Skip to content

If NAEP “Proficient” Means “Grade Level Proficiency,” Then America’s Private Schools Are in Trouble

Former TV anchor and current privatizing reform conduit Campbell Brown believes that a student’s achieving the level “proficient” on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) equates with that student being “at grade level” or (more precisely, according to her) having achieved “grade level proficiency.”

In a May 16, 2016, Slate interview, Brown said the following:

Two out of three eighth graders in this country cannot read or do math at grade level. We are not preparing our kids for what the future holds.

As she introduces an article written by Carol Burris, Washington Post education writer Valerie Strauss sums up the social media upheaval that ensued over Brown’s equating NAEP “proficient” with being “at grade level”:

Another day, another fight in the education world. This one is worth delving into because it is really not about who said what but about fundamental understandings — and misunderstandings — of standardized testing data and how it drives policy.

This one started when education activist Campbell Brown said that two-thirds of U.S. eighth graders are below grade level in reading and math. Tom Loveless, a former Harvard professor and teacher who researches student achievement, then tweeted that he has never seen data showing that, and asked Brown to explain her sourcing. She said that she was referring to proficiency rates on the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

NAEP, as the test is known, is sometimes referred to as “the nation’s report card” because it is seen as the most consistent measure of U.S. student achievement since the 1990s. It is administered every two years to groups of U.S. students in the fourth and eighth grades, and less frequently to high school students. When Loveless told her that NAEP proficiency scores do not refer to grade level, a social media fight ensued between Campbell and her critics.

In this post, Carol Burris, a former award-winning high school principal who got involved in the Twitter exchange, explains why the substance of this debate matters.

I asked Brown to comment about her statement that two out of three eighth graders cannot read or do math at grade level and why she thinks NAEP proficiency means grade level. She said in an emailed response, which you can see in full below, that “if I were trying to be completely and utterly precise then I would have specified ‘grade-level proficiency,’ instead of ‘grade level’ in the context of NAEP score,” and that “any reasonable person or parent” would understand what she meant.

The achievement level preceding “proficient” is “basic,” and it is “at or above basic” that the bulk of students’ scores tend to fall.

What Brown erroneously proposes is that NAEP “proficient” equals “grade level proficiency” and that not achieving NAEP “proficient”  equals “not at grade-level proficiency.”

If the above were true, then it is not only America’s public schools that one must worry about.

Brown must also fault America’s private schools– the schools where admission is clearly selective and parents and schools negotiate to choose each other– but also where schools can more freely deselect troublesome students. (Brown should know as much; at 16, she was expelled from a private school for sneaking off of campus.)

If Brown were talking about America’s private schools in her Slate interview, her words might have been as follows:

One out of two private school eighth graders in this country cannot read nor do math at grade level. We are not preparing our kids for what the future holds.

Is she willing to erroneously assert as much based on a faulty interpretation of NAEP grade 8 percentages of private school students scoring “proficient” or above in math and reading?

Let’s see if she is.

The data below can be obtained using this National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) search engine.

The number of private school students taking the 2015 NAEP was too small for calculating private school NAEP proficiency in 2015. However, in 2013, 57 percent of grade 8 private school students scored proficient or higher in reading, up from 54 percent in 2011 and 52 percent in 2009. In fact, since the inception of the NAEP grade 8 reading test in 1992 to the most recent private school data in 2013, the percentage of private school students achieving proficiency or higher has only risen from 48 to 57 percent. (See all of this and more here.)

Following Brown’s logic, such means that roughly “one in two private school eighth graders in this country cannot read at grade level.” But such an indictment would be baloney.

And there’s more potential baloney to come.

In 2013, 47 percent of grade 8 private school students scored proficient or higher in math, down from 48 percent in 2011 and the same as 47 percent in 2009. Since the inception of the NAEP grade 8 math test in 1990 to the most recent private school data in 2013, the percentage of private school students achieving proficiency or higher has risen from 17 to the 2011 peak of 48 percent. Between 2003 and 2013, the percentage of private school students achieving proficiency or higher has only moved from 43 to 48 percent (2011)– and back down to 47 percent (2013). But the margin of error is greater than a point, which means that 47 and 48 percent could be considered “the same.” (This data and more is available here.)

Again, if she wanted to panic America about the state of its private schools, Brown could declare that “one in two private school eighth graders in this country cannot do math at grade level.”

For grade 4 math, the story is similar: In 2013, 48 percent of grade 4 private school students achieved proficient or above, which happens to be the same percentage in 2007. (See that data and more here.)

