In this photo taken Feb. 12, 2015, practice test books sit on a table in  a sixth-grade Ohio classroom.  (AP Photo/Ty Wright)

The Common Core testing group called PARCC Inc. has been waging an aggressive campaign to take down several dozen social media references to the PARCC test being administered to students this spring — items that include questions from the exam and some that don’t.

Dozens of education bloggers have been writing about the PARCC exam since May 7, when an anonymous teacher posted a piece on the blog of Celia Oyler, an education professor at Teachers College at Columbia University, that harshly critiqued the fourth grade PARCC exam and offered three questions from the test many students are taking this spring. Other education writers and activists began to weigh in, critiquing those questions as being either inappropriate for the grade level or nonsensical, and publishing some test items.

PARCC Inc. officials say these postings and tweets violate their copyright and can lead to problems with test validity.

“Students are given an unfair test environment when anyone posts active test questions on the Internet – whether the test is PARCC, the SAT, or any other exam,” Heather Reams, director of communications and public relations at PARCC Inc., said in a statement (which you can see in full below).

Take-down requests are sent to the hosts of blogs or websites such as Twitter, and the hosting service then removes, or blocks, the post. Asked why PARCC would seek to remove items that critique the test but don’t actually disclose test questions , Reams said in an interview that the tweets without test questions had links to blog posts that do and that “the intention is to ensure that we have the validity of the test protected.” Asked if the disclosures threatened the validity of the entire test, Reams said that the problem would be “specific for that question,” and that most students had already taken PARCC before the publication on Oyler’s blogs.

PARCC Inc. is  a non-profit organization that supports the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Career, which itself is one of two multi-state consortia that were given millions in funding from the Obama administration to create new standardized tests aligned to the Common Core State Standards. The PARCC test and other Core tests have drawn scrutiny, with hundreds of thousands of parents opting their children out of the exams amid increasing criticism about their content and the potential consequences the exams carry.

Leonie Haimson, an education activist who founded the non-profit Class Size Matters and is a co-founder of the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy, said that flawed test questions should be publicized. She and others argue that it is “fair use” for writers to reveal a few items from a test if the intent is to critique the test questions.

“There needs to be at least as much accountability for those who make and give the tests as they’re urging on our students, teachers and schools,” Haimson said. “Yet there can’t be any, without complete transparency showing the flawed quality of these assessments.  As with the [badly worded] Pineapple question [on a 2012 Common Core test in New York], which triggered outrage and has become a symbol of the defective nature of the standardized tests imposed on our children, it is the public’s right to know.”

Oyler received a letter dated May 12, 2016, from Laura Slover, the chief executive officer of PARCC Inc., threatening possible legal action if the questions were not removed from the blog. It said in part (and you can see the full letter below):

Your reproduction of those items infringe the PARCC, Inc. copyrights in the test, amplify the teacher’s breach of confidentiality, and threaten the utility of the assessments, both as their administration is completed over the next few weeks and in versions of the assessment to be administered in the future.

We have noted that a number of websites have linked to your site, further undermining the utility of the assessments. As an infringer, you can be held personally liable for the damages incurred by PARCC, Inc. and those who have contributed financially to the creation and validation of the assessments, including without limitation the possible need, not only to create replacement items, but to create and revalidate new test forms.

Oyler has said she received the post anonymously and doesn’t know who the teacher is. She did, however, remove the questions from the post.

Other writers began to receive similar letters and take-down notices about their own writings related to the PARCC test. A list on the Lumen website shows that PARCC asked for at least 10 blog posts and 33 tweets to be taken down. One tweet removed — which didn’t have actual test questions — came from Anthony Cody, a veteran educator who co-founded the nonprofit Network for Public Education with education historian and activist Diane Ravitch. He then tweeted the following (and you can read the full take-down message below):

The same thing happened to Haimson; one of her tweets was taken down. It did link to Oyler’s original post but did not directly reveal any question, according to a screen grab of the tweet she sent me.

