An excellent article by Matt Sanders at the DNews. Here’s a clip.
“A bit of context might be helpful. The USOE contracted with DC based social research firm American Institutes for Research (AIR) to develop and host the Utah Common Core assessments that track student data and performance. AIR’s stated mission is, “to conduct and apply the best behavioral and social science research and evaluation towards improving peoples’ lives, with a special emphasis on the disadvantaged.” Their board of directors includes professional backgrounds in sociology, psychology, psychometrics, federal data management vending, and data and statistics software. While no board members have experience in K-12 education, they collectively have remarkable experience in social and behavior research, and federal data analytics and contracting.”
You can read the complete article here.
So, who is AIR?
AIR is a partner with SBAC. SBAC is the consortium South Dakota belongs to.
Brian Halladay, school board member from Utah shares his concerns:
AIR is not an academic assessment company – it is a behavioral research organization. AIR has been around for over 60 years. Their founder, John Flanagan, a psychologist, started AIR by developing the “critical incident technique” one of the most widely used behavioral methods that is even now used in assessment models today.
In 1960, AIR initiated “Project Talent,” a research project administered by John Flanagan and a group of other behavioral scientists involving 440,000 high school students, collecting information on “aptitudes, abilities, knowledge, interests, activities, and backgrounds” of each student. These questions included questions about “hobbies, organizational and club memberships, dating and work experiences. There were questions about students’ health and about their school and study habits. Students were asked about their fathers’ occupations, parents’ education, financial situations, etc.” One question asked was, “How many children do you expect to have after you marry?” and “How old were you when you first started dating?”
What is AIR doing today? AIR is currently working with multiple partners, including the Department of Education, United Nations, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and Open Society Institute (George Soros), to “conduct and apply the best behavioral and social science research evaluation towards improving peoples’ lives, with a special emphasis on the disadvantaged.” AIR prides itself on its ”long history of contributing to evidence-based social change.”
In 2012 USOE developed the USOE Technology Standards 2012. One of the standards is to have a network-enabled computing device capable of providing access to the school’s technology resources. A purpose of this is for the understanding “human, cultural, and societal issues related to technology and practice legal and ethical behavior.” I don’t think it’s a stretch to think that AIR will be heavily involved with this.
AIR will be developing these assessments, which will include behavioral questions. It’s what they do. One of their primary objectives is to use this data not only in collaboration with other states in relation to common core, but also in collaboration with the United Nations.
With the recent amendments to the FERPA laws, the question becomes what will we as parents do right now to protect the privacy of our children?
And for our friends in Minnesota who saw the news report on local news today about the new tests in Minnesota – AIR is in your educational assessments.