TUCSON, Ariz. –The Common Core field tests, being administered in thousands of schools across the country to millions of your kids right now, are perfect examples of one of Common Core’s least known, yet most insidious features.
You’ve no doubt heard of the Common Core standards or tests, but have you heard about the data suctioning systems each member state has set up to suction all manner of your child’s most private data from your state directly into the hands of data predators waiting outside of the U.S. Department of Education wringing their hands in anticipation? Bear with me; this requires some background knowledge before getting back to the field tests.
Each state that applied to receive Stimulus money for education, back in 2009, agreed to set up data suctioning systems, known as Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems, (SLDS). These systems would be different from previous state data systems because they would need to be “longitudinal”. Visualize a single line of longitude on a map; longitude lines are the vertical lines running north and south. A longitudinal system pulls all of your child’s data into a single line or stream of information. You might even visualize a river that is being fed by multiple creeks converging into it, adding to the total volume of the river’s flow of water.
Longitudinal data systems do the same thing with your child’s data, pulling all their various points of data into one stream that is continually added to as they progress from pre-school up through college and career. This system makes tracking all of your child’s data easier than the previous system, which had a lot “creeks” of information, but no one single “river” of information to tap into.
In an ideal world, where we have cotton candy for breakfast, this change would not have been so bad for education because teachers would be enabled to tap into that stream of data to help inform how they teach your child. If your child’s teacher is underperforming, then the data stream will alert their principals to take corrective action.
In fact, the cult of Common Core uses these justifications in its demand that these longitudinal systems be put in place. But in light of recent abuses by the NSA and the IRS with regards to confidential data, it is worth a closer look.
The more sinister side of these longitudinal systems is that the U.S. Department of Education broadened its interpretation of the education privacy laws (FERPA) in 2011, when it changed its regulations, in two crucial ways. Firstly, it increased the number of players that could have access to your child’s centralized personal data to include, not just your child’s teachers, but any organization or group tangentially involved in your child’s education. This can include testing, gaming, technology, textbook, or research companies, just to name a few examples. Secondly, it no longer requires parent notification or permission when it shares your child’s personal data with these chosen groups or companies.
U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, explained these regulatory changes in a 2011 letter to the states. In the letter, he says that laws requiring parent permission or notification in order to share your child’s data,
“…do not apply to the collection, disclosure, or use of personal information collected from students for the exclusive purpose of developing, evaluating, or providing educational products or services for or to students or educational institutions.”
As long as the US Department of Education can find even a small involvement on behalf of its private data predator companies in your child’s education, you need know nothing.
Still not convinced? How many of you received requests from your school asking for permission to subject your child to a Common Core field test? How many of you were notified of the exact date and time of their participation in a Common Core field test? How many of you were permitted to preview these field tests that your child was going to be subjected to? How many of you are able to see the data that is gathered on your child by the Common Core testing companies? How many of you are able to see what the testing companies are doing with your child’s data? How many of you have been intimidated or stonewalled when having the gall to ask a teacher or administrator if you are able to “opt your kid out” of the field test?
The states have already agreed to share any and all your child’s data stream as part of the condition of receiving federal money to set up the data suctioning systems. Parental permission is required to have your child’s artwork displayed on the school webpage. Why are your family and your child’s private data no less worthy of parental permission or notification?
What if an energy drink developer wanted to come to your kid’s class, without parental notification or permission, so they could test their product on your child while measuring their heart rate and blood pressure? Why is it okay for the Common Core to do exactly this with your child’s data from the field tests?
What will the schools get from the field tests? According to my State Superintendent of Instruction here in Arizona, John Huppenthal, absolutely nothing, except that teachers will be able to look over their students’ shoulders to get an idea of what next year’s Common Core test will look like, and a handful of kids will get to practice taking the test. PARCC and the Smarter Balanced testing websites concur. Sounds like a pretty cheap date to me.
None of the data derived from the field tests, regarding academic ability or computer proficiency, will be made available to participating schools to assess instruction. No financial compensation will be offered to our students and schools for participating in this pilot test either, though Pearson and ETS Testing stand to make millions when they use data from the field tests to finalize their nationwide test, which will be sold back to the states to use as their Common Core assessments.
Do students have to take the Common Core tests? As with all bloated bureaucracies, the official answers vary from state to state. I say no. The states have not yet officially adopted the PARCC or Smarter Balanced tests to assess the new Common Core standards. They cannot adopt something that hasn’t been created yet. So, officially students/parents who opt out of the field tests cannot be penalized in any way for not taking an “adopted state assessment”.
What can parents do? Parents are their kids’ ultimate educators and protectors. Our kids are being pimped out to data predators by the very people we entrusted with the safety of our kids, their schools and State Departments of Education, without parental permission or notification.
Parents can call their children’s schools and check to see if their child will be involved in these field tests. They can then ask that their kid be “opted out” of taking the test or they can simply keep their kids home the day of the test.
If your kid has already taken the test, ask to see the data taken from them and how it is being used. Ask also to see the actual surveys that every kid will take at the end of the test, not a “sample” one. I already know what the answers to your queries will be. “It’s the Common Core, get used to it.” That’s their dirty little secret.