Archives for category: Pearson

Jason Stanford is a trustworthy guide to the politics of education in Texas.

He keeps close watch on who is paid to lobby for Pearson and notes how hard they work to convince the Legislature that more testing is needed. It is a neat circle. They say the schools are failing. The Legislature slashes the budget for everything but testing. The lobbyists say the test prove the schools are failing and need more testing.

Can’t they ever figure out that students need more time for learning, more arts, more libraries, more foreign language, more civics, more history, more time to make things and do things other than picking the right bubble?

Andy Hargreaves, Pasi Sahlberg, and Dennis Shirley are noted for their scholarly, articulate, and outspoken opposition to the Global Education Reform Movement (GERM), which is spreading like a virus.

Now, one of the chief exponents of GERM–(Sir) Michael Barber–has delivered a report to Boston informing the business community that the schools are mediocre and need a strong infusion of privatization and (of course) more testing. (Sir) Michael Barber previously worked for McKinsey, and he is now the thought leader of that esteemed pusher of testing, Pearson.

Hargreaves, Sahlberg, and Shirley write here about why (Sir) Michael Barber is wrong. (Sir) Michael Barber made his reputation as a creator of the UK’s system of standards and assessments; because of his love of “targets,” he is known as Mr. Deliverology when he is not known as (Sir) Michael Barber. However, the authors point out that there has been no educational renaissance in England and that Massachusetts scores higher on the targets than the nation that last took (Sir) Michael Barber’s advice.


They write:


What’s wrong with the report? First, its grudging acknowledgement of positive educational outcomes in Massachusetts and grim portrait of the state’s shortfalls have little to do with the facts. Massachusetts is the leading state in the United States on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. It is the only state in the United States with an “A” grade in the highly regarded Quality Counts 2014 State Report Card. It is also one of the world’s top-performing systems on a number of international assessments. Its rate of recent progress may be slower than some countries, but they’ve started from farther behind — Massachusetts literally has less room for improvement. To view the state’s school system as suffering from “complacency,” as the report claims, confounds all the findings of United States and international research on school achievement.
Moreover, the report draws many of its recommendation from the United Kingdom, where its lead author, Michael Barber, once worked as an advisor on education to former Prime Minister Tony Blair. England has made massive investments in “academies,” similar to government-supported charter schools here. It has explored various ways to prepare new teachers outside of a university setting. There have been targets and tests galore. Yet, results from the 2012 Program of International Assessment put England merely at the international average, 499, compared to Massachusetts students’ score of 524. For Bay State policymakers to follow England’s lead in education would be like the Red Sox taking coaching tips from the lowly Kansas City Royals.


If you have been wondering why data mining matters so much,
you will want to see this video.

Please note that the U.S. Department of
Education’s logo is on this video.

In it, an entrepreneur named Jose Ferreira, CEO of Knewton, shares his vision for a future in
which education of every individual child is completely determined
by data. Education today happens to be the most “data-mineable
industry in the world,” he says.

His firm and Pearson can map out whatever your child knows and doesn’t know, design lessons, and do
whatever is necessary to “teach” the concepts needed. There is
nothing about your child that they don’t know, and they will know
more about him or her next year than they do this year. If this is
the future, then teachers will be mere technicians, if they are
needed at all. What do you think?

Peter Greene saw the video and
thought it was scary. He wrote: “Knewton will generate this giant
data picture. Ferreira says presents this the same way you’d say,
“Once we get milk and bread at the store,” when I suspect it’s
really more on the order of “Once we cure cancer by using our
anti-gravity skateboards,” but never mind. Once the data maps are
up and running, Knewton will start operating like a giant
educational, connecting Pat with a perfect educational
match so that Pat’s teacher in Iowa can use the technique that some
other teacher used with some other kid in Minnesota. Because
students are just data-generating widgets. “Ferreira is also
impressed that the data was able to tell him that some students in
a class are slow and struggling, while another student could take
the final on Day 14 and get an A, and for the five billionth time I
want to ask this Purveyor of Educational Revolution, “Just how
stupid do you think teachers are?? Do you think we are actually
incapable of figuring those sorts of things out on our

North Carolina officials are trying to get a refund from Pearson because of flaws in the data system that Pearson is running for the state.

Pearson is charging the state $7.1 million for its information system but it doesn’t work.

Here are some of the problems with Pearson’s PowerSchool:


At the Observer’s request, CMS produced a summary of ongoing problems with PowerSchool.

