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State-run New Orleans School Scores 7.2 on ACT in 2015 (You Read It Right)

In July 2015, Louisiana Superintendent John White had his Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) release this file of 2014-2015 Louisiana ACT 12th Grade Results by district— which he used to advance the message that the state-run Recovery School District (RSD) in New Orleans had a Class of 2015 ACT composite score of 16.6.

RSD New Orleans’ average ACT composite saw its heyday in 2012, at which point it maxed at a state-advertised 16.8. In 2013, no fanfare for the state-acknowledged drop to 16.3. Then, in 2014, White tried not to release Class of 2014 average ACT scores, but he did so in February 2015– and he listed the RSD New Orleans Class of 2014 average ACT composite as 16.4.

So, while not fabulous, that July 2015 LDOE release of info leading the public to believe that RSD New Orleans’ Class of 2015 had at least recouped another two-tenths of a point from 2014 at least showed the average was headed in the right direction.

In that July 2015 release, White also listed the Class of 2015 average state ACT composite as 19.4– allegedly up two-tenths of a point from 2014.

However.

According to 2014-15 school and district report cards, which were released in October 2015, the RSD New Orleans average ACT composite was not the July-advertised 16.6 but instead, 15.6.

And the two-tenths of state “improvement”?

According to the 2014-15 school and district report cards, it didn’t happen. State average of 19.2 in 2014 remains constant for 2015.

LDOE has yet to release a comprehensive data file of Class of 2015 average ACT composite scores by district and school within district. It is mid-February 2016, and I pushed this issue in an email to White and the state board members on February 05, 2016.

In that exchange, White noted that the ACT composites by district and school within district are already public as part of the school report cards.

Of course, it is easy to hide such info in plain sight from those seeking a consolidated data file.

He wrote that the comprehensive Excel file would be posted “next week.”

Well. It’s Thursday of that “next week.” So, we’ll see.

However, I decided to dig through those 2014-15 RSD New Orleans high school report cards and compile information on RSD New Orleans Class of 2015 average ACT scores.

On the report cards, LDOE notes, “Average ACT score is based on all enrolled twelfth grade students.”

So, let’s begin.

According to the 2014-15 report cards posted on LDOE’s website, state-run RSD New Orleans has 11 schools that had a 12th grade in 2014-15.

The average ACT composite score for the 2014-15 enrolled seniors at these schools is 15.6.

Not 16.6.

15.6.

Furthermore, there is quite a spread in these scores– from 7.2 (not a typo) to 19.6– with only one of the 11 schools being over the 2014-15 state average of 19.2:

RSD New Orleans schools’ Class of 2015 average ACT composite scores, ranging from lowest to highest:

ReNew Accel Westbank  7.2

Crescent Leadership Academy 10.0

The NET 11.2

Landry Walker 14.8

Joseph Clark Prep 15.1

Algiers Technology 15.6

Cohen College Prep 17.1

MLK Charter for Sci/Tech 17.7

Sophie Wright 18.4

KIPP Renaissance 18.6

Sci Academy 19.6

Note that these are the average ACT composite scores for all enrolled seniorsThe average.

Note also that the state has been running the RSD show full force since 2006— which means that these students have been educated primarily by the state running the show.

As for Sci Academy’s marvelous average: In 2014, I noted discrepancies between what the ACT information system had regarding the number of 2014 seniors identifying as attending Sci Academy and increased numbers once the state released its scores. (These discrepancies were true for a number of schools.)

Finally, we see Landry-Waljer with its 14.8 composite. Landry-Walker is in the news for rampant cheating on End of Course (EOC) tests in 2013-14. But their amazing EOC results did not jibe with other indices, including course grades. Nor do they parallel Landry-Walker’s ACT results.

A word to states like Georgia and North Carolina that are looking to Louisiana as a model state-run district:

15.6, guys. Ten years out. 15.6.

missed target

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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.

Laura H. Chapman on Gates’ Efforts to “Transform” Teacher Training

laura chapman  Laura H. Chapman

As a complement to this February 10, 2016, guest post by Southeastern Louisiana University professor James Kirylo concerning the pressure on teacher educators to adopt canned teacher education, retired Ohio arts teacher, Laura H. Chapman, weighs in on the Gates push to shape teacher training programs in his image:

I have been looking at all five of the Gates “Teacher Transformation Grants,” each for 33 months and just shy of $4 million for each grantee. All of the press releases are filled with jargon about “elevating” the teaching profession. The interlocking networks and complementary funding by other foundations of these new Gates investments is amazing.

In October 2015 the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education received a 33 month grant for $3,928,656 from the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation to support the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE) “teacher transformation” effort: The Elevate Preparation: Impact Children (EPIC) center. This is an addition to a separate Gates grant in October 2015, $ 300,000, “to launch, execute, and utilize implementation data collection at the state-level.”

On other blogs, I have commented on this takeover of 71 “providers” of teacher education in Massachusetts, where a large administrative unit in the state department of education is functioning as one of Gates Foundation’s Teacher Preparation Transformation Centers.

Why Massachusetts? Massachusetts has already imposed industrial strength surveillance systems on teacher prep programs. The Gates grant will complete the so-called “EPIC System” including tracking the “performance outcomes” of graduates of 71 teacher prep programs insofar as their graduates are employed by the state. Among the measures of performance (in addition to those already required in the state) are surveys of employers, parents, students, and all of the candidates who have become teachers—tracked for a minimum of three years.

In addition, Massachusetts and six other states are part of the Network for Transforming Educator Preparation (NTEP), with a focus on teacher licensure, program approval, and data systems—an initiative of the Council of Chief State School Officers. The CCSSO is so dependent of the Gates Foundation for operating support is should be regarded as one of many subsidiary operations of the Foundation. Here is a summary of the press release

Also, Massachusetts knows how to make a pitch.

Here is the new (and grandiose) target for teacher education:

“The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE) believes that educator preparation can and should produce teachers who are ready to be effective on day one. We are working toward an ambitious goal that by 2022, candidates prepared in Massachusetts will enter classrooms and demonstrate results on par with peers in their third year of teaching.”

You have to look at all of the tests and forms and surveys to determine the meaning of “results.”

In addition to scooping up 71 teacher preparation programs and a large administrative unit in a state department of education (charged with approving “providers” of teacher preparation), the Gates Foundation sent about the same amount of money to TeachingWorks, housed at the University of Michigan School of Education.

TeachingWorks is developing a performance-based path into teaching based on mastering so-called “high-leverage” strategies for success in teaching. Among other initiatives, Educational Testing Service and TeachingWorks are refining the use of virtual classrooms with interactive avatar students, in partnership with Mursion™. Mursion™ provides a mixed-reality teaching environment with about six to eight simulated students. The avatars are animated by trained, “calibrated” human “inter-actors” using standardized protocols. There is evidently pride at TeacherWorks in saying that teacher preparation should be standardized, scripted, and automated as possible.

Some of the Gates money for the EPIC center in Massachusetts will be used to hire someone who can manage contracts with providers of avatar-based training. There is gold in this form of training.

