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Re: Help (CASE and CRESST)

In a message dated 2/3/02 10:52:06 AM, wcala@ROCHESTER.RR.COM writes:

<< CRESST does have a couple of elements not present in the later two I have
mentioned, ie. Multiple measures for high-stakes decisions must have their
weighting made public and Tests should minimize factors irrelevant to the
domai assessed (ie. math tests should not be testing English). >>

February 4, 2002

Hello Colleagues:

I think people should review CRESST's relationship with Chicago's "Miracle"
show before buying too far into the CRESST thingy. As I note below, there are
many similarities between the professors who approved the phony claims of
places like Chicago and the auditors who couldn't see any problems with
Enron's creative accounting. I'll be elaborating on that in the future (even
though Andy Porter's new, improved, ever-so-cute-and-glib, Bush-era AERA
blacklisted all of the resistance presentations, including our panel and my
Unicorn Studies presentation).

I'm busy getting ready to go to court, but...

FACT: CRESST was paid at least $500,000 to work with Chicago to develop the
CASE tests. CREST got the job on a no-bid contract through Carole Perlman,
who at the time she suggested CRESST get the job was serving on CRESST's

FACT: When the CASE tests proved terrible, CRESST took the money and kept its
mouth shut. By 1999, the CRESST people knew how bad the CASE tests were.
Their silence was deafening, considering how important the issue was (with
CASE being utilized in all major subjects in all Chicago public high

FACT: When I published six of the Pilot Form B CASE tests in the January -
February 1999 Substance, it was in full knowledge of how terrible those tests
were, and with the conviction that the public would only appreciate how bad
they were by seeing the whole test (not the old "sample question" dodge,
which lets the test company say "We fixed that part after he cherry picked
the bad questions...).

FACT: If CRESST had gone public with reservations (as it should have under
the professional guidelines of about three organizations its members are a
part of -- AERA, NCME, APA, at least -- about the CASE tests (which it has
been rumored to have had, for several years), I (and Substance) would not
have been sued for $1.4 million (January 26, 1999); condemned in editorials
in Chicago's two major newspapers (January 28, 1999); suspended withoiut pay
from my (30-year) teaching job (March 5, 1999); fired from my teaching job
(August 2000); forced to raise more than $100,000 for lawyers and related
legal costs (ongoing, at an increasing rate again); and been subjected to a
campaign of slanderin the press (including an article in Education Week that
simply quoted the Paul Vallas version of events).

FACT: Since there was no public support for us from the "experts" (consider:
CRESST's half million dollars from Chicago's public schools was small
potatoes by comparison with the million or more going directly -- through the
Board of Education -- or indirectly -- through foundation grants steered
their way -- going to the University of Chicago, Northwestern, DePaul, and
the University of Illinois) it was much easier for the rest of the press and
the "public" to ignore the issues we were raising at the time we were sued.

These were not neutral times, and certainly not times for people who
supposedly followed some professional ethics code to keep their mouths shut
while Chicago screwed hundreds of thousands of kids through the misuse of the
ITBS and TAP (on the grand scale) and the cynical patronage development of
CASE (on a smaller but still major scale).

But silent they were, the professors.

All of them.

Not just the majority (like in some other historical examples of tyranny from
the last century).

Whatever virtues CRESST may have, it's hard to understand how they could
ignore the problems in the CASE tests by early 1999. These idiocies were
obvious enough to make page one of The Wall Street Journal (May 25, 2001, in
that story on me). The complete idiocy of many of the CASE questions (which,
presumably, CRESST vetted) was surpassed only by the fact that they existed
under the pretence of measuring a semester's worth of high school study based
on approximately 30 multiple choice questions and a handful of "construted
response" questions (which are graded by the same teachers who taught the
class and who will be rated on their class grades among other factors!).

CASE had to be critiqued in toto, and with the entire test in front of each
of the critics.

Instead, the critique was abruptly ended when the Board of Education here
quickly registered its "copyright" and then used a government claim of
"copyright" as a way of enforcing a vicious security classification system on
important government documents (i.e., the CASE tests themselves). (This, by
the way, is the essential academic freedom and constitutional issue
underlying the entire lawsuit we're involved in and the basis for my stubborn
refusal to "compromise." Do you really want any dumb government bureaucrat --
Paul Vallas is a good example, but I'm sure history will produce even dumber
and more menadacious -- given the power to evoke secrecy regulations like the
military simply by placing a "copyright" slug on things?...)

Well, I've got to go, but people should talk about CRESST, its reputation,
and those "Where were you when? (And "What would you have done?") questions
graduate student love when they do their "values clarification" things
abstracted from real history and real events. (We can call those the "feel
good" Anne Frank seminars... Everyone comes out with a sense of their moral

Flash forward to now (January - February, 2002).

CASE was given in Chicago's high schools (and to "gifted" elementary students
like my 12-year-old son Danny, who took it in World Studies and Environmental
"Science") two weeks ago.

It hasn't been improved too much.

Once again, CASE is a joke among students and teachers. The only thing more
ridiculous than the CASE tests we published in January 1999 (English, social
studies, algebra) were the ones we've been barred from publishing (the
science tests; I really couldn't go to jail for contempt of federal court on
top of everything else we were facing).

Amazingly, the recent CASE tests (Semester1, Form A2) are as dumb as their
predecessory, especially in "science" where the final versions are vetted by
political patronage hirelings who are scientifically challenged. In physics,
for example, CASE has at least five questions for which there are either
multiple correct answers or no correct answer.

Since 1998, CRESST has received a great deal of money from Chicago to help
with these atrocious tests. CASE alone should raise as many questions about
CRESST's credibility as Enron raises about the credibility of Arthur Andersen.

Of is it their position that as a pure "research" thingy they aren't
responsible for the eggs that get broken when someone else makes an omlet
with one of their recipes. In this case, the eggs are the 100,000 or so
Chicago high school students (and a growing number of elementary students)
who are forced to take (and "pass" or "fail") CASE tests in Chicago each
year, with no word from the experts about how poor these tests might be.

George Schmidt
Editor, Substance
5132 W. Berteau
Chicago, IL 60641

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