#WCPSS Updates: The BIMAS-2 pricetag for experimenting on our kids

This week’s WCPSS updates will cover one topic, the BIMAS-2. Also included are a few related headlines and the arrest of an assistant principal.

The next board meeting is Nov. 19 at 5:30 pm.
Crossroads I – Board Room, 5625 Dillard Drive Cary, NC 27518

#1 – The BIMAS-2: A pricey experiment

If you are just hearing about the BIMAS-2, a “social, emotional and behavioral universal assessment” being used in 8 schools this year and 40 overall in the 2019-20 school year, you can catch up herehere and here.

On October 25, I opened a records request for info on the BIMAS-2.
I already have an open April records request for the “SEL screener” mentioned in a board meeting this past Spring. BIMAS-2 is apparently that screener.

Here is what I requested in October:

Please provide the following with regards to the BIMAS-2 Assessment Tool being used district-wide in Wake County:

1) RFP for the tool and responses
2) Contract for whatever company is providing this tool and all payments
3) Communications to Principals of WCPSS schools about the tool
4) A list of all schools this tool is being deployed to and instructions to staff
5) Training materials or any communications or emails to staff about training on the BIMAS-2 Tool.
6) Any communications by any WCPSS employee about parental consent for use of the BIMAS-2 Assessment in the district schools.

This week I received a partial response to my records request on the BIMAS-2 experiment and received items 1-3 in the list above. I am waiting on 4 and 5.

Communications Director Tim Simmons was one of the people responding to some of the questions about BIMAS-2. He also responded to a second parent who is asking questions about it.

These are the takeaways:

1. This experiment is costing taxpayers $66,000. So far.

“$60,000 for this year (We get “large district discount” of $2 per student)” is what one of the communications staff told me in response to my records request. Notice that the response says “this year,” implying that future costs may be incurred.

Another $6,000 is included in the contract for a “WCPSS server.”

The pilot last year was apparently “free.”

The total dollar amount was confirmed by a second parent’s inquiry. Simmons told the second parent that: “The costs for assessment, data storage and training to date is $66,000.”

I was also given a list of the schools this experiment is currently being conducted. The list matches the list parents had already cobbled together by talking to other parents:

“Washington Elementary, Bugg Elementary, Olive Chapel Elementary, Holly Ridge Middle, Sanderson High, Green Hope High, East Wake High, and Wake Young Women’s Leadership Academy were the schools where the screener was distributed.”

It is unclear from the responses from the District why just these schools are participating right now. I’ve received conflicting answers that they were selected by those running this experiment or these eight schools have self-selected.  For perspective, there are over 170 schools in the district.

2. Data is being collected on the kids who don’t opt-out.

One parent asked about the kids who were in the pilot last year, but Simmons did not answer her question.

That parent also asked about how parents access their student’s data and request the deletion of that data if any had been collected on their student. This was the response:

“Parents can ask the school directly about deleting data if they simply want it removed. An email request to the principal is generally the easiest in a situation such as this.”

“The company that stores the data is Edumetrisis, LLC. Please see Paragraph 9 of the attached service agreement re: data confidentiality and use. Student Support Services is currently working on individual parent reports that will be generated after the screening window closes.”

The existence of a server seemingly contradicts what Simmons says about asking the local school about BIMAS-2 data deletion. It also contradicts what local contacts assigned to certain areas of the district have said about the data/survey being housed only at the individual school.

I have yet to get a clear answer on who has access to the data, and where it is being stored.

It is beyond disturbing how the district is using the BIMAS-2 in such an opaque manner and school officials are failing to give parents access to the materials and results. It is likely the district is in violation of FERPA and the BIMAS-2 most definitely represents a PPRA violation. 

A related point on student privacy: FTC poised to remove parent consent, weaken children’s privacy law. COPPA

3. And this data is being used to assess if your student has “behavioral issues.”

Mr. Simmons’ reply about the use of this data indicates observations like the BIMAS-2 are already being recorded on our kids. Emphasis added in Simmons’ response below:

“Re: your question about use. The purpose of having teachers conduct the observational survey is to better organize and record information, which in turn can be used to help flag possible behavioral issues. As this is based on teacher observations, it is a record of observations already being made by teachers.”

