Jane Robbins,attorney and senior fellow for the American Principles Project, has written another excellent column about the dangers of the next big edu fad - social emotional learning standards. Eight states are working with CASEL to adopt them. These are California, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Washington.
We have long written about the dangerous loss of freedom of conscience and privacy inherent in social emotional research and data gathering via the allegedly academic Common Core aligned tests that are being amplified in the Every Student Succeeds Act's accountability paradigm. Mrs. Robbins was kind enough to cite Dr. Effrem's research paper on this topic. Here is an excerpt:
Assessment and development of students' social and emotional skills is risky business. What kind of training will teachers or other school personnel have for this responsibility? Psychologist Dr. Gary Thompson points out the extremely sensitive nature of evaluating children's social-emotional makeup and warns about having inadequately trained personnel implementing plans designed to alter students' psyches.
When non-psychologists dabble in these murky waters, the result is tremendously subjective analyses of what a child is thinking or feeling as opposed to what the government thinks he should be thinking or feeling. Dr. Karen Effrem, who has researched and written extensively about the issue of SEL, warns about the subjectivity of this kind of analysis, particularly with young children.
Even prominent SEL proponents caution that assessing students on SEL standards, especially with the common mechanism of student surveys, can be a shot in the dark. Researchers Angela Duckworth and David Yeager have said that "perfectly unbiased, unfakeable, and error-free measures are an ideal, not a reality." [Read the whole column titled: The Latest Big Education Fad, Social-Emotional Learning, Is As Bad As It Read more
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