Dr. Gary Johnson is the Director of Special Education Advocacy and Instruction, at the Early Life Child Psychology and Education Center in Utah. His testimony before the Wisconsin State Legislature is simple and his evidence is compelling: Common Core is Cognitive Child Abuse. His comments are specifically aimed at the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC). The tests are not valid and have no validation data. They discriminate against minority students. They discriminate against ADHD and other vulnerable populations, such as depressed children.
The SBAC test also has zero peer review. There is no validation based on professional standards. There is no norming data based on professional standards. There will be no pilot of the final test with the adaptive component. At the end of his presentation, Dr. Thompson characterized the U.S. Department of Education’s testing guidelines as the “Wild Wild West.” They are doing what they want with no accountability, no constraints, and no oversight. When combined with the loosening of student privacy laws, the possibilities of abuse is enormous.
The consequences of Dr. Thompson’s analysis of the SBAC test is not only bad news for at risk students, it is also bad news for teachers. In states like Alaska, the pay and promotion of teachers is based on the performance of minority students. The No Child Left Behind waiver for Alaska and other states ties teacher retention, pay, and promotion to the performance of minorities on the test. For any given Alaskan teacher, that means minority students have to outperform white students for teachers for teachers to be retained. Since the SBAC test discriminates against these very students, teachers are placed in a no-win situation.
He specifically addresses the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium test uses a technology that is not appropriate for children. According to Dr. Thompson, the use of adaptive test is tantamount to allowing psychological experimentation on our children. While the technology has been used on the Graduate Record Exam (GRE), this population is a mature, narrow population. Dr. Thompson noted that a test of this scope has never been done before in the United States of America. The pilot tests are being conducted without the adaptive technology component. The full and final test will be adaptive.
Dr. Thompson said that the first rule of experimentation is that there must be informed consent and validity data. If an experiment was done in the classroom or private practice without informed consent, the person doing it would be fired and lose their credentials.
He specifically addressed the SBAC pilot of 500,000 student February 20 through May 24, 2013. They were submitted to experimental tests without informed consent by the children’s parents. They should have been warned that there are potential consequences of testing. There is a pilot test in Wisconsin in March 18-June 6, 2014. Based on statements by Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, Dr. Thompson said,
“This [Wisconsin pilot] will closely resemble the summative assessment that will be taken in 2015. The final test will never be piloted.”
In his professional opinion, we need stop common core. In his opinion as a psychologist and a father, parents should not allow their children to take the test.
For the record, Dr. Thompson said he votes Democrat. His clinic specializes in facilitating the educational attainment of at risk population groups.
Here is his written synopsis of his testimony:
1. Despite misleading reports from State Superintendents from Utah and Wisconsin regarding how well Core Tests have been “pilot tested”, it was indisputable that the FINAL version of the Core test (complete with its most experimental component of “adaptability”) would never be properly tested, evaluated and “tweaked” in a transparent manner by independent experts prior to our children taking the tests in 2014-2015.
2. With that fact in mind, the only reasonable conclusion was that our children were being used as research guinea pigs under the direction and approval of our respective State Superintendents. (See Dr. Thompson and Attorney Ed Flint’s Letter To Utah Superintendent of Schools Dr. Martell Menlove)
3. We have over 50 years of peer reviewed data showing psychology’s struggles of measuring “achievement” as well as cognitive potential (I.Q.) of African American, Latino, ADHD, Autistic, Dual Exceptional, and children diagnosed with specific learning disabilities.
The SBAC (Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium), the group that the federal government paid hundreds of millions of dollars to facilitate the production of these tests, proudly proclaimed on their web pages that they have basically solved this problem. My exact words were, “SBAC has just announced to the world that they have created the ‘Holy Grail’ of Achievement Tests.” That feat is kind of hard to perform if no validation studies have been performed.
4. I compared and contrasted the extreme difference between the ways children were tested/evaluated in the private clinical psychology sector, versus the current way proposed by the U.S. Department of Education via the SBAC. Professionals in clinical psychology have learned through a 100-year history of well-documented testing abuse in America to put into place restraints to ensure the safety of our children. Common Core testing policies arrogantly ignored each and every one of these.
5. We need to stop our obsessive focus on measuring WHAT our children havel earned and focus on utilizing neuropsychology technologies available that can now measure with great accuracy HOW a child’s brain processes information (PASS Theory, Naglieri, 2008).
6. Professional recommendation: Stop Common Core testing.
7. Recommendation as a father: Don’t let your kids take the test.