Tag Archives: ERB

Assessment Quest, Parts 1 and 2

Part One

We, anti CCSS Warriors know how crafty the CCSS Machine is in playing word games with us. So, consider the names used (or variations) of names used in some of the CCSS Machine products, legislation, assessments, and anything else connected to it. For example, the ESSA, Every Student Succeeds Act is named as it is to SUGGEST positive results. However, we Warriors know, the Law actually means “Every Student Confined”. There are plenty more examples out there, but I want to look at the assessments in particular. Why? Again, the names the CCSS Machine has given each, points to success, but leads to alignment of epic proportions!

In previous researched articles, I have revealed for you how SpringBoard (which offers another service called Learning Walks to partner with schools for CCSS/Competency Based Education alignment) Plan, Aspire, WorkKeys, MAP, Skills Navigator,ProMetric, Certica, and TestWhiz all sound like great and positive assessments for your students, but are really purposed tools to force an aligned, globally competent worker. I know there are others, but you get the idea.

Other assessments with not so positive sounding names (but with the same purposed agenda tool results) are Iowa Assessments, Standford 10 , ETS, ERB, SBAC, PARCC, SAT, ACT, CLEP, College Board, and ASVAB.

One with a former not so positive sounding assessment is the GED, it has been rewritten and renamed to HiSET (High School Equivalency Test). Pearson Publishing has copyrighted the GED and aligned it with CCSS. See:
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2015/07/09/the-big-problems-with-pearsons-new-ged-high-school-equivalency-test/

More recently I exposed the partnership between Act, Inc. and Envision. Act., Inc. provides the assessments for workforce based education paths (also known as competency based education) and Envision collects the data for global purposes. Envision has been successful in this alignment, I believe, because they have named the program involved with one that suggests positive, but hides the agenda. In case you missed this article about assessments and global data mining:
https://commoncorediva.wordpress.com/2016/06/24/envisioning-you/

One State Goes on a Quest:

Recently, one of my dearest friends and among the most dedicated anti CCSS/Fed Ed Warriors I know, contacted me. Karen lives in TN. She asked me if I had ever researched the Questar assessment.  Karen has researched some about Questar on her own. She knows the assessment is tied to IMS Global.  What I have found is below and follows up what Karen found. Knowing the ‘quest’ in the title suggests something positive, I found quite the opposite.


Questar:

Website: http://www.questarai.com/

questaracct

According the ‘About Us’ page on the Questar website, the company is at least 40 years old. Their slogan, “Bridging the Gap” seems to fit right in with the CCSS Machine agenda. This assessment provider (K-12 grades) is based in MN.
Among the leaders of Questar, is the President and CEO, Jamie Post Candee. Candee got her start in banking before shifting to education related jobs. If you look at her biography, you see she was formerly employed by PLATO Learning. PLATO Learning also has a former name, EDmentum. Included in her bio is this quote, “Jamie is the driving force behind Questar’s commitment to creating meaningful assessments that give educators the insights they need to fully prepare students for college or career.”

platoedI previously wrote about Edmendtum and a host of other assessment aligners in 2015.
See: https://commoncorediva.wordpress.com/2015/09/01/ftf-ascending-and-aligning/

Edmentum is tied to Providence Equity Partners, LLC. Please, read the above archived article. It has many twists and turns (much like a journey’s trail) but you need to see just how multi-strung these private groups are when it comes to education!

Back to Questar’s Leaders, the Chief Assessments Advisor? The Former U.S. Dept. of Education’s Standards and Assessments Director, Dr. Timothy VanSickle. (*Interesting note: in 2011, he was named as a CCSSO (Council of Chief State School Officers) Partner.) Also a Chief Assessments Advisor for Questar is Dr. Katie McClarty. McClarty was previously employed by none other than Pearson Publishing! Here’s how, “Before joining Questar, Katie served as the director for the Center for College & Career Success in Pearson’s Research & Innovation Network. Her signature work for the Center included the co-creation of a holistic college-readiness index for middle school students and the co-design and facilitation of standard-setting meetings and research projects for the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC). Prior to directing the Center, she was the chief research scientist for the state of Texas general education assessment programs.”

