Archives for category: Pearson

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

 

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.

The following article was written by a graduate student and Celia Oyler, his professor at Teachers College, Columbia University.

In this article, co-written by a teacher and a professor, the authors examine possible explanations for why Adam (first author), a New York City public school special educator, failed the edTPA, a teacher performance assessment required by all candidates for state certification. Adam completed a yearlong teaching residency where he was the special educator intern of a co-teaching team. He received glowing reviews on all program assessments, including 12 clinical observations and firsthand evaluations by his principal and one student. In this article, the authors analyze Adam’s edTPA submission showing evidence of how he met his teacher education program’s expectations for teaching inclusively in a heterogeneous Integrated Co-Teaching classroom using frameworks from Universal Design for Learning and culturally sustaining pedagogy. They speculate that this pedagogical approach was in conflict with the Pearson/SCALE (Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning, and Equity) edTPA expectations or scorer training. They conclude by discussing the paradigmatic conflicts between the Pearson/SCALE special edTPA handbook and the aims and practices of inclusive education

Numerous people have complained about Pearson’s edTPA. Not because its standards are too high but because it does not accurately identify good teachers. At a time of teacher shortages across the nation, what is the point of using a test that weeds out good teachers along with some who are not so good. Shouldn’t human judgement count for more than a standardized test?

Mercedes Schneider writes here about what Pearson did to students in Mississippi.

Scores were misreported. Some students graduated whose scores were too low. Some failed to graduate even though they passed the tests.

The state fired Pearson.

Can you believe that politicians allow standardized tests to determine the life course of students. Doing so is the height of stupidity.

Alan Singer writes here about the global ambitions and activities of Pearson, the giant British corporation that seeks to dominate education.

He writes:

“Powerful forces are at work shaping global education in both the North Atlantic core capitalist nations and regions historically referred to as the Third World. Neoliberal business philosophies and practices promoted by corporations and their partner foundations, supported by international organizations, financiers, and bankers, and welcomed, or at least tolerated by compliant governments, are trying to transform education from a government responsibility and social right into investment opportunities. They defend their actions as reforms designed to increase educational equity and achieve higher standards; where possible they seek out local community support. But the underlying motivation behind corporate educational reform is extending the reach of free market globalization and business profits.

“An early twentieth century political cartoon from Puck magazine portrayed the Standard Oil Company as a giant octopus with tentacles encircling and corrupting national and state governments. The image can easily be applied to the British-based publishing company Pearson Education, a leader in the neo-liberal privatization movement. Pearson has tentacles all over the world shaping and corrupting education in efforts, not always successful, to enhance its profitability. Its corporate slogan is “Pearson: Always Learning,” however critics rewrite it as “Pearson: Always Earning.”

“Pearson’s business strategy is to turn education from a social good and essential public service into a marketable for-profit commodity.”

Alexandra Miletta is a teacher educator at Mercy College in New York City. She sent me this essay written by one of her student teachers about her experiences with the Pearson-owned EdPTA.

For reasons unknown to most people, many states have adopted the Pearson EdTPA and made it a requirement for entry into the teaching profession. Some teacher educators like it, some hate it.

Those who hate it realize that Pearson has taken control of the decision about whether future teachers are truly prepared and has reduced teacher education to a Pearson-created rubric. In essence, teacher certification has been outsourced to Pearson. ETS wants in on the action, and it is now pilot-testing its competitor test called NOTE, with avatar students.

Miletta hopes that the essay by Melina Melanovic goes viral.

The point of the essay is that Pearson now owns the teacher education process, and its exam creates enormous anxiety.

The essay begins like this:

EDTPA! Where should I begin? How about the handbook? The handbook is a great place to begin because the handbook is where the anxiety starts. A teacher candidate might have heard about the edTPA in passing, I know I have. However, the reality of what is being asked of a teacher candidate only becomes real once the handbook is read, and though you feel like student teaching is the completion of this long journey, it is only the beginning. The first time I read the handbook I remember feeling overwhelmed. I thought how would I be able to complete this much work in a seven-week placement? Will my cooperating teachers understand? How will I get to know these kids in a short amount of time in order to plan, teach, and assess during this learning segment? To be honest, if you are dedicated enough it is possible. It is possible to finish the edTPA in about two months. I would say on average I spent three hours a day on edTPA for 60 days. That is only the amount of time I spent working on the edTPA, but not the amount of time I spent thinking about the edTPA. I even had people around me such as co-workers, and family members that are not teachers, being informed about edTPA because of my constant talking about it. They kept asking, “Why do you want to be a teacher again?” It is important to not let edTPA take that away from you, the reason why you are becoming a teacher! Always keep the end goal in mind.