Search results for: "pearson"

Owen Davis writes here about the enrichment of the testing industry by No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top.

The testing and accountability craze started before No Child Left Behind, but that federal law turned it into a bonanza for Pearson and other companies and led to a consolidation of the testing industry.

We now know, almost 20 years after NCLB was signed into law on January 8, 2002, that it has had very little effect on student test scores, on closing achievement gaps, or on any of the other wild promises made first by George W. Bush, echoed by Rod Paige and Margaret Spellings, and reiterated again by Arne Duncan and John King.

Who in Congress or the federal government will have the courage to call a halt to this insane investment of billions of dollars into the testing industry?

Davis writes:

Three days after taking office, George W. Bush unveiled his signature domestic policy, No Child Left Behind. The bill would triple the number of exams the federal government required of students, while dangling stiff penalties over struggling schools. For many educators it felt like a depth charge.

The mood was different at Pearson Education, a division of the London-based conglomerate Pearson PLC. As the education community was still absorbing the shock in February 2001, Pearson Education chief executive Peter Jovanovich spoke to a group of Wall Street investment analysts. He pointed them to the proposed annual testing requirements and school report cards. “This,” Jovanovich said, “almost reads like our business plan.”

Pearson Education was a relative newcomer to the education market. Three years earlier, Pearson PLC had paid $4.6 billion to buy the textbook wing of publishing house Simon & Schuster. In 2000, the company acquired a leading standardized test provider. Now Pearson’s stars had aligned.

“Content has been king,” Marjorie Scardino, Pearson’s top executive, said at the time. “But now we’ll have the ability to put content and applications together and that will really allow us to be king.” With a hand in both delivering curriculum and testing students over that curriculum, Pearson would capitalize on America’s newfound school accountability kick.

Pearson Education’s profits increased 175 percent in the decade following No Child Left Behind. The company, whose properties included Penguin Books and the Financial Times, soon derived most of its profits from American education. Test sales jumped fivefold between 2000 and 2006. “Our assessment businesses are in the sweet spot of education policy,” Scardino told investors in 2005 – a year when more than 60 percent of American school kids lived in states giving Pearson tests.

Since 2000, the testing market has roughly tripled in size, to nearly $4 billion a year, with annual achievement tests spawning a range of more frequent tracking assessments. As testing has flourished, more and more functions of the school publishing industry the have fallen into fewer and fewer hands. In 1988, ten publishers shared 70 percent of the textbook market. Today, the “Big Three” —McGraw-Hill, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and the juggernaut Pearson—control at least 85 percent of the market. These lucky few have since expanded their offerings; Pearson hawks everything from student data trackers to online credit-recovery courses to ADHD diagnostic kits.

But along the way the American public grew wary of the companies’ influence in education. Parent groups on both the left and right have cast testing mandates as political favors to test makers, a notion that has helped spark a recent nationwide pushback against accountability policies. Hundreds of thousands of parents across the country have opted their children out of mandatory tests last year, and entire schools have held test boycotts.

The sense that students are over-tested is no illusion. A 2013 study from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found the stakes attached to testing in the U.S. to be the highest in the developed world. One study of the 66 largest urban school districts found the average student took 112 standardized tests from kindergarten to graduation, spending an average 22 hours a year just taking the exams, let alone preparing for them.

The efforts of testing companies to secure and expand their business have helped pushed American schools toward an overbearing focus on assessment – one that has failed to achieve its desired result of dramatically improving student and school performance. Here’s the story of how we got to this point.

It is a sad story, an awful story, that involves lobbyists, business plans, and billions of dollars. Nothing good there for students or teachers.

Alan Singer writes her about the massive data breach at Pearson, which was covered up for nearly a year.

He writes:

“And you thought it was safe to sign into a test at Pearson Vue. Well you better think again. At least one Pearson online product was hacked exposing student data from 13,000 schools and one million college students. The hack occurred in November 2018, the F.B.I informed Pearson in March 2019, and Pearson, covering itself for as long as possible, finally went public with the disclosure in July 2019.

