Sunday, September 22, 2013

Feds Use State Databases Against Them - So Why Do States Want Grants to Set Them Up Again?

Recently I wrote an article for School Reform News, "Obama Administration Demands Teacher Redistribution for NCLB Waiver".  Although the administration's newest excuse to use their SOCIAL JUSTICE stick is certainly inappropriate, unfortunately, one of the most incredible, dangerous and unbelievable things in my mind was not able to be included for space.

This was the fact that it CLEARLY stated in the paperwork for the NCLB part deux waivers that the federal government was going to collect state data - collected from district schools and sent to the state level - to judge whether or not a state was worthy of a second waiver.

Here is the part of the article that was not published.

Using Their Own Data Against Them,

The ESEA Guidance document states, “In July 2013, the Department began an analysis of data” from 2010-2012 to determine “the relationship between the following factors” and how schools were identifying outcomes.  Of the six factors used for analysis were student achievement, graduation rate and participation rate on state assessments.  

States wishing to extend their NCLB waiver are told that if data analysis indicates their state has not been identifying low-performing schools and subgroups appropriately or properly, the Department will work with the state to correct any and all issues identified.  Furthermore, the state will not receive a renewal of ESEA flexibility until the issues are corrected to ED’s satisfaction.

ESEA flexibility requirements, such as those for developing and implementing college and career ready standards and testing, generally align with those requirements provided by ED for successful Race to the Top grant (RTTT) application.  One of the RTTT requirements - that of “Building data systems that measure student growth and success, and inform teachers and principals about how they can improve instruction” – has been duplicated under the National Center for Education Statistics by way of a federal State Longitudinal Data Systems (SLDS) grant.

Not surprisingly, all but three states have applied for and accepted federal money to create and institute a database within their state to collect educational information on students from kindergarten through 12th grade as well as develop and link databases for early childhood education data and postsecondary and/or workforce data.  Quite apparently, states have been successful in this endeavor.  States have used their federal SLDS money to provide ED with all the data they need to further manipulate state education reform plans, all the while generating great controversy over student privacy.

Another part of the article that was not published had to do with the fact that schools would ALSO be forced to 'inform' parents of the new reforms.

Informing Or Cheerleading 

Another new requirement for successful waiver extension is the necessity for states to “meaningfully engage and solicit input from diverse stakeholders and communities on its request”.  States must provide evidence for this effort and are given five categories of admissible proof which includes, “copies of parent-friendly information regarding the renewal submission, including accessible formats and translated as necessary.”  

Minus the requirement for evidence, the necessity to include ways in which public comment were solicited were found in the first waiver documentation – “SEA must also provide a description of how the SEA meaningfully engaged and solicited input”. Oklahoma’s NCLB waiver contained approximately 56 pages of community input.  Much of the included commentary was in the form of questions to Oklahoma State Department of Education concerning the waiver, or general comments about the individual requirements.  The only specific comments regarding NCLB were against application for a waiver, yet the waiver was granted.  

It remains to be seen whether requirements to inform the community will result in efforts more akin to cheerleading than actual objective, dispassionate information sharing regarding NCLB waiver application.

Kind of makes you wonder why those of us speaking against Common Core are having such trouble getting a toe hold!  When taxpayer money is used to PROMOTE an AGENDA that has neither been proven or studied and parents (also taxpayers) are not able to hear BOTH sides of this particular AGENDA, is that fair?  Is that honest?  Heck, is that even morally right - considering the fact that many taxpayers NOT being told both sides of the issue might decide they don't like it?  Oh, hmmm...not so hard to figure out after all, is it?