AERA's president said in an email, "This legislation, if it were to pass, would have a devastating impact on the quality of education research." The federal government and these organizations do not have an automatic right to our children's sensitive data without at least consent.  They should have zero right to psychologically profile our children.  The safety and privacy of data, thoughts, and beliefs of our students, teachers, and their families is of far higher importance than the convenience of a bunch of bureaucrats, researchers and corporations

In contrast, several important conservative organizations (such as Home School Legal Defense Association, Eagle Forum, and Concerned Women for America[24]), in addition to the organizations represented by the author of this paper, are supporting this bill. These have made protecting the privacy rights of children and families a high priority for a long time, even before Common Core and the IES.

One privacy expert (unaffiliated with any of the supportive organizations) said of this legislation, "The Vitter bill is not perfect, but it is the strongest and most authentic educational privacy bill out there." This bill greatly deserves support.

*******************************************************

NOTES:
[1] https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/senate-bill/1341/text?q={%22search%22%3A[%22\%22s1341\%22%22]}
[2] http://pioneerinstitute.org/download/cogs-in-the-machine-big-data-common-core-and-national-testing/
[3] Dr. Effrem has been opposing invasive, subjective mental health screening from infancy through adolescence for many years by:
 
[4] SPPA Section 6 (2)

[5] SPPA protects:
''(A) Any data collected via affective computing, including analysis of facial expressions, EEG brain wave patterns, skin conductance, galvanic skin response, heart-rate variability, pulse, blood volume, posture, and eye-tracking''
(B) Any data (including any resulting from national or State assessments) that measure psychological resources, mindsets, learning strategies, effortful control, attributes, dispositions, social skills, attitudes, intrapersonal resources, or any other type of social, emotional, or psychological parameter.
''(C) Any data collected through predictive modeling to be used to detect behaviors, beliefs, or value systems, or for predicting or forecasting student outcomes.
''(D) Any type of psychological data, including assessment of non-cognitive skills or attributes, psychological resources, mindsets, learning strategies, effortful control, attitudes, dispositions, social skills, or other interpersonal or intrapersonal resources collected via any national or State student assessment.
[6] These are the categories listed in PPRA:
(b) Limits on survey, analysis, or evaluations
No student shall be required, as part of any applicable program, to submit to a survey, analysis, or evaluation that reveals information concerning - (1) political affiliations or beliefs of the student or the student's parent; (2) mental or psychological problems of the student or the student's family; (3) sex behavior or attitudes; (4) illegal, anti-social, self-incriminating, or demeaning behavior; (5) critical appraisals of other individuals with whom respondents have close family relationships; (6) legally recognized privileged or analogous relationships, such as those of lawyers, physicians, and ministers; (7) religious practices, affiliations, or beliefs of the student or student's parent; or (8) income (other than that required by law to determine eligibility for participation in a program or for receiving financial assistance under such program), without the prior consent of the student (if the student is an adult or emancipated minor), or in the case of an unemancipated minor, without the prior written consent of the parent.
 
[7] http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2015/06/03/nations-report-card-to-gather-data-on.html?cmp=ENL-EU-NEWS2-RM

[8] See more details on the psychological manipulation of Common Core at http://bit.ly/1AElgkm

[9] U.S. Department of Education Office of Technology Promoting Grit, Tenacity, and Perseverance: Critical Factors for Success in the 21st Century  February 2013  removed from http://www.ed.gov/edblogs/technology/files/2013/02/OET-Draft-Grit-Report-2-17-13.pdf but now available at http://www.flstopcccoalition.org/files/F6A22756-73E4-4406-BC0F-F9E8340A37C6--E36F73DA-E434-44F5-B829-1C27BAA8532F/grit-tenacity-and-perseverance-feb-2013-doe.pdf

[10] Ibid

[11] Ibid

[12] Linda Dusenbury - State Learning Standards to Advance Social and Emotional Learning: The CASEL State Scan of Social and Emotional Learning Standards: Preschool through High School Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning, April 2011 http://casel.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Brief-on-the-State-Scan-4-18-2011.pdf