Another of these grants for “centers” went to Relay Graduate School of Education. In this case, Relay seems to be conduit for money for an ancillary operation TeacherSquared or Teacher2. At present TeacherSquared is not much more than a social media space. But… I tripped on a job opening for the Gates foundation that suggests this “center” for teacher transformation is envisioned as one part of a surveillance and a data mining operation focussed on teacher practices, enthusiasms, sentiments, and so on. It appears to be part of a portfolio of projects which a new hire at the Gates foundation will manage and expand.

The U.S. PREP National Center housed at Texas Tech University, is advertised as a transformation center ready to prepare “classroom-ready teachers.” I judge that the six universities and their “partner school districts” will be also be doing competency-based programs, with a lot of online “modules” introduced as tests of mastery. The dean and key Texas Tech faculty in education are in-migrants from Arizona State and will push that model for teacher prep. Texas Tech “partners” with Lubbock ISD, Southern Methodist University with Dallas ISD, University of Houston with Houston ISD, Southeastern Louisiana University with two parishes, Jackson State University with Jackson n public schools, University of Memphis with Shelby County schools (many are charters).

Even before U.S. PREP entered the scene, members of the University of Memphis faculty were in turmoil because the President there: (a) introduced Relay Graduate School of Education as a competing path for teacher preparation, (b) dismissed discussion of questions of the plan in the faculty Senate, and (c) used Relay’s PR as a reason to threaten cuts to existing faculty in teacher education.

As I understand the intent and effect U.S. PREP, a lot of authority over teacher ed is relocated in those partner districts (many populated with TFA and charter schools), and other “trainings” that will try to make faculty in teacher education think a Gates-funded brand of teacher education is best, especially for teachers entering “high performing, high minority, low-income schools” in partner districts.

In addition to the four Teacher Transformation Centers, the Gates Foundation awarded $3,248,182 (Term: 33 months) to the Teacher Preparation Inspectorate, US (TPI-US). TPI-US is a new entity that will evaluate the progress of the four Teacher Transformation Centers and their respective networks of “providers” and a lot more.

TPI-US is led by Dr. Edward Crowe, co-founder of Teacher Prep Analytics (TPA). Beginning in the fall of 2013, Crowe initiated and oversaw the first pilots of this inspection process, modeled on the British inspection system. This pilot program was started in 2014, before the current Gates grant. At that time, TPA organized four “trial inspections” of elementary preparation programs. These inspections were conducted at Southern Methodist University, the University of Houston in Texas (two targets for transformation), New Mexico State University, and Eastern New Mexico University. In 2015, inspectors checked out programs in Florida, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, and North Carolina. (I have not found the names of these institutions.)

Here is the shocker: TPI-US will use a process similar to one used in the United Kingdom, but the specific criteria for rating programs are from the National Center for Teacher Quality (funded by Gates and others). These criteria are so prescriptive that they down-grade programs unless they clearly focus on seven specific ways to teach and two specific Pearson texts for courses. At last check, Pearson’s own Sir Michael Barber was a “technical advisor” for NCTQ. See this link and also this link.

I think that these latest initiatives from the Gates Foundation are designed to eliminate academic freedom among faculty engaged in teacher preparation, to by-pass/overide faculty governance of content and requirements for programs, eliminate preparation grounded in scholarship in favor of multiple tests and triage of candidates, and fend off justified criticism of unrelenting quests for standardized and increasingly de-humanized educationeducation.

I also think the Centers are designed to reduce the influence of professional associations as sources of knowledge about the work of teachers—ranging from the American Educational Research Association to the associations organized around content areas—reading, mathematics, social studies, sciences, the arts, and so on—almost all of these with new standards.

The only standards mentioned in connection with these grants for transforming teacher preparation was a request for evidence of some fealty to the Common Core—largely funded and marketed by the Gates Foundation.

You have to credit those who work on educational projects at the Gates Foundation. They have Machiavellian instincts, deep pockets, and not enough critics of what they are undertaking on a grand scale.

bill gates shrug  Bill Gates

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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.

James Kirylo: The Selling of Teacher Education (And Why We Should Resist)

The following is a guest post by Dr. James Kirylo, professor of teaching and learning at Southeastern Louisiana University. Kirylo’s research interests include critical pedagogy, curriculum theory, teacher leadership, and literacy development.

james-kirylo-e1455130261583  James Kirylo

In his guest post, Kirylo takes issue with the marketing of a teacher education “brand”– complete with cash to entice teacher ed programs to get their respective faculty professionals to “buy in.”

The Selling of Teacher Education (And Why We Should Resist)

James D. Kirylo

All of us have likely been mandated or required to attend a meeting, seminar, or workshop at our places of employment where the objective of the event was to introduce a new concept, or a different instrument, or another way of doing things.

As a participant in those types of venues—particularly at a university setting where presumably democratic spaces are greatly valued—I find it more than annoying when the presenter at some point rolls out that the aim of the event is to get attendees to embrace the new direction, summoning the phrase that “buy in” has to occur.

It seems to me corporate types are fond of that phrase.  Maybe it’s because it gives them wicked pleasure that they are giving the—albeit false—appearance that participants have an element of choice as to whether they care to buy whatever it is being sold.  The notion of buying obviously suggests selling.

As a consumer who lives in a country that is capitalistically driven, and as a citizen who lives in a nation that heralds the value of voice, to “buy” exhorts choice on whether to buy or not.  Hence, when I go to the grocery store, I may buy the fresh vegetables or I may go with the sodium-laden ones in the can.  Both are on sale, and both can be bought.  I make the deliberate choice to buy one or the other.

In that light, therefore, as one who has attended numerous work-related mandated workshops, where “buy in” appears to be the mantra, the thing that always goes through my mind is, what if I don’t want to buy the product that is being sold, no more than I care to buy sodium-laden vegetables in a can.  Truth is, of course, the presenter is not giving me a choice whether to buy or not.  It is more than subtly suggested that I am stuck with the canned veggies.

As most know, Bill Gates, through his foundation, has worked hard in an attempt to disturbingly shape K-12 education in his own image.  Next on his radar is teacher preparation—with the awarding of $35 million to a three-year project called Teacher Preparation Transformation Centers funneled through five different projects, one of which is the Texas Tech based University-School Partnerships for the Renewal of Educator Preparation (U.S. Prep) National Center.

A framework that will guide this “renewal” of educator preparation comes from the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET), along with the peddling of their programs, The System for Teacher and Student Advancement (TAP) and Student and Best Practices Center (BPC).  Yet, again, coming from another guy with bags of money, leading the charge of NIET is Lowell Milken who is Chairmen and TAP founder.

Though a handful of other places could serve as an example, the state of Louisiana illustrates how NIET is already working overtime in chipping its way into K-12 education.  And now that NIET is applying a full-court-press in hyping its brand in the Pelican state, the brand is working its way into teacher education preparation programs, namely through the Texas Tech based U.S. Prep National Center.

