Archives for category: Pearson

Uh-oh. Florida’s end-of-course exams suspended by hackers.

“Interruptions in Florida’s end-of-course biology, civics and U.S. history exams last week came courtesy of outside hackers, a Florida Department of Education spokeswoman told the Gradebook on Monday.

“It was an attempt by an outside party to somehow shut down the system,” spokeswoman Cheryl Etters said. “Pearson figured out what was going on and put a stop to it.”

“The state told schools to delay testing during the disruption, during which students could not log in to take their exams. The system was back up within about two hours.

“This event marked the second time this spring that Florida’s computerized testing fell victim to a denial of service attack. American Institutes for Research servers also were brought down in March, during the administration of Florida Standards Assessments.”

Last night, I watched a Nova program on PBS called “The Rise of the Hackers.” One of the most sophisticated hacks was the work of teenagers.

The only truly secure test is the one written and graded by the classroom teacher. Online testing is not secure, does not reflect what was taught, and generates profits that are extracted from instruction. They are so yesterday.

Pearson just lost most of its Texas testing business.

For the first time in three decades, a new company is poised to develop and administer the state-required exams Texas students begin taking in the third grade.

The state is in negotiations with Educational Testing Service, or ETS, to take over the bulk of the four-year, $340 million student assessment contract, the Texas Education Agency announced Monday. Company Vice President John Oswald said ETS is “privileged and honored” to land the work. Final contracts are still being negotiated.

The London-based Pearson Education has held the state’s largest education-related contract — most recently, a five-year, $468 million deal to provide state exams through 2015 — since Texas began requiring state student assessments in the 1980s. Under the new agreement, the company would still develop the state’s assessments designed for special needs and foreign students. That portion of the contract is worth about $60 million.

Here is the puzzling question: Why did it cost $468 million for a five-year contract with Pearson when New York State pays Pearson “only” $32 million for a five-year contract? Does New York have smarter negotiators? Does Pearson have better lobbyists in Texas than in New York? Does New York get Texas’s used questions? True, Texas has more children than New York, but not 15 times more. Can anyone explain?

Our blog poet writes a poem for Pearson:

Pearson cares deeply…

about what’s in their pocketses

“Stopping by schools on a doughy evening’ (with apologies to Robert Frost)

Whose schools these are I think I know
Their houses are in the village though
They will not see the Pearson test
And see their schools farmed out for dough

The classroom teacher thinks I jest
Reform without an expert guest
Between the test and Common Core
And iPads, VAMs and all the rest

She spots her pink slip on the door
And curses her value-added score
The only other sounds the sweep
Of janitor broom on hallway floor

The pockets are lovely, dark and deep
And I have promi$e$ to keep
And million$ to make before I sleep
And million$ to make before I sleep

Have you heard complaints about the validity of Pearson tests? Have you heard complaints that test questions may have more one correct answer?

If so, listen to the other side as “The Bald Piano Guy” Defends Pearson.

(Joke. Laugh. Humor conquers all.)

I have often written that the Pearson Common Core tests are written and scored to fail most students. Not only are the reading levels two grade levels above the students’ actual grade, but the cut score is set artificially high.

Here is confirmation from a teacher who graded essay answers:

“When teachers score state tests, they are given formal training before they score actual student tests. Teachers are trained using student anchor answers that are culled from random field tests. Each student answer is used as an example and compared to the rubric to show how to score accordingly. There is always an anchor answer for each rubric score, meaning an answer that demonstrates a 1, another serves as an example of a 2 and so on and so forth. Teachers must then take a quiz using more student samples in order to gauge their preparation level before they move on to scoring actual exams.

“This year’s 5th(?) grade training guides DO NOT have anchor answers for the highest score on the essay. That has never happened before. That means that during the random field testing NO STUDENT was able to achieve an answer that would have met the highest criteria of the rubric. Pearson filled in this gap with their own mock version of an answer that would meet the highest score on the rubric. In other words, the test was too hard for even the most accomplished students to achieve full credit and therefore way beyond their ability.

“The training guides are embargoed and teachers are prevented from removing them from the scoring site.”

Be sure to watch this segment about testing and Pearson on John Oliver’s show on HBO:

 

https://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=J6lyURyVz7k

 

It is fantastic!!

 

Enjoy! This is a huge help in telling the public what is happening and how our schools are diverting hundreds of millions of dollars–billions–to testing instead of instruction.

