Archives for category: Pearson

Alan Singer of Hofstra University is a Pearson-watcher, as we all should be. Pearson is the UK-based mega corporation that is swallowing up American educatiion. It creates assessments for many individual states (like Texas and New York) and Common Core PARCC. It writes curriculum for Common Core. It sells textbooks aligned with its tests. It owns the GED. It owns a virtual charter school chain called Connections Acadey. And it owns EdTPA, which evaluates whether aspiring teachers are qualified to teach.

Singer says that Pearson’s legal and financial troubles are piling up.

“Bad news for Pearson Education may be good news for the rest of us. The testing and publishing mega-giant is on the run, but it looks like it will not be able to hide. Pearson Education is closing its foundation; it is under investigation by the FBI for possible insider dealings in the Los Angeles iPad fiasco; the company is being sued by former employees for wrongful termination; and its PARCC exams are losing customers.”

Read on for the details.

Mercedes Schneider describes the remarkable shrinkage of states enrolled to give Pearson’s Common Core PARCC test from 2011-2014.

In 2011, Pearson boasted that 31 million students in 25 states plus D.C. Would take PARCC. By 2014, the numbers are down to 10 states and D.C. with 5 million students.

From Politico.com:

REINVENTING THE STANDARDIZED TEST: Pearson has been adjusting its internal focus from print to digital; now the global education giant is out with a study of how that shift can improve testing around the world. “Preparing for a Renaissance in Assessment” argues that our current standardized tests – many of them, of course, developed by Pearson – aren’t making the grade. They’re not sensitive enough to accurately assess student performance at either the low or the high ends of the scale. They don’t give teachers timely, useful feedback. And they’re too focused on assessing low-level skills, rather than the competencies valued in today’s workplace, such as critical analysis, personal communication and hands-on problem solving. What’s the solution? Pearson touts the power of adaptive technology to customize exams. It’s also high on using computer algorithms to robo-grade student essays. (The report states as a fact that the PARCC consortium will use automated essay scoring, though member states have not yet made that determination.) The company also wants to see assessments that collect far more information than current tests, covering “multiple dimensions” of student ability.

- In short, Pearson envisions a future in which students produce ever more data . The report notes that “without such a systematic, data-driven approach to instruction, teaching remains an imprecise and somewhat idiosyncratic process that is too dependent on the personal intuition and competence of individual teachers.” Speaking of teaching, authors Peter Hill and Sir Michael Barber also argue that the field must evolve into a more tightly controlled profession with higher barriers to entry and a common framework for evaluating quality. That will require repudiating a tradition of “teaching as a largely under-qualified and trained, heavily unionized, bureaucratically controlled ‘semi-profession’ lacking a framework and a common language,” Hill and Barber write. Read the report: http://bit.ly/1w0jYvK

Pearson conquers the world! It holds contracts for Commin Core testing, for textbooks and curriculum Ligned to the Common Core, it owns the GED and a program for assessing would-be teachers (the edTPA), and it owns online charters called Connections Academy. Students are likelier to get higher scores on Common Core tests created by Pearson if they use Pearson texts and curriculum. Have I forgotten anything?

 

In 2011, Pearson, the world’s largest education publishing company, won the contract to design the 2015 international assessment (PISA), the Program in International Student Assessment. This is the test that gives Secretary Duncan the opportunity to lambaste public schools and teachers every time the results are announced, without reference to the huge and growing income and wealth disparities that account for a large share of the test score gaps between haves and have-nots..

 

Pearson’s advisory panel includes Andreas Schleicher, the deputy director of the OECD in charge of PISA. It also includes Michael Barber (now chief education advisor to Pearson, formerly at McKinsey, also known as “Mr. Deliverology,” for his fervent belief in standards, testing and targets) and Eric Hanushek of the Hoover Institution, noted for his proposal that schools should use test scores to identify and “deselect” (fire) the bottom 5-10% of teachers on a regular basis to weed out “bad teachers.” These are the masters of the educational universe.

 

 

Caitlin Emma, who writes for politico.com, here reviews the threat to student privacy posed by online courses.

While students are taking these courses, the provider is gathering a treasure trove of information about each of them. This data may later be sold to marketers, who see students as customers.

There is a federal law that is supposed to protect student privacy, but in 2011-12, Secretary Arne Duncan oversaw a weakening of FERPA regulations, removing key protections.

Companies working together, like Pearson and Knewton, are gathering confidential student data whenever your child goes online.

