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.