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Susan NC Lieutenant Governor Has 67 Questions About Common Core

Ohanian Comment: NOTE: Dan Forest is a Republican. Does that mean Liberals will dismiss 65 of his 67 questions? Or all of them? 

We might disagree on what the "right" answers are, but I think we can agree that there are a lot of really good questions here. 

I would think it an embarrassment that other state politicos (and departments of education) have failed to ask most of these questions, not to mention teachers unions, professional organizations, PTAs, and so on. 

For starters, here's a question YOU can pose tomorrow: Ask your governor. Ask your state board of education. Ask your local newspaper. Ask your mother-in-law: 

What is inBloom's association with CCSS and what specific services do they provide? 

Have representatives from inBloom contacted the Department of Instruction? If so, please share all correspondence between inBloom and DPI. 

North Carolina Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest has 67 such questions, and I thank him for them. 

And I wonder if you think Arne Duncan's letter is as weird as I do. 

Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest Issues 67 Question Letter to Department of Public Instruction 

For Immediate Release 

Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest Issues 67 Question Letter to Department of Public Instruction 

Unanswered Questions on Common Core 

(Raleigh, NC) -- Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest today released a 67 question letter to State Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. June Atkinson, outlining a series of unanswered questions he has with North Carolina's implementation of the Common Core State Standards. 

The letter is discussed in the following 3.5 minute video also released today by Lieutenant Governor Forest. This is the second video on Common Core released by Forest over the last few weeks. 

A copy of the letter can be found here

A link to the video can be found here

In Forest's letter he requests that the Department of Public Instruction answer his questions by the August 2013 State Board of Education meeting. 

"With the start of the traditional school year only weeks away, State Board of Education meetings just don't allow enough time to answer all of our questions in depth. Given these time constraints, we have outlined our questions in letter form to allow for a systematic approach to this dialogue. Hopefully this will expedite the process, and focus the discussion of Common Core at future board meetings.” 

For more information contact: Hal Weatherman at 919-715-1949 or via email at 

The letter is here

The Letter

Dr. Atkinson, 

As we have discussed on several occasions, I have a number of questions about the CommonCore State Standards (CCSS), assessments, and associated requirements for North Carolina Public Education. Given the tight time frame related to the implementation of CCSS this upcoming school year, and the number of remaining State Board of Education meetings prior to implementation, I decided to address my concerns in written question form. 

I have divided questions into seven sections: (1) Development of Standards, (2) Cost, (3)Technology, (4) Standards and Student Impact, (5) Role of the Federal Government, (6) Data Collection, and (7) Race to the Top (RttT) and Contracts associated with the grant. Please review this document and contact my office with any questions. It is my goal to have the following information prior to the August 2013 SBE meeting. 

I. Development of Standards 
As I have stated many times, I am not against standards. I understand the importance of standards in education and I believe our state should have the most competitive standards in the nation. However, I have concerns with how CCSS standards were developed, who developed them, and how they will be implemented. 

1) It is my understanding that Professor Jere Confrey, of NC State University College of Education, was the only North Carolinian identified as a direct participant in the creation of the standards. However, you mentioned that the development of the standards was vetted and discussed by business leaders, teachers, superintendents, parents, and other stakeholders across the state throughout the process. You stated that at these meetings, stakeholders were given the opportunity to discuss the CCSS and provide input. Please provide the following: 

i. The dates, times, and locations of these meetings. 

ii. The minutes, agendas, and materials from these meetings. 

iii. A list/roster of all attendees/stakeholders who participated. 

iv. The desired changes/suggestions that were made. 

1. If there are no public records of i-iv, can you explain why? 

v. What the standards were before suggestions were made. 

vi. What the standards were after suggestions were made.

1. If no changes were made, can you explain why? 

vii. Who in North Carolina was responsible for presenting these ideas to theorganizations that crafted the standards?

viii. Provide a list of the suggestions that were not taken into consideration. 

1. As well as the reasoning provided for why they were not considered. 

2) Did the State Board of Education ask for the opinions of dissenting voices/groups prior todeciding to proceed with CCSS? 

a. Please provide a list of all individuals, groups, associations, etc. that briefed the State Board of Education on the merits of NOT pursuing CCSS in North Carolina. 

b. What steps were taken to include the perspectives of legislators, public school students, parents, and members of the community regarding the impact of the CCSS? Please provide details for these outreach efforts. 

c. Please forward all CCSS-related correspondence between the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction and any elected member of the North Carolina General Assembly between January 2009 and June 2010. 

