About STAT-us BCPS, Key Links, & Resources

A grassroots education coalition working to slow down the high-tech takeover of Baltimore County Public Schools

focused on the needs of the whole child

not against technology

for the balanced use of technology in BCPS

If you would like to contact us directly, please email STARBCPS@gmail.com (STAR stands for STAT, Technology, and Resources)

Visit our Facebook page STAT in Baltimore County Public Schools or, for discussion of many different education issues, visit the Facebook page of ABCSchools ~ Advocates for Baltimore County Schools.

Why did BCPS parents join forces to question and research STAT?

Because they were so concerned about what was happening in their schools!  Here are some key questions to consider:

OTHERS QUESTIONS PARENTS SHOULD ASK FROM PARENTS ACROSS AMERICA (PAA)

Our Children at Risk:  PAA Reports Detail the Dangers of Ed-Tech

Key Links to Better Understand STAT (Personalized Learning, Competency-Based Education)

BCPS’ STAT website and Lighthouse Schools website

December 2016 Update on STAT’s Eight Conversions (Curriculum, Instruction, Assessment, Organizational Development, Infrastructure, Policy, Budget Communication)

Johns Hopkins University’s Year 3 Mid-Year Evaluation of STAT (earlier STAT evaluations, presentations here)

Dr. Dance at Discovery Education Event: Digital Transition Roadmap & at ASU GSV event speaking on how to get community buy-in

Data & Society Research Institute’s Personalized Learning Primer:  Personalized Learning; The Conversations We’re Not Having

The Atlantic:  How Big is the Ed-Tech Market?  The industry is worth more than $8 billion—even though skeptics question whether the new products improve learning.

Wrench in the Gears:  Stop!  Don’t opt out.  Read this first. (also read Diane Ravitch’s response to this blog post) and A 4-Minute Version of the End Game

Towson University Education Professor Dr. Morna McDermott (national opt-out leader and BCPS parent):  CBE and ALEC Preparing Students for the Gig Economy

Baltimore Sun Op-ed:  The Ed-Tech Takeover of BCPS

Towson Flyer Op-ed:  STAT Costs Continue to Rise

Baltimore Sun Op-ed:  Guidelines Needed for Screen Safety at School

Video: Why Teachers Need to Embrace Technology in the Classroom; LinkedIn Pulse Video Featuring Dr. Dance

BCPS on the National Stage:  Diane Ravitch, Chicago Public Fools, The Must-Attend Event for Ed-Tech Investors (a 2015 article; Dr. Dance presented on STAT at the 2016 event)

Education Week: Technology in Education; An Overview

Alfie Kohn (National Education Expert, Author):  The Overselling of Ed-Tech

Larry Cuban (Stanford University Education Professor):  After Adopting Computers, Why is Schooling Yet to be Transformed?

The Chronicle of Higher Education: Understanding the Origins of Ed-Tech Snake Oil

University of Colorado’s National Education Policy Center’s (NEPC):  Does Class Size Matter?

Class Size Matters:  Online Learning vs. Class-Size Reduction; Which is Really “Personalized” and Which Helps Kids Learn?

National Education Blog, Curmudgucation:  What’s So Bad About Competency-Based Education?

National Education Blog, Living in Dialogue:  The Classroom of the Future; Student-Centered or Device-Centered?

Washington Post:  Competency-Based Learning; The Newest Fad in Education and Why Some Teachers Find it Troubling AND FairTest Testing Reform Analyst on “Personalized Learning” Resulting in More Standardized Testing

National Education Blog, Tultican:  ESSA Promotes Technology Over Good Pedagogy

The following information was researched by a BCPS parent and others.

Most of these points and supporting material were presented to the Baltimore County Council and Board of Education. All information is cited from sources.

~ EXTREME HIGH COST:  The “Total Cost” of the 6-year STAT/ digital conversion was listed at $285 million, according to BCPS’s own documents. That number is not set in stone, and could increase or decrease depending on the software licensing contracts, cost of STAT teachers/mentors, and the cost of pricey interactive projectors if implemented. Overall, BCPS plans to spend about $63 million every year thereafter on STAT, a “forever cost.” Meanwhile nearly all of these taxpayer funds are slated to pay one company, HP-affiliate Daly Computers, to lease the $1,400-plus laptops under four-year leases.

Proposed STAT Budget

This is an exorbitant price tag when other school districts can accomplish digital learning options for tens of millions total. The 1:1 model has been used in some smaller school systems with mixed success, yet such an approach in large districts has consistently failed elsewhere, often due to unwieldy costs, areas such as in Fort Bend, TX and Los Angeles, CA, where test scores remain stagnant or lower even though the district kept using the tablets. The use of laptops or other devices in kindergarten or 1st grade through 12th, on a 1:1 basis as implemented here under STAT, is not recommended or used even in school districts with “digital environments.”

Wired.com:  LA Unified School District’s (LAUSD) failed tablet program

Government Technology Magazine:  What Went Wrong with L.A. Unified’s iPad Program?

LA School Report:  LAUSD Scores Well Below State Average on New Tests

 ~ LACK OF UNBIASED SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE:  BCPS is relying mostly on tech company-funded studies, dismissing increasing scientific evidence revealing a lack of improved test scores or learning outcomes in high tech-usage classrooms, or other potential negative fallout such as impaired knowledge retention by students. It is also using inappropriate research to justify STAT, to include a Rand Corporation study funded by the Gates Foundation, which mainly focused on charter schools.