As for grade 4 reading: In 2013, 49 percent of grade 4 private school students achieved proficient or above. This percentage has not moved much since the inception of the NAEP reading test in 1992 (45 percent). (See that data and more here.)

I guess only one in two private school fourth graders can read nor do math at grade level. Or not.

I’m going to go with the words of Tom Loveless and research of Gary Phillips that Carol Burris included in her Washington Post article on NAEP:

Loveless, who has written extensively about NAEP, said the following in his email correspondence with me:

 “The cut point on NAEP is much too high [to be considered grade level].

In a 2007 study, researcher Gary Phillips projected where scores on the TIMSS, a series of international math and science given to kids around the world, would land on the NAEP scale.  He estimated that 27 percent of Singapore’s 8th graders would fail to meet the NAEP proficient cut score in math.  At the time, Singapore was the highest scoring country in the world.  Japan — not exactly a weak math country–would see only 57 percent meet proficiency; 43 percent would “fail.” You can read more about that study on pp. 10-13 of the 2007 Brookings Report authored by Loveless that you can find here.

NAEP “proficient” does not equate with either “at grade level” or “grade-level proficiency,” even if Brown insists that it does– and even if she is willing to publicly declare war on America’s private schools in an effort to justify her error.

How about it, Campbell? Are America’s private schools producing one in two 4th and 8th graders who cannot read nor do math, uh, with grade-level proficiency??

campbell brown 4  Campbell Brown

_______________________________________________________________

Coming June 24, 2016, from TC Press:

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Stay tuned.

 

***

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of the ed reform whistle blower, A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education.

She also has a second book, Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

No More Open Door for Independent, “Local Charter Authorizers” in Louisiana

SB 260, “Provides relative to local charter authorizers and Type 1B charter schools,” has made its way through both Louisiana Senate and House and awaits Governor John Bel Edwards’ signature.

The bill, sponsored by Senator Dan Morrish (R-Jennings), removes any reference to “Type 1B” charters or the associated “local charter authorizer” and leaves charter school authorization with either the state board of education (BESE) or the local school boards.

In other words, SB 260 kills the idea of free-standing, largely unaccountable entities starting free-standing charter schools within local school district boundaries and in the names of “high quality” and choice,” of threatening the fiscal stability of such districts.

The “local charter authorizer” concept has been legal in Louisiana since Act 2 was passed in 2012. However, no such independent authorizing agent has been itself “certified to authorize charter schools within at least one Regional Labor Market Area, as defined by the Louisiana Workforce Commission.” (See here for more info on Type 1B charters and the 2015 effort to create “local charter authorizers.”)

For Louisiana’s Bulletin 126– Charter Schools, click here.

Louisiana

____________________________________________________________

Coming June 24, 2016, from TC Press:

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Stay tuned.

 

***

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of the ed reform whistle blower, A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education.

She also has a second book, Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

“Telegenic” Is Not a Sexist Term

On a number of occasions, education historian Diane Ravitch has referred to former CNN anchor and corporate reform advocate Campbell Brown as “telegenic” or “pretty.”

Apparently Brown hates this, and she views such references to her appearance as “sexist.”

It seems she was willing to overlook being referred to as “telegenic” in this November 2014 Observer gush piece. But for others to use the term (i.e., Ravitch): sexist.

However, the term “telegenic” is not sexist.

According to Merriam-Webster, the term “telegenic” first appeared in print in 1939 and is a hybrid of the terms “television” and “photogenic.” It means,

Well-suited to the medium of television; especially:  having an appearance and manner that are markedly attractive to television viewers.

It is not a term reserved for women.

I remember studying about the televised, Kennedy-Nixon debates. Kennedy had a telegenic advantage over Nixon, which is captured in this History.com article:

Before the first debate, both men declined the services of CBS’s top makeup artist, who had been summoned from New York for the event. Bronzed and glowing from weeks of open-air campaigning, Kennedy was more than ready for his close-up–though sources later claimed that the naturally telegenic senator still got a touch-up from his team. Nixon, on the other hand, had a pale complexion and fast-growing stubble that together lent him a perpetually grayish pallor; during an interview with Walter Cronkite two weeks before the debate, the vice president had confided, “I can shave within 30 seconds before I go on television and still have a beard.”At his aides’ urging, Nixon submitted to a coat of Lazy Shave, a drugstore pancake makeup he had used in the past to mask his five o’clock shadow. But when the candidate started sweating under the hot studio lights, the powder seemed to melt off his face, giving way to visible beads of perspiration. It didn’t help that Nixon had chosen a light gray suit for the occasion, which faded into the backdrop of the set and seemed to match his ashen skin tone. Reacting to the vice president’s on-air appearance, Chicago mayor Richard J. Daley reportedly said, “My God, they’ve embalmed him before he even died.”