3) It is my understanding that the State Board can change/alter the CCSS standards by 
"15%" to accommodate our State's needs: 

a. What is a "15%" change? 

i. What constitutes a percentage point of change for the purposes of modifying the standards? 

ii. What states have modified the standards according to these parameters?What was the extent of their changes? 

iii. What is the penalty or recourse for making changes above "15%"? 

b. Who owns the CCSS standards? 

i. Are they copyrighted or available free of charge to any entity that wants to use them? 

ii. Do we have the right to revise the standards to accommodate our Public Schools' diverse needs? 

iii. During the standards revision process known as ACRE, did we vet other publicly available standards? 

1. What decisions were made related to other publicly available standards (Please include details as to why those standards were not adopted)? 

c. Who gets to change or update these standards? 

i. What control and/or input do we have in the update process? 

ii. What other organizations, interest groups, foundations, think tanks, and states have input in the update process and what is their level of control? 


4) Throughout our state's Race to the Top Application that was submitted in June of 2010, Governor Perdue stated that, "our confidence that the Common Core will establish a high bar defining the most important student outcomes is supported by evidence that the standards are on par with international expectations and will produce high school graduates ready for college and careers. The Consortium has used exemplar state standards to inform the writing process and has convened a strong group of experts to draft, revise, and validate the Common Core." 

a. Which international standards specifically served as the benchmark for CCSS,and what is the evidence that supports these international expectations? 

b. Who created the international standards to which the CCSS is benchmarked? 

i. Please list the actual countries or jurisdictions. 

ii. Which countries or regions use these standards? 

iii. What are the successes and failures (if any) of the International standards to which CCSS is benchmarked? 

c. If the Consortium convened their own strong group of experts to draft, revise, and validate the CCSS, and Dr. Jere Confrey was the only North Carolinian to have played an active role with the Consortium, then what role did our state's stakeholders have in actively participating in the development of these standards? 

d. The 2007 Grade 8 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study(TIMSS) revealed that the mathematics results in eight countries with national standards outranked the US. However, 30 of the 39 countries that ranked lower also had national standards (McClusky, 2010 appendix C). Based on these results, what evidence exists that national or common standards lead to better results? 

e. Of the 27 nations that outranked the US in the 2006 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) Test, 10 of these nations did not have national standards, whereas 12 of the 28 nations that ranked lower than the US had national standards. What is our rationale for implementing national standards when the international results of standards suggest that there is no correlation between national standards and student performance? 

f. Has the CCSS been validated empirically? 

g. Have any quantitative or qualitative evaluation metrics been put in place to monitor the intended and unintended consequences that the CCSS may have onour education system? 

h. What academic studies have been conducted to compare the CCSS standards to those used in other nations? What did those studies find? 

II. Cost

Considering that the total state general fund and federal appropriations (not including local capital expenditures) for our K-12 system is roughly $12 billion annually, we have a responsibility to ensure that state, local, and federal tax dollars are being spent wisely. 

5) The $400 million in Race to the Top (RttT) grant equated to roughly 0.8% of the K-12 budget, or approximately 1.5 days' worth of educational funding, for each year of the four-year term of the grant. 

a. What discussion was there concerning the impact of the grant money? 

b. How did that additional 0.8% funding factor in to changing the state's education policy? 

c. How much of the implementation cost does the RttT funding offset? 

6) In recent letters to constituents you mentioned that North Carolina did a cost/benefit analysis of the implementation and impact that the CCSS Standards would have on our Education budget. In that letter it was stated that,"We have experience in knowing thecosts of implementation of new standards" (Appendix A). 

a. Please provide the cost/benefit analysis that you conducted prior to applying for RttT 1 and RttT 2, as well as any other analysis concerning CCSS implementation that you have done for DPI and for our 115 LEAs. 

i. If you have not done a cost-benefit analysis for our LEAs, what is your estimate as to the financial burden they will incur? 

ii. Are central office administrators in each LEA responsible for knowing what it will cost their district to implement CCSS standards and tests? 

iii. To accommodate the technological requirements for CCSS assessments,Florida budgeted an additional $450 million and California has budgeted an extra $1 billion. 

a. What are the total costs to LEAs for technological improvements to ensure they meet the basic requirements as outlined by the testing consortia? 

b. What other costs do you anticipate our state incurring to ensure that we are ready to roll out CCSS assessments in2014? 

iv. Texas declined to adopt the CCSS standards because they estimated it would cost their state up to $3 billion more than they would receive from a RttT grant. 

a. What is the total cost of implementing CCSS standards and tests for North Carolina? 

b. What is the projected cost of implementing and carrying out CCSS for the next 5, 10, and 15 years? 