This Gates Foundation backed project involves five teacher education programs in the country (Southern Methodist University, University of Houston, Jackson State University, and the University of Memphis– and  includes one in Louisiana— Southeastern Louisiana University).

Thus, teacher educators must be “trained” in order to propagate the NIET brand.  Because I am a teacher educator at one of the impacted universities that has been recruited by the Texas Tech based U.S. Prep National Center, I was recently mandated to attend three full days of NIET indoctrination (with continued follow-up training).

Along with my colleagues—who collectively bring a rich background of K-12 teaching experience, in addition to decades of teacher education work, a wealth of post-graduate education degrees, all of whom have made meaningful contributions to the professional community through a wide array of venues—in a teacher education program that has a sterling reputation—yet, all of which was of no concern to the NIET trainers.  That is, because right out of the gate, the NIET officials were off and running, making it implicitly clear that a new teacher education sheriff is in town.

Armed with its “prescription” of success, with the acronym NIET inscribed on just about every page of presentation material, capped with an accompanying dense bounded training manual titled NIET Higher Education Handbook on the cover page, the NIET trainers had their jets on all cylinders selling the NIET brand to us trainees.  In addition, trainees were led to the NIET website with its labyrinth of materials, portals, aids, and how, when, and where one must be—yes—certified in its brand.

Sure enough at a decisive point the lead trainer predictably pulled out the “buy in” phrase for NIET to work at our setting.  And for good measure, a superficial smattering of change theory was thrown in, evidently providing—although woefully superficial and out of context—explanatory props for the anticipation of those attending training who would be resistant to the NIET brand.  Indeed, it was made clear that there would be “resistors,” as if their resistance to “buying in” was indicative of a problem with them as opposed to the product that was being sold.

No matter. I am a resister. As much as I resist purchasing sodium-laden canned vegetables, there are three fundamental reasons why I am resistant to such programs as the NIET driven aforementioned Texas Tech based U.S. Prep National Center.

First, the notion of “training” brings me back years ago to my days working at a fast food taco joint when I was laboring my way to pay my way through undergraduate work.  Indeed, I was required to attend training in order to learn the exact recipe how to make a taco, wrap the taco for the drive-thru, and the directive on how to deal with customers.  Despite my rich taco-making background and varied people experience, no deviation was allowed from the mandated formula that was demanded at this taco joint. In the same train of thought—despite my varied educational background and experience as well as that of my colleagues—NIET, through their elaborate rubrics, scoring mechanisms, and ways of doing things—one must be trained to use their formula in order to be certified.  In short, the business model that drives a taco establishment is the same model that is being pushed in teacher education programs.

Second, the narrative that appears to be driving the NIET brand into teacher education programs is propelled by the similar story line that is at work to dismantle K-12 education.  That is, for K-12 education, teachers have been blamed for all that ails society.  From that position of blame, corporate types pounce with their obsessed focus on ratings, scoring, standardization, competition, and privatization.  Similarly, as for teacher education programs, they are under attack with the same blame game for their supposed sub-par operation, paving the way for privateers to swoop once again.  Enter in the NIET Higher Education Handbook and NIET’s purported claim of their proven comprehensive educator model to restructure and revitalize the teaching profession.  Clearly, the proverbial door is open to dismantle the relevance of teacher education programs.

Third, if enough money is thrown their way, it appears that teacher education programs can be bought. Indeed, money is power; money is influence; and, money shapes direction.  This is no truer than the dough that the Gates Foundation is doling out in its attempt to recreate teacher education in a corporatized image. When teacher education programs become the petri dish to cultivate this image, the trajectory not only works to undermine academic freedom, tenure and the professorate, but it also disturbingly contributes to their very non-relevance as teacher education programs.  They become centers for teacher training.  To be sure, there is a difference between education and training.  The former is driven by fostering a rich dialogical environment, deep critical thought, and thoughtful questioning; the latter functions as a top-down formulistic way of doing things through prescription, dictates, and mandates.

In the final analysis, in this particular case, if I had been originally invited to the table to express my concerns how teacher education is being sold by bowing down to the Gates Foundation, I would have argued in more detail the above three points.  And I would have hollered “don’t sell!”  But, I was not invited so now I have been relegated to “resister” to buying into the product that will only take teacher education down a path to its own elimination.

salesman 2

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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.

More Transcribed Interactions from USDOE CIO Danny Harris’ Hearing

On February 08, 2016,  I published transcribed excerpts from the February 02, 2016, Congressional Oversight Committee Hearing of US Department of Education (USDOE) Chief Information Officer (CIO) Danny Harris.

CIO Harris  Danny Harris

In this post, I continue my transcription of select discussion from the three-hour hearing.

Let’s just jump right back in.

Regarding Harris’ receiving continued annual bonuses despite his department’s receiving an F for cyber security– and for his apparently never having achieved such security during his tenure as CIO– Harris had this to say (minute 45:30):

I’d also like to put my job as CIO in context, if I may.

Cyber security is absolutely critical to the federal government. However, it is only one of the mission-critical responsibilities under my leadership. Uh, for example, I run the entire financial management platform. Uh, we have received 13 clean audit opinions. We have an incredible IT investment management program. We have the best grants management system in the federal government.

One, I think, should look at the totality of my leadership and not just cyber– even though I agree the Department had a poor record–but again, it is only one aspect of my job– though it is a critical aspect.

Sooo, cyber security is critical, and Harris has never delivered on cyber security as CIO, but somehow, that should be excused (as should his over $200,000 in bonuses) because other aspects of his job have shown better results.

No.

At minute 1:08:45, Rep. Fahrenhold addressed Harris as follows:

Uh, yeah. My concern is that you guys have pretty much every student’s social security number on file, probably including both of my, uh, my daughters. I’m old enough [that] you probably don’t have mine. So, this is something that, uh, that really is concerning.

Fahrenhold asks about Harris’ professional history, which Harris says began in IT. At minute 1:10:25, Fahrenhold takes issue with Harris’ apparent ineptness regarding cyber security given Harris’ declared IT background. Fahrenhold interrupts Harris as Harris is saying that he had 7 years experience in database administration work:

So, you’ve got, you’ve got to,  you’ve should have, why didn’t you see some of this coming beforehand? Like, I mean, obviously hindsight is 20/20, but, uh, so, having, worked up in the trenches of the organization, and uh, you saw the headlines from Snowden to, why didn’t we see some of this coming and do something about, uh, it before it hit the fan?

Harris responds:

So, as an IT professional, I am not a cyber security subject matter expert. And so, it is, it is true that the Department has been slow in making progress, and we’re happy about the progress we’re making now, but we need to make more…

Fahrenhold interrupts:

But I mean, if you’re a former programmer, been messing with computers for years, in light of, I mean, when Snowden came out, didn’t something go off in your head, “Maybe we ought to make sure this doesn’t happen to us?”

Harris responds:

Well, it’s a good question. I would like to say approximately six years ago, I met with then-Secretary Arne Duncan and indicated to him that I was very concerned about our IT security posture, and I asked him for funding to do the first-ever Department IT security discovery process. And that was really, in my opinion, the foundation of the Department staring to get really serious about cyber security.

