Archives for category: Pearson

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.

 

A Corporate Reform group in Tennessee released its own poll claiming that most voters in the state approve of annual testing.

The group called SCORE was created in 2009 by former Republican Senator Bill Frist to promote the Common Core State Standards. Being fast to accept CCSS before they were finished or even released put Tennessee in an advantageous spot for Race to the Top funding. The state won $500 million from Arne Duncan’s competition. $100 Million was set aside for the Achievement School District, which gathered the state’s lowest performing schools, located mostly in Memphis and Nashville, and handed them over to charter operators. The ASD promised to raise the state’s lowest-performing schools into the top 20%. The ASD was a complete failure. It did not raise any low-performing schools into the top 20%. Most made no progress at all.

Tennesse’s SCORE is a member of the rightwing network called PIE (Policy Innovators in Education), created by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute to connect groups that were disrupting and privatizing public education. Like other members of PIE, SCORE favors charter schools.

The board of SCORE is loaded with millionaires and billionaires who should be supporting the state’s public schools, which enroll nearly 90% of the state’s children, but prefer to disrupt and privatize them.

Five years ago, a public school parent blogger called out SCORE for making money off Common Core products. Open this link to see some eye-popping financial transactions, where RTTT money goes into the coffers of corporations owned by board members, who in turn make campaign contributions to Republican Governor BillHaslam. (Former Governor Haslam is now on the board of Teach for America.) The Gates Foundation helped to fund SCORE.

In addition to the oligarchs identified in the preceding post, the SCORE boards includes these super-wealthy Tennesseans:

Pitt Hyde of the Memphis Hyde Family Foundation. Owns AutoZone and the Memphis Grizzlies. The Hyde Family Foundation is the largest funder of the Tennessee Charter School Center.
 
Janet Ayers of the Ayers Foundation, also a funder of Common Core. 
 
Dee Haslam, married to the former governor’s brother. They own Pilot gas stations and the Cleveland Browns. Worth $1.8 billion, according to Wikipedia.
 
Orrin Ingram of the local billionaire family that has pushed charter schools.

Apparently the only plan that SCORE has for Tennessee’s public school students is to inflict Common Core and standardized testing.

SCORE has lots of money, but no imagination and no sense of the public good.

It is committed to charter schools, privatization, and accountability (but only for public schools).

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

Well, here is a nice development for those of us who object to depersonalized learning. The data analytics firm called Knewton is going out of business. Knewton was acquired by Pearson and was supposed to be the ultimate refinement of data mining.

Peter Greene describes the rise and fall of Knewton here.

The founder and CEO of Knewton was Jose Ferreira, who believed he was bringing Big Data into the classroom. He claimed in a video that with his techniques, his company knew more about students than their parents did. Here is an article from 2013 in which his vision is portrayed as the wave of the future, one of those inevitable phenomena that would envelop us whether we liked it or not.

Here he is, extolling the virtues of data mining. 

Knewton sounded too much like Brave New World to me, and I resented the fact that investors were creating a technology to spy on our children.

Peter Greene writes:

Adaptive learning. Computer-enhanced psychometrics. Personalized learning via computer. Knewton was going to do it all. Now it’s being sold for parts.

Knewton started in 2008, launched by Jose Ferreira. By 2012, Ferreira led the ed tech pack in overpromising that sounded both improbable and creepy. In a Forbes interview piece, Ferreira described Knewton as “what could become the world’s most valuable repository of the ways people learn.” Knewton could make this claim because it “builds its software into online classes that watch students’ every move: scores, speed, accuracy, delays, keystrokes, click-streams and drop-offs.”

Developments like this offer hope that other massive invasions of privacy, which are inherently dehumanizing, will fail. I’m on the side of flawed and fallible human beings. Teachers and parents, not machines.

 

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.

Sweet deal, but not for taxpayers!

New Mexico will pay out $6 million to the New Mexico Connections Academy, a virtual charter school, for students who are no longer enrolled. Connections is owned by mega-publisher Pearson. The leader of the Connections chain was also the chair of the ALEC education committee, encouraging red states to buy their product, which they did. Jeb Bush is a huge promoter of digital learning and his organization is heavily funded by software and hardware corporations.

When will states wake up to the fact that virtual charter schools are a scam? Any online courses needed should be under the direction of the local school district, meeting its needs, providing content it cannot provide, with no profit involved. Drive the frauds out of the marketplace.

A charter school in New Mexico that teaches students remotely by phone and internet is receiving public funding for hundreds of students who no longer are enrolled, amid attempts by state education officials to close to the school.

New Mexico Connections Academy will receive about $6 million during the current school year for students who are no longer enrolled, according to an accountability report from the budget-writing New Mexico Legislative Finance Committee. State spending accounts for the majority of public school funding in New Mexico. The school said Wednesday that it was setting aside some of the excess funding for future years when state funding is likely to lag behind enrollment.

Enrollment at the online school for grades 4 through 12 fell from more than 1,800 to students to about 1,100 after state officials declined to renew the school’s charter earlier this year amid lagging student academic results. Connections Academy successfully appealed the decision as arbitrary in state district court, though an appeal by the Public Education Department is pending.

Connections Academy opened in the fall of 2013 and contracts with the for-profit education curriculum provider Connections Education that is owned by Pearson.

Peter Greene writes about the sad sad story of Sandy Kress, the lawyer who is widely acknowledged as the architect of No Child Left Behind.

