Questioning the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium

The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) is the assessment for Common Core and is funded by a $160M grant from the US Department of Education.  Although Common Core has been adopted by the State, SBAC has not.  Sweetwater School District #1 has volunteered 3rd & 4th graders attending Walnut Elementary School to participate April 7th-25th.  Sweetwater School District #2 volunteered Harrison (3rd & 4th grade) April 28th – May 16th, Jackson (4th grade) April 7th – 25th, and McKinnon Elementary schools to participate in a field test of SBAC this spring. These voluntary “test of the tests” are in addition to the other required assessments our children take, such as the Proficiency Assessments for Wyoming Students (PAWS), Student Assessment of Writing Skills (SAWS), Measures of Academic Progress (MAP), DIBELS, DAZE and AIMSWEB.

It puts this valuable learning time toward a for-profit company on a test that we may never see again. The legislature refused to approve funds for SBAC in their interim committee meetings this fall due to tremendous grassroots opposition.

The Field Test is a “test of the test” and will result in some questions being revised or dropped, and students will not receive scores. This test will require approximately ten 45-minute testing sessions, approximately 8 hours, which translates into multiple days of teachers administering unapproved experimental field tests to our children instead of teaching subject matter to them.  Teachers want, need, and deserve time to do their jobs well, not just administer tests – especially experimental ones.

I’m not aware of any parental consent asking if our children could be used for an experimental field test.

Parents across our country are choosing to exercise their parental rights and refuse assessments.  Brianna Davis, mother of Green River students said, “I chose to opt my kids out of PAWS and SAWS because I would rather they spend the hours learning.  I also do not agree with the fact that the test scores are how school funding is determined.”

Recently Lincoln County School District #2 in Star Valley chose to back out of the SBAC Field Test, when initially EVERY school in their district had signed on.  When LCSD#2 found out that the field test was approximately 8 hours long (broken down into 45 minute segments) and that SBAC was not approved by the legislature, and that even if it were approved it wasn’t going to be implemented for two years, they decided not to waste their students’ time on more testing.  LCSD#2, along with Campbell County #1 and Park County #6, chose to prevent their students from being the guinea pigs used to determine if an unapproved test was a good or not.  Will this same step be taken to protect our students in Sweetwater County and allow academics and teaching to take precedence over practicing a trial test?

There are several reasons to assert your parental rights and Opt-Out.

1) Protect student data that will eventually be put into a national database (SLDS).  This is NOT the same information that has always been gathered on our children.

2) Protect kids from undue stress.

3) Allow students to do additional learning rather than spending HOURS testing.

4) Send a message that parents have the control and know what’s best for their child.

5) Allow teachers to use their professional judgment to gage where that student is academically and not rely on or pigeon-hole a child with numbers.

As a practical matter, teachers teach to the test.  Tests are what teachers and children are measured against so it only makes sense for teachers to do so.  SBAC is a federally controlled test.  Therefore the federal government through SBAC controls what our teachers teach and by extension controls what our children learn.  In essence we are voluntarily embracing the test that seals our fate as to the federal control of the teachers and the education of our children in SW#2.  I believe both deserve so much more.

For information on Opting Out please visit WyomingCitizensOpposingCommonCore.com.

Christy Hooley

Green River

Educator, Mother, Concerned Citizen

Sign THIS Letter for NO NGSS in Your School District!!

SAY NO to NEXT GENERATION SCIENCE STANDARDS

The State School Board in Wyoming is looking at adopting a set of science standards for public
school students that are concerning. Many people around Wyoming have let the State Board know that they do not want these standards adopted for our kids, but it still looks like they will accept them anyway.

Your local district has the opportunity to  let the State Board know that these are
not the right choice of Wyoming.

Please consider signing this letter asking our local School Board
to take a stance.

If you and your spouse share the same email address, please list “Joe & Jane” in the first name column.

The program only allows an email to be used once.

Click on your district to read and sign the letter.

Sweetwater County School District #1

Sweetwater County School District #2

Park County School District 1

Park County School District 6

Campell County 1

Teton County 1

If your county is not available please email:

contact@wyomingcitizensopposingcommoncore.com

Letter to School Board Members on Data and Privacy

Below is the letter that I read to the Board of Trustees for Sweetwater County School District Number One. This is something that ALL parents and community members should be aware of and concerned about. Our local school boards will be entering into an agreement (MOU) that they have not officially agreed too. In doing so, they are giving away their power to represnt YOU as parents and community members, especially when it comes to your children’s data. We aren’t talking about the data they have always taken on our children.  This is a statewide inter-operable (shares with other agencies) system that will share ALL information that could include a health record or disciplinary record from P20 (preschool through college and the workforce) system.

