Comment by May 7th to Protect Opt-Out Alternative to the Algebra I EOC!

Apparently to pave the way for another testing vendor or to choke off the option of using a test not so heavily aligned to Common Core, the Florida Board of Education is getting ready to phase out using the math section of the Postsecondary Education Readiness Test (PERT) as an alternative for students that do not pass the Algebra I End of Course (EOC) test to allow high school graduation with a standard diploma.

Though stated not to be adequately academically rigorous, the PERT is the current test used as an entrance test to allow high school students to take credit bearing courses at Florida's community colleges for the dual enrollment program.

This is quite illogical and should be opposed. If the PERT math test is good enough to measure readiness for enrance into the dual enrollment program for college courses, it should be more than adequate as an alternative to the Algebra I EOC which is sadly based on the academically inferior and confusing Common Core math standards. Common Core was rebranded as the Florida Standards by the Florida Legislature and Governor Scott in 2014 after insignificant tweaks.

The comment period is now open until May 7th. You may go to this link to read the proposed rule and to submit a comment: https://www.flrules.org/Gateway/View_notice.asp?id=20300662 by clicking on the "Make a Comment" button.

It does not need to be very elaborate. Please personalize your comment, but you may say something simple along the lines of:

The math section of the PERT should be kept as an alternative to the Algebra I EOC. If the PERT is used as an entrance exam for high school students to take college level math courses in the Florida dual enrollment system, it is perfectly adequate to serve as an alternative for the Algebra I EOC.

Remember - You have until May 7th to try to keep this means of opting out! Read more

Posted in Testing. Tagged as Algebra I EOC, Florida Board of Education, PERT, Rule.

2017 Legislative Issues

2017 Legislature


FSCCC has joined with five other groups to form Common Ground to work on the biggest issues in Florida education - The Tea Party Network, Fund Education Now, Florida Parents RISE, Opt Out Leon County, and Accountabaloney. Here are summaries of some of the bills we have been working on and our recommendations for them:

TESTING SB 926/HB 773 - The allegedly "fewer, better tests" bill doesn't eliminate any tests and actually means "fewer will pass" for academcially dubious reasons, plus it expands CBE. Common Ground and FSCCC strongly oppose this bill as originally written!

Fact Sheet
Press Release
Bill Summary
FSCCC Analysis
UPDATE! Video Interview of Dr. Effrem by Randy Osborne - status of bill after Senate Education Committee. The bad proficiency language was removed but with a duplicative study of achievement levels. Some good amendments like actually removing 4 EOCs and VAM, plus a paper and pencil option, and a study to substitute the SAT/ACT, PERT, AP, etc. for high school tests have all been added to SB 926 Please thank Senators Montford, Simmons, Lee, and Mayfield for their work on this!

SB 964/HB 1249 - This is an excellent bill that has strong legislative and organizational bipartisan support, including from Common Ground and FSCCC. UPDATE! While it is unfortunate that this bill was not allowed to move forward, some good elecments of it, like actually removing 4 EOCs and VAM, plus a paper and pencil option, and a study to substitute the SAT/ACT, PERT, AP, etc. for high school tests have all been added to SB 926 above. Please thank Senators Montford, Simmons, Lee, and Mayfield for their work on this!
Press Release

Bill Summary

FSCCC Analysis
PRE-K
SB 468/HB 757 - This well-intended effort to improve reading outcomes will only produce a "Baby Common Core" developmentally inappropriate Read more

Posted in Testing. Tagged as CBE, grade-level achievement, pre-K, Testing expansion, VAM.

