PARCC Week, Part 2: Pearson

IMG_0021If you’re inside Education, you’ve probably got a good idea or at least name recognition for Pearson Education. And if not, well to paraphrase Lowell’s own Bette Davis, “Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.”

Pearson is a prime example of the corporate take-over culture that infects business today.  Corporate giants adhere to a business model in which companies bid and buy smaller companies or competitors, mostly to get an already successful product developed by the second company. In lieu of development, one enterprise simply raids the pantry of another company, usually keeping the piece that they want to profit from and getting rid of most everything else.

Pearson has raided many of the educational publishing houses such as Addison-Wesley, Allyn & Bacon, Heinemann, Scott Foresman, and Ginn. Sadly now that Pearson owns them, many have ceased to exist as independent imprints.

Once Pearson obtained the lion’s share of the textbook publishing market, they moved on to the next great profit center: assessments. Pearson owns and manages the rights to several assessments that should be familiar territory to educators, such as DRA2 . Not surprising, Pearson has the rights to PARCC. Pearson was the successful bidder to the multi-year multi-million-dollar PARCC test. PARCC Inc. or PARCC Org. – Pearson has their hand in both.

When the PARCC Consortium, the group banding together to use PARCC as the required standardized assessment, began, there were 26 states committed to using this test.  As State Departments of Educations got a good look at test administration, the costs, the technology requirements, and experienced the delays in score reporting, many dropped out of the PARCC Consortium. At this writing, there are SIX remaining commited to administering PARCC (Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico, Rhode Island, plus D.C). Whether this is a factor or not, layoffs were announced this past week at Pearson.

Not to worry! States can also contract for parts of the PARCC test. Offering individual test items or parts of subtests seems to be a recent development to respond to states who are, shall we say, “uncomfortable” with the PARCC test in its entirety. States like Louisiana and now Massachusetts, have floated the idea that their replacement hybrid assessment, named MCAS 2.0 in Massachusetts, may contain a significant proportion of PARCC test items.

Pearson may be disappointed that the gravy train is not stopping at their corporate headquarters. However, it appears that they will manage to make a profit on PARCC one way or another.

Link to next post here.