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Another ‘fill in the blank’ op-ed from Fordham for the states not aligning to its vision of ed reform? It’s so hard being an ed reformer these days.


Watch for an editorial in your state’s news outlets from The Fordham Institute bemoaning the lack of SBAC/PARCC testing in your state.  In the past, Fordham has had almost identical articles appear in various newspapers, edited only to reflect states’ particular unique information.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch printed the latest piece from Fordham critical of the state’s decision not to use SBAC assessments.  From Missouri may have erred in going alone on testing:

Last year, Missouri policymakers made a hasty decision to go it alone on standardized testing, pulling out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, a coalition of more than 20 states working together to develop a Common Core-aligned test. States are — and should be — in charge of such matters, and the authority of local lawmakers should be respected. But, it’s worth asking whether this particular decision did a disservice to Missouri’s children.

That’s one possible inference from a new study published by our organization, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute — the first independent, comprehensive evaluation ever undertaken of Smarter Balanced and competing tests. Our analysts — highly experienced educators and content and assessment experts — found that SBAC indeed delivers on its promise to be a high-quality, challenging test that’s well matched to the new standards that Missouri and most other states adopted in 2010.


His first point of misinformation is writing that Missouri policymakers made a ‘hasty decision’ and pulled ‘out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium’.  As the consortium was deemed illegal by a court, whether the legislature pulled out of SBAC or not is moot.  It’s an illegal partnership.

Read the rest of the editorial in which Petrilli contends Fordam’s ‘independent’ evaluation of the SBAC shows “SBAC indeed delivers on its promise to be a high-quality, challenging test that’s well matched to the new standards that Missouri and most other states adopted in 2010.”  The misinformation continues.  See how many talking points you can rebut.


The Post-Dispatch would welcome your thoughts about Fordham’s latest lecture about what Missouri should be doing, using SBAC tests, even as this has been deemed to be illegal.  Here is MEW’s response to the Post-Dispatch.  How many of you had seen the “Fordham Danctitute” video from 2011?  Apparently it’s quite demanding being a policy think-tank reformer and not being appreciated:



Once again, Mr. Petrilli of Fordham is advising Missouri on what it should do in education. For those of you unaware of Mr. Petrilli and Fordham, check out these videos of his ‘irresistible charm’ (those are his own words):



and the subsequent ‘What Does Gadfly Say’, mentioning the education reformers who are now in charge of deciding what Missouri education should look like which is ‘common common common core’:


Don’t feel bad if you aren’t on first name basis with those behind the masks. Many are the educational elites are employed by NGOs and/or think tanks supported by the NGOs and those with a financial interest in seeing standardized tests and data mining necessary for the Common Core mandates. Those ed reformers in the video ridiculed by Petrilli are against CCSS.


Fordham has received funding from Bill Gates to further CCSS and the centralization of education:

“Other notable corporate reform entities receiving Gates money for operating support include Common Core State Standards (CCSS) mouthpiece, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, with an established Gates-money operating-support relationship in the form of three grants, and all after CCSS made its June 1010 debut: $500,000 in June 2011; $1 million in April 2013, and a fresh infusion of $1.1 million in April 2015.

The Fordham Institute is inextricably connected to the Fordham Foundation, which had $52 million in total assets at the end of 2013, according to the Fordham Foundation 2013 990. So, taking operating support from Gates for the Fordham Institute appears to be a matter of taking the cash because the cash was offered.

Political alliance cement in the name of “We’ll be able to do so much more.”


How it presents itself as performing the ‘first independent, comprehensive evaluation’ should require an explanation on how it is independent it truly is. Petrilli writes that “highly experienced educators and content and assessment experts found that SBAC indeed delivers on its promise to be a high-quality, challenging test.” Who ARE these educators and content/assessment experts? Are they also paid by The Gates Foundation, Carnegie, Walton, Kauffmann, etc? The SBAC has NOT been validated as Missouri statute demands of tests used in the public schools, so the action taken by the Legislature was appropriate.   (He also fails to mention that MO’s consortium agreement was ruled illegal by the court). Petrilli’s statement that it is a high-quality, challenging test is in serious dispute:

“This new test is not smarter than the old test and it is certainly not balanced. Instead, as the following graph shows, the SBAC test is deliberately designed to fail about 70% of the students who take the test (yellow and red).”

“The state’s largest teachers’ union has passed a motion to support parents and students who opt out of statewide standardized tests. The union also promotes opting out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium state test coming next school year to align with the new Common Core State Standards.”

“More substantive, but much less flashy, has been states leaving the tests that would be the linchpins of nationalization. The US Department of Education selected and paid for the work of two testing consortia – the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) – and the tests were to be the keys to making sure Common Core was both truly used – what gets tested is what gets taught – and set nationally comparable performance levels. But the consortia have crumbled.

SBAC, when it was awarded Race to the Top dollars, had 31 states as members. Today, it has 18 member states. PARCC started out with 25 states and DC. It is now down to 11 and DC, with Arkansas, Mississippi, and Ohio officially set to leave even that small group, and PARCC possibly on the ropes in Massachusetts. Adding to the testing woes are massive opt-outs in New York and to lesser extents in other states, and states gaming “shared” performance targets.”


If Mr. Petrilli had doled out this advice to states before the unvalidated SBAC and PARCC assessments were ‘offered’ via the CCSS MOUs, there would not be as much current consternation in the states on testing. He now contends that the assessments have been validated 4 years later by his organization so Missouri should now use them. That statement is disingenuous and about as ridiculous as his videos. Where was the concern about the SBAC tests being validated and content experts consulted four years ago? Maybe Mr. Petrilli (as he stated in his first video entitled “Fordham Dancetitute”) “bored by the monotony of this policy think-tank gig” should take his “irresistible charm and rock star talents” which are being “wasted and squandered at his job” and dance his way out of Missouri’s educational direction and policy.




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