If you’ve never heard of Pearson Education, you undoubtedly know one or more of their brands. Over the past decade or so they’ve bought up a bunch of instruction-related companies, producing everything from textbooks to software and more.
And, since standardized testing is currently the hottest segment of the education industry, you’ll find Pearson (which is part of a British media conglomerate), right in the middle of the action.
They already own NCS, one of the largest testing companies in the US, and the company recently acquired National Evaluation Systems, a big player in teacher testing. Pearson obviously expects giving and scoring tests will make them lots of money.
So why should anyone care? There’s really nothing wrong with a company making a profit, even in education.
However, if we (as in taxpayers) are going to give them money, it would be nice if they at least did a competent job.
You may recall that Pearson was behind the big SAT scoring mess affecting more than 4000 students last October. In addition, the company has been involved with a variety of testing problems in several states.
But Pearson is not alone in all this, of course. They have competitors in the testing business who have produced their own share of screw ups in the administration and scoring of standardized exams.
Even Margaret Spellings, our dear Secretary of Education, is worried about these testing snafus. So worried that she called in all the big players in the testing industry for an “hour-long meeting” last week.
After all, with the entire national educational policy wrapped around standardized testing, the least Madame Secretary can do is spend an hour make sure the exams get scored correctly.