Four years ago, Tom Vander Ark (former executive at the Gates Foundation, current partner at Learn Capital) wrote in an email exchange with members of the Foundation for Excellence in Education and the Council for Chief State School Officers:
“New tests will hinder rather than help competency-based models…In short, I don’t want one big cheap end of year test used for more than it should be…I don’t want it to lock in the teacher-centric age cohort model for another decade. I don’t want simple assessments…I want a system that will incorporate all the performance feedback that students will be receiving a few years from now.”
Mr. Vander Ark, who is also a board member of a group called Global Education Futures, which recently put out this document that calls for turning “live education” into a “premium service” and advocates for the development of “competence profile(s)…that would record current state and development of individual’s knowledge & skills across different domains of professional & social life, and would accompany individuals throughout their life,” appears to have had a hand in the “Testing Action Plan” that was released by the White House this weekend.
According to the White House document, “A set-aside of $25 million would support competitive projects to help states develop innovative, new assessment models and address pressing needs they have identified for developing and implementing their assessments. This could include competency-based assessment.”
“The Administration will invite states that wish to request waivers of federal rules that stand in the way of innovative approaches to testing to work with the Department to promote high-quality, comparable, statewide measures. For example, the Department granted a temporary waiver to New Hampshire to pilot a competency-based assessment system in four districts.”
“The Department will also “establish “office hours” for any state or district that wishes to consult on how it can best reduce testing but still meet its policy objectives and requirements under the law; will engage in proactive outreach to states and districts on this topic; and will bring in experts to advise the Department, states, and districts on this work. The Department will also share tools already available to do this work, including The Council of Chief State School Officers’ Comprehensive Statewide Assessment Systems: A Framework for the Role of the State Education Agency.”
A shift to competency-based education has been in the works a least a decade, with the American Legislative Exchange Council, the Gates Foundation, and the Foundation for Excellence in Education (among others) at the helm of this shift.
The Council for Chief State School Officers has received upwards of 90 million dollars in grants from the Gates Foundation in the past 6 years, much of it for the purpose of transitioning states to competency-based models.
Several weeks ago, in a post called “Cashing in on Opt Out,” I wondered if investors like Vander Ark would be laughing all the way to the bank if SBAC and PARCC failed.
Pardon the absurd online photoshop job, but…looks like he’s on his way.
Let’s stop him.