Browsing articles in "Assessments + Testing"
Mar 15, 2019

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

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SEL parameters will be shared with a large international organization (OECD), which does not comply with even the weak, outdated data privacy provisions of FERPA.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.

The National Pulse: Looking Ahead: 4 Predictions for Education Policy in 2018

by Dr. Karen Effrem, MD

Happy New Year! Here is a brief update on federal education issues we were following before Christmas and some predictions as 2018 begins. As always, the contrast between policies that uphold the Constitution, academic excellence, parental rights, and data privacy versus those that expand big government control and corporate interests, using the student as mere widgets in the labor supply pipeline, is stark.

The National Pulse: Will Congress Spend Big on This Failed Education Program in 2018?

by Dr. Karen Effrem, MD

The corporations, foundations, investors, and politicians funded by them have been working hard this year to promote competency-based education (CBE), also called personalized learning, as well as its evil sibling, social-emotional learning (SEL). CBE, although poorly defined by proponents, is essentially machine-based learning with constant assessment, including SEL assessment and profiling, to track students into higher education and workforce futures by inaccurate and inhuman computer-generated algorithms. Unfortunately, that also includes the Higher Education Act, now called the PROSPER Act, discussed in last week’s article. Here is the promised review of the CBE aspects of that bill.

The National Pulse: Grading the GOP’s Latest Education Bill: Needs Improvement (on Data Privacy)

by Dr. Karen Effrem, MD

The House Education and Workforce Committee completed their mark-up last week of HR 4508, which they have named the Promoting Real Opportunity, Success, and Prosperity through Education Reform (PROSPER) Act. Here is an update on the data privacy implications of this bill.

The good news is that the ban on a student unit-record system is still in place. The previously proposed College Transparency Act would have allowed non-consensual tracking of personally identifiable information from college through the workforce by monitoring individual data from the colleges and universities, the IRS, and the military. (See also here and here for more details.) Committee chairwoman Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) deserves great thanks and kudos for authoring that ban in the last version of the Higher Education Act and for keeping it in place in PROSPER.