Thursday, March 3, 2011

Pearson Education

The industry leader is Pearson, a multi-national company headquartered in London. It's the largest publisher of educational materials as well as the biggest educational testing company.

In our community we have a major university, Penn State. At Penn State you can get a Ph.d. in Education and/or Mathematics. Our school district purchased the Pearson Math Curriculum. The Pearson logo is at the bottom every homework sheet my son brings home. Everyone in town hates this curriculum.
For more than a year, parents have called for the removal of the district’s elementary conceptually-based math curriculum, “Investigations in Number, Data, and Space,” saying it does not provide enough rigor and is responsible for declining rankings on state-standardized tests.

Pearson has just announced their newest line of products: The Nation's First Elementary Grades Common Core Math Program. But will it actually be better. Maybe not. According to Farley, who has actually seen the new materials it's the same old program repacked.
But are the Common Core Standards really "revolutionary"? Or are they fundamentally the same as the sets of standards that currently exist in each of the 50 states, different only in their wording? That is the question I recently set out to answer, when -- in an heroic act of corporate espionage that I undertook for you, dear readers -- I stealthily broke into the computer item bank of an assessment company I used to work for to look at their test questions and standards.

What did I find? Maybe I'm wrong, but I think I found the Common Core Standards look a lot like every other set of state standards I worked with over the years (that is, a list or grid of overblown educational rhetoric describing the simple skills American students should have mastered). For instance, the following multiple-choice question (written to a passage about feuding neighbors) is aligned to the Common Core Standards.

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