Parents protest Pearson, New York state’s ‘field-testing’ of exams

Over 300 parents and their children gathered outside the New York City office of testing-giant Pearson Education this morning, June 7th, to protest the company’s field-testing of exams in elementary and middle schools across New York state.

Students in the Empire State took a new, longer standardized exam this spring as part of the state’s five-year, $32 million contract with Pearson. The contract mandates field-testing, which is the common practice of testing questions out on students before using them on actual exams.

That hasn’t sat well with some parents, especially in the wake of recent criticism of Pearson, after it was revealed in April that one of its tests included a seemingly nonsensical passage about a talking pineapple.

“Our kids should not be their guinea pigs to test their tests,” said Jayne Wexler, a mother who attended the protest with her third-grade son Justice. “Our kids just went through six days of really hard testing and months of preparation. Let them compensate people to do it, or find a better way.”


The protest included puppets representing New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg; Chancellor of the State Board of Regents, Merryl H. Tisch; and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

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Lisa Nielsen

Parents and teachers are protesting Pearson and their field tests through social media as well. Look at what these parents and educators told Pearson on their Facebook page that was designed to demystify testing:


Lately, the second half of the school year -
from January through May – has been devoted to
preparing the students in Grades 3 – 8 for the math and
ELA Standardized Tests. The classwork and homework
predominantly consists of practice questions for these tests
instead of teaching the regular math, English, and
reading curriculums. Teaching kids to pass certain tests is not
really teaching, but so much importance is given to these
State Tests, from the threat of students being held over if they do not do well, to the teachers’ ratings being affected by poor student performance.
The schools need to get back to the basics of educating their students and stop the nonsensical pressure put on the kids and the
teachers to do well on these tests.

Peter Gøthgen

The math tests also had big issues – several questions involving skills which were definitely not on the list of PIs students were supposed to learn.

On the other hand, precisely how is anyone supposed to insure that questions are good and fair without widespread testing?

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