Friday, February 13, 2015

PA House Ed Committee Class of 2017

Open Letter to the PA House Education Committee, Class of 2017

Dear PA House Education Committee:

I watched the PA House Education Committee Hearings on February 12, 2015 with anticipation.  As a parent of children in the graduating class of 2017 and beyond, I am extremely concerned about the current graduation requirement of the three Keystone exams.

As I was watching the hearings I felt there was something critical missing from the folks on the PA House Education Committee, the PDE and the SBOE.  While the House Education Committee asked a few excellent questions, and Rep Saylor had a tantrum, was passionate about his role as the PA House Education Committee Chair, it appeared as though the committee members, PDE and SBOE were not aware of the reality of the Keystone exam graduation requirement for students, teachers and schools on a daily basis.  To enable you to understand this, I ask that you put yourselves in the students' positions.

I am writing this letter to invite mandate (per Chapter 4 regulations), each of the members of the PA House Education Committee to take the Keystone exams during the Spring 2015 administration.  I am including John Weiss from the PDE on this letter as he would be able to facilitate this.  Mr. Weiss, please set up a time that the PA House Education Committee, class of 2017, could take the Algebra 1, Literature and Biology Keystone exams during the Spring 2015 Administration, May 13-17.

Prior to taking the Keystone exams in May, House Education Committee members should take the CDT's at least once.  Each CDT is taken over 2 days with a total of 75-90 minutes allotted for each (where their regular schedule will be disrupted).  Since there are 3 required Keystone exams, members should expect to spend a total of about 5 hours over 6 days which would account for one CDT per each of the 3 Keystone exams.  (This would be similar to the situation in which students take CDT's 3-5 times a year which results in a significant loss of instructional time.)

During the hearing the issue of college remedial classes was discussed.  Consider that if students regained some of this lost-to-test-prep-instructional-time in high school, there would be a decrease in the need for college remedial classes.

You are on a camping trip and you leave your chocolate bar outside the tent.  In the morning its gone, who took it?  A.  Your teacher  B.  Your mom  C.  Your classmate  D.  A bear

Results for the Keystone exams will arrive in the fall (4 months after they were taken and when students are already promoted to their next class and grade with different teachers).  The Keystone exams are cut scored which allows for final student result to be subjectively manipulated after student raw scores are in.  The open ended/subjective sections of the Keystone exams are scored by temporary employees of Data Recognition Corporation who are paid $11-$14 an hour.  Although scorers must have proof of a college degree, they are not required to have educational experience or specific backgrounds in Algebra, Literature or Biology.  These are unacceptably low qualifications for grading these high stakes tests that will determine whether or not a student graduates.

As the House education committee members are elected to serve the public, their Keystone exam results will also be made public.  Members who do not score Proficient or Advanced will not be able to vote on any education bills until they pass all three of the Keystone exams.  Only those PA House Education Committee members who have scored Proficient or Advanced on all three Keystones will be considered to be college and career ready capable of having a knowledgeable and genuine discussion of the Keystone graduation requirement.

Members who did not score Proficient or Advanced will be required, per Chapter 4 regulations, to take a remedial class and re-test.  The earliest they could re-test would be during the winter exam window, just as students' retests often occur 6-8 months after they have completed and passed the course (and missed out on elective classes).  Remediation of members will require that 45 minutes of each weekday be spent in a remedial class which will once again create disruptions to their daily schedules.  Depending upon the number of Keystones not passed, this time could be multiplied by a factor of 2 or 3 (per Chapter 4 regulations).

Members will need to find teachers in their districts who are willing to facilitate their state-mandated remediation as this Chapter 4 regulation has been deemed cost-neutral by the PDE and SBOE using Common Core math and developmentally inappropriate close reading strategies.  Many teachers will spend extra time without pay for this state-mandated remediation.  However, since teacher evaluations and School Performance Profile (SPP) are now tied into the Keystone exam results, it should be easy to find teachers who are willing to spend extra time with no pay on Keystone remediation (rather than regular instructional time) to improve or maintain their teacher evaluations and SPP.