For those presenting themselves to the public via the TV camera, being telegenic is critical.

kennedy nixon Kennedy and Nixon

In August 2015, NPR’s Ron Elving used the term “telegenic” to refer to Senator Marco Rubio:

marco rubio  Marco Rubio

In August 2000, Boston Globe reporter David Nyhan referred to former Senator John Kerry as “younger and more telegenic than [former Representative] Dick Cheney.”

john kerry  John Kerry      dick cheney  Dick Cheney

In October 2014, Fitsnews referred to former Columbia (SC) news anchor Ben Hoover as “exceedingly telegenic.”

ben hoover  Ben Hoover

On the flip side, February 2016 Raw Story reports that a former Princeton classmate commented that Senator Ted Cruz is “about as telegenic as an undertaker.” (Interesting aside: My sister once lived next door to an undertaker, a woman who reminded me of Suzanne Somers.)

ted cruz  Ted Cruz

The fact that Brown is irked by Ravitch’s references to Brown’s telegenic appearance does not make such references sexist.

Ravitch has made it clear that she wonders what qualifies Brown to be a televised mouthpiece in the crusade for so-called education reform. I wonder as much myself. Brown has money and connections; she has a background in journalism. And as of 2014, she appears before national audiences pushing for charters and higher test scores and faulting unions for all perceived ills of American public education.

I am surprised how easily Brown cracks under pressure, which she made particularly evident in her May 23, 2016, Washington Post response to former principal and Network for Public Education (NPE) executive director, Carol Burris, over the issue of Brown’s misapplying the term “below grade level” to mean scoring “basic” (and not “proficient” or higher) on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP):

The histrionic reaction to the distinction between “grade level” and “grade level proficiency” begs the question: is this all you’ve got? You’ve lost the debate on charter schools. You’ve lost the debate on special protections you want for abusive teachers. You’ve lost the debate on tenure. Again, this reaction screams desperation. If I were trying to be completely and utterly precise then I would have specified “grade-level proficiency”, instead of “grade level” in the context of NAEP scores. But any reasonable person or parent can rightly assume that if their child is not reading at grade level, then their child is not proficient. Any reasonable person or parent knows exactly what I meant in that statement. That the people who disagree with my characterization would react by attacking me personally with sexist insults speaks volumes. Those feigning outrage over the difference between “grade level” and “grade level proficiency” are the people who profit off the system’s failure and feel compelled to defend it at all costs. Sadly, in the age of Donald Trump and Diane Ravitch, this is what constitutes discourse.

Brown resides in some debate triumph bubble unfamiliar to those of us outside of the Campbell Brown Adulation Society. Still, if she expects to sit before those television cameras and blast a reality foreign to her firsthand experience, she will have to drop the “I won’t engage with the sexists” defense or risk being viewed as (dare I write it? I think I will) pretty, well-financed, and emotionally ill-equipped to face the consequences of her telegenic indictment of American public education and its teachers.

campbell brown  Campbell Brown

______________________________________________________________

Coming June 24, 2016, from TC Press:

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Stay tuned.

 

***

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of the ed reform whistle blower, A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education.

She also has a second book, Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

Campbell Brown’s Bizarre NAEP Response in the Washington Post

On May 23, 2016, former principal and Network for Public Education (NPE) executive director Carol Burris published this Washington Post article in response to former news anchor and education privatization proponent Campbell Brown’s May 16, 2016, statement, “Two out of three eighth graders in this country cannot read or do math at grade level. We are not preparing our kids for what the future holds.” This statement was part of Slate interview in which Brown was offering advice to the next president.

campbell brown slate Campbell Brown, in her Slate interview

In her Washington Post piece, Burris supports the assertion that one should not take the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) “proficient” rating to mean “at grade level”– which is what Brown does in her Slate statement.

The NAEP website clearly notes that NAEP achievement levels are still considered to be in “trial status” and “should continue to be interpreted and used with caution.”

What is more to the point is that comparison research exists in which NAEP achievement levels were examined in conjunction with international testing. As Burris reports:

[Former teacher and Harvard professor who is an expert on school reform and student achievement, Tom] Loveless, who has written extensively about NAEP, said the following in his email correspondence with me:

 “The cut point on NAEP is much too high [to be considered grade level].