• Transcripts: Cannot produce transcripts for mid-year graduates. System maintenance has wiped out some data for other students.

• Athletic eligibility: PowerSchool cannot generate eligibility reports. CMS created a local system.

• Driver’s license eligibility: Can’t create reports that verify students’ eligibility.

• Graduates and dropouts: Reporting systems on retention, promotion and graduation don’t work; there is no dropout reporting system.

• School activity reports: CMS has created work-around systems because of flaws in reports that track teacher qualifications and student-teacher ratios.

• Enrollment: Monthly reports that tally enrollment at each school have had glitches. The September report is used as the official snapshot of statewide enrollment. The state reported that this function was fixed in February.

Read more here:

A reader forwarded the following story.

Microsoft and Pearson will join forces to build “the first curriculum…for a digital personalized learning environment that is 100 percent aligned to the new standards for college and career readiness.”

Now we see the pattern on the rug.

It begins like this:

New York, NY (PRWEB) February 20, 2014

Today Pearson announced a collaboration with Microsoft Corp. that brings together the world’s leading learning company and the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions to create new applications and advance a digital education model that prepares students to thrive in an increasingly personalized learning environment. The first collaboration between the two global companies will combine Pearson’s Common Core System of Courses with the groundbreaking capabilities of the Windows 8 touchscreen environment. The Common Core System of Courses is the first curriculum built for a digital personalized learning environment that is 100 percent aligned to the new standards for college and career readiness.

“Pearson has accelerated the development of personalized digital learning environments to improve educational outcomes as well as increase student engagement,” said Larry Singer, Managing Director for Pearson’s North American School group. “Through this collaboration with Microsoft, the global leader in infrastructure and productivity tools for schools, we are creating a powerful force for helping schools leverage this educational model to accelerate student achievement and, ultimately, ensure that U.S. students are more competitive on the global stage.”

“Personalized learning for every student is a worthy and aspirational goal. By combining the power of touch, type, digital inking, multitasking and split-screen capabilities that Windows 8 with Office 365 provides with these new Pearson applications, we’re one step closer to enabling an interactive and personalized learning environment,” said Margo Day, vice president, U.S. Education, Microsoft Corp. “We’re in the middle of an exciting transformation in education, with technology fueling the movement and allowing schools to achieve this goal of personalized learning for each student.”

In addition, iLit, Pearson’s core reading program aimed at closing the adolescent literacy gap, will be optimized for the Windows 8 platform. Designed based on the proven instructional model found in the Ramp Up Literacy program, which demonstrated students gaining two years of growth in a single year, iLit offers students personalized learning support based on their own instructional needs, engaging interactivities, and built-in reward systems that motivate students and track their progress.

Read more:

The voice of a new blogger! At least, new to me. Glad to make his/her acquaintance.

This post was written by a veteran teacher who knows how to get students to love literature.

But it is a brave new world, and now the teacher must be trained to say the right words and terms by a “perky” Pearson trainer.

She tried! She really, really tried.

She traded jargon with the trainer, blow for blow.

But in the end, she couldn’t do it.

She knew the verbiage was empty nonsense, even if the trainer didn’t know it.

And she concluded:

Fifth graders fall in love with great books when teachers read them out loud with passion, and then talk about them with interest and knowledge. They learn to write when they are inspired to say something. Truth? They don’t need to be told what their reading level is: they need to be surrounded by books and they need to play around with them. Truth? They don’t need a rubric to learn how to craft a story where “the dialogue moves the story forward on the story arc” (Seriously? Whoever wrote this crap never read Vonnegut). They know that a story is good when their friends tell them, “This was great!”

Imagine that! No rubric! No text-to-text comparisons! Just reading for meaning and the joy of language and story. That will never do!

Another great column from Myra Blackmon in the Athens (Georgia) Banner-Herald, explains the education industry and its obsession with data.

She writes:

“Some folks believe that if you can’t quantify something, it isn’t worth bothering with. People in power are often so obsessed with the data, the numbers, and the profits they often lose sight of the people behind the information.

Such is the case with the massive educational “evaluation” being pushed by so-called reformers. Many of these high-level reformers — Bill Gates, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and others — know little or nothing about teaching and learning in our public schools. Bill Gates’ children attended Lakeside Academy in Seattle, where tuition approaches $30,000 a year. One of Michael Bloomberg’s daughters was featured in a documentary “Born Rich” about growing up with tremendous wealth.”

PS: the editors should note that Bill Gates put $200 million into the Common Core standards, not $200,000 (which would be chicken feed for Gates).