Other leaders tied to the CCSS Machine are present as well. CCSS Machine organizations represented include eInstruction, ConnectEdU, AIR, Inc. (AIR stands for American Institutes for Research and are tied to SBAC assessments.), Advanced Systems in Measurement and Evaluation (now Measured Progress) and Data Recognition Corporation (Jim McMann). McMann was responsible for several States assessment contracts when he was with Data Recognition Corp.

Board members for Questar also have plenty of ties to the CCSS Machine. One huge one is
New Market Ventures Group. New Market has a portfolio where other educational companies are included. Here is a screen shot:

newmarket
To see the entire list of portfolio companies, http://newmarketsvp.com/portfolio-companies/
You also may be interested in New Market Venture’s recent news release about Graduation Alliance and ACT, Inc. partnering together for new career readiness certificates. (Also assessment based) See:
http://newmarketsvp.com/2016/04/18/graduation-alliances-diploma-program-expands-to-include-career-readiness-certification-through-collaboration-with-act/

You can see all the Questar leaders and Board Members information: 
Board: http://www.questarai.com/about-us/board-of-directors/
Leaders: http://www.questarai.com/about-us/leadership/

To see Questar Large Scale Assessments (where they take in entire States, school districts, etc.), click on their “Large Scale Assessment” tab.
(*Note: in Large Scale Assessments, there are 5 Steps. Be sure to look at each one. Every symbol more information about it when you click the symbol. For example, I clicked on the light bulb in Stage 2 (Assessment Design) and found all kinds of information on psychometric assessment.)
To see Questar Literacy Assessment (for Students), then click on their “District Literacy” tab.(*Note: This assessment is backed by the CCSSO. Remember, CCSSO owns half the CCSS Copyrights.)
You will want to access the research behind all these assessments. Questar’s White Papers on Assessments (includes Next Generation Assessments). That is in the “White Papers” tab (second row of tabs in blue font).

Part Two:
So Where is IMS Global?

Warriors, so far we have plenty of evidence for CCSS Machine allegiance from Questar. We have seen how these people are coming from one part of the agenda to other part. But how does this tie to Questar? How does this tie back to the ESSA? Let’s find out.

IMS Global is a Consortium for Digital Learning. Here is a screen shot illustrating their reach in education. A small bit of their history, “In 1995, IMS came into existence as a project (the Instructional Management System project) within the National Learning Infrastructure Initiative of EDUCAUSE. In 1999 IMS Global spun out of EDUCAUSE to become an independent non-profit organization.” (*Note: the ‘IMS’ stands for ‘Instructional Management System’)

imsglobal

From the 2015 Annual Report, IMS Global gloated about its integral part in Race to the Top Assessments. That’s just in the USA.
Other similar assessments are in other countries. (Page 10).
Also from Page 10, this excerpt which ties Questar directly to IMS Global,
“To further accelerate progress of the IMS e-Assessment Initiative, IMS formed the Executive Board on Assessment (EBA) to help remove the barriers to broader adoption of QTI and APIP. The EBA serves as an extension of the IMS Board of Directors and is open to all IMS Contributing Members, but requires an executive pledge to provide the leadership and resources needed to lead the market in charting the next phase of QTI and APIP standards to build strong end-to-end interoperability and accelerate standards compliance. Charter members included ACT, CITO, College voor Toetsen en Examens, ETS, Florida Virtual School, Houston ISD, McGraw-Hill Education, Measured Progress, Minnesota Department of Education, National Center and State Collaborative (NCSC), NWEA, Open Assessment Technologies, Pacific Metrics, PARCC, Questar Assessment, Smarter Balanced, and WIDA.”

To access the IMS Global Annual Report (2015)https://www.imsglobal.org/sites/default/files/2015annualReport.pdf
(*Note: Page 13 names all the assessments involved in digital education, names all the people involved, and names the Executive Board responsible for the EBA.)