On November 8th, I was told the BIMAS-2 could be administered more than once and parents needed to opt-out each time.

“I am told parents will receive an opt-out request for each administration of the screener, which is scheduled once each semester,” Simmons wrote in his reply.

It is unclear if a second notification letter to opt-out will go out to parents or not.

I was also told on Nov. 8 that Paul Koh, Assistant Supt. of Student Support Services, was in charge of the BIMAS-2 experiment:

“Without regard to anyone’s assessment of the program, the assistant superintendent of Student Support Services is Paul Koh. His email is pkoh@wcpss.net”.”

Koh may be the point person running things, but the contract was signed off on by Dr. Marius Pettiford, Senior Director of Counseling & Student Services for WCPSS.

A presentation on the “Juvenile Justice Program” authored by Pettiford was uncovered by parents in Wake County. The presentation promotes “restorative justice” and “Circles” activities as forms of behavioral and psychological remediation tactics.

These are the same tactics adopted by the WCPSS board. The “circles” activity has popped up at numerous schools in the district, despite objections from parents and students alike.

4. The BIMAS-2 Contract and RFP

I was sent a copy of the Services Agreement Contract for the BIMAS-2.

The “Scope of Services” includes the items below as “what is being provided and measurable outcomes.”

● Provide equitable access to the universal screener for all WCPSS students in the designated schools
● Ensure compatibility with WCPSS data systems for parent/student universal screening
● Provide real-time tailored reports for individual students and parents, classroom, whole grade, whole school, and district at all levels PreK-12
● Provide disaggregated reports inclusive of subgroups
● Provide categorical reporting of SEL skills without diagnostic labels
● Provide ongoing updates and supports including technical manuals, research updates and troubleshooting
● Provide training and professional development as needed
● Provides an accessible and available point person for consultation during the course of this year’s implementation plan

Seemingly, parents are supposed to be included not only in assessments but in receiving reports. This contradicts what I have been told by one district official, who said that assessment is entered online and that “it is not released to parents, per se.”

The RFP for the “Social Emotional Learning Screener” submitted by EDUMETRISIS LLC is 120 pages long and includes psychometrics, which is a psychological measurement of mental capacities and processes.

I have read through most of it and the  key takeaways from the RFP include:

  • “The BIMAS-2 is a nationally standardized test requiring a teacher to be familiar with a student for at least 4 to 6 weeks prior to rating his/her behavior.”
  • “Teachers can complete the BIMAS-2 standard form (34 items) in no more than 2 minutes (max) per student.” (Using their “best guess.”)
  • “All teachers who are to complete the Universal Assessment/screening are assigned a BIMAS-2 account. Upon activating their account, Teachers will see two options on their BIMAS-2 screen. Universal Assessment and progress Monitoring.”
  • BIMAS-2 has a student fulfillment option, which isn’t being used. (See pgs. 38-39)
  • The BIMAS-2 is being used to suss out which students are threats. (See p.22)

On page 32, the RFP states that (emphasis added):

“Using discriminant analysis, the overall correct classification rate was 82.5% when cut-scores of T=>60 for the Behavior Concerns and T = <40 on the Adaptive scales were employed to identify when a student should be classified as “at risk.” 

In other words, overall, the BIMAS-2 appears to be an unscientific process with a poor prediction rate that has to rely on balancing ratios of cut scores.

Update Sept. 2020: Edumetrisis is the entity peddling the BIMAS to Wake County Schools. So far, one payment for $31,973.50 was made on June 10, 2020. The invoice date for that payment was May 11, 2020.

#2 – Other WCPSS News

Chairman Jim Martin and Supt. Moore pen letter to CSAB to kill charter school 
And it looks like it worked.

Wake County assistant principal arrested for DWI

About A.P. Dillon

A.P. Dillon is a reporter currently writing at The North State Journal. She resides in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_ Tips: APDillon@Protonmail.com
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