Sunday, April 5, 2015

Testing Games : Fire is Catching – If We Burn, You Burn With Us

Testing Games : Fire is Catching – If We Burn, You Burn With Us – Comparing Ed Reform to the Hunger Games | Welcome to the Testing Games:

Testing Games : Fire is Catching – If We Burn, You Burn With Us – Comparing Ed Reform to the Hunger Games





Welcome back to the Testing Games. This week, in our comparison of current education reform policies to the popular, Hunger Games series, we will dive deep into the heart of the games: The Burn Scene.
The idea came from a ten year old. My ten year old. Driving to school, recently, I turned to my daughter, a self proclaimed, Hunger Games expert, and asked:
“What is your favorite scene in the Hunger Games?”
She responded, “When Katniss says, ‘If we burn, you burn with us.’”
I was speechless. I can’t not deny: She is absolutely right. That is the pivotal scene of the story. It is the scene in which Katniss, during a fight with the capital, uses a bow and arrow to shoot down their hovercrafts. As she retreats back and discovers the capital has bombed a hospital full of children, she turns in frustration and yells, “Fire is catching. If we burn, you burn with us.”
It is definitely a powerful scene and begs for comparison in our Testing Games analogies. And,  as I must admit, the timing has never been more perfect. You see, we are full blown right in the middle of our Testing Games here in Florida. In fact, my own ten year old daughter recently entered the testing arena:  The Florida Standards Assessment (Common Core) State Test.
No doubt, she was well prepared for the test, having sat through a year of test prep, practice,  and training. Not to mention, she is in fifth grade. In America, that means she has been playing these Testing Games for years. Thus, she is well aware of the consequences of losing the game. Believe her when she says, the struggle is real.
This year, however, was different than previous years. This year, she broke the seal of the test, put down her pencil, and refused to answer any questions. Simply put, my daughter opted out.
Let me say, upfront, the choice to opt out was her own. While only ten years old, she has been accompanying me to conferences, rallies, and school board meetings for years. Being the daughter of a teacher, and an outspoken teacher at that, she has heard me holler, over and over, about the disadvantages of investing our resources into these high Testing Games : Fire is Catching – If We Burn, You Burn With Us – Comparing Ed Reform to the Hunger Games | Welcome to the Testing Games:




Good News, Transparency: Louisiana CREDO Data No Longer Exclusive to CREDO | deutsch29

Good News, Transparency: Louisiana CREDO Data No Longer Exclusive to CREDO | deutsch29:

Good News, Transparency: Louisiana CREDO Data No Longer Exclusive to CREDO






 According to Louisiana-based Research on Reforms (ROR), between 2010 and March 2015, the Stanford-University-based, Hoover-Institute-run Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) was the only research body allowed access to decoded student data on Louisiana students.

Prior to 2010, from 2005 to 2009, the Louisiana State Department of Education (LDOE) also sent the same decoded data to ROR. However, ROR findings regarding the state-run Recovery School District (RSD) often did not support the state’s own findings on its state-run district (a conflict of interest, no?). So, according to ROR, beginning in 2010, LDOE stopped sending ROR decoded student data but continued to send such data to CREDO.
In short, CREDO remained the favored research outfit in shaping an image for New Orleans RSD.
Given CREDO’s favor with a pro-privatizing LDOE, one might wonder: Who funds CREDO?
Well, you won’t find a list of CREDO funders on the CREDO website. However, that does not mean CREDO’s funders cannot be found. In 2012, New Jersey blogger Mother Crusader found CREDO funding by researching CREDO director, Margaret Raymond:
…I did a bit of digging, and found that her (Raymond’s) bio on the Hoover Institution’s website disclosed her funding sources.
In partnership with the Walton Family Foundation and Pearson Learning Systems, Raymond is leading a national study of the effectiveness of public charter schools. The public-academic-private partnership helps public charter schools adopt information technologies as a means to both support their operations and generate information required by the study design.  (emphasis mine)
So CREDO is funded not just by Walton, but by Pearson as well.  Pearson, the biggest test pusher on the planet, and Walton, whose “core” education strategy is to “infuse competitive pressure into America’s K-12 education system by increasing the quantity and quality of school choices available to parents, especially in low-income communities.”
A marriage made in heaven for CREDO which seems to be using test scores to push charters. 
Speaking of “marriage,” Raymond is married to Hoover Institute Senior Fellow Eric Hanushek, who is also a CREDO researcher and who is fine with larger class sizes and lesser school funding. (Don’t get me started. I wrote a chapter on Hanushek in my ed reform whistle blower, A Chronicle of Echoes. Feel free to read it.)
Regarding those “test scores” on which CREDO’s power rests, education writer Valerie Strauss of the Washington Post observes:
CREDO’s unique studies of charter schools around the country….
What gets often lost in these discussions is that the studies are based on reading and math standardized test scores. Even if you think that high-stakes standardized test scores reveal something about how much a student knows in the tested subject — and many researchers and educators don’t — it is a different thing altogether to judge an entire school on the results of narrow 
Good News, Transparency: Louisiana CREDO Data No Longer Exclusive to CREDO | deutsch29:

Seattle Schools Community Forum: Student Data Privacy Meets " Not Cooperative" Sped Parents in Massachusetts

Seattle Schools Community Forum: Student Data Privacy Meets " Not Cooperative" Sped Parents in Massachusetts:

Student Data Privacy Meets " Not Cooperative" Sped Parents in Massachusetts



In what can only be termed "disgraceful," Tewksbury Public Schools accidentally released private student info about the out-of-district placements for 83 Special Ed students and rated parents by their "cooperativeness."  The document had been online for almost a week.  From the Tewksbury Town Crier:

In December the district blamed a projected $2 million shortfall for FY2016 on ‘skyrocketing’ out of district costs, and said that it could not implement a proposed free full-day kindergarten program as a result. That action generated distrust and backlash by the special education community, and this most recent release of data has parents ready to file complaints at the state and federal levels.