I was able to find a 2002 research paper from IMS Global on defining these on-line credentials for global competency our education reform in pushing so hard to convert to. Known as a ‘RDCEO’ (Reuseable Definition of Competency or Educational Objective), these objectives are usually open-ended, loosely defined so that anywhere across the globe they can be user-friendly. They can be used over and over again, anywhere, by anyone.
You, as a Warrior Against the Core, simply must read the rest of this paper!
Access it: https://www.imsglobal.org/competencies/rdceov1p0/imsrdceo_infov1p0.html

You will also need to access and read the IMS Global 2015 Learning Impact Report. It is also key in the War Against the Core! Get it: 
https://www.imsglobal.org/sites/default/files/2015LearningImpactReport.pdf

If you want to see IMS Global’s K-20 Digital Badge program, Getting Smart (very CCSS Machine Supportive, in my opinion) published this write up:
http://gettingsmart.com/2015/04/mozilla-ims-team-up-for-badging/
(*Note: helping fund this K-20 Badge project is the MacArthur Foundation, a well known CCSS Machine member.)
All the other funders, backers are named. But the biggest take away is that this CBE (competency based education) shift will promote IMS Global as one of the biggest leaders in it in the world!

We still don’t see how IMS Global ties to ESSA. Below is a screen shot. It is from our dear Warriors, the “What Is Common Core?” Blog. Here is the link to their entire article. Note the highlighted portion of the picture.
 https://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com/2015/12/02/this-is-the-moment-congress-we-are-watching-you-vote-and-we-know-whats-in-this-bill/

whatims
Among IMS Global Members: Pearson Publishing, Questar, PARCC, the Gates Foundation, and many more.

Related: EdUCause is tied to the CCSS Machine and really loves higher education. Here is my article about them from early 2015:
https://commoncorediva.wordpress.com/2015/01/29/tech-thursday-educauses-higher-education-project/

Since IMS Global is helping set the bar for digital standards, I thought you might like to see how ESSA has provided for each State to be digitally made over. See:
https://commoncorediva.wordpress.com/2016/02/04/essa-and-digital-overload/

Closing:

Warriors, this is a tremendous journey, I know. Please break it down as you need to. There is much here. For my friend Karen, I hope it is enough to help TN. While it appears IMS Global is set to be among those mastering digital education, at least we know the members of not only the CCSS Machine, but now the IMS Global contain many of the same groups/people. That makes our job of knowing where to look that much easier!

 

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Sic’ ‘Em Saturday: When Your Faith Based School Uses CCSS Assessments

It's one thing when your student's school has no choice about aligning to Common Core, it's a whole other issue when the choice is made TO align on purpose.
It’s one thing when your student’s school has no choice about aligning to Common Core, it’s a whole other issue when the choice is made TO align on purpose.

A few months ago I was chatting via Facebook with a parent of 2 children enrolled in a particular faith-based school. She had contacted me to find out how to discover where the Common Core Standard ties were hiding. What tipped her off? Homework!

“Sara’s” Story:

To protect my long-distance, anti Common Core mom, I’ll refer to her as “Sara”. Sara lives on the other side of the USA from me. She’d read a post I’d written and felt confident I could help her out. Sara told me that previously her children had been in another school that wasn’t faith-based but full of Common Core. After much soul searching and discussion, Sara and her husband made the sacrifice to put both children in this highly recommended faith-based school. Their house of worship’s leadership team was the one suggesting the move.  By the time Sara messaged me, the children had been there about 6 months. Thankfully, both Sara and her husband had had “The Talk” with the kids. No, not the coming-of-age talk, but the Common Core talk. What to look for on the pages of their books or what assessments, etc. Thanks to great communication, the kids were able to tell their parents when things went ‘to pot’.

Sara was livid. Her husband was ready to tear those leaders apart. After asking a few questions Sara didn’t mind answering, it was discovered that not only had the worship leadership team given this school a great thumbs up, but the school, itself, had assured ALL the parents, including Sara and her husband ‘that ABSOLUTELY NO Common Core was in their school’. Now distraught, she asks me if I can find the connections. After getting the website of the school and looking through some of the related web pages, I found the connections. I’ll share in the action items how you, too can spot connections IF you suspect them.

