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

Friday, May 11, 2012

Corrupt, Unethical, Inept: Boycott Pearson

Seems as Merryl Tisch has come out her coma. From NY1:
Officials with the company responsible for this year's state English and math tests have not commented publicly on recently-discovered errors in the exams, but a memo obtained exclusively by NY1 and displayed below shows the company has admitted mistakes internally. NY1's Lindsey Christ filed the following report. 
The state's highest education official is no longer downplaying the errors in the high stakes English and math exams. 
"The mistakes that have been revealed are very disturbing," said New York State Schools Chancellor Merryl Tisch. 
Almost 30 different test questions have now been declared invalid because they're confusing or have outright errors. And now Pearson Publishing is scrambling to explain what went wrong and how it's going to fix things. 
NY1 obtained a memo that an executive vice president at the company sent to the head of the state's testing program. The executive wrote, "We are committed to eliminating any gaps identified by the New York State Education Department between expectation and our performance." 
The day before the memo was sent, unhappy state officials had called Pearson. It was a Sunday, just after students finished taking the exams. They had already pulled six questions from a English exam, related to a bizarre passage about a talking pineapple. Then they’d yanked three math questions which didn't add up and made teachers re-score a writing section where the grading guide was off. 
But most of the errors were discovered in translations of the math tests into five foreign languages and Braille. Twenty questions either had no correct answer or more than one.
"These inexcusable errors from typographical to translation to a nonsense question," Tisch said. 
The Pearson executive wrote that an investigation is underway but said many errors seemed to result from a lack of proof reading rather than a translation issue. He mentions a math question where a negative sign somehow became a positive sign in a translated version. In another case, the translators seem to have confused common middle school math terminology, replacing the term “mean” with a translation of the term “median.” 
The memo lays out steps Pearson might take to prevent similar errors in the future and is peppered with sheepish yet eager phrases, like: "Pearson agrees that we need to work diligently to improve" and "we strive for continuous improvement and pledge to continue to learn and improve as we work together." 
The executive also promises to present the state with “a more comprehensive plan with timelines, tasks, responsibilities and outcomes clearly articulated and documented.” 
Chancellor Tisch said she will give the company one more year. However, some parents and teachers want the state to cancel the company's five-year, $32 million contract. They say students don't get a second chance with high stakes tests, so why should the test company.


  1. She was never in a coma. She's pissed that Pearson made a mess this first year after she and John King and Andy Cuomo rolled out their vaunted new "scientific" and "objective" teacher evaluation system based upon tests. It's hard to argue this system is "scientific" and "objective" when the tests it's based on are rife with errors.

    But despite the errors, she still says high stakes decisions - including declaring teachers "ineffective" and closing schools - will be made on the basis of these tests. She also has attacked anybody who criticizes the use of these tests for high stakes decisions as against "accountability."

    Nope, Merryl Tisch is not in a coma. She is quite conscious and aware of what she's doing - using these tests to destroy school systems all across the state, fire veteran teachers and help her charter operator buddies and hedge fundie buddies enrich themselves off the public education funding trough.

  2. Bess Altwerger7:22 AM

    Join the Boycott of Pearson! Go to:

  3. There was a time in the not so distant past when Regents exams were developed by teachers. They went through a rigorous evaluation system before being given to students. No doubt it was cheaper for the state than giving the contract to Pearson, but bribes....I mean campaign contributions determine educational policy now.

  4. There was a time when New York State teachers developed the Regents exams for less money than is being paid to Pearson. The exams went through a rigorous evaluation process before they were given to the students. However bribes...I mean campaign contributions now determine educational policy in New York.