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 that included AIR founder John Flanagan's research for the racist Pioneer Fund. Flanagan, as described in our article about the eugenics work of AIR and Flanagan:
Flanagan summarized the work of the Pioneer Fund this way in his proposal for first major research project - the eugenics experiment involving the birth rates of U.S. Army Air Corps pilots in the 1930's when African Americans were not allowed to be pilots:

"My understanding is that the fundamental purpose for which the Pioneer Fund was created is the improvement of the human race. The general method chosen to further this end is to secure an increase in the birth rate among superior groups."(Emphasis added).

The data sheet
which was intended to gather information for this project, asked the Junior officers and their wives for their "Race Descent (Name the four principal racial stocks with portion or approximate portions of blood from each). (Emphasis added)"

Glass also said that he has resisted the effort to use grades on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP):
Around 1980, I served for a time on the committee that made most of the important decisions about the National Assessment of Educational Progress. The project was under increasing pressure to "grade" the NAEP results: Pass/Fail; A/B/C/D/F; Advanced/Proficient/Basic. Our committee held firm: such grading was purely arbitrary, and worse, would only be used politically. The contract was eventually taken from our organization and given to another that promised it could give the nation a grade, free of politics. It couldn't.

Glass rightly points out that grading is political even for the academic questions on the NAEP.  How much more so will it be used politically now that the NAEP is about to be used to assess and eventually grade the completely subjective and non-academic factors like "grit" and "mindsets"?

In addition, he takes a not so subtle swipe at the corporate cronyism so well exemplified by Pearson without mentioning the publishing giant's name and then explains that this has destroyed education and his desire to be involved in psychometrics:

The test company lobbyists convince politicians that grading teachers and schools is as easy as grading cuts of meat. A huge publishing company from the UK has spent $8 million in the past decade lobbying Congress. Politicians [like Jeb Bush] believe that testing must be the cornerstone of any education policy.

The results of this cronyism between corporations and politicians have been chaotic. Parents see the stress placed on their children and report them sick on test day. Educators, under pressure they see as illegitimate, break the rules imposed on them by governments. Many teachers put their best judgment and best lessons aside and drill children on how to score high on multiple-choice tests. And too many of the best teachers exit the profession.  

When measurement became the instrument of accountability, testing companies prospered and schools suffered. I have watched this happen for several years now. I have slowly withdrawn my intellectual commitment to the field of measurement. Recently I asked my dean to switch my affiliation from the measurement program to the policy program. I am no longer comfortable being associated with the discipline of educational measurement.

Renowned psychologist Dr. Gary Thompson said the following on the Utahns Against Common Core Facebook page about Dr. Glass' post:

Mankind (e.g., "Bill Gates, Secretary Duncan, AIR, USOE, or Superintendent Smith, etc) will never create a form of data analysis more accurate and informative than what can be garnered from the combination of a mother, a well trained local teacher & Principal, and valid, personalized, private, assessment tools interpreted by a professional with one, and only one motive in mind:

To lift the academic, emotional, and spiritual foundation of a child for the sake of the joy of enrichment.

Assessments, as well as the associated meta data generated by our current Common Core based educational system, will never be able to be used as a valid measure of teachers, schools, or as a tool to achieve the mythical political term of "career & college ready"....or to support the political desires of our current Governor and Utah's Chamber of Commerce.
"Parents are, and must always be the resident experts of their own children".

The testing/data pseudo-science spewing from the lips of the educational/political bureaucracy, can't change this very law of nature and the universe.

We agree!

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

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