Ever wonder where SBAC (the Common Core testing group) is located, who the people are who run it and what they do? Diane Ravitch shared information about a visit to SBAC’s headquarters at UCLA. Here’s what they found…it’s shocking. You can read her original article at: https://dianeravitch.net/2017/04/10/a-visit-to-the-offices-of-sbac/
From California parent, Joan Davidson, about her visit with teacher Larry Lawrence to the offices of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, which received $180 million in federal funding when Arne Duncan was Secretary of Education, to write tests for the Common Core standards. SBAC was supposed to have 25 states, but it now has only 15. The other consortium is PARCC, which has shrunk from 25 states to only 6 states plus DC
Larry Lawrence and I visited the SBAC office last week before they move which is scheduled to happened by end of June.
It is most concerning. Please read the notes below and attached.
It was concerning that most people are working from remote locations, undisclosed locations, and that a young woman is mostly alone in a 3000 sq. ft. office that is mostly unfurnished and dark.
The SBAC organization is using public funds but refuses to make public their agendas, minutes, meeting locations, budgetary decisions, etc.
Since the tests are secret as well, someone in one of the 15 states who contract with SBAC needs to explain to the public how they are using public funds without any public information disclosable to the public.
I have not researched PARCC.
Is PARCC as secretive as SBAC?
Larry Lawrence and I drove to the UCLA campus today to visit the SBAC office located at the Peter Uberroth building on Le Conte Ave in Westwood.
We were unsure if we would also visit the Graduate Education building office #300 as well known as the GSEIS Building – Graduate School of Education and Information Sciences.
We arrived at approximately 12pm to the building. SBAC office #1400 posted the SBAC name and room #on a paper sign and showed this sign telling visitors to use the door around the corner. The office could not be entered without punching a code.
We went around the corner to that office number that only posted the sign for the CRESST office. #1400 and #1355.
I rang the bell. The code system for entry was also in place.
A woman named Amulet opened the door. I asked if Paisha Allmendinger was in the office. She asked who we were and I said my name is Joan.
Paisha came to the door. It was dark behind Paisha with a very long hallway. She asked what we wanted. I explained that we were educators and we wanted some information regarding SBAC. Asked if she could spare a few minutes.
She invited us into the offices.
I was struck by the vast space approx. 3000 sq. ft. The only occupants that we saw were the woman Amulet and Paisha.
We followed Paisha to her office. She is listed as the director of finances for SBAC. She is approx. 30 years old.
Larry had printed up a SBAC employee list from online and there were 28 people on the list. I asked Paisha were they were. She explained that only 3 people were here in this office while 35 people worked as a virtual office across the Nation.
I said I heard that SBAC was moving. She said yes, there is an RFP currently due on April 6, 2017. This RFP is only open to public agencies that participate in the CA retirement system.
I asked why SBAC was bumped out of UCLA. She said that the contract with the grad school was not renewed.
She said that possibly the RFP would be responded to by Cal State Univ., a UC campus or 1 bidder is a County Office of Education.
The SBAC is concerned about retirement and other employee benefits so they are attempting to remain attached to another public institution associated with the CA benefits program.
I asked what happened to state of Washington as fiscal agent. Paisha said when UCLA signed the MOU with SBAC UCLA became the fiscal agent.
SBAC is aligned to the UCLA Graduate School of Education & Information Sciences
SBAC employees want to maintain the service credits of employment with a CA public agency.
I asked about Administrators and Paisha said there are 6-10 people acting as Administrators that work at home and come into the office 2 days a week.
She asked what our interest is in this? Larry answered that as a math teacher, he’s interested in the new tests. She pointed out the new test item site online.
The SBAC is matching up questions to the state standards. (CC standards I suppose)
People wanted SBAC to have actual sample questions.
She spoke about accommodations and accessibility and translations for test takers.
I asked if Agendas for meetings were available to public. No.
What about who are the Executive Board of Directors. It’s online according to her.
She stated that the CRESST center is their partner and now is consolidated at the Grad School of Ed offices.
CRESST provides psychometric work to SBAC and validity studies and research.
I asked where this can be found? On CRESST website she said.
We asked who was located across campus in the SBAC office next to CRESST?
No one, it’s just acting like a mailbox for their purposes.
We asked about the status of the SBAC employees who were listed as occupying office space in the GSEIS building across the campus.
Paisha told us that all these 12 people worked at remote locations and none of them were physically located on the UCLA campus. The address listed for them on the SBAC website (GSEIS Building 300) served as a post office box type function. The GSEIS Building is primarily the location of the CRESST staff while the main location of the Graduate School of Education and Information Sciences is Moore Hall, located in the central area of the UCLA campus.
My observations and unanswered questions:
The 3000 sq. ft. + office is empty except for Allmendinger’s office and a few partitioned stations. It was mostly dark and eerie.
Paisha’s office had 3 top to bottom bookshelves–all empty.
The only other person that was visible was Amulet who answered the door.
Paisha is titled the Financial Director that would put in charge of hundreds of millions of dollars. She does not seem qualified with prior experience to oversee this agency.
Who is really directing this center?
Strangers such as Larry and I have most likely never visited the SBAC offices.
It is a bizarre atmosphere and should have been bustling.
Where are all of the other 35 people located and who are they?
What are they paid?
What are there qualifications?
What do they do?
Paisha stated there are 6-10 administrators who work with SBAC and come into the office 2 days a week. It was not clarified whether it is 6, or 10.