You may read the letter below or listen to me present to the board in the video recording my husband took (forgive the amateur video – but the sound system is great!)

Board Members,

My name is Christy Hooley and I am a teacher from Sweetwater County School District #2.  I taught both 5th and 6th grade at Monroe Intermediate School.   I recently resigned my position to focus on an issue that is dear to my heart, the Common Core State Standards and the various issues it brings to teachers and students across our state and nation.  In doing so I have found others that have the same concerns, and I stand here representing the group, Wyoming Citizens Opposing Common Core.

One of these key issues that comes along with the CCSS is the creation of the State Longitudinal Database that will be inter-operable with other agencies.   Due to some questions arising from this concern the Wyoming Department of Education released a document entitled “Data Governance” for districts to distribute to parents concerned about data. The document covers four “Commonly Asked Questions about Student Data”.  While I appreciate the effort of the WDE to be both transparent and informative, the document does not cover many key issues, nor does it provide any links or references as to fact check sources.

These issues should be addressed and communicated to parents in our community as well as around the state. The creation of the State Longitudinal Data System is a key issue in education reform, and parents have many questions surrounding its creation and use.  Please look over the MOU (memorandum of understanding), which is an agreement between 20+ state agencies to begin sharing student data via the State Longitudinal Data System.  You will find that it states, The creation of the P20 SLDS is called for in the 2012 Legislative Session Enrolled Act 29 Section 326. The creation of P20 SLDS and data sharing shall fulfill the requirements established by the Wyoming Accountability in Education Act”

 Basically, what you have in front of you, to the best mine and our group’s knowledge is… that all of the data that is collected by the local school districts, which you represent, will go into this system.  The Department of Ed is going to sign for you…in doing so you stating that all  agencies listed can receive information.  This is a serious local control issue, this document says districts are required to collect this information, but you are not required to sign this agreement.   This is the information on our kids and families, and it is not just being distributed to every educational entity in the state of Wyoming, but to Department of Workforce Services, Department of Family Services, Department of Health, and any other agency they deem.  This is something that should be brought to the public’s attention as well as our representatives.  I implore that you make this a priority quickly!

As you may be aware I have been giving presentations in our community and around our state concerning education reform and its most recent reform with the Common Core State Standards.  I am often asked questions that I cannot answer by concerned parents.  You are elected to represent our community, and should know the concerns that I’m often approached with.  I would like to give you an opportunity to address these concerns.

 These are questions that I would pose as “Commonly Asked” by parents in our district and across our state:

1) What is the purpose of the State Longitudinal Data System?

2) The recent changes to FERPA by the US Department of Education has allowed for sharing of student data in the SLDS. What state agencies will now be sharing student data?

3) What data dictionary will be used to collect student data from the districts to the WDE for the SLDS?

4) How are parents notified of what data will be collected from their student at the district level and sent to the state?

5) How does WDE notify parents if a data breach occurs?

6) What legal recourse/penalties does an agency face in the event of a data breach on a child’s educational record?

7) How long is student data stored, and how is it destroyed once it is no longer needed?

8) What third party entities have access to student data via the SLDS?

This is the heart of the concerns that parents have about data being collected on their children. The recent changes to FERPA undermine parental consent provisions. It is my understanding that there is not currently Wyoming law that outlines data breach reporting requirements or penalties in the event that a breach occurs. I would ask you as a board to seek answers to these questions from the WDE Data Governance Contacts.

Furthermore, I would ask that you familiarize yourself with the Privacy Bill known as Senate File 36 that was discussed by the Committee on Statewide Education Accountability on Dec. 10th.  It does not include the SLDS, and therefore does not do enough to protect our children’s data. If a health record becomes part of a student’s educational file, it is no longer protected. I would recommend that all student disciplinary and health records be exempt from educational records and remain confidential under all circumstances.

I am not suggesting that Wyoming is sharing this data currently, however there is nothing strong preventing them from doing so, plus school systems are moving more and more to commonality and disaggregating (personally identifiable) student data.  This can be seen by all those partnered with the Data Quality Campaign and policies held by the Council of Chief State School Officers. 

I invite each one of you to attend my next presentation, so you may also become informed on both sides of the education reform issues and better understand the questions and concerns parents may come to you with.  I will be presenting next on January 24th at 7PM at the Green River Library and again at the White Mountain Library in Rock Springs on January 30th, at 7PM.

I hope to hear back from you concerning this extremely important issue.

Thank you,

Christy Hooley

www.wyomingagainstcommoncore.wordpress.com

www.wyomingcitizensopposingcommoncore.com

New Year’s Resolution to Stop Common Core

My-2014-New-Years-Resolutions

Have you set any New Year’s Resolutions?  How about setting one that will have a HUGE  positive impact on education and school reform in the years to come?

