Progressive/Constructivist Math STINKS ON ICE

Just recently I posted this picture on my Jenni White's Education Page on Facebook. In one day, it had a reach of almost 169 THOUSAND views and it almost 2500 shares. Why? 

Well, I imagine that, no matter how many times the educrats running education today tell us Common Core (Constructivist/Progressive) math is going to make our kids rocket scientists, real moms and dads - once they get settled in for the night helping their kids with the homework they pick up in government (public) schools that use Common Core and/or Constructivist/Progressive math - realize that this idea is crap. Progressive math is not going to help our kids - and their parents - do much of anything except want to bang their heads repeatedly on their desks - or kitchen counters - all across America.

I was granted a Master's Degree in Biology in 1995. Oh, I understood descriptive science wonderfully well (human anatomy, ecology, etc.) - quantitative science (chemistry, physiology) not so much. In fact, I took the Graduate Record Examination 3 separate times in order to get into graduate school. Each time, I blew the top off the English score, but could barely come out with a math score better than a 3rd grader!

It wasn't until I began to school my kids at home (after removing them from public school for many reasons, but mainly because of the 1st grade math my son was doing) that I finally realized WHY. In the 1970's, when I was in middle school, there was a fabulous new fad in public education called, "Open Classroom". Here's an excellent explanation of this concept from the linked article:
In both Britain and the United States, open classrooms contained no whole-class lessons, no standardized tests, and no detailed curriculum. The best of the open classrooms had planned settings where children came in contact with things, books, and one another at “interest centers” and learned at their own pace with the help of the teacher. Teachers structured the classroom and activities for individual students and small work groups. They helped students negotiate each of the reading, math, science, art, and other interest centers on the principle that children learn best when they are interested and see the importance of what they are doing.
Here's how this fabulous concept translated for me; I LEARNED ABSOLUTELY NO MATH IN MIDDLE SCHOOL AT ALL. It floored me how, once I began having to teach middle level math to my kids, I had to teach it to myself first. Fractions and decimals were never part of my mathematical lexicon - EVER - because an educational fad derailed my learning process in my middle grade years. 

Take any standardized test - anywhere. The whole thing is full of fractions and decimals. If you don't learn them, you don't do well on any standardized test. I understand algebra well because I had some great algebra teachers in high school, yet if the algebra had fractional values anywhere at all, I was a big FAIL.

The Open Classroom concept came from Britian - bastion of Constructivist education - and was, of course, embraced by the educational Constructivists/Progressives in America. Without any real consideration of whether or not the process would work, it was foisted upon us unsuspecting students (and their tax paying parents) much to the educational detriment of our generation.

Now, the educational Progressives (unfortunately, most education is now Progressive in nature) have taken over yet again, and this generation's Open Classroom concept is Common Core. Though many states have fought CC and won - like here in Oklahoma - Constructivist math is becoming cemented in place in states all over the nation via large textbook publishers like McGraw-Hill, Pearson, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt etc., who have embraced Constructivist math and are publishing math books (like Everyday Math). 

I warned about this kind of thing - even during an interview with Dana Loesch for Glenn Beck. Here in Oklahoma, though we (ostensibly) have made Common Core illegal, I got a private message from a teacher friend the other day about English books that said,
Hey, Jenni. I am so irritated that I could spit nails. I just got back from a shindig thrown by the publisher HMH because Oklahoma is adopting language arts books next year. They were swearing up and down that their curriculum and books were not common core aligned. However, after a quick thumb through of the reading material, it was obvious to me that the only difference between the Oklahoma books and the Common Core books were that the words "Common Core" were not on the covers of the Oklahoma books. If this is the material we are going to give our students to read, what did we really accomplish by repealing Common Core? Do you have any thoughts or recommendations of other publishing companies that I can have my school look at? Thanks for your input.
Page after page of math worksheets from Constructivist/Progressive math books, being provided to classrooms of students by teachers trained in Construcitivst/Progressive math teaching, have been plastered across the internet showing the ridiculousness of Constructivist/Progressive math. Here is one below. The problem was 5x3. The boy wrote on his paper that 5x3 was essentially 5+5+5, yet he was docked a point because he didn't mention that it was also three, five times. So? That's worth a point? 

The next problem asks the child to construct an array describing 4x6. He does that in a 4 by 6 fashion. Again he's docked a point because he didn't also do the 6 by 4 array.

To be honest, this isn't really the worst of the ones I've seen. The one in this blog report is another that I've seen a number of times. The child is asked to estimate a number but then doesn't get the answer correct when she provides the EXACT answer and not a number rounded to the 10s place.

This stuff is ridiculous and will absolutely make kids frustrated enough to hate the whole mathematical process. 

