The statewide teachers union on Thursday is cheering the decision by state education officials to dump controversial test publisher Pearson, Inc., in favor of the Minnesota-based firm Questar.
“Pearson offered a bad product and today Pearson got fired,” New York State United Teachers President Karen Magee said. “Teachers have called for this for years.”
The Department of Education on Thursday announced Questar Assessment, Inc. was awarded a $44 million contract to develop tests in English-Language Arts and math for grades three through eight.
Pearson has come under fire from both teachers and parents, in part, for its examination questions some considered too opaque as well as monitoring and collection of student data.
But the company was also the most prominent publisher nationally of Common Core-based examinations as the controversial standards were rolled out with hiccups in states like New York.
“It is a first step along the road toward ending New York’s failed testing policies, Magee said. “The Questar contract, in its promise to emulate New York’s successful test-development process for Regents exams, begins to restore the trust and confidence in teachers to do the job right. It says New York is going to trust its own teachers, not a corporation, to develop state tests.”
It remains to be seen if dumping Pearson for Questar is "a first step along the road toward ending New York’s failed testing policies" or a continuation on the same road.
I've seen some crowing on the Internet about Pearson losing the contract (and btw, this isn't the first contract Pearson has lost to Questar in the past few months), but my feeling about this best gets summed up in this twitter conversation with Mary Ahern:
@leoniehaimson Maybe have just gotten cynical, but this feels like state trying to "rebrand" Endless Testing regime.— rbe (@perdidostschool) July 9, 2015
.@mayread3 @perdidostschool @leoniehaimson Pearson is just a company doing what it's paid to do. How tests are used is the bigger problem.— Mary Ahern (@mma718) July 9, 2015
And therein lies the problem - Pearson's been replaced by Questar but the Endless Testing regime remains in place, doing as much destruction as ever.
Of course, NYSUT supports the Endless testing regime, so no wonder they're declaring victory with the Questar contract.