Joy Pullman‘s resolution was published by the Washington Examiner today.   She knows just how to put into words what needs to be said and done concerning Common Core State Standards! You can read it below or at the link listed.  If you aren’t already familar with her work with School Refore News and the Heartland Institute, it is well worth reading.

A New Year’s resolution for the kids: End Common Core before it’s too late

BY JOY PULLMANN | JANUARY 2, 2014 AT 10:14 AM

With the arrival of 2014, now is the time to make resolutions about what we should change in coming months.

As most legislative sessions begin in January, it’s a good time for lawmakers and their constituents to resolve to ditch the national education goals and tests called “Common Core.”

Many seem to believe Common Core justifies a massive expansion of unaccountable bureaucracy and government coercion at all levels.

We hear repeatedly from presidency-sniffers such as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and power-sniffers like Education Secretary Arne Duncan that Common Core will transform U.S. schools into Never Never Land, where children are daily administered strong doses of something called “rigor” and stewed in vague notions of “critical thinking.”

Common Core certainly will transform the nation’s schools. Our right to representative government has been blown away by a national education control system created behind closed doors by powerbrokers in D.C. nonprofit organizations that have never improved one school and typically never taught one student.

According to the agreements governors signed to start Common Core (although no governor has authority over state education systems without the consent of their legislatures), the initiative consists of standards and tests.

The two national Common Core tests are exclusively funded by the federal government, and the feds have established a review panel to oversee those tests down to the very questions, even though three federal laws prohibit the federal government from influencing or controlling tests and curriculum.

Common Coreniks have faith in the apparatus they’ve created like some people believe in UFOs or the Illuminati.

Thirty years of scientific research, however, shows education monopolists in both parties are wrong to put their faith in standards and tests as a means to provide “accountability” without doing the hard work to empower families by creating competition among schools.

Education standards do not improve student achievement, according to Brookings Institution research.

Common Core is nothing but a bundle of consultant-generated theories that never have shown themselves effective (or shown themselves at all) in any classroom, let alone every classroom.

Promising Common Core will produce a renaissance of literary knowledge and love for America’s Founders because one line in it says kids should read unspecified “founding documents” is like promising takeovers of foreign countries will generate a stable Middle East.

In fact, Common Core is more likely to do the opposite of what is being promised — it recommends students read just the Bill of Rights, not the Constitution, and suggests violently anti-Constitution modern scholarship to offer kids their first and presumably only in-school encounter with that text.

The education monopolists argue “accountability” means not giving parents power to make decisions about where their child will attend school, but instead tying more and more policies to tests now controlled by the federal government.

Tests now influence school funding, teacher evaluations, hiring and firing, school takeovers, school grades and more.

And these tests must be all online, which is so expensive the Obama administration is raising everyone’s phone taxes to give schools more broadband subsidies.

Moms, dads, grandmas and grandpas have been fed lines for years about how the nation’s elites have only our best interests at heart while they sell our children into debt and regulatory slavery to fund their self-perpetuating fantasies.

Families and some lawmakers around the nation are finally saying enough!

Common Core tests will hit the nation’s schools in the 2014-15 school year. This spring is the last chance for states to back away, which they should resolve to do as fast as possible.

Joy Pullman

That last line, “this spring is the last chance for states to back away” is hitting closer and closer to home!  Did you know that MANY school districts in Wyoming, including mine, have VOLUNTEERED to use our students as guniee pigs for the pilot test this spring?   Sweetwater County School District #2, has signed up to pilot the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) test prior to it going “live” next year.  Did  parents receive notification of this?

I truly hope that our state does not see the negative impact that happened in other states when they tried to pilot the national common core test.   A website was set up by Lucy Calkins, an amazing eductor who has written many  books and curriculum tools to help teach ELA (English Language Arts).  I have used her materials over the years and loved them.  She recently wrote a book, Pathways to the Common Core, that helps teachers use her techniques to teach the CCSS.  She then created this site to allow for feedback on how testing went, since many had used her suggestions for teaching CCSS.    The comments clearly show that students are not prepared for these types of tests, let alone the teachers being prepared to teach all that might be on the test. There is an “Emotional Distress” section along with many other problems listed.  Take a few mintues and read responses from parents and teachers here.  Be prepared and have a box of Kleenex handy!  Some of them are heart breaking, especially to me,  being both an educator and a parent.

Please make it your resolution to join your voice with others that are fighting this intrustion on our children’s education, privacy, and teacher’s careers.  Along with the information I list on this blog, I suggest these other sites for great resources as you help join our fight to STOP COMMON CORE!

Truth in Amerian Education

What is Common Core

Wyoming Citizens Opposing Common Core

Wyoming Freedom on Education

~Christy Hooley