Specific Concerns About Competency Based Ed. in SB 1714 Related to Cost, Quality, Privacy and Choice

March 4, 2016

Karen R. Effrem, MD - Executive Director

Note: All emphasis in quotes is added and an online PDF version of this document is available HERE.
1)      SB 1714 presumes district-wide implementation of the CBE program well before the results of the pilot program are in (see lines 39-41).[1]
2)      According to the Gates Foundation website[2], there is Gates grant money for this type of program in Lake ($7 million) and Pinellas Counties ($3.3 million), but not for Palm Beach and Seminole.  Will state or country taxpayers or both have to pick up the slack to fund these expensive, technology-driven programs?
3)      The Gates Foundation and technology based education programs in general have a long track record of failure
  • This pilot is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation[3] that also gave $100 million to Hillsborough County to reform teacher evaluation and pay with the county required to bring in additional $100 million, but the county's cost rose to $124 million and the program is being dismantled after largely failing
  • Los Angeles wasted $1.3 billion on iPads[4] for every student that were to be loaded with Common Core software that was a Gates-Pearson[5]  joint effort[6] that were utterly unusable and resulted in FBI investigations for bid rigging.
  • Baltimore is embarking on a similar misguided $270 million endeavor[7] where the superintendent took a consulting job with a related company after awarding that company a large contract
  • No evidence that either teaching or assessing online works and some evidence that it does not given the recent news that PARCC assessment scores were lower for those students taking the tests on computers than those taking them on paper.  We are also all aware[8] of the many significant technical problems with AIR in Florida[9] and numerous other states[10].
  • Before moving into the Race to the Top and Common Core effort, the Gates Smaller Learning Community program, upon which the foundation spent $2 billion was an effort to track children into specific types of jobs-based education as early as 8th grade was also a failure.
"On Nov. 11, [2008] the Gates Foundation convened a meeting of leading figures in American education to admit candidly that the new small high schools had not fulfilled their promise. The foundation acknowledged that 'we have not seen dramatic improvements in the number of students who leave high school adequately prepared to enroll in and complete a two- or four-year postsecondary degree or credential.'"[11]
 
4)      There is no language protecting student data privacy from sharing with third party corporate vendors, no protection for student psychological data privacy and no language specifically allowing students, parents, schools or districts to opt out of this program if it fails like other Gates programs have, if academic learning and progress is harmed, and if privacy is violated
  • The intent is for the Majority of CBE Teaching and Assessment to be Online and Aligned to Common Core harming the student-teacher interaction
o   Lake County says, "Teachers in this system will become supporters, facilitators and resources" for students developing their own personal learning environments."[12]
o   "competence profile(s)...that would record current state and development of individual's knowledge & skills across different domains of professional & social life, and would accompany individuals throughout their life..."[13] 
o   "Proficiency-Based Pathways. Education leaders have long talked about setting rigorous standards and allowing students more or less time as needed to demonstrate mastery of subjects and skills. This has been more a promise than a reality, but we believe it's possible with the convergence of the Common Core State Standards, the work on new standards-based assessments, the development of new data systems, and the rapid growth of technology-enabled learning experiences..."[14]
 
  • The Intent of Both CBE and Common Core is to Move Away from Academics towards Tasks and Skills Including Psychosocial (Non-Cognitive or 21st Century) Skills and Career Tracking
o   "Focus on skills & competencies. Project- and activity-based education. Meta-competency education" and "team games/group projects."[15]
o   "Mindsets & Behaviors align with specific standards from the Common Core State Standards through connections at the competency level." [16]
o   "...and will instead focus the development of complex interdisciplinary skills, such as creative and critical thinking ... and mastering body-and-mind states that enhance resourcefulness, productivity & creativity ..."[17]
o   "LCS [Lake County Schools] will develop a mechanism to allow students to have some voice and choice in how instruction is delivered and how mastery is evidenced, based on data in the learner profile."
o   Platforms for crowd investing like Upstart that "allows to invest up to US$ 200,000 into a talented young person who then shares a small share of their income over 5 or 10 years). This model...can soon become a mass solution as big data models of competence profiles would allow to estimate the most beneficial educational & career tracks."[18] 
 
  • Educational and Affective Data Mining is a Key Part of Technology Based Education and the Common Core that treats our children as widgets and "products" that may be "defective" as described by Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson[19]
o   The Future of Global Education Report wants a cloud of inter-dependent technological solutions that will have all functionalities of the 'industrial' educational system, yet cheaper and more efficiently" that include:
§  "Human or virtual mentors to set their educational goals, to create or modify their planned educational programs, as well as to track their progress within these programs;
§  Web-based assessment and certification systems that allow students to receive an external confirmation of knowledge, skills, and abilities;
§  Achievement recording tools, e.g. integrated electronic portfolio, online competency passport including real-time performance recording, etc.[20]
o   The CEO of an ed-tech corporation said at a data seminar "Knewton today gets 5 to 10 million actionable data [points] per student per day. We do that because, if you can believe it, we get people to tag every single sentence of their content. So publishers, we have a large publishing partnership with Pearson..." [21]
  • Continuous Educational and Affective Data Collection/Data Mining is a Key Foundational Element of CBE
o   The US Office of Educational Technology said that efforts to prove validity of the assessments [NONE currently exists] will be a continuous process of data collection and refinement (Cizek, Rosenberg, and Coons 2008)."[22]
o   The same federal office says that they support the "building of adaptive learning systems [that] involves measuring and responding to motivational and affective factors as students work with digital learning systems" and for these systems to use "...adaptations based on students' emotional states and levels of motivation."[23]
  • Current Weak Data Privacy Laws and Horrible Federal Data Security Allow Student Data Sharing Without Parental Consent
o   Florida's current data privacy Law is aligned on the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).[24]
o   There is an entire section of the FERPA regulations that allows this data sharing without parental consent even to "contractors" and "volunteers" as well as the federal government that may be used to "develop, validate, or administer predictive tests."[25]
o   The US House Oversight and Government Reform Committee learned at their November 17, 2015 hearing[26] that the US Department of Education "holds 139 million unique Social Security numbers; continues to be "vulnerable to security threats" according to the IG; and failed to detect a penetration test of its systems.
o   The Committee learned at the February 2, 2016 hearing[27] that the US Department of Education took two years to act regarding security failures and that the Chief Technology Officer had very poor performances regarding data security.


[13] Mr. Tom Vander Ark, the former executive director of education for the Gates Foundation, and who is a now board member of a group called Global Education Futures (http://edu2035.org/) which wrote the document called  Future Agendas for Global Education http://edu2035.org/pdf/GEF.Agenda_eng.pdf, p. 11
[14] Supporting Students Investing in Innovation and Quality https://docs.gatesfoundation.org/Documents/supporting-students.pdf, p. 6
[15] http://edu2035.org/pdf/GEF.Agenda_eng.pdf  p. 7 and p. 37 respectively
[18] Ibid, p.25
[23] Ibid, p. 44 and 29
[27] https://oversight.house.gov/hearing/u-s-department-of-education-investigation-of-the-cio/

Posted in Standards. Tagged as career tracking, Competency Based Education, data mining, Lake County, Palm Beach County, Pinellas County, Psychological Profiling, Seminole County.

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