Georgia education professor and Get Schooled poster Michael Moore has a compelling column in the Savannah Morning News about the power and reach of what he sees as a growing testing cabal. Please try to read the full piece if you have the time.
Among his points:
Looming on the horizon is the multi-billion dollar battle for common core assessments. But what we don’t realize is that the real battle is over far more than assessments; it covers all aspects of curriculum.
A quick reminder of how we got to this point.
Georgia’s tests are not made by our state. CTB/McGraw-Hill, which is in the fifth year of a five-year, $62.5 million contract, makes our tests. CTB/McGraw-Hill also makes tests for at least 11 other states, Washington D.C., and the Department of Defense.
At the post-secondary level, the Pearson Company makes the Georgia Assessments for the Certification of Educators. Pearson makes certification tests for other states too.
The testing business is a $2.3 billion business. But testing is not where the real money is made. If you want to pass the test, you’re going to need preparation materials.
If your child brings home a text from Glencoe, Macmillan, SRA, Open Court or The Grow Network, among others, then your child is using a McGraw-Hill text. The test preparation materials business surely dwarfs the testing business.
This is still small beer compared with what’s to come. This week, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Pearson Foundation (a non-profit organization owned by, well, the for-profit version of the Pearson company) announced that the two were working together to create complete online curricula for the new common core standards in math and English language arts for elementary through high school.
This off-the-shelf curricula includes the materials, the teacher preparation, teacher development and, of course, the assessments. Interestingly, Phil Daro and Sally Hampton from America’s Choice, who helped draft the common core standards, are heading up this development.
Confused? Did I forget to mention that Pearson bought America’s Choice last summer? This information is hardly surprising. Of the 14 members of the Common Core English/Language Arts Standards writing committee, seven worked for ACT or SAT, two of the biggest test makers in America.
Three members work for Achieve, another non-profit organization that helps states – guess what? – form assessments for standards, and happens to be the creator of the American Diploma Project Network.
See how nicely this dovetails with ACT and SAT? Another standards writer, David Coleman, formed the Grow Network, which he sold to — there they are again — McGraw-Hill.
I am usually not a conspiracy theorist. But my scorecard shows 11 members of the English/Language Arts Standards writing team had ties to companies with a financial interest in the committee’s decision.
Adding insult to injury, no members of the Work Group were K-12 teachers and no teachers were mentioned in the Gates/Pearson curriculum announcement.
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog