Tag Archives: Skills Navigator

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:

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:

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.


Website: http://www.questarai.com/


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:

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:

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’)


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: 

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:
(*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.

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:

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:


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!



Weekend News: Training for Assessments, Pearson Style

We've seen it thousands of times in CCSS, CTE, CCR...assessment-mania!
We’ve seen it thousands of times in CCSS, CTE, CCR…assessment-mania!

Yes, anti CCSS Warriors, we know how toxic the CCSS aligned assessments are. We also know how life altering those CTE/CCR assessments are when it comes to laying out a career track our students our students are locked into. We also know how much Pearson Publishing is making off these assessments, which by the way are all the way from PreK to graduate school!

BUT, did you know there’s a training facility, led by Pearson, to groom educational leaders in all the latest FORMATIVE assessment moves? That, my fellow warriors, is the focus of the news for this weekend. The previously published articles I’ve written about the formative and summative assessments will be included (for background or review) at the end of this article.

The Assessment Training Institute:

As I’ve shared with you before, I get all kinds of invitations for educational webinars, conferences, and other related events. So, finding out about this upcoming formative assessment on-line leadership meeting (is to happen 11/17/15), is an example. I don’t buy into the hype, but what I look for is the group or groups hosting such pro CCSS rhetoric. So, when I searched the internet for the Assessment Training Institute, I wasn’t surprised to see “Pearson”, but would there be any other surprises I’d find? Let’s see….

The website: http://ati.pearson.com/
The target audience: teachers and school districts
The products/systems ‘chatted up’? MAP and Skills Navigator
The host expert: Richard J. Stiggins

How long has the Assessment Training Institute been around? Since 1992, according to the website. It was founded by Stiggins. The goal? “to help classroom teachers develop skills needed to gather accurate information about student achievement and to use the assessment process and its results effectively to improve achievement.”  They also spread their assessment knowledge…ATI consultants are practitioners with extensive experience implementing the principles of high-quality classroom assessment at the classroom, school, district, and university levels.”
If you’d like to learn the whom the other experts are and the goals related to student assessments ATI has, visit: http://ati.pearson.com/about-ati/

Before we move on to the assessments themselves, you will definitely want the posters ATI offers teachers and others who are using assessments on our students. The first one contains the 7 reasons using assessments for students is a good thing: ATI_poster_7SAL  The second one is all about the qualities of formative assessments: ATI_poster_KeysQCA

Be sure you look at the ATI’s professional papers, especially this one which ties the assessments to the CASL (Classroom Assessment for Student Learning) to the JCSEE (Joint Committee on Standards for Educational Evalutation). Why would I point you to this particular paper? I’ve shared with you previously just how toxically aligned JCSEE is to the CCSS Machine! (see: https://commoncorediva.wordpress.com/2014/12/02/ftf-create-they-know-your-school-do-you-know-them/)
To access the CASL/JCSEE paper: JCSEE Student Eval Practices Symp Paper 2009

So, What’s a MAP? What’s the Skills Navigator?

MAP stands for ‘Measure of Academic Progress’. I found a great FAQ MAP pdf from a school district in Maryland which spells out what MAPs do, what students receive the assessment, and more. See: mapfaq

This school district didn’t create the MAP, nor did ATI, just what group did? The NWEA. The NWEA stands for “North West Evaluation Association”. What’s interesting is that the intended purpose of using MAP was to REDUCE the amount of assessments. I was able to track down a pdf from a Connecticut school district where they revealed MAPs have been used for a number of years. Here’s an excerpt from that pdf: “A main motivation in adopting MAP is actually to reduce the amount of testing. There is no reason to gather the same student performance information from multiple sources—we don’t need three or four reading comprehension measures if one provides enough actionable and reliable information.” You might be interested in what else this CT school district’s document shares. See: CTMAP

So, on to NWEA, we go! Their website: https://www.nwea.org/
Here’s a screen shot you need to see:

Creators of not only, MAP, but Skills Navigator and CPAA (Children's Progress Academic Assessment)
Creators of not only, MAP, but Skills Navigator and CPAA (Children’s Progress Academic Assessment).

You should check out their business partners: https://www.nwea.org/business-alliances/
NWEA is a global, not for profit organization. From the NWEA’s “About Us” page, you can see USA school leaders extol the virtues of the MAP. Visit: https://www.nwea.org/about/, then scroll down until you see the embedded video (it is 2:50 minutes). To see the group’s history and learn who the founders are: https://www.nwea.org/about/history/
If you are like me, you may want to know who funds the NWEA. I was able to find the Gates Foundation’s recent grant to NWEA for the Next Generation System Initiative.
To see the grant: http://www.gatesfoundation.org/How-We-Work/Quick-Links/Grants-Database/Grants/2015/09/OPP1135897
To see what the Next Generation System Initiative is, first see the screen shot below, then access the entire press release by using the website address provided:


To see NWEA’s information on the Skills Navigatorhttps://www.nwea.org/assessments/skills-navigator/
To see NWEA’s alignment to the CCSS and other ‘state led’ standards: https://www.nwea.org/assessments/standards-alignment/

Did you know the NWEA has a Growth Research Database? Yes, according to a 2009 NWEA press release celebrating the state of South Carolina’s alignment of MAP to state standards, NWEA does indeed have one. Here is an excerpt:NWEA delivers computerized assessment services to more than 3,400 education agencies and approximately 4 million students. Additionally, its Growth Research Database, the most extensive collection of student growth data in the country, provides a rich source for the study of academic achievement.’ Below is a Growth Data infograph chart. In my research, and from other’s against CCSS, we know this infograph is misleading, and on purpose!


While the NWEA has recently updated their website and the Growth Research Database isn’t as easy to find as it once was, I did find a 2006 NWEA report geared toward the use of the GRD to show the skills and achievement gaps in education. Here’s a quote you might find revealing,Northwest Evaluation Association’s (NWEA) Growth Research Database (GRD) one of the most expansive repositories of longitudinal data on student growth in the country. The database comprises data of interest to education researchers, including assessment data gathered from NWEA member districts. These data provide a detailed look at academic growth, and aggregated proficiency levels. In addition, the tests from which the data are derived are more sensitive for low-and high-performing students, giving a more accurate picture of achievement.’ To see the entire report: https://www.nwea.org/content/uploads/2009/08/409_AchivGapStudyFinallowres_111006a.pdf

To see the other NWEA research (which details many subjects about CCSS) resources: https://www.nwea.org/resource/type/research-report/
(*Note: if you look all over the NWEA site, you can find the MAP ties to SBAC and PARCC!)

Now, knowing  all this, combine it with the data mining Pearson has going on not only our students, but our teachers as well. It doesn’t take much to see how Pearson’s ATI and NWEA are working together. However, is there proof? Let’s see.

On page 10 of the NWEA’s 2015 publication, Assessment Integrity E-book, you can find  Pearson’s ATI, not by name, but by the founder’s name (Stiggins) of ATI and other ATI associates!  This E-book is slam full of all kinds of CCSS aligned programs, measurements, and ‘supportive research’. You will want to pour over this document with a fine tooth comb. Get it: NWEA-Assessment-Integrity-eBook

Another place you can find both Pearson and NWEA working together: The CCSSO (Council of Chief State School Officers)

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