In a 2007 study, researcher Gary Phillips projected where scores on the TIMSS, a series of international math and science given to kids around the world, would land on the NAEP scale.  He estimated that 27 percent of Singapore’s 8th graders would fail to meet the NAEP proficient cut score in math.  At the time, Singapore was the highest scoring country in the world.  Japan — not exactly a weak math country–would see only 57 percent meet proficiency; 43 percent would “fail.” You can read more about that study on pp. 10-13 of the 2007 Brookings Report authored by Loveless that you can find here.

The above certainly provides context for interpreting NAEP proficiency.

Let me add to it.

The NAEP website includes trends in NAEP results by achievement level. Since Brown focused on the eighth grade NAEP results, let’s look at the trends for NAEP eighth grade reading and math. (Click images to enlarge.)

Trend in eighth-grade NAEP reading achievement-level results:

NAEP reading gr 8

Trend in eighth-grade NAEP mathematics achievement-level results:

NAEP math gr 8

In her statement to Slate, Brown has apparently used the NAEP eighth-grade reading and math proficiency and advanced percentages as the evidence (albeit erroneous when it comes to that grade-level interpretation) to support her assertion, “We are not preparing our kids for what the future holds.”

But before rushing to “not preparing our kids,” consider NAEP trends.

In 1992– now 24 years ago– the percentage of eighth-grade students scoring NAEP proficient or above was 29 percent.

Over 22 years, that percentage peaked at 36 percent (2013) and over 24 years, it dipped a percentage point (35 percent in 2015).

Brown is obviously trying to capitalize on a crisis narrative, which takes a hit if one considers that for the past quarter century, only between 29 and 36 percent of America’s eighth-grade NAEP participants have ever scored proficient or higher. Ever. Thus, roughly two-thirds (or more) of eighth grade students not scoring NAEP proficient in reading is not evidence of American public education decline; it is just the reality of NAEP since the first assessment year, 1992.

The percentage of eighth-grade students scoring proficient or higher on the NAEP math lends even less credence to 2015 public education decline narrative. In the first year of the NAEP math assessment, 1990, only 15 percent of eighth graders scored proficient or higher on NAEP math. Twenty-three years later, in 2013, that percentage peaked at 36 percent. Twenty-five years later, in 2015, it dipped slightly, to 33 percent.

But there is some interesting correspondence between dips in percentage proficient or above and ed reform trends.

For example, for the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) years (2003-2015), the percentage of students achieving NAEP proficient or higher in math did not move much– from 28 percent in 2003 to the maximum of 36 percent in 2013.

In addition, during the NCLB years 2002-2011, eighth grade reading percentages also dipped.

And five years after the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) officially emerged (2010), both NAEP reading and math dipped slightly.

But none of this Brown is considering, just as she is not catching on to the fact that one simply cannot equate the NAEP achievement level, “proficient,” with being “at grade level.”

Here is Brown’s response to Burris’ Washington Post article, in which she misses the entire point and certainly betrays no intention of investigating the accuracy of possible future statements regarding proper interpretation of standardized testing results:

The histrionic reaction to the distinction between “grade level” and “grade level proficiency” begs the question: is this all you’ve got? You’ve lost the debate on charter schools. You’ve lost the debate on special protections you want for abusive teachers. You’ve lost the debate on tenure. Again, this reaction screams desperation. If I were trying to be completely and utterly precise then I would have specified “grade-level proficiency”, instead of “grade level” in the context of NAEP scores. But any reasonable person or parent can rightly assume that if their child is not reading at grade level, then their child is not proficient. Any reasonable person or parent knows exactly what I meant in that statement. That the people who disagree with my characterization would react by attacking me personally with sexist insults speaks volumes. Those feigning outrage over the difference between “grade level” and “grade level proficiency” are the people who profit off the system’s failure and feel compelled to defend it at all costs. Sadly, in the age of Donald Trump and Diane Ravitch, this is what constitutes discourse.

Not the best way for Brown to represent herself or her corporate reform agenda in a venue as well read as the Washington Post.

Based upon Brown’s bizarre response, I think we might reasonably expect her to continue to willfully misinterpret NAEP proficiency. She doesn’t know what she doesn’t know, and she doesn’t care.

But readers can take a lesson: Don’t be like Brown.

