Sunday, March 20, 2016

Common Core News (and Common Core and Student Data Privacy)

 An op-ed from school board members from the Orange County Register on Common Core and data mining:
The California Department of Education last week informed school parents of a federal judge’s decision to release up to 10 million student records to a plaintiff’s attorney. The case, Morgan Hill Parents Association v. California Department of Education, could allow student records to be released that contain “names, addresses, phone numbers and Social Security numbers, as well as sensitive information on behavior, academic performance and health.” The future of this legal case remains unclear
What is generally unknown by parents, and far more egregious than the data release requested in the Morgan Hill lawsuit, are similar data-mining requirements by federally and state-authorized Common Core programs.
Parents want their children to learn academic material without the psychological conditioning, data mining, tracking and analyzing of behavioral patterns. These federal and state programs exclude local control of education, and the federal government reference to gathering of students’ personal information is too Orwellian and rightfully creates anxiety and worry for parents.
That last paragraph brings up a good question - has public education gone too "deep dive" on kids and how they learn?  Because the authors are suggesting just that. 

One of the more interesting trends in corporate ed reform thinking is that parents are just "confused" and probably don't know what they are talking about when it comes to Common Core as well as opting out.
No adult likes someone telling them they just don't know enough.  For a small group of parents that could certainly be true.  However, I believe, in my experience, that most parents DO some degree of work to understand issues that affect their child.  So it's a bit of paternalism and even scorn to tell parents they are confused.  (Or, like that principal in Brooklyn who told her students not to listen to their parents about testing.)

New York state decided NOT to use Common Core but, according to this article, they are getting new standards that look like the old Common Core standards.   
Furthermore, the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 requires the U.S. secretary of education to approve a state’s education plans that include “challenging state academic standards.” One of the great questions of 2016, and beyond, is whether the secretary will approve any state’s education plans that do not use the Common Core or a facsimile.
And we have a lame-duck Secretary of Education and will states than don't directly embrace Common Core standards be dinged for that stand (no matter how similar their "new" standards look to CC?)

Valerie Strauss of the Washington Post's The Answer Sheet  had this article recently:
More than 100 education researchers in California have joined in a call for an end to high-stakes testing, saying that there is no “compelling” evidence to support the idea that the Common Core State Standards will improve the quality of education for children or close the achievement gap, and that Common Core assessments lack “validity, reliability and fairness.”

The California Alliance of Researchers for Equity in Education,  a statewide collaborative of university-based education researchers, recently released a research brief (see in full below below) describing concerns with the Common Core standards and the assessments being given to millions of students in California and other states around the country this spring.
Testing experts have raised significant concerns about all (SBAC, PARCC, Pearson) assessments, including the lack of basic principles of sound science, such as construct validity, research-based cut scores, computer adaptability, inter-rater reliability, and most basic of all, independent verification of validity.

Here in California, the SBAC assessments have been carefully examined by independent examiners of the test content who concluded that they lack validity, reliability, and fairness, and should not  be administered, much less be considered a basis for high-stakes decision making.  When asked for documentation of the validity of the CA tests, the CA Department of Education failed to make such documentation public.  Even SBAC’s own contractor, Measured Progress, in 2012 gave several warnings, including against administering these tests on computers.
 About using a computer for high-stakes testing, there are several issues.  One, are states truly giving the technology dollars to districts to support this effort?  Can our own state say this?  Two, computer versus by hand testing - here's what Ed Week wrote about that:
Though only one in five students used the old-fashioned pencil-and-paper method to take the PARCC last year, those students seemed to have better odds to perform better than those who used computers. Education Week "reported that in some cases the differences were substantial enough to raise concerns about whether scores on the exam — the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers test — are valid and reliable enough to be used for teacher evaluations or school accountability decisions,” said The Washington Post. - See more at: http://www.educationworld.com/a_news/students-who-use-paper-and-pencil-common-core-test-scored-higher-those-who-used-computers#sthash.vFC4lrzy.dpuf
 Students who took the 2014-15 PARCC exams via computer tended to score lower than those who took the exams with paper and pencil-a revelation that prompts questions about the validity of the test results and poses potentially big problems for state and district leaders.

“Officials from the multistate Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers acknowledged the discrepancies in scores across different formats of its exams in response to questions from Education Week….

“In December, the Illinois state board of education found that 43 percent of students there who took the PARCC English/language arts exam on paper scored proficient or above, compared with 36 percent of students who took the exam online. The state board has not sought to determine the cause of those score differences.”
That last sentence is somewhat shocking considering that teachers may be evaluated on test scores and certainly students and their schools are.  If I were a school who worried about that difference, I'd be advocating for paper and pencil testing.

So parents may be less confused and more concerned than Common Core supporters would have us think.
Though only one in five students used the old-fashioned pencil-and-paper method to take the PARCC last year, those students seemed to have better odds to perform better than those who used computers. - See more at: http://www.educationworld.com/a_news/students-who-use-paper-and-pencil-common-core-test-scored-higher-those-who-used-computers#sthash.vFC4lrzy.dpuf

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

When I started to read the research brief, I discovered that there is a serious disconnect between the text and the footnotes.

The part of the brief that says "Testing experts have raised significant concerns about all (SBAC, PARCC, Pearson) assessments, including the lack of basic principles of sound science, such as construct validity, research-based cut scores, computer adaptability, inter-rater reliability, and most basic of all, independent verification of validity." has a footnote that takes you to the Smarter Balanced website that says none of those things.

The part of the brief that says "Here in California, the SBAC assessments have been carefully examined by independent examiners of the test content who concluded that they lack validity, reliability, and fairness, and should not be administered, much less be considered a basis for high-stakes decision making." has a footnote that takes you to a post on Diane Ravitch's blog where a reader, who is a mother and clinical psychologist, writes about taking an SBAC practice test.

Even weirder, the section on how much it costs to do CCSS testing in California has footnotes to papers written in the 1990s.

LisaG

mirmac1 said...

Students records become fodder in lawsuit:

Judge backtracks on release of California student recordse

The California STAR test data will be released.

I think a similar suit is entirely plausible in our state.