This is a reposting of my weekly Da Tech Guy column: The Smarter Balanced Connections
By A.P. Dillon
Last week, I wrote about Lamar Alexander’s ‘education’ history. In that article, I traced Alexander’s involvement with the “New American Schools Development Corporation” and how that company was merged with the The American Institutes for Research (AIR).
AIR is now producing Common Core tests for the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC). The other outfit producing Common Core tests is The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC). PARCC is run by publishing behemoth Pearson.
Both sets of test have come under fire with states pulling out of the SBAC, parents opting their kids out of the tests and, most recently, students walking out of the PARCC tests in New Mexico. The tests are reported to be poorly written in some cases and there have been concerns over data collected by these tests and the privacy of that data.
Just yesterday, a judge in Missouri ruled that the SBAC fees in Missouri were unconstitutional. Missouri Education Watchdog reported:
Judge Green of the circuit court of Cole County has just granted summary judgment in our favor on our claim that Missouri’s membership fees to Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortia are unlawful under the Compact Clause of the U.S. Constitution as well as “state and federal law.”
Judge Green has permanently enjoined the State of Missouri from making payments in the form of membership fees to Smarter Balanced. We can no longer be a member of SBAC.
Quoting directly from the judgement, which found the SBAC participation by Missouri to be in violation of the Compact Clause of the U.S. Constitution and “unlawful under state and federal law”.
The judgement mentions the SBAC thusly, “the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, a.k.a. Smarter Balanced, Smarter Balanced at UCLA“. It is worth mentioning that North Carolina is a member of the SBAC and at some point between October 2014 and January 2015, North Carolina’s status at the SBAC went from Governing State to Affiliate State.
Upon inquiring with the SBAC, I was informed this change happened because North Carolina refused to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with UCLA. However, according to a statement from North Carolina’s Department of Public Instruction, the status change occurred because the state did not administer the full SBAC test in spring of 2014.
Let’s return to Lamar Alexander, who is the sponsor of S. 227, Strengthening Education through Research Act (SETRA). This bill seeks to actually increase data collection of children, including psychological profiling. To be clear, this bill is dangerous.
SETRA depends on FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) to protect student data privacy. FERPA was gutted by the U.S. Department of Education and Arne Duncan in 2011 in order to let data under Common Core and the associated tests to flow freely. That same year SBAC scored big with the the U.S. Department of Education.
When states took Race To The Top Funds and agreed to adopt Common Core, they were also required the construction of State Longitudinal Database Systems (SLDS). Under SETRA, these SLDS’s will now get even more student data.
Who benefits? Arguably education profiteers have the most to gain. Without the data, outfits like SBAC and PARCC cease to function. Perhaps Senator Alexander can comment on the bill that benefits “public and private entities,” of which his past ‘education history’ is entwined with?
Also of note is H.R. 5, The Student Success Act, which is being rushed through and promoted by Congressional representatives as the opposite of what it really is. This bill marginalizes parental rights and local decision-making.
SETRA also claims to protect states from federal coercion related to Common Core. Pay attention to the language, the bill prevents future federal coercion. SETRA does nothing to stop the current situation.
These two bills combined represent a failure to listen and a failure to learn from the mistakes of the past. In a nutshell: Education officials and Congress still haven’t figured out our kids and their education are not data sets to be bought and sold.
The public needs to contact their Senators and their Representatives. Now.
A.P. Dillon resides in the Triangle area of North Carolina and is the founder ofLadyLiberty1885.com.
Her current and past writing can also be found at IJ Review, StopCommonCoreNC.org, WatchdogWireNC and WizBang.