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 188.8.131.52. (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
Karen R. Effrem, MD - Executive Director
The US House Education and Workforce Committee amended and passed its Elementary and Secondary Education Act/No Child Left Behind six hundred plus page reauthorization bill on February 11th. (Video, Bill and amendment language are available here). It passed on a straight party line vote and is scheduled to be debated on the House floor on February 24th. The Obama White has already issued a paper criticizing the bill, as well as a veto threat.
Ideally this massive, unconstitutional, ineffective and expensive law would be repealed and the Department of Education would be closed. Sadly, that is unlikely to happen anytime soon. Dr. Sandra Stotsky and other friends and experts in the movement issued a statement calling for a major elimination of mandates.
The bill, called The Student Success Act (HR5) was described by committee member and former Alabama State School Board member Bradley Byrne as "a step in the right direction, but still has far to go," because the federal government "needs a large dose of humility" when it comes to education. We agree!
However, while we oppose this bill as a whole, before discussing the significant issues of concern, it is important to congratulate and thank Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and the committee members that supported good language and fought off bad amendments. Here are the highlights:
The bill contains language found in an anti-Common Core, anti-Federal interference bill call the Local Control of Education Act, HR 524 by committee member Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) and co-sponsored by Florida Republican Reps. Curt Clawson, Tom Rooney, Ron DeSantis, and Ted Yoho, as well as 43 others. This language prevents the Secretary of Education from "incentivizing" or "coercing" national standards like Common Core or and national test like SBAC or PARCC in any federal law or program like waivers. It is important for preventing future Read more
Karen R. Effrem, M.D. - Executive Director
Jeb Bush gave the keynote speech at his Foundation for Excellence in Education national education summit in Washington DC on November 19th. He made an effort to soften his attacks on those who oppose Common Core by now saying he respects us and by shifting blame to the federal government. As his remarks in Education Next on Common Core required a rebuttal, so too do his efforts to continue his unreasonable defense of Common Core. Here is a response to some of his statements on Common Core from that speech:
JB: This is why the debate over the Common Core State Standards has been troubling.
KRE: What is really troubling is that you think these horrific standards that are academically inferior, developmentally inappropriate, and psychologically manipulative with their accompanying tests and invasive data collection system should just be imposed on the nation without a word of protest from the parents, students, and teachers that have to suffer under them.
JB: I respect those who have weighed in on all sides of this issue. Nobody in this debate has a bad motive.
KRE: I suppose that we should be happy that you have changed your tune from this same speech a year ago when you called opposition to Common Core "political" and full of "conspiracy theories." However, everyone can see that it is you who are being political as you try to placate opposition while getting ready to run for president.
JB: And in my view, the rigor of the Common Core State Standards must be the new minimum in classrooms.
KRE: There is nothing particularly rigorous about these standards. They are untested and not internationally benchmarked. Federally mandated state standards have done nothing in this country to improve achievement and several think tanks including the Brookings Institute say that national standards, particularly Common Core, will not improve Read more
As a Family Physician I have a responsibility to plainly communicate with my patients about their health and their responsibilities to maintain their good health. A clear and concise message to each patient helps them follow my recommendations and maintain wellness. My approach to Common Core is to both study and understand this complex program and provide leadership...and some understanding to the families who will ultimately have to live with it.
After having read much on the issue, I think I have found one simple statement that sums up the concerns of implementing Common Core. The Washington Post's Valerie Strauss has brought out a clear point in her article that references "The white paper, called "The Ramifications of Standardized Testing on our Public Schools," was just released by the Central Florida School Board Coalition, a group of top officials from 10 school districts."(April 18,2012)
The article states:
In 1998 (after its initial field testing), the first FCAT was field tested in grades 4, 5, 8, and 10 in reading and math and the first Florida Writes exam was tested in grades 4, 8, and 10. As of 2011, testing has progressed to include:
FCAT 2.0 Reading in grades 3 10
FCAT 2.0 Reading in grades 3 10
FCAT 2.0 Math in grades 3 8
FCAT Writing in grades 4, 8, and 10
FCAT Science in grades 5, 8, and 11
FAIR testing (K-2) one to one with teacher
FAIR testing (3-12) computer based testing
NAEP in grades 4, 8, and 12
EOC Algebra 1 in grades 8, 9, and 10
EOC Biology in grade 8
EOC Geometry in grade 10
U.S. History in grade 11
PERT Math in grade 11
PERT Reading in grade 11
PERT Writing in grade 11
FCAT Reading & Math retakes through grade 12
PERT retakes through grade 12
An enormous increase simply in the sheer quantity of testing has occurred in the State of Florida within the last decade and a half. Moreover, the use of the Read more
Karen R. Effrem, MD Executive Director
Both House Speaker-designate Steve Crisafulli's Florida Today op-ed and the email sent to Jeff Solocheck at the Tampa Bay Times are emblematic of the low esteem the State of Florida has for the role of parents and the U.S. and Florida Constitutions. Here is a piece of the Tampa Bay Times column:
Incoming House Speaker Steve Crisafulli told the Gradebook that he's not interested in providing that choice [to have parental opt-out of the tests].
"Creating an opt-out process would negatively impact our students, teachers, and schools," the Merritt Island Republican said via e-mail. "Students who opt-out would not be eligible to receive a high school diploma or a Bright Futures Scholarship. In addition, an opt-out process would make it impossible to provide raises to our teachers and would cost schools state and federal funds."
Of course, all these provisions are set by the Legislature, and they did not always exist.
He added, "According to the Florida Constitution, the state has the paramount duty to provide a high quality public school system. Without an accountability system for all public school students, the state cannot ensure that children attending our public schools have the opportunity to receive a high quality education."
Perhaps Rep. Crisafulli needs a refresher in understanding on the following issues:
The Supreme Role of Parents in Education - That parents have the right to direct the care, education, and upbringing of their children has been part of American jurisprudence since the nation's founding and part of legal tradition for thousands of years. That notion has been affirmed in many Supreme Court Cases such as Pierce vs. Society of Sisters, which says:
"The child is not the mere creature of the state: those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right coupled with the high duty to recognize and prepare him for additional Read more
As with Rick Scott, Jeb Bush is continuing to have Common Core problems. So much so, that in an interview with the Washington Post's Jennifer Rubin, he didn't do his usual bashing of Common Core opponents, but rather blamed Barak Obama for the conditional waivers associated with No Child Left Behind. Rubin writes with our comments:
Bush may be best known for his education reforms in Florida and his continuing efforts to see comprehensive reform throughout the country. He admits, however, "In the last year or year and a half there has been a stalling-out of the comprehensive reform movement." Common Core has been in the middle of this, with supporters advocating the adoption of high standards originally developed by the states and critics characterizing them as the administration's attempt to take over education. This is a distraction, in Bush's view, along with less central issues like the amount of testing required of children.
COMMENT: This continues to show Bush's tone deafness as both in survey after survey and in numerous scholarly papers, the perception and evidence for federal overreach is plain to see. And if he continues to think that testing is merely a distraction when it takes 40% of instructional time, does not aid teaching, psychologically profiles and career tracks kids, and makes profound decisions for their lives based on just a few tests that are written to be failed, then he will continue to have major problems with the public.
Interestingly, Bush does not castigate Common Core critics for peddling misinformation about the state-developed standards. Instead he invokes a theme conservatives find familiar: "The principal reason [for the fight] has been the president. There is no trust he will faithfully enforce the law." He points to the administration's conditioning No Child Left Behind waivers on adoption of Common Core or equivalent standards, a practice driven not by legislation but by executive whim. "I Read more