”The hacked product is Person’s aimsweb®, that is used to monitor student reading and math skills. Pearson’s assessment sub-division markets the product with claims that “its robust set of standards-aligned measures, aimswebPlus is proven to uncover learning gaps quickly, identify at-risk students, and assess individual and classroom growth.” A side benefit, especially useful for authoritarian regimes, is that aimsweb® also monitors student online “behavior.””

Parents who sued were offered a year of free credit monitoring. They said no thank you.

 

Tennessee has had endless problems with its state tests. They are called TNReady, but they are NeverReady.

The state just chose Pearson to manage its testing program, despite Pearson’s long history of problem-plagued tests. 

The British publishing house has been dropped by other states, but Tennessee is placing its bet on Pearson.

New York dropped Pearson after the #pineapplegate affair. See here and here.

Pearson’s PARCC Test encouraged 200,000 students to opt out of state testing in New York.

Texas dropped Pearson, perhaps when it realized that $500 million a year was excessive.

Good luck, Tennessee!

On the other hand, why not try a radical experiment and trust teachers to judge the progress of their students? They know what they taught and they know their students. Think of the savings!

Pearson has plans for the future. Its plans involve students, education, and profits. Pearson, of course, is the British mega-publishing corporation that has an all-encompassing vision of monetizing every aspect of education.

Two researchers, Sam Sellar and Anna Hogan, have reviewed Pearson’s plans. It is a frightening portrait of corporate privatization of teaching and of student data, all in service of private profit.

Pearson 2025: Transforming teaching and privatising education data, by Sam Sellar and Anna Hogan, discusses the potentially damaging effects of the company’s strategy for public education globally. It raises two main issues of concern in relation to the integrity and sustainability of schooling:

  1. the privatization of data infrastructure and data, which encloses innovation and new knowledge about how we learn, turning public goods into private assets; and
  2. the transformation and potential reduction of the teaching profession, diminishing the broader purposes and outcomes of public schooling.

You can also find a radio program featuring one of the researchers which discusses these issues at http://www.radiolabour.net/hogan-140519.html

 

 

The British giant Pearson announced that it was creating a venture capital fund to invest in new technologies to transform education.

Yuch!

More tech trash on the way!

Protect your child from tech capitalization and monetization!

Press release:

“We are launching Pearson Ventures, a fund to invest in growth stage start-ups that are building the future of education and employment. Pearson Ventures will build on the success of Pearson’s Affordable Learning Fund and will continue to lead our ongoing partnership with Learn Capital.”

Today Pearson, the world’s learning company, made an announcement regarding how they plan to support startups in building the groundwork for the next era of education and employment.

Here’s the gist of the news:

  • Because education will look very different in 2030, Pearson, like learners all over the world, will need to continue to learn, adapt and reinvent itself: finding new business models, incorporating emerging technologies into its products and services, and finding new ways to collaborate with education institutions, government, and businesses.
  • To do so, Pearson is launching Pearson Ventures, a fund to invest in early stage start-ups who are building the future of education and employment.
  • With an initial capital commitment of $50M over three years, Pearson Ventures will invest in companies building new market opportunities with innovative business models, future technologies and new educational experiences.
  • Pearson Ventures will focus primary in early-stage startups with Series A and B rounds.

Below, please see the blog post regarding the announcement, or find it here.

Let me know if you have any other questions on the news. Thanks!

-XX

Pearson Ventures: The Future of Learning

Jonathan Chocqueel-Mangan, Chief Strategy Officer at Pearson

Students entering school today face the possibility of being the first generation of 100-year-old workers. Just let that sink in. Having a career that lasts late into life means the skills and knowledge learned in childhood, or a degree earned at 20 years old, won’t be enough for success in a rapidly changing economy. Whether it is a student seeking help with math homework, or an adult seeking a masters degree, we know learners need education that is convenient, flexible and life changing. We also know education will look different in the future, so finding new business models, incorporating emerging technologies into our products and seeking new partners for collaboration is becoming more important than ever.

That’s why we are launching Pearson Ventures, a fund to invest in growth stage start-ups that are building the future of education and employment. Pearson Ventures will build on the success of Pearson’s Affordable Learning Fund and will continue to lead our ongoing partnership with Learn Capital. PALF has invested over $20M in some of the world’s most impactful education startups, improving education for underserved populations, while returning more than $7 million to the company. But as we look to the future, this new approach is a way to shift our investment work to align more closely with Pearson’s five-year strategy, especially our focus on lifelong learning and employability.