Members who do not pass the Keystone exam on their second attempt are mandated by Chapter 4 regulations to do the project-based assessment (PBA), which is not a project at all but a test taken on the computer in modules aligned to the Keystone exams.  To complete the PBA, members would need to spend 45 minutes 3 times a week (possibly 5 times a week), depending on your schedule for all or part of a school year.  This would again, disrupt your schedule and students miss more elective opportunities.  Multiply time spent in a PBA class by a factor of 2 or 3 if you need to take more than one PBA.  Students could spend over 2 hours a day attempting three PBA's on 3 or 5 days a week.

How much lost instructional time and taxpayer money makes this worthwhile??

Note:  College admissions do not consider the Keystone exams in any capacity; however, they DO  consider GPA, SAT/ACT scores and class rank.   If the educational standards are to prepare students to be college and career ready then students would be better prepared for college if teachers could focus more instructional time on coursework to boost GPA and SAT/ACT scores.  Furthermore, students would be better equipped for careers if they participate in elective classes rather than remedial Keystone test prep for courses they've already passed and received credit for.


Who will be affected more by the Keystone graduation requirements?
          A.  The PA House Education Committee
          B.  13, 14, 15 year old boys and girls
          C.  John Weiss
          D.  State Board of Education

Oh, the sample question about the chocolate bar and the bear is an embedded affective domain question.  These types of questions determine what a students beliefs and values are and are embedded in the online state assessments such as (but not limited to) CDT's, Study Island, PSSA's and Keystones.  Each response is given a value that correlates to a personally-held attitude or belief.  For example, if the student chose response A."Your teacher", then the student could be labeled as not respecting authority.  Later in the assessment, a related question would be given with the intention of influencing the student to a desired response.  This intervention into the affective domain is in violation of state and federal policy.

The Standards for Interpersonal Skills that Pennsylvania is using can be found HERE.

Violations of Laws in Pennsylvania
Researched and compiled by Anita Hoge

Data Tracking: Collection of PII, Personally Identifiable Information, on infants, children, families, and teachers identified with the national unique ID contract with the National Center of Education Statistics.

Data Trafficking: Re-disclosing of PII, Personally Identifiable Information, "womb to workforce," to 3rd party contractors through written agreements contracted by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

Treatment and Interventions: Psychological treatment mandated to change personalities, attitudes, values, beliefs, or dispositions through the use of IDEA, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, (Special Education funds), birth through college-aged students, monitored by the national unique ID.

Privacy Violations: Exchange and re-disclosure of PII, Personally Identifiable Information, without the knowledge or consent of parents

Violations of the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment: 
PPRA, federal violations of law; Psychiatric or psychological examination, assessment, evaluation, or test; Psychiatric or psychological treatment or intervention used in classrooms without the knowledge of parents.

Basic Education Circular 8-90, Violations of State Policy: PPRA, Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment issued on the state level because of the Anita Hoge Complaint against the EQA, Pennsylvania Educational Quality Assessment.

Pennsylvania Chapter 4: Release of Personally Identifiable Information:
Pennsylvania Department of Education disclosing (PII) Personally Identifiable Information, and divulged to 3rd party contractors in violation of Chapter 4.51, Assessment (e) and (f)

Civil Rights Violations: Interventions, treatment, and re-education of attitudes, values, dispositions, and beliefs of children in profound violation of 1st Amendment protections and rights, which guarantees 'right of conscience' and the 4th Amendment, 'to be secure in their persons.'

Public Law 103-33, General Education Provisions Act, Sec 432: Federal Government is supervising and directing curriculum creating a "model curriculum," nationalizing education.

Malpractice and Maltreatment Abuses Of Teachers and Preschool caregivers:
Teachers and preschool caregivers, (exceeding their professional certifications), are required to screen, evaluate, perform anecdotal behavioral assessments, and implement psychological remediation of the child's attitudes, values, beliefs, and dispositions to comply with global initiatives defined by Department of Labor SCANS Report, creating the process of "supply-chain management to humans."

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