[13] American School Counselors Association - Change Behaviors by Changing Mindsets - https://www.schoolcounselor.org/magazine/blogs/november-december-2014/change-behaviors-by-changing-mindsets

[14] EduThompson Blog  - Integrating Social Emotional Curricula and the Common Core 7/20/13 http://insidetheclassroomoutsidethebox.wordpress.com/2013/07/07/integrating-social-emotional-curricula-and-the-common-core/

[15]
http://edlibertywatch.org/2015/02/s227-setra-is-a-federal-data-mining-bill-that-destroys-student-privacy/ and http://www.americanprinciplesinaction.org/apia-education/conservative-group-urges-congress-to-oppose-social-and-emotional-student-data-collection-bill/

[16] S 227 Section 132(1)(I) https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/senate-bill/227/text?q={%22search%22%3A[%22\%22s227\%22%22]}

[17] http://www.politico.com/story/2014/05/data-mining-your-children-106676.html

[18] http://edworkforce.house.gov/uploadedfiles/reidenberg_testimony_final.pdf, see page 4

[19] SPPA  Section 3 (8)

[20] SPPA Section 3 (9) & (10)

[21] http://www.dataqualitycampaign.org/who-we-are/funders/; http://www.gatesfoundation.org/How-We-Work/Quick-Links/Grants-Database#q/k=data%20quality%20campaign.

[22] http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/DigitalEducation/2015/05/ferpa_targeted_two_senate_bills.html.

[23] http://www.appam.org/memo-to-appam-members-senate-student-privacy-bill-threatens-use-of-education-data/.

[24] http://edlibertywatch.org/2015/05/education-liberty-watch-congratulates-senator-vitter-joins-wave-of-national-support-for-data-privacy-bill/




 

Posted in Federal Education. Tagged as education data, FERPA, IES, Joel Reidenberg, NAEP, NCES, PPRA, Psychological Profiling, Senator David Vitter, Student Privacy Protection Act.

Huge Nanny State Expansion in ECAA Preschool Grants - NO on S 1177!


The Every Child Achieve Act's (ECAA) Early Learning Alignment and Improvement Grants (Sec. 5610)[1] offer new federal funds to "assist states" to "more efficiently using existing Federal resources to improve, strengthen, and expand existing high-quality early childhood education, as  determined by the State." Despite the benign and pleasant sounding offer of help and resources to be used as states see fit, these grants greatly expand federal control over preschool as Race to the Top and No Child Left Behind have done for K-12.  Here are the problems:

