This column on July 30 identified significant problems with Common Core testing as affirmed by 1,500 New York state elementary school principals involved with the 2012 Common Core test implementation in that state.
Gary Thompson, clinical psychologist specializing in psychological and educational assessment, is primarily concerned about the focus on and accumulation of personal data over the span of a child’s entire education (preschool through career). The National Education Data Model notes more than 400 points including health history, family income range, voting status, psychological response during testing, and religious affiliation.
His summation is, “Given the gravity of these issues, I cannot professionally endorse the Common Core State Standards . . . as currently written until pointed clarification is provided by politicians and educators from both parties endorsing CCSS. Nor in good conscience can I enroll my toddler in a public school system that utilizes CCSS until these issues are clarified to my satisfaction. The issues involving psychological testing and privacy are issues that should be of concern to every parent with a child enrolled in public school. The power granted federal and state education administrators via the regulations of CCSS are unprecedented in nature.”
Data collected on children and family is no longer protected from wide dissemination. The Federal Educational Right to Privacy Act was gutted in 2011 so personal information about the child and family may now be distributed to agencies not part of the education system. All that is required is that the request contain the “right words and phrases.”
Ask your school district to explain the changes made in the Federal Educational Right to Privacy Act and how our children’s privacy is protected.
According to James Pellegrino, co-director of Learning Sciences Research Institute, University of Illinois and leading expert in student assessments, these tests are designed to measure how students learn rather than measure what they have learned. Joseph Martineau, deputy superintendent for Michigan accountability services, explained: “Smarter Balanced exams are different for each student with computers adjusting the difficulty of questions based on students’ responses. . .”
How is this standardized testing? So what is measured?
In an interview, recently distributed nationally, a parent revealed the difficulty of this testing. Her 13-year-old daughter enjoyed math and earned an A-plus (97 percent) in her college algebra course, taken simultaneously with her high school Common Core math exam. The Common Core test flunked her at 67 percent. What effect did that score have on the student? She was devastated.
How can we allow our children to be used as “lab rats” for the testing consortiums? What can parents do about these concerns?
The good news is that parents can opt out of the testing and data collection. California Education Codes Sections 51513, 60614 and 60615, and the federal 20 U.S. Section 1232 (h) provide upon request exemption from any test or survey containing items relative to one’s child, or one’s personal beliefs, sociability, morality, family life, sexual behavior, self-esteem, etc. Requests must be submitted in writing and are valid for the entire school year.
School officials may be less than cooperative to parents who request to opt out of the testing program, but by law, children cannot be penalized for being exempted from the tests.
For the reasons cited above, we encourage every parent to file an opt-out form with their local school district until appropriate corrections have been made. Download your opt-out form and instructions here: www.pacificjustice.org/opt-out-forms.html.
Colleen Britton is a Vacaville resident and member of The Right Stuff Committee, a committee of the Solano County Republican Party. Reach her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.