7) Assessments

a. At the June SBE meeting Dr. Angela Quick stated that the costs of CCSS assessments would be $27 per student per assessment. There are reports now that DPI feels they can lower this to $24 per assessment. For every $1 move in the wrong direction, $1.5 million in costs is incurred in our education budget.

i. What accounts for the discrepancy between the $27 and $24 figures?

ii. At this point, what is the estimated cost of each assessment per student? 

iii. At what point will DPI know the exact cost? 

iv. What would the total cost for all assessments associated to CCSS be per year? 

v. Are these costs associated with the computer based assessments only? 

1. If so, how much will the paper and pencil assessments cost per student per assessment? 

2. Do these costs take into account technology requirements and future upgrades such as hardware, software, maintenance, IT staff,help desk, etc.? 

3. Do these costs take into account the grading/scoring of the assessments -- both multiple choice and written? 

b. Please forward details of North Carolina's participation in the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC), including rosters, meeting minutes,correspondence, and documentation. 

c. Teachers across North Carolina have expressed concerns about the length of the pilot tests; some reports from constituents indicate that between 10-14 total hours were required to complete the test. 

i. Will it be the norm for tests to take this long when CCSS is implemented? 

ii. What is the projected time commitment per class for the assessment? 

d. Will the test forms from previous school years be available to the public? 

e. Have you read the accounts of what happened to students in other states piloting CCSS tests, e.g., the New York State Principals statement released in May of 2013 (Appendix B)? 

i. What are your concerns regarding the effect the tests have on student performance? 

ii. How do you plan to address challenges posed by the lack of transparency the assessments create? 

iii. What impacts will these tests have on the material taught to students? 

iv. How will you address concerns about the structure of these tests and the difficulty (not materially, but structurally) that they pose to students? 

8) Earlier this year, both Oklahoma and Alabama withdrew from assessments associated with CCSS. Both of these states still plan to follow CCSS but will be assessing how students perform on those standards with tests they have chosen. Has DPI or SBE looked into this as an option? 

a. If not, why? 

b. If yes, what are the costs? 

9) The Pioneer Institute estimates that the implementation of the CCSS will cost those states who have joined about $16 billion over the next seven years. According to their study, North Carolina will spend $200 million for professional development, $85 million for instructional materials, and $240 million for technology over the next seven years to implement the CCSS standards. That is a total of $525 million, or an average of $75 million per year. 

a. Are these figures reasonable estimates? Please let me know why or why not. 

b. What do you think will be the driving force behind the additional costs for our state? 

c. Has our state already budgeted for additional expenses? 

d. Do these assessments reflect DPI's analysis, 
and if not, what are the discrepancies? 

10) How much would it have cost our state to create our own standards? 

a. How much did previous standards revisions cost? 

b. What if our state adapted publicly available standards used in other states, such as Virginia or Texas? 

i. How long would this process take? 

ii. How much would it cost? 

iii. What are the advantages and disadvantages of this approach? 

iv. What studies are available that show the CCSS are better than those of other states? 

III. Technology

As Chairman of the eLearning Commission, I have met with numerous groups regarding the technology challenges we face in North Carolina. While some of our school districts are technologically equipped, that is not the case for all 115 LEAs or individual schools within the LEAs. I am concerned that we will not be able to maintain a system of fair and equitable assessments for all public school students throughout the state. Please provide the following information: 

11) A list of each North Carolina Public School that is technologically ready to implement the CCSS (and associated assessments) and a list of those that are not. 

a. What will be the cost of preparing those schools that are not ready? 

b. How much will each of these schools have to spend to upgrade computers or purchase devices to implement the CCSS and associated assessments? 

c. If schools cannot afford to implement this technology this year, what are their alternatives to comply with the program? 

11) What are the bandwidth capabilities of each of the 115 LEAs, and each of the schools within the LEAs? What tests have been run to test the bandwidth capacity? 

a. Please provide copies of the studies and tests conducted. 

b. If the bandwidth has not been tested, why? 

12) Will all the students in North Carolina be able to take their required tests during the typical testing window? 

a. If we are unable to administer all of the tests at the same time, what is the alternate course of action? 

b. If the tests are not administered at the same time, how will you judge teacher performance equitably? Specifically, if you expand the testing window some teachers will have additional days or perhaps weeks to prepare for the assessment compared to their peers across the state. 

c. Will DPI accommodate LEAs that are not able to provide the necessary technological needs for their student assessments? If so, please detail what will be done in terms of accommodation. 