Fahrenhold asks:

But then, how did, how do we come to, uh, you know, just, less than, a few months ago, you’re an F?

Rep. Norton then has the mic. At minute 1:16:25, she asks Harris,

So, has your [job performance] rating suffered at all as a result of what now has been found to be the facts?

Harris responds, “No.” Norton continues:

So you continue to be rated “outstanding”?

Harris: “Yes.”

Norton:

Mr. King, uh, you see the problem that that may raise? Put yourself in the position of a federal employee, uh, and you look at how the rating apparently has not even been, been affected? Um, um, no violations of regulations. No violations of any kind found.

Um, could I ask you (King), in light of the fact that no violations were found, that apparently, there’s a finding that it was unclear whether Dr. Harris’ outside work constituted a business or a hobby, has it not occurred to the Department to clarify this so employees know what is the difference, and, and, so it will not be unclear for those who may have seen and known about this particular, uh, this particular matter, so that– don’t you think there’s rank confusion?

In the department, when they see a high-level official was engaged in outside activity for which there was remuneration but was unclear whether it was a business or a hobby? Doesn’t the Department have an obligation now to issue guidance so that these things are cleared up? … So, what it the answer? If the employee wants to know, “Look, I want to know. I don’t want to be caught in this thing too? I want to know, if I do this, would it be considered a business by the Department of Education or would it be considered a hobby?” Is there concrete guidance on that matter given what has happened here with an SES employee?

King responded that there is noting concrete; that the employee must take the initiative to seek guidance from the ethic officer, and that Harris apparently did not know to seek such guidance.

So, no, USDOE has not amended its ethics guidelines as a means to trying to ensure that the situation with Harris’ business-hobbies does not happen again.

Skipping ahead to Rep. Lieu at minute 1:33:50:

Thank you, Mr. Chair. I have a question for Mr. King.

A number of times this morning you have said that, um, you believe Mr. Harris engaged in a hobby rather than a business venture. When I think of a hobby, I think of someone collecting stamps or building model airplanes or maybe gardening. I am not aware of any hobby known as installing theaters in other people’s homes for a profit.

Are you aware that in this case that there was a business card, “Harris Audio-visual Innovation,” which included a company logo and listed Daniel A Harris as owner and operator. Are you aware of that? Obviously, yes or no?

King said that he was only aware of Harris’ business card as he saw it in the file as he prepared for the February 2016 Congressional hearing. Lieu continues:

Second question: Are you aware that he paid two employees to do these installations in other people’s homes?

King acknowledges knowing that Harris had two employees “involved in this activity.” Lieu continues:

Now having known this, do you still believe he engaged in a hobby rather than a business venture? Just a yes or no.

As he tries to do throughout the hearing, King tries here to dodge any ultimate responsibility for a King-initiated decision regarding Harris’ continued employment as USDOE CIO.  He tries to go back to the “findings of general counsel.” Lieu interrupts:

Let me just stop you there. Let me stop you there. Let me tell you how it works. And I know something about this because I was an active-duty JAG in the military, still in the reserves. I’m a military attorney.

The way it works in government, attorneys give advice. You make the decision. Attorneys don’t make the decision. You do.

In this case, I want to know your view. Now knowing these facts, did he engage in a hobby or a business venture?

John King refuses to answer for himself and insists on regurgitating the cop out, “I credit the judgment of our general counsel,” which he has been parroting for much of the hearing. Lieu insists:

Let me tell you how it works:

You are not a rubber stamp for your attorney. That’s not how it works. If you think that’s how it works, then you need to re-evaluate. …

Outside this bubble of Washington, DC, the rest of America would view what Mr. Harris did as violating a law or rule or regulation. Uh, for you to not find that was simply an error. It was a mistake because your job is not to protect Mr. Harris. It is to send a proper tone, standards of conduct and leadership for your agency, and you have now sent the message that you can operate a business venture, not report that on your ethics forms, not report the income on your tax filings, and that does not violate a law, rule, or a regulation.

That’s simply ridiculous, and you cannot use a shield of relying on some recommendation of an attorney. It is your decision. It is your job to make the correct decision. You made the wrong one.

At minute 1:43:30, Rep. Walker calls Harris on communicating in 2015 that cyber security issues had already been 100 percent addressed even though they were not. As Walker is taking to Harris, he turns to King:

[To Harris] Well, it appears to us that when the light is shown on these deficiencies, or you start bringing these grades of concurrent F’s, that you’re willing to do something [about cyber security.] Mr. King, you’re fidgeting over there like you’re wanting to jump in. What, what do you have to say on this?

King:

Yes, sir. The, the Department had previously used a Level 3 goal. That goal was changed to Level 4. And, I joined the Department in January 2015, began meeting regularly with the team on how we might improve our, improve our cyber security for the sprint. Um, we began meeting weekly to ensure that we would get to Level 4 across the, the agency. In the federal student aid area, we have a number of external contractors. They use PIV-I. In order to get to 95 percent, we needed to amend nearly 60 contracts, ah, which we did with external vendors, provided technical assistance to those external vendors. That’s why we’re at 95 percent. So, I just want to convey again the urgency that we brought to this matter throughout my time at the…

Walker interrupts:

Yeah, yeah, you’ve been conveying, and almost, to me, you look like you’re trying to cover up here. I think the congresswoman from DC, Ms. Norton, really brougth it to a point here, saying there’s no consequences for the actions. The people get scored; your grade didn’t change at all, you’re still getting high marks (a reference to Harris’ evaluation). And I think it’s, the irony of all of this is this is education. So what in the world are we teaching our children? There’s no consequences for their actions?

Mr. King, you’re, you’re today, you’re still defending the actions like this is no big deal. I don’t, I don’t understand that. It, I want to ask you right now, I want to come back to this: Under oath, are you still saying to me, and to this panel, and to the American people, that you do not believe that any standard of ethical conduct was breached? Is that your testimony?

King:

My testimony was that I saw significant lapses in judgment; that I counseled Dr. Harris…

Walker:

That’s what you said. Do you believe that today or not? Do you believe that any ethical standard of conduct was breached or broken?

King:

I do not believe there was a law or regulation or policy of the Department; however, I do believe there were significant lapses in judgment. I counseled Dr. Harris on those. That was the fourth counseling that he received on that matter…

Walker:

So, lapses in judgment [vs] ethical conduct: Do those two merge at all, or are those two separate things? You sit here today and you blame it on your general counsel and lawyers for not taking a position of leadership and holding the people accountable. [King: “No, sir…”]

Do you understand why the American people are frustrated with this?

King:

I disagree with that characterization. I took it very seriously. That’s why I engaged in additional counseling of Dr. Harris. That’s why I asked that the counseling he received from the ethics officer to be put in writing…

Walker:

You took it very serious? What actions did you take toward Mr. Harris?

Of course, we all know the answer: Counseling.