The idea of Constructivist/Progressive math is that kids must know why they are getting the answer they record on their worksheet in order to be able to learn. The emphasis is on the WHY, not the HOW. Great. I think it's very important for kids to understand why math works. I teach my own kids that in their lessons. I do not, however, expect them to know the why as MORE IMPORTANT than the how, because that's dumb. You're not going to return change to someone at a cash register where you get your first job by explaining that you're subtracting what the customer gave you from the total owed and providing them change back by counting up that discrepancy in reverse. WHO CARES? The person you're giving the change to doesn't give a flip, they just want their money counted back to them so they know you didn't cheat them!

Last year, I put together a video explaining the differences between Constructivist/Progressive education and Traditional education. It's about 45 minutes, but I think it will help confused parents understand the differences among the two types of education and why 'Traditional' education is better, hands down - especially for math.

The bottom line is this: math requires SPECIFIC knowledge of SPECIFIC concepts. Math is a language and in order to speak the language you have to memorize its terminology. Can you imagine speaking Spanish by - instead of memorizing the vocabulary - explaining what every Spanish word means? No one would ever converse! Every student must know 6x5 is 30. Yes, it's good to know why, but why isn't going to solve a problem on an exam, rote memory of the equation 6x5=30 will accomplish that. Math is black and white - 6x5=30 upside down, on the moon or in Zanzabar - that will NEVER change. 

Educational fads like Open Classroom and Common Core are the definition of fadish; "a practice or interest followed for a time with exaggerated zeal :  craze. Educational fads are destroying the ability of our kids to become educated. Traditional methods work. We need to stop spending educational time and resources re-inventing the wheel. If your child's school is using Common Core/Constructivist/Progressive math books, either get them a traditional math tutor after school, or TAKE THEM OUT AND SCHOOL THEM AT HOME. Math is not an experiment. Traditional math is a time-honored, time-tested way to provide students the tools they need to gain knowledge and lead successful lives. Period.


Surveys Containing Personal Behavioral/Emotional Questions Are Given To Oklahoma Students Through 21st Century Skills Programming

The latest email from the Oklahoma State Department of Education
 heralds the fact that we took yet MORE MONEY from the federal government in the way of 21st Century Community Center Learning grants (CCLC). This is exciting, we are told, because now, there are 59 total grantees in the state, each getting hundreds of thousands of dollars apiece. Thrilling! Or is it? Do we know what the CCLC's do? What are their performance records? What is going on in the course of administration of this program?

As I read the email, I remembered an incident way back in 2011 when I received a call from a friend, regarding a psychological survey his son had been given - without his permission -at his school in Hugo, Oklahoma. After some digging around, we were both able to find out about 21st Century Community Centers and what they did.

Because of the new fabulous grants being handed out this year funding further CCLC's in Oklahoma, I thought I would re-publish our findings. In order to update our research, I attempted to go out to the federal Department of Education and look up the grant information as I had done previously (see figs 2 and 3 below). Unfortunately, I found this message
The 21st CCLC Profile and Performance Information Collection System (PPICS) has been retired and a new data collection method is currently under development. Please visit this site after April 2015 for updates.
Unfortunately, this is October of 2015 and there was NOTHING on the CCLC page indicating a link to the 'new' data collection. No new performance reports - no nothing.

Apparently, all the CCLC data were moved to the Oklahoma State Department of Education where I found a page that contained a program evaluation report for 2012/2013. Page 30 begins to report the collection of SOCIOEMOTIONAL data for students enrolled in the program. In Oklahoma, it is against the law (HB3399) to collect SOCIOEMOTIONAL data via state testing, yet here it is in four full pages from 30-34. Don't you suppose that if Oklahoma legislators were upset enough about social emotional questions to make them illegal on state tests, they'd be just as concerned about this kind of data collection anywhere in the educational process? I think many would, yes. That is why it's extremely important to let your legislator know what is happening inside the boundaries of this program.

Here are 2 screenshots of some of the questions kids in this program are asked.

The reasons ROPE - and apparently the legislature - are so opposed to this kind of questioning is that it can be very effectively stored and used against kids at a later date, or used to pigeonhole them in programming that is unnecessary and/or costly.

At this point, I will interject our previous study from 2011 regarding CCLC's:

  1.  21st CCLC programming includes psychological testing that has been done in Oklahoma – illegally – without parental permission.
  2. Due to changes in FERPA laws (governing student privacy rights in public schools), demographic and personal student data may now be collected and shared widely without parental knowledge or consent.
  3. Collecting sensitive data such as that provided by psychological evaluations of any kind, creates enormous breaches in the right to privacy of minor children enrolled in public education.
  4. 21st CCLC’s cost over 1 billion dollars per year and – according to their own annual reports – have failed every year - not yet once reaching the goals of their assessment descriptors.