With an initial capital commitment of $50M over three years, Pearson Ventures will invest in companies building new market opportunities using innovative business models, future technologies, and new educational experiences. While Pearson Ventures will pursue competitive financial returns, equally important is its ability to collect shareable insights and drive organizational learning to help future-proof the company. As a result, we will be doing things a bit differently than a typical venture fund.

Investment Criteria: Pearson Ventures will focus primarily in early-stage startups with Series A and B rounds, typically partnering with venture firms and accelerators through a co-investment structure. While we will have a global remit, we will focus on geographies where Pearson already has a significant footprint, both to maximize the strategic benefits to our investees and the relevance to Pearson.

Investment Focus: We will prioritize companies who are working in areas of high strategic importance, including employability, lifelong learning, and next-generation assessment; offering new technological capabilities such as artificial intelligence, mobile-first delivery, remote proctoring, or augmented/virtual reality; creating social impact through upskilling, income share agreements, or increasing higher-ed access.

Leveraging Pearson’s Scale and Reach:Pearson Ventures will deliver unique benefits beyond just capital. As a global learning company, Pearson Ventures will proactively connect its portfolio companies with relevant experts in content, product design, and business development, as well as advise on geographic and market expansion. In most cases, new investments will have a Pearson advocate or sponsor as a touch point, in addition to the investment team. On a case-by-case, and mutually agreed, basis, portfolio companies can also receive a seconded Pearson employee, or join a Pearson team or office as an entrepreneur-in-residence.

Through Pearson Ventures, we will continue our commitment to invest in businesses that have a social impact on learners. Alongside our commitments to improve learner outcomes and use digital to reach more people, Pearson Ventures is one more way we’re becoming more innovative, learner-centered, and future-focused.

Alan Singer writes here about the alliances of the World Bank with the leaders of global greed.

The World Bank transmits What Pasi Sahlberg Calls GERM (the Global Education Reform Movement).

He writes:

Just because you call yourself the “World Bank” does not mean you care about the world. The bank was created after World War II by the United States and Great Britain to ensure their economic influence over countries devastated by the war and domination over former colonies.

While the World Bank claims one of its goals is to reduce global poverty, the way it goes about doing it manages to keep poor countries in perpetual debt to pay for questionable capital improvement projects and for refinancing debt they already owe to wealthy nations.

Critics of the World Bank, and there are many, include Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, Peter Hardstaff of the World Development Movement, and writer Naomi Klein. Stiglitz argues that World Bank loans to developing countries emphasize quick upticks rather than long-term benefits to a country. Hardstaff claims that conditions placed on World Bank loans benefit dominant capitalist nations by ensuring that poor countries repay debts as a condition for the new loans. Klein documents specific World Bank projects that manipulate Third World countries and calls the bank’s credibility “fatally compromised.” The World Bank forced Ghana to charge public school students and their families school fees, pushed to eliminate food subsidies in war-torn Iraq, and required Tanzania to privatize its water system.

More recently, David Edwards, General Secretary of Education International, questioned the World Bank’s new Human Capital Index (HCI). The bank will use the index to decide on loan applications from poor countries and it says it wants them to invest more heavily in health and education programs. HCI supposedly will measure the “human capital” that a newborn will acquire by the time it completes secondary school through an algorithm that combines the probability of survival to age five, the availability of healthcare, and levels of education determined by standardized test scores. In other words, to receive debt relief, the World Bank will force Third World countries to adopt the kind of packaged curriculum and curriculum-aligned high-stakes testing being promoted by edu-companies like Pearson.

Edwards has three key complaints about the World Bank’s HCI. First, he objects to education being treated as a capital investment rather than as a human right. For Edwards and Education International, “Merely churning out workers for the capitalist economy is not the purpose and value of education.” It should be about achieving a “more just, peaceful and sustainable world.”

Second, Edwards questions the need for another metric for measuring poverty. The HCI is a device for promoting the World Bank and demonstrating its concern for the poor, rather than something that will actually help poor nations.

