Archives for category: Pearson

This teacher laments the explosion of testing in school, which has reduced or eliminated time for play, recess, and activities. This is the brave new world of Common Core and PARCC:

H/she writes:

“The Common Core and PARCC will ruin education as we know it..And, of course, it is all part of the overall plan. My school starts PARCC this next school year. My 2.5 hour paper and pencil test (in only one subject).. will be replaced by three (3) two hour “tasks” in February. (My students will have to sit down at a computer THREE times at 2 hours each in February.) I’m not done yet….In May my students have to sit down at the computer for two (2) hour tests on the computer. My 2.5 hour paper and pencil test is now replaced by 10 hours of testing for only one subject. My students will also do the same amount of testing in three (3) other subjects. My students now will be completing 40 hours of testing on a computer in a given year. Oh, and my students are only 11 and 12 years old. They yearn to go outside and play kickball and basketball at recess. But, they have no recess. They only have 10 extra minutes after they finish lunch to play outside.

“I was blessed to teach in the what I now know were the “good ole days” of yesteryear. I dearly miss and mourn for those years. I was able to teach through fun and meaningful learning activities! We had TIME! (: As I go through my files over my almost 30 year career in the same subject and grade level, I don’t begin to get the material taught and covered as what I used to. I have thick files of learning activities that I never get to anymore. The curriculum director at our school has already said that he has no clue how he will get all that testing done for all of our kids. He said there is a 4 week window in February and April/May, so students will be gone at different times in my classroom. It will be a nightmare.

“It’s a shame that Pearson has to take away the childhood of our children, so they can earn their millions. I teach children. They are children. They love to run, play, draw, make faces, jump up and down, play tag, tease each other, hide, run around, make jokes, and enjoy being a child. With all of these hours of testing, I will not have time to teach anymore. The test preparation for a 2.5 hour test was bad enough, but this is totally ridiculous. Then, take the time to read over the Common Core and you will laugh to yourself. In Language Arts, they will be teaching adverbs to 3rd graders, with not much more emphasis on it after that. I think they know the Common Core will be the bullet that finally kills all public education in the U.S. The kids will not score well on this silly curriculum, which will be recorded on the teacher’s evaluation . . .and teachers will be let go. Yes, it’s all a part of the sad overall plan. It’s evident that the Common Core was created by people who knew very little about the developmental stages of our children. No one ever mentions Piaget anymore. It’s all so sad. But, Sasha and Alieah don’t have to follow these communist socialist education rules. Do they?”

Now that the purchasing agent for New Mexico approved the $1 billion PARCC contract tailor-made for Pearson, that lucky British company will write the Common Core tests for 6-10 million American children.

But consider Pearson’s history of testing errors:

“PEARSON SCORE FOUL-UP HISTORY, by Bob Schaeffer, Public Education Director, FairTest: National Center for Fair & Open Testing (updated February, 2011)

1998 California – test score delivery delayed

1999-2000 Arizona – 12,000 tests misgraded due to flawed answer key

2000 Florida – test score delivery delayed resulting in $4 million fine

2000 Minnesota – misgraded 45,739 graduation tests – lawsuit with $11 million settlement – judge found “years of quality control problems” and a “culture emphasizing profitability and cost-cutting.” — (note FairTest consulted with plaintiffs’ attorneys)

2000 Washington – 204,000 writing WASL exams rescored

2005 Michigan — scores delayed and fines levied per contract

2005 Virginia — computerized test misgraded – five students awarded $5,000 scholarships

2005-2006 SAT college admissions test – 4400 tests wrongly scored; $3 million settlement after lawsuit (note FairTest was an expert witness for plaintiffs)

2008 South Carolina –“Scoring Error Delays School Report Cards” The State, November 14, 2008

2008-2009 Arkansas — first graders forced to retake exam because real test used for practice

2009-2010 Wyoming – new computer adaptive PAWS flops; state ordered Pearson to repay $9.5 million for “complete default of the contract”

2010 Florida – test score delivery delayed by more than a month – nearly $15 million in fines imposed and paid. School superintendents still question score accuracy.