Pasco Mom Calls out Testing Madness at School Board Meeting

Wonderful mom, researcher, and activist Deb Herbage gave a great sppech cogently pointing out the problems with Florida's testing system and its lack of validity at the Pasco County School Board meeting on October 20th. It is reproduced here with permission.
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I would like to take this opportunity to thank Mr. Browning for sending the letter to Governor Scott requesting an executive order to suspend the use of the 2014-2015 FSA data. While we appreciate your efforts and the efforts of the Florida Association of District School Superintendents (FADSS) in speaking out against the flawed accountability system here in Florida, we, the parents, teachers, grandparents and students here in Pasco County and across the state of Florida are not asking for a "pause" with an ultimate reinstatement of the FSA. We are asking that you HALT the FSA. This test is no longer about our kids. This test is no longer about a fair and accurate measure of "accountability". We are not asking for a pause with the FSA because of technical glitches and the failed administration of the FSA last spring. We are asking for a halt because the test is not a valid measure of ANYTHING. We are asking for a halt of the FSA because AIR and the FL DOE have been unable to produce ANY validity documents. In the executed contract the FL DOE has with AIR contract # 14-652 that Commissioner Stewart signed - it specifically stated AIR "must provide empirical evidence of psychometric validity and reliability" AIR failed to do that and worse the FL DOE did NOT hold AIR to the terms of the EXECUTED contract.

A retired psychometrician in CA sent a letter to Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC), which is developed by AIR and part of the FSA platform, requesting the validity documents and he was told they don't have them. The Utah [district school board members] sent a letter to Senator Simmons ( Read more

Posted in Testing. Tagged as Alpine, Deb Herbage, Kurt Browning, Pasco County School Board, Utah, validity.

More Validity Analysis from Teacher Expert

The following is reproduced with permission by teacher and psychometric expert Darcey Addo, a school board candidate in Brevard County as more information continues to emerge about how problematic the FSA and the validity study are (see also the FSCCC study analysis amd discussion of the AIR contract)
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Diane Ravitch recently called Florida legislators "test-crazy", but if the legislators are test-crazy, then the Commissioner of Education, in conjunction with Alpine Testing Solutions and the Florida Department of Education may be delusional. Sometimes, people can lie to themselves so much that they begin to believe themselves. We have an obligation to educate parents about the reality of testing in our public schools.

Here are five fairly basic things I think every Florida parent should know about the testing debacle:

1.) The Florida Commissioner of Education testified to the Florida Senate on March 4, 2015, that the FSA was "the content of the test is absolutely psychometrically valid and reliable." She said that she would "be happy to provide" the evidence to support that claim. (More on that here if you're interested.) Repeated requests for the evidence were made, with no success. You can come to your own conclusion about the truthfulness of her statements.

2.) The Florida legislature demanded (in CS/HB7069) a "validity study" of the FSA. This $600,000 legislative requirement is in spite of the fact that studies of validity and reliability are not performed after a test with high stakes (graduation, retention, remedial placement, etc.) has been administered. Rather, best practice dictates that assessments are first alpha and beta tested, and then administered to students. Psychometric studies are certainly never with done with a legislative deadline - in this case, less than three months.

3.) The study found the test "valid", which is Read more

Posted in Testing. Tagged as AIR FSA Validity Study.

Alice in Wonderland Validity Study: FSA is Valid Except When It Is Not

As expected and in typical bureaucratic doublespeak, the Florida Department of Education used the report by the sole bidders for the allegedly independent review of the 2015 FSA test to magically deem that Florida's test scores could be used in the aggregate for school grades and teacher evaluations. Commissioner Pam Stewart who has presided over much chaos and bears much responsibility for the many problems and lack of accuracy of her own statements in the Common Core standard and testing fiasco, called this statement by Alpine "welcome news." However, even the authors of the study, who have multiple incestuous relationships to the development of Common Core standards and the testing industry, admit numerous problems with their work blaming it all on a fast timeline or other factors beyond their control. Here are some of the most important issues:
Admitted lack of rigor and adequate standardization The report's executive summary said, ""The evaluation team can reasonably state that the spring 2015 administration of the [Florida Standards Assessments] did not meet the normal rigor and standardization expected with a high-stakes assessment program like the FSA."