13) Strain on IT Staff 

a. It has been reported that we do not have the necessary IT staff, both at the state and local levels, to assist in the demands that we will put on our State’s technological infrastructure. What steps are being taken to address the additional burden? 

b.What are the costs associated with the additional burden on the state’s IT 

c. Each of our LEAs will have new technology in their districts. Do our LEAs have the necessary IT staff to assist with the implementation of new hardware,software, or anything else required to accommodate CCSS testing? 

d. If not, what is being done to assist the LEAs in meeting these requirements? 

e. What is the time frame for the LEAs obtaining the necessary resources and what are the costs associated with the infrastructure upgrades? 

14. Maintenance 

a. How much will it cost the state of North Carolina and each LEA to maintain the necessary bandwidth to link our state together during the testing period? 

b. How much will it cost our 115 LEAs to maintain the necessary bandwidth to link them to the assessments? 

c. What are the estimated IT infrastructure costs of each LEA related to IT security? 

15. Cost of broadband 

a. Do we know how much the appropriate broadband will cost the state? 

b. Do we know how much this will cost each of our LEAs? 

c. What is the timeframe for implementing the necessary broadband across all of our LEAs and all of our schools? 

16) Have you had any discussions with the current or previous State CIO's about the 
technological requirements of CCSS and what the impacts will be on our state? 

a. If you have, can you please include those discussions, and if they had any concerns or suggestions? 

b. If not, can you explain why they have not been a part of this process? 

IV. Standards and Student Impact

For the first time in history, technology allows us the ability to design lesson plans and acurriculum to the needs of each individual student. As you know, each student learns at their own pace and by different methods. I want to ensure that we are focused on providing as much attention as we can to our students’ needs for their love of learning, rather than compelling our teachers to focus on an end of the year assessments. 

17) Why is having one national set of standards for our students, who are going to be compared to students across the country, the best option for North Carolina? 

18) You stated in letters to constituents that, "2012-13 was the first year of implementation of the new Standard Course of Study. This implementation followed two years of at least 10 days of professional development for teachers in each school district." (Appendix A). 

a. What are the results/findings after the 2012/13 school year? 

b. Do we have any indicators of teacher preparedness? 

i. Please provide the details related to this answer. 

c. Are 10 days, spread over two years, enough professional development for our teachers or will more development be necessary? 

d. How are we sure that our teachers are aligning their curriculum and instruction to CCSS? 

e. What additional resources are being provided to teachers to help them implement these standards? 

19) How will North Carolina teachers be compared to teachers in other states, and what will be the effect on our teachers’ overall rankings? 

a. What specific actions has DPI taken to protect our teachers and set them up for success? 

b. What is being done to ensure that the comparisons with other states are equitable? 

c. What is being done to account for factors not related to teacher performance? 

20) How will the immediate rollout of the CCSS standards impact current high school students? 

i. What are the possible negative impacts on their college applications? 

ii. What was the rationale for not allowing rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors to continue on their current standards track? Could the impact of CCSS have a greater negative effect on these students? 

It is my understanding, based on conversations at SBE meetings, that DPI and the SBE are in agreement that our K-12 grade model is a 20th century concept and is outdated for 21st century teaching methodology. Awareness of this new construct allows capable students to excel at a rapid rate and students who need more time to grasp concepts to slow down the learning process. 

21) How can we allow students the flexibility to learn at individualized rates of study, if we are adopting standards and assessments that require them to learn at same rate as the collective whole, as dictated by the benchmarks that will be assessed? 

22) Do these collective benchmarks run counter to the individualization that both SBE and DPI were previously hoping to achieve? 

23) In addition to my question above, parents have expressed concern that their children are hindered from advancing beyond their grade level, specifically in the area of mathematics: 

a. Why are parents encountering these problems and what are the plans to do address them? 

b. How will this effect North Carolina students when applying to college? 

c. How will our students remain competitive with other states, and have the ability to achieve above and beyond, while adhering to identical standards? 

d. Are CCSS's definition of "college readiness" consistent with the requirements needed to enter four-year universities in the University of North Carolina System? 

24) Special needs students require specific adaptations, accommodations, and assistive technology in order for them to effectively participate in the CCSS: 

a. What specific adaptations and accommodations will there be for special needs students? 

b. Do we have the necessary assistive technology in all of our special needs classrooms for these students? 

c. Will special needs students' test scores be included in the overall test scores for the state? 

d. Will we have access to disaggregated test scores? 

e. Have our special needs teachers been given additional professional development opportunities? 

25) What impact will our state aligning to the CCSS Standards for public schools have on our private, charter, and home school students? 

a. David Coleman, President of the College Board, has stated that the SAT will be redesigned to reflect the CCSS. What will this impact mean for our non-public school families? 

b.Will these schools and students have to align with CCSS in the future? 