Willfully Choosing Common Core:

By now, you’ve probably heard reasoning like this from parents around you:

“I might as well have them attend XYZ, they’re bound to have CCSS anyway.”

“So what, the school said…”

“I have to have my kids get CCSS, if I don’t they’ll not be ready for college!”

“If they don’t get CCSS, how can we score well on the assessment?”

If you’ve not heard these , count your blessings. I’ve heard not only these statements, but others that have caused me great sadness and puzzlement.

The reason I share these trains of thought with you is while these are from parents, I think the statements can help us to TRY to understand why an entire school, especially faith-based would exercise some of the very same attitudes.

Is it truly possible to have education anymore WITHOUT Common Core? While I cannot answer that question outright, I can tell you that I believe if we are very careful in our discernment, we can be CCSS free.

However, no matter where our students attend Pre K through 12th grades, as long as Common Core lurks in post-secondary schools and is being hidden in Workforce training, it’s going to be a work in progress. I’ll share a bit more in the action items below.

Faith-based, CCSS aligned assessments:

No, you didn’t misread the heading. There are, not only CCSS aligned assessments for faith-based schools, but there are entire companies which specialize in them!! ERB is where we begin.

1) ERB (Educational Records Bureau): According to their website, they are at least 85 years old. “ERB is a global not-for-profit educational membership organization of independent, public, faith-based, and boarding schools providing admission, achievement and instructional services for PreK – Grade 12” Their goal: support student learning. (more about their history,
http://erblearn.org/about)

ERB’s Assessments are many, each aligned to CC in some way. Let’s take a look. Now, remember, this is a company which serves all kinds of independent schools, public schools and/or charter schools. They also serve faith-based schools (read their website description again).

WrAP (writing assessment placement) and WPP:

ERB decided to use these 2 Common Core aligned assessments after working with WestEd. (‘WestEd is at the forefront of providing alignment services for states, districts, several non-profit organizations including ACT and College Board, and most recently, Smarter Balanced Consortium of the Common Core State Standards.’) Why? Because ERB believes the ‘rigor’ is what is worth going for in today’s education. To see exactly how the assessments are aligned with Common Core and what they mean for your schools: http://erblearn.org/news/wrap-wpp-ccss-alignment-study-1

Formative Item Bank Assessment:

ERB only provides an overview for this aligned assessment because you’ll have to talk to a company representative to see how to get it implemented in your schools. Here’s a bit about FIBA, “pre-made Benchmarks or Testlets that are developed with items that meet the content expectations and cognitive demands outlined in the Common Core frameworks. Powered by Measured Progress and eMetric”. Students in grades 3-8 will face over 6,000 reading and math items to be measured.

2) Prometric, part of ETS (Educational Testing Services):

Before looking into Prometric, you need to know that ETS was created back in 1947, as a result of 3 organizations joining forces. Two of which are the Carnegie Foundation for Education and the College Entrance Examination Board (in modern times it is known as College Board). So, not really a question of how aligned Prometric would be, but rather, where.

Prometric is another globally serving assessment service. Typically, their services are for higher education and/or professionals (like teachers), however, since the company is a partner of ERB, a subsidiary of a known pro CC group, we should look at them. While not every student will have to complete the biometric procedures used by Prometric, you really should watch this short video, called “What to Expect on Testing Day”. https://www.prometric.com/en-us/news-and-resources/pages/videos.aspx  (*Note: if you have older students, remember they are not free of CCSS or data mining either.)
You’ll want to view the short video “Setting the Standards” that’s on the same page. It details not just data mining/sharing, but what credentialed workers are needed. Be sure to watch this from the perspective of all that you’ve been able to learn about a CCSS aligned Workforce, Career Pathways education.