The Long Island Business News is all over Common Core. It published an article exploring the money trail that leads again and again to Pearson. Unlike Newsday, the major newspaper on Long Island, LIBN is attentive to the widespread parent revolt against Common Core and the testing associated with it.

In this editorial, Joe Dowd begins with a question:

How would you feel if your kids toiled in a factory run by a British company whose overlords were faceless bureaucrats in Albany?

LIBN’s Claude Solnik’s in-depth probe of British testing giant Pearson reveals that, over the past few weeks, your children – ages 8-14 – were asked to labor long hours during a six-day span without pay or tangible reward. In the process, they contributed to the testing factory’s windfall profits.
Meanwhile the state, which forced this down the throats of our children, took federal money to do the company’s bidding. Pearson not only produces the tests but the preparatory and remedial materials necessary to implement them. We pay for this through our taxes and parental angst.
Our kids received no pay, no timely results – merely the pain of mind-numbing test-taking for hours, answering questions with very questionable answers. Incredibly, this disgraceful form of mind management is designed as an evaluation of teachers, not actually their students.
Common Core: Think of it as forced child labor. Our nation fought for laws that made child labor illegal.

If you weren’t intimidated by a system that does not have your child’s best interest at heart, you’d opt out, right? “No thanks,” you’d say. “I think I’ll let my kids take a pass.”
Tens of thousands across Long Island and the state did just that. Their kids were required to go to school and sit in auditoriums for hours with little to do and no substantive instruction.
Where were our leaders at budget time? Why did they cave? If this system is so broken, why don’t we stand up and stop it?
Believe me: If my kids were of that age, I would have declared snow days in April and let them play and ponder the world from home. I’d tell them that when your government stops being responsive, it’s our duty to change it….

Opt out; demand representation: If this be treason, make the most of it.

Curious that some of the legislators who were strongest in supporting Governor Cuomo’s punitive and mindless teacher vengeance plan come from Long Island: Dean Skelos, the Republican leader of the State Senate, and John J. Flanagan, chair of the State Senate Education Committee. Why don’t they pay attention to the voices of the people they allegedly represent?

Read more: http://libn.com/2015/04/23/joe-dowd-casualties-of-common-core/#ixzz3YZovZtnX

This is one of the best articles you will read about Common Core and testing. It appears in the Long Island Business News. It shows the big business of testing, with a focus on Pearson.

Race to the Top, it turns out, unleashed a dash to the cash. And Pearson was the biggest winner. Since 1996, it has been buying up other companies in the testing industry. It is now the biggest provider of testing in the U. S.

You will learn about the big money behing the political decisions that affect children and why their parents want them to opt out.

Stephanie Santagada, a high school English teacher, wrote this little essay and dedicated it to Governor Andrew Cuomo:

“There is a man in Albany, who I surmise, by his clamorous paroxysms, has an extreme aversion to educators. He sees teachers as curs, or likens them to mangy dogs. Methinks he suffers from a rare form of psychopathology in which he absconds with our dignity by enacting laws counterintuitive to the orthodoxy of educational leadership. We have given him sufferance for far too long. He’s currently taking a circuitous path to DC, but he will no doubt soon find himself in litigious waters. The time has come to bowdlerize his posits, send him many furlongs away, and maroon him there, maybe Cuba?

She added:

I’m not supposed to say this, but all these insanely hard words appeared on the 4,6, and 8th grade tests last week.

Pearson has a long history of errors in its textbooks and tests. Sarah Blaine, a parent and lawyer in New Jersey, discovered an error in a textbook and a Pearson representative apologized and promised to correct the error in future editions.

What if this had happened on a high-stakes test, Blaine wondered. Children would puzzle over the choice of answers and lose time on a timed test. They would lose points for choosing the correct answer. Suppose Pearson refuses to release the test questions–which is now its protocol–and no one finds out that the question is absurd (remember “The Pineapple and the Hare” question?), or the language was confusing, or the answer was just plain wrong. No one will know if there is no transparency. That is why parents must continue to insist that the tests be released for public review after they are administered. And that is why parents should show their opposition to this secretiveness by refusing to let their children take the tests.

If a large corporation is going to have the power to judge the child’s worthiness, parents and teachers should have the right to check the worthiness and accuracy of the testing instrument and catch errors. No one can catch errors if the tests are not made available for public review.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 150,045 other followers