Remember that NAEP “proficient” and “at grade level” are not to be used interchangeably, nor are NAEP “proficient” and “grade level proficiency.” One should not even imply that students must achieve NAEP proficient in math or reading in order to be considered at grade level in math or reading.

minion thumbs up

____________________________________________________________

Coming June 24, 2016, from TC Press:

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Stay tuned.

 

***

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of the ed reform whistle blower, A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education.

She also has a second book, Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

Campbell Brown Has Blocked Me on Twitter

Yep. I haven’t been on Twitter for two months yet, and I have been officially blocked by none other than Campbell Brown.

By blocking me, Brown is trying to prevent me from even viewing her Twitter page. However, in such a situation, all one must do is sign out of one’s own Twitter account to view any page from which one is blocked.

So, that’s what I did in order to access her page to write this post.

Brown recently stopped posting on Twitter.  On May 20, 2016, she stated why:

Brown’s exit immediately follows a situation that she brought upon herself with the statement that “two out of three eighth graders in this country cannot read or do math at grade level,” which happens to be Brown’s grossly misinterpreting the meaning of NAEP proficiency. Here is that story in Slate as Brown posted it:

I did respond to her insistence that she was right. Apparently, here are the tweets that I wrote and that offended her:

Here is one:

And another:

And a third:

And my fourth and final:  The tweet below was in response to one posted by Brown in which she commented about those supporting traditional public ed as protecting sexual predators. The piece I linked exposes her hypocrisy (she deleted the original tweet after I posted my response. Update: original tweet provided by Gary Rubinstein):

Now, the crux of the matter is that Brown went public on May 16, 2016, with her inaccurate and grossly misleading statement about two-thirds of public school students not reading or doing math on grade level. Here is the heart of what Brown considers the “disgusting” tweeting that ensued as a result of an error that Brown openly refused to correct:

So there we have it: Brown’s sensitivity at being called out for misrepresenting NAEP proficiency and her refusal to correct her error.

In her arrogance and contempt for public schools, she wanted so badly for NAEP proficient to mean “at grade level.”

But it doesn’t.

For Brown to publicly correct her error, she must inadvertently admit that the American public school system isn’t faring as badly as she had hoped originally stated.

Bummer.

sad face

____________________________________________________________

Coming June 24, 2016, from TC Press:

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Stay tuned.

 

***

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of the ed reform whistle blower, A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education.

She also has a second book, Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

If PARCC, Inc., Is the Owner of PARCC Items, Produce the Document Proving It

In a letter issued around May 12, 2016, to professor Celia Oyler regarding Oyler’s publishing three “live” PARCC items on her blog on May 07, 2016, PARCC, Inc., CEO Laura Slover wrote the following as part of a warning email to Oyler:

Parcc, Inc. is the owner of all intellectual property contained in the various PARCC assessments (other than third party literary excerpts, for which we have reprint permission), including the essay prompts you have posted.

According to Slover, her nonprofit, PARCC, Inc., owns the rights to the PARCC test items.

In the DMCA takedown notice sent to bloggers and others who shared Oyler’s post on Twitter, Slover is identified as the copyright owner of the items:

DMCA Takedown Notice

== Copyright owner: Laura Slover
== Name: Kevin Michael Days
== Company: PARCC Inc.
== Job title: Associate Director, Operations
== Email address: kdays@parcconline.org

== Address: 1747 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, 6th Floor
== City: Washington
== State/Province: District of Columbia
== Postal code: 20006
== Country: United States
== Phone (optional): 2027488077
== Fax (optional): n/a

Here is why I challenge the idea that Slover’s PARCC, Inc., is “the owner of all intellectual property contained in various PARCC assessments”:

PARCC, Inc., is not synonymous with the PARCC consortium. PARCC, Inc., is only the “project manager” for the consortium. Moreover, PARCC, Inc.’s position as project manager is not permanent; it is set to expire in 2017. So, how is it that the PARCC consortium would surrender ownership of its intellectual property to an entity with which it has a temporary relationship?

As project management partner for the PARCC consortium, PARCC, Inc., could surely handle PARCC test promotion and licensing, and it could even police social media on behalf of the PARCC consortium. (See more regarding PARCC, Inc., role in this Linkedin ad for a director of contracts management.) But there is a freedom that comes with ownership (“the” owner, at that)– an ability to exercise free rein over what is owned.