Jumping ahead to Rep. Meadows’ questioning of the delay between the April 2013 IG report on Harris and the March 2014 ethics officer response (minute 2:05:22):

Can either of you, Ms. Winchell, Mr. King, explain to me why, why the Inspector General gave you a report on April of 2013, and they had to do a follow-up two years later and said that they had never heard from anybody? Why, why would that be? Mr. King, you may want to answer since it was directed to you on March 23rd of 2015. In response, It says, and I quote, “To date, we have not received a response from the Office of the Deputy Secretary concerning the findings that they gave on April 2nd, 2013.” Why, why would they have not had a response in two years if you take it seriously?”

King:

When I joined the Department in January of 2015, the IG explained that there was an addendum to the report that was forthcoming…

Meadows:

But that’s not what this is saying. I’m, I’m going back to the original report, when they put in the report on April 2nd of 2013, you know what they heard from you guys? Crickets! Not a single, dad-gum response!

[To Ms. Winchell, who said she heard “from the IG that the offending conduct had ceased”]  How, how, how did you figure that out? Who talked to Dr. Harris? Because you didn’t talk to him according to your note until a year later. … According to your memo, you didn’t talk to Dr. Harris until March 12th of 2014– almost a year after the, the IG submitted a request. Why would it take a year? …

So, you’re in charge of ethics, and you’re taking someone else’s word that the conduct has ceased a year later?

King responds:

Deputy Secretary Miller, after receiving the initial IG report, consulted with the Office of the General Counsel and spoke directly with Dr. Harris, giving Dr. Harris counseling…

Meadows:

And said it was okay?

King:

No. Giving him counseling that there was a…

Meadows:

How is that your understanding? Did you talk to Dr., uh, uh, Tony Miller about that?

King:

That’s my understanding from the staff at the deputy secretary’s office [that] overlapped from…

Meadows interrupts:

Mr. King, let me tell you what’s troubling here. I don’t know if Dr. Harris’ actions are the most troubling or your cover-up of it is the most troubling, Mr. King, because let me, let me tell you the concern I have. Everybody can make a mistake. But the minute it was put forth by the OG, everybody– Ms. Winchell and Mr. King– you should have been all over this and saying that this is a problem. And let me tell you the reason why I, I’m so concerned:

I’ve been visiting federal employees. And, you know what? I constantly hear is that there’s a double standard for the people at the top and the rank-and-file federal workers. And today, listening to this testimony, I, I tell you, I hope they’re not watching because they would use a different word for bovine waste than what is used here.

King:

I tried to be clear that I took this very seriously, I…

Meadows interrupts:

No, you haven’t, because your responses, I would disagree, Mr. King, because your responses indicate that nothing has happened in terms of retribution. No one’s been fired. In fact, you approved a big bonus for Dr. Harris. No, there’s been no consequences, so I disagree.

King:

There have been consequences.

Meadows:

What’s the consequences?

King:

There have been four counseling sessions….

Meadows:

Okay. So, his consequence is that he’s had counseling sessions…. With the indulgence of the chair, I’ll finish with this: president Obama signed an executive order a few weeks ago on Second Amendment. The guidance with that said that if you have a business card, you’re in the business of selling firearms. So, in light of that, Ms. Winchell, is the President wrong, or are you wrong?

Ethics officer Winchell continues to maintain that according to the IG report, Harris’ activities qualify as hobbies.

Two notes as I close this post:

First, the issue of Harris failure to adequately achieve cyber security extend back to Margaret Spellings’ time as US Secretary of Education and span Arne Duncan’s entire tenure in that same position.

Second, the Harris situation is a glaring illustration of USDOE dysfunction, including the reality that USDOE operates capriciously via its own double standard. In this hearing, King has made it clear that he plans to stick to his rehearsed, lame excuse for the continued employ– with bonuses– of a man who is in charge of cyber security but who has repeatedly failed at that goal.

There is still 50 minutes to go in this three-hour hearing.

My above transcription ended at minute 2:11:05, with Congressional Oversight Committee Chair Chaffetz again launching into King for maintaining that Harris demonstrated “no violation of law, regulation, policy, or ethics.”

Let’s end with Chaffetz at minute 2:17:03. Chaffetz is clearly tired of hearing King repeat his excuses for Harris

Chaffetz is speaking to King:

Again, you’re looking at an Inspector General report that comes out mid-year; criminal referrals; every single metric is down; ten systems still to this day with expired authorities to operate; one has PII information; 54 unsupported software systems. You have an Inspector General who can go in there, ah, undetected into the system. You have 139 million social security numbers.

And this guy gets a bonus.

This is why we have zero confidence in you, personally. Zero.

______________________________________________________________

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.

Investigation of USDOE CIO Danny Harris: Video and Transcribed Excerpts

Below are excerpts from the February 02, 2016, Congressional Oversight and Reform Committee’s hearing of the allegations of impropriety related to US Department of Education (USDOE) Chief Information Officer (CIO) Danny Harris.

CIO Harris  Danny Harris

I begin transcribing at minute 3, with Chair Jason Chaffetz’ charge against Harris and the apparent ineptness of the USDOE in handling student information:

There are 139 million Americans that would be affected by a data breach at the Department of, of, uh, Education. We also need to remember the Department of Education also oversees a student loan portfolio of over 1.2 trillion dollars. This puts it on the proportion of Citibank and other major financial institutions. It is critical because Taxpayers deserve the best in our chief information officer (CIO), and they’re not getting the best at the Department of Education.

The Inspector General (IG) testified recently the Department continues to be vulnerable to security threats and has repeatedly failed to implement the recommendations and failed to detect friendly hacks into their system. The Department scored a negative– was one of just a handful of agencies– but a negative 14 percent on the Office of Management and Budget’s Cyber Sprint. Cyber Sprint was intended to get–government-wide– get ’em up to speed, more security in place– and yet the Department of, of, Education was one of a handful of agencies that actually scored negative on that. And, they received an F in the fitara scorecard.

This is a self-reported score, and they scored an F.

Mr. Harris has served as the chief information officer since 2008, and by virtually every metric, he’s failing to adequately secure the Department’s systems. The Committee’s concerns were further amplified after learning Mr. Harris was investigated for possible criminal and administrative misconduct. The IG closed its investigation months ago, finding that the CIO potentially broke 12 federal laws/regulations and/or agency directives. But the Department of Justice refused to prosecute.

That is a mystery to us; we don’t understand why they would not prosecute such wide use and abuse of the system. Mr. Harris was running two side businesses he failed to disclose on federally-required ethics forms– a home theater installation business; a car detailing business– and inappropriately used agency resources and, most likely, agency time.

Mr. Harris also admitted to the Inspector General he did not report the income to the Internal Revenue Service. And most Americans would get in trouble for this type of, of, a, a situation, and not hiding, basically, hiding information from the IRS.

Additionally, the Inspector General raised serious allegations Mr. Harris influenced government contract. As a high-ranking public official, Mr. Harris played a role in awarding and over-signing contracts to a close friend’s company.

