Thursday, May 14, 2015

Federal/State Education News

From Politico:

Sens. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) will reintroduce a bill today aiming to better protect student data. Like the bill that House Education and the Workforce Committee leaders Reps. John Kline and Bobby Scott have been putting together, the Markey-Hatch bill would change data privacy by updating the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. 

The bill [] would take several steps to bring the long-outdated FERPA into the digital age, including prohibiting tech companies from using student data to target ads. It would also give parents the right to access records about their children held by private companies — and change that information if it’s incorrect. Districts would have to keep lists of outside vendors that hold information on students and make those lists accessible to parents. 

There are now two bipartisan bills targeting student privacy, Markey-Hatch and the bill reintroduced recently by Reps. Luke Messer (R-Ind.) and Jared Polis (D-Colo.). Two more privacy bills are in the works: One from House education committee leaders and another from Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.).

Senator Markey's statement:
“There are threats to students when their personal information is in the hands of private companies, and we need to make sure parents have the tools to protect their children. A child’s educational record should not be sold as a product on the open market. Protecting privacy is a bipartisan priority, and I thank Senator Hatch for his partnership on this important legislation.” 
Jeb Bush, potential GOP presidential candidate told Fox news this about Common Core:

Common Core means a lot of things to different people, so they could be right based on what's in front of them," Bush said. "I respect people having a view, but the simple fact is, we need higher standards. They need to be state-driven. The federal government should play no role in this, either in the creation of standards, content, or curriculum."
That's clever of Mr. Bush because he seems to think the Governors Association (which was the front for the creation of Common Core) represents "states."  It's a private group that represents governors but nice try.  

Somebody in Minnesota does not like PARCC.  Once again, someone hacked into their system and disrupted science testing.  From Politico:
Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius is now questioning whether Pearson can adequately serve as vendor. "It is simply unacceptable and unfair to subject students and teachers to this kind of uncertainty in a high-stakes testing environment," she said on Wednesday. "After the April 21 suspension, Pearson added additional security measures to prevent this type of disruption. Given the need to suspend testing today, I have questions about Pearson’s ability to follow through on their assurances."
But wait, maybe we don't need testing at all.  From Diane Ravitch:

Peter Greene reports on a study by Chris Tienken at Seton Hall University, who was able to predict test scores by analyzing demographics. As others have pointed out, standardized test scores are a family wealth/education indicator. 

Greene writes: 
“In “Predictable Results,” one of his most recent posts, he lays out again what his team has managed to do over the past few years. Using US Census data linked to social capital and demographics, Tienken has been able to predict the percentage of students who will score proficient or better on the tests.

“Let me repeat that. Using data that has nothing to do with grades, teaching techniques, pedagogical approaches, teacher training, textbook series, administrative style, curriculum evaluation— in short, data that has nothing to do with what goes on inside the school building– Tienken has been able to predict the proficiency rate for a school.

“In fact, Tienken’s work is great news– states can cut out the middle man and simply give schools scores based on the demographic and social data. We don’t need the tests at all.”


Anonymous said...

Melissa, I know I've confronted you on your NGA issue in the past and your position that NGA doesn't represent the states. Fine. Let me take another approach by asking a question: Who does represent the states?

When I've witnessed testimony in front of the legislature, I've seen and heard WEA claim they represent teachers, WSSDA claim they represent school board members, WASA claim they represent district superintendents and other administrators, and AWSP claim they represent principals. Do they not?

If you're the White House and you want the input of states and state departments of education on policy matters, don't you go to NGA and CCSSO to gain that input? These are the chief executives of the states and state departments of education, respectively.

As a practical matter, under what other umbrella(s) can states claim representation if not NGA?

--- swk

BSLL said...


States represent states. MW was correct JB's statement was misleading as it sounds like States had some input. They did not. Some Governors voted a plurality in support of it. That is it. What consideration was put forth I don't know. But show me one piece of legislation that a Governor can inact unilaterally.

Also, if you read it "with a full grain of salt" ie a R who wants above anything to win the white house again... you think that is great that Education is finally going back to the states. We need that. When in fact it is just the opposite.

Aside: I actually think Jeb doesn't so much like the idea of running a campaign for Pres as this and Iraq being justifiable regardless of WMD, are both ridiculous.

Charlie Mas said...

Regardless of who developed the CCSS, there is the simple fact that they were adopted by state legislatures all across the country. Yes, they were under pressure from the federal government to do it, and probably under a lot of pressure from campaign contributors as well, but, nevertheless, the state legislatures voted to adopt CCSS.

Anonymous said...

BSLL, in addition to the point that Charlie makes in regard to states having the ultimate authority to adopt the standards (even under duress), it is completely inaccurate to claim, as you have, that states had no input into the development of the standards.


The CCSS development teams were chock full of representatives from the states. It is true that there was very little input from classroom teachers on the development of the standards but state departments of education had significant representation.

--- swk

Anonymous said...

swk: First, although I may be wrong in understanding what Charlie meant, I read his comment as being more about accountability than a defense of the CC standards. He is correct in pointing out that regardless of who wrote the standards (and whether they are currently miscasting their authority), we are stuck with them in Seattle not because of the NGA, but because of our legislature.

But I have two problems. First, both you and Charlie seem cavalier about the "duress" issue. In contract law, undue duress gets you OUT of a contract! I am not suggesting that these laws are invalid, but my recollection of watching this process is that we would NOT have adopted CC had it not been for the various sticks being wielded by the feds in terms of money, RRRT participation, etc. Should we have held out? Yes. So it is our fault -- but it is misleading to say we adopted them in any process that fairly evaluated the standards themselves, or the potential downside of participating in the (backdoor) nationalizing of educational curricula and standards.

Second -- regardless of what WEA says in terms of who they represent, or WDDSA, BSSLLs point is still true. The states speak for the states. If these decisions devolved back down to the states, we wouldn't have this controversy at all. Texas would be deciding how to teach biology in Texas, and Alaska would be deciding what the standards/curricula are for Alaska, etc. The "laboratories of innovation" that states can be (I still recall the days when folks looked to Massachusetts because things that IT -- as a state -- were doing seemed to be working better than what other states did) would remain intact, etc. We STILL have the NAEP if we want to "true up" state assessments against a "third party" measure.

Finally -- the process and the product that the NGA used are both fairly opaque. Having read some stuff on how inappropriate the elementary standards are at each grade level, I would LOVE to know what the process was -- who was asked, what were the questions, who objected to certain standards for certain ages, how those objections were processed (and overruled or accommodated), etc -- and, of course, I would love the kind of insight that we seem to have on all or most other tests -- in terms of test question validity, how many kids answer various questions correctly, etc.

My sense is that the entire process of developing the CCSS and the high stakes tests that measure progress in meeting them has been corrupted by opacity, pressure from outside agendas and special interests that are at odds with parents objectives in educating their kids, and misrepresentations as to the motives of, and validity of the process, at virtually every step of the process. (I am not using corruption in the RICO sense, though others may -- I am using it more in the "garbage in/garbage out" data sense).


Anonymous said...

"Having read some stuff on how inappropriate the elementary standards are at each grade level, I would LOVE to know what the process was -- who was asked, what were the questions, who objected to certain standards for certain ages,..."

Here's an article that may explain some of this. Particularly, read on from "I need you to understand two numbers"