The gift no one wanted-how digital learning came to MA & Fair Test finally woke up.


The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education announced yesterday, the creation of a new statewide personalized-learning initiative called MAPLE (Massachusetts Personalized Learning EdTech) Consortium. It is important to note that educational technology is specifically called out in the name. This public-private partnership is being funded by the Barr Foundation and the Nellie Mae Foundation, one of the primary advocates for Competency Based Education in New England. There are currently twelve pilot districts, but the plan is to add an additional thirty districts over time.

Updates on the program were given to Massachusetts’ Digital Learning Advisory Council in January 2016:

Digital Learning Advisory Council members for 2015-16 included representatives of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, MIT, The Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation, The Virtual High School, The Center for Applied Special Technology, The American Federation of Teachers, and the Massachusetts Teachers Association. Full member list here.

According to the Council’s September 2016 minutes, the contract for the program had been awarded to Learn Launch as of that time. Ann Koufman-Frederick, the Chief Academic Officer of Learn Launch, appears to be the project contact. She has ties to districts across the state.

Within 24 hours of MAPLE’s announcement, Fair Test came out with a cautionary post on the potential for personalized learning to lead to constant online testing. And in a bit of irony, actually cited one of Wrench In The Gears’ blog posts as a reference.

A number of education activists who were aware that the structure of the ESSA was designed to expand privatization and data-mining by giving preference and support to online digital learning reached out to Fair Test in months leading up to the passage of this bill explaining the dangers and asking them to withdraw their support of the bill (see below for examples). The response received was that it was more important to address NCLB sanctions than what might happen with Competency Based Education and performance assessing.

As Edward Snowden said in a recent interview with Katie Couric “This is the year everyone got everything wrong.”


November 1, 2015




November 30, 2015


December 1, 2015


6 thoughts on “The gift no one wanted-how digital learning came to MA & Fair Test finally woke up.

  1. Carolyn Leith says:

    Let me get this straight – a year after the ESSA made personalized learning a done deal, NOW Fair Test wants to push to the front of the line and pretend to lead the charge against competency based education? What a farce.

  2. ciedie aech says:

    “…ESSA was designed to expand privatization and data-mining by giving preference and support to online digital learning…” In only parents might hear this line often enough to understand how they’re being duped into a passive complicity.

    • Lisa M says:

      The key word is “parents”. I can’t get any parent to listen to me. When parents see good grades on a report card they think that everything is just peachy keen. Little do they know that it’s scripted curriculum for test prep. Tests are not sent home, classwork is not sent home, parents are discouraged from helping their children with homework/projects. The parent factor has been quietly deleted from the equation. What I hear is “if the grades are good, why should I be concerned?”. Parents aren’t angry enough in large numbers….just in small pockets of a very large country. When the teachers get the parents angry, then there will be a revolution, but until then this will be a long, uphill, losing battle. I’m ready for some homeschooling in my home.

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