In a May 17, 2016, press release regarding Oyler’s post, Heather Reams, Director of Communications and Public Relations, at PARCC, Inc., alludes to copyrighted materials. However, Reams does not go so far as to tell the public that PARCC, Inc., owns the items:

Students are given an unfair test environment when anyone posts active test questions on the internet – whether the test is PARCC, the SAT, or any other exam. Because of this, states rely on Parcc Inc., a non-profit organization, to help ensure that every student who takes a test does so on an even playing field without any unfair advantages or disadvantages, and this requires that copyrighted materials be closely guarded.

Guarding copyrighted material is not the same as owning the material. Thus, Reams’ statement does not echo Slover’s statement to Oyler about PARCC, Inc., ownership of PARCC items.

Nor does this PARCC, Inc., Request for Proposal (RFP), in which PARCC, Inc., describes itself as follows:

PARCC, Inc. is a 501(c) 3 non-profit corporation established to support the PARCC consortium. Under an agreement with the State of Maryland, which acts as fiscal agent for the U.S. Department of Education grant to the PARCC consortium, PARCC, Inc. is authorized to conduct procurements and enter into contracts that will be funded under the grant….

No mention about being the owner of all PARCC assessment intellectual property.

If PARCC, Inc., is “the” owner of all intellectual property associated with PARCC assessments, then if and when the PARCC consortium terminates its relationship with PARCC, Inc., PARCC, Inc., gets to take the intellectual property that it owns with it when it goes.

But what about “temporary ownership”? (The “temporary ownership” idea is briefly discussed in this post by ed measurement specialist Michael Russell; however, Russell does not link to any document supporting the assertion.)

Expiration of ownership appears nonsensical on its face and reads like a lease. But I do not believe the PARCC consortium has leased its intellectual property to PARCC, Inc. Moreover, neither Slover nor PARCC, Inc., has made public any official document supporting the idea that PARCC, Inc. and not the PARCC consortium and the PARCC states actually are the owners of all intellectual property contained in the PARCC assessments. (Indeed, the PARCC, Inc., web site is an informationally-thin affair that sends the message, “Don’t take us seriously.”)

Time for some history on PARCC, its project manager, and more.

According to the cooperative agreement that PARCC entered into with the US Department of Education (USDOE) when USDOE awarded PARCC with Race to the Top (RTTT) assessment money in January 2011, the PARCC consortium needed to have a “project management plan.” So, as part of its 2012 MOU for PARCC states, the PARCC consortium decided it would procure a project management partner to oversee PARCC consortium management:

Proposed Project Management Partner:

Consistent with the requirements of ED’s (USDOE’s) notice, the PARCC Governing states are conducting a competitive procurement to select the consortium Project Management Partner. The PARCC Governing Board will direct and oversee the work of the organization selected to be the Project Management Partner. (page 8).

The PARCC MOU is also clear that it is the PARCC Governing Board that is responsible for decisions regarding intellectual property:

The Governing Board shall make decisions regarding major policy design, operational and organizational aspects of the Consortium’s work, including…

Policies and decisions regarding control and ownership of intellectual property developed or acquired by the Consortium… provided that such policies and decisions… will provide equivalent rights to all states participating in the Consortium, regardless of membership type (governing state or participating state).

Note that the MOU clearly has the intellectual property belonging to the consortium, not to the project management partner. Such is in keeping with this statement from the minutes of the September 22, 2015, Massachusetts Board of Ed meeting. Former PARCC governing board chair, Mitchell Chester, was present at this meeting; though he did not speak the following words recorded in the board minutes, he surely could have intervened to correct any error of fact regarding ownership of intellectual property (page 5):

[Deputy Commissioner] Wulfson said the consortium owns the intellectual property and PARCC, Inc is managing it on behalf of the member states.

Chester was involved in the above conversation, and he did not object to Wulfson’s statement about ownership of PARCC intellectual property.

Note also that PARCC, Inc., was not the PARCC consortium’s only project manager to date. Here’s that story:

PARCC’s first project management partner was the nonprofit, Achieve, Inc.  It just so happens that Achieve, Inc., was one of three organizations specifically named in the Common Core (CCSS) MOU to be inside on the development of CCSS. Furthermore, it just so happens that Laura Slover was one of the Achieve chosen who was an insider in the CCSS development.

Slover had been with Achieve, Inc., since 1998. In 2009 and 2010, she was Achieve, Inc.’s VP of Content and Policy (40 hrs./wk.; $153,000 in 2009 and $147,000 in 2010).

