Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Opt Out Letters 2016-2017

Letter for online programs and assessments such as PSSA and keystone exam test prep, CASEL, surveys, questionnaires etc.


I am writing to inform you that [my child] be excused from all CDT, Study Island and any other computer assessments, questionnaires, surveys and programs.  If there is a computerized assessment or program my [son/daughter] must take, I require prior written parental informed consent.  I would also request an anonymous student login where [his/her] name or student ID is not attached or paper/pencil assessment where data mining would be limited. 

Please remove my child from any and all CASEL programs, including, but not limited to the programs listed below.

After much research regarding common core, Pennsylvania’s statewide longitudinal data system and its collection and sharing requirements, I have become even more suspicious and skeptical on the state's ability to secure data.  Since my [son/daughter] is not of legal age to legally bind [herself/himself] to ownership of [her/his] personal data, that responsibility falls on [her/his] parents.  Since the Pennsylvania Department of Education will not allow parents to opt out of the increasingly invasive data collection through PIMS I will remove [him/her] from the means for data collection. 

I am sure you can appreciate my desire to protect [name] from the possibility of identity theft at an early age.  While I do have concerns with the educational value, security and privacy of the common core aligned CDT, Study Island, GAFE (Google Apps For Education) and especially the new CASEL programs, my biggest concern with electronic assessments is data collection and privacy of my minor child and the adverse repercussions of personal data on college and career opportunities.



Source and descriptions of programs:


Thursday, August 11, 2016

Keystone Graduation Requirement Changes

The Pennsylvania Department of Education had to respond to the issues around the Keystone exam requirement and the PBA.  THIS IS THEIR REPORT, which needs to go to the general assembly for a vote.  Once it does, students will have four options to get through the Keystone exams.

This is the PDE recommendations from page 3 of the above linked report:

  1. Adopt and implement four options for students to demonstrate postsecondary readiness as follows:
    1. Option 1: Achieve an identified composite score, based on performance across all three
      Keystone exams (Algebra I, Biology and Literature);
    2. Option 2: Achieve equivalent score(s) in standards-based subject matter content area(s) on one
      of the alternate assessments approved by PDE;
    3. Option 3: Demonstrate competency in standards-based subject matter content through course
      grades or assessments plus, for students who are identified as Career and Technical Education (CTE) Concentrators, demonstrate evidence of readiness for postsecondary success through National Occupancy Competency Testing Institute (NOCTI)/National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS) Skills assessments or Competency Certificates; and
    4. Option 4: Demonstrate competency in standards-based subject matter content through course grades or assessments plus evidence related to postsecondary plans that demonstrate readiness to meaningfully engage in those plans.
  2. Discontinue the use of Project Based Assessments as an option for meeting state graduation requirements.
  3. Allow local education agencies (LEA) to determine whether or not to include Keystone exam scores on student transcripts. 


Thursday, April 28, 2016

ACTION: Keystone Exam Grad Requirement for 2016, 2017 & 2018

Senator Dinniman firmly asserts that students in the class of 2016, 2017 and 2018 cannot be required to pass the Keystone exam for a graduation requirement due to the passing of SB 880. School districts cannot make a local decision on this. SB 880 is the law of the state and overrides local school districts decision to use the Keystone exam as a graduation requirement. 

If you are having issues with your school district about the Keystone exam graduation requirement, email: optoutpatest@gmail.com the below information and I will forward to Senator Dinniman:


  1. School district
  2. Year student graduates 
  3. Link to your school website where it states they are still requiring students in 2016, 2017 and 2018 to pass the KE as a grad requirement (if applicable)
  4. A statement of your situation
Sample statement (can be as short or long as you are comfortable with):  
My daughter is in the class of 2017 and is required to either pass the Keystone exam or take a class her senior year that would cover the content of Biology.  This means she would miss out on an elective that she was looking forward to.  She has taken the Biology KE twice and didn't score proficient, however her grade in Biololgy class was a B.


These will be forwarded to Senator Dinniman over the next couple of days and he is going to handle this as soon as they get back in session on May 4th. 

Sunday, March 27, 2016

CBE - Competency Based Education

In PA we currently have CBE in the form of CDT’s and Study Island which are given to students in grades 3-12 and PBA (Project Based Assessment, or in the form of a remedial class where students must score 70% or higher to pass and used as a graduation requirement) , which are given to students (generally in high school) if they don’t score proficient in the Keystone Exams.  