Edwards’ third point is something that directly concerns parents and teachers in the United States where students are battered by high-stakes standardized assessments that turn schools into test prep academies. The HCI ranks countries “based solely on admittedly imperfect test-scores.” Edwards charges that the World Bank’s ability to use loans to dictate government policy will mean that instead of strengthening education systems, HCI ratings will encourage “teaching to the test and a narrowed curriculum.”

Waiting in the wings to benefit from the World Bank HCI loans are corporate vultures like British-based Pearson Education. Pearson is targeting what it euphemistically calls “emerging markets” as its textbook and testing business in North America reports multi-year declining profits. Egypt is currently seeking a large funding package, estimated at $2 billion, from the World Bank to finance their latest educational reform strategy. No surprise, Pearson is in line to provide the hardware, infrastructure, and training for the “reforms” new digital testing system and a “bank” of exam questions.

This article appeared in the business section of the New York Times.

Author James B. Stewart decided to try to answer a sample question that is supposedly representative of the admissions test that students in New York City take to get into a handful of elite high schools. He found the question confusing. He got the wrong answer. He sent it to a legendary editor at the New Yorker magazine. She found it confusing. She got the wrong answer. I tried the question. I got the wrong answer. Pearson said it was a sample question, and no one actually had to see it on an exam. They revised the question. It was as confusing as the original.

This is the question.

“In the passage below, which of these is the most precise revision for the words “talked to some people who did the best in the contest?”

“During a nightly news-segment about a cooking contest, a reporter talked to some people who did the best in the contest.”

A. Conversed with some of the people who won the contest.

B. Spoke to the three contestants who did well.

C. Discussed the contest with some of the winners.

D. Interviewed the top three contestants.”

Stewart writes:

“The question didn’t say how many people the reporter interviewed, and a reader has no way of knowing. So an accurate revision would need to be equally vague. Any revision that specified “three contestants” is not an accurate reproduction of the original, but an embellishment. That eliminated answers B and D.

“Answer C refers to “some of the winners,” but doesn’t say winners of what. The original is explicit: “the contest.” And C embellishes “talked”: “discussed the contest.” The original doesn’t say what the reporter talked to the winners about. So C failed on two counts.

“That left A, which is both vague and explicit in the same way the original is, and thus the most “precise revision.” I chose it and pushed the “submit” button and got an immediate response.

“Wrong!“

So he tried the question on a language expert:

“So I sent the question to Mary Norris, author of “Between You and Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen” and a legendary copy editor at The New Yorker. If anyone understands revisions of English prose, it’s she. I didn’t tell her anything about my experience and asked her to answer the question and tell me what she thought.”

She thought the question was confusing.

“She said she was stumped immediately by the reference to “people” who “did the best in the contest.” Can multiple people be the “best?” Can there be more than one “winner”? What kind of “contest” would that be? “To say there are three people adds information that isn’t in the original,” she said. “And we have no way of knowing if that’s accurate.”

“C was tempting. “It’s nice and vague, and in this context, vague equals precise,” she said. Nonetheless, she picked answer B. “At least it doesn’t say ‘winner,’” she reasoned.

“Wrong again!

“The “correct” answer, according to the New York City Department of Education, is D. “The top three” in that answer is more specific than “some people who did the best” in the original.

“I would never have picked D,” Ms. Norris said.”

Back to the Education Department and Pearson:

“Will Mantell, a spokesman for the New York City Department of Education, said Pearson investigates “any items with problematic or unusual results.”

“If an error is found,” he added, “the item is not scored.”

“The risk of erroneous answers is reduced if students can take a test multiple times, as they can with the standard college admissions test. But students can take the SHSAT only once, except in unusual circumstances.”

Stewart says that this ambiguous and confusing question shows the risk of using one test score to determine admission.

It’s worse than that.

Pearson and its stupid and confusing questions and answers have turned me into a skeptic of standardized tests. There is nothing “standardized” about the question, and nothing “standardized” about the answer. They are both subject to human error amd completely subjective.

No student’s destiny should be determined by such a flawed instrument.

Tomorrow.

 

Teachers from across the globe tell Pearson investors:

Stop the exploitation of vulnerable kids!

