Mar 15, 2019

Invasive International Survey Targeting Pre-K Students Is Coming to U.S.

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This article written by Dr. Karen Effrem for The National Pulse details the international survey titled the International Early Learning Survey (IELS), and how the questions it asks inherently violates the privacy of Pre-K students.

It is important to note that this assessment will be conducted via digital media.

The comments submitted by Education Liberty Watch about this study outline several major problems:

1.) The compelling evidence of ineffectiveness and or harm (also here) of early childhood programs, especially government-sponsored ones, as admitted even by proponent researchers, renders the need for yet another taxpayer-funded study completely moot.

2.) As extensively discussed in our new research paper, “Social-Emotional Learning: K-12 Education as New Age Nanny State,” there is significant subjectivity in the questions asked of these young children and very thin to non-existent scientific support for social-emotional assessments and SEL programs in general in young children. After all, SEL has been a prominent part of Head Start and early childhood programs for many years, yet many studies have shown early childhood programs to be at best ineffective and at worst harmful, as described above.

3.) There are clear ties of SEL to Common Core, which hundreds of early childhood experts have rightly declared developmentally inappropriate.

4.) The data privacy concerns are extremely significant, as the U.S. Department of Education (which houses the National Center for Education Statistics that will be conducting this study) has shown itself utterly incapable of protecting student data, and this data on sensitive SEL parameters will be shared with a large international organization (OECD), which does not comply with even the weak, outdated data privacy provisions of FERPA.

5.) This data gathering violates multiple U.S. Supreme Court precedents placing parents in charge of the raising, education, and other care of children, including social-emotional care.

Early childhood experts have criticized this effort globally. Here are a couple of examples:

Early-childhood experts from at least 25 different nations oppose OECD’s IELS, questioning “whether political and corporate profit interests are being privileged over valid research, children’s rights and meaningful evaluation.” They also argue that “the motives and interests driving international standardised assessment and its underlying assumptions need to be questioned at all levels.” They “disagree with an approach that conceptualizes and instrumentalises early childhood education and care mainly as preparation for the following stages of formal education, and as tool [sic] for achieving long- term economic outcomes—which are in itself questionable or unsubstantiated.”

According to Education Dive, a very pro-early childhood and workforce education reform publication, another early childhood expert questioned whether social-emotional skills can be measured through digital media. “Once again, we have opened Pandora’s box,” he wrote. “If more and more countries participate in this study — as I expect will happen in the long term — we will see a further narrowing and standardization of early-childhood education. There will be no room for culturally and contextually sensitive comparison and discourse.”

There is clear evidence that these assessments represent OECD’s goal to expand student surveillance beyond the school and into home and family life.

The full article can be viewed on The National Pulse’s website.

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