PEARSON CORPORATION'S FIELD TESTS TO BE ADMINISTERED TO DISTRICT STUDENTS NEXT WEEK
The Pearson Corporation, publisher of the grades 3-8 Common Core Math and ELA assessments, will be field testing questions for future exams at more than 3900 schools across New York State beginning next week and continuing through June 10. North Shore’s three elementary schools and the Middle School will each participate in the 40 minute exercise. ELA questions will be administered to Glenwood Landing and Glen Head 4th graders, as well as to Sea Cliff third graders, and math questions to students in the 8th grade.
In the New York State Education Department’s instructions to schools, Pearson is responsible for distributing the tests to schools, and schools have the responsibility to return the completed tests directly to Pearson, a for-profit company. This is a different procedure than what is in place for the high school Regents field tests. Those tests, which have been administered in many schools across the state over the past week, are developed by the Department of Education, and as a result, districts deal directly with State Ed in administering them.
At the May 2nd North Shore Board of Education meeting, Schools Superintendent Dr. Edward Melnick explained that, “the purpose of the field testing is to support the publishers of the exam by enabling them to determine the validity of the questions and to decide whether or not to include them in future tests.”
One district parent, Dr. Linda LaMarca, a psychologist, in response to questions from Northwordnews, challenged the appropriateness of the field tests. “Parents should question why our kids are being used by a multibillion dollar, private, for-profit testing corporation as test subjects without any personal benefit or compensation. Test construction requires field testing, but psychologists are paid when they field test new instruments for Pearson. Why are the school districts and education departments in our state providing free test subjects for a private corporation and taking away from the precious academic instruction time of our students? What are our children getting in return?”
At the May 2 Board meeting, Dr. Melnick said, “there is no benefit to your child for the taking the field test nor is there any consequence for students who do not sit for the field test.” If there is any benefit to administering the field tests, he added, it is that it would give teachers the opportunity to see the types of questions that could appear on future tests. Just as during the administration of the ELA exam this past March and the Math assessment this past spring, district schools, Dr. Melnick said, would be accommodating students who “opt out” by providing a place for them to go until the administration of the test is completed.
In response to a trustee’s question as to whether the district considered refusing to administer the test. Dr. Melnick said that Nassau County districts considered opting out en masse, but that the “Commissioner threatened to pull the license of any superintendent or principal who refuses to cooperate with State Ed.” He said that he believed four districts in Nassau County had nonetheless decided to refuse to administer the field tests. They include Jericho and Glen Cove.
Pearson, in addition to developing assessments, also provides a variety of educational products including remediation materials, as well as test processing and scoring services. In 2013, the company reported sales of $8.65 billion and an adjusted operating profit of $1.23 billion.