Archives for category: Pearson

This cartoon summarizes Jeb Bush’s education record. He is best known for championing high-stakes testing, A-F school grades, supporting Common Core, charters, vouchers, third-grade retention, and anything that. Strips away job protections from teachers. He boasts of the “Florida miracle,” but it refers mostly to 4th grade NAEP scores, which are likely boosted by third-grade retention and by the state’s class-size reduction policy, adopted by popular referendum but opposed by Bush. The miracle disappears by high school, as Florida’s high school graduation rate is below that of Alabama, which had no miracle.

 

David Sirota reported in International Business Times that Jeb Bush steered Florida’s pension funds toward campaign contributors. He also pressed for legislation to shield these contributions from public view.

 

Sirota wrote:

 

Jeb Bush received the request from one of his campaign contributors, a man who made his living managing money: Could the then-governor of Florida make an introduction to state pension overseers? The donor was angling to gain some of the state’s investment for his private fund.

 

It was 2003, still a few years before regulators would begin prosecuting public officials for directing pension investment deals to political allies. Bush obliged, putting the donor, Jon Kislak, in touch with the Florida pension agency’s executive director. Then he followed up personally, according to emails reviewed by the International Business Times, ensuring that Kislak’s proposal was considered by state decision makers.

 

Here was a moment that at once underscored Jeb Bush’s personal attention to political allies and his embrace of the financial industry, which has delivered large donations to his campaigns. Email records show it was one of a series of such conversations Bush facilitated between pension staff and private companies at a time when his administration was shifting billions of dollars of state pension money — the retirement savings for teachers, firefighters and cops — into the control of financial firms.

 

Florida officials say Kislak’s firm was not among the beneficiaries of that shift. But verifying that assertion is virtually impossible for an ordinary citizen by dint of another hallmark of Bush’s governorship: At the same time that he entrusted Wall Street with Florida retirement money, he also championed legislation that placed the state’s pension portfolio behind a wall of secrecy.

 

The anti-privatization organization “In the Public Interest” filed a public records request and obtained emails between Bush’s Foundation for Educational Excellence and public officials. Read them here.

Fred Smith, a veteran testing expert who used to work for the New York City Board of Education, warns parents that Pearson will be administering field tests in the schools in June. He provides a list of schools where the field tests will be given.

He urges parents to opt their children out of the field tests.

The opt out movement is proving to be the most powerful tool that parents have against the whole agenda of test-and-punish “reform” that is being foisted on children and schools, benefiting no one but the testing industry.

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.

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