Asked why PARCC Inc. has aggressively moved to take down these items from the Internet, Reams referenced this statement on the group’s website:

Statement Regarding PARCC Test Questions Posted on the Internet

Students are given an unfair test environment when anyone posts active test questions on the Internet – whether the test is PARCC, the SAT, or any other exam. Because of this, states rely on PARCC Inc., a non-profit organization, to help ensure that every student who takes a test does so on an even playing field without any unfair advantages or disadvantages, and this requires that copyrighted materials be closely guarded.

Exposing active test questions is also unfair to the many hundreds of educators who have invested thousands of hours providing input and helping to develop and review test questions, ensuring that they are of high quality, align to standards, and are grade-appropriate. In fact, the PARCC assessment has been lauded as high-quality by several independent organizations, including the National Network of the State Teachers of the Year.

Testing fairness has to be balanced with a commitment to transparency. That is why we released over 800 questions from the spring 2015 tests, which are available online for the public to review, and why we will release hundreds more questions from this spring’s tests after every student has completed them.

A spokeswoman for Pearson, the education company that creates questions and administers the test for PARCC Inc., said, “Pearson won’t have a comment on this because we haven’t been involved in decisions to issue these take down notices, nor have we carried them out.”

Chris Cerrone had his post taken down by Blogger  and received a warning email. Peter Greene, a teacher in Pennsylvania wrote a piece on on his blog, Curmudgucation, in which he talked directly about at least one PARCC test question — but it has been removed and that page on his blog is now empty. Though he didn’t receive a take-down notice, the PARCC complaint on the Lumen website says:

  1. DMCA (Copyright) Complaint to Google

Greene’s post, which called PARCC a “crappy test” started out this way:

So this is what we’ve come to — it’s an act of brave rebellion, a risk to career and livelihood, to publish some questions from PARCC’s Big Standardized Test.

Here is the text of the  letter sent to Oyer from Slover, asking that the  PARCC post on her blog by the anonymous teacher be removed:

5/12/16

Dear Professor Oyler:

I am writing to respectfully request that you remove all of the material reproduced from the PARCC assessments reproduced your blog post of May 7, 2016, which was called to our attention at https://celiaoyler.wordpress.com/2016/05/07/the-parcc-test-exposed/.

PARCC, Inc. is the owner of all intellectual property contained in the various PARCC assessments (other than third party literary excepts, for which we have reprint permission), including the essay prompts you have posted. Those prompts are protected by copyright. In addition, the materials are treated as confidential information as they are “live” test questions; indeed, the teacher who furnished you with the material stated in her essay that he or she had breached a written undertaking not to reveal any of the material and wished to avoid personal responsibility for having done so.

Your reproduction of those items infringe the PARCC, Inc. copyrights in the test, amplify the teacher’s breach of confidentiality, and threaten the utility of the assessments, both as their administration is completed over the next few weeks and in versions of the assessment to be administered in the future.

We have noted that a number of websites have linked to your site, further undermining the utility of the assessments. As an infringer, you can be held personally liable for the damages incurred by PARCC, Inc. and those who have contributed financially to the creation and validation of the assessments, including without limitation the possible need, not only to create replacement items, but to create and revalidate new test forms.

We also request that you provide whatever information you have as to the identity of the teacher who breached the confidentiality obligation and the school and/or school district in which the breach occurred.

PARCC, Inc. is prepared to waive claims against you for damages based on the infringement and/or breach of the test security, provided that you remove the offending material and turn over to us any information you may have about the teacher who supplied you with the material you posted on your blog, both within the next 24 hours.

If you are interested in examining PARCC questions, you can view over 800 released questions from the spring 2015 tests that show the breadth and depth of the kinds of questions on the PARCC assessments. Transparency is one of the hallmarks of PARCC, as is teacher engagement. That is why every PARCC question and every reading passage has been reviewed in confidence by educators from across the country who sign off on their quality and appropriateness.

You are certainly free to discuss the merits of the PARCC assessments in a public forum and/or advocate against the use of those assessments, provided that in doing so, you do not reveal any of the content of the secure tests themselves.