21st Century programming was the brainchild of a man named Marc Tucker - an acolyte of Hillary Clinton - the man also behind the Common Core Standards. He believes strongly in the John Dewey progressive education model - most commonly employed among communist countries - where school is to provide students EVERYTHING they need for successful lives. Teachers and parents are simply facilitators in the role of fitting the student in the role of 'worker'. Tucker is the progenitor of the standards-based education reform movement - another name for Outcome Based Education. Marc Tucker's organization is called, National Center for Education and the Economy.


1. The entire 21st Century program is built upon a series of white papers that explain the above philosophy in great detail.

  • Instead of focusing exclusively on math, science, reading/writing, social studies, 21st Century focuses on Global Awareness - Financial, Economic, Business and Entrepreneurial Literacy - Civic Literacy - Health Literacy - Environmental Literacy
  • Please note: the P21 Toolkit tells how Common Core and P21 Align, and shows ZERO actual concrete standards or practice of basic skills – relying instead on endless group projects and 'explorations' - very progressive education.
  • The Measuring Skills for 21st Century Education on page 1 "Unmet Challenges" of the document begins tying together John Dewey and Marc Tucker and explains that employers need workers to do more than simple procedures - or how the government (public schools) need to prepare students to be workers.
2. The 21st Century program (also called P21 - Partnership for 21st Century Skills) is actually four parts that includes the 21st Century after school programming.

3. 21st Century after school programs are ALL supported by federal grants
  • 86 Oklahoma school districts have been given 21st Century Community Learning Center (CCLC) grants since 2006
  • FY11, Oklahoma was given $12,482,019 to serve 12,482 children = funding of 1 THOUSAND dollars per child?
4. Page 4 of the Measuring Skills document ties the 21st Century Skills and 21st CCLC's together - how 21st Century uses the CCLC's to promote their agenda

5. Despite an increase in spending every single year, please note the following from the government's own 21st Century Community Learning Centers performance review:
  • "The program as a whole continues to fall below the established targeted performance thresholds associated with the GPRA performance indicators for the program. A rigorous study of the program may result in the development of more relevant GPRA measures"
  • In other words, taxpayers spend over a BILLION dollars on this program every year so that P21’s own assessments can show they’re having NO impact at all. In response, P21 will lower their assessment cut scores and change indicators to match their program results.
6. Grants are given to schools to institute a wide range of after school activities including the following:
  • Drug and violence prevention programs and counseling programs
  • Please note the “Glossary of Terms” on pages 40-41 of the Response to Intervention document 4 out of 24 apply specifically to BEHAVIOR issues
  • Note all the manners by which children in the program are assessed and how specific data programs utilized by the program, can collect “HUGE” amounts of demographic data on students in the program (under the guise of accountability).
  • This website sells psychological tests which are administered to assess behavior in the 21st Century programs.
  • Psychological testing of students is PROHIBITED by the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA) excepting under specific conditions allowed by the parent.
  •  Because of changes in the FERPA regulations that allow a large amount of student data to be collected from public school students AND then SHARED with other organizations WITHOUT PARENTAL CONSENT (pg 52), it is entirely possible for psychological profiles to be collected and digitized into a database without parental consent by those ignorant of the law.
7. Figure 1 represents a psychological assessment given to the child of parent Howard Houchen, in Hugo Elementary Schools.

8. Hugo Elementary Schools received a 21st CCLC grant in July 2007.
  • Since that time, Hugo Public Schools has received $880,000 for the CCLC program (Figure 2) that Hugo Public Schools was providing various forms of counseling services.
9. Figure 3 shows that Hugo Elementary Schools CCLC program was funded in part by Hartsell Psychological Services and that the Hugo CCLC was tasked to provide behavioral counseling to students less than 18 years of age.

10. Appendix 1 contains the letter sent by Hugo parent Howard Houchen to Representative Lee Denney in response to HB2641, explaining his concerns about the 21st Century CCLC program in Hugo.


Under the 21st Century Skills program – a federal grant program paid for by tax payers – students are being administered psychological tests through public schools without parental consent. Because of the recent changes in FERPA laws, which allow student demographic and other personal ‘data’ to be collected and shared by public schools without parental consent, public education institutions should not offer these kinds of highly sensitive services. In order to protect student/family privacy, minor child counseling programs should be confined to those sought specifically/exclusively by the parent/family of the minor child in need of counseling, administered through private, non-profit organizations or through the Department of Human Services. Public schools should focus solely on educational matters and leave matters of physical and emotional health to parents, families and personal physicians.

Figure 1: Psychological assessment provided by Hugo Elementary Schools to the students in 5th grade class without parental permission.

Figure 1: Psychological assessment provided by Hugo Elementary Schools
to the students in 5
th grade class without parental permission.

Figure 2: Screen shot of the Grantee Details for Hugo Public Schools’ CCLC grant.

Figure 2: Screen shot of the Grantee Details for
 Hugo Public Schools’ CCLC grant.