Equally disconcerting are the anonymous tips that the Inspector General described Mr. Harris’ leadership as “intimidating.” His investigation started because people within the Department of Education expressed concern as whistle blowers. And the morale in the office of CIO is an all-time low due to a dysfunctional environment that Mr. Harris has cultivated.

Let me put up a, the first, the chart. There we go:

CIO Investigation (Click to enlarge)

We rely heavily on a disinterested third party to come in an evaluate. These are 14 metrics in the office of the CIO at the Department of Education.

Every single score is going down. Every single one of those is negative. And the …Office of the Chief Information Officer at the Department of Education scored 285 out of 320– near the very bottom of his class. [To technical assistance] You can take that chart down.

Look at the turnover rate at the It staff within the Department of Education, Fiscal year [2013 ?], it was 5 percent. Turnover rate in fiscal 2014 was 6 percent. Turnover rate in 2015 was 10 percent. It’s a key metric in an understanding that maybe things aren’t very good in that department. Every key metric is down; they’re scoring an F on their scorecard. You’ve got an IG whose making a recommendation for criminal prosecution [to] the Department of Justice.

And what does the Department of Education do?

They give him bonuses. More than $200,000 in bonuses Mr. Harris got over the last 10 years. And I want to know why. We got good quality people working at the Department of Education, and we’ve got something wrong going on in that department, and we’re bonusing him up? That makes absolutely no sense.

Mr. Harris came and testified to this committee in November. I asked him a basic question about IT: Are you using Cobalt? Cobalt was instituted in the 1960s. The answer was, “No, we’re not using that.” Ends up they have more than one million lines of code in the central processing system, also in the national student loan database.

So, he’s off with these other businesses, getting subordinates to do the work, taking bonuses, has three other jobs, and we’re giving him bonuses [as] every single metric is going down. Scoring an F on the scorecard. There’s vulnerability, and there’s a 139 million people who are at risk.

We don’t have time to play these kinds of games.

This is exactly what the Oversight and Government Reform Committee is all about.

Mr. Harris has had roles as the adjunct professor at Howard University. Consulting for the Detroit Public Schools. He’s in IT consulting services for the City of Detroit.

Congratulations. You don’t have time to do that stuff.

Simply put, when the CIOs fail to bring high management and ethical standards to their work, institutions suffer; systems are weakened, and the data o millions of Americans are in danger.

For all of the wrongdoing here, I’m telling you, there are a lot of good people. They rely on the Department of Education. They work there. There are people at home in every state and every corner of our country who rely on this. But you know what? There are 10– 10 senior officials …at the Department of Education under investigation right now. Mr. Harris is one of them.

Bob Shireman’s another one. Who are the other ones? Because this is an agency that has to function. If we’re going to put the billions of dollars in it, they’ve got to deal with it ethically.

Well, we’re looking at a situation here that’s not going well. And that’s why we have the hearing here today.

As the hearing progresses, Harris speaks for himself, calling his businesses “hobbies” and stating that he has since filed with the IRS for the formerly undeclared income and has since ceased to entertain his “hobbies.”

USDOE Deputy Sarah Winchell adds that no specific ethical clause was directly violated, and she notes that Harris resolved the issue of his former questionable conduct, and that some conduct (i.e., inquiring about a job to which a relative might apply) was not an ethics breach since Harris did not involve himself in the hiring process. Finally, Winchell noted that Harris’ using departmental email for a hobby (as opposed to a business) was not prohibited. Winchell maintains that since the IG report did not specify the term “business” or hobby” to describe Harris car detailing and home theater installation, then she cannot conclude Harris was involved in two businesses.

She does not address the issue of Harris drawing income from his “hobbies.”

Regarding Harris’ and Winchell’s statements, what is also not addressed is that Harris received a steady stream of bonuses from USDOE despite his documented poor performance as CIO.

Here is what Acting Secretary of Education John King had to add by way of a five-minute statement:

Chairman Chaffetz, Representative Plaskett and members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today. In January of 2015, I joined the Department as senior advisor relegated the duties of deputy secretary, and I became acting secretary on January 1st of year, when Secretary Arne Duncan stepped down.

I firmly believe that providing our children with a great education is not just about subject matter knowledge, but also about instilling the values that will help them become faithful contributors to our communities and democracy. I expect all department employees to adhere to the highest standards of ethical conduct.

Before I address the actions taken by the Department with respect to the report by the Inspector General on this matter, I’d like to provide you with a brief update of what the Department has achieved to enhance our cyber security since the agency last testified before this committee [in November 2015], as I believe we have made meaningful progress.

Specifically, we have moved from a ranked 11 percent compliance for a two-factor authentication of all privileged users at the conclusion of the cyber security sprint to an overall compliance rate of 95 percent as of January 31st, 2016. We continue to work aggressively with a single external vendor to accelerate implementation of two-factor authentication for the remaining privileged users at that vendor and project to achieve 100 percent compliance during March 2016.

I view cyber security as the responsibility of the entire agency, not just that of any one individual, and although we have made and are continuing to make progress, I am not satisfied with where we are as an agency. I have notified my team that we must do better, and I have directed my team that we must undertake additional actions to strengthen our cyber security. These steps include using a focused and disciplined approach to systematically resolving and addressing the root causes behind any cyber-security-related findings from both our 2015 fisma audit and the 2015 financial statement audit.

I have also directed the team to take additional steps to increase end-user cyber security awareness; to strengthen our incident response capabilities, and to continue to build the capacity of our internal team through the hiring of additional professionals with expertise on these issues who can assist us in implementing best practices and improving the Department’s cyber security program.

Returning to the IG’s investigation and report issued to me in March 2015: I considered very seriously the, the allegations. Ultimately, my response to those allegations close a several-years-long investigation and confirmed and supplemented the work of two prior deputy secretaries at the Department, there in my staff, and the Office of the General Counsel.

I considered this matter in the overall context of Dr. Harris’ more than 30-year career with the Department. Dr. Harris has been steadily promoted under the administrations of both parties to roles of increasing responsibility. He was promoted to the senior executive’s service in 1998 and was appointed to his current role as CIO during the prior administration under Secretary Spellings in 2008. He has been widely recognized for his work in the CIO role. Given that history of service and my commitment to ethics, I was therefore troubled to learn of the IG’s investigation. However, I was also informed that Dr. Harris had been counseled by former Deputy Secretary Tony Miller on this matter as well as my immediate predecessor, former Deputy Secretary Jim Shelton, and the agency’s lead career ethics attorney, Susan Winchell.

Upon receiving the IG’s addendum in 2015, I again consulted with the general counsel’s office. The synopsis of the addendum stated that the US Attorney’s office and the District of Columbia had declined prosecution.

After reviewing the addendum the Office of Counsel and Ms. Winchell advised, included information served to confirm the conclusions reached by the Office of General Counsel and two prior deputy secretaries following receipt of the initial report; namely, that the OIG investigator materials did not include information that could support a finding that Dr. Harris had violated any law, rule, or regulation. I considered all of these factors, along with the fact that the actions in question had occurred several years earlier, had since ceased, and that Dr. Harris had took responsibility for his actions, and, where appropriate, included the relevant income on his financial disclosure forms and took other corrective actions.

