Archives for category: Pearson

Wendy Davis is running for Governor of Texas. She is going after the testing industry, which spends big-time for lobbyists to make sure that no child is left untested, even children in pre-school.

From: Wendy Davis for Governor
Date: April 22, 2014 at 8:34:08 AM
Subject: Davis Campaign Files Open Records Request on Abbott and Testing Industry
Reply-To: press@wendydavistexas.com

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 22, 2014
Contact: Rebecca Acuña: (956) 206-5853
Wendy R. Davis for Governor Campaign

Davis Campaign Files Open Records Request on Abbott and Testing Industry

“Greg Abbott’s so-called education plan is nothing but a big wet kiss to Texas’ standardized testing industry,” said communications director Zac Petkanas.

Fort Worth, TX: Greg Abbott’s education plan calls for imposing high-stakes standardized tests onto four year olds in pre-K and ties those test results to education funding. The Wendy Davis Campaign yesterday filed an open records request seeking any communication between the Office of the Attorney General and companies tied to the standardized testing industry.

The open records request asked for the prompt production of the following information (regardless of physical form and including but not limited to invoices, receipts, billing statements, e-mails, letters, memoranda, agendas, calendars, schedules, faxes, fax cover sheets, phone calls, phone messages, etc..) held by the Office of the Attorney General:

1. Any and all communications between Attorney General Greg Abbott and /or the Office of the Attorney General and agents NCS Pearson, Inc., Pearson, Inc. or Pearson Education

2. Any and all TPIA requests and responsive documents mentioning “NCS Pearson, Inc.”, “Pearson, Inc.”, or “Pearson Education” since January 2013.”

“Greg Abbott’s so-called education plan is nothing but a big wet kiss to Texas’ standardized testing industry,” said communications director Zac Petkanas. “His plan imposes standardized tests onto four year olds in order to pick and choose who gets access to a quality education and who does not. In the interest of transparency, Greg Abbott should make all communication between his office and representatives of the standardized testing industry public. Texans deserve to know how the testing industry is influencing Greg Abbott’s controversial pre-k plan.”

Here’s what the Texas press corps has said about Greg Abbott’s plan to impose standardized testing onto 4 year olds:
“The $118 million Abbott plan calls for lawmakers to require school districts with preK programs to administer assessments at the beginning and end of the school year in an effort to measure the quality of such programs. One of those assessments referenced in Abbott’s plan is standardized testing.” –Corpus Christi Caller-Times

“One of the candidates’ biggest slug-fests over Pre-K has focused on Abbott’s call for assessing what these four-year olds have learned and how that would be done. A paragraph in Abbott’s 22- page plan says standardized testing is one way of doing that.” — KERA

“Abbott also proposes that school districts meet a “gold standard” as an incentive for funding. That involves measurement, which is another way of saying testing” – Corpus Christi Caller-Times

“That would include testing and other measurements to ensure that instruction in those classes is effective.” –Dallas Morning News
“Sabo also cautioned against placing too much emphasis on testing for such young children.’ The last thing Texas needs is Baby STAAR.’”– Austin American Statesman

“Districts being funded by the state would also be required to test each pre-K student for benchmarks.” – Texas Public Radio

“Abbott’s plan would grant an additional $1500 per pre-k student in districts that agree to meet new “gold” standards, a determination that would be made through testing and other assessments.” – KUT

###

Florida had widespread problems with its FCAT, delivered–or not–by Pearson. Pam Stewart promised to seek damages from Pearson. Remember the bad old days when teachers tested students, graded the tests, and students got immediate feedback. Now state officials trust Pearson more than teachers. Who peddled the idea that all testing should be done online?