2010 Minnesota — results from online science tests taken by 180,000 students delayed due to scoring error

2011 Florida – some writing exams delivered to districts without cover sheets, revealing subject students would be asked to write about”

New Mexico’s purchasing agent approved the award of a contract to Pearson to develop the Common Core PARCC tests, despite the absence of competitive bidding. AIR had lodged a complaint against the process since Pearson was the only bidder. The New Mexico contract covers testing of 6-10 million students in 14 states. It is worth about $1 billion to Pearson.

“Last December, the Washington DC-based American Institute for Research filed a protest with the state purchasing agent arguing that the bid for the contract was written favorably for Pearson. Namely, AIR’s takes issue with how the bid required the winner of the contract—whether it was Pearson or a different company—to use Pearson’s online testing system for the first year of testing.

“Such requirements were uncompetitive to other companies, AIR argued. Indeed, only Pearson responded to the request for proposal for the PARCC contract.”

AIR is deciding whether to appeal the decision to the judicial system or drop their appeal.

Anthony Cody points out the contradiction between claims that the Common Core will prepare students for college and careers and the reality that the Common Core tests are designed to fail most students.

He also notes what happened to the GED graduation rate after Pearson took control of the program. The pass rate on the GED plummeted.

What is going on? Cody has two hypotheses:

“Hypothesis #1:

“Corporations are unable to find an adequate supply of highly skilled and educated people, and if we make it harder to graduate high school or earn a GED we will get a larger number of people on track for these skilled jobs.

“This is the basic reason stated by the Gates Foundation and other advocates of “higher standards.” This has been the rationale for the Common Core, along with the idea that we are somehow losing in an international race for higher test scores.

“If this were the case, we should see employers experiencing some sort of shortage of skilled workers. Economists can find no evidence of such a shortage. This report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the top seven occupations with the largest projected numerical growth require at most a two-year Associates degree, and most require only short-term on-the-job training.

“Hypothesis #2:

“Employers actually need FEWER employees with college degrees, and perhaps even fewer workers overall, due to increases in efficiency that are coming through technology. This creates a challenge to the stability of the system – how can we justify leaving many people who are willing to work idle? Perhaps we need a system to label these people “unready for college and career.”

“I do find some evidence to support this hypothesis. We are already in what has been termed a “jobless recovery,” which means that while corporate profits are sky-high, these profits are being made with fewer and fewer workers. A report in the MIT Technology Review suggests that in the next 20 years, 45% of American jobs could be eliminated as a result of computerization.

“There is an idea, most recently expounded by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, that any student, including those with significant learning disabilities, can pass ever more difficult tests. If our entire education system is re-tooled to prepare for Common Core tests, teachers are evaluated based on test scores, and energetic innovators produce new devices and “learning systems,” ALL students will somehow rise to meet the challenge. Where have we heard this premise before? Oh yes. The mythical 100% proficiency rates of No Child Left Behind. We have abandoned one myth simply to embrace another. I think it is time to call an end to this charade.

“Tests do not and cannot accurately measure who is “ready for college and career.” They can only serve to stigmatize, rank, sort, and justify the abandonment of an ever larger number of our students. The Gates Foundation’s Common Core project, in spite of Vicki Phillips’ reassurances, is NOT acting in the interests of our students when it labels large numbers of them as rejects. It is putting millions of them in grave danger. Fortunately, the Common Core tests are encountering serious trouble. The Pearson GED test ought to be rejected as well, and the sooner the better.

“Our public education system has as its noble mission the elevation of all students to their highest potential. This is not defined by their future usefulness to employers. And if corporations find ways to make their billions while employing fewer and fewer of our graduates, that will not be a failure of our educational system, nor of our students themselves. Our economic system ought to be critically examined and re-thought, if, in fact, “all lives have equal value.” As advances in efficiency allow greater productivity, those gains should be shared widely, not hoarded by the .01%. Any testing system that results in massive failure is an assault on our students and should be fought by anyone who cares for their future.”

