Archives for category: Pearson

In an attempt to placate and undercut the opt out movement this spring, New York Commissioner of Education MaryEllen Elia promised significant changes in the tests.

 

Testing expert Fred Smith says the promised changes are insignificant, in fact, “illusory.”

 

Although the state has dropped Pearson and hired a new test vendor named Questar, Pearson is still in charge of the 2016 tests.

 

 

The following comment was posted by a frustrated teacher in Florida, who has had to take a Pearson exam again and again. In the past, 86% of applicants passed the exam on the first try, she writes. After Pearson revised the exam in 2014, only 24% passed on the first attempt.

 

 

 

 

“Hello, Diane:

 

 

“I came across your blog after making a search using the following words: Why can’t I pass the Florida Educational Leadership Exam 3.0 (FELE 3.0)? I read one entry in your blog that made me realize I may not alone, and inspired me to share my own experience dealing with Pearson. I thank you deeply for your blog and the opportunity to share. I have been trying to find an answer to my question for exactly 12 months. I took the FELE 3.0 four times since last year and have not been able to pass one of its four sections. I am retaking it again this coming week. The exam used to be three subtests, but Pearson or the state split the last subtest into two parts, which are deemed today the most difficult by Florida university professors. I was able to pass that subtest and the second subtest the first time around. My battle a year later is still trying to pass the first subtest of this state exam.

 

 

“I have been a teacher in Florida for 13 years. I am certified in two areas. I wanted to pursue my master’s degree for several years and finally was able to do so in the summer of 2013 by enrolling into a two year educational leadership program at a local state university. Throughout my two years of study, every single one of my professors found me to be a very intelligent candidate. They shared their observations about my research abilities and commitment and constantly told me I was a great student. I aced every single one of my courses with 100%, except for one where my final passing grade was a 96%. For two years, I thought I was doing great, until I sat to take the mandatory and upgraded Florida Educational Leadership Examination 3.0. The university will not grant me my diploma until I pass that exam.

 

 

“The new exam has been around since January 2014. They call it the FELE 3.0 to differentiate it from the previous FELEs. I found out that about 86% of candidates who sat for the older FELEs used to pass the exam the first time. Now, only 24% of candidates taking the new FELE 3.0 passed the first time in 2015!! Yes, Pearson and the State of Florida made the test more rigorous, but give me a break; only 24% are passing this exam the first time?! The rest of us keep taking subtests of the exam several times, with some of us missing the 200 mark within 10 points or much less. In my case, I have failed it by 3 points twice! Several of my classmates from a year ago are still struggling with passing some subtests of the test as well. In the meantime, Pearson is laughing its way to the bank.

 

 

“The infuriating thing about my experience is that:

 

 

“1. Every time I sit for the subtest, I have to pay Pearson the entire exam fee of $225, as if I’m taking the entire 7-hour exam all over again. I am only taking a two-hour subtest. They lower the fee for the third subtest because it is the one most candidates are not passing, but those of us having to retest on other sections have to pay the full fee.

 

 

“2. I have to remain enrolled at the university and paying tuition until I pass the exam (no one can give me a straight answer to the question: Is this a state or university policy? They keep giving me the run around.) In the meantime, I owe Sally Mae $70,000 so far for a master’s degree I have not yet finished because I fail the state exam by a few points. Yes, $70K. No kidding.

 

 

“3. I have to wait a minimum of 3 weeks to find out how I did in the test, which increases the amount of wait time (and keeps me longer in limbo).

 

 

“4. Pearson charges you $75 if you want to know what questions you missed, but don’t offer any guidance as to how to prepare better to pass the next time. On top of that, you have to wait longer, 31 days, to sit for the exam after doing this. (They really milk it.)

 

 

“5. I have had to find my own resources to study from (basically national research and studies I find on the web) since the exam is so new and nothing like the older one. Most of the FELE resources I’ve had access to, including one seminar I had to pay on my own, are outdated).

 

 

“6. When I contacted the state twice to find out where I can study from (because my university had no clue), they gave me a list of reference books. I bought every single one of them, spending a lot of money on books that have vast information. I don’t know what to pinpoint and what is it I am still missing that is making me fail by 3 points! My professors are at a loss too. I found out the second time when calling the state that my calls are re-routed to Pearson, who refused to tell me who they were. I only know it was Pearson because of the area code of the number, which is in Andover, Massachusetts.