Here is a report from FairTest:

FairTest
National Center for Fair & Open Testing
for further information:
Bob Schaeffer (239) 395-6773
cell (239) 699-0468
for immediate release, Tuesday, April 22, 2014
FLORIDA COMPUTER TEST PROBLEMS NOT UNIQUE;
OTHER STATES EXPERIENCE SIMILAR SYSTEM FAILURES;
NEW POLITICALLY-DRIVEN EXAMS “NOT READY FOR PRIME TIME”

Today’s technical problems, which disrupted computerized testing in many Florida districts, are far from unusual. Many other states have experienced similar failures, according to the National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest), which monitors standardized exams across the country.
Earlier this month, the statewide testing systems in Kansas and Oklahoma both crashed. Last year, technical problems disrupted computerized exams in Indiana, Kentucky, Minnesota, Ohio and Oklahoma. In the recent past, new, automated testing programs collapsed in Oregon and Wyoming, requiring administration of replacement, pencil-and-paper versions.
After root cause investigations, both Wyoming and Oklahoma levied multi-million dollar fines against Pearson, the same testing vendor Florida uses. Wyoming labeled the company in “complete default of the contract” and replaced it. Oklahoma let its contract with Pearson expire.
American Institutes of Research, the company that takes over testing in Florida next year was responsible for computer exam problems in Minnesota in 2013. The firm’s contract was not renewed.
“The reason for so many screw-ups is simple,” explained FairTest Public Education Director Bob Schaeffer. “The technology supporting statewide computerized testing is not ready for prime time.”
Schaeffer continued, “Like many other testing policies, politicians imposed new requirements before systems had been thoroughly developed and beta-tested. There are at least three separate problems. Many schools lack the up-to-date computer equipment and other infrastructure needed to mass administer tests. Large numbers of districts do not have the internet bandwidth to handle the volume. Some testing company servers do not have the capacity the meet the surge of demand from multiple locations logging on simultaneously.”
FairTest supports Florida school superintendents and communities seeking a multi-year moratorium on attaching consequences to the state’s new tests. Schaeffer has lived full-time in southwest Florida for almost 15 years.
- – 3 0 – -

- links to clips documenting computer-testing problems in other states and a detailed chronology of Pearson’s history of testing errors are available on request.

I am getting reports of computer servers crashing in various states. Whose nutty idea was it that all testing must be online? Was it to make data mining easier? Ir to enrich the testing companies and vendors of software and hardware?

News from Colleen Wood in Florida:

Colleen Doherty Wood
904/591.3207
50thNoMore.org / @50thNoMore

Diane – below is the email sent by our Commissioner of Education, Pam Stewart.

Pearson’s server apparently could not handle the number of children testing today. I guess it was a big surprise to them.

We have been warning for years, that Pearson and our state were not technologically ready for this move to online testing.

Today proved it. Across the state, students were kicked off the system and unable to test. Districts were told to wait for instructions while students just had to wait.

When will we talk about the emotional and psychological affect all of these “glitches” have on our children, who carry the weight of Jeb Bush’s entire accountability system on their shoulders?

Test scores from today will not be reliable, yet will be used to evaluate teachers and determine class placement.

In Florida, we are demanding a 3 year pause on the implementation of the new accountability system, which by all accounts, will be harder. If they can’t get it right this time, why should any of us trust them to get it right next year?

We have 67 counties in Florida. So far we know it has impacted 7 counties, but the day is young. We suspect there will be more.

From: Commissioner Stewart [Commissioner.Stewart@fldoe.org]
Sent: Tuesday, April 22, 2014 9:59 AM
Subject: Pearson Server Issue Affecting Testing

Good morning,

As some of you already know, Pearson is experiencing difficulty with a hosting provider this morning, which is causing issues with testing (both TestNav and TestHear) and accessing the PearsonAccess website for test management. The issue does not seem to be statewide, but several districts have reported issues.

If your district is experiencing difficulty with live testing, please suspend testing and wait to hear from our office. We do not currently have an estimated timeline from Pearson for when this issue will be resolved, but we will be in touch with updates/resolutions throughout the day. If your district is not experiencing issues, you may continue testing as scheduled as your district is likely not routing through the affected server.