Please confirm that you will remove the content.

Sincerely,

Laura Slover

The take-down notice received by Cody:

Date: Mon, 16 May 2016 20:53:45 +0000
From: support@twitter.com
To: anthony@bie.org
Subject: Case# 32654947: We’ve received a DMCA notice regarding your account

@LivingnDialogue

Hello,

The following material has been removed from your account in response to the DMCA takedown notice copied at
the bottom of this email:

If you believe the material has been removed as a result of mistake or misidentification,
you may send us a counter-notification of your objection pursuant to 17 U.S.C. § 512(g)(3).

Please include the following in your counter-notification:

 

 

 

 

Please send your counter-notification to us as a response to this message, or as a new email to copyright@twitter.com.

We will forward a copy of your counter-notification, including the information required in item 1 above, to the
complainant and Chilling Effects. BY SENDING US A COUNTER-NOTIFICATION, YOU CONSENT TO THIS DISCLOSURE OF YOUR
PERSONAL INFORMATION.

Please note that repeat violations of this policy may result in suspension of your account. In order to avoid this,
do not post additional material in violation of our Copyright Policy and immediately remove any material from your
account for which you are not authorized to post.

******************************

DMCA Takedown Notice

== Copyright owner: PARCC Inc.
== Name: Kevin Days
== Company: PARCC Inc.
== Job title: Associate Director
== Email address: kdays@parcconline.org

== Address: 1747 Pennsylvania Ave NW, 6th Floor
== City: Washington
== State/Province: DC
== Postal code: 20006
== Country: USA
== Phone (optional): n/a
== Fax (optional): n/a

——-

== Description of original work: The user has posted a link to a blog that contains secured operational items from the computer-based PARCC Grade 4 English Language Arts/Literacy Assessment, including information about the reading passages and essay prompts.

== Links to original work: n/a

== Reported Tweet URL: https://twitter.com/gregfuchs68/status/732051244194381824

== Description of infringement: The Infringing Material consists of questions and supporting material relating to the PARCC standardized assessments and no person has been authorized to post or disclose such material other than certain persons authorized to administer the PARCC Assessments in a secure environment. No public disclosure has been authorized for the subject material. In particular, PARCC Inc. has a good faith belief that the use of the material described above has not been authorized by PARCC, Inc. as the owner of the subject copyrights

== Reported Tweet URL: https://twitter.com/bressli/status/732051683308666880

== Description of infringement: The Infringing Material consists of questions and supporting material relating to the PARCC standardized assessments and no person has been authorized to post or disclose such material other than certain persons authorized to administer the PARCC Assessments in a secure environment. No public disclosure has been authorized for the subject material. In particular, PARCC Inc. has a good faith belief that the use of the material described above has not been authorized by PARCC, Inc. as the owner of the subject copyrights

== Reported Tweet URL: https://twitter.com/dcactivista/status/732053774206939136

== Description of infringement: The Infringing Material consists of questions and supporting material relating to the PARCC standardized assessments and no person has been authorized to post or disclose such material other than certain persons authorized to administer the PARCC Assessments in a secure environment. No public disclosure has been authorized for the subject material. In particular, PARCC Inc. has a good faith belief that the use of the material described above has not been authorized by PARCC, Inc. as the owner of the subject copyrights

== Reported Tweet URL: https://twitter.com/dawnintheworld/status/732061581371187204

== Description of infringement: The Infringing Material consists of questions and supporting material relating to the PARCC standardized assessments and no person has been authorized to post or disclose such material other than certain persons authorized to administer the PARCC Assessments in a secure environment. No public disclosure has been authorized for the subject material. In particular, PARCC Inc. has a good faith belief that the use of the material described above has not been authorized by PARCC, Inc. as the owner of the subject copyrights

