A student in a gifted program wrote this piercing analysis of the state tests he and his classmates just endured.

The tests he took had many brand names and registered trademarks. He realized this is product placement.

He wrote:

“Non-fictional passages in the test I took included an article about robots, where the brands IBM™, Lego®, FIFA® and Mindstorms™ popped up, each explained with a footnote. I cannot speak for all test takers, but I found the trademark references and their associated footnotes very distracting and troubling.

“According to Barbara Kolson, an intellectual property lawyer for Stuart Weitzman Shoes, “The fact that the brands did not pay Pearson for the ‘product placement’ does not mean that the use is not product placement.” To the test-takers subjected to hidden advertising, it made no difference whether or not it was paid for. The only conclusion they (and this test-taker) made is that they could not be coincidental.”

When I served on the NAEP governing board, there was. Flat prohibition on any reference to brand names. I studied the guidelines of every publisher a decade ago when writing “The Language Police,” and all of them specifically banned brand names.

What gives here? Why the marketing in the new Common Core tests?