Basing the FSA on the Utah Test which has no Validity As FSCCC has previously reported, Florida is renting test questions from Utah for three years at a cost to the taxpayers of $16.2 million in addition to the reported $220 million cost of the 6 year testing contract. The Utah test still has no validity information, despite being used for the last two years. However, this should be no surprise as the Department has admitted doubts about the validity and usefulness of the FCAT 2.0 that had been in use since 2011 (see page 137).

The computer adaptive national SBAC test also developed by AIR also has zero validity and reliability data Here are the comments of testing specialist Dr. Doug McCrae presented to the California State Board of Education on 9/3/15:

"My Read more

Posted in Testing. Tagged as AIR, FSA, Validity Study.

Renowned Researcher who Likely Studied Under AIR Founder “No Longer Comfortable” in Education Data Mining

Dr. Gene V. Glass, a seminal figure in the field of educational psychometrics and data mining has had enough. According to his blog post republished on the Washington Post's Answer Sheet blog, this pioneer in the field of education statistics is "no longer comfortable being associated with the discipline of educational measurement."

This is a man who actually developed the term and process "meta-analysis," which is the statistical procedure of combining the results of multiple smaller studies into one larger analysis to try to get more information and reliability from greater numbers.

Glass described his history and the history of psychometrics in general: My mentors both those I spoke with daily and those whose works I read had served in WWII. Many did research on human factors -- measuring aptitudes and talents and matching them to jobs. Assessments showed who were the best candidates to be pilots or navigators or marksmen. We were told that psychometrics had won the war; and of course, we believed it
The next wars that psychometrics promised it could win were the wars on poverty and ignorance. The man who led the Army Air Corps effort in psychometrics started a private research center. (It exists today, and is a beneficiary of the millions of dollars spent on Common Core testing.) My dissertation won the 1966 prize in Psychometrics awarded by that man's organization. And I was hired to fill the slot recently vacated by the world's leading psychometrician at the University of Illinois. Psychometrics was flying high, and so was I.

In the emphasized language above, Glass appears quite likely to be describing the American Institutes for Research (AIR), which has definitely received not just millions of dollars, but hundreds of millions of dollars from states and the federal government for the Common Core tests (an advertised $220 million from Florida alone). Glass is also probably describing their studies on fighter pilots Read more

Posted in Testing. Tagged as AIR, Dr. Gary Thompson, Gene V. Glass, John Flanagan, Pearson.

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 Read more

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

Jeff Solochek's Confused Interpretation of Third Grade Retention

Karen R. Effrem, MD - Executive Director

Jeff Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times wrote a confused and confusing column yesterday about the effects of the new testing law (HB 7069) on third grade retention, saying the following:

Because the law no longer mandates retention, districts are now figuring out how to have uniform decisions throughout their elementary school systems.

Here are four pieces of evidence showing that his statement is not true:
His earlier column on the subject:
This wording [The diluted Hays amendment requiring a validity study allegedly before retention] does not end or put off the retention of third graders.

The language to which he refers for the statement above that third grade retention is not ended:
1216 (c) Until such time as an independent verification of the
1217 psychometric validity of the statewide, standardized assessments
1218 first implemented in 2014-2015 is provided,for purposes of
1219 [determining - stricken] grade 3 English Language Arts student performance
1220[ retention pursuant to s. 1008.25(5) - stricken] and high school graduation
1221requirements pursuant to s. 1003.4282, student performance on
1222 the 2014-2015 statewide, standardized assessments shall be
1223 linked to the 2013-2014 student performance expectations.
Because the legislature struck the language referring to the third grade retention statute related to the validity study requirement, there is no protection for third graders being retained due to an invalid test.

Additionally, the language above is only for the 2014-2015 school year. There is no language to indicate that the third grade retention policy is changed, weakened, postponed, or stopped any time beyond 2015.

Another place in the new law:

922 (b) To be promoted to grade 4, a student must score a
923 Level 2 or higher on the statewide, Read more

Posted in Testing. Tagged as 3rd grade retention, FSA, Jeff Solochek, Rep. Marlene O'Toole.