Some of you have inquired about schedule extensions due to this issue. Once the problem is resolved, if you have schools that will need more time to complete testing beyond your district’s schedule, please let us know (in writing) and we will work with you to ensure that all students in your district have sufficient opportunity to test.

Sincerely,
Pam Stewart

http://www.actionnewsjax.com/content/topstories/story/FCAT-problems-reported-at-Duval-St-Johns-Putnam/9CehzXGvEE-aYP5hxHVosg.cspx?rss=2818

http://www.winknews.com/Local-Florida/2014-04-22/Technical-glitch-causes-FCAT-testing-problems-in-Collier#sthash.mPbAbpmR.dpuf

The American public would be alarmed if they knew how often standardized tests are inaccurate. As a member of the National Assessment Governing Board, I saw questions whose wording was confusing. I saw questions that had more than one right answer. I even saw questions with no right answer. Sometimes the tests are scored incorrectly, but we seldom hear about it.

This reader shares her experience:

“This past week I got a letter from Pearson informing me that the MAT that I took three years ago to get into grad school had been scored incorrectly. They apologized, and lucky for me I had a higher score. But, what about the people who took the same test and were also scored lower and were not admitted into a program, or had to pay to take the test over again? Pearson’s tests and scores are riddled with errors that are having potentially life altering effects on more people than just our kids. They are a mega-monopoly that must be stopped from ruining people’s lives.”

District 2 in New York City–one of the city’s highest scoring districts–plans protests this Friday against the poor quality of the ELA tests given last week. State officials tried to dismiss concerns from other districts, specifically from Liz Phillips, a respected Brooklyn principal who wrote a letter to all the parents in her school saying the tests were.”terrible.” More than 500 parents and teachers at her school joined to protest the ELA tests last Friday. The Néw York Times ignored Phillips’ informed judgment and accepted the assurances of state officials (and pupils–how large was their sample?) that the test was “easier” than last year.

District 2 principals agreed with Phillips.

Here is their statement:

Community Action:

Join Us in Speaking Out Regarding the NYS English Language Arts Exam

Friday, April 11th, at District 2 Schools

Dear District 2 Families,

Community School District 2 represents a richly diverse group of school communities and it is not often these days that we have an opportunity to join in a shared effort. Last week, and for several weeks prior, every one of our upper grade classrooms devoted hours of instructional time, vast human resources, and a tremendous amount of thoughtful effort to preparing students to do well on the NYS ELA exams and, ultimately, to administering them. Only a handful of District 2 families even considered opting out, and we are not advocating families do so, specifically because we believe our students are well prepared for the rigor and high expectations of the Common Core and our schools have worked hard for several years to adjust our curriculum and teaching to support students in meeting those expectations. We had high hopes for what this year’s tests would bring and assured families that they would reflect the feedback test makers and state officials had received from educators and families regarding the design of the test following last year’s administration. Our students worked extremely hard and did their very best. As school leaders, we supported teachers in ensuring that students and families kept the tests in perspective – they were important, but by no means the ultimate measure of who they are as readers, students, or human beings. We encouraged them to be optimistic, and did our best to do the same. Frankly, many of us were disappointed by the design and quality of the tests and stood by helplessly while kids struggled to determine best answers, distorting much of what we’d taught them about effective reading skills and strategies and forgoing deep comprehension for something quite different.

Last Friday morning, Liz Phillips, the principal of PS321 in Brooklyn, led her staff and her parent community in a demonstration objecting, not to testing or accountability or high expectations for kids, but to these tests in particular and, importantly, to their high stakes nature for teachers and students, and the policy of refusing to release other than a small percentage of the questions. 500 staff and parents participated.

By Friday evening some officials were dismissing the importance of their statement, claiming that Liz and her community represented only a tiny percentage of those affected, implying that the rest of us were satisfied. Given the terribly high stakes of these tests, for schools, for teachers and for kids, and the enormous amount of human, intellectual and financial resources that have been devoted to them, test makers should be prepared to stand by them and to allow them to undergo close scrutiny.