Peter Greene, a high school English teacher in Pennsylvania, has concocted a press release by Pearson, issued soon after it purchased the U.S. Department of Education in 2015.

In this press release, Pearson announces the release of the Common Core 2.0.

Here is a sample:

“*We’re pretty sure that Kindergarten simply isn’t early enough to start the reading process, so we are proud to announce a program that starts this important educational experience as soon after conception as possible. Our problem with backwards scaffolding has been that we stopped too soon. How can we hope to compete internationally when our newborns have not yet been exposed to a dynamic and robust reading curriculum. Phonics for Fetuses closes that gap.

*DIBELS broke new ground with its program of having small children read gibberish. But why stop there. The new SHMIBELS program will require students to write gibberish. Students must produce ten pages of lettering without creating a single recognizable word (yet all completely pronounceable). The writing will be timed and matched against the Pearson master SHMIBELS list to see if students have produced the correct gibberish and not just any random gibberish. (Note: this program is expected to help target many future USDOE employees).”

It gets better as Greene goes on. These are my favorite changes to CCSS:

“*In response to continued complaints that focus on testing has squeezed out many valuable phys ed and arts programs, we are proud to introduce the Physical Arts program. For this program, offered during one day of the 9th grade year, students will draw a picture of a pony on a tuba and then throw the tuba as far as possible.

*By pushing subject matter further down the sequence, we expect to free up the entire 10th grade year for testing. Nothing but testing, every single day, all day. With that much testing, our students are certain to become the kinds of geniuses who can trounce our historic enemies, the South Koreans and the Estonians. We anticipate this becoming a rite of passage and popular cultural milestone as families look forward with joy and anticipation to the Year of the Tests. To those critics who claim that we have not offered support in the literature for this testing, we want to note that we have closely followed the writings of Suzanne Collins and Franz Kafka.”

An AP teacher sent me the following letter. I don’t know the answer. Can anyone answer her question? Maybe not, maybe we are all in the dark. It does not seem beyond belief that Pearson and the College Board are closely collaborating. Is there more afoot than collaboration? Shouldn’t they be competitors?

Here is the communication I received:

“Hi Diane,

Just wanted to bring this to your attention. As a member of the AP English listserv, er, college board-monitored discussion board, I received this message yesterday. When I logged in to follow the discussion thread, it had been removed. If true, it is important information that AP teachers have not yet been informed about. Several AP teachers, from AP Biology to AP Language, noted that their students reported “weird” questions on the exams, which are similar to the comments that have been made about the Pearson 3-8 exams in New York.

“I can’t find any proof written anywhere except that when I registered this year for the AP National Conference in Las Vegas, I called AP central about a question I had because Pearson was communicating with me about needing a code or something to complete my application and the young man on the phone said “Oh Pearson is handling AP now and GED so you’ll have to call this number. He said the website etc. would remain on College Board but that it was really “a separate entity” now. I am anxious to hear what they have to say at the National Conference. I fear we are going to see a major change in philosophy and more alignment with Common Core. It’s hard to pin them down. They are sneaky about things. Almost Everything our school does now is governed by Pearson. We are mostly government funded–Navajo school but it is a trickle down process. What happens with us will eventually worm its way into every school. We are the guinea pigs. They are updating our internet connections this summer so that we have more room for all these tests that will be taught online. 3rd graders will be taught to type on the computer all their work so they can do the tests, as well as everyone else. They are practicing because eventually the tests will become the determiner for passing the kid on. They say in 2 years but they keep moving it up.

“The above is from a recent conversation on a literary-minded thread on LinkedIn. Can anyone speak to this matter of Pearson and the CollegeBoard as bedfellows to the extent that things may be changing, and not for the better? Heck, I wonder if I am wrong for even posting this thread here…”

Jason Stanford, a Texas journalist, is appalled that President Obama and Arne Duncan met with Pearson to get advice about how to prepare low-income students for college. The White House refers to Pearson as “the world’s leading learning company,” instead of the world’s largest testing company.

What advice do you think Pearson offered? Stanford bets: more testing, better testing.

He notes that Texas has a contract with Pearson for nearly $500 million. Thanks to high-stakes testing, 76,000 students will not graduate. Testing did not make them smarter. Instead they have been effectively consigned to lifetime struggle and poverty.

The mind meld between Duncan and Pearson is alarming.

Even more alarming is Duncan’s contempt for America’s students, parents, and teachers.


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