Why should corporations advertise when they can use Big Data to identify their target audience? Race to the Top required states, if they wanted to be eligible for federal cash, to create a massive student data warehouse, to open more charters, and to adopt “college and career ready standards,” I.e. Common Core. Clever, no? A bonanza for certain corporations.

This is scary stuff.

Contact your member of the Néw York Board of Regents and urge them not to make field testing of Oearson tests mandatory.

http://www.regents.nysed.gov/members/Membersterms0412.html

CURRENT MEMBER TERMS AND AREAS REPRESENTED

2016* Tisch, Merryl H.; B.A., M.A., Ed.D.
Chancellor; At Large
Regents Office, 89 Washington Avenue, Albany, NY 12234
Phone: (518) 474-5889 Email: Regent.Tisch@nysed.gov

2016* Bottar, Anthony S.; B.A., J.D.
Vice Chancellor; Judicial District V — Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Oneida, Onondaga, and Oswego
120 Madison Street, Suite 1600, AXA Tower II, Syracuse, NY 13202
Phone: (315) 422-3466 Email: Regent.Bottar@nysed.gov

2015* Bennett, Robert M.; B.A., M.S.
Chancellor Emeritus; Judicial District VIII — Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Genesee, Niagara, Orleans and Wyoming
201 Millwood Lane, Tonawanda, NY 14150
Phone: (518) 474-5889 Email: Regent.Bennett@nysed.gov

2015* Dawson, James C.; A.A, B.A., M.S., Ph.D.
Judicial District IV — Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Hamilton, Montgomery, St. Lawrence, Saratoga, Schenectady, Warren and Washington
166 U.S. Oval, Plattsburgh, NY 12903
Phone: (518) 324-2401 Email: Regent.Dawson@nysed.gov

Vacant
Judicial District XI — Queens

2015* Phillips 3rd, Harry; B.A., M.S.F.S.
Judicial District IX — Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland and Westchester
71 Hawthorne Way, Hartsdale, NY 10530
Phone: (914) 948-2228 Email: Regent.Phillips@nysed.gov

2017* Tallon, Jr., James R. ; B.A., M.A.
Judicial District VI – Broome, Chemung, Chenango, Cortland, Delaware, Madison, Otsego, Schuyler, Tioga, Tompkins
United Hospital Fund, 1411 Broadway, 12th Floor, New York, N.Y. 10018
Phone (212) 494-0777 Email: Regent.Tallon@nysed.gov

2015* Tilles, Roger; B.A., J.D.
Judicial District X – Nassau, Suffolk
100 Crossways Park West, Suite 107, Woodbury, N.Y. 11797
Phone (516) 364-2533 Email: Regent.Tilles@nysed.gov

2017* Bendit, Charles R.; B.A.
Judicial District I – New York
111 Eighth Avenue, Suite 1500, New York, N.Y. 10011
Phone (212) 220-9945 Email: Regent.Bendit@nysed.gov

2018* Rosa, Betty A.; B.A., M.S. in Ed., M.S. in Ed., M.Ed., Ed.D.
Judicial District XII – Bronx
State Education Building, 89 Washington Avenue, Albany, NY 12234
Phone (718) 664-8052 Email: Regent.Rosa@nysed.gov

2015* Young, Jr., Lester W.; B.S., M.S., Ed.D.
At Large
55 Hanson Place, Suite 400, Brooklyn, N.Y. 11217
Phone (718) 722-2796 Email: Regent.Young@nysed.gov

2019* Cea, Christine D.; B.A., M.A., Ph.D.
Judicial District XIII – Richmond
NYS Institute for Basic Research in Developmental Disabilities
1050 Forest Hill Road, Staten Island, NY 10314
Phone (718) 494-5306 Email: Regent.Cea@nysed.gov

2019* Norwood, Wade S.; B.A.
At Large
74 Appleton Street, Rochester, NY 14611
Phone (585) 436-2944 Email: Regent.Norwood@nysed.gov

2015* Cashin, Kathleen M.; B.S., M.S., Ed.D.
Judicial District II – Kings
Regents Office, 89 Washington Avenue, Albany, NY 12234
Phone (518) 474-5889 Email: Regent.Cashin@nysed.gov

2019*Cottrell, James E.; B.S., M.D.
At Large
SUNY Downstate Medical Center, 450 Clarkson Avenue, Box 6, Brooklyn, NY 11203-2098
Phone (718) 270-2331 Email: Regent.Cottrell@nysed.gov

2017*Brown, T. Andrew; B.A., J.D.
Judicial District VII – Cayuga, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Seneca, Steuben, Wayne, Yates
925 Crossroads Building, Two State Street, Rochester, NY 14614
Phone (585) 454-3667 Email: Regent.Brown@nysed.gov

2019* Finn, Josephine Victoria; B.A., J.D.
Judicial District III – Albany, Columbia, Greene, Rensselaer, Schoharie, Sullivan, Ulster
Regents Office, 89 Washington Avenue, Albany, NY 12234
Phone (518) 474-5889 Email: Regent.Finn@nysed.gov

* Year When Present Term Ends

:

The Néw York Board of Regents is meeting today to vote on a proposal to make field testing of online Pearson tests for Common Core mandatory. Commissioner John King says it will make the tests more valid and reliable.