Figure 3: Screen shot from the 21st Century Community Learning Centers website showing that Hartsell Psychological Services was a funding source for Hugo Public Schools 21st CCLC where behavioral counseling was a part of the program.

Figure 3: Screen shot from the 21st Century Community Learning Centers website 
showing that Hartsell Psychological Services was a funding source for 
Hugo Public Schools 21st CCLC where behavioral counseling was a part of the program.

Appendix 1: Letter from Hugo parent Howard Houchen to Representative Lee Denney of the Oklahoma House Common Education Committee – author of HB2641 that all districts have access to individual and group counseling.

Rep. Denney, et al;

I would also ask that HB2641 be tabled and would like to offer some points for clarity purposes.  Both of my children attend Hugo Public schools. The youngest is in 5th Grade at Hugo Elementary, the oldest graduates (with Honors) from Hugo High School in three months.  The 'Durant" reference, I believe, comes from a finding that Hartsell Psychological Services also has an "after school program contract" with Calera Public Schools which is just a few miles away from Durant, OK.

Hartsell Psychological Services (HPS) first appeared on my radar in August 2011 as I was notified that Hugo Elementary had CONTRACTED with HPS (in conjunction with a 21st Century Grant) to provide an after-school program.  I will try and be as succinct as possible here: HPS pays the schools they have contracted with a sum of money that goes to pay for the salaries of the teachers used in the after-school program. 

In return, HPS gets their money from "counseling" children that they basically refer to themselves (in many instances).  This payment appears to range from $400.00 -- $600.00 per week, per student.  Who pays?  You and I do because the charges go to Medicaid and SoonerCare, however, I am unable to find a single SoonerCare payment to HPS.   

I was told, by an administrator, that HPS also has material that some teachers use during regular school sessions.  I was unable to determine what that material is and what it is used for.  Our youngest was given what I consider to be a psych assessment, by HPS, outside of the after-school program (in regular school session) AND he is NOT enrolled in the after-school program.  HPS claims to have these program contracts with many ISD's throughout Oklahoma.  I do know they are contracted with Hugo and Calera. 

The "assessments" which were attempted to be given to  my child were VERY personal in nature and the parents were never asked for consent to having our children take part in either of the assessments.  Approximately 7 weeks ago our youngest son came home and told us the following: "Ms. Harmon handed out another psychological test today."  I asked: "Did you take it?"  He replied: "No, I recognized it from the last one and walked up to her desk and asked, 'Is this from Hartsell?' and she said 'Yes' and I told her I didn't want to do it so she didn't make me." 

I can go on-and-on about this topic but realize you are under restraints of time.  I can tell you that when all of the information is properly analyzed relative to data collection on OUR children...it is my judgment that this MUST end.  I am fed-up with kids being utilized as mines for data and "Guinea-Pigs".
I can tell you that the administrators I talk with about this situation feel as if they are in a  "damned if  you do and damned if you don't" situation.  They see dollars leaving programs, such as the after-school program, and are willing to dance with the devil to recoup those dollars.  I have offered my opinion on this tactic and am unwilling to sell my child’s and my family’s' privacy through data collection.  HB2641 simply adds to this already exploitive and corruptible environment. 

Please feel free to contact me personally if you have any questions or comments;


Howard Houchen



October 7, was the second interim study on Student Privacy and Data Collection at the Oklahoma State Capitol. Representative Jason Nelson called for the study and chaired a very enlightening and educational session related to the necessity of, and wherewithal to keep student data from being used alternatively to state law (HB1989).

Because of an accident in which I dislocated my knee, I was unable to be available at the Capitol, but I listened online through the OkHouse.gov website (here is the archived audio if you'd like to listen) and took copious notes over the speakers present. What follows is a very cursory - but hopefully legible - set of notes from the study. Please take the time to review these notes and the associated links. Please, realize that you as the parent have all the power here to keep your child safe. (As a legislator, you have quite a bit of information here by which to modify HB1989 to protect the privacy of Oklahoma students.) Know the educational programs/apps being used by your student at their school. Opt them out of any program/app that might collect your child's data - especially if you've not been informed of this kind of practice.

Don't forget...we've written a lot about student privacy - including this, "Student Privacy? What Privacy?". You may search our blog using any search terminology that interests you to find more information on this topic.

Speakers are listed in order from first to last. Please note: ROPE does not necessarily agree with all the comments made here. This is simply a transcript of what was said, not how what they've said - or not said - aligns with our own research and study.

