Common Core Lab: Testing Achievement or Psych Assessments: What Do You Think?

Common Core Lab: Testing Achievement or Psych Assessments: What Do You Think?

Common Core Research Lab

Research assistants and lab rats only

All others: Entry Denied

Security monitors are active, trespassers will be removed.

Welcome to the Common Core Research Lab. Since entry is denied, the Mindsight crew has gained access as research assistants and lab rats. Our mission is to disclose the truth behind closed doors of the Common Core Assessment lab.

Depending on the researchers, the research focus, and the funding, labs take on a variety of landscapes, but all labs possess some elemental components. A Lab team has a theory to research; “the experiment” by which to gather data to analyze, subjects to evaluate, variables to administer, and motives to succeed. (Motives may include: a tenured position, publications to publish, a doctorate, foundation funding for the next research project, and a claim to fame. Who knows? A device, a theory, a department chair, or even a building may someday bear the name of a steadfast researcher post mortem.)

Lab Rats are easily bred, may be chosen for particular features, are docile, and when handled properly, lab rats are easily domesticated. The experimental variables are administered via the research assistants.

Variables may include: changes in sensory environment, diet, external negative reinforcement or positive reinforcements (operant conditioning of Pavlov and Skinner), socialization, chemical or pharmacologic interventions, neglect and methods of assessments.

Ah yes, there is a constant assessing of the physical, neurologic, neurochemical, biological, and behavioral presentations of our lab rats. The research assistant is constantly gathering data while simultaneously facilitating the variables.

Data may be gathered from: blood draws, imaging scans, vital signs, physical observation, electronic media, computer analysis, video monitoring, behavioral responses to stimuli, changes in patterns of behavior, and of course the ultimate sacrifice.

The pinnacle Assessment time for each little lab rat marked with the letter “A” (for Assessment) transpires when our dutiful lab rat succumbs to the final Assessment process, the dissection.

The periodic blood draws provide assessment data, but in the end- the final autopsy sacrifice is necessary to verify and validate that all pertinent variables are considered in this cradle to career Assessment. The manifest outcomes are cataloged, analyzed, and considered for the next experiment on the next litter of lab rats.

And so the cycle continues in the Common Core Research lab on K-12 students in the Government education system of today.

To review the public education research labs we must clarify terms. The public classroom “lab” equipment has changed substantially and intentionally over the last several decades.

The purpose of education appears to have also changed.

Prior to John Dewey (1859-1952), who has been titled, America’s Education Reformer, the American classroom was not considered a locked lab.

Prior to Progressive Dewey, the American classrooms, both public and private, were domains of developing character, knowledge, and skills. Thus the term Achievement, to validate mastery of knowledge became a common descriptor.  And the concept of verifying that knowledge base via a knowledge based “Achievement” test also became a commonly understood term.

The Achievement test would verify the student’s possession of some quantity of truth, probity, knowledge, the abilities to apply that body of knowledge, and the foundational equipping to be a citizen in a nation of free self-governing individuals.

A typical Achievement test might require application of mathematical computations to arrive at a specific “right” or “wrong” numerical answer.

Possible Answers in a common achievement test may be presented in an “a, b, c, d, e or all of the above combinations” multiple-choice, darken the bubble, fashion, or an old fashioned “ circle, fill in the blank, and show your work” type format.

A typical knowledge based Achievement test may require knowledge of world history, western history, various sciences, grammar, composition, classical literature, Latin, government, biology, physics, chemistry, art appreciation, music etc. etc. For each question posed, there is at least one correct answer anticipated that represents absolute established fact or proves that one knows how to correctly apply mathematical algorithms.

The questions in an Achievement test are phrased in a straightforward manner such that it is clear to the student what is required of them to select or provide the most correct answer. The goal of an Achievement test is to demonstrate and document mastery of knowledge and skill; or to reveal a lack of mastery in a particular area.

Achievement tests are usually standardized, and come in some basic types such as Criterion Referenced Testing (CRT) or Norm Referenced Testing (NRT). (

The focus of Achievement testing, with clearly defined right answers based on knowledge, stands in stark contrast to that of an “Assessment test.

Assessment tests are designed to pose questions in such a way as to gain psychological information by the way the student interprets or attempts to interpret the questions.

The intentional phrasing of a question in an Assessment test, and the student’s interpretations, provides volumes of insight into the student’s:

Attitudes, beliefs, worldview, criteria, opinions, emotions, psychological status, values, compliance, flexibility, patterns of behavior, motivations, stress responses, desires to pacify or appease, principles, character, tolerance, leadership qualities, passivity, goals, reward system, self view, desires, pliability, religious foundations, political stance, learning styles, skill sets…. and a host of other psychometric data.