Many District 2 schools will be holding demonstrations this week, making sure our thoughts on this are loud and clear and making it more difficult to dismiss the efforts of one school. On Friday morning, April 11th, at 8:00am, we invite our families and staff to join District 2 schools in speaking out, expressing our deep dissatisfaction with the 2014 NYS English Language Arts LA exams and the lack of transparency surrounding them. Among the concerns shared by many schools are the following: The tests seem not to be particularly well-aligned with the Common Core Learning Standards; the questions are poorly constructed and often ambiguous; the tests themselves are embargoed and only a handful of select questions will be released next year; teachers are not permitted to use (or even discuss) the questions or the results to inform their teaching; students and families receive little or no specific feedback; this year, there were product placements (i.e., Nike, Barbie) woven through some exams. We are inviting you and your family to join together as a school community in this action, helping to ensure that officials are not left to wonder whether our silence implied approval.

Yours truly,

District 2 Principals

Adele Schroeter, PS59; Lisa Ripperger, PS234; Robert Bender, PS11; Tara Napoleoni, PS183; Jane Hsu, PS116; Sharon Hill, PS290; Amy Hom, PS1; Lauren Fontana, PS6; Jennifer Bonnet, PS150; Nicole Ziccardi Yerk, PS281; Susan Felder, PS40; Alice Hom, PS124; Nancy Harris, PS397; Kelly Shannon, PS41; Nancy Sing-Bok, PS51; Lisa Siegman, PS3; Irma Medina, PS111; Terry Ruyter, PS276; Medea McEvoy, PS267; Darryl Alhadeff, PS158; Samantha Kaplan, PS151; David Bowell, PS347; Lily Woo, PS130; Jacqui Getz, PS126; Kelly McGuire, Lower Manhattan Community MS

This is part 3 of Jeffrey Weiss’s series in the Dallas Morning News on the pushback against testing in Texas. In this article, the hero is a soft-spoken professor, Walter Stroup, who challenged the validity of Pearson’s tests. His doubts caught the attention of some legislators who were not wedded to the testing beast.

Texas is where No Child Left Behind was generated and blossomed into a myth that became federal law and lives on and on, the undead law that kills the love of learning.

In earlier articles in the series, Weiss showed how the angry moms got organized to fight out-of-control testing requirements.

And he showed how brave State Commissioner Robert Scott shocked everyone by denouncing the overemphasis on standardized testing as the “heart of the vampire.” This emboldened the moms, the school boards, the superintendents, the parents, and everyone else who hated to see what the testing industry was doing to children and education.

The missing heroes in Weiss’s otherwise brilliant narrative are the hundreds of school boards, who voted to oppose high-stakes testing, creating a wave of local opposition that the legislature could not ignore. Eventually, nearly 90% of the state’s elected local school boards said “Enough is enough.”

In this article, Weiss addresses the question: if not the current regime of high-stakes testing, then what?

This confirms what Todd Farley wrote in his book about the testing industry, “Making the Grades,” and what Dan DiMaggio wrote in “The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Test Scorer”:

A reader in Austin sent this ad on Craig’s List:

Posted: 25 days ago

Seeking Talented And Qualified Individuals To Score Essays! (Austin, Texas)

compensation: $12.00

Use Your Degree To Make A Difference!

Pearson Wants You!

Pearson is the most comprehensive provider of educational assessment products, services, and solutions. We are looking for qualified college graduates to read and score student essays on a temporary basis at our Austin Scoring Center. Paid training will begin on April 7 for this 6 week scoring session. Successful employees may be asked to work additional projects.

Use your qualified college degree to make a difference! Day shift is 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., M-F. Evening Shift is 5:30 p.m to 10:00 p.m

Compensation may vary based on the project:

Hourly: $12.00/hour. Employees compensated a flat hourly rate for time worked on this project.

