Response to Common Core Talking Points from Majority Leader's Office

Response to Leadership's Education Accountability Memo
Karen R. Effrem, MD - Executive Director of Florida Stop Common Core Coalition, Inc.

The following is a response to the summary "messaging points" of the  Education Accountability Update published by the Office of the House Majority Leader on March 21st after Pam Stewart chose the controversial AIR test for Florida.

1) "The Legislative leadership was among the first to state that Florida should withdraw immediately from PARCC."
Florida has only given up its fiscal agent role.  It is still part of the PARCC consortium, and could theoretically go back to using the PARCC test. All five of the organizations that participated in the ITN were developing tests that are fully Common Core aligned.  Choosing an organization that is developing the Common Core tests for the other federally funded, federally supervised national Common Core testing consortium (SBAC) is not exactly a switch of significance. [UPDATE: Florida is no longer part of PARCC. The state was dropped from the list after Commissioner Stewart chose the controversial firm AIR to give the test.  Florida never formally withdrew from the consortium]
2) "The proposed standards are designed to equip Florida's students to be college and career ready upon graduation from high school."
These standards have never been field tested anywhere.  The states that have started using them and tested them have seen dramatic drops in scores.  There was no K-12 classroom teacher involvement until well after the main part of the standards was written.  The five main writers of the standards had zero k-12 classroom experience and only two of them had experience writing standards.
David Coleman, now head of the College Board that writes the SAT test, admitted, "One is we're composed of that collection of unqualified people who were involved in developing the common standards...I probably spend a little more time on literacy because as weak as my qualifications are there, in math they're even more desperate in their lacking."
Jason Zimba, one of those five major authors and the main architect of the math standards admitted what "college readiness" really means at a Massachusetts State Board of Education meeting:
 "[Common Core is] not only not for STEM, it's also not for selective colleges."   
3) "The changes to the standards are tailored to the educational needs of Florida's students."
In the fall of 2010, the State Board of Education declared that they would not change or add to any of Common Core standards.  Florida changed only 98 out of 11,000 standards.  This is 0.9%, which means that even after all of that elaborate show of pretending to care what the public and experts think and want, the so-called Florida standards are still 99.1% Common Core.  The Department ignored the extensive comments of experts and many thousands of parents.  Even during the process, education officials admitted that the changes were going to be insignificant. And now, there is video of Speaker Weatherford admitting to the corporate elite of Florida that the plan all along was just to change the name, rendering the governor's executive order meaningless and the hearing and comment process a sham.
4) "The new assessment will accurately reflect the standings of our students according to the standards we have set."
All five of the testing companies that competed for the Florida contract are fully Common Core aligned.  The recent news stories by the East Orlando Post and WUSF show that the organization that won the $220 million testing contract, AIR (American Institutes for Research), are developing the test for SBAC (Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium), which is the other federally funded, federally supervised national testing consortium testing the national Common Core standards.  In addition, AIR bills 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. 

AIR is also involved in research on the GLBT lifestyle.

AIR is also intimately involved in data mining.  According to their website:
"The National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research (CALDER) is now based at AIR's corporate headquarters in Washington, D.C...CALDER, which previously was located at the Urban Institute, strives to inform education policy development through analyses of data on individual students and teachers over time... CALDER studies a wide range of education policy research topics, including: state and local education finance, school accountability, standards and assessment, teacher recruitment and retention, teacher quality, school administration, child development, early childhood education... Currently, CALDER is working with data from Florida, Indiana, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Texas, Washington, and Washington, D.C." (Emphasis added)

5) "The security of Florida's student-specific data will be safeguarded."
As documented since last year during the fight over SB 878, the infamous data mining bill, any "FERPA exceptions" render proposed data protections completely meaningless.  There is an entire section of the FERPA regulations titled "99.31 Under what conditions is prior consent not required to disclose information?" that is explained in detail in our response to the deceptive letter to Arne Duncan signed by 34 chief state school officers, including Pam Stewart, trying to give the impression that individual student data will not be given to the federal government, when both PARCC and SBAC clearly admit that it will be.  To be meaningful, any data protection bill must not be based on the non-existent protections in FERPA and must prohibit psychosocial teaching, testing and data collection.
6) "Teacher evaluations will fairly reflect individual job performance, including, in part, the academic growth and performance of each teacher's students".
Teachers will be subject to the data mining as admitted by AIR and held responsible for how well their students comply with the psychologically based Common Core tests based on the subjective, academically inferior, developmentally inappropriate and psychologically manipulative Common Core standards.  Instead of being able to teach to each student's needs and abilities, teachers will have to teach everyone to the same level and follow uniform computerized or scripted curriculum.

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