Based on these facts’ I determined the appropriate course of action was to supplement the actions already taken with counseling of my own with Dr. Harris on these serious matters. I also asked Ms. Winchell to confirm her prior oral counseling to Dr. Harris in writing.

As I stated at the outset, ensuring that the public’s business and our work of expanding educational opportunity for all students are carried out according to the highest standards and ethical conduct is vitally and personally important to me. I believe the Department took appropriate actions to address the issues raised by the investigation and ensure that they are not repeated as we continue to work to rapidly strengthen our cyber security posture, an area of critical need, and a top management priority for me over the coming year.

Thank you for the opportunity to testify, and I look forward to answering any questions you may have.

The hearing continues for another two and a half hours. At this point, I am left wondering why in the world a man in a critical leadership position should retain that position given that he should require any sort of “counseling” related to the issues raised above.

A CIO who must be counseled about properly disclosing at least $10,000 of additional annual income should not be CIO.

King’s “team” speech was nothing more than an effort to shield not just any “team” member, but the leader continuously receiving bonuses despite poor cyber security compliance.

If indeed USDOE’s CIO had been competently doing his job, then there would have been no need for King’s “we’re doing better in 2016” speech regarding USDOE’s poor performance related to cyber security.

At minute 37, Rep. Mica starts in on what he calls “hair splitting” about Harris’ “hobbies” and questioning the discrepancy between USDOE’s inept cyber security and Harris’ continued bonuses. At minute 40:50, Mica remarks,

There’s no reason, Mr, King, why Harris shouldn’t be fired. He’s a senior executive service officer. He’s failed continuously since he took the position. I don’t think you can find more ineptness or, misconduct, with any senior employee that’s come before us, and then rewarded for it. It’s so offensive.

And Ms. Winchell says, “Well, maybe we should discuss moving him to another position.” Well, that’s what’s wrong with this whole system– is he can fail every time– getting huge salaries…. All the ethical questions that have been raised, and you leave him in that position.

Mica repeatedly asks King, “Who approved the bonuses?” and adds, “Even while he’s under investigation, there should be at least a suspension [of bonuses].”

As King tries to defend Harris, Mica ends with, “But he failed every single time. Every single time since 2008. The only time we’ve had any success reported is what you reported from January [2016], and that’s only because the chairman (Chaffetz) conducted a hearing and we hammered you last year.”

There’s lots more to this hearing:

_______________________________________________________________

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.

La. Class of 2015 ACT Scores: State-run RSD New Orleans Drops to 15.6 Average Composite

As of February 05, 2016, the best place to locate any smatch of consolidated data on Louisiana’s Class of 2015 ACT scores is this July 16, 2015, nola.com article by Jessica Williams, entitled, “ACT Scores Rise for 2nd Straight Year in Louisiana.”

Williams’ title comes from the supposed rise of Louisiana’s Class of 2015 average ACT composite to 19.4 from 19.2 in 2014. Other numbers in Williams’ article are the supposed Recovery School District New Orleans (RSD-NO) Class of 2015 average ACT composite of 16.6, and the combined RSD-NO and Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB) Class of 2015 average ACT composite of 18.8.

Remember these numbers.

In her article, Williams links to her data source, this once-embargoed file from the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE), entitled, “2014-15 Louisiana ACT 12th Grade Results.” The file includes ACT average composite scores by district.

What is noteworthy is that the file was publicized in July 2015, after the 2014-15 school year had ended– which means there should be no reason to “adjust” these numbers. (The file includes no statemen to the effect that these are preliminary numbers; the resulting press releases indicate nothing but finality.)

What is also worth noting is that as of February 05, 2016, this file is not available on the LDOE website.

There is no reason for LDOE to not have produced a comprehensive file of Class of 2015 ACT average composite scores by both district and school and readily available for public access.

So, on February 05, 2016, I sent the following email to all eleven members of Louisiana’s Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE), and to Louisiana State Superintendent John White:

From: Mercedes Schneider <deutsch29@aol.com>
Date: February 5, 2016 at 11:02:04 AM CST
To: <James.Garvey@la.gov>, <Kira.OrangeJones@la.gov>, <sandy.holloway@la.gov>, <tony.davis@la.gov>, <gary.jones@la.gov>, <kathy.edmonston@la.gov>, <jada.lewis@la.gov>, <thomas.roque@la.gov>, <lurie.thomason@la.gov>, <doris.voitier@la.gov>
Cc: <John.white@la.gov>
Subject: Class of 2015 ACT scores

Dear BESE Members:

It is 2016, and LDOE has yet to release a comprehensive file of the Class of 2015 ACT scores.

In other words, in March, the Class of 2016 will take the ACT, and the state, under the direction of John White, has yet to release scores that are at least 11 months old.

These scores should have been made available months ago, yet it seems John White has no intention to publicly release them at all.

This intentional withholding of ACT scores is nothing new. In fact, it was not until I began to release the Class of 2014 ACT scores in late January 2015 that LDOE posted a comprehensive file of the Class of 2014 ACT scores to its website.

Here is that history:

On January 3, 2015, I posted this entry entitled, “John White Refuses to Release La.’s Class of 2014 ACT Scores”:

John White Refuses to Release La.’s Class of 2014 ACT Scores

As a result of that post, an individual with access to the ACT information system sent me Louisiana’s scores.

I posted the Class of 2014 ACT scores for RSD in this January 31, 2015, post:

Louisiana’s Class of 2014 ACT Scores Are In This Post

Within the week– February 2015– LDOE released its version of a comprehensive file of Class of 2014 ACT scores:

http://www.nola.com/education/index.ssf/2015/02/act_scores_up_slightly_in_loui.html

I then released the comprehensive data I had on Louisiana’s Class of 2014 ACT scores:

Class of 2014 ACT Composites for All New Orleans Schools, Public and Private

In This Post: La’s Class of 2014 ACT Scores for All Schools Statewide

It is February 2016– beyond time for John White’s LDOE to make publicly available the comprehensive file of Louisiana’s Class of 2015 ACT scores.

Thank you.

–Mercedes Schneider
St. Bernard graduate; St. Tammany teacher
https://deutsch29.wordpress.com/about/

Later the same day, I received the following response, directed to BESE members from John White:

From: John White <John.White@la.gov>
Date: February 5, 2016 at 2:59:01 PM CST
To: Kathy Edmonston <Kathy.Edmonston@LA.GOV>
Cc: “Erin Bendily (DOE)” <Erin.Bendily@LA.GOV>, “James Garvey (BESE Board)” <James.Garvey@LA.GOV>, “Doris.Voitier@sbpsb.org” <Doris.Voitier@sbpsb.org>, Jada Lewis <Jada.Lewis@LA.GOV>, Gary Jones <Gary.Jones@LA.GOV>, James Garvey <james_garvey@hmhlp.com>, Kira Orange Jones <Kira.OrangeJones@LA.GOV>, Tony Davis <Tony.Davis@LA.GOV>, Sandy Holloway <Sandy.Holloway@LA.GOV>, Thomas Roque <Thomas.Roque@LA.GOV>, Lurie Thomason <Lurie.Thomason@LA.GOV>, “Shan N. Davis” <Shan.Davis@LA.GOV>
Subject: Re: Class of 2015 ACT scores
This request regards an Excel file listing all individual school average ACT scores. Those scores have been posted publicly on individual school report cards since October. An Excel file containing all school scores in one sheet has been through the data certification process and will be posted next week. [Emphasis added.]
John

The inclusion of Class of 2015 average ACT scores on the school report cards is a change from 2014 to 2015. The 2013-14 high school and district report cards do not include ACT average composite information, but the 2014-15 high school report cards do.

