Activists Challenge Plan for NAEP to Assess Student “Mindsets”

privacyThe National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB) that governs the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) has announced it will expand beyond assessing students’ academic content knowledge to also include subjective, non-cognitive, socioemotional parameters. Such factors will include “grit,” “desire for learning,” and “school climate.” Assessing “mindsets” of students potentially will allow the government to determine and possibly reshape children’s moral and religious beliefs about controversial social issues.

American Principles Project, Eagle Forum and Education Liberty Watch along with five additional national organizations, as well as, 69 state organizations in 29 states have joined Liberty Counsel to object what they see as illegal changes to the NAEP. (Disclosure: This author is among those who have joined Liberty Counsel.)

As Liberty Counsel demonstrates in its letter to three congressional committees, if these factors are assessed as part of the NAEP test itself, their inclusion violates federal law prohibiting assessment of “personal or family beliefs and attitudes” via 20 USC section 9622. If they are instead part of the background survey given to students, their inclusion violates the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment, 20 USC section 1232(h), which requires that such material be made available for parental inspection before administration.

Liberty Counsel attorney Richard Mast, author of the letter, wrote in part:

The NAEP is poised to violate federal law by collecting extremely sensitive psychological/socioemotional data on children; it will do so in a necessarily subjective manner;  it contains a substantial risk of exposing the subject children to possible negative consequences in their later schooling and employment careers, to the extent that even supporters of such assessments are concerned; and it will entrust extremely sensitive data to agencies that are no longer governed by serious privacy law and that have proven they cannot or will not keep personal student data secure.

These proposed changes constitute potential parental rights violations, and expose the children to a litany of harms in the present and in the future. Thus, any efforts to ask questions concerning mindsets and other socioemotional parameters and to collect that data via the NAEP should be halted immediately.

“We believe, along with Liberty Counsel and other signatories, that this expansion of NAEP will not only violate federal law but also possibly expose students to negative consequences of having their most sensitive personal information – subjectively determined – collected and maintained in unsecured government databases. Even without federal statutes prohibiting such action, this overreach would invade parental sovereignty over the education and moral direction of children,” Jane Robbins of American Principles Project said in a released statement.

“American Principles Project urges Congress to protect children by halting this illegal expansion of NAEP,” Robbins added.

“We are extremely pleased and thankful that Liberty Counsel and so many organizations around the country have joined this important national fight for student data and psychological privacy,” Dr. Karen Effrem, president of Education Liberty Watch and executive director of the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition, said in a released statement. “Congress must do its due diligence and properly exercise its oversight authority to stop these obvious statutory and constitutional violations and this continued federal overreach before the privacy and futures of our students are further harmed. We urge our members to help educate their members of Congress about this issue and to be sure to opt their children out of this very invasive test.”

2 thoughts on “Activists Challenge Plan for NAEP to Assess Student “Mindsets”

  1. It is great to see someone taking a stand against NAEP. Although a year late and with the passage of ESSA that solidified the affective domain in legislation, better late than never. The affective domain experimentation testing and interventions must also be stopped in ESSA.

    I challenged former Sec. Duncan, the National Assessment Governing Board, and the CCSSO in a letter one year ago. I received a notice that Sec. Duncan received my letter, but I never received a response. The stall for time in preparation for the passage of ESSA by December, granted the state’s, who had moved forward with social, emotional, and behavioral standards in the ESEA Flexibility Waivers, a blanket of protection…and now forward motion. I have challenged President Obama’s EO 12866 since its passage in 2012 that unlocked data, weakened FERPA, and expanded state longitudinal data systems that violate the privacy of our children. A unique national ID is given to every child birth to age 20 or P-20. We have the contracts proving these statements.

    Truly, the affective domain and the data collection, both are by far, the most intrusive elements of education and Common Core. I have attached my letter and Pennsylvania Moratorium on the data collection to refresh my journey. Pennsylvania parents are and have always been the true pioneers of exposing the psychological abuses of our children by government experimentation in our schools. We are ready to stand with anyone who will bring down the illegal, psychological abuse perpetrated by the federal government. I have documents and contracts, and personal letters concerning the experimental measurement of attitudes, values, beliefs, and dispositions and interventions (scoring and implemention of intrusive privacy invading techniques) in the affective domain that would be a valuable resource for any future litigation that I would be happy to share.
    Anita Hoge

    Open Letter to Sec Duncan, NAEP, CCSSO, July 3, 2015

    Pennsylvania Moratorium on Data, November 24, 2014

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