*Bus routes, health/sports, lunches all have programs that usurp student personal data. Apps generate a lot of information about kids and then outsource that to third party vendors. For example; a kid uses Skype for a research paper at school. The transaction data is known by Skype. At any point, Skype can begin to develop information on a child that can be very revealing simply by taking enough data to reveal patterns.
*Google apps for education such as Google Docs are free programs for schools. What happens when a student writes an essay on terrorism and shares it? Where does that information go? Who sees it? Once it's on line, it can be data mined.
*The research Reidenberg has done indicate that 40% of all data vendors to public school had no legal obligation to protect student privacy. They also found that most programs haven't been vetted by anyone at the school.
********FERPA/Buckley Amendment: gets a FAILING GRADE at 40 years old. FERPA doesn’t provide privacy protection for students and families. There is a confidentiality statute for student/educational records – according to Supreme Court – but it only applies to a hard copy permanent record maintained by the school. It also only applies to school districts that receive federal funds. FERPA doesn’t apply to vendors. In fact, the only remedy under FERPA for a data breech is to withhold federal funds which has NEVER BEEN DONE IN 40 YEARS! Families have no rights under FERPA and the Supreme Court has made that abundantly clear.************************
*Vendors have no privacy responsibility. Vendor contracts have been studied and have been found to lack student privacy protections.
*The definition of "Educational Record"is a real problem under the law. So many things today are not classified under educational record, that families/schools have no recourse against vendors for student privacy breaches.
*Need to specifically and narrowly define ‘educational uses’ – when can student data be used? Should schools be supplying data to commercial operations to develop and devise various kids of commercial products? Commercialization of data from schools is just left by the wayside – rarely ever addressed.
*An Institutional Review Board process is not involved in any of the data collection programs/apps yet any legitimate research studies done on students/children/individuals have to follow IRB rules.
*Transparency for families is not being followed through FERPA. Public Records Requests don't work. In fact, 40% OF DISTRICTS INCLUDING Oklahoma City haven't responded to public records request.
*There are neither data security obligations nor remedies included in FERPA. States have a critical role to play – without effective student privacy protection, technology can’t be used without trust in the community.  An excellent example here is Connect EDU/InBloom.
*Congress hasn’t done anything on this, but really, the states should be leading the way on this because the kids live in the communities represented by the school misusing data. The consequences of state inaction on the issue of lack of FERPA compliance is that the state's children will be at a substantial risk of loss of privacy.
*States can be very effective when providing a student privacy officer through local schools.
*Anytime data is collected via computer via third party vendor it has a data dictionary and a code to identify what that information is to be used for. Data creep is a common problem – most companies start collecting information they don’t need now because they think they’ll need it later. This creates data breech/data loss. Data must be justifiably needed. Why collect if there's no justifiable reason?
*Need to add a ‘whereas’ clause to include the data to be used in the data sharing agreement and what the data is to be used for, etc. Where is the data going? Who needs it? Why is it being collected?
**********Helpful and necessary but not sufficient to have  a clause in the contract saying they would not share the data because it  would not address whether or not the company misuses the data or collects more than they need for commercial efforts. For example; the free email to schools program (Google) was data mining the emails to advertise to the kids. Google changed their policy to state they would no longer data mine for advertising, but we don’t know if they’re data mining for anything else. A clause in the contract saying they won’t share the data doesn’t fix this problem.**********
*We need to understand the difference between "Research Use" and "Transactional Use"
Transactional Use; child uses an edtech application to learn fractions. The program collects data while the child is using it by assessing the way the child interacts with the material; how long the child takes on one program, what problems they get right and wrong.
Research Use; the transactional data from lots of students are used to determine trends and in the math learning – to find a pattern. Done by data researchers.
*Two large dangers of data collection and how to guard against them:
  1. Data breech: data winds up anywhere because data wasn’t properly stored. Children’s identity theft is growing because kids have no prior records and thieves get clean data. Data must use a data breech identification and there need to be rules and regulations as to what happens if a data breech occurs.
  2. Need data purging rules/regulations: so many data systems we saw had no effective data purge rules. Student data sits there for a long time. If a kid is inappropriately tracked early on, how long does that information stay in their record and effect the child? Is there a statute of limitations for the use/collection of student data? State legislatures can put parameters on storage and uses.
Richard Lane – Director of the Education Division for the NGA Center for Best Practices (NGA Center)

*Need to have laws catch up with data use. 
*Three pillars for data use developed by Data Quality Campaign.
  1. Be clear on the purpose for  the use of the data:
  • Is it for the well-being of students to improve their learning by tailoring an education program to individual students and/or to find out how well a program is working?
  •  Is it to inform parents about how well the student is doing; test results, etc? What are their strengths and weaknesses?
  • Is is to provide accountability at local/state level?
     2.       Provide protections for data and use of data
  •  Need to be sure the data being collected aligns to the priorities of the district and state
  • Need to find the balance between appropriate use and protections
  • Need to train educators to use the data properly
     3.       Insure privacy of data
  •  Data ombudsman/data security officer needed to have a recourse as to how to solve the issue of data misuse.
  •  Need training in best practices
  • Should review the amount of data currently being collected and streamline data already being collected to prevent burdens on local districts for data collection.
*Legislation is important in student privacy protection. Ombudsman would communicate data use legislation to schools/districts/parents. 
*People need to be told about the effort so that people can buy in and use it and be protected.
*Student privacy is as much about implementation as policy. 
*Field educators need training and capacity to use data and protect data.