Given that LDOE could include such information on individual school and district report cards in October 2015, the fact that such information is not available in a comprehensive file by February 05, 2016, is inexcusable.

Those searching for a comprehensive listing of Class of 2015 average ACT scores are highly unlikely to think to search individual school and district report cards and create a comprehensive file from each and every report card– nor should they have to.

But I was curious to see exactly what ACT info was on those October 2015 school and district report cards.

And here comes an awakening, my friends.

Consider the ACT information on this 2014-15 district report card for RSD-NO (click image to enlarge):

2014-15 RSD-NO ACT

Two critical issues:

1) That state gain from 19.2 in 2014 to 19.4 in 2015– a gain reported on the July 2015 LDOE embargoed file meant for the press– is not supported by the 19.2 on the 2015 report card. 

2) The RSD-NO 2015 average composite score is an entire point lower than what was reported on the July 2015 LDOE embargoed file meant for the press. The press file had RSD-NO’s 2015 average ACT composite as 16.6. The 2015 district report card lists the 2015 average ACT composite as 15.6– its lowest since 2010.

A word about that 15.6 average ACT composite for RSD’s Class of 2015: When I released the Class of 2014 scores for RSD-NO based on information directly from the ACT information system, I noted that the Class of 2014 average ACT composite was 15.7. (Later that week, White released his version and had RSD-NO at 16.4.)

It seems that 15.7 for 2014 was much more likely than 16.4 given that the 2015 RSD-NO district report card has 15.6.

As for the publicized Class of 2015 average ACT composite for RSD and OPSB– 18.8– well, that number takes a hit on the RSD-OPSB report card, as well:

2014-15 RSD-OPSB ACT

Not 18.8, as the LDOE embargoed press release file notes, but 18.2.

Based on LDOE’s 2015 OPSB district report card, OPSB alone had a 2015 average ACT composite of 20.8.

So. All of this begs a few questions:

  1. When John White releases that comprehensive Excel file of Class of 2015 average ACT scores by district and school, which numbers will he choose?
  2. How will White spin the story of state gains given that the information on his own LDOE report cards shows no state gain?
  3. How will he try to downplay the 15.6 for his state-run, all-charter RSD-NO as noted on the report cards that his LDOE produced? Will he cry typo?

 
I guess we’ll just have to wait for him to return from his 25th anniversary Teach for America (TFA) shindig in Washington, DC, to find out.

john white 4John White

____________________________________________________________

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.

Gates Gives Common Core Owner, CCSSO, $15.4 Million Just to Keep ‘Em in Business

gates clap  Bill Gates

The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO)  is one of two owners of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). In fact, former CCSSO CEO Gene Wilhoit approached Gates in the summer of 2008 to ask Gates to fund CCSS.

Despite the reality that CCSS has not taken American education by the standardizing storm that its schemers had hoped, Gates continues to fund CCSS as a pet project.

Furthermore, in January 2016, Gates has decided to do something he had not yet done:

Pay CCSSO handsomely for “general operating support”:

Council of Chief State School Officers


Date: January 2016
Purpose: to provide for general operating support
Amount: $15,408,198
Term: 30
Topic: College-Ready
Program: United States
Grantee Location: Washington, District of Columbia
Grantee Website: http://www.ccsso.org

Gates’ paying the rent to the tune of $15.4 million (likely over 30 months) for CCSSO equals a decidedly obvious purchase of that organization– and the state superintendents who belong to it.

And the nebulous designation of “general operating support” helps to conceal any detailed expectation behind that money. (I dare Gates and CCSSO to tell the public that giving CCSSO $15.4 million has no strings. Double dare.)

In its press releases, CCSSO fails to mention that it is taking $15.4 million from Bill Gates. However, on its  “Our Promise” page, CCSSO does state that it “promises” “to lead chiefs and their organizations” in CCSSO goals “though decisive leadership.”

Interestingly, one of those CCSSO “decisive leaders” is board member, New Mexico Secretary of Education Hanna Skandera, who cunningly and quietly replaced Massachusetts Commissioner of Education Mitchell Chester as PARCC chair. In that case, there was no press release either. (PARCC– Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers– is a floundering CCSS testing consortium. Down to a handful of states, PARCC is trying to survive by, uh, “expanding” into vending test items.)

Not only does PARCC have a new chair (as PARCC chair, Chester failed to hand Massachusetts completely over to PARCC and instead peddled a compromised MCAS-PARCC hybrid); the Gates Foundation also will have a new director of K12 grantmaking. The same month that Gates announced his plans to keep pushing his teacher-measuring and CCSS agendas– October 2015– Gates Foundation Director Vicky Phillips announced that she would be resigning in December 2015.

Phillips did not resign with a new job lined up, nor did the Gates Foundation have a director chosen to replace Phillips in December 2015. But what the Gates Foundation did have was Bill publicly stating on October 07, 2015, to the USP Educational learning Forum in Seattle that he would remain faithful to (fixated upon?) CCSS:

There’s one other pivotal step in the movement for strong feedback and improvement systems, and that is the adoption of high, consistent academic standards throughout the country. Today 42 states and the District of Columbia are using the Common Core State Standards.

Unfortunately, when it comes to the Common Core, the attacks have drowned out the facts—and the fact is, the standards are starting to work for students and teachers.

If we want to achieve excellence, we have to define excellence. And you can’t define it based on politics or individual preferences. You have to define excellence by anchoring it in something real—like getting a good job, or getting a higher ed degree that means something in the workplace. That’s what these standards do: They ensure that students are gaining the skills and knowledge they need to get a good job or succeed in college.

If students leave high school without that, their next stop is probably a dead-end job or a course in remedial math. And that’s just inexcusable. Every kid in America deserves high standards.

Most everyone would agree. I believe much of the difficulty with the Common Core standards came because the advocates—and I include our foundation in this category—didn’t do enough to explain them early and clearly. Once states adopted the standards, parents needed to hear from principals and teachers and superintendents about the reason for the changes, how they would help their kids, and how things would be bumpy for a number of years as teachers adjusted to the new standards. But I also understand why this step was missed. Principals and teachers and their supporters were busy working urgently to figure out how to make the standards real in classrooms.

Bill Gates wants to explain CCSS clearly.

Paying $15.4 million to one of the CCSS license holders certainly makes one issue clear:

What Bill Gates wants, he buys.

desk money

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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.

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