  • There is no evidence of long-term effectiveness of early childhood programs that justify their great cost, but there is evidence of academic and emotional harm.[2]
  • Each state applying for a grant must promise to and explain how it will use "existing Federal, State, and local resources and programs that the State will coordinate to meet the purposes of this part, including"... "Head Start"[3] and the "Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG).[4]" [Sec. 5902]
  • Analogous to the Common Core standards incentivized by Race to the Top and the federal mandates for statewide standards and tests required by the 1994 version of the ESEA, there is a rapid spread of statewide or federal early learning standards and early childhood assessment incentivized by the 2011 and 2014 Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge (ELC) Grants and mandated by the 2007 Head Start and 2014 Child Care and Development Block Grant reauthorizations.
  • According to the ELC Collaborative analysis of the ELC grants[5], at least 15 states declared openly that they are aligning their early learning standards to Common Core or admitted that they are aligning to the K-3 standards, which is a de facto admission of Common Core alignment.
  • Mentioning it eleven times in the legislation, Head Start requires not only every Head Start program, but also every other state pre-k program[6] to fully align to the Head Start Child Outcome Framework,[7] a set of national early childhood standards, which is being correlated to Common Core.[8] Most state standards and the Pearson Work Sampling System (WSS) kindergarten readiness assessment contain similar or identical language to the Head Start framework in its various iterations.  Pearson also admits in its advertising video that the WSS is based on "national standards."[9] The only national preschool standards that are available are the Head Start Child Outcome Framework. This is federal control of academic content that includes the thoughts and attitudes of our youngest children, and should be concerning regardless of one's views on any particular topic.  The K-12 Common Core standards promote social emotional goals[10] as well, but are much less overt than the Head Start Child Outcome Framework.
  • The CCDBG strongly incentivizes[11] a "tiered quality rating system (QRS)," to rate programs and providers. Though portrayed as "voluntary," many programs, including private and religious programs, comply in order to be competitive in a bad economy for funding and referrals.  In most states, eighty per cent of child care is private.  The main requirement for a top rating in the QRS is use of the state early learning standards that are often far more subjective, controversial, and psychosocially based than those in K-12. This is resulting in a state takeover of private and religious childcare, because now these organizations outside of the state system are being bribed or coerced to teach the public program curriculum in order to get a good rating. Minnesota admitted this in its ELC application.[12] The rating systems themselves are subjective and controversial and lack evidence they will improve child outcomes.[13]Both the Head Start and individual state standards, which are all remarkably similar, are also vague, subjective, and in some cases, controversial, both for academic topics and for the non-cognitive social emotional topics, which are actually required for preschool but not for K-12.  Here are some examples:
    • Approaches to Learning (Head Start[14]): "Child shows interest in and curiosity about the world around them." Substantially similar language to this extremely subjective standard is also found in multiple state documents and the WSS.
    • Language and Literacy (Maryland[15]): "Shows beginning understanding of concepts about print." Similar language is found in multiple states, the WSS and the Head Start Framework.
    • Mathematics (Illinois[16]): "Count with understanding and recognize "how many" in small sets up to 5." There is identical language in the WSS, similar language in the 2015 Head Start Framework, and this standard is noted to be correlated to Common Core.
    • Social Skills (Minnesota[17]): "Displays concern, respect, care, and appreciation for others and the environment" "This very subjective standard on "concern" or "empathy" is found in many state standards, the WSS, and the current Head Start Framework.
    • Social Studies (Florida[18]):  "Make sure your three year-old has access to books and other materials that show diversity in family composition and in careers." This family structure diversity issue, again, regardless of one's views, is controversial and difficult enough for adults to navigate and it should be up to each family to decide how to manage the discussion.  Although no longer in the 2015 Head Start Framework, it is definitely important to the national organization:
One Head Start document on family engagement said the following: "THE TERM "FAMILY" is used to convey all of the people that may play both a parenting a role in a child's life and a partnering role with HS/EHS staff. This includes fathers, mothers, grandparents, kith and kin caregivers, LGBT (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgendered) parents, guardians, expectant parents, teen parents, and families with diverse structures that include multiple relationships with significant others."[19] The Florida standards define family as "a group of individuals living together."

An HHS blog recommended using "Inclusive intake and enrollment forms that are not specific about the gender of parents and caregivers" in order to make GLBT families feel more welcome.[20]
  • The noble sounding prohibitions "in this part [Sec. 5902(g)]" on federal interference with "early learning and development guidelines, standards, or specific assessments, including the standards or measures that States use to develop, implement, or improve such guidelines, standards, or assessments;" or anything to do with what determines the designation of "high quality" is at best worthless and at worst quite disingenuous.  This is because this bill already requires the states to comply, align, and coordinate with the major federal programs, Head Start and CCDBG, that mandate or strongly incentivize either  federal or state standards and the quality rating system that also requires these very problematic standards.  The ELC grants have also had the same effect, because states changed policy regarding the standards, curriculum, and the rating systems to win them. Finally, there is no enforcement mechanism behind the prohibition.
  • The student data collection and invasions of privacy already occurring with P20W longitudinal data systems are particularly frightening in the early childhood realm because of the greater emphasis on social emotional and developmental issues as well as efforts to integrate this data with prenatal medical data and then integrate it with K-12 data:
    • "Rhode Island's proposed early learning data system will be linked to both the state's K-12 data system and to the state's universal newborn screening [genetic] and health data system, helping to identify children with high needs, track participation in programs, and track children's development and learning." (Emphasis added)[21]
    • There is also a national effort going on to integrate Head Start data with every other type of preschool data and K-12 data.[22]
  • This provision is also of dubious value due to cost issues, especially when the national debt level is so high.  The authorization for appropriations for this new nanny state program is theextremely vague and always alarming "such sums as may be necessary for each of fiscal years 2016 through 2021 [Sec. 5903]." The income eligibility for participants in this program is absurdly extravagant for median income only requiring that "family assets do not exceed $1,000,000 (as certified by a member of such family) [Section 5901(b)(2)(B)(iii) - Emphasis added].
Due to this unconstitutional, invasive, and expensive expansion of federal control that will further harm states' rights, parental autonomy, and the innocence and privacy of young children without any benefit, the Early Learning Alignment and Improvement grants within ECAA, as well as the entire underlying bill, should be rejected.