Lance Nelson - Chief of Staff, OSDE

*Can’t translate data outside the state or to other agencies with a very few exceptions.
*SSN medical/biometric/criminal/juvenile delinquency data not collected 
*FERPA allows for the transfer of student records to other schools. 
*Data is collected for study. Example: data are required to study report card. OSDE enters into an MOU with OU to provide the study and they will collect student level data.
*Use data for federal and state reporting. 
*No student level data is reported. 
*Student level data insures accuracy – makes sure we’re funding the schools at the proper rate. Without student level data it would be extremely hard to provide an A-F report card.
*Behavioral data is only aggregate data reported and sent out.

Nelson then goes on to explain what HB1989 says about what state agencies are to do with data.

*OMES stores data for OSDE but can’t use it for anything because of the OSDE/OMES data sharing agreement.


*State department is working on metadata dictionary showing all data collections; what it does, why it’s being collected, where, etc.

Leea talked a bit more about how OMES stores data and then closed her portion of the testimony. If you would like to see a copy of her PowerPoint presentation, click here, go to page 5 and click on the interim study number, 15-100. A box will pop up. Click on Student Data Privacy Study presentation.pptx.

(Legislators in attendance included, Representatives, Strohm, Nolan, Coody, Nelson and Rogers)

Representative Chuck Strohm; Data security protocols were developed by?
Mote; Done by SIF. Nationally done.
Strohm; Is there work done to validate the security on the package itself and then another suite of testing done at the state level to make sure the system is secure? Are we doing a secondary test?
Mote; We have a security officer at the OMES. Don’t know his title, or what he does other than he monitors it and the OSDE is to do a risk assessment on their systems which is being done now.
Representative Jason Nelson1989 passed has the board run into situations where the law frustrated something that needed to happened that needs to be considered when we do amendments
David Kinney counsel ODE; I don’t have institutional knowledge but under 1989 board has promulgated policies and rules but don’t know of a specific instance that 1989 has frustrated any situation
Nelson; SLDS grants states received to create a data system, linking students/teachers/programs - what does grant allow to happen and what are we really doing? Should it be done at the state or local level?
Lance; personalized learning takes place where a student’s at and modifies curriculum to that student which is where computer programs are used. Tying student performance with teacher performance is TLE and we’re not there yet – being able to do that.
Nelson; Received SLDS grant in 2012 to link all state level data, is that the same kind of processes that a local district may be using now to personalize child’s education
Lance; linking data is for TLE
Nelson; 1989 required the list of all the data points collected in the wave and the definition for what that data is = metadata dictionary. 
The WAVE document does have that information in 150 pages – but a metadata dictionary isn’t just the WAVE but all data collections including that data out there already.
Can we get a list of all the data collections currently? Including what’s outside the WAVE - all data?
Motes; do have data descriptions though not as detailed as you’d like but you can see them.
Strohm; If there is a data breech and data stolen, do you have a protocol for dealing with that at the state level? Is OMES responsible since they house the data?
Motes; In the past, it wasn’t a data breech (that was the problem), it was something posted that shouldn’t have been. Did work with the agency to notify the students and families if the student was under the age of 18 so we did work in coordination with the OSDE to do that.
Strohm; Whose responsibility is it to manage after effects of data breech – notifying families and students..
Lance; Shared responsibility between OSDE and OMES. Would have to work together. OSDE doesn’t have technical capabilities. OSDE has lead role.
Strohm; What does OMES do with the data when it's purged? What is the contractual limitation on the data for purging with OU/OSU contracts?
Lance; OU/OSU purges data after research done. When a vendor is to do that, the vendor has to provide OSDE in writing that you’ve purged the data.
Strohm; If a project drags on with no end in sight, what is the time frame when the contract has to be re-evaluated? So data doesn’t sit out there where it could be harvested by unscrupulous people.
Kinney; If I understand contracts, there are time tables with deliverables and if the deliverables aren’t met, there are provisions.
Strohm; If we house classified data and we hand this data off to another agency/facility when you’re working with DOD data that facility also has to have a security  in place.
Kinney; If you’re using a computer service to look at data, the person using the data has to comply with the data use agreement.
Strohm; Is there an age of the child or time frame on the OMES data storage
Lance; I don’t know the answer to your question on time frame.
Nelson; Please send the answer to the committee. Need to know the answer. Can we get a copy of what the student data act requires – detailed data security plan and authorized access, etc (from 1989) – from the OSDE/OMES
Representative Jadine Nolan; Are there warnings when the system is trying to be hacked? Who knows this information?
Motes; We monitor potential hackers every day. None have affected OSDE, but there are potentials every day.
Nolan; All state systems – all state agencies?
Motes; We don’t have a number for those that have been breached but we can get from chief security officer and share.
Representative Michael Rogers; Does OSDE  provide policies for what data can be collected?
Lance; Nothing is collected other than required.
Strohm; So districts could have no policy about data being stored on an unsecured computer somewhere – is this possible?
Lance; Hypothetically yes.