International protest and actions planned at annual shareholders meeting

For Immediate Release

What: Teachers from around the globe, education unions and members of parliament from Kenya will be protesting both outside and inside the Annual General Meeting of Pearson to urge investors to stop funding Bridge International Academies.

When/Where: Friday, May 4th Press conference and protest at 11 AM. The shareholders meeting starts at 12PM at which point the protest will continue inside the meeting. IET London, 2 Savoy Place, London WC2R

Who: Wilson Sossion, General Secretary, Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT), Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary, National Education Union (UK), Angelo Gavrielatos, Project Director, Education International (EI) will all be available for interviews.

Contact: Angelo Gavrielatos at +61488012045

Why: Pearson is a huge edu-business which invests in the US owned corporation called Bridge International Academies. This for-profit corporation is making money off the education dreams and aspirations of poor families in Africa and Asia. We want Pearson shareholders to be aware of this hurtful investment and to stop supporting a company that seeks to profit from vulnerable kids.

***

London, May 2, 2018 – Education activists, teachers and union leaders representing 32 million educators worldwide will come to London to urge shareholders at the Pearson Annual General Meeting to stop funding Bridge International Academies, a for-profit company that makes money by shortchanging the education of thousands of at risk children.

Bridge is one of the largest education for-profit companies in the world, with plans to sell basic education services directly to 10 million fee-paying students throughout Africa and Asia by 2025. Bridge’s business plan is predicated on the employment of unqualified staff delivering a highly scripted, standardised curriculum in substandard facilities.

Despite their slick marketing, the company uses cost-cutting techniques aimed at minimising operational costs in order to maximise profit. In both Uganda and Kenya, Bridge schools have been ordered to shut because of the company’s neglect and disregard for national legal and educational requirements.

In announcing the closure of these schools, authorities in Kenya and Uganda have cited the company’s failure to seek registration to operate, failure to employ qualified teachers, failure to conform to national curriculum requirements and use of unsafe facilities. Bridge has retaliated by taking legal action against its critics in an attempt to silence them.

Wilson Sossion, General Secretary, Kenya National Union of Teachers, who is being sued by Bridge, will travel all the way to London to denounce the corporation’s practices in his own country.

“Learners are precious human beings destined to enjoy rich and fulfilling lives and help build decent and strong societies. They should never be seen or treated as remote, unknown pieces of education business supply chains,” said Wilson Sossion.

“By supporting Bridge, Pearson is actively undermining the attainment of free quality education for all, and going against its own motto of education as a “never-ending road of discovery, challenge, inspiration, and wonder,”’ said Angelo Gavrielatos, Project Director at Education International.

“Pearson goes to great lengths to talk about how central teachers are to the achievement of quality education for all yet, it supports these for-profit chains who use unqualified staff delivering scripted lessons in a robotic structure. Adding insult to injury, poor families must pay ever increasing fees to sustain a business that shortchanges their education dreams,” he added.

“Every child has the right to a free, high quality education, with trained teachers and a safe learning environment. Bridge exploits this right for profit, and in the process delivers a sub-standard education that deepens inequality in the communities it “serves”. Pearson’s investment in this exploitative business model is wholly indefensible,” stated Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union (NEU).

***

Education International is the global teacher trade union federation representing more than 32 million educators in 172 countries.

The Kenya National Union of Teachers is the largest teachers’ trade union in Kenya.

The National Education Union is the largest teachers’ union in the UK, established in 2017 after the amalgamation of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL). Both unions have a history of opposing the privatisation of education both nationally and internationally.

Angelo Gavrielatos​
Project Director
Email: Angelo.Gavrielatos@ei-ie.org
Tel: +32 2 224 06 11
Fax: +32 2 224 06 06
5 bd du Roi Albert II | 1210 Brussels | BELGIUM
http://www.ei-ie.org

 

Fred Smith is a testing expert who worked as an analyst for the New York City Board of Education for many years. In this study, he flips the question: Not, how did the students perform, but how did the tests perform?

He grades the tests and finds a remarkable increase in the number and percent of students who scored a zero, perhaps because they didn’t understand the question or provided a confused or incoherent response.

The increase in zeroes was particularly high for students with disabilities and English language learners. They were higher still for black and Hispanic students.