26) Publicly you have stated: "To ask for a pause in the implementation of the CCSS is asking that we not teach students how to read, write, speak, listen, and learn math such as adding, multiplying, dividing, subtracting, etc. That is not in the best interest for the 1.5 million children in our state." 

a. Are you saying that if we paused CCSS there would be so much confusion tha tteachers would no longer know what and how to teach? 

b. North Carolina did not use the CCSS standards until this past school year. Do you believe that we have not been teaching our students to read, write, speak, listen,and learn math for the past several decades? 

c. If we had to pause the implementation of CCSS to make sure that all of our concerns were addressed appropriately and costs were accurately assessed, could we use our previous standards? 

i. If not, please detail what issues would be encountered with using previous standards. 
ii. And why those standards are no longer useful. 

d. Are states like Indiana, Georgia, Michigan, and Pennsylvania providing a substandard education while they pause CCSS and its associated requirements? 

e. If so, what could North Carolina do to make a pause in implementing the standards successful should it be necessary?

One of the driving forces behind the CCSS is that we will be able to compare our students' progress to other states. However, in an article released on July 17th (Appendix J) it was reported that Alabama is adopting "race-based" standards for their students. 

Beginning this fall, Alabama Public Schools, who are also aligned with the CCSS, will be under a new state-created academic accountability system that sets different goals for students in math and reading based on their race, economic status, ability to speak English, and disabilities. Their new system, called Plan 2020, "sets a different standard for students in each of several subgroups; American Indian, Asian/Pacific Islander, black, English language learners, Hispanic, multirace, poverty, special education and white." 

For instance, Alabama will now require only 79% of "Blacks" to make grade to declare success for state standards. 

Alabama is not the only one changing their achievement goals. According to the DOE, of the 33states that have received waivers from No Child Left Behind, 27 have different achievement goals for different groups of students. The Obama administration fully supports this measure. 

27) With 27 different states having different achievement goals, how can we adequately benchmark ourselves with the rest of the states that have adopted CCSS? 

28) Is our state going to hold different groups of students to different sets of goals? If so, please define. 

29) If we are holding different groups of students to different sets of goals, how do we clearly understand how we rate our education progress against other states' goals? 

30) Has DPI predicted similar results for specific subgroups, as Alabama has, for the upcoming school years? If so, please explain. 

31) If the goal of CCSS is to benchmark our students against the performance of students around the country, do these differences in achievement goals negate the intent of the benchmarking? Please explain.V. 


v. Federal Government's Role 

While the federal government is not the author of the CCSS, there are many outstanding questions regarding the involvement of the federal government, specifically the Department of Education. In the RttT grant application, one stipulation was acceptance of CCSS. It is widely believed that states (North Carolina included) would not have been granted RttT money without accepting CCSS. (Please see Appendix D --Governor McDonnell's letter to Secretary Duncan) 

32)Would North Carolina have been awarded RttT grant money if we did not align with the CCSS? 

33) When North Carolina applied for RttT 1, we agreed to adopt the standards before they were officially published. Why did we agree to standards without knowing/vetting them first? 

34) At the time of adoption of CCSS, were there any discussions that the CCSS standard swere not field-tested or proven effective? 

Many North Carolinians are concerned that CCSS is being pushed by the federal government and that our state's standards and curriculum are being nationalized. These concerns have been magnified by recent comments from Secretary Duncan. In a letter sent to you, and the other Chief State School Officers, he conveyed several points of interest. Please explain the following comments made by Secretary Duncan. (Please see Appendix E --Secretary Duncan's letter to Chief State School Officers) 

35) "The Department of Education (DOE) is open to additional flexibility for states in twocritical areas; the first relates to one particular element of teacher and leader evaluation and support system implementation, and the second addresses 'double-testing' during thetransition to new assessments." 

a. What flexibility is the Secretary referring to from the Department? 

b. As you know, the federal government funded the work of the two testingconsortia. Does this mean that they will have a role in implementing CCSS assessments? 

c. If CCSS and assessments are not federally mandated programs, why and how isthe federal government able to offer flexibility to states? 

d. It seems as though our state and the federal government can choose which rules to play by--No Child Left Behind or CCSS and associated assessments. By what authority does Secretary Duncan or the Department of Education have the ability to offer this type of selective flexibility? 

36) "States have committed to different deadlines to implement these systems: some are implementing now; others will begin over the coming years." 

a. Since individual states have flexibility as to how and when they roll out CCSS,why did North Carolina decide to be one of the first states, as well as roll out all grades all at once? 

b. Why did we decide not to study thoroughly field test of CCSS and assessments prior to complete roll out? 

c. Does the above statement mean that we could pause CCSS standards to evaluate its implementation in other states and study those impacts? 