Jana Burke - Chief Accountability Officer, Tulsa Public Schools

*Data sharing is so very important, performance driven, reflective…must measure progress and success with evidence, not doing our jobs…

Most of Burke's presentation was in the form of question and answers with the legislators as follows:

Nelson; What level of transparency is there in Tulsa if someone calls to ask what data is being collected?
Burke; Would provide information about their own child – must have FOI to tell what data we share. Very proud of the data we have because it accelerates student learning.
Nelson; Transparency a function of open records law but not pro active…relies on an FOI is there a regular channel/report/package of info developed that explains the kind of data collected?
Burke; I don't know, but accountability office at TPS could generate one immediately. Great idea to do to show parents to keep them from being concerned
Rogers; Does TPS have sites that collect more data than others?
Burke; Collected at a central sight because of (Pearson) PowerSchool and enrollment.
Rogers; Having a diverse district – how have you taken data and increased learning for students
Burke; Achievement scores don’t show the incredible amount of effort and proficiency but using specific student data, important information about teacher and school effectiveness can be unmasked by class and race for example.
Nelson; LDS concern about labeling kids follows kids and creates a bias down the road about the student. How do you guard against that kind of stuff? How much of a concern is that?
Burke; The teacher/administer relationship is effective. Bias comes from our own eyes - that’s the problem. Data is not the issue. Red Tape prevents teachers from having all the information on individual students. I am unaware of a situation in which the teacher found information in a student’s electronic file to create bias.
Strohm; Does TPS purge student data? How and when?
Burke; Outside organizations purge their data and evidence must be provided upon the termination of the contract. I don't know about the purging dates/periods on data current in the system. We need to have longitudinal data. We don’t want to cut off use to data that can help them making decisions.
Strohm; Is that data purged at graduation?
Burke; I don't know.
Strohm; It’s possible that kids coul  be 30 years old and have data still be in the system?
Burke; I don't think so. I'll have to find out that answer.

Tony Hutchison - Associate Vice Chancellor For Strategic Planning and Analysis

*Oklahoma state regents are governed by same laws as OSDE. 
*Very proud of data system – recognized nationally in Strong Foundations…Marion Dilbeck godfather of the system. 
*Top level security, quality of the data and efficiency
*Why do we collect data
  • Compliance with USDept of Ed to get aids and grants
  • Accountability reasons – graduation rates, etc – ethnicity/gender/
  • Predictive analytic – what can we do to improve student performance
*Want to follow privacy standards. 
*Individual level student data doesn’t really help them anyway – the real *Information is in the trends created by aggregating data in order to look at OTAG and other scholarships
*Endgame is always results. 
*The more data we have in terms of increasing the pool we’re looking at the better predictive modeling it can produce.

Strohm; How often do you get a request from a school district?
Hutchison; Used to get one or two a year, getting 2 or 3 a month maybe form the principal or super wondering about remediation issues – trying to figure out why so much remediation is in math.
Strohm; Are you using SSN?
Hutchison; We do use SSN voluntarily – 90% and that’s what lets us link to OESC records. OESC governed by more stringent privacy terms than Higher Ed.

Unfortunately, I missed most of Ryan's testimony. I have asked him for a transcript and if he provides one I will add. Otherwise, please use the link and instructions we have provided to go back and hear his comments.

One of his remarks centered on the fact that public schools are government schools and do we want the government having all that data.

Barmak Nassirian - American Association of State Colleges and Universities

*I'm addressing K12 because these students can’t provide informed consent. *Parental rights are important in this talk.
Privacy vs Security
*Privacy responses tend to be security responses.
*Instead of addressing data availability we need to worry about whether or not the database is really secure. 
*Data security is a very important concern.
*Privacy isn’t about who gets to use the data legally with authorization, it's should anyone have this right? Who should have access to your grades? 
*Just because they’re acting in an official capacity doesn’t mean they need official use of the data. Does a highway patrolmen need your grades to write you a ticket?
*Privacy is very rarely advanced by data disclosures. 
*Data collections and disclosures are appropriate - not just mechanical - but appropriate for each individual situation.
*Parent signatures must be the granting authority.
*With parental consent, everything is possible – the problem comes in when deciding which data is so compelling to get that its done without parent consent. *What information should parents know about in advance? Some information should be collected but which?
*The uses and applications of data must be communicated to parents and policymakers.
*Who has access to data?
*Mission creep is a real problem. Data collected for one purpose should not be used for another purpose without permission.
*We run the risk of cradle to grave system when all the child’s records can be added together to create correlations which don't really mean anything. *Correlations can create causality.
*Record retention again – how long do we keep the records.
*While data collections are increasing and subject to science – computer science – there is no science to back up the ‘science’ of collecting data in order to assist kids in their education.  
*We can’t make legitimate predictions from correlations. 
*Predictions are not actionable because they were based on comparisons, not actual causes.