What CBE means for students in Pennsylvania, is MORE time doing these electronic programs, many created like ‘gaming’ video games to keep students interest.  Students would be on electronic devices for many hours a day while in school.  They would proceed on these online programs until they attain “proficiency”, no matter if it takes weeks or months on a certain module.  This also means teachers would no longer be teaching, they would be reduced  to facilitators, with minimal interaction with students.  

There are health concerns with the time spent using electronic devices and there are concerns with the decline of social interaction between students and their peers.  The most dangerous aspect is data mining and privacy as everything a student does on the computer will be collected and shared.

Snapshot - Global Education 2015-2035 HERE

Parents Beware
Across the country, states are adopting corporate-driven policies to experiment with “competency-based” and “personalized learning,” even though there is no sound research proving that these are effective educational models.
Complete article HERE

Personalized Learning:  How Big is the Beast?

With its reliance on one-to-one digital devices, digital courseware, artificial intelligence, and massive data collection, personalized learning promises to reap big rewards for investors and corporate executives.  Just how big is the beast? Let’s take a look.  Complete article HERE

Pearson: Competency-based education will replace standardized testing

The Pearson Publishing Company has explicitly stated that their new competency-based programs, now in development, will replace standardized testing. "With ongoing AIEd (Artificial Intelligence Education) analysis of a student’s learning activities, there will be no need for the stop-and-test approach that characterizes many current assessments."  Compete article HERE

The Most Intrusive Technology of All Time
The Pearson Publishing Company has suggested that technology not only be used to teach content, as in competency-based programs, but should, at the same time, evaluate students' emotional states (Luckin et. al., p. 25).  This is without question the most intrusive idea I have ever seen, not only in education but anywhere.  Complete article HERE

Computers in class 'a scandalous waste of time'
“I’ve seen so many schools with limited budgets spending a disproportionate amount of their money on technology that doesn’t really bring any measurable, or non-measurable, benefits,’’ he said.
“Schools have spent hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars­ on interactive whiteboards, digital projectors, and now they’re all being jettisoned.’’  Complete article HERE

The Future Of Education Is A Very Dark Place. The Future Is Now

Why was 2015-2016 so important for education?  If you haven’t been paying attention, there is a flurry of activity going on with more changes than any one person can keep track of.  These events were planned years ago.  Some say 2007, but I estimate much of this has been planned since 1992.  There are more political and corporate players involved in these agendas then we can imagine.  It is a cabal of billionaires and futurists carefully and methodically transforming society to their warped ideals.  Complete article HERE

Future Agenda's for Global Education
“The coming decades will see an era of the most radical changes in education since the appearance of national education systems. And the source of these changes will not be in the educational system itself, but rather it will be driven primarily by industries: digital technologies, healthcare, and finance.”  Complete article HERE

Global Education Futures Forum HERE 

Resources for more information on CBE:
Save Maine Schools - Emily Talmage
SKrashen - S. Krashen

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

PSSA Opt Out 2016

This post contains information on how to opt out of the PSSA's and FAQ.

Join this Facebook group if you are interested in connecting with other parents in PA who are considering opting out to share and discuss issues relating to PA opt out.

How to Opt Out of the PSSA's

STEP 1:  Parent sends letter to the building principal that you plan to opt out.
STEP 2:  Parent reviews test at school.  
STEP 3:  Parent sends another letter stating that you have reviewed the test and are opting out for religious beliefs.

Please note that the only reason for opting out is religious beliefs and you do not need to provide any specific details as to what your religious beliefs are, just state "for religious beliefs".  Also, letters can be mailed or emailed.  I like emails because then you have record that it was sent.

STEP 1:  Parent sends letter to the building principal that you plan to opt out.
SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear Superintendent,
Pursuant to Pennsylvania Code Title 22 Chapter 4, section 4.4 (d)(4) I am hereby exercising my right as a parent to have my child, [NAME], excused from PSSA testing because of religious beliefs.
Sincerely,
STEP 2:  Parent reviews test at school.
Two weeks prior to the testing window, exams must be made available for review.  School districts must provide a convenient time for the review.  Parents will need sign the 'Parent Confidentiality Agreement' that simply states they will not share what is on the test with anyone

STEP 3:  Parent sends another letter stating that you have reviewed the test and are opting out for religious beliefs.  This letter can be handed in at the time you review the PSSA.
SAMPLE LETTER:  
Dear Superintendent,
On [Date] I had the opportunity to review the PSSA test and pursuant to Pennsylvania Code Title 22 Chapter 4, section 4.4 (d)(4) I am hereby exercising my right as a parent to have my child, [Name] excused from PSSA testing because of religious beliefs.  
Sincerely,
Superintendent reviews the request and this request cannot be denied.