 

 

“Most people know that, because of all the major changes the Common Core State Standards brought to education, everything else has changed, including how schools are expected to be managed. Now, administrators are called to be instructional leaders rather than the building managers they once were. This is fine with me; I agree with all of that. I agree that rigor needs to be increased in most classrooms and that students must be challenged. I welcome school reform, but not at the expense of companies getting richer from those who cannot afford to continue taking exams and taking loans until they pass a state requirement that doesn’t really measure the real-time success of an aspiring administrator. I am not OK with an organization such as Pearson getting rich from unsuspecting graduate candidates.

 

 

“I am getting ready to take the exam again for the fifth time this coming week. Will I pass it? Will I not? If the exam is rigged to the point that African Americans and Hispanics cannot pass it, then I am royally screwed. I am Latina and black. Here I am, with my career in limbo because I cannot pass a Pearson exam by three miserable points. I really want to know what the hell is going on. I would like to see more people with my experience come forward and speak out. Something needs to be done about this.”

 

 

SInce Pearson bought control of the GED test, there has been a staggering collapse in the number of students who passed it and won a high school diploma. Pearson raised the cost of taking it and made it harder by aligning it with the Common Core.

 

Before Pearson took over, about half a million students took the GED, and most passed. After Pearson took control, passing rates dropped by a stunning 90%.

 

These days, employers often require a high school diploma even for menial jobs. No diploma, a life of limited opportunity.

 

New York City once had a superb adult education program, one of the best in the nation. But that program is now producing few graduates.

 

“The city Department of Education touts its $47 million-a-year adult-education program as the biggest in the state and second-biggest nationwide, but last school year it awarded just 299 high-school equivalency diplomas, The Post has learned.

 

“About 27,000 people over age 21 were enrolled in classes offered by the DOE’s Office of Adult and Continuing Education, including 15,700 learning English as a second language and nearly 11,000 in basic education classes that can lead to a diploma.”

 

The New York Post blames the program’s leadership, but in light of the national data, the test itself might be flawed. Still, $47 million to produce 299 graduates. Wow.

 

Mercedes Schneider recently reported that the GED was dropping its cut score, though not by a lot. This was a recognition that the failure rate was too high. But will this solve the problem?

 

 

 

 

Mercedes Schneider posts that Pearson is downsizing by 4,000 jobs worldwide. In addition, it is shedding its CFO. She attributes Pearson’s bad economic news to its bet on Common Core. A bad bet.

Here is the BBC account.

A comment by a reader:

 

 

 

I have been a teacher of special needs children in NYC for the past eleven years and also have an advanced degree in educational administration. I am now looking to utilize it.

 

Here’s my issue– I just took a Pearson test under the most arcane circumstances.

 

It was the eight hour marathon of the two-part school building leader exam. Throughout the exam on a computer that was not functioning right, jack hammers were being pile driven above my head (and other test takers like me) on the floor above the “Pearson Professional Building” test site. They gave us tight headphones to wear and the vibrations were still felt. It was insane! Fun fact, did you know that Pearson does not allow you to bring water into the testing room? It’s true. For four hours at a shot you have to find water elsewhere. Are they afraid I would find my answers to the 600 word essays floating in the bottle?

 

If you have to use the bathroom, or grab some water, it takes five minutes to leave the premises because first you raise your hand, and hope that your ‘proctor’ sees you behind the glass, comes inside, turns off your computer (which is still ticking down), then you have to have your palm scanned, and show them your ID then run the ten second hundred yard dash to a key in bathroom. Reverse the process when through. On part two of the exam (seven hours in) – I held my body in check with dehydration and hallucinations floating along simultaneously because I did not want to lose valuable time on the clock. In my exhausted opinion, these tests are more of an endurance meet then a skills test for the field. I felt like it was a cult indoctrination, or a cruel hazing ceremony from college before being expelled.

 

I wish the world of politicians and other loudmouths and crack-pots could see inside the vail of the Pearson testing empire. Thanks for reading!

It is common knowledge that Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Educational Excellence supports charters, vouchers, and digital learning. When he announced his run for the GOP nomination, he stepped down and brought in Condaleeza Rice to lead FEE.

 

Who provided the money to showcase Bush’s education platform? Bush released his list of donors from 2007-14.

 

“WASHINGTON (AP) — Big-time donors to a nonprofit educational group founded by Jeb Bush, disclosed for the first time Wednesday, highlight the intersection between Bush’s roles in the worlds of business, policy and politics years before he began running for president….

After leaving the Florida governor’s office in 2007, Bush formed the Foundation for Excellence in Education, with a mission “to build an American education system that equips every child to achieve their God-given potential.” With Bush serving as president, the group attracted $46 million from donors through 2014.

