The National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB) is planning to assess non-academic social and emotional “mindsets” like “grit” as well as school climate in next year’s National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Here is a summary of the many problems with this approach with details available at Mindsets in NAEP – final:
It is unconstitutional – There is NO constitutional, statutory or moral authority for the federal government to conduct psychological research on innocent American school children via what is supposed to be an academic test.
It violates federal statute prohibiting such activity in one or both of two ways.
It goes against several Supreme Court precedents affirming parent’s inherent rights to direct the education and upbringing of their children.
These types of questions are highly subjective as admitted by leading experts and organizations in the fields of education and mental health.
Because of the weak and gutted federal privacy law, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), this very sensitive data can be shared with various agencies of the federal government and third parties and re-disclosed and used for “predictive tests,” which are notoriously subjective and incorrect.
This subjective, allegedly predictive data may then well be used to make life altering decisions for children affecting college entrance, employment, etc.
According to information uncovered at recent US House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearings, the state of data security at the US Department of Education is appallingly bad, so this sensitive data that the government should not have in the first place is not safe from hackers.
It seems that members of Congress and parents’ rights legal firms are starting to get interested in this situation. Please contact your US Senators and members of the US House of Representatives and ask them to oppose this illegal and unconstitutional plan via the power of the purse, especially if they are on the following committees:
Thank you and stay tuned!
Robert Holland interviewed Dr. Karen Effrem about the growing dangers of federal psychological profiling in multiple federal education programs in an excellent article entitled Do Parents Want Their Children on Uncle Shrink’s Couch?. He discussed how the US Department of Education is psychologically profiling our children in preschool programs like Race to the Top, Head Start, and now ESSA; via the reauthorization of the federal education research bill, SETRA (Strengthening Education Through Research Act – S 227), and planning to test subjective, non-academic, psychosocial “mindsets” via the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). The government’s term for all of this is social emotional learning (SEL). We have frequently discussed this topic in relation to child mental screening, Common Core, and preschool. Here are some excerpts:
One of the most influential ways the federal government is molding young minds is through “social and emotional learning” (SEL) programs, a prominent feature of the omnibus Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which was signed into law by President Barack Obama in December 2015.
SEL has no clear definition in federal law, but many education sites tout SEL as instilling in students the necessary attitudes and skills that will supposedly enable them to manage their emotions, which in turn theoretically helps them do good things, such as showing empathy for others.
Very much in the same vein is the Strengthening Research Through Education Act (SETRA), which is currently being considered by Congress and will likely be passed soon. SETRA is a reauthorization of a George W. Bush-era law that extended the U.S. Education Department’s research arm into the collection of personal data about students and also authorized the use of linked state longitudinal databases.
Proceeding so far with minimal debate in Washington, DC, SETRA would expand federal education research to pupils’ “social and emotional learning, and the acquisition of competencies and skills, including the ability to think critically, solve complex problems, evaluate evidence, and communicate effectively.”
This kind of subjective probing of children’s attitudes, beliefs, and behavior amounts to psychological profiling that (thanks to electronic dossiers) could haunt an individual throughout a lifetime.
Dr. Karen Effrem, a pediatrician who has tracked this trend for years as the president of Education Liberty Watch, laments, “Parents are expected to submit their children to this kind of government profiling and psychological experimentation with no explanation, no way to express concern, [and no way to] opt their children out.”
Effrem also says SETRA is incredibly problematic because parents are afforded “no way to see the federally mandated assessments or to find out what private, sensitive psychological data was collected on their children as part of some online assessment and shared with some third-party vendor without their consent.”
Starting with the 2016–17 school year, the exploration of what education theorists call “the affective domain”—meaning feelings and emotions, as opposed to actual thought—will spread to the fairly well-respected National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also called the Nation’s Report Card. A background survey accompanying NAEP will attempt to assess a child’s grit and motivation, among other qualities.
In plain language, this means the government will assess children every single step (or crawl) of the way, from cradle to career, to be certain they acquire all the attitudes, beliefs, and dispositions the omniscient, omnipotent government deems they must have. SEL, baby, SEL.
The plan to assess children and have this life long dossier determine their futures has been the plan for a very long time – at least as far back as Mark Tucker’s infamous 1992 “Dear Hillary” letter:
His vision is “…to remold the entire American system” into “a seamless web that literally extends from cradle to grave and is the same system for everyone” that is coordinated by “a system of labor market boards at the local, state and federal levels” where curriculum and “job matching” will be handled by counselors “accessing the integrated computer-based program.”