Requirements:

Bachelor degree required

Proof of degree and eligibility to work in the U.S. required (documentation required for an I-9)

Please apply at our website:

https://sites.google.com/a/pearson.com/regional-scoring/home

and click on APPLY HERE
Complete the short survey.

New Location:

3800 Quick Hill Road
Bldg 3 Suite 100
Austin, TX 78728
*Located in the La Frontera area (Round Rock, TX)

https://sites.google.com/a/pearson.com/regional-scoring/home

Pearson Educational Measurement is committed to hiring a diverse workforce. We are an Equal Opportunity Employer EOE/M/F/V/D and a member of eVerify.
Principals only. Recruiters, please don’t contact this job poster.
do NOT contact us with unsolicited services or offers
OK to highlight this job opening for persons with disabilities
post id: 4368426307 posted: 25 days ago updated: 25 days ago email to friend ♥ best of [?]

Jeff Nichols appeals to State Commissioner King and Chancellor Farina to call off the math tests.

He writes:

Dear Commissioner King and Chancellor Fariña,

Events are moving very fast. You are no doubt aware that today the principal, staff and parents of one of the most highly regarded schools In New York City, PS 321 in Brooklyn, will be holding a protest outside their schools to decry the abysmal quality of this year’s ELA tests. You have probably read the astonishing comments from teachers and principals that continue to pour into the the New York City Public School Parents blog and other sites (http://nycpublicschoolparents.blogspot.com/2014/04/liz-phillips-brooklyn-principal-i-have.html).

I have not yet heard your view of this situation, Chancellor Fariña. But as an opt out parent, I have to tell you frankly I was offended by your remarks earlier this week to the effect that while parents’ opinions should be respected, children should come to school prepared to meet challenges like the state tests.

Have you not realized that parents are protesting the tests precisely because we want our kids challenged deeply by real learning in our schools and these tests are obstructing that goal? Have you not realized that NYSED’s and Pearson’s claims that these tests represent new levels of “rigor” and “critical thinking” are demonstrably false?

There was no rigor applied to the development of these tests, nor does the practice of high-stakes testing in general stand up to critical analysis, so I fail to see how taking the state tests represents a worthwhile challenge for any child.

Moreover, Commissioner King, I cannot accept the state’s intention to keep the tests secret from parents. My wife and I are responsible for all aspects of our children’s upbringing. We would not permit a doctor to administer a vaccine to our children and forbid us from knowing what is in the shot. We will not let you subject our children to any exercise in school while forbidding us to know its contents, much less tests that are being used to determine their promotion and whether or not their teachers will be fired.

The forced, secret high-stakes testing of minor children is going to go the way of cane switches, dunce caps and forcing left-handed children to write with their right hands — practices that were once commonplace that we now regard as child abuse. It’s only a matter of time.

The question is, will our local and state education leaders join together and stop this travesty? Given the fact that the NYSED and the Pearson corporation have again utterly failed the test of earning parents’ and educators’ confidence in the quality of these exams, why should our schools proceed with administering the math tests later this month? Can you give me any reason other than obedience for obedience’s sake? All I hear from you, Commissioner King, is slogans about higher standards and career readiness. I have yet to witness direct engagement by you with the arguments made by the thousands of educators and parents in our state who are advocate abandoning high-stakes testing of young children once and for all.

I call on you, Commissioner King, to suspend the administration of this year’s state tests, and if you fail to do that (as I expect you will) I call on you, Chancellor Fariña to refuse to administer them.

We have lemon laws protecting consumers from egregiously faulty consumer products, but we no one is protecting our children from these worthless exams. Chancellor Fariña, they are state tests, so you can blame Commissioner King and the legislature for them, but you are ultimately responsible for our city’s schools. You must ensure that no one forces educational malpractice upon them. If NYSED continues to ignore the protests against the state tests that are exploding across the state, and you allow the math exams exams to go forward, the public will hold the DOE accountable as well as NYSED and the U.S. Department of Education.