Draft #3 of Oklahoma Educational Standards Released - Neither Stotsky Nor Gray Impressed

Recently, the Oklahoma State Department of Education uploaded draft 3 of the new Oklahoma Educational Standards. There are new things visible on the webpage now besides the standards that appear interesting. Mainly, the inclusion of "external" reviews by several major education reform players: 

The Southern Regional Education Board, The Partnership for 21st Century Learning and the South Central Comprehensive Center. Since the first draft, we have complained that none of the standards reviews have been made public - which is why we began publishing our own - unfortunately, these are all organizations involved in 'education reform' at some level. In fact, we've written papers about the Partnership for 21st Century Learning and the fact that the white papers supporting its mission are steeped in the failed progressive education methods of Dewey. 

The South Central Comprehensive Center has this to say about its funding and missionThe South Central Comprehensive Center (SC3) is part of a national network of centers funded by the U.S. Department of Education (ED) to support the improvement of educational outcomes. If that's not the definition of the Fox Guarding The Hen House, what exactly is? 

Only the Southern Regional Education Board appears to be moderating away from Common Core, but its white paper on College and Career Readiness indicates the need for states to create a 'default high school CURRICULUM' - something that should concern any local control proponent. At any rate,these reviews should be read by the general public with these facts in mind.

Not long after the release of the 3rd draft, Nate Robson of Oklahoma Watch penned a nice article detailing Dr. Sandra Stotsky's thoughts on the new standards which included the statement,

“You’re close to the bottom of the basement, I am sorry to say, because there is no content in them,” said Stotsky. “These are pious statements of academic goals. These are not standards. A standard is a criterion by which you grade something.”

Ouch. Professor Stotsky is now forced to provide basic educational definitions to the Standards Re-Write Committee - not a sterling commendation to say the least - but there is a question here Robson dances around; Why invite three separate 'experts' to testify to the Standards Writing Committee detailing the process for writing excellent educational standards, yet then invite three different ORGANIZATIONS tied to the education establishment to write reviews for the 3rd revision of the standards? Why not just go back to the original sources? It's what Robson did. Maybe that was the unchosen path for a reason. Maybe the department knew the writing committees hadn't been following the expert advice provided the Standards Committee. Maybe they didn't want the experts coming back to salt the ground they'd originally plowed for the OSDE.

The impetus matters not, actually. What matters is that both Stotsky (English) and Gray (Minnesota math) were not generally complementary of the 3rd standards draft to Robson, and this has sad implications for Oklahoma students.

Below are the specific comments provided by Stotsky (Gray's can be found in the Oklahoma Watch article)

1.  Under "Critical Writing"--Most writing standards do not lead to an assessment of the kind of writing done in college or the real world of work.  OK's draft organizes the writing standards under "narrative," "informative," and "argument."  

The “narratives” (most of which is creative writing) are curriculum-relevant chiefly in the early grades and are not desirable in college or the world of work.   "Informative" is fine, but "argument" should be changed to "persuasion" and "opinion" eliminated in the elementary grades.   Only "informative" prepares kids for college and career writing.

More important, why can’t OK require all local school districts to assign and assess a research paper or senior thesis for English and history or science in grade 11 and/or 12 to prepare students in an authentic way for college and career.  That is precisely where authentic research standards, as in the strand in my 2013 document. should be assessed.

2.  The "Critical Reading" standards should NOT be divided into Literary and Informational.  That is pure Common Core and it is very bad for the English curriculum.  The Critical Reading standards should be divided into (1) Fiction, (2) Nonfiction, (3) Poetry, (4) Dramatic Literature), and (5) Classical and Traditional literature.   That's what English teachers have always taught and been trained to teach.

3.  The OK drafting committee must come up with an example of a literary text that could be used (and how) for every single standard so that teachers understand what reading level is required or desirable at every grad level (and what the standard means).  Make it clear these texts are not required; only examples of reading levels.

4.  Get rid of processes for reading and writing in this document.  They are not standards but pedagogy. 

5.  Get this ELA committee to put in Oklahoma-related reading standards at the high school level--grades 11 and 12.   One standard for texts by major authors born in or who wrote about Oklahoma, and one standard for biographies/autobiographies about famous Oklahomans through history.