In response to a post by Peter Greene (“The Arne Duncan Drinking Game“), this reader describes the National PTA convention in Texas. The National PTA has received $2.5 million from the Gates Foundation, including $500,000 specifically for Common Core. Also, the National PTA provided a screening of the anti-public school “Waiting for Superman” at its annual convention in 2011. Odd.

She writes:

“I was at that PTA convention in Texas and I bit my tongue through his entire speech. I wanted to throw up. I have lost faith in the PTA. While I love what PTA does at a local level for our schools, I am sickened by what I see at the state and National PTA levels. Our voices as members have been sold out to corporate interests, and the top leadership is out of touch with parents today. Most of the top leaders dont even have children in public schools anymore so they think we are overreacting about the excessive testing and problems with common core. The leaders enjoy the power and prestige of their office and won’t listen to parents and teachers.

“Even more alarming, the general meetings at the national PTA convention were sponsored by Discover Card, Microsoft, and Pearson. During the general meetings, attendees were forced to sit through 15 minute commercials about their corporations and hear about their “partnerships” with PTA. The week before the convention, delegates received emails from PTA with advertisements for Pearson, telling us to be sure to stop by Pearson’s booth in the exhibit hall. How much did PTA get to spam our inboxes with marketing? We paid a lot of money to attend that convention, I don’t appreciate my email address being sold like that, especially to Pearson.”

Columnist Steve Lopez of the Los Angeles Times explains why the school board did not reappoint Stuart Magruder to the “independent” Bond Oversight Committee: He asked too many questions about why Superintendent Deasy was tapping the school bond fund to buy iPads instead of spending the money as voters intended, for construction and repairs.

Magruder “just had to speak up. The arrogance, the temerity, the insolence. How dare he challenge the leadership of the Los Angeles Unified School District?”

What did he ask that got him bounced?

“There’s not enough space here to itemize all the issues raised at various times by Magruder and other committee members, along with members of the media.

But to name several:

Why iPads versus other, possibly less expensive tablets or laptops?

Why did the need for detached keyboards, at a cost of millions, seem to be such an afterthought?

Why did the district buy software sight unseen and only partially developed?

Why had there been so little teacher training and preparation?

Why so little consideration of who would be responsible for lost and damaged tablets?

And how useful could the tablets be if, by one legal interpretation, students wouldn’t be allowed to take them home each night?

“I’m invested in this,” said Magruder, who has two kids in L.A. Unified and got a first-hand look at the problems when his daughter’s school was included in an early phase of the iPad rollout.

Magruder didn’t find the programming engaging, compelling or linked to a larger curriculum strategy in a way that had been explained to teachers, parents or students.

“Technology doesn’t solve problems unless humans and teachers use it well,” said Magruder, who noted that the software company did manage to neatly promote itself to students with a logo on its programs.

“Not an ‘M’ for math or an ‘E’ for English, but a big ‘P’ for Pearson,” he said.”

The board will reconsider his ouster at its meeting on Tuesday. Here is hoping they restore this watchdog to his role as watchdog.

Please sign this petition calling on the LAUSD school board to re-appoint Stuart Magruder.

Somehow, Andrea Gabor got a copy of most of the New York State English Language Arts Common Core-Aligned State tests.

 

She describes them here.

 

She writes:

 

Once again I am in possession of a bit of educational contraband.

For the second year in a row, I have received a copy of the New York State English Language Arts tests for grades 6 to 8, which were administered in April. (Though, this year, my set appeared incomplete as it contained only books one and two for each grade–not the three books that were included last year and that I was told were given this year. So my analysis here is confined to only two booklets for each grade.)