We now have teachers in this city and beyond refusing to administer the state tests and parents refusing to allow their children to take them. Chancellor Fariña, will you stand with these disobedient citizens, or will you stand with Arne Duncan and John King and insist that the tests must go forward regardless of their quality, because an unjust law says they must?

I hope both of you will acknowledge that finally, enough is enough. Suspend the state tests and bring daylight onto the whole process that led to this debacle.

Sincerely,

Jeff Nichols


Jeff Nichols
Associate Professor
Queens College and The Graduate Center, CUNY

In case you didn’t know it already, privacy is dead. The
National Security Agency has asserted the power to listen to your
phone calls and read your emails.

Now we
learn from Pearson and the esteemed (Sir) Michael Barber (the
architect of a philosophy known as “Deliverology”) that the
capability to monitor the actions, behaviors,
even
thoughts of every student is at hand. We are all about to take a
dive into the Digital Ocean, whether we want to or not. Big data
will tell Pearson and other vendors whatever they want to know.
They will know more about our children and our grandchildren
than we do. Arne Duncan loosened the federal privacy regulations in
2011, so there is no limit on the information that Pearson and
others will collect. But never forget: It is all for the
kids.

Peter Greene shared his thoughts about Pearson’s digital ocean here.

he writes:

“Barber assures us that personalized learning at scale will be possible, and again I want to point out that we already have a system that can totally do that (though of course the present system does not provide corporations such as Pearson nearly enough money). I will not pretend that the traditional US public ed system always provides the personalized learning it should, but when reformy types suggest that’s a reason to scrap the whole system, I wonder if they also buy a new car every time the old car runs out of gas (plus, in that metaphor, government is repeatedly pouring sand into the gas tank).

“But no. There will have to be revolution:

“…schools will need to have digital materials of high quality, teachers will have to change how they teach and how they themselves learn…

“This shtick I recognize, because it is as old as education technology. Every software salesman who ever set foot in a school used this one– “This will be really great tool if you just change everything about how you work.” No. No, no, no. You do not tell a carpenter, “Hey, newspaper is a great building material as long as you change your expectations about how strong and protective a house is supposed to be.”

“You pick a tool because it can help you do the job. You do not change the job so that it will fit the tool…..Barber praises the authors of the paper for their “aspirational vision” of what success in schools would look like.

“They see teaching,learning and assessment as different aspects of one integrated process, complementing each other at all times, in real time;

To which I reply, “Wow! Amazing! Do they also envision water that is wet? Wheels that are round?”

Jeffrey Weiss has a terrific story in the Dallas Morning News about the Texas moms who beat the powerful testing lobby.

Whenever anyone says that democracy can’t defeat the plutocrats, think of Texans Advocating for Meaningful,State Assessment. they said, “Enough is enough.” And they got busy.

The moms not only organized an effective opposition to Pearson’s lobbyists, they changed the minds of legislators who had blindly followed the ideology that tests improve schools.

Here is where the story begins:

“For 13 legislative sessions across 34 years, every time Texas passed laws about school testing, the numbers and stakes had grown. That ended in 2013, when a series of laws passed that not only demanded changes in testing, but also challenged the legitimacy of the test-based accountability system. All without a single dissenting vote.

“That enormous shift in attitude is still raising echoes nationally. And as legislators prepare for the next session, they’re discussing ways to further reduce the number and influence of tests.

“How did that happen? This is the story of how the Texas testing bubble popped.

“In weather forecasting, there’s a saying that the flapping of a butterfly wing can eventually cause a hurricane on the other side of the world. Small things can have huge and unforeseen consequences.

“The battle over testing in Texas public schools was upturned last year because of four lines in a 35-page law. That and a back-to-school night at an Austin high school.”

Learn how a group of determined moms made the difference. Many people call them “Moms Against Drunk Testing.” As do I.

They inspire parents everywhere.

Yes, we can. Yes, we can free our children and grandchildren from the maws of the testing industry.

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