In the Hell on Earth that has come to be corporate education reform in the United States, the reality of Common Core came to a head in New Jersey yesterday when it was revealed by the Superintendent of The Wachtung Hills Regional High School District that Pearson Education had triggered an alert that there was a breach on social media when a student tweeted about a test question. Pearson monitors all student social media accounts during the testing period searching for any discussion about the tests students are forced to take.
Public school teachers and concerned parents have been spreading the word that standardized testing under the new Common Core curriculum standards ever since the new standards were being adopted by state boards of education all over the country. Corporate education reform puts too much power into the hands of large multinational corporations (Pearson headquarters is in the UK) and out of the jurisdiction of local school districts and the parents of children taking these tests.
Pearson’s website describes their monitoring of student social media during the testing period.
Sharing ideas with others online can be really beneficial when you’re studying or revising. However, there are limits to the amount of information you can share, and you need to be careful not to break the rules. If you’re in doubt about what you can and can’t discuss, it’s always best to check with your teacher.
Sharing too much information with others is an example of ‘malpractice’.
We have an obligation to investigate any case where there is the suggestion that you’ve acted improperly.
We understand that sometimes you are going to talk about us and our assessments with your friends. During stressful periods, some comments may not be very flattering. However, we’d like to ask you to act responsibly when discussing us or your exams and coursework online.
The software Pearson uses to track student social media is produced by Tracx. The link to the case study currently redirects to a 404 page. The image displayed shows how their software shows tweets discussing Pearson.
Currently, Michigan students are not participating in the PARCC test, but taking the M STEP assessment this year only. In December of 2013, The Michigan Board of Education selected the Smarter Balanced assessment, another test that is aligned with Common Core. The issue the state is having comes from the state legislature passing bills to make it illegal to use Common Core in schools in the state. Pearson curriculum materials are still being used in Michigan schools however, and the new GED test Michigan uses since January of 2014 is also a Pearson product. The gradebook program many schools in Michigan use, PowerSchool, is again, a Pearson education product.
Pearson spying on students’ social media activity is more than “a bit disturbing.” This smacks of 1984 levels of privacy violation, especially on the nation’s school children. Welcome to the world of corporate education reform, endorsed enthusiastically by Rick Snyder, GLEP, Dick and Betsy DeVos and everyone else you can think of in the US working to destroy public education and turn it into a privatized corporate behemoth. If you haven’t done it yet, you need to opt your children out of the standardized test.