37) "Given the move to college- and career-ready standards, the dramatic changes in curricula that teachers and principals are now starting to teach, and the transition to new assessments aligned to those standards the Department will consider." 

a. How is the Department of Education involved in aligning these "non-federally mandated" standards? 

38) "We would consider requests from states for 
a one-year waiver, to allow schools participating in these field tests to administer only one assessment in 2013-14 to any individual student--either the current statewide assessment or the field test." 

a. How does DOE have the authority to "consider" any requests about testing? 

b. If CCSS and associated assessments are not federally mandated, why is the DOE granting waivers? 

VI. Data Collection

As of January 3, 2012, the DOE enacted new regulations pertaining to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). FERPA governs the use and release of educational and personal records in all public K-12 schools. The new regulations do not change the purposes for which this protected data can be used, however it does change who can share such information. 

39) Concerns have been raised with the data collection services of the non-profit organization inBloom; a company associated with the implementation of CCSS. 

a. What is inBloom's association with CCSS and what specific services do they provide? 

b. Have representatives from inBloom contacted DPI? If so, please share all correspondence between inBloom and DPI. 

40) It was my understanding that inBloom was piloted in Guilford County this past year. Can you provide me with information on that pilot program? 

a. Which schools conducted the pilot? 

b. What information was collected for each student? 

c. Who collected the information? 

d. Have parents been informed of the data collection? 

e. How was the information collected and reported? 

f. Where is the information currently being stored? 

g. Who has access to this information? 

h. What is Guilford County/DPI/inBloom planning to do with this information that the vendor possess? 

41) On inBloom's website, they have removed references to Guilford County as a pilot program and have now listed North Carolina as a state. 

a. Are we in the process of piloting inBloom in other LEA's? 

b. If not, why is North Carolina still listed? 

c. What steps have been taken by DPI to advance inBloom in North Carolina and what is the approval process for full implementation? 

42) inBloom itself states that it "cannot guarantee the security of the information stored, or that the information will not be intercepted when it is being transmitted." 
(Section IV,subsection E, 

a. Does this influence your thoughts on security with inBloom, or with any other potential vendors? 

43) Louisiana recently canceled their relationship with inBloom due to potential datacollection and privacy concerns. 

a. Has DPI had conversations with Louisiana education officials? 

b. Has DPI conducted a thorough review of inBloom's privacy practices? 

c. If so, please provide information on the review process. 

44) Have other vendors been considered for data collection implementation? 

a. If so, were RFP's submitted? 

b. Who are the competing vendors?

Related to student data potentially being released, just this month on July 2nd, Guilford County Schools' (GCS)stated in a press release on their website; 

GCS recently learned that on Tuesday, July 2, an employee mistakenly emailed an electronic file to the guardian of a Page student. The document contained personal information for about 456 rising seniors (students who completed 11th grade in June), including student names, addresses, telephone numbers, course enrollments,grades, district-assigned ID numbers and other data points found on student transcript. 

45) Is this an isolated incident, or is there potential for this happening again? 

46) What has been done to correct this error? 

47) Was this data collected by inBloom, or another vendor? 

As of January 3, 2012, the DOE enacted new regulations pertaining to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). FERPA governs the use and release of educational and personal records in all public K-12 schools. The new regulations do not change the purposes for which this protected data can be used, however it does change who can share such information. 

48) Please see Appendix F for the public testimony offered by Sheila Kaplan to the Missouri State Board of Education in regards to the potential student privacy violation issues associated with CCSS and recent changes to FERPA law. Has her testimony altered our current implementation plans here in North Carolina? 

During the public comment period of the FERPA privacy law changes, the Council of Chief State School Officers argued in favor of expanding the definition of "school officials" who have access to private student data to include "contractors, consultants, volunteers and other parties." 

The Council of Chief State School Officers stated that the FERPA changes would, "allow us to facilitate better research and evaluation using our statewide longitudinal data systems." 

49) Facilitated by North Carolina’s statewide longitudinal data system: 

a. What data points will be collected on each student and shared with "contractors, consultants and volunteers"? 

b. Will student names and personal information be readily identifiable? 

c. Will North Carolina allow contractors, consultants, volunteers and other parties to have access to this information? 

i. If so, why? 

ii. If not, what measures are being taken to ensure this won't happen? 

During the May 2013 SBE meeting, I asked for data collected as a part of CCSS. I was provided a short list of data points. In hindsight, my question should have been directed at the statewide longitudinal data system. The US Department of Education website indicates that states like North Carolina, who received an "American Recovery and Reinvestment Act" grant for the Statewide Longitudinal Data System build out, were required to include basic data points. Those 12 Key Elements are listed below. 

