Pearson flubs test scoring for gifted-and-talented programs

Pearson, the world’s largest education company, was just forced to apologize for making errors in its scoring of assessments for entry into gifted-and-talented programs in New York City public schools.

Sound familiar? The part about Pearson erring should. It keeps happening.

In 2010, for example, six of Florida’s largest school districts formally complained to state officials about problems with scores of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Tests and have asked the state to delay releasing grades given to schools based on the scores from Pearson. Not long after, problems were flagged in Minnesota, where results for the science standardized test were released late because Pearson incorrectly scored two questions on the fifth- and eighth-grade tests. Last year, there was the famous New York “talking pineapple scandal,” involving a story about a talking pineapple that made no sense. The test question was thrown out.

Those are just a few of the examples of problems that have been found over the years with tests designed by Pearson.

In the latest instance in New York, scoring errors cut out some children who had qualified for city gifted programs and let in some who did not. Given that the company has a $32 million contract with the state, and a contract for a few million with the city, you’d think they’d get it right.

When errors were fixed, Pearson said in a statement:

All students who were deemed eligible for the G&T programs remain eligible. And, additional students who were originally deemed ineligible are now eligible. Further, some children who were originally deemed eligible for only the G&T district programs will now be eligible for both the district and citywide programs.

 

In a letter to parents, Pearson wrote:


(Correction: Earlier version said Pearson had a $32 million contract with the city. It is with the state.)

Valerie Strauss covers education and runs The Answer Sheet blog.
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Valerie Strauss · April 21, 2013