That donor list shows the circular connections as Bush moved from governor to education advocate to corporate board member. Supporters in each of those stages of his career contributed to his educational foundation — which, in turn, sometimes supported causes benefiting its donors. They include Rupert Murdoch’s media giant News Corp., GOP mega-donor Paul Singer’s foundation, energy companies such as Exxon Mobil, even the Florida Lottery….

 

“If you wanted access to Jeb Bush, one of the ways to do it is to make a large donation to one of those foundations,” said Bill Allison, who until recently was a senior fellow with the Sunlight Foundation, a nonprofit that advocates for open government…

 

“Records show:

—Four companies and nonprofits that appointed Bush to their boards of directors or advisory boards backed the educational foundation. One, Bloomberg Philanthropies, was among the most frequent supporters, making seven donations worth between $1.2 million to $2.4 million. Bush served on Bloomberg’s board from 2010-14. He also served on the boards of Jackson Healthcare, Rayonier Inc. and an affiliate of CNL Bank, each of which gave a lesser amount to the foundation.

 

—Bush’s education nonprofit provided $1.1 million in public information grants to eight states in 2013, its tax form shows. In recent years, at least nine charter school and education-related donors to the Foundation for Excellence in Education won contracts in those eight states, revealing the mirrored missions of donors and the foundation.

 

—The most frequent individual donor to Bush’s group was Florida citrus grower Bill Becker and his wife, Mary Ann Becker, who made eight donations worth between $225,008 and $450,000. A longtime Bush family supporter, Becker once provided Jeb Bush the use of his Cessna airplane for campaign travel….

 

—Major corporations backed Bush with big money. The most generous organization was the Walton Family Foundation, formed by Wal-Mart’s founders, which gave from $3.5 million to more than $6 million. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Wal-Mart Foundation gave $35,002 to $80,000 more. Microsoft founder Bill Gates’ foundation gave between $3 million and more than $5 million. Murdoch’s News Corp. made three contributions, at $500,001 to $1 million apiece. The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, built from the family real estate empire, gave more than $2 million.

 

—Total donations steadily increased over time, going from a 2007 maximum of $335,000 to $8.4 million in 2011 and as much as $12.2 million in 2014.

Education outfits such as Charter Schools USA, the publishing and education company Pearson PLC and Renaissance Learning were frequent contributors. So were financial groups and big businesses, with the Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation giving from $1.6 million to $3.25 million and the SunTrust Bank Foundation $300,003 to $750,000. Exxon Mobil Corp., Duke Energy and BP America made nine contributions combined.”

 

 

 

 

 

Rick Ayers, a professor of teacher education at the University of San Francisco, reviews the controversy over EdTPA, the Pearson-owned assessment tool for future teachers. In the past, educational professionals decided whether teachers were prepared for their job. Now, in 35 states, teachers must take the Pearson EdTPA to win certification.

He writes:

The Education Teacher Performance Assessment (edTPA) is the new set of evaluations of teacher candidates that is spreading across the country. Packaged as government-mandated test that assures the quality of teaching, it in fact colonizes the curriculum of teacher education programs and narrows the focus on teaching as pre-determined and top down delivery of lessons.

If you ask advocates about edTPA, they’ll tell you it’s a teacher performance assessment developed through a partnership between Stanford University’s Center for Assessment, Learning and Equity (SCALE) and the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE). They describe it as being designed “by the profession, for the profession” and “transformative for prospective teachers because [it] requires candidates to actually demonstrate the knowledge and skills required to help all students learn in real classrooms.” And policy makers are listening: as of November 2015, 647 educator preparation programs in 35 states are using edTPA, and it’s required for teacher licensure in 4 states.

Critics, however, tell a radically different story. In articles published in an increasing number of academic journals, blogs, and trade magazines, they question the validity of the assessment, its ideological stance, and its function as yet another tool of privatized, neoliberal reform. Barbara Madeloni, now president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association, was an early resistor. After the New York Times published a 2012 article about her students’ refusal to participate in an edTPA pilot, Madeloni lost her job at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Later, she, with Julie Gorlewski of SUNY New Paltz, published a series of critiques under headlines like “Wrong Answer to the Wrong Question” that describe edTPA as reductive and poorly aligned with the goals of social justice education….

Many scholars and activists are especially concerned about the role of Pearson Education, who is the exclusive administrator of edTPA and charges $300 per candidate per submission. $75 of this goes back to a “calibrated scorer”–a teacher or teacher educator who, with just 19-23 hours of computer-based training by Pearson was magically transformed from unqualified to evaluate their own teacher candidates to a national expert in evidence-based assessment. The other $225, presumably, goes to Pearson, SCALE and AACTE, who are surely celebrating their resounding success: 18,463 candidates were required to take edTPA in 2014. At $300 each, that’s $5,538,900. It is true that Pearson offers some vouchers to offset the cost for candidates. But in 2014, there were a whopping 600 vouchers available for the entire state of New York.

