In order for an item to appear on a test, Pearson must own/commission the item. While at the onset this may sound like common sense, it means something a bit different in today’s climate of high stakes testing.

When the results of Pearson high stakes tests determine which schools are shut, which teachers and administrators are fired, which teachers and admins will receive their certifications, defines the students that are “college and career ready”…  the content on those tests becomes a priority in schools.  As the stakes for Pearson’s standardized tests rise, so does its stock price.   It will not matter if curricula is aligned to the Common Core, all that will matter is the curricula is aligned to Pearson.

Let’s be honest, when it comes to testing Pearson doesn’t have the best track record.  While the Pineapple and the Hare was an epic fail, it has become par for the Pearson course.  Pearson’s history leaves much to be desired.  At one point, things in NY were so bad that Chancellor Tisch and Wallcott put Pearson on double secret probation with this warning, “I have told the company’s officials in no uncertain terms that I expect this will never happen again. Pearson is a big company, and what they did was totally unacceptable.”

You would expect Pearson to listen, but they didn’t.  The errors continued.  Even last year, Pearson had to Pineapple and Hare many questions off of their tests.  They provided no explanation for this or any of their other numerous errors- odd when you consider Pearson is a company that makes its money off of asking students to explain themselves.

What is tested is what is taught.  Most know that Pearson tests have been filled with product placements, but the most damaging product placement on the Pearson test is for Pearson curricula.  While Pearson owns every item on the test, they have included items from the curricula they sell to schools.  How is this fair or even remotely legal?  I don’t find myself agreeing with the Fordham Institute often, but their statement on this matter was spot on, “Pearson-developed New York State ELA sixth- and eighth-grade assessments included passages that were also in a Pearson-created, “Common Core–aligned” ELA curriculum. This meant that students in schools that purchased and used instructional materials from Pearson had an enormous advantage over those who didn’t.”  This should have raised more eyebrows than it did.  Consumers of Pearson’s curricula have an enormous advantage over non-users.  There are many more examples of Pearson materials being used on the ELA and Math Common Core state tests outside of the 6th and 8th grade, but the gag order placed on the test prevents teachers from bringing this issue forward.

Pearson has promised to include the performance of their products in shareholder reports starting in 2018.  From Pearson, “The most important phase will come over the next few years, as we start to be able to report back on the outcomes of our products and services in line with learners’ goals.”  Do you think any other company will outperform Pearson on the Pearson tests?

Pearson controls the tests and soon it will control your school.