School personnel must provide an alternative learning environment for the student during the assessment and complete the “Non-Assessed Students” grid by selecting “Student had a parental request for exclusion from the assessment.”

PSSA Opt Out - Frequently Asked Questions

1.  Do I need to explain my religious beliefs with specific questions from the PSSA test on my opt out letter?

No.  A parent simply states "because of religious beliefs."  Once a parent reviews the PSSA, this is all that needs to be included in the letter:
On [Date] I had the opportunity to review the PSSA test and pursuant to Pennsylvania Code Title 22 Chapter 4, section 4.4 (d)(4) I am hereby exercising my right as a parent to have my child, [Name] excused from PSSA testing because of religious beliefs.  
Parents must sign a confidentiality agreement. If they state anything specific from the PSSA test, THEY WILL BREACH THE CONFIDENTIALITY AGREEMENT. Parents cannot, by nature of the confidentiality agreement, write specifically what they oppose for religious reasons on the PSSA test.

The Pennsylvania Department of Education explains this, see page 4, question 10 at  Chapter 4 FAQ.
So, as long as a parent or guardian reviews the state assessment and provides a written statement providing his/her written objection for religious purposes (however vague that objection may be), the child must be excused from the assessment. PDE will not provide an opinion as to what is a proper religious objection.
  
This false statement, and other similar false statements have been given to parents from their school districts:
The Pennsylvania Department of Education has made it clear that any objection to the testing materials for religious reasons must be specific in nature, must note the specific question or questions that are objectionable and the specific, religious reason for your objection. Please note a general statement of religious objection does not meet the intention of this review and will not be considered for possible exemption.
 2.  My child is opted out of the PSSA testing, what will they do while their classmates are taking the PSSA's?

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) on page 9 of the PSSA Handbook. :
If the student is excused from the assessment due to parental or guardian request, school personnel must provide an alternative learning environment for the student during the assessment and select “Student had a parental request for exclusion from the assessment."
3.  When can I schedule to review the PSSA?  My school district has offered limited hours which makes it difficult for me to schedule a time to review.  

From page 9 of the 2015 PSSA Handbook for Assessment Coordinators:
Districts must provide a convenient time for the review. This may include an evening review time, if requested.




Tuesday, March 8, 2016

PDE Clarification on SB 880


Subject: Penn*Link FAQ: Clarification of Senate Bill 880 Impact on Schools

* DUE TO SOME SCHOOL DISTRICTS NOT RECEIVING HTML FORMATTED PennLinks, WE ARE SENDING THIS OUT IN BOTH FORMATS (HTML and PLAIN TEXT)*

Pennsylvania Department of Education
Bureau of Curriculum, Assessment and Instruction
March 7, 2016
Penn*Link Message

To:    School Districts
    Career and Technical Centers
    Charter Schools
    Private and Non-Public Schools
    Intermediate Units
    PaTTAN
    Higher Education Institutions

From:    Jean Inskip, Director
 
Re:    FAQ: Clarification of Senate Bill 880 Impact on Schools

On February 3, 2016, Governor Wolf signed Senate Bill 880 into law. In addition to delaying the use of Keystone Exams or the Project Based Assessments as graduation requirements until the 2018-2019 school year, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) has been charged with the following:

- Implement alternative methods for students to demonstrate proficiency for graduation in addition to the Keystone Exams, Project Based Assessment and other alternative assessments provided for in 22 Pa. Code § 4.24.
- Improve and expedite the evaluation of Project Based Assessments.
- Ensure that no student is prohibited from participation in vocational-technical education or elective courses or programs as a result of supplemental instruction as required in § 22 Pa. Code §§ 4.24 (k) and 4.51B (f).

To provide direction to LEAs, PDE provides the following Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) to clarify the implications of SB 880.

Questions may be directed to jinskip@pa.gov.

CHAPTER 4 SB 880 UPDATE FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Introduction
With Senate Bill 880 signed into law by Governor Wolf on February 3, 2016, the use of Keystone Exams as a state graduation requirement or as a benchmark for the need for participation in a Project Based Assessment is delayed until the 2018-2019 school year.