Smith writes:

”The data show that there has been an increase in the percentage of zero scores since the administration of exams aligned with the Common Core. We anticipate that officials will claim this outcome to be the consequence of tougher standards reflected by more rigorous exams.

“We argue that those assertions are insufficient explanations for what we found. Recall that a zero score indicates an unintelligible or incoherent answer. Certainly, some zeroes are to be expected. But the percentage of zero scores, particularly for students in grades 3 and 4, is unreasonable in our view. With so many answers deemed “incomprehensible, incoherent, or irrelevant,” we must ask whether such a program yielded any valuable information at all about our youngest students, as the testing was purported to do. The failure here is much more likely in the questions themselves and in the belief that it was acceptable to ask eight- and nine-year-olds to sit and take long exams over several days. That the data also indicate a widening achievement gaps cannot be ignored…

“Further evidence of flawed testing can be noted in the decline of zeros in 2016 — when the SED removed time limits — from the surge in 2013, for most grades. After three years of CC-aligned testing, the SED acknowledged that the time constraints imposed by the tests were an issue. This, in itself, is an after-the-fact admission that the tests were poorly developed, as test administration procedures, including timing, should be resolved as part of the test-development process before tests become operational.

“In taking stock of the testing program we must return to the fears and doubts that were expressed by a small number of people early on. Were New York State’s CC-aligned tests appropriate measures? Would they have a negative impact on students, especially the most vulnerable?

“The analyses and findings in this report vindicate these early concerns and give empirical grounding to the opt-out movement that grew to an astounding 20 percent of the test population between 2013 and 2015. Specifically, our findings raise questions about the efficacy of this kind of testing, particularly for our youngest students. They also open a needed discussion about the quality of Pearson’s work, the worth of its product, and SED’s judgment in managing the program.”

The unasked question is why we insist on testing every student in grades 3-8 every year. No other nation does it.

My guess: Congress is still inhaling the toxic fumes of NCLB, which was based on the nonexistent “Texas miracle.”

 

 

 

This would be funny if it were not also unethical and outrageous.

Pearson embedded messages in certain tests to test “social-psychological”premises. Would encouraging messages raise test scores? Would “growth mindset” messages improve scores?

The answer: no.

“Education and publishing giant Pearson is drawing criticism after using its software to experiment on over 9,000 math and computer science students across the country. In a paper presented Wednesday at the American Association of Educational Research, Pearson researchers revealed that they tested the effects of encouraging messages on students that used the MyLab Programming educational software during 2017’s spring semester.

“Titled “Embedding Research-Inspired Innovations in EdTech: An RCT of Social-Psychological Interventions, at Scale,” the study placed 9,000 students using MyLab Programming into three groups, each receiving different messages from the software as they attempted to solve questions. Some students received “growth-mindset messages,” while others received “anchoring of effect” messages. (A third control group received no messaging at all.) The intent was to see if such messages encouraged students to solve more problems. Neither the students nor the professors were ever informed of the experiment, raising concerns of consent.

“The “growth mindset messages” emphasized that learning a skill is a lengthy process, cautioning students offering wrong answers not to expect immediate success. One example: “No one is born a great programmer. Success takes hours and hours of practice.” “Anchoring of effect” messages told students how much effort is required to solve problems, such as: “Some students tried this question 26 times! Don’t worry if it takes you a few tries to get it right.”

“As Education Week reports, the interventions offered seemingly no benefit to the students. Students who received no special messages attempted to solve more problems (212) than students in either the growth-mindset (174) or anchoring groups (156). The researchers emphasized this could have been due any of a variety of factors, as the software is used differently in different schools. However, educators who spoke to Education Week were understandably more alarmed by Pearson placing thousands of unwitting minors in A/B testing for its products.

“It’s concerning that forms of low-level psychological experimentation to trigger certain behaviors appears to be happening in the ed-tech sector, and students might not know those experiments are taking place,” Ben Williamson, a professor at the University of Stirling, told the publication.”

The students who received no “encouraging messages”performed much better than those who did. Maybe the messages triggered anxiety. Maybe they were distracting. Maybe this was a dumb and unethical experiment on human subjects.