When Achieve, Inc., became the PARCC project management partner (see page 3 of Achieve’s 2011 990 tax form), Slover was listed as the VP of Content (40 hrs./wk.; $177,421). However, by 2012, her title became VP of PARCC (40 hrs./wk.; $176,536).

By 2013, there was a transition in process as Achieve, Inc., continued to be the PARCC consortium’s project management partner even as Slover was about to become the CEO of a new nonprofit, PARCC, Inc.

PARCC, Inc., only has a single 990 on file, for 2013. It is a mystery that it does not have a 2014 990 yet available. PARCC, Inc., was officially granted nonprofit status in June 2014; in November 2014, the organization filed a tax form for 2013.

(Note that even though the PARCC, Inc., website defines PARCC, Inc., as, “a nonprofit formed in 2013 by member states of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC),” PARCC, Inc.’s board of directors does not overlap with the PARCC consortium governing board.)

On that PARCC, Inc., 2013 990, Slover was noted as working 40 hrs./wk. for only $10,000. Meanwhile, she was still listed on Achieve’s 2013 990 as working 40 hrs./wk. as SVP (senior VP) of PARCC ($189,388). (In 2013, PARCC, Inc., had three board members, with Slover being the only one who was paid. That number is now four; not sure whether others are now being paid.)

In 2014, Slover continued to draw a major salary from Achieve, Inc.; her title became the more general “senior assoc mathematics” (40 hrs./wk.; $190,821). However, Slover disappeared from the Achieve, Inc., web site between November 2013 and December 2013. (She was still listed as SVP, PARCC, on November 27, 2013, and she disappeared by December 30, 2013. It appears that Slover the “senior assoc mathematics” never made it to the Achieve, Inc., web site.)

What salary she drew from PARCC, Inc., in 2014 remains a mystery because of that as-of-yet unfiled PARCC, Inc, 2014 990. (Aside: As for a couple of documented contributions to PARCC, Inc.: It received a $200,000 grant from the Sandler Foundation in 2013-14– see page 80— and a $500,000 grant from the Hewlett Foundation from July 2014 to July 2015.)

In September 2014, PARCC, Inc., entered into a four-year contract (2014-17) with PARCC states to serve as PARCC project management partner. (Here is Rhode Island’s 2014-17 contract with PARCC, Inc.)

Page 27 of Rhode Island’s contract with PARCC, Inc., specifies that the PARCC consortium owns the PARCC test items unless otherwise agreed to in writing:

Ownership of Deliverables. Unless the parties hereto agree otherwise in writing, all Deliverables created in connection with the Services provided by Contractor under this Agreement, including, but not limited to, any and all test-related content delivered under this Agreement, test items and other test content… and any and all Intellectual Property Rights therein… shall be owned and managed as directed by the PARCC Consortium Governing Board.

The same language is used in this Colorado Pearson Contract and this Illinois Pearson contract.

In May 2014, Gail Walsh of the State or Rhode Island Division of Purchases offered this Q & A document to clarify components of the Rhode Island contract with PARCC, Inc. Below is her clarification regarding PARCC, Inc.’s role and legal responsibilities concerning the consortium’s intellectual property (IP). Note that PARCC, Inc., is manager and not owner (see pages 5-6):

The PMSC (project manager) will be responsible for the management and policing of all IP. On behalf of the PARCC Consortium It will obtain and enforce confidentiality agreements. …

Given that control of any intellectual property (IP) will be held by the consortium of PARCC states, it is presumed that each participating state would be responsible for legal support relative to that shared control/ownership. To the extent that the PMSC engages in the licensing, sub-licensing, or other use of IP on behalf of the PARCC consortium as part of its assigned and contracted duties, any legal support relative to such tasks would be the responsibility of the PMSC. Any actions or litigation outside of these responsibilities would be the financial responsibility of the PARCC Consortium states.

Again, unless Slover can produce a document showing that the PARCC governing board has signed over to PARCC, Inc.,  its intellectual property rights to its test items, then her statement to Oyler (and to Twitter) about PARCC, Inc., being the intellectual property owner of PARCC items is unfounded.

As previously noted, I doubt that the PARCC consortium would fork over intellectual property to a project manager with a contract set to expire next year (2017). In a February 2016 Ed Week article, current (yet comically unacknowledged) PARCC chair, Hanna Skandera, discusses the possibility of dumping PARCC, Inc., as project management partner:

Hanna Skandera, the secretary of education in New Mexico, which belongs to PARCC, said in an interview that the input received at the forum will help the governing board decide whether to restructure or replace its current organization, Parcc Inc., since that nonprofit’s contract with its states runs out in June 2017.