The seven-page memo from Rick Pelletier, Director of Student Services, to the Superintendent was included in the School Committee packet as part of its budget justification package last week. The memo includes a spreadsheet that listed all the students with out of district placements – and also included a ranking on ‘parental cooperativeness.’ The amount of data included could indicate a violation of state and federal law.

The office of Student Services also published its rating of parents according to their ‘cooperativeness with the district.’ Parents rated a ‘1’ are cooperative, ‘2’ somewhat cooperative, and those rated ‘3’ are ‘not cooperative.’


The newspaper itself said they could "easily identify" at least seven families in the list with readers contacting them saying they, too, could figure out who students were in the document.

The district, the state and the feds all had different levels of reaction.  (Interestingly, Massachusett's law is stronger than FERPA - good for them.)

The feds:
That same spokesman told the Town Crier that if the information was publicly disclosed and a parent believes that the disclosure of this information is personally identifiable to their child, they may file a complaint with the Family Policy Compliance Office for consideration.

Big whoop.  There have been virtually NO complaints that to the DOE on 
Seattle Schools Community Forum: Student Data Privacy Meets " Not Cooperative" Sped Parents in Massachusetts:







Online Test-Takers Feel Anti-Cheating Software’s Uneasy Glare - NYTimes.com

Online Test-Takers Feel Anti-Cheating Software’s Uneasy Glare - NYTimes.com:

Online Test-Takers Feel Anti-Cheating Software’s Uneasy Glare







NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. — Before Betsy Chao, a senior here at Rutgers University, could take midterm exams in her online courses this semester, her instructors sent emails directing students to download Proctortrack, a new anti-cheating technology.
“You have to put your face up to it and you put your knuckles up to it,” Ms. Chao said recently, explaining how the program uses webcams to scan students’ features and verify their identities before the test.
Once her exam started, Ms. Chao said, a red warning band appeared on the computer screen indicating that Proctortrack was monitoring her computer and recording video of her. To constantly remind her that she was being watched, the program also showed a live image of her in miniature on her screen.
Even for an undergraduate raised in a culture of selfies and Skype, Ms. Chao found the system intrusive. “I felt it was sort of excessive,” she said.
As universities and colleges around the country expand their online course offerings, many administrators are introducing new technologies to deter cheating. The oversight, administrators say, is crucial to demonstrating the legitimacy of an online degree to students and their prospective employers.
 Some schools use software that prevents students from opening apps or web browsers during online exams. Others employ services with live exam proctors who monitor students remotely over webcams.

But the rise of Proctortrack and other automated student analysis services like it have raised questions about where to draw the line, and whether the new systems are fair and accurate.
The University of North Texas Health Science Center, for instance, is partway through a two-year pilot test of Proctortrack involving the 160 students enrolled in its online public health master’s degree program.
“If you are going to offer online learning, you need to find ways to ensure the integrity of the course, the test-taking and the degree,” said Jeff Carlton, a university spokesman. “For us, this is high-stakes.”
These schools are not simply trying to protect the academic integrity of their brands. They are seeking to stay competitive in a rapidly expanding industry. The market for online higher education could reach $32 billion in the United States this year, up from $25 billion in 2012, according to estimates from Eduventures, a research firm in Boston.
And the increased oversight of test-taking only intensifies a college experience that is monitored and analyzed more than ever. More than 3,500 institutions of higher learning, for instance, use an automated plagiarism detection system called Turnitin, which scans students’ papers for copied passages. And at Utah Valley University in Orem, the school developed its own early warning system, called Stoplight, which uses academic and demographic details about students to predict their likelihood of passing specific courses; as part of the program, professors receive class lists that color-code each student as green, yellow or red.
Proctortrack works along similar lines. The software, developed byVerificient Technologies, is marketed as “the world’s first automated remote proctoring solution.” Although some schools are still evaluating Proctortrack, Rutgers has already deployed it among several thousand students, the company said.
Tim Dutta, Verificient’s chief executive, said his company’s chief technology officer came up with the idea for the service after he worked on a project for the Transportation Security Administration which involved scanning airport security video footage for abnormal facial expressions. Proctortrack uses algorithms to detect unusual student behavior — like talking to someone off-screen — that could constitute cheating. Then it categorizes each student as having high or low “integrity.”
Mr. Dutta said the program was not so much intended to identify cheaters as to authenticate the identity of students enrolled in online courses.
“We are really about ensuring the integrity of that online credential,” he said.
Proctortrack, however, seems to impose more onerous strictures on students than a live proctor would. Among other things, it requires students to sit upright and remain directly in front of their webcams at all times, according to guidelines posted on the company’s site.
“Changes in lighting can flag your test for a violation,” the guidelines say. And, “Even stretching, looking away, or leaning down to pick up your Online Test-Takers Feel Anti-Cheating Software’s Uneasy Glare - NYTimes.com:

Special Nite Cap: Catch Up on Today's Post 4/5/15 #‎Chuy2015‬ #rahmssecretemails

Special Nite Cap - Catch Up on Today's Post 4/5/15


Special Nite Cap 




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2015 National Conference – Chicago

The Countdown to Chicago Has Begun!

The Network For Public Education | 2015 National Conference – Chicago 






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