Fallacies Or Conspiracies?: NAEP, PISA & ACT/SAT Tests

This was written in response to concerns by some legislators who are working with their constituencies (finally) to sponsor bills for this Louisiana legislative session that will remove our state from the flawed policies associated with the adoption of Common Core Standards.

  Of primary concern is the argument that comparisons of NAEP (national), PISA (international) and ACT (College Readiness) test scores show Louisiana and/or the United States have failing public education systems.  There has been much evidence offered to discount these claims with little success.

  This latest report published by The Brookings Institute is so clear and convincing that I offer it to Louisiana policymakers and legislators along with my personal dialogue and plea for their consideration as they conduct hearings and debate whether or not to withdraw from the Common Core Initiative and return public education policy to our state.

The proposal by new College Boards President David Coleman to "align" ACT/SAT tests to the CCSS should place those tests under the same scrutiny.  The FEAR purposely planted in the minds of policymakers and parents that changes to the ACT and SAT make CCSS adoption imperative are just as baseless as the general contention that ANY single standardized test score is a valid or reliable measure of a student's academic ability or potential.

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 PISA has been used to promote Shanghai as a model of equity since 2009.  In hundreds of pages discussing equity, PISA publications have never even mentioned hukou. 

The following excerpts from the complete report found at the above link and include my analysis of the consequences and mandates for moving forward.  

"The results of the 2012 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) were released in December 2013.  The test is administered to 15-year-olds every three years by a division of the 
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in Paris.  Scores were reported in math, reading, and science for more than sixty nations and subnational jurisdictions.  The top scoring participant, as in 2009, was Shanghai-China in all three subjects.  A controversy erupted concerning Shanghai’s participation in PISA. A series of Brown Center Chalkboard essays took part in the debate.[i] "

What is Hukou and how are PISA results so distorted that international comparisons are invalid?  The larger question is, what is the agenda for those who hold out the PISA test as an 
indicator of international standards for education quality!  You can bet it is economically driven AND  that elitism and racism are OBVIOUS factors.  

"Reforms in Shanghai became famous because of PISA.  Shanghai’s PISA test is run by the same 
official who advanced the reforms.  That sure sounds like a conflict of interest.  Moreover, the 
Shanghai Municipal Education Committee is responsible for enforcing the hukou system’s education 
restrictions.  Dr. Zhang served in a leadership capacity on that body.  No wonder PISA documents are silent on the negative effects of hukou.  The larger lesson concerning governance and policy recommendations applies to every PISA participant.  Governments demand policy guidance from an assessment that looks at how well the policies that they themselves have enacted are functioning.  It is difficult to be an impartial referee while also playing in the game."

This WARNING explicates the exact problem with the Common Core Initiative. David Coleman, the architect of CCSS, has been in control of the Common Core Initiative at every level and in every aspect - standards, curriculum, testing and NOW as President of The College Boards (SAT).  The conflict of interest inherent in this grand plan to standardize our children is undeniable and the hope that "this plane will be built correctly while being flown" is baseless.  

Why does United States hold out PISA as an indicator of educational standings? 

"In the U.S., the National Assessment of Educational Progress administers a national test and reports results.  Analysis is primarily conducted by independent consumers of the data.  Officials from NAEP or the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) do not speculate as to why particular states score at the top of NAEP league tables or recommend that states adopt particular policies to improve their performance.  It is strange that the U.S. participates in an international test that violates the constraints it imposes on its own national assessment."

Arguments supporting education "reform" in America have ALL been based on claims that American students must be competitive both nationally and globally.  NAEP and PISA test statistics have been incompletely and inaccurately reported by those promoting reform in order to build their SINGLE basis for the need for their method of education reform - fabricated 
wholesale failure of our system of public education.  NAEP statistics have been presented exclusive of the variables necessary for a useful analysis - socio-economic status (poverty) being a leading indicator.  Now we see undeniable evidence that the same inequities are applied in using PISA stats.  

Promoters of Common Core Standards and its TWO proposed national tests will use the SAME false stats produced by comparing states using student test scores but denying the invalidity of those comparisons because of the many variables that will not be taken into consideration - arguably the two most compelling being poverty and different state-set cut scores.  

There is no HONEST justification for the wholesale condemnation of traditional public education.  It is time that we move from the NCLB failed policies of TESTING instead of TEACHING!  There is great economic benefit to be had from the privatization of public education by both for-profits and non-profits in the BUSINESS of K-12 education, but money gained by these privateers/profiteers equals money lost for sustaining and improving educational opportunities FOR EVERY CHILD who walks through the doors of a public schoolhouse!  

The creation and adoption of Common Core Standards and its associated high stakes standardized tests, PARCC and SBAC, are seriously flawed extensions of previously failed policies promulgated by THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT and its corporate elitist political funders that are unfortunately driving education reform policy.  

We must return to a focus on researched, tested and proven educational standards and policy that promote child-centered curriculum and address the individualized needs of a diverse population.  It must be acknowledged that students enter the classroom with individually 
acquired sets of knowledge, cultural influences, socio-economic variables and individually defined potentialities.  Standardized and strictly paced curricula and a one-size-fits-all nationally standardized testing regime that CANNOT adjust for these individualized variables should be rejected,  and policies should be developed collaboratively at the state and local levels by qualified and experienced practicing educators from pre-K through college level.  

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