Earlier today, we saw a leaked memo in which Pearson defended the tale of the Hare and the Pineapple. It was field-tested, the spokesman said. It was psychometrically sound. It was just a splendid test item, and the corporation couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about. (http://ideas.time.com/2012/05/04/pineapplegate-exclusive-memo-detailing-the-hare-and-the-pineapple-passage/)
There is an adage: When you are in a hole, stop digging.
Well, Pearson, keep digging. It gets better and better.
Fred Smith, who is a testing expert who worked at the old New York City Board of Education, often comments on testing issues in the press and on the New York City parent blog. Today, he wrote the following at the New York City parent listserv:
“Not only that, folks:
This justification from Pearson comes two days after Commissioner John King canned the pineapple. It shows that the Pineapple and the Harewas nationally-normed ten years ago – when the Stanford 10 was standardized.
SED contracted for Pearson to supply 20-25 nationally-normed items per grade per subject (120 to 150 items for ELA and for math). How many of these were developed in 2002? In the testing industry, norms grow stale over time and tests are re-normed to stay up-to-date with achievement levels in the current test population. In short, old norms (based on performance exhibited by 3rd through 8th grade reference groups from ten years ago) are unacceptable. It appears that Pearson resorted to old data in its item bank in order to cut costs.
We also learn from the memo that the Pineapple item was field tested by Pearson in New York State in 2011. [Under the contract, Pearson did stand-alone field testing in 2011 in order to develop the operational 2012 exams given three weeks ago.] This was done despite warnings that stand-alone field testing is prone to being unreliable, because students are not always well-motivated to take such field tests. That was the very reason given for embedding field test items on the April exams,
The fact that the Pineapple item stats gathered from the 2011 field test match up nicely with the stats from data generated by a decade-old national standardization sample has little relevance to the case that Pearson is trying to advance here– that items such as this “have been developed to support valid and reliable interpretations of scores for their intended uses.”
Plain and simple–this is a CYA memo from the publisher who apparently acted to increase its profit margin.
And Lisa Donlan, a Manhattan parent activist, wrote as follows:
“A perfect object lesson in why psychometric pseudo science (and justifying babble) should not replace real live human qualified and trained TEACHERS and teacher-generated assessments.
Why trust this flawed model with evaluating the teaching and learning of our kids, teachers, schools and districts?
And why cut our school budgets to the bone so we can afford these outrageous for-profit vendors, when we (under) pay teachers and administrators to assess effective teaching and learning every day?
This is a sham, a scam and all about the ADULTS, not the kids!
Pineapplegate is the gift that keeps on giving, and Pearson just won’t let go. Keep digging.