March 2, 2014
In their ongoing efforts to deceive the public into believing that new non-Common Core tests are being developed for the state of Florida, a committee within the Department of Education has recommended that the commissioner choose the American Institutes for Research (AIR) to write the state tests in English and math that will be fully Common Core aligned. However, several media outlets are already doing a good job of showing how disingenuous that concept really is.
Jacob Engels of the East Orlando Post clearly documented that AIR is writing the test for Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC), the OTHER federally funded and supervised national testing consortium besides PARCC:
AIR in a Power Point presentation that is on the Utah State office of Education website, openly highlights the fact that they proved the test delivery for the Smarter Balance Consortium.
The Smarter Balance Consortium is a consortium of states throughout the country that have come together to try and create a centralized testing system much like PARCC. PARCC as you may remember was the national consortium that Florida was a part of until the Governor abruptly ordered the DOE to pull out of it because it was the Common Core's testing platform. It was perceived to be an overreach by the federal government and a first step toward a national take over of education.
The Tea Party, which has been a big supporter of Governor Scott, has been the primary adversary of PARCC and the Common Core standards. So it seems odd that now the DOE would reverse course pulling out of PARCC, but choose what appears to be the twin sister of PARCC. I can't imagine this decision would sit well with Scott's Tea Party base that has spilled blood, getting Florida to move away from the Common Core standards and forced the Governor to get out of the national consortium (PARCC). And lets not forget that the Governor is not the only candidate running this fall. The state legislature has a vested interest as well and I doubt they want to try and defend a surrogate sister of PARCC and one that has a spotty record.
Lynne Hatter of WUSF
found similar issues in her reporting about the tests:
Florida's English and Math FCAT tests were supposed to be replaced with ones aligned Common Core standards. But pushback from critics has led officials to back away from those standards and from the PARCC testing consortium
--a group of more than 20 states that had agreed to share the exams. The Florida Department of Education allowed testing companies to bid on developing new exams, and earlier this week a committee recommended the American Institutes for Research to be Florida's new testing company. AIR has helped build and implement state exams for Ohio, Minnesota, Utah and Oregon, to name a few. And while the company's head of testing, John Cohen, declined to talk specifically about the company's bid for a Florida contract, he did talk about how Oregon's tests are administered:
"In fact, the state testing director from Oregon is now the Chief Operating Officer of smarter balanced," he said.
is the *other* Common Core-aligned testing consortium. Cohen says the Oregon model uses computers to administer exams--and AIR tests can run on both new and old machines -- everything from old PC's to new ipads.
Here is an illustration of how the computer adapted testing works:
There is no way using this that there will be uniform testing across the nation of Common Core standards as proponents claim, much less across a single classroom, because the tests will change from person to person. One computerized testing gurul, Dr. Dustin Heuston with the WICAT group (World Institute for Computer Assisted Technology) said back in 1986:
"We've been absolutely staggered by realizing that the computer has the capability to act as if it were ten of the top psychologists working with one student.
You've seen the tip of the iceberg."
What is very important to know but was not reported in either story is that AIR describes itself as "one of the world's largest behavioral and social science research and evaluation organizations."
This is more evidence
that psychological teaching and testing is part of Common Core and the standards, by whatever name they are deceptively being labeled that are taught and tested in Florida, despite the concerns raised in the governor's executive order.
In addition, if AIR is developing tests for SBAC, then one has to wonder if they signed a similar agreement to PARCC and SBAC to give the US Department of Education individual student test data for "research" and "linking."
This "bait and switch" is unacceptable. Switching from one federal test to another is not making these "Florida's test" any more than the "minor" and cosmetic changes to the standards made them "Florida's standards." Please let your legislators know that you expect to be treated more intelligently and with far more respect than this. Florida's standards and tests need to be Florida's in more than name.