Report on the Hays Validity Amendment to SB 616

Thank you to so many people that came to Tallahassee to testify, and who called and emailed members of the Senate Appropriations Committee urging them to pass Senator Alan Hays extremely important amendment to SB 616 requiring independent validity studies for the new Florida Standards Assessment (FSA) and technological load testing before making high stakes decisions.The amendment was withdrawn and replaced by another from Senator Simmons. The discussion of the reading amendment discussed in our last alert was ultimately postponed. Senator Hays is still reviewing options and will work with Senator Simmons who is significantly concerned with validity issues due to their legal consequences. The bill will go to the floor on Wednesday. New information will be out shortly.

For those that want more information and documentation, here is a detailed report to understand the context.

The video of the hearing is available HERE with discussion of the bill in general starting at about 4:39:00. The discussion of the Hays validity amendment starts at 4:58:55 and the discussion of Senator Simmons' validity amendment starts at 5:43:09.

Senator Hays offered that amendment due to grave concerns with lack of validity of the FSA based on the failure of Commissioner Pam Stewart to properly answer excellent questions from Senator David Simmons in hearings regarding the validity of the FSA. There is legal precedent showing that people may not have their lives changed with high stakes educational decisions like third grade retention or teacher evaluations based on an invalid test.

The language of the amendment that Senator Hays offered was written out in our last alert and is also available HERE. It required independent verification of psychometric validation of the test and load testing of the technology infrastructure to give the test before any high stakes decision can be made for students, teachers or districts.

Here are the Read more

Posted in Testing. Tagged as Beth Overholt, Catherine Baer, Dr. Karen Effrem, Marie Clare Leman, Randy Osborne, SB 616, Senator Alan Hays, Senator Arthenia Joyner, Senator David Simmons, Senator David Simmons, SEnator Don Gaetz., Senator John Legg, validity.

Latest Update & Analysis on House and Senate Testing Bills

Bills to deal with the out of control testing system in Florida advanced in the House and Senate this week. Here is an overview:

HB 7069 Unfortunately the two good amendments by Rep. Mia Jones and Rep. Evan Jenne that we discussed in our last alert were defeated along party lines on the 17th. We do thank Rep. Debbie Mayfield (Indian River) and Rep. Tom Goodson (Orange) for being the only two Republicans courageous enough to join all of the Democrats and vote for Rep. Jenne's very common-sense amendment to allow a paper and pencil option and to affirm the requirement for load testing that Commissioner Stewart so flagrantly ignored. Unfortunately, the rest succumbed to the difficult to swallow concept that paper and pencil tests would be too expensive and "blow up the budget," when the state, according to State Board of Education president Gary Chartrand, admitted during the February 18, 2014 hearing and an FSBA memo have both stated that the switch to online Common Core testing will cost Florida taxpayers $2 billion.

One very important issue that we mentioned in our last alert was about reading and third grade retention. We said that HB 7069, "While attempting to streamline the issues surrounding third grade retention for reading deficiency, it actually appears to decrease flexibility for parents trying to prevent retention by limiting any "Good cause" alternatives until after the child has failed the state reading test." Although the language says that a portfolio may be started any time there is concern about a reading deficiency, parents may not be notified of such and may not be able to start a portfolio until after the child has failed the reading test at near the end of the year. In addition, the bill removes the portfolio and alternative assessment from the "good cause" list of exemptions. Now the new language states:
918 (b) In order to be promoted to grade 4, a student must
919 score a Level 2 or higher on the Read more

Posted in Testing. Tagged as FSA, FSBA, Gary Chartrand, HB 7069, reading, Rep. Debbie Mayfield, Rep. Evan Jenne, Rep. John Tobia, Rep. Marlene O'Toole, Rep. Mia Jones, Rep. Tom Goodson, SB 616, SEnator Don Gaetz., Senator Dwight Bullard, Senator Greg Evers, third grade retention.

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