Friday, December 19, 2014

Pearson:  Always Earning
By:  Pamela Casey Nagler 

Pearson, the largest educational publisher in the world, sells instructional content, tests, systems and technology for profit to states, school districts and individual schools in the United States and across the globe. Few of us, even those of us who work in public education, realize the enormous influence that private corporations - particularly Pearson - now have over public education. Pearson has taken over teacher certification in many states. California’s standardized testing corporation SBAC just awarded a big contract to Pearson. Pearson has the contracts to administer the standardized tests (PISA) that rate countries all over the world based on the results of their tests. Pearson develops and administers the SATs. This is just the short list. The unanswered question, given Pearson’s wide sphere of influence, is who evaluates Pearson for validity, reliability and non-bias?

This just in from a December 14, 2014 report from Pearson “Preparing for a Renaissance in Assessment”:
They have stated and I quote that they want to transform the teaching profession from a "largely under-qualified and trained, heavily unionized, bureaucratically controlled semi-profession into a true profession with a distinctive knowledge base, framework for teaching, well-defined common terms for describing and analyzing teaching at a level of specificity and strict control."

Further, “Learning systems of the future will free up teacher time currently spent on preparation, marking and record-keeping and allow a greater focus on the professional roles of diagnosis, personalized instruction, scaffolding deep learning, motivation, guidance and care." The system will do all the planning and implementing, and the system will put all the necessary technology at hand. ". . . without such a systematic, data-driven approach to instruction, teaching remains an imprecise and somewhat idiosyncratic process that is too dependent on the personal intuition and competence of individual teachers."

There you have it - Pearson wants to bust our unions, remove local public bureaucracies to instate centralized and privatized ones. Lessons in the future will shift to online learning which will, by necessity, remake the teaching profession. Teachers will no longer plan lessons or grade and evaluate students, the corporations will determine the lessons and how well the students performing. At present, teachers’ contributions are characterized by Pearson as too ‘imprecise’, ‘intuitive’ (rather than analytical), and ‘idiosyncratic” for the modern age. I can only imagine that when the role of the teacher is downgraded from educator to overseer, our salaries will also be downgraded to reflect our new status.

My question to all of you - How can we, as educators, parents, taxpayers continue to endorse and support Pearson and corporations like SBAC and PARCC that have contracts with Pearson when they clearly DO NOT support us, the teacher in the classroom?


  1. Pearson is publicly traded on the NYSE as PSO. I wonder if all or any of the oligarchs own shares in Pearson---specifically Bill Gates, the Walton family, Eli Broad and the Koch brothers.

  2. Don't forget Pearson taking over GED testing (writing and administering CCSS based tests while continuing to sell test prep).

    Tests are more difficult, cost 2x so not always 100% funded by states, skills and access necessary computer based tests. All these factors contribute to making GED success more elusive and problematic for at risk learners for whom this may be their last chance. The result is a dramatic drop in numbers taking the GED.