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Arizonans For Common Core 4-17-15

Here is yet another reason why we should be "opting out" our children from the Utah-owned AzMERIT test. No validity testing was done on AzMERIT and our state just "rubber stamped" what Utah did. This is a letter from one of our CC fighters in Lake Havasu to Superintendent Douglas asking for these validity reports. These validity reports were also requested by Utah psychologists for Utah's Student Assessment of Growth and Excellence (SAGE) test and they were denied access to them. Arizona bought rights to use Utah's SAGE test: parents should be very concerned with the continued data mining that is happening on our children now from American Institutes for Research (AIR) which is a behavioral testing company not an academic company and they are administering AzMERIT and the SAGE assessments.

For our treasures,

-Jennifer Reynolds

Dear Superintendent Douglas,

Do you have access to validity reports of AIR's AzMERIT?  If so, are they available for public review or verification?  Or could you verify Dr Thompson's concerns about AIRs intent from the article below?

It appears that AIR was unable to provide validity reports to your Utah counterpart in violation of law and ethics for their SAGE Common Core test.  

If Dr Thompson is correct that SAGE (and our AzMERIT): "After two years of studying the issue, Dr. Thompson surmises that AIR has devised one of the most complex, accurate measures of personality characteristics ever made.  Dr. Thompson believes that behavioral testing was AIR’s contractual goal and that SAGE reached that goal" then this news needs to be spread to all school board members and school superintendents so they can totally ignore lawyers opinions that parents can't opt out.  ARS 1-601 and 1-602 provides such opt out rights.  In fact, these school districts should have a responsibility to warn every parent about the invasion into their students mind as a matter of transparency so parents can make informed decisions.

Thank you
Lake Havasu City, AZ  

He [Dr Thompson] made the offer after Associate Superintendent Judy Park made a public statement regarding the validity of SAGE which Dr. Thompson knew to be false.  He knew that test makers such as American Institutes for Research (AIR)  or Pearson routinely provide validity reports to psychologists in the private sector, because by law and ethics, they know the tests can’t be used otherwise.

Dr. Thompson gave the USOE [Utah State Office of Education] a 24-hour deadline to forward to his clinic some certified copies of industry-standard validity reports prepared by AIR.  Such reports would show the test’s construct validity, criterion validity, content validity, concurrent validity, and predictive validity.


It had become clear to Dr. Thompson that the SAGE test was designed to assess both academic and psychological constructs.  Dr. Thompson knew from his direct doctoral residency experience and from his academic training in assessment that no test of this kind had ever been devised in the history of clinical psychology. With knowledge of the extreme experimental nature of the test it was his logical assumption that AIR’s efforts were devoted to the construction of the test and could not have concurrently designed an entirely new method of measuring validity; providing validity reports is a time-consuming and extremely expensive task. (He notes that AIR and other Common Core test makers must have been thrilled to oblige when “client” Secretary Arne Duncan gave them the opportunity to devise a huge test without requiring the normally expensive and very time-consuming validity tests.)

It’s common knowledge, thanks to the USOE, that AIR was the only company that was federally approved; thus, the only company Utah could have chosen once it dumped its SBAC membership.  The USOE has explained, “AIR is currently the only vendor who produces a summative adaptive assessment that has received federal approval.”

No one really knows– outside of the few AIR psychometricians and V.P. Jon Cohen– exactly what the Utah SAGE test (which is now also used outside Utah)  measures.  After two years of studying the issue, Dr. Thompson surmises that AIR has devised one of the most complex, accurate measures of personality characteristics ever made.  Dr. Thompson believes that behavioral testing was AIR’s contractual goal and that SAGE reached that goal.

Support for Dr. Thompson’s conclusion is easy to find.  As one example, scan the federal report entitled “Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perserverance“.  It openly promotes schools’ collection of students’ psychological and belief-based data via behavioral assessment.  (See page 44 to view biometric data collection device photos: student mood meters, posture analysis seats, wireless skin conductance sensors, etc.)  Utah’s own documents, such as thegrant application for the State Longitudinal Database System, reveal that noncognitive assessment, including psychometric census-taking of Utah students, were part of the state’s agreement with the federal government even before the Common Core Initiative had come to our state.

As for the SAGE test’s academics, Dr. Thompson points out that barring independent, peer-reviewed documentation, it is not possible to honestly claim that SAGE measures what it claims to measure– academics– in a valid manner.  Dr. Thompson puts it this way:  “There is no way in hell that the AIR-produced SAGE/Common Core test measures academic achievement in a valid manner, and quite probably, does not measure academics at all.”

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