The FAQs below are designed to clarify the implications of SB 880 and provide guidance for LEAs.

This Frequently Asked Questions document is designed to address the impact on students who will graduate prior to 2019.

1.    Is participation in the Keystone Exams still required?

The federal requirements regarding state assessments have not changed.  While students graduating prior to 2019 are no longer required to demonstrate proficiency on the Keystone Exams in order to meet the state graduation requirements, participation in the state assessments     remains a federal requirement.
2.    Given SB 880, what graduation requirements remain for students in the graduating classes of 2017 and 2018?  
The following modified Chapter 4 requirements shall apply:     •    Course completion and grades.
    •    Demonstration of proficiency as determined by the school district, charter school (including a cyber charter school) or AVTS, if applicable, in each of the state academic standards not assessed by a state assessment under § 4.51, § 4.51a or § 4.51b (relating to state assessment system; Pennsylvania System of School Assessment; and Keystone Exams).
Note:  The paragraph above should also apply to the English Language Arts and Mathematics; Science and Technology and Environment and Ecology standards based upon the two-year delay provided by Senate Bill 880.

3.  If a student is graduating prior to 2019 and has not achieved proficiency on a Keystone Exam, is supplemental instruction still required?

 Schools shall offer supplemental instruction but students are not required to participate.  The design of supplemental instruction remains a local decision.
4.    May a school use Project Based Assessments (PBAs) as supplemental instruction?
If a student elects to receive supplemental instruction, the PBA is a viable option.  Note, however, that the evaluation of the project will conclude with the tutor’s evaluation.  No outside evaluation will occur.
5.    May a school continue to use Project Based Assessments (PBAs) for students who have not scored at a proficient level?
The PBA will be available as an option for schools; however, the evaluation of the project will conclude with the tutor’s evaluation.  No outside evaluation will occur. (Please note that all PBAs that have been submitted or are in progress will still be scored by PDE.)
6.    If a student is graduating prior to 2019 and has not achieved proficiency on a Keystone Exam after one administration, is a retest required?
Retesting is not required; however, a student may retest.  If a student does retest, the school must offer supplemental instruction prior to the retesting.
7.    What requirements are in place regarding transcripts?
   
Chapter 4 requirements regarding transcripts are still applicable:
§ 4.24. High school graduation requirements. Beginning in the 2016-2017 school year, the performance level demonstrated in each of the academic standards in subsections (c)—(e) shall be included on student transcripts. The information presented on a transcript must include the highest performance level demonstrated by a student on the associated Keystone Exam, validated local assessment or project-based assessment at the time the transcript is produced.
8.    If a student has scored a satisfactory mark on a Project Based Assessment (PBA), may the transcript reflect a proficient mark?
 If a student successfully completes a PBA, the transcript may be revised to reflect Proficient.
9.    In summary, what parts of Chapter 4 are suspended?
The following highlights the impact of the moratorium on students graduating in 2017 and 2018:     •    The state graduation requirement to demonstrate proficiency on the associated Keystone Exam or related Project Based Assessment is suspended.     •    The administration of Project Based Assessments for students not proficient after two Keystone attempts is not required.     •    Student participation in supplemental instruction is no longer required; however, a school must offer supplemental instruction as an option. (See #3 and 6 above.)
10.    Looking ahead, what options will be available to students to meet the state graduation requirements after the expiration of the moratorium?
As required by SB 880, PDE has been charged with investigating and developing alternatives in addition to the use of the Keystone Exams as a requirement for graduation and shall within six months issue a report of its findings and recommendations to the General Assembly     regarding the following:     
•    Implement alternative methods for students to demonstrate proficiency for graduation in addition to Keystone Exams, Project Based Assessments and other alternatives provided for in Chapter 4. 
•    Improve and expedite the evaluation of Project Based Assessments.     
•    Ensure that no student is prohibited from participation in vocational-technical education or elective courses or programs as a result of supplemental instruction.
PDE will be implementing an outreach plan to solicit feedback from stakeholders across the state to accomplish these tasks.
11.    If a student who is graduating in 2017 or 2018 opts out of the Keystone Exams, does he/she go on to complete a PBA?
    The PBA is not required.
12.    Does the 10 percent waiver apply?
 Since the state graduation requirement has been suspended, the waiver does not apply.