children as numbers
SBAC Director Joe Wilhoft:  “In the end, (all these kids) are just numbers to us”


A Common Core meeting is being held today and tomorrow, but the taxpayers who fund the private organizations crafting the standards are discovering they have limited information on implementation and long term cost.  From Florida Stop Core Coalition:

The Council Of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), one of the major developers and one of the two copyright holders of the Common Core standards is holding a meeting in Orlando this week:

Dec 3-4 Supporting Principal Effectiveness in Leading Teacher Evaluation and Supports and Common Core Implementation
Orlando, FL Shannon Glynn 202-326-8694

The introductory paragraph on the meetings page actually contains this very unfriendly, “untransparent” sentence letting the parents, taxpayers and elected policy makers of forty-five states know exactly where they stand in the implementation of Common Core:

CCSSO meetings are closed to the public and attendance is by invitation only unless otherwise denoted. (Emphasis in original).
Read more here.
In Missouri we were able to attend a public meeting of the SBAC state chiefs and Director Joe Wilhoft in September 2012.  No questions were allowed from the audience.   That meeting was structured as a school board meeting: one can observe the board’s deliberation but there was no active audience participation allowed. You can find that report here.
Last week I received a report from an attendee on the Smarter Balanced Chiefs meeting held in Nevada in November 2013.  What you will read below from this mom’s notes might be the reason the Orlando Common Core meeting is closed to those not receiving an invitation.  Questions were allowed from the audience after the presentation but the chiefs and Joe Wilhoft were genuinely surprised with some in attendance:
It was clear they were not expecting parents in the room.  We were asked three times how we found out about the meeting.
Of the 46 attendees – 7 of us were (uninvited) parents (I came within an inch of introducing myself as Director of Human Capital Development!) the remainder were from the District and two were members of our State Board, neither of whom spoke a word.

Wilhoft allowed for questions throughout the presentation but was curbed by the representatives from Nevada Succeeds who hosted the event.  I’m guessing for purposes of time.  One parent asked a number of questions specific to the practice test.  Wilhoft answered a couple but became impatient and told her he would have to move along.  Also, he started to get into the number of states in PARCC and was hushed along – curious.
In the end – the District employees asked two softball questions.  The parents posed all the tough or, at least, substantial, questions.


Following is a summary of Wilhoft’s power point presentation which you can find here:

On Friday 22 November 2013

Nevada Succeeds hosted

Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortia

Las Vegas.


Following is a summation of the Power Point presentation:

Dr. Wilhoft, Executive Director of SBAC gave the presentation which highlighted –

  •  Supporting students into readiness for the workforce or college.


  • Helping students and educators move toward success into College and Career readiness.


  • Review of the current number of states in the consortia, Nevada is a governing state.  Washington is the Fiscal Agent for the consortia.


  • SBAC will have support for teachers with classroom based assessments to improve Formative instruction.


  • The Computer Adaptive Test (CAT) was reviewed.  It will adapt as the student answers each question.  If the difficulty of the test is high for the student (judge by the computer based on the student’s answers), the computer will “adapt” and lower its level of questions.  Inversely it will do the same if the student is seemingly answering all the questions without effort.


  • A second test called The Performance Test gives the student a scenario or problem that asks the student to respond to that problem.


  • SBAC will have five-eight (5-8) Interim tests per grade/per subject to be taken throughout the year.  With a Summative test to be taken at the end of the year.


  • Teachers will have access to the Interim tests.  Teachers will not be allowed to see the Summative test.


  • Field tests are currently scheduled for February through June of 2014 for grades 3-8 and 11.  The testing time-length for these tests are estimated at 4 to 8 ½ hours depending on the grade of the student.


  • The funding from the federal government built the platform for the tests but the states will buy the testing packages – available in 2014-2015.


  • Test data will be given to the US Department of Education per the Cooperative Agreement between SBAC and the USDoE.


  • Paper/pencil will be available for 3 years.  Costly.


Questions & Answers


  • Dr. Wilhoft opened the presentation by saying that there is “no research showing that tests actually help improve any educational program but this is what he was asked to do.”  He cited Finland as having the “highest quality educational system” and if we modeled ourselves after that country “(he) wouldn’t even need to be in the room.”


  • When asked if the questions on the test were being validated Wilhoft answered, “oh yes, we use contractors and sub-contractors and, in fact, we use a company called HumRRO” (which focuses on evaluation of item procurement options).



  • When asked about the timing of Junior students being tested a Clark County District employee answered, “The State will decide that.”


  • When asked if the student’s results would be made available to the parents.  Whilhoft said, “A report is given to the state.”  (State Board members present at the meeting did not say whether they would be passing the reports along to the parents.)


  • When asked about data being given to the federal government, Wilhoft stated, “Only aggregate data” will be given.  When asked if that was all?  Wilhoft appeared confused and responded, “Why would they want all that data?  We only send aggregate data.  I know this sounds crass, but in the end, (all these kids) are just numbers to us.” 


The parent writes:

Met with a Congressman this morning who stated the complete opposite of Wilhoft.  He said that we have been sending disaggregate data to the feds for years under NCLB.  He couldn’t say for sure that it included the detailed information that we are concerned with today but he was sure we have been sending SS, ethnicity, possibly religion (if known or volunteered), parental information, grades. 












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