But it won’t make the tests useful to teachers or students. Teachers are not allowed to know which questions their students got right or wrong, so the tests have no diagnostic value. They are not allowed to discuss the tests with one another. The tests are an expensive waste of time.

In the past, Pearson tests have had numerous errors. How will the public know if their children are fairly judged?

Teachers must teach to the tests to help the children and to protect their jobs.

This is not education. It is regimentation.

Call your Regent and tell them not to make field testing mandatory. Call your legidlators. Enough is enough.

An Ohio teacher sent this YouTube video made by a student, John Prusak, who started an anti-Common Core club, with tee-shirts and this video. You will be amazed.

This may seem unthinkable, but Pearson–the mega-giant British publisher of tests and textbooks–might lose its $500 million dollar testing contract for the state of Texas. So says the British publication,
The Telegraph. The entrepreneurs and profiteers of education are worried about the future. How sad. Will they buy each other up? Will they make money or lose money? So many problems when you live or die by profit margins. So many lobbyists to hire. So many campaign contributions to make. Welcome to the new and tawdry world of the education industry.

 

 

Katherine Rushton writes:

 

Most people have, at some point in their lives, felt a bout of nerves as they awaited a crucial set of exam results. Pearson’s chief executive, John Fallon, could be forgiven for having the same feeling.
Next month, the London-listed education giant will face its own version of this peculiar kind of torture, as it learns whether Texas plans to renew its contract for Pearson to provide testing in schools. The deal is a valuable one, worth around $500m (£310m) over five years. It is also a matter of particular strategic importance.
Texas is amongst America’s biggest and most influential states when it comes to education spending – the linchpin in the North American market, which accounts for 59pc of Pearson’s revenues and 66pc of its profits. And it has a long history of doing business with the British company, whose chief executive cut his teeth in the US textbook market, and whose former boss, Dame Marjorie Scardino, is herself American.
If the educational testing business were an election, this would count as Pearson’s safe seat. Yet there are signs Pearson may be about to lose its grip on its traditional stronghold. An audit of the Texas Education Agency recently found problems with the way the Pearson contract was tendered and managed.

 

Pearson has had other setbacks, like the loss of the Apple-Pearson iPad deal in Los Angeles.

 

The e-industry is facing difficulties, says Rushton:

 

“In this transition from print to digital, we don’t have all the infrastructure, but directionally things are moving the right way,” a Pearson spokesman said.
“There are short-term headwinds and long-term opportunities. It is not going to be a clear, straight path. It’s hard work. It’s a case of trial and error as you innovate. The question is, ‘How quickly do you learn?’”….

 