I have learned from a high-level official in New York that EdTPA has caused numerous problems. The future teachers are supposed to submit videos that show them teaching but parents are reluctant to give permission to film their children. The pass rates of African-American and Hispanic candidates is disproportionately low.

To many observers, both inside and outside the teacher education profession, EdTPA seems to be just one more piece of the “reform” effort to break the teaching profession and make it easier to turn teaching into a scripted performance.

If anyone wants to defend EdTPA, go for it. I’m all ears.

I received an email from a person in a foreign country; I am not free to identify the name of the informant or the country as I do not want the informant to be fired. I have deleted the names of the two university students who were investigated. Both have fewer than 100 twitter followers. Frankly, I find this level of scrutiny of individuals by a huge multinational corporation to be shocking.

The message reads as follows:

Diane I work for a company in XXXX that Pearson has retained to spy on students.

Find attached the text of the kind of surveillance in place – It’s run at Pearson by some guy called Marc Lueck – he’s an American living in the UK. He runs the Pearson threat team and that’s how he views these kids, as threats. He wants to spend more and more money monitoring the internet and has retained a number of comapnies around the world. We call him the childcatcher. You can see from the text that Pearson and this Marc guy are expending real money and resources to make sure no stones are unconvered. I have kids and what these guys are doing is wrong – I want to track down hackers and criminals not spy on kids. We state in the report that these kids pose no threat to Pearson but Pearson wants us to keep monitoring them.

I could lose my job for this, but I thought you should know.

[NOTE: AT THE ADVICE OF READER FLERP!, I REMOVED THE REPORT TO PEARSON. THERE WERE ITEMS IN THE REPORT THAT WOULD HAVE ALLOWED A SNOOP TO TRACK DOWN THE PARTIES INVOLVED. I DON’T WANT TO GET THEM IN TROUBLE. WE LEARNED LAST SPRING THAT PEARSON HAS AN OPERATION TO WATCH FACEBOOK, TWITTER, AND OTHER SOCIAL MEDIA SITES FOR ANY MENTION OF THEIR TESTS OR TEST ITEMS. SO, MAYBE IT IS NO SURPRISE TO LEARN THAT THIS IS A BIG DEAL FOR THE TESTING CORPORATIONS.]

Fred Klonsky’s blog carries a post by retired educator Sandra Deines about a fateful decision in Illinois:

“Starting this fall Pearson will be in the business of deciding who becomes a teacher in the state of Illinois.

“The Illinois State Board of Education has adopted a rule that designates Pearson’s “edTPA” as the means by which student teachers will be evaluated and granted certification.

“As the fall semester begins, all student teachers in the state will be required to pay an extra $300 (on top of the tuition they are already paying) and arrange for videotaping so that they can submit a lengthy narrative that covers the planning, execution and evaluation of a series of lessons with one of their classes as well as a ten-minute video of themselves carrying out their lesson with a class.

“Student teachers are required to get parent permission for their children to be video-taped.

“Pearson owns the video.

“Once submitted to Pearson, an “evaluator” will apply rubrics and 2-3 hours of their time to decide whether or not the student teacher “passes” and can be licensed to teach by the State of Illinois.

“That’s right—no longer will the evaluations of cooperating teachers, university field instructors and education professors determine the success of a student teacher.”

To learn about how to resist the Pearson takeover of teacher certification in Illinois, read the test of the post.

Pearson has sold two of its premier publications–the Financial Times and The Economist–to focus on education.

“The Financial Times and The Economist were sold to help Pearson’s push into education become “one of the great global growth stories of the next decade,” the company’s chief executive told CNBC.”

“Despite its lengthy ownership of the Financial Times and its stake in the Economist Group (owner of The Economist magazine), Pearson has focused on consolidating its place as the world’s leading education company in recent years. It offers a range of public school exams as well as online and traditional educational resources for schools, universities and professionals.

“We are tying our future to what I think is going to be one of the great global growth stories of the next decade,” John Fallon told CNBC on Friday.
“Parents in countries around the world, rich and poor, the single thing that matters to them most is equipping their kids with the skills and the knowledge to go to university, to learn English as a foreign language, because that’s what’s going to get them a better job and a better start in life and that’s what we’re lining Pearson up to and it’s a huge opportunity for us.”

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