[2] Effrem, K. Studies on Effectiveness of Early Childhood Programs, Education Liberty Watch, 3/20/2011 http://edlibertywatch.org/2011/03/studies-on-effectiveness-of-early-childhood-programs/
[4] Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014 https://www.congress.gov/113/plaws/publ186/PLAW-113publ186.pdf
[5] Stepping up to the Challenge: State Profiles of the 2011 Early Learning Challenge Grant Applicants http://ffyf.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Stepping_Up_to_the_Challenge.pdf
[6] Head Start Act Compilation Section 642B(a)(2)(A) says that when giving out "collaboration grants," the national Head Start offices will work with "entities that carry out activities designed to benefit low-income children from birth to school entry, and their families.
[7] Section 642B(a)(2)(B)(iii), which says, "promote alignment of curricula used in Head Start programs and continuity of services with the Head Start Child Outcomes Framework and, as appropriate, State early learning standards," is just one example.
[8] "In January 2012, the latest draft of the Head Start- Common Core Correlation Project was released..." http://www.ecs-commoncore.org/aligning-early-childhood-education-with-the-common-core/
[10] Effrem, K. Psychosocial Manipulation in the Common Core Standards and Aligned Tests and Curriculum, 2/12/2015 http://bit.ly/1AElgkm
[11] CCDBG Section 658G(b)(3)
[12] Minnesota admitted in its ELC application, "Minnesota's Early Learning and Development Standards (called the Early Childhood Indicators of Progress, or ECIPs-see C1) for children birth to five are at the foundation of [Parent] Aware. Parent Aware Program Standards require that instruction and assessment be aligned with the ECIPs and the ratings are built on the ECIPs, which function like a scaffold. For example, ELD Programs must ensure that their staff members are familiar with the ECIPs before earning 1 star, and to reach 3 or 4 stars requires both familiarity with the ECIPs and also alignment of curriculum and assessment with them." (Emphasis added)  http://unitedfrontmn.org/minnesotaracetothetopapplication/files/B1.pdf  pp. 2-3 of PDF
[13] Effrem, K. Evidence on Effectiveness of Quality Rating Systems Education Liberty Watch 3/19/2011 http://edlibertywatch.org/2011/03/evidence-on-effectiveness-of-quality-rating-systems/
[17] Latest Draft of Minnesota's Early Childhood Indicators of Progress, http://education.state.mn.us/mdeprod/groups/educ/documents/basic/mdaw/mdu1/~edisp/055947.pdf p. 12 of PDF
[18] Florida Early Learning and Developmental Standards, Birth to Five,  p. 107 of PDF may be downloaded at this page http://www.floridaearlylearning.com/parents/parent_resources/floridas_early_learning_and_development_standards_birth_to_five.aspx or http://bit.ly/1IA48dh
[20] Godfrey, A. Partnering with LGBT families in Early Head Start and Head Start http://1.usa.gov/1JkpjFJ
[22] Early Childhood Data Collaborative Linking Head Start Data with State Early Care and Education Coordinated Data Systems http://www.childtrends.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/ecdc-head-start-brief.pdf
 

Posted in Early Childhood. Tagged as Child Care Development Block Grant, Every Child Achieves Act, Head Start, Preschool Alignment Grants, Quality Rating System, S 1177.