Some analysts argue that Dame Marjorie carefully timed her exit at the end of 2012. Pearson expanded enormously under her tenure, using a series of acquisitions to develop digital products and expand in emerging markets, notably China.
Mr Fallon, these analysts argue, is now unfairly having to grapple with a ragtag bag of companies, shouldering the blame for a combination of changing market dynamics and decisions taken by his predecessor.
Others claim Dame Marjorie is the one being scapegoated. They argue that the FTSE 100 business she led for 16 years is wobbling because of much more recent decisions, and that Fallon has lost key staff and contracts because of a reduction of investment in digital projects.
Whichever interpretation one adopts it is clear that Pearson’s troubles are not all of its own making. Its current turbulence started at a time when the tectonic plates of the education industry were already shifting rapidly. Part of this is down to a redrawing of the battle lines between established rivals. In America, McGraw-Hill Education has lately sharpened its focus on digital products under new chief executive David Levin, the former boss of UBM.
News Corp’s education division has also upped its game, under the guidance of Joel Klein, the former New York City schools chancellor.
But there are also a number of new rivals bearing down on the sector: Some of these are start-ups. We are in the midst of an unparalleled splurge in investment in new digital education businesses. In 2008, venture capital firms ploughed just $200m into the sector. This year, that sum is on course for $1bn.
Meanwhile, established technology giants like Amazon, Google, Apple, Microsoft and Samsung are all making inroads into the industry, in the hope that they will build loyal audiences to sell other products to down the line. “We’ve handed education to the big software and hardware providers,” says a senior industry figure. “Google is slated to have 20m teachers working on Google apps, and it’s all free. The margins are different because the motivations are different. Google can give away education because it is securing customers for the future.”
At the moment, the big technology companies tend to partner with the traditional players – Apple was supposed to provide the iPads for LA’s $1bn digital project, for example, but Pearson was responsible for the content. However, we have already seen this story play out in other industries. It is only a matter of time before these technology giants start producing their own content, and try to disintermediate the traditional publishers altogether.
“Partnering with one of these guys is like going to bed with a serial rapist,” one senior source says. “It is only a matter of time.”
He identifies Amazon as the biggest single threat. Its motivation is clear. The more educational content it provides, the more likely it is users will become dependent on its ecosystem and use it for future purchases.
Organisations that are not trying to make money arguably pose an even greater challenge, however. In 2011, Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla, ring-fenced between $1.5bn and $2.5bn to fund education projects. The endowment, informally dubbed the Zuckerberg fund, is a relatively low-key operation at the moment, but industry figures speculate that he will end up tackling education, in much the same way as Microsoft founder Bill Gates established the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to improve world health.
Those sorts of initiatives should only ever be welcomed, but they do not make life easier for traditional education companies.
One former Pearson executive argues that “for-profit” organisations in education are “seriously under threat”, and could end up losing their footing altogether.
But the Pearson’s spokesman feels differently. “The private sector has a pivotal role to play,” they say.
Either way, Pearson has reached a crucial moment in its trajectory. Fallon has to whip the ragtag bag of businesses he inherited into a smart, digital company. Otherwise, the venture capital firms could soon start circling and pick-pick-pick it away.

 

Jason Stanford has written a jaw-dropping article about what happened to the professor who debunked standardized testing. It’s not pretty.

Walter Stroup, a professor at the University of Texas College of Education, made a remarkable discovery about standardized tests: “what the tests measured was not what students have learned but how well students take tests.”

He shared what he learned with the Texas legislature in 2012, as the testing rebellion was heating up across the state among parents. Legislators had long clung to the dogma that the way to improve test scores was to test more and make the tests harder. The state had recently signed a big contract with Pearson to deliver the tests.

“Stroup testified that for $468 million the Legislature had bought a pile of stress and wasted time from Pearson Education, the biggest player in the standardized-testing industry.”

After 15 years of high-stakes testing, the state was still waiting for the promised results. What they got instead was a huge number of students who could not graduate high school and a parent uprising against testing.

What happened to Stroup was alarming. Pearson tried to discredit his research. Pearson has some high-powered lobbyists on its payroll in Texas.

“Stroup had picked a fight with a special interest in front of politicians. The winner wouldn’t be determined by reason and science but by politics and power. Pearson’s real counterattack took place largely out of public view, where the company attempted to discredit Stroup’s research. Instead of a public debate, Pearson used its money and influence to engage in the time-honored academic tradition of trashing its rival’s work and career behind his back.”

But even more alarming, the Pearson Foundationade was already a major benefactor of Stroup’s employer, the University of Texas College of Education.

“In retrospect, Stroup might have anticipated that the UT College of Education wouldn’t celebrate his scholarship on standardized tests. In 2009, the Pearson Foundation, the test publisher’s philanthropic arm, created a $1 million endowment at the College of Education, which in turn engendered the Pearson Center for Applied Psychometric Research, an endowed professorship, and an endowed faculty fellowship.

“Tax law allows corporations to establish charitable foundations. What tax law doesn’t allow is endowing a nonprofit to supplement the parent corporation’s profit-driven mission. Last December, Pearson paid a $7.7 million fine in New York state to settle charges that the Pearson Foundation “had helped develop products for its corporate parent, including course materials and software,” reported The New York Times. There is some evidence that the same thing is going on at UT, mainly because Pearson said so in a press release posted on the College of Education’s website:

“Pearson Foundation’s donation underscores the company’s dedication to designing and delivering assessments that advance measurement best practice, help ensure greater educational equity and improve instruction and learning in today’s global world,” wrote Steve Dowling, Pearson executive vice president. “Through our endowment with The University of Texas at Austin, we are investing in technology-driven assessment research that will promote and personalize education for all.”

Six months after Stroup testified before the Legislature, he learned that his tenure was in jeopardy.

The story is not over. It is about politics and power. It is not about what’s best for children or how to improve education.

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