FairTest Calls for Independent Audit of FCAT, Pearson

From the Bradenton Times:

BRADENTON – Based on a history of grading errors, the National Center for Fair & Open Testing has called for an independent audit and investigation of Pearson, the company that designed and graded the state’s 2012 FCAT exams. “Pearson has a troubling history of testing errors, the worst in an unregulated, irresponsible industry,” said FairTest Public Education Director Bob Schaeffer, a Southwest Florida resident.

“Trying to ‘fix’ this year’s writing test ‘crisis’ by changing the score level deemed acceptable, as the state board of education has proposed, ignores the fundamental problems with the FCAT and its contractor,“ Schaeffer continued. “It is clear that Florida school grades reflect profoundly political decisions based on ever-changing standards. They are not consistent, meaningful measures of student learning and teaching quality.”

Yesterday, FairTest released a chronology of more than a dozen questionable aspects of Pearson test design, administration and scoring over the past decade. Two years ago, Florida fined the company $15 million for late delivery of scores, the accuracy of which were later questioned. Pearson was previously at the center of controversey in New York, where the state’s attorney general investigated trips the company sponsored for state education officials prior to being awarded a contract for testing in that state. Similar concerns had previously been raised in Iowa.

In addition to questionable practices, the company has routinely come under fire for sloppy work, including dozens of errors and poorly designed tests, which included questions like the now infamous “Pineapple and the Hare” fiasco.

“There’s no accountability for testing companies or the politicians and ideologues who endorse the industry’s products as magic cure-alls for whatever ails education,” Schaeffer concluded. “It’s time to examine the examiners. If test promoters cannot demonstrate that their exams are high quality tools that help our children learn, they should be abandoned.”

Are events beginning to slow Jeb Bush’s high-stakes tests juggernaut? Two national stories this morning, one in MSNBC and one in the Wall Street Journal report on the growing movement that’s afoot among school districts endorsin a resolution against high-stakes testing. The Bradenton Herald, the Orlando Sentinel and the Tampa Bay Times add blistering reviews to the narrative this morning. Meanwhile education commissioner Gerard Robinson whines that we shouldn’t be calling it high-stakes testing.




About Bob Sikes

A long time ago and a planet far, far away I was an athletic trainer for the New York Mets. I was blessed to be part of the now legendary 1986 World Series Championship. My late father told me that I'd one day be thankful I had that degree in teaching from Florida State University. He was right and I became twice blesses to become a teacher in the late 1990's. After dabbling with writing about the Mets and then politics, I settled on education.
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2 Responses to FairTest Calls for Independent Audit of FCAT, Pearson

  1. Mark Halpert says:

    We need an Independent Audit of the whole process. How well did teachers and other professionals understand the rubric, how well where they trained and when, and when did the State of Florida know about the pending disaster. Hard to believe that Pearson did not tell the Commissioner there would be a sharp drop in scores before May 12th — and an early warning would have allowed the Board of Education to make a more informed and deliberate decision

  2. flbusbaby says:

    A question for Commissioner Robinson:

    What is wrong with referring to the FCAT as high stakes testing? Students’ promotions, teachers’ employment and schools being allowed to remain open all depend on FCAT scores. If this is not High stakes testing, what is?

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