6 Ways the Feds Are Psychoanalyzing your Child! Oppose S 1177 & HR 5!

Karen R. Effrem, MD Executive Director of the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition & President of Education Liberty Watch

Uncle Sam is lately wearing a white coat and placing American students on the psychiatrist's couch. The number of federal education bills, tests, programs and other policies promoting indoctrination and assessment of affective attitudes, beliefs, "mindsets," "non-cognitive skills" and other non-academic traits is rapidly and alarmingly proliferating.  Here are the most recent and very concerning examples:

1)      The Every Child Achieves Act (S 1177) This is the 792 page Senate version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization.  Some of the many examples of federal expansion of mental health screening in the schools include:
  • Training teachers who are not mental health professionals to mentally screen student
  • Doing special education (IDEA)-style behavioral monitoring and intervention school-wide without delineation between observation, suggestion, and treatment nor clear methods of parental consent and privacy protection for behavioral information.
  • The federal government is promoting the concept that schools taking on the functions of families and physicians by paying for schools to provide mental health care
  • They are even putting mental health in physical education

2)      The Student Success Act (HR 5) The House version of the ESEA/NCLB reauthorization expands affective testing by omission instead of commission and also continues mental health programs for certain groups:
  • The rewrite of the section that discusses state standards, assessments and accountability leaves out the key protection that prohibits the federally mandated state tests that "evaluate or assess personal or family beliefs and attitudes."  This was one of the few good pieces of language in No Child Left Behind.
  • Title I funding includes funding for coordination of all sorts of health and social services, including mental health.
3)      The Strengthening Education Through Research Act (SETRA S 227)
The Senate reauthorization bill for the Institute for Education Sciences (IES) that houses the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) and the National Assessment of Educational Progress also plans to allow "research on social emotional learning." (See Section 132)  The 2002 reauthorization of this bill gave us the scourge of the state longitudinal databases and was extremely problematic at the time.

4)      Measuring Psychological Variables in the NAEP
Education Week reports that The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) ntends to start collecting affective survey data on students who take the test in 2017:"The nation's premiere federal testing program is poised to provide a critical window into how students' motivation, mindset, and grit can affect their learning... The background survey will include five core areas--grit, desire for learning, school climate, technology use, and socioeconomic status--of which the first two focus on a student's noncognitive skills, and the third looks at noncognitive factors in the school. These core areas would be part of the background survey for all NAEP test-takers. In addition, questions about other noncognitive factors, such as self-efficacy and personal achievement goals, may be included..."  [survey document removed from original link by NAGB - now maintianed at FSCCC]

5)      A summary of the grant proposals in the preschool version of Race to the Top, called the Early Learning Challenge, had various states boasting about how they would profile and monitor our babies:
  • "California will offer additional provider training in assessing social emotional learning and ensure greater access to developmental and behavioral screenings."
  • "The state's (Minnesota) existing birth-to-five child development standards will be aligned with K-12 standards, which will be expanded to include non-academic developmental domains for children ages five to 12."
6)      A Federal  Register notice of a grant program called the Middle Grades Longitudinal Study is described and seeks to add social emotional assessment:
Title of Collection: Middle Grades Longitudinal Study of 2016-2017 (MGLS:2017) Item Validation and Operational Field Tests.

Abstract: The Middle Grades Longitudinal Study of 2016-2017 (MGLS:2017) is the first study sponsored by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), within the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) of the U.S. Department of Education (ED), to follow a nationally-representative sample of students as they enter and move through the middle grades (grades 6-8). The data collected through repeated measures of key constructs will provide a rich descriptive picture of the academic experiences and development of students during these critical years and  allow researchers to examine associations between contextual factors and student outcomes. The study will focus on student achievement in mathematics and literacy along with measures of student socioemotional wellbeing and other outcomes.


1)     These measures set up the federal government as arbiters of what is normal thought, behavior, belief, attitudes, and values in children, even very young children The danger of this situation to freedom of thought and conscience is profound and cannot be over stated.  There is recent history of attempts to make racism and homophobia delusional disorders treated by antipsychotics in the most recent version of the American Psychiatric Association's (APA) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5).  That "treatment" was forced on California state prison inmates in 2005 under that paradigm.  Extreme racism and homophobia were ultimately not added to the DSM, but given the widespread teaching of the issue, even in preschool an kindergarten coupled with the new Supreme Court ruling on same sex marriage and statements by activists who want to attack expressions of religious conscience regarding homosexual unions as prejudice,  there is more than a little reason to be concerned.

