The British-based publishing company, Pearson—who happens to be one of the biggest publishers of books on education on the planet, and has “crafted” Common Core education testing, not to mention being one of the largest donors to former Governor Jeb Bush’s education foundation—has admitted to spying on students.
Pearson owns up to the allegations of spying on the social media posts of students, stating, “We believe that a secure test maintains fairness for every student and the validity and integrity of the test results.”
Former education reporter for The Star-Ledger of Newark, was the first to post on Pearson’s “Big Brother” tactic of spying on students.
On Friday, Braun published a copy of a letter sent to the staff of the Watchung Hills Regional High School District in the town of Warren by Superintendent Elizabeth Jewett about the social media monitoring.
“…my testing coordinator received a call from the NJDOE [New Jersey Department of Education] that Pearson had initiated a Priority 1 Alert for an item breach within our school,” read the letter from Jewett. “ …they suggested the student took a picture of a test item and tweeted it.”
Jewett pointed out in the letter that after further investigation they determined that the unnamed student had actually posted the tweet referring to the PARCC exam after school hours and that he did not include a picture as previously thought. She also said the child’s parents were concerned about the monitoring and confirmed that the publisher was monitoring student activity on the web.
“The DOE informed us that Pearson is monitoring all social media during PARCC testing,” she said in the letter. “I have to say that I find this a bit disturbing—and if our parents were concerned before about a conspiracy with all of the student data, I am sure I will be receiving more letters of refusal once this gets out (not to mention the fact that the DOE wanted us to also issue discipline to the student).”
Officials at Pearson did not explain how they are monitoring student activity, but it is believed that they are conducting key word searches for any mention of the PARCC tests on sites like Facebook and Twitter. The company has acknowledged the monitoring, saying, “We believe that a secure test maintains fairness for every student and the validity and integrity of the test results.”
The posting of Jewett’s letter has raised concerns among those in the Garden State.
“Twitter is a public forum but the problem here is that you have a large, multinational corporation and a state agency seeking out the bad guys and punishing them,” Braun told FoxNews.com. “This is a $108 million dollar contract and the state is turning the power over to Pearson.
Here is the statement Pearson released in regards to their tactics:
The security of a test is critical to ensure fairness for all students and teachers and to ensure that the results of any assessment are trustworthy and valid. We welcome debate and a variety of opinions. But when test questions or elements are posted publicly to the Internet, including social media, we are obligated to alert PARCC and our state customers. Any contact with students or decisions about student discipline are handled at the local level. We believe that a secure test maintains fairness for every student and the validity and integrity of the test results.
Jeb Bush has been defending both Common Core standards and PARCC testing, as well as shooting down any opposition to his life’s work on education, saying that their motives to tear down Common Core are “purely political.”
Is Jeb Bush’s 2016 presidential campaign beholden to Pearson and their ambition to completely change education standards in the United States?