Regarding ignoring scientific evidence, perhaps even more alarming are documented brain function alterations and addiction-related behavior fostered by dopamine-surge video game formats common to software being used in BCPS classrooms.

Time Magazine:  Screens in Schools are a $60 Billion Hoax

NY Times:  In Classroom of Future, Stagnant Scores

NY Times:  Screen Addiction is Taking a Toll on Children

NPR:  Kids and Screen Time:  What Does the Research Say?

Scientific American:  The Reading Brain in the Digital Age; The Science of Paper vs. Screens

~ IGNORING AVAILABLE DISTRICT STANDARDIZED TEST EVIDENCE:  Lighthouse (pilot) schools’ PARCC scores have shown a nearly across-the-board drop in reading and math scores in the grade that used the devices. This alone has warranted a slowdown of the rollout and better piloting. The administration has noted that PARCC scores are down around the state, yet the scores in BCPS in 3rd grades with the devices last year were even lower than their counterparts in comparable schools that also took the PARCC exam.  Overall, BCPS offers a lack of objective analyses, pursuing large scale 1:1 implementation as a “done deal,” and not considering other digital or online access options.

https://teachingafter60.wordpress.com/2016/01/20/parcc-scores/

~ LACK OF TRANSPARENCY:  Even a 6-year STAT price tag of $272 million first cited by the school administration was not reported to public, until pressed by the board. Admin refuses to answer questions or downplays related costs, such as $13 million in infrastructure to support STAT (total $285 mill); $40 million in proposed device-linked projectors if approved, & about $10 million annually in opportunity costs to pay non-classroom STAT mentors.

~ OPPORTUNITY COSTS:  Overall, massive expenditures and ongoing maintenance costs siphon away needed funds for schools already struggling with large class sizes, undrinkable water, insufficient bus routes, a driver shortage, lack of assistants in special ed and other areas, and environmental impediments to learning such as lack of AC and workable heat. Capital and operating costs originate from different budgets, yet continual investment in STAT impedes fixing such ongoing problems.

2016 County Auditor’s Report

~ LEGAL ISSUES: BCPS and the county are open to lawsuits due to well-documented vision and physical fallout—neck pain and wrist discomfort and injuries—from high device usage. Under the current scenario, children are relied on as test subjects without specific parental consent, and the mining of children’s data by for-profit companies is an issue that has yet to be fully addressed.

Entrepreneur:  Four Ways Your Gadgets May Be Harming Your Body

Cornell University:  Ergonomic Issues for Classroom Computing

The journal Ergonomics, University of Washington researchers:  Gravitational demand on the neck musculature during tablet computer use.

Parent Coalition for Student Privacy:  Are Most Parents Really Okay with Educational Use of Student Data?

~ EQUITY/PARITY UNLIKELY: Various studies (OECD, Pew) show that technology does not improve test scores or learning outcomes among disadvantaged students, especially in early grades when used more than a half-hour per day. This was a surprising finding to these and other researchers who did similar studies. The worst environments for learning are apparently those with high tech-usage, researchers found.

Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development: Students, Computers and Learning

NPR Commentary on OECD Study:  Caution Flags for Tech in Classrooms

Pew Research Center US Smartphone Use in 2015

This all follows with the respected University of Colorado’s National Education Policy Center’s (NEPC) reports:

Virtual and Blended Learning Schools Continue to Struggle and to Grow

Personalized Learning Study’s “Promising” Claims Diminished by Limited Evidence and Weak Generalizability

“The scope of this study covers charter and district-operated virtual schools and blended learning schools. Miron notes that “large private education management organizations dominate the full-time virtual sector and they are increasing their market share in the blended school sector.” Districts are opening their own virtual and blended learning schools, although these are typically smaller and with limited enrollment relative to charter-operated virtual and blended schools.

Measures of school performance consistently show virtual school outcomes that lag significantly behind those of traditional brick-and-mortar schools,” said Gulosino. “While this finding did not surprise us, given past research with similar findings, we were surprised to find that blended schools tended to score similar or lower on performance measures than virtual schools.”

THE BOTTOM LINE (from Anthony Cody’s Living in Dialogue Blog, April 2014):

“In this mode of instruction, these devices become the mediator of almost every academic interaction between students and their teacher, and even one another. Students are assigned work on the device, they perform their work on the device, they share work through the device, and they receive feedback via the device. What is more, the means by which learning is measured—the standardized test—will also be via this device.

It is the appliance that now becomes “intelligent” about each student and the appliance is the vehicle by which lessons are “personalized,” because the appliance is what is keeping track of what the student is capable of, and where the student is weak.

Of course the teacher has the ability to oversee and monitor the assignments the device is making, but the whole idea is to automate this process. And this is happening in an environment where there is a clear desire to increase class sizes. Thus we have “personalization” via digital device, at the same time we make teacher-student relationships far more difficult because budget constraints are increasing class sizes.”

8 thoughts on “About STAT-us BCPS, Key Links, & Resources

      1. I can find parent letters, but not teacher letters. Could you post a link or copy the paragraph you mention? Thanks.

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      2. Check out one of the posts dated 2/10/16 (February Archives), “Student and Teacher Comments about STAT.” Based on your comment, we’ve just added headings to separate the student comments from the teacher comments. So many teachers had comments, we merged the highlights into a long bulleted list.

        Like

      3. Yes, it is so sad that teachers especially fear retribution. If everyone stood together with their concerns, there might be more hope for balance.

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