The Ed Week article continues with info about this Request for Information (RFI), which is supposed to help Skandera and other PARCC states figure out whether they need to reinvent themselves. (In the RFI, PARCC notes that it is “seeking to create a new model….” In this Massachusetts DOE summation, Bellwether Partners is identified as advising PARCC on its attempted reinvention.)

The RFI also mentions PARCC’s intent to act as an item vendor by giving states “options” other than using the entire PARCC test vended by Pearson. Included is a note about who will own items (with the entity that wins the future contract referred to as the “structure”):

3.2 Ownership of Products and Services The structure will serve as a neutral third party to securely hold all items previously developed by the PARCC consortium states under the Race to the Top Assessment grant, as well as items thereafter contributed to the structure’s item bank by states working individually or in collaboration. Additionally, the structure will own all summative content in the item bank to maintain continuity and stability of the content. However, each state can legally claim to own the copyright and be content co-owner of items it individually contributes to the item bank (i.e., items contributed by states would be co-owned by the structure and the individual state that developed the item).

Of course, this “co-ownership” of items could prove to be a sticky business as states grapple with the issue of not being sole owner of the items that state might develop for PARCC. (I examined the issue of who actually wrote the initial PARCC items in this December 2014 post.) But that is a topic for another day.

Today, PARCC, Inc., CEO Laura Slover needs to

  • Produce the document supporting her declaration that PARCC, Inc., is the owner of all intellectual property contained in PARCC assessments;
  • Make such a document readily available to the public;
  • Along with the PARCC governing board, reconcile the terms of such a document (if it exists) with the contents of the documents included in this post, and
  • Produce PARCC, Inc.’s missing 2014 990 tax form and explain why it has yet to be publicly available by May 2016.

That’ll do for now.

My thanks to Jennifer Berkshire (“Edushyster”) for her assistance with this post.

question mark document

______________________________________________________________

Coming June 24, 2016, from TC Press:

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Stay tuned.

 

***

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of the ed reform whistle blower, A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education.

She also has a second book, Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

In May 2016, EdWeek Features PARCC Study Originally Published 7 Months Ago

On May 17, 2016, Ed Week’s Catherine Gewertz published an article entitled, “PARCC College-Ready Score Reflects Rigor of College Work, Study Finds.”

The featured study is one conducted by Mathematica and published in October 2015. The study, misnamed “Predictive Validity of MCAS and PARCC: Comparing 10th Grade MCAS Tests to PARCC Integrated Math II, Algebra II, and 10th Grade English Language Arts Test,” intended to compare PARCC and Massachusett’s MCAS using current college students as its sample. (The participants took parts of PARCC while in college. Thus, the study is not predictive.)

It seems that the big to-do on May 17, 2016, is that “peer reviewed” Education Next finally published the Mathematica study.

On May 17, 2016, PARCC CEO Laura Slover tweeted about the 7-month-old Mathematica study that just made it into Ed Next as follows:

I wrote a brief post about the Mathematica study days following its original publication, in October 2015. The study has a number of limitations, one of the most notable being that 66 percent of study participants who did not score proficient on PARCC still did not need to take a remedial course in college.

That does not support Slover’s assertion that PARCC “accurately defines what it means to be ‘college ready.'”

What it does support is the notion that PARCC needlessly flunks a lot of kids.

Note also that “a strong signal” and “accurately defines what it means to be ‘college ready'” is a Slover logic leap.

Moreover, even though there exists no study concerning the predictive validity of PARCC, some states have bypassed this astounding fact to make passing PARCC a graduation requirement. (There is a lawsuit over PARCC as a graduation requirement in New Jersey, where SAT and ACT are currently acceptable options. Maryland also uses PARCC as a graduation requirement “for students enrolled in PARCC-aligned courses.” Rhode Island is facing using PARCC as a 2017 graduation requirement, though the commissioner of education does not seem to want to do so.)

According to Getwertz’s Ed Week article,

PARCC spokeswoman Heather Reams said the consortium plans to conduct a longitudinal study over the next two years that will examine “associations between students’ performance on PARCC and outcomes in entry-level college courses.”

High-stakes sale first, then validation research in the years to follow.

A PARCC bulls eye.

missing the target

___________________________________________________________

Coming June 24, 2016, from TC Press:

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Stay tuned.

 

***

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of the ed reform whistle blower, A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education.

She also has a second book, Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,758 other followers