"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Monday, June 14, 2010

From McGraw-Hill's Kelly Girls to Pearson's No Girls at All

Four years ago today I posted on the developing scandal involving McGraw-Hill's hiring of Kelly part-timers and under-qualified scorers for Florida's FCAT.  Well, now that Pearson has the $254,000,000 contract with the State of Florida, they seem to cutting corners as well. 

Reading the memo that Valerie Strauss posted from Chancellor Haithcock to public school superintendents, it is clear that Pearson does not have enough people on the job, which is the reason for the unprecedented delays in the test scores that shape everything educational in Florida.  I have clipped the relevant section from Valerie's posting:
. . . despite confidence in this year’s results, I am sure you remain curious about the cause of the delays we have been experiencing. These difficulties are directly related to Pearson’s database technology, which handles student demographic information.
Florida’s assessment process involves a great number of validation procedures, beyond the validation of students’ scores, which are designed to ensure that information in each student’s assessment record is complete and accurate. During the scanning and scoring process, database files are created by the contractor from the tests received from school districts. These files are matched against a Pre-Identification file, which contains student information reported to the contractor directly from districts prior to the testing administration. The student information contained in the test results files must match up perfectly with each district’s Pre-Identification file so that you can seamlessly integrate the test results into your student information database. It is in this file matching that our delays are occurring. Each apparent mismatch must be researched, resolved and rechecked in order to ensure accuracy. While this checking and rechecking process is clearly outlined in Pearson’s scope of work, internal systems issues within their database are causing delays in the resolution of these matches.
Additionally, I realize that you may have particular concerns with this year’s FCAT Writing results as they have been delayed the longest. The extended delay on these scores is the result of the additional validation review by Buros and the database issues mentioned above. Again, we remain fully confident in the results of this FCAT Writing administration.

I am also aware that some of you remain apprehensive about how the FCAT writing results will translate into the school grading formula. Due to the testing administration change from two essay scorers to one, a score of 3.5 is no longer possible, which necessitates a slight change in grade calculations.. . .

Not enough staff to handle the mismatches and a reduction in force from two scorers to one.  That's what $254 million gets you from the corporate swindlers.

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