Kress went from power and fame in D.C. to lobbying for Pearson in Texas.

Then when Texas abandoned Pearson, Kress was really sad.

While almost everyone in the nation agrees that NCLB was a disaster, at least three people disagree: Presdent George W. Bush, Margaret Spellings, and Sandy Kress. Every once in a while, Kress publishes an op-ed piece about the greatness of a federal law that imposed standardized testing on every student in public school from grades 3-8. He did it again, and Peter takes his claims apart, one by one.

“The Bottom Line

“Sandy Kress got it wrong in Texas, and he got it wrong with No Child Left Behind, a program that virtually nobody holds up as an example of a great government program that achieved great things. And unlike some reformsters who have shown a willingness to say, “Okay, some of this just isn’t working,” Kress keeps on insisting that we are on the brink of educational disaster and people have to use his great ideas right now!

“We’ve been field testing test-centered accountability for almost twenty years– long enough that entire generation of children have been educated while soaking in the stuff– and we have nothing to show for it but corporate profits, people abandoning the teaching profession, and educational results that show the gaps created when schools dropped actual education in order to prep for the Big Standardized Test. We have tried Kress’s ideas. They have failed.

“I’m not going to argue that the Texas legislature has the answers. But they are not going to find the answers by listening to Sandy Kress.“

 

In the past few years, a group of Western investors have introduced low-cost for-profit private schools into African nations. Their company is called Bridge International Academies. It is a “tech startup” developed by entrepreneurs who hoped to do well by doing good. Veteran journalist Peg Tyre wrote a balanced yet implicitly scathing article about BIA in the New York Times Magazine. Some of the investors are Mark Zuckerberg, Pearson, the World Bank, Bill Gates, and Pierre Omidyar. The schools seek to replace the public schools, which are free but usually underfunded and poorly equipped. Bridge teachers teach from tablets loaded with scripted curriculum (apparently written in Boston by charter school teachers who understand how to write scripted curricula). It claims to get better results than the public schools, but at a higher price. Even though these schools are “low cost,” most families in poor nations can not afford to pay. It is operating schools in Kenya, Uganda, and Nigeria, and a few in India.

Are they philanthropic saviors of African children or neocolonialists?

The government of Uganda is aggressively pushing back against the Bridge schools. 

Janet K. Museveni is First Lady and Minister of Education and Sports. She explains in the linked article that the 63 Bridge schools operating in Uganda are unlicensed and do not meet the standards required to operate.

The Bridge tactic of organizing pupils to march on behalf of the school corporation will sound familiar to Americans.

She writes:

The media has been awash with news about the intransigent manner in which Management of the Bridge International Academies (BIA) which were recently renamed Bridge Schools are acting when faced with closure by the Ministry of Education and Sports for lack of licenses to operate in Uganda.

“It must be puzzling to the public particularly when all they see, as a result of the aggressive media campaign by Bridge operators, are pictures of children that look fairly “organised” as they match on streets and demonstrate at Parliament to protect the interests of the proprietors – at the risk of simply being used as pawns in a game they hardly comprehend.”

She goes on to describe the requirements of the law and the power of the Ugandan government to set standards. She describes the efforts made by the Government to regulate and inspect Bridge schools. These were the findings of the investigation.

 

“Key findings of the multi-disciplinary team that were brought to the attention of the Bridge team during this meeting are summarised hereunder:

“Issue #1: – Curriculum

“Early childhood Development (ECD):

“Children are kept for long hours at school without any designated resting places; did not use the approved ECD Learning Framework and the Caregivers’ Guide; administered written examinations which are against Government Policy.

“Lower Primary:

“The preparation, language of instruction and pedagogy were not in line with the approved curriculum.

“Upper Primary

“Curriculum Content, Schemes of Work, Lesson Plans, Textbooks, Schools and Class timetables did not conform to the approved Ugandan curriculum which they purport to implement. Many teachers were not free to adjust what they received on the tablets to teach from a central source and appeared to live in fear; claiming to be underpaid and lacking a forum for airing their grievances. Most of the Head Teachers, referred to as “Academy Managers” were not professionally trained and could not provide instructional leadership.

“Issue #2: – Teacher Qualification/Competence

“There were no clear documents on teachers’ qualifications in the Managers’ (Head Teachers’) Office; most teachers had no contracts; and about a half had no authentic Teacher Registration numbers.

“Notwithstanding the well-known benefits of introducing technology into the delivery process, teachers should have the freedom to adapt their classroom schemes of work, lesson plans, assessment and remedial activities to the practicalities of the specific teaching-learning context rather than be enslaved to the restrictions of centrally prepared and delivered lessons.

“Issue #3: – Bridge Schools Infrastructure

“All the facilities were temporary with School structures made of roofing sheet material (both walls and roof) and wire mesh, which are unsuitable for students during very hot weather conditions. The structures have no windows and battened wooden doors were used without proper framing. Sound-proofing between Classrooms is inadequate. There is no protection against lightening on any of the structures. Sanitation facilities are shared amongst students (boys and girls) and teachers. The facilities were not fit to be a school.

“Based on the findings/observations outlined above, specific and general recommendations were made on curriculum, teachers and facilities to enable them meet the basic requirements and minimum standards.”

She and the Government of zuganda are serious about regulating Bridge schools.

“I should, however, add that the impunity being exhibited by Bridge Management, and its likes, will not be tolerated and that Government will spare no effort to use all legal means to enforce the requirements of the Law to protect our children and our future, as a country.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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