The destruction of public education hinges on everyone's passive acceptance of high stakes exams encroaching more deeply into every classroom. They are the weapon used to close schools, deprive students of a well-rounded education, and beat teachers into submission. They are the primary lever for getting everyone to accept the de-skilling of the teaching profession, and teaching's devolution into temporary, at-will employment.
The tests are also the primary tool for imposing the "social learning" embedded in the testing regime itself, whereby young people are socialized into passive acceptance of the exercise of arbitrary power, tolerance of tedium and absurdity and surveillance/data mining, so as to be powerless worker bees in the future.
Passive acceptance of the exercise of arbitrary power, a high tolerance for tedium, absurdity, and surveillance/data mining: that's what the so-called reformers really mean by students being "career ready."
This abuse will continue as long as we are cowed into respecting the "proprietary" claims of the test makers, which are totally illegitimate. These tests are paid for with public dollars, are used as gatekeepers for public school students, and are the de facto drivers of public school instruction; the public has an intrinsic right to see them and openly discuss their validity.
That right has moral, if not legal, precedence over any copyright claims.
As of now, the only way to force that debate is for teachers to engage in civil disobedience and provide the public service of making these exams available for open examination by all interested parties.
It's time for photocopies, or scanned and scrubbed digital photos of these exams, to be sent to the newspapers, elected officials, parent groups and blogs. They should be handed out at PEP meetings, so that the Chancellor is forced to acknowledge their presence. They need to be distributed so widely that their "secrecy" becomes a dead letter, the media cannot ignore them, and so that threats by Pearson and it's wholly-owned subsidiary, the New York State Department of Education, become irrelevant.
With the Associated Press picking up the stories circulating that the NYSED/Pearson tests have been loaded with product placements and brand name-dropping, NYSED and Pearson may be getting too cute by half trying to keep the tests secret.
As parent Olga Garica-Kaplan put it in response to the news of all the product placement and brand name-dropping in the NYSED/Pearson tests:
@perdidostschool And that is why I want to see what my 4th grader read on this test. I think it's a fair request - no?
— Olga Garcia-Kaplan (@OlgaKaplan) April 21, 2014
So far, SED and Pearson have gotten away with keeping the tests secret, threatening any teacher who divulges test items or tests themselves with legal action.
But the more these weird stories circulate of Pearson sticking brand names of companies with connections to Pearson into the tests themselves, the harder it becomes to keep these tests secret.
Frankly I don't care if Pearson is using the tests for branding or not - as Michael wrote in his comment, these tests are paid for NY State taxpayers to serve as gatekeepers for NY State students and to drive NY State classroom instruction.
NY State taxpayers have a right to see these tests in their entirety, along with the grading rubrics, "norming" materials used for grading, and the methodology used for the scores.