Anyone who has followed the controversy around the introduction of the New York State’s “common-core aligned” tests, knows that there has been a growing backlash–and not necessarily against the common core itself. Rather, a great many educators object to the quality and the quantity of tests–in addition to six days of “common core” testing, New York kids are now finishing the Measurements of Student Learning (MOSL) tests, the sole purpose of which is to evaluate teachers, as well as field tests for next year’s “common core” tests. In the fall, students as young as kindergarteners endured base-line testing for the MOSL.

Most importantly, educators are outraged by the secrecy in which the tests are cloaked.

 

Pearson, which has a $32 million contract with New York, will not permit teachers or anyone else to see the exams.

 

They are hidden by a gag order.

 

This is insane.

 

The value of tests is to learn what students do and do not know or understand

 

If the students, parents, and teachers are not allowed to review the tests, then nothing can be learned from them.

 

There is no point in having tests that are hidden from the view of those who most need whatever information they provide.

 

Of course, the gag order also protects Pearson from public scrutiny and possible discovery of poorly written or inaccurate questions, like the Pineapple questions.

 

So who benefits from the gag order? Not the students.

Testing expert Fred Smith explains here why New York City Chancellor Carmen Farina should say no to the Pearson field tests.

The field tests waste instructional time. They benefit the publisher, not the students.

“Here are some arguments the chancellor could use:

*Because students know the stand-alone field tests don’t count and are of no consequence to them, they are not motivated to do well, especially in lovely June weather. This skews the data and fails to provide Pearson with reliable “intelligence” needed to furnish good exams.

*Proof that stand-alone field testing is an unworkable approach to test development lies in the poorly constructed ELA and math exams that were given in 2012 and 2013. Witness the criticism from teachers and parents across the state on both exams.

*The field tests have proceeded because the state has created a top-down system that inhibits principals and teachers from telling parents about them or seeking permission for their children to take them.

*A definitive analysis of federal legislation and state rules and regulations has found no legal basis requiring schools to give, or parents to go along with, the tests.”

Take Action and Click Here to Demand the Release of the 3-8 Grade NYS Tests, Only 30 Seconds of Your Time

Dear Allies,

New York parents and teachers are outraged that they are not allowed to see the NYS Standardized 3-8 grades tests.

Before 2011, all tests were posted on the New York State Education Department (NYSED) website. That changed after the State Education Department signed a contract with Pearson in 2011 that doubled annual spending on NY State tests. Now, despite the already substantial increase in spending on testing, Commissioner King and Chancellor Tisch say an additional $8 million is required to restore full transparency. According to the contract, Pearson must produce unique test questions each year. This further raises legitimate questions about the need for additional funds.

Parents and educators are denied access to the information they need to determine what their child got wrong and what is needed to improve learning. Just as important, any flaws in the tests and scoring are not subject to public scrutiny and correction.

Beneath it all remains research that refutes the validity of these tests not just in their accuracy and legitimacy for measuring student growth, but in measuring teacher performance as well. Failing to be fully transparent only escalates those concerns.

As was the case with NYSED’s refusal to act within its own authority to address parent data privacy concerns with inBloom, we call on the legislature to act now!

We are asking all parents, educators and community members to join us in demanding that elected and appointed officials in Albany RELEASE THE TESTS!

Again, Please Take Action and Click Here to Demand the Release of the 3-8 Grade NYS Tests.

Thank you,
NYS Allies for Public Education
http://www.nysape.org

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__,_._,___

It is curious indeed that Pearson has been so effective at buying a controlling interest in American education. It is curious because in school we were always taught that heathy competition produces better products, that America reveres an open field for new products, and that monopolies are clumsy and inefficient. We were also taught that the public sector belongs to the public, not to private corporations.

This post, by Jennifer Job of UNC Chapel Hill, follows the money in trying to understand how Pearson inverted these axioms. How did Pearson become a dominating force American education? She examines the tentacles of power. Maybe the CEO of Pearson should be our next Secretary of Education. But no, that would mean taking a salary cut.

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