== Reported Tweet URL: https://twitter.com/tcbgp/status/732062905940643842

== Description of infringement: The Infringing Material consists of questions and supporting material relating to the PARCC standardized assessments and no person has been authorized to post or disclose such material other than certain persons authorized to administer the PARCC Assessments in a secure environment. No public disclosure has been authorized for the subject material. In particular, PARCC Inc. has a good faith belief that the use of the material described above has not been authorized by PARCC, Inc. as the owner of the subject copyrights

== Reported Tweet URL: https://twitter.com/livingndialogue/status/732066195457724416

== Description of infringement: The Infringing Material consists of questions and supporting material relating to the PARCC standardized assessments and no person has been authorized to post or disclose such material other than certain persons authorized to administer the PARCC Assessments in a secure environment. No public disclosure has been authorized for the subject material. In particular, PARCC Inc. has a good faith belief that the use of the material described above has not been authorized by PARCC, Inc. as the owner of the subject copyrights

== Reported Tweet URL: https://twitter.com/2011teacher/status/732072400754352129

== Description of infringement: The Infringing Material consists of questions and supporting material relating to the PARCC standardized assessments and no person has been authorized to post or disclose such material other than certain persons authorized to administer the PARCC Assessments in a secure environment. No public disclosure has been authorized for the subject material. In particular, PARCC Inc. has a good faith belief that the use of the material described above has not been authorized by PARCC, Inc. as the owner of the subject copyrights

== Reported Tweet URL: https://twitter.com/dmace8/status/732075471911981056

== Description of infringement: The Infringing Material consists of questions and supporting material relating to the PARCC standardized assessments and no person has been authorized to post or disclose such material other than certain persons authorized to administer the PARCC Assessments in a secure environment. No public disclosure has been authorized for the subject material. In particular, PARCC Inc. has a good faith belief that the use of the material described above has not been authorized by PARCC, Inc. as the owner of the subject copyrights

== Reported Tweet URL: https://twitter.com/clanghoff1/status/732078978945572864

== Description of infringement: The Infringing Material consists of questions and supporting material relating to the PARCC standardized assessments and no person has been authorized to post or disclose such material other than certain persons authorized to administer the PARCC Assessments in a secure environment. No public disclosure has been authorized for the subject material. In particular, PARCC Inc. has a good faith belief that the use of the material described above has not been authorized by PARCC, Inc. as the owner of the subject copyrights

== Reported Tweet URL: https://twitter.com/1good_girl/status/732079189566754816

== Description of infringement: The Infringing Material consists of questions and supporting material relating to the PARCC standardized assessments and no person has been authorized to post or disclose such material other than certain persons authorized to administer the PARCC Assessments in a secure environment. No public disclosure has been authorized for the subject material. In particular, PARCC Inc. has a good faith belief that the use of the material described above has not been authorized by PARCC, Inc. as the owner of the subject copyrights

== Reported Tweet URL: https://twitter.com/tomatraut/status/732083041162526720

== Description of infringement: The Infringing Material consists of questions and supporting material relating to the PARCC standardized assessments and no person has been authorized to post or disclose such material other than certain persons authorized to administer the PARCC Assessments in a secure environment. No public disclosure has been authorized for the subject material. In particular, PARCC Inc. has a good faith belief that the use of the material described above has not been authorized by PARCC, Inc. as the owner of the subject copyrights

== Reported Tweet URL: https://twitter.com/tomatraut/status/732083107180863488

== Description of infringement: The Infringing Material consists of questions and supporting material relating to the PARCC standardized assessments and no person has been authorized to post or disclose such material other than certain persons authorized to administer the PARCC Assessments in a secure environment. No public disclosure has been authorized for the subject material. In particular, PARCC Inc. has a good faith belief that the use of the material described above has not been authorized by PARCC, Inc. as the owner of the subject copyrights

== Reported Tweet URL: https://twitter.com/takenomoore/status/732099040402231297

== Description of infringement: The Infringing Material consists of questions and supporting material relating to the PARCC standardized assessments and no person has been authorized to post or disclose such material other than certain persons authorized to administer the PARCC Assessments in a secure environment. No public disclosure has been authorized for the subject material. In particular, PARCC Inc. has a good faith belief that the use of the material described above has not been authorized by PARCC, Inc. as the owner of the subject copyrights