· A unique identifier for every student that does not permit a student to be individually identified (except as permitted by federal and state law)

· The school enrollment history, demographic characteristics, and program participation record of every student.

· Information on when a student enrolls, transfers, drops out, or graduates from a school.

· Students’ scores on tests required by the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

· Information on students who are not tested, by grade and subject.

· Students’ scores on tests measuring whether they’re ready for college.

· A way to identify teachers and to match teachers to their students.

· Information from students' transcripts, specifically courses taken and grades earned.

· Data on students' success in college, including whether they enrolled in remedial courses.

· Data on whether K-12 students are prepared to succeed in college.

· A system of auditing data for quality, validity, and reliability.

· The ability to share data from preschool through postsecondary education data systems.

50) Please provide a list of all data points collected on North Carolina Public School studentsin all public school databases. 

I understand that NC DPI has an agreement with Duke University for maintaining a database for researchers. 

51) Please provide the list of all researchers who have conducted research over the last two years, the number of student records obtained, and a bibliography of studies produced by them. 

52) Please provide a list of the 30 data sources utilized by the CEDARS Reporting System utilized in North Carolina. 

The June 22nd New York Times article, Data Security Is a Classroom Worry, Too, focused on access to student information through the internet by unauthorized sources (Appendix I). 

53) In light of this concern, do DPI and all public schools use SSL cryptography to ensure the safety of student data transfers? 

David Coleman, one of the primary authors of CCSS and the new president of the College Board, recently garnered national attention through a speech he gave at Harvard University. The speech was widely viewed via video. During his speech he specifically spells out how the College Board is partnering with the Obama campaign to data mine education databases for the purposes of communicating with and mobilizing low income people (Appendix G). 

54) Is the information North Carolina collects on its students secure from outside research organizations that may use the data for partisan or other purposes? 

55) In light of Mr. Coleman's remarks, has the College Board conducted research on North 
Carolina public school students through its partnership with DPI and Duke University? 

56) Would the College Board be eligible for conducting future research using North Carolina student data? 

57) Is the College Board currently accessing NC CEDARS, the Statewide Longitudinal DataSystem, or other education related databases to conduct research? 

58) Does North Carolina currently participate in, or have plans to participate in, the Access to Rigor campaign sponsored by the College Board? 

In the Questions and Answers portion of CCSS document that DPI released, it states that The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), "restricts the release of private information without the consent of the parent or eligible student." However, In the Federal Register /Vol 73, No. 237 Rules and Regulations it states: "FERPA permits an educational agency or institution to disclose personally identifiable information from an education record of a student without consent if the disclosure is to an organization conducting studies for, or on behalf of, the educational agency or institution to (a) develop, validate, or administer predictivetests; (b) administer student aid programs; or (c) improve instruction.” 20 U.S.C. 1232g(b)(1)(F); 34 CFR  Elaborating on this point, the Federal Register states: "In general the Department has interpreted FERPA and implementing regulations to permit the disclosure of personally identifiable information from education records, without consent, in connection with the outsourcing of institutional services and functions. Accordingly, the term "authorized representative" includes contractors, consultants, volunteers and other outside parties..."  Page74825 Federal Register / Vol 73, No. 237. 

59) Can you please explain this contradiction? 

60) Can parents and students "opt out" of the collection and storage of personal information 
in education databases associated with the Standard Longitudinal database, CCSS, 
CEDARS, etc…? 

61) If so, what specific information (data points) can they opt out of? 

a. What is the process for opting out? 

62) Has the SBE been briefed on the lawsuit filed by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) against the US Department of Education for issuing regulations that fail to safeguard students? 

63) Has the SBE or DPI had discussions with the past or current State CIO in regard to the education databases in use in our state? 

a. If so, have they offered their professional opinion on potential privacy and security issues? 

b. If not, why have they not been consulted on these matters? 


VII. Contracts and RttT Grants

I have been asked many questions regarding the $400 million RttT grant, specifically how much money has been spent to date and how the money has been spent. Please help clarify RttT spending by answering the following questions. 

64) At the July SBE meeting we were told that roughly $85 million of the $400 million inRttT grant money has yet to be spent. Please provide a line item and detailed description of all expenditures to date. 

65) What percentage of money has been contracted with for profit companies? Please list those companies. 

66) Will any additional money be owed to these companies by DPI or specific LEAs once the RttT grant runs out? 

67) What percentage of the RttT grant money went to, or will go to, the LEAs for their direct investment? 

