PARCC CEO to Prof Who Posted "Live" Test Items: Reveal Your Informant

Email from PARCC CEO Laura Slover, sent to me and others by Prof. Celia Oyler, who writes at celiaoyler.wordpress.com and who published a post referencing three "live" PARCC test items for grade 4:

c. 5/12/16

Dear Professor Oyler:

I am writing to respectfully request that you remove all of the material reproduced from the PARCC assessments reproduced your blog post of May 7, 2016, which was called to our attention at https://celiaoyler.wordpress.com/2016/05/07/the-parcc-test-exposed/.

Parcc, Inc. is the owner of all intellectual property contained in the various PARCC assessments (other than third party literary excepts, for which we have reprint permission), including the essay prompts you have posted. Those prompts are protected by copyright. In addition, the materials are treated as confidential information as they are "live" test questions; indeed, the teacher who furnished you with the material stated in her essay that he or she had breached a written undertaking not to reveal any of the material and wished to avoid personal responsibility for having done so.

Your reproduction of those items infringe the Parcc, Inc. copyrights in the test, amplify the teacher's breach of confidentiality, and threaten the utility of the assessments, both as their administration is completed over the next few weeks and in versions of the assessment to be administered in the future.

We have noted that a number of websites have linked to your site, further undermining the utility of the assessments. As an infringer, you can be held personally liable for the damages incurred by Parcc, Inc. and those who have contributed financially to the creation and validation of the assessments, including without limitation the possible need, not only to create replacement items, but to create and revalidate new test forms.

We also request that you provide whatever information you have as to the identity of the teacher who breached the confidentiality obligation and the school and/or school district in which the breach occurred.

Parcc, Inc. is prepared to waive claims against you for damages based on the infringement and/or breach of the test security, provided that you remove the offending material and turn over to us any information you may have about the teacher who supplied you with the material you posted on your blog, both within the next 24 hours.

If you are interested in examining PARCC questions, you can view over 800 released questions from the spring 2015 tests that show the breadth and depth of the kinds of questions on the PARCC assessments. Transparency is one of the hallmarks of PARCC, as is teacher engagement. That is why every PARCC question and every reading passage has been reviewed in confidence by educators from across the country who sign off on their quality and appropriateness.

You are certainly free to discuss the merits of the PARCC assessments in a public forum and/or advocate against the use of those assessments, provided that in doing so, you do not reveal any of the content of the secure tests themselves.

Please confirm that you will remove the content.

Sincerely,

Laura Slover

CEO

Oyler has removed the items as per PARCC's request.

As for Oyler's delivering to PARCC the name of the teacher and school/school district: That has not happened to my knowledge.

On May 15, 2016, I followed up with this open letter to Slover:

Dear Mrs. Slover:

My name is Mercedes Schneider. I am a Louisiana public school teacher, blogger, researcher, and author. On May 13, 2016, I posted on my blog a copy of the email that you sent to professor Celia Oyler circa May 12, 2016, regarding a post on her blog, one written by an anonymous teacher and including three "live" questions from PARCC's 2016 grade 4 exam.

In this open letter, I have a few requests of you. If you choose to respond, please do so in the comments section of this post. I will repost any complete and unedited response(s) from you and/or your designee as its own new post. (For any designee response, please title and affiliation of designee.)

First of all, in your email to Oyler, you note that Oyler's posting the three "live" items "threatens the utility of the assessments... in versions of the assessment to be administered in the future." I am seeking clarification of this statement. It seems that it would be easy to simply consider the items as released items in the same way that you note PARCC has released over 800 questions from the spring 2015 administration. How is the current release a "future threat" to "assessment utility"?

Next, I noticed that there were a number of days that passed between Oyler's original, May 07, 2016, post, and your/PARCC's awareness of it. It seems that what really brought the matter to your attention was Diane Ravitch's May 10, 2016, reposting of Oyler's piece as well as Leonie Haimson's sharing Oyler's piece on Twitter (Haimson received notification from Twitter about the issue on May 12, 2016). I noticed that you follow both Ravitch and Haimson on Twitter and that your latest "follow" addition on Twitter (as of May 14, 2016) was Celia Oyler. Given that you must anticipate that at least someone will openly discuss PARCC tests during the PARCC testing window, I am wondering if the way that you as PARCC CEO are monitoring social media is simply by doing it yourself. Please comment.

Also, given that the threats to PARCC security posed by social media will be with you in the future, have you, as CEO of a major testing enterprise, considered and do you currently have in place strategies for effectively ridding "live" tests of publicized questions? This would seem imperative to have in place, especially given the high-stakes nature of your enterprise and the growing public dislike for standardized testing, including consortium-arranged standardized testing.

Another question: I find it unusual that you would send Oyler an email yourself as opposed to having an attorney draft it. Feel free to comment on this.

Finally, in your email to Oyler, you note that "every PARCC question and every reading passage has been reviewed in confidence by educators from across the country who sign off on their quality and appropriateness." Thus, for the three "live" items in question, I respectfully ask that you or your designee provide the following information:

  • The name(s), credentials, and affiliations for the creators of each of the three items, including any past or current affiliation with any and all testing companies, testing consortia, or testing nonprofits. If the individual(s) was paid for item creation, please include names of payer(s), amount of remuneration and description of services rendered. Please also clearly include an explanation of why this individual(s) is qualified to develop each question, with particular attention to reading passage selection.
  • The name(s), credentials, and affiliations for the reviewers of each of the three items, including any past or current affiliation with any and all testing companies, testing consortia, or testing nonprofits. If the individual(s) was paid for item selection/review, please include names of payer(s), amount of remuneration and description of services rendered. Please also clearly include an explanation of why this individual(s) is qualified to select and/or review each question, with particular attention to reading passage selection.
The above can be accomplished without divulging details of the items themselves; simply referring to them as "E," "G," and "S," respectively, will do.

I thank you for your time and look forward to your response.

Yours truly,

Mercedes K. Schneider, Ph.D.

If and when Slover or her designee responds, I will post it on HuffPost.

Stay tuned.

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Originally posted 05-13-16 and 05-15-16 at deutsch29.wordpress.com

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of the ed reform whistle blower, A Chronicle of Echoes: Who's Who In the Implosion of American Public Education.

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She also has a second book, Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?.

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