It has continued through the tenure of Arne Duncan’s tenure as Secretary of Education:
We must as parents stand together to protect the lives, privacy and futures of our children.
Karen R. Effrem, MD – President
Although there are several major problems with the reauthorization of the Education Sciences Reform Act (ESRA) now called The Strengthening Research Through Education Act (S 227, SETRA), the most pressing and concerning is the expansion of federal education research to psychologically profile our children beginning in preschool:
1) Lack of Constitutionality – The federal government has no constitutional authority (Tenth Amendment) to be involved in education, much less doing research and collecting data on the attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors of our innocent children. The Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution says:
Having the federal government sanction and fund psychological profiling of children is the worst kind of privacy invasion.
2) Subjectivity These parameters are admitted even by experts in the field to be extraordinarily subjective and difficult to define and measure. There is still no agreement about their meaning or even their selection over a period of ten years:
“Lack of longitudinal outcome studies”
“Broad parameters for determining socioemotional outcomes are not clearly defined” (National Center for Infant and Early Childhood Health Policy Addressing Social Emotional Development and Infant Mental Health in Early Childhood Systems 2005 (Emphasis added)
- The Committee learned at the November 17, 2015 hearing that the US Department of Education:
o Continues to be “vulnerable to security threats” according to the IG, and has repeat findings in annually-required FISMA audits;
o Failed to detect a penetration test of its systems conducted by the IG during its FY2015 FISMA audits [Federal Information Modernization Security Act];
o Received an “F” on the Committee’s FITARA scorecard [Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act] .
- The Committee learned at the February 2, 2016 hearing:
o Despite the IG’s evidence to the contrary, Acting Secretary King asserted that Mr. Harris did not violate any law, regulation, policy, or standard of ethical conduct.
o Mr. Harris testified his home theatre installation and car detailing activities were “hobbies” and not businesses. The IG testified that these activities qualified as businesses.
o It was in excess of two years before ED responded to the IG’s initial report of findings and referral for administrative action.
o The Department of Justice (DOJ) declined to prosecute the IG’s criminal referral and deferred to ED leadership for action. Acting Sec. King deemed verbal counseling and a three-page ethics guidance letter as appropriate consequences.
5) Consent Issues – If curriculum and assessments are used to gather this data, will the consent requirements for this socioemotional research be circumvented by that loophole in Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA)? PPRA, cited in section 82 as 20 USC 1232h, prohibits the collection of psychological, political, religious, and other sensitive data in surveys, however, the law says that these prohibitions do not apply to “curriculum and instructional materials” or to “tests and assessments,” such as those required to be aligned to Common Core in most states.
- “In national policy, there is increasing attention on 21st-century competencies (which encompass arange of noncognitive factors, including grit), and persistence is now part of the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics.” (US Office of Educational Technology -emphasis added.)
- “ASCA [American School Counselors Association] Mindsets & Behaviors align with specific standards from the Common Core State Standards through connections at the competency level. (Emphasis added)”
- “[A]s new assessment systems are developed to reflect the new standards in English language arts, mathematics, and science, significant attention will need to be given to the design of tasks and situations that call on students to apply a range of 21st century competencies that are relevant to each discipline. A sustained program of research and development will be required to create assessments that are capable of measuring cognitive, intrapersonal, and interpersonal skills.” (US Office of Educational Technology-emphasis added.)
- “There are important opportunities to leverage new and emerging advances in technology (e.g.,educational data mining, affective computing, online resources, tools for teachers) to develop unprecedented approaches for a wide range of students.” (US Office of Educational Technology -emphasis added.)
For these and many other reasons, please continue to contact your US House member at 202-224-3121 to let them know of the dangers of this bill. Please let them know that not objecting to an unrecorded voice vote or voting yes in a recorded vote will be considered allowing federally sanctioned psychological profiling and invasion of your children.
Thanks to the Pulse 2016 that published Dr. Effrem’s latest article, a review of Jeb Bush’s education plan titled: Six Reasons Jeb’s Plan Fails to End Federal Tyranny in Education. Here is the introduction and list of concerns:
Former Florida Governor and presidential candidate Jeb Bush released his education plan on January 18th. In it, he tries hard to sound like he cares about and supports local control and parental autonomy. In fact, the document, on pre-K through grade 12 issues, is merely a kinder, gentler form of federal tyranny that continues unconstitutional government involvement in pre-K, high stakes testing, data mining, and K-12 education in general. The plan fails on multiple important fronts:
Federal Involvement in Education
Title I and IDEA Portability
Data Collection and Data Privacy
Promotion of Charter Schools
Continued Dependence on a Flawed High Stakes System
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