Duncan’s “wacky” Data Mining linked to Common Core

| July 9, 2013 | Reply

In his speech to news editors at their annual convention, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said,

When the critics can’t persuade you that the Common Core is a curriculum, they make even more outlandish claims. They say that the Common Core calls for federal collection of student data. For the record, we are not allowed to, and we won’t. And let’s not even get into the really wacky stuff: mind control, robots, and biometric brain mapping. This work is interesting, but frankly, not that interesting.

Despite his denial, the federal government has plans for student data tracking and the Department of Education is finding this sort of “wacky stuff” pretty interesting.  Interesting enough to release a report on how education data mining can help prepare students for the 21st century. The report  Promoting Grit, Tenacity, and Perseverance:  Critical Factors for Success in the 21st Century” was released in February 2013.    Here’s a few excerpts….

The test score accountability movement and conventional educational  approaches tend to focus on intellectual aspects of success, such as content knowledge. However,  this is not sufficient. If students are to achieve their full potential, they must have opportunities to  engage and develop a much richer set of skills. There is a growing movement to explore the  potential of the “noncognitive” factors—attributes, dispositions, social skills, attitudes, and
intrapersonal resources, independent of intellectual ability—that high-achieving individuals draw upon to accomplish success.  In this brief, we take a close look at a core set of noncognitive factors—grit, tenacity, and  perseverance. (Page 1)

• These factors have come into the spotlight in important national educational policy documents and initiatives…

Authors of the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics have acknowledged the fundamental need for perseverance in conceptual learning. They have incorporated it explicitly in the practice standard: “Make sense of problems and persevere in solving  them.” This standard encompasses that students “monitor and evaluate their progress and  change course if necessary….” (Page 6)

Perseverance is a “core noncongitive skill” required for success in the 21st century. Common Core is NOT just about math and ELA,, but a “core set of noncognitive factors” including grit, tenacity, and perseverance.    That’s Standard 1 in the Common Core math standards.   In an “evidenced based” world how does a teacher measure and evaluate to know if a child has met that standard?    Educational Data Mining with affective computing. 

“New technologies using educational data mining and “affective computing” (the study and development of systems and devices that can recognize, interpret, process, and simulate aspects of human affect) are beginning to focus on “micro-level” moment-by-moment data within digital and blended-learning environments to provide feedback to adapt learning tasks to personalized needs. (Page ix)…

Educational data mining (EDM) “develops methods and applies techniques from statistics, machine learning, and data mining to analyze data collected during teaching and learning. EDM tests learning theories and informs educational practice” (U.S. Department of Education Office of Educational Technology, 2012, p. 9)…

With the prevalence of new digital learning resources and learning technologies, new forms of measurement are emerging, making it possible to go beyond conventional approaches. For example, data mining techniques can track students’ trajectories of persistence and learning over time, thereby providing actionable feedback to students and teachers. In addition, functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) and physiological indicators offer insight into the biology and neuroscience underlying observed student behaviors.  (Page 32)…

While it is impractical to use MRI in the classroom (i.e., it is a prohibitively expensive, room-sized machine), Ed Dieterle and Ash Vasudeva of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation point out that researchers such as Jon Gabrieli and Richard Davidson are beginning to use multiple methods to explore how specific brain activity is correlated with
other cognitive and affective indicators that are practical to measure in school settings….

No, this is NOT a transcript from the Glenn Beck show.  This is a document produced by the US Department of Education under the direction of Secretary Duncan.    The Common Core standards with the federal government  assistance plan on using data mining and”affective computing” to help measure noncognitive human factors.  Including the “really wacky stuff.”

Affective computing is the study and development of systems and devices that can recognize, interpret, process,
and simulate aspects of human affect. Emotional or physiological variables can be used to enrich the understanding and usefulness of behavioral indicators.  Discrete emotions particularly relevant to reactions to challenge—such as interest, frustration, anxiety, and boredom—may be measured through analysis of facial expressions, EEG brain wave patterns, skin conductance, heart rate variability, posture, and eye-tracking.

Secretary Duncan, you’ve got some explaining to do.   This is YOUR department’s report that is interested in measuring grit, tenacity, perseverance, interest, frustration, and boredom through EEG brave wave patterns, facial expressions, eye-tracking.

Examples of affective computing methods are growing. Mcquiggan, Lee, and Lester (2007) have  used data mining techniques as well as physiological response data from a biofeedback apparatus  that measures blood volume, pulse, and galvanic skin response to examine student frustration in an online learning environment, Crystal Island.g etc.

Recently on NPR, State Representative Tom McMillan was asked by about Secretary Duncan’s statement regarding data mining.  here’s an excerpt,

MCMILLIN: Data mining, privacy, databases that you are following and tracking every child – I mean, it just falls along this line of central planners. They think that the more data and the more privacy that they’re able to delve into, the more they’ll be able to figure out what to do for each child.

TURNER: And McMillin isn’t alone. Here’s talk show host Glenn Beck.

GLENN BECK: Common Core, it calls for massive amounts of personal data on students, including health care histories, income information, religious affiliation, blood types, what – how are your parents voting.

TURNER: To some critics, the Core and data are both four-letter words and together a dangerous step toward an Orwellian nanny state. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is flabbergasted by this argument and fired back in a recent speech.

SECRETARY ARNE DUNCAN: They say that the Common Core calls for the federal collection of student data. For the record, it doesn’t. We’re not allowed to do that, and it won’t.

TURNER: I have the standards right here. A lot of pages and not a word that I could find about student data. So I pushed back on Representative McMillin of Michigan, show me the connection between the Core and data mining.

MCMILLIN: Our Smarter Balanced contract requires that we give that data up individually, per child, for research purposes.

Rep. McMillin is absolutely correct.     The  Smarter Balanced Assessments and the Common Core aligned digital courseware from vendors such as Pearson Publishing both allow the data collection necessary to evaluate students in noncongitive skills that are are part of the Common Core Standards.   This is likely a key reason the Los Angeles Unified School District just bought $30 million worth of iPads loaded with Pearson Common Core System of Courses delivered via a new app.    It’s all a part of the Common Core and Secretary Duncan’s digital data collection for the 21st Century.

Category: Assessments Information, Common Core Problems, Student Data & Privacy

About the Author ()

Karen Braun is a writer and conference speaker on issues related education and family life. Her work has appeared in the American Thinker, Crosswalk, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, WatchDog Wire, and various other websites and magazines. She has also appeared on TV and radio venues. Along with blogging, Karen also enjoys homeschooling, running marathons, and spending time with her husband, their six children, and two grand children. For more information please contact Karen at spunkyhomeschool at gmail dot com