With the advent of computer adaptive assessment testing this is largely accomplished by a virtual infinity of lines of questioning. The answer to a previous question, and the pattern established, determines the next question that will be posed. This is a psychological evaluation, but via a computer assessment test.

Parents and educators do not have access to the questions students are being asked on the assessments. Some students have reported the questions to entail lines of inquiry such as:

What does this statement mean to you?

Describe how you feel about the President’s “Change & Hope for the nation” vision?

Describe a math equation using lattice math procedure.

Describe three methods of addition.

What did your parents say about that?

How could you advocate for change in this situation?

What is your vision for the future?

How do you feel about same sex marriage?

Describe what “family” means to you.

Describe your family conversation about –

How do you feel about premarital sex?

Would you prefer to confront a wrong, or to keep peace?

What concerns your friends today?

Who would you consider an ideal role model?

How do you spend your free time?

What are your passions?

Would you prefer to read or to talk?

What does your family do on vacation?

What is your favorite meal?

What defines a hero?

How would you end this story?

Who was your favorite character in this passage and why?

What method would you use to solve this problem?

How did you solve this problem?

Who was the champion in the civil rights movement?

Does your family have a holiday tradition?

What did you think about (title of literature)?

Why didn’t the Authors of The Constitution use the word “slave” in the document?

What new math theory did your class develop?

What does your backyard look like?

Students and parents are not provided copies of the completed assessment tests to learn the method of scoring the assessments and how the results directly affect the student’s educational choices in the future.

Common Core requires that these Assessment tests be performed to verify compliance to Common Core Standards. Ie. “The Experiment.”

These psychological Assessment tests are done without parental knowledge of the questions, the potential vulnerability of the student, the student’s family, or the effects on the student participating in this line of computer testing inquiry. The least of which is sheer frustration at being interrogated by a computer psychoanalyst. Other results of this incessant high stakes assessment testing on students include: testing burnout, blocking, boredom, stress, overwhelm, pessimism, and damage to self confidence as students struggle to interpret directions and perform to prove their competence, and that of their teachers.

This assessment testing is being enhanced by the simultaneous gathering of biometric data that documents the student’s physical responses to the line of assessment questions.

Affective computing, according to a federal report is accomplished using: facial expression cameras, Posture Analysis seats, pressure mouse, and wireless skin conductance sensors, during computer testing. (Promoting Grit, Tenacity, and Perseverance: Critical factors for success in the 21st Century U.S. Department of Education, Office of Educational Technology, Draft February 2013)

The effects of student performance on assessment testing go far beyond the student. The student’s educators are also judged based upon these student assessment performances. Teacher evaluations, performance ratings, compensation, and teaching positions are greatly influenced by their pupils’ abilities to perform to unknown criteria, on an Assessment test.

Many Teachers have long learned to teach the test and not beyond the material that is to be subject to testing. The adage is: “He who controls the test controls the school.”*

Test scores will determine or are already determining student grade advancement, graduation, teacher pay and tenure, and district funding. Teachers clearly confess that “rather than creating lifelong learners, our new goal is to create good test takers.” (Stephen Round, resignation letter on video)

Common Core requires the Assessment testing and longitudinal data gathering under the context of making improvements on learning and providing accommodations for students, training for teachers and the technology driving the classrooms (labs) of the schools.

It is ironic that the “arch-testers” * base their Experimental Research project on a Proposal entitled “Benchmarking for Success”, created by ACHIEVE, Inc., funded by The Gates Foundation, Dec 2008.

It is ironic, in that ACHIEVE’s outline does not intend to measure “Achievement”, but rather psychological Assessment via the Federally funded Testing consortia: “PARCC” (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) and “SBAC” (SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium).

Once again that letter “A” connotes an adultery committed to the English language via the Arch-Testers at the keyboards and Humanists at the Helm of Education in America.

What do you think? Who is better to judge what will best serve the student: the parents, and the educator standing beside them, or a data analyst pretending at psychoanalysis who denies parental access and who views students and educators as lab rats and research assistants in the Common Core Research Lab?


* Joy Pullmann Research Fellow the Heartland Institute

arch-testers” the excellent phrase of Hillsdale Professor Dr. Terrence O. Moore in his outstanding work entitled: The Story-Killers, A Common-Sense Case Against the Common Core  Arm your self with a copy as we labor to reform education placing parents and local communities in control.



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