While I couldn’t find much of anything for a definitive statement on the Prometric website about Common Core, I was able to find a press release from ETS about a new CCSS assessment called Praxis which is administered at Prometric. Here’s an excerpt you really need to see, “We worked with committees of teacher educators to ensure that the new Praxis CORE series of exams reflects the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), in particular those standards that the educators deemed most important to success in a teacher preparation program,” said ETS Vice President and COO of Teacher Licensure & Certification Programs, George Powell. “The new tests are designed to help teacher educators choose the candidates most likely to flourish in programs geared to meet the intensified demand for teachers whose students will complete their K–12 education ready for college and for the workforce.” To access the entire press release: http://www.ets.org/newsroom/news_releases/praxis_core_academic

3) Certica Solutions:

This company uses assessments to aid school districts in being in a better position to receive more funding, more data, and better information about outcome-based CCSS aligned education. Founded in 2001 as the consulting firm for the U.S. Dept. of Education.

TestWiz: 

This is a student based assessment that allows the learner to be tracked by any number of school administrators. Used at a district wide level and shared with a variety of  ‘stakeholders’. Here’s an excerpt: “Users can create local assessments using their own items or items from NWEA’s (Northwest Evaluation Association’s Formative Assessment Item Bank, a high-quality, Common Core-aligned Item Bank.”

” NWEA’s Formative Assessment Item Bank, with over 81,000 items in Math, ELA Science and Social Studies, including over 53,800 Common Core-aligned items.” (more about the Formative Item Bank: http://www.certicasolutions.com/k12-assessment-creation_assessment-administration_assessment-reports/testwiz-item-banks_nwea_locals.asp)

There are others:

MAP (Measure of Academic Progress)/MPG(Measure of Primary Grades), from NWEA, offers you seamless assessment from K-12. (See: https://www.nwea.org/assessments/map/map-for-primary-grades/) Scroll all the way to the bottom.

ACIS (Associatin of Christian Schools International) has partnered with known pro CCSS publisher, supporter, and curricula provider McGraw Hill (see the website: http://www.acsiglobal.org/student-assessment)

Iowa Assessments are a division of Houghton-Mifflin-Harcourt, another known pro CCSS publisher and supporter. (See: http://riversidepublishing.com/products/ia/index.html)

Stanford 10 (see Pearson Publishing’s pdf on the alignment: http://images.pearsonclinical.com/images/PDF/Stanford_10_Alignment_to_Common_Core_Standards.pdf)

**Note: they are probably many other assessments available to the faith-based schools. I only have listed the most popular ones that I can find.

Action Items:

So, if you’re like Sara’s family, what do you do?

1) Have the CCSS talk

2) Notice publishers names on any textbook, website, homework, or take home paper. Keep the list. Make notes, then share the list…far and wide.

3) If your faith-based school is part of a larger group, find out what organizations the school answers to, is a member of, or pays fees to.

4) If  those larger organizations have a Common Core statement, position paper, or disclaimer, ask to see it.

5) Ask for a list of the textbooks to be used during courses of study and what assessments are being used.

To avoid becoming slammed with CCSS in your faith-based school:

1) Use action item 3, 4, and 5 from above BEFORE you sign the contract or admission papers.

2) Talk with the governing body of the faith-based school, listen for any buzzwords known to be used by those supportive of the CCSS. For example, “globally competitive in the 21st Century”; ‘skilled workforce’.

3) Learn the names of the publishers who are supportive of CCSS by accessing websites or using the database available on the Homeschool Road Map’s Common Core Project (many faith-based schools use the same resources for assessments/curricula as home educators)

For both sets of parents:

1) Ask to see demonstrated ANY on-line assessments to be used. Take notes, names of those providers.

2) If any school personnel is not willing to be open with you as a discerning parent, ask someone else. If the entire staff seem closed off or clueless, be prepared and share with them facts, evidence as to WHY they need to know.

3) Determine to be choosy if you feel the school is in any way being pushy, after all, most faith-based schools can be quite expensive.

As Sara told me before our chat ended, “We paid tons of money on the basis of what we were told about the school being CC free! I wracked myself with guilt over not getting them out of the public school sooner and now to know I’ve paid to have them exposed, I feel horrible.”

Whatever action you take, don’t take alone. Find a friendly fellow anti CCSS warrior and take them with you! There’s safety in numbers, my friends.