== Reported Tweet URL: https://twitter.com/hanna_hurley/status/732166404170899457

== Description of infringement: The Infringing Material consists of questions and supporting material relating to the PARCC standardized assessments and no person has been authorized to post or disclose such material other than certain persons authorized to administer the PARCC Assessments in a secure environment. No public disclosure has been authorized for the subject material. In particular, PARCC Inc. has a good faith belief that the use of the material described above has not been authorized by PARCC, Inc. as the owner of the subject copyrights

== Reported Tweet URL: https://twitter.com/beujessws/status/732168339158642688

== Description of infringement: The Infringing Material consists of questions and supporting material relating to the PARCC standardized assessments and no person has been authorized to post or disclose such material other than certain persons authorized to administer the PARCC Assessments in a secure environment. No public disclosure has been authorized for the subject material. In particular, PARCC Inc. has a good faith belief that the use of the material described above has not been authorized by PARCC, Inc. as the owner of the subject copyrights

== Reported Tweet URL: https://twitter.com/drext727/status/732175111596478464

== Description of infringement: The Infringing Material consists of questions and supporting material relating to the PARCC standardized assessments and no person has been authorized to post or disclose such material other than certain persons authorized to administer the PARCC Assessments in a secure environment. No public disclosure has been authorized for the subject material. In particular, PARCC Inc. has a good faith belief that the use of the material described above has not been authorized by PARCC, Inc. as the owner of the subject copyrights

== Reported Tweet URL: https://twitter.com/drext727/status/732175111596478464

== Description of infringement: The Infringing Material consists of questions and supporting material relating to the PARCC standardized assessments and no person has been authorized to post or disclose such material other than certain persons authorized to administer the PARCC Assessments in a secure environment. No public disclosure has been authorized for the subject material. In particular, PARCC Inc. has a good faith belief that the use of the material described above has not been authorized by PARCC, Inc. as the owner of the subject copyrights

== Reported Tweet URL: https://twitter.com/drext727/status/732175670197944324

== Description of infringement: The Infringing Material consists of questions and supporting material relating to the PARCC standardized assessments and no person has been authorized to post or disclose such material other than certain persons authorized to administer the PARCC Assessments in a secure environment. No public disclosure has been authorized for the subject material. In particular, PARCC Inc. has a good faith belief that the use of the material described above has not been authorized by PARCC, Inc. as the owner of the subject copyrights

== Reported Tweet URL: https://twitter.com/joaneanna/status/732183230397485056

== Description of infringement: The Infringing Material consists of questions and supporting material relating to the PARCC standardized assessments and no person has been authorized to post or disclose such material other than certain persons authorized to administer the PARCC Assessments in a secure environment. No public disclosure has been authorized for the subject material. In particular, PARCC Inc. has a good faith belief that the use of the material described above has not been authorized by PARCC, Inc. as the owner of the subject copyrights

== Reported Tweet URL: https://twitter.com/precinctpower/status/732183281723117568

== Description of infringement: The Infringing Material consists of questions and supporting material relating to the PARCC standardized assessments and no person has been authorized to post or disclose such material other than certain persons authorized to administer the PARCC Assessments in a secure environment. No public disclosure has been authorized for the subject material. In particular, PARCC Inc. has a good faith belief that the use of the material described above has not been authorized by PARCC, Inc. as the owner of the subject copyrights

——-

== 512(f) Acknowledgment: I understand that under 17 U.S.C. § 512(f), I may be liable for any damages, including costs and attorneys’ fees, if I knowingly materially misrepresent that reported material or activity is infringing.

== Good Faith Belief: I have good faith belief that use of the material in the manner complained of is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law.

== Authority to Act: The information in this notification is accurate, and I state under penalty of perjury that I am authorized to act on behalf of the copyright owner.

== Signature: Kevin Days