2)     These socioemotional standards and assessments are extraordinarily vague, subjective, and difficult to apply to children, especially young children.  Here are some examples of expert opinion (See Child Mental Health Quotes and References for details):
  • "Without highly reliable, multimethod, multiinformant measurement batteries whose validity has been demonstrated for diagnosis, it will be difficult for a practitioner to justify the individual diagnosis of children's personal qualities, such as self-control, grit, or growth mind-set," was in an essay by two researchers that admit that the assessments are not valid and ready to be used for judging children, teachers and schools.
  • "At present, most psychiatric disorders lack validated diagnostic biomarkers, and although considerable advances are being made in the arena of neurobiology, psychiatric diagnoses are still mostly based on clinician assessment." [Translation: Psychiatric diagnosis is an educated guess.]
  • "Broad parameters for determining socioemotional outcomes are not clearly defined"
  • "Childhood and adolescence being developmental phases, it is difficult to draw clear boundaries between phenomena that are part of normal development and others that are abnormal."
3)     Socioemotional standards and screenings are leading to overmedication with psychotropic medication that can have brain damaging and life threatening side effects Studies are finding alarming increases in medication of young children without adequate studies on the effects of these drugs on growing bodies and brains.  The drugs can cause suicidal thoughts and actions, violence, psychosis, stunted growth, brain damage, and a 25 year shortened life span.

4)     Data from these subjective assessments will be in an electronic dossier that will follow a child for life The federal government already has much data due to contracts like PARCC and SBAC that require individually identifiable data to be given to the US DOE, through the linking of federally mandated state longitudinal databases, and via the regulatory gutting of Family Education Rights and Privacy Act.  Parents greatly opposed the InBloom database held by private entities and there is no evidence that this contained socioemotional data.  Wait until many parents understand how routinely their children's minds will be probed.  In addition, given the willful misuse of citizen data by the IRS and NSA, and the inability of the federal government to protect the integrity of its employees' data, there is plenty of reason for parents to be upset.  Also, at some point employers and universities will have or demand access to this data.5)     Belatedly putting in parental consent requirements will not make profiling via academic assessments or routine mental screening in schools acceptable We have already seen how the prohibitions on psychological assessment in the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA) are sidestepped and the gaping loophole of the statute not applying to assessments and curriculum. The notion of parental consent will be used as a fig leaf to assuage concerns long enough for the government or corporations to figure out a way sidestep the rules.  Asking consent for something that is so constitutionally, legally and ethically wrong does not make it right.

6)     The rapidity and scope by which the Constitution, federal law, ethics, and parental autonomy are being shredded is breathtaking and very alarming, particularly with this issue Parents are expected to submit their children to this kind of government profiling and psychological experimentation with no explanation, no way to express concern or opt their children out, no way to see the federally mandated academic statewide assessments , the NAEP or any of the international assessments that do much of this profiling to find out what was asked of their children.  Federal law currently prohibits federal government involvement in regular curriculum and standards, but somehow it is now fine for the federal government to mandate and support the assessment or screening or teaching of socioemotional topics, because they want to assess something that is ostensibly a positive trait or this will have an alleged benefit for a child?  This defies logic.

Short of shutting down the US Department of Education or at least the Institute for Education Sciences that houses the National Center for Education Statistics, the data mining and emotional profiling arm of the US DOE, we can halt the ESEA/NCLB and other federal legislative reauthorizations until there is an administration that is not so in favor of Common Core, expansive federal control, testing, profiling, and data mining.  The other very important and practical thing to do is to support Senator David Vitter's Student Privacy Protection Act (SPPA) as a stand-alone bill. Data privacy and freedom of conscience are too important for this bill to be lost and eventually watered down in the monstrous reauthorization bills. This is the only legislation offered that truly protects against the psychological profiling described here while updating and strengthening FERPA from all of the weakening that happened during this administration. Our children deserve nothing less.

[NOTE:  A fully referenced and more detailed version of this article in PDF format is available at this link: Student Psychological Profiling in Federal Education Legislation - Footnoted]

Posted in Psychological Manipulation. Tagged as HR 5, IDEA, NAEP, Psychological Profiling, RTT-ELC, S 1177, SETRA.

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