Dr. Atkinson, I would like to personally thank you and the staff of DPI for taking the time to review and answer these questions. I believe these are essential questions related to the CommonCore State Standards, and questions that must be answered for our parents, teachers, schooladministrators, students, public officials and the general public. As the new school year is uponus, please address these questions prior to the August 2013 State Board of Education Meeting. 


Daniel J. Forest 
North Carolina Lieutenant Governor 


Appendix A (Letter to Constituents) 

From: June Atkinson [] 
Sent: Wednesday, June 12, 2013 6:37 PM 
To: Lisa Randall; Bill Cobey; Al Collins; Dan Forest; Janet Cowell; Becky Taylor; Reginald Kenan; Kevin Howell; Olivia Oxendine; John A. Tate; Gregory Alcorn; Wayne McDevitt; Marcella Savage; Patricia N.Willoughby;;;; 
Cc: Martez Hill; Rebecca Garland; Angela Quick; Tammy Howard; Maria Pitre Martin; Monique Wertis; Vanessa Jeter; Betsy West 
Subject: RE: Common Core and the State Board of Education 

Dear Ms. Randall, thank you for your email. Please go to our website and look for questions and answers about the Common Core standards. There you will find the truth. I am very disappointed that factual errors are being made about the Common Core, and I appreciate the opportunity to respond to your concerns. As State Superintendent, it is very important to me that parents know the truth. 

To ask for a pause in the implementation of the Common Core is asking that we not teach students how to read, write, speak, listen, and learn math such as adding, multiplying, dividing, subtracting, etc. That is not in the best interest 1.5 million children in our state. 

The Common Core was adopted by the State Board of Education in 2010 as North Carolina's Standard Course of Study. For at least 80 years, the General Assembly has required that the State Board of Education develop a Standard Course of Study which identifies what students should know and be able to do. 

2012-13 was the first year of implementation of the new Standard Course of Study. This implementation followed two years of at least 10 days of professional development for teachers in each school district. Those days were a part of the contract period of teachers, and thus, there was not an extra cost. It is incorrect to say that North Carolina did not do a cost analysis. In my previous work, I was responsible for the revision of state standards every five years, and we have much experience in knowing the costs of implementation of new standards. 

It is not true that Virginia has backed out of the Common Core. They never participated because they had just revised their standards, spent a great deal of money, and did not want to make adjustments so early in the process. However, I encourage you to compare the Common Core standards and the Virginia’s standards of learning. 

You will find very little difference since both Virginia's standards and the Common Core standards both require students to learn how to add, multiply, subtract, divide, use fractions and percentages, solve for unknown quantities, read, speak, listen, and write using appropriate grammar. Common Core is nothing more than what students should know and be able to do. The Common Core, as you will see when you read it, has a focus on the concrete rather that the abstract in math. Both North Carolina's and Virginia’s standards are online. 

It is beyond my imagination why anyone would spread such notions that educators would want to track heart beats, eye movement, facial expressions, religious affiliations, etc. We have no need to have such personal information for students. It serves no purpose. Also, state and federal laws protect parents and students as far as sharing any type of personal information with others 

Appendix B ( NY Principals Letter) 

Appendix C ( McCluskey Report: Behind the Curtain) 

Appendix D (Gov. McDonnell's Letter: May 26, 2010) 

Appendix E ( Arne Duncan's Letter), June 18, 2013

Dear Chief State School Officers, 

Over the last four years, state and local leaders and educators across America have embraced an enormous set of urgent and long-overdue challenges: raising standards and upgrading curricula to better prepare students to compete in the global economy, developing new assessments, rebuilding accountability systems to meet the unique needs of each state and better serve at-risk students, and adopting new systems of support and evaluation for teachers and principals. Meeting this historic set of challenges all at once asks more of everybody throughout the education sector, and it is a tribute to the quality of educators, leaders, and elected officials across this country that so many have stepped up. 

Throughout this process, states and districts have established high goals for themselves: college- and career-ready standards for all; higher graduation rates and college enrollment rates; high expectations for critical thinking, problem-solving, and other 21st century skills; ambitious and achievable performance targets that really move the needle for kids at risk; and useful, rigorous systems of evaluation and support for teachers and principals based on multiple measures, including student growth. The Department has offered flexibility to enable states and districts to meet these goals. In a country as diverse as ours, where schools and students have different educational challenges, one-size-fits-all solutions have not worked. We have also aligned our grant programs to support states willing to lead this important work,and the result is that some states are further along than others, but all states are engaged in significant improvement efforts and students are better off for it

— Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest
Press Release and letter
July 18, 2013

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Susan Ohanian

Susan Ohanian, a long-time public school teacher, is a freelance writer whose articles have appeared in Atlantic, Parents, Washington Monthly, The Nation, Phi Del...