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Private companies make public tests?

May 2, 2012 pm31 11:54 pm

This should stop. Now.

It’s easy to look at Pearson and its lazy pineapple question. Or its impossible trapezoid. It’s easy to say “bad Pearson.”

But wrong. Pearson got a contract, made money, and threw together tests for as little money as they could. Recycled the bad pineapple. Didn’t proofread the math.

Why were they in the position to do so?

Because New York State abdicated its responsibility for education in this state. The State used to produce tests. Fine ones, or so say those who appreciate a good standardized test. (that probably is not a group I am in). But they farmed the writing out to teachers across the state. Smart teachers. Wrote good questions. Proofread. But when no one at SED was centrally responsible, quality suffered.

They then started farming tests out to contractors. And now quality, never before an issue, is in the papers every week.

This is not about proper oversight. Nor about proper proofreading. Nor about having bad standards (although… New York State… guess what?)

This is about public education remaining public. Private companies, profit, they should not be here. If tests are to be written (and there should be fewer, or perhaps none), but if tests are to be written, New York State, and not some skeevy profiteers, New York State should be doing the writing.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    May 3, 2012 am31 8:05 am 8:05 am

    This morning I read the NYTimes article, “Long Island Principal Decries Quality of State Exams”. My thought on that was, Regents Exams are created by a committee of educators who are expert in the content area. Why then are other exams being created by corporations? Coincidentally, I found this blog. Clearly, if it is a State exam, it should be created by a state committeee. Why has this become a for profit endeavor?

  2. May 19, 2012 am31 10:35 am 10:35 am

    The Pearson group started as a construction company, based in England, during the nineteenth century. Over the years, they acquired many assets and thus entered into publishing. New York state pays them a great deal of money to manage and create the tests, and evaluate the tests. They come up with scale factors that are ridiculous for any testing. Some questions are riddled with mistakes and are pointless. For example, there were triangles whose sums of the angles were not 180 degrees. There were questions without correct answers or with multiple correct answers. If the tests are created to assess learning, the creators of the tests should have an understanding of learning. The whole process of shifting the responsibility for education to private, profit-making companies forces the question, “Why?”. In every state, there are plenty of educators who can manage to create effective tests. Why are such assets in the states left unused?

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