The Christian online school Alpha Omega Academy asserts its independence from Common Core, but one Alpha Omega parent is questioning why it would require MAPS testing developed by the pro-Common Core group Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA).
Heidi Wolfgang withdrew her daughter from public school due to the horrendous experience with Common Core—from questionable math problems to excessive testing. Believing Alpha Omega Academy would offer a structured, Bible based education free from Common Core, she invested nearly $2000 in tuition. But then came the testing.
Alpha Omega Academy requires its students to take the MAPS test twice per year in grades 3 through 12 to measure student progress. The MAPS tests are computer adaptive assessments where a question’s difficulty level is adjusted based on the student’s previous answer.
In regards to how the MAPS tests assess mastery of the one-size-fits-all Common Core State Standards, the NWEA Web site states: “Your students are unique. And so is Common Core MAP.”
“Why would a private school claiming to oppose Common Core use any testing—aligned or not—from an organization that is so pro Common Core?” Wolfgang asks.
Alpha Omega Academy states that they use the non-aligned Texas version of MAPS. To ensure that the MAPS test version required by Alpha Omega Academy was indeed not aligned, Wolfgang requested a copy of the vendor contract, but was denied. They state they use a version not aligned to the Common Core State Standards, something that Wolfgang cannot verify without seeing the contract.
However, the Texas standards known as TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills) have been compared to being just like the Common Core State Standards.
“The expectations are very similar which is why it KILLS me that we won’t jump on the Common Core Band Wagon!” (Texas teacher, 6/10/13 blog post)
“Truly, the TEKS aren’t that much different from the CCSS” (Texas teacher, 8/13/12 blog post)
One Texas mom even captured a Web shot of Common Core training for Texas teachers.
Not to mention numerous media reports of Common Core materials coming home from Texas classrooms.
Information from the NWEA Web site indicates they use the same question bank for different versions of their tests. The NWEA returned a request for comment stating that they could not share information on private vendor contracts. They gave no response to the question of whether they use the same question bank for all MAPS test versions.
But Wolfgang points out that Common Core is more than just standards and the testing—it’s about data mining. One of the reasons Wolfgang says she refuses the tests is out of concern for her children’s privacy. “Without knowing who stores this data, and where and how it is stored, I have no assurance my child’s data is safe and private.”
Unlike her experience with public school, Alpha Omega Academy has accepted Wolfgang’s refusal of the MAPS testing for her daughter.