Pearson Education Brings Progressive Ideals to the Workplace

Pearson Education Brings Progressive Ideals to the Workplace

Last October, Michelle Malkin blogged on the progressive P-20 agenda in response to Oregon’s controversial Teaching from Birth to Graduate School. This was about the collection of student data through the state longitudinal database system (SLDS). This system is set up in every state through the Department of Education. The SLDS has been a strong point of contention nationwide because it collects information or data points on students and tracks them “though school and into and through their work life” as Malkin wrote. “P” means pre-kindergarten. “20” means through graduate school completion.  It is sometimes written as P-20W. That “W” stands for workforce. Malkin sourced Watchdog Wire who stated that P-20 is “not exclusively an Oregon program. This is an experimental part of the national Common Core State Standards program, and could be in the beginning stages of implementation in states across the country.” 

However, there is already a non-experimental way that publishing giant Pearson already delivers on the P-20W promise with TalentLens, the diagnostic tool that allows prospective employers to “see talent more clearly.” Of concern on this Kafka-esque career readiness pathway is not what they see but what they may be looking to see more clearly.

Pearson already has everyone’s back covered well into the 21st Century of learning. Approximately 60 percent of their sales are generated in North America and includes curriculum under the imprints of Scott Foresman, Prentice Hall, Addison-Wesley, Allyn and Bacon, Benjamin Cummings and Longman. It also includes Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and Holt McDougal, according to their website. Even McGraw Hill boasts seamless alignment to the Common Core and touts an alliance with Pearson. This affects non-Common Core-affiliated states like Texas.  In a recent Breitbart Texas interview, Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams said that textbook sellers market to their largest audience. These days, that is not the state of Texas.  It is the Common Core crowd.  Perhaps, that explains the influx of Common Core titles in the state.

Pearson, though, is more than just textbooks and online learning. They own the consumer book division Penguin Random House and the Financial Times. Last year, the conglomerate gobbled up Brazilian Grupo Multi, an English Language learning firm.

They are also in the assessment business. For example, in Texas, Pearson administers the STAAR Alternate, a special education version of the state’s annual STAAR (State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness) test. They are also administer alternative assessments in other states such as California, Oklahoma, Minnesota, and Virginia. This is separate from what Pearson calls its large-scale assessments. Pearson has added teacher credentialing with their NEP (National Evaluation Series) licensure testing; and the most recognizable standardized college ready test in American  high schools, the Stanford Achievement Test (SAT), is now owned by Pearson. As was announced by College Board czar David Coleman, it is in the process of Common Core alignment.

Additionally, Pearson umbrellas some of the top psychological, academic, cognitive, social and emotional learning (SEL) diagnostics used to assess K-12 public school students on everything from IQ to EQ to critical thinking to disorders. Those assessments include Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children, Conners Early Childhood, and Gifted Rating Scale

Now, with TalentLens, Pearson has a test for every type of job in the 21st Century workforce: the problem solver (Raven’s Progressive Matrices), the collaborator (Golden Personality Type Profiler) and the Team Player (SOSIE™), according to its website. It also has the Watson-Glaser™ II, the “gold standard” for critical thinking appraisal for selecting great managers and developing future leaders.” Watson-Glaser also is owned by Pearson and is a K-12 diagnostic tool too. Watson-Glaser is here to close both the presumed achievement and talent gaps. 

According to TalentLens, thousands of organizations and schools use Watson-Glaser because above all else, nothing is more important than how an individual thinks and what makes an applicant the right candidate. It comes down to a RED model of scenario interpretation based upon information TalentLens gives as facts and assumptions. RED stands for “Recognizing assumptions, Evaluating arguments, and Drawing conclusions.”

In their online diagnostic, questions based on statements with supporting inferences are presented from which a person can draw a conclusion based on certain observed or supposed facts, according to the TalentLens Test 1: Infer instructions. For example, if the lights are on in a house and voices can be heard from the house, a person might infer that someone is at home. The inference, however, may or may not be correct if the person has a light timer and left the TV on.

However, the 21st century-minded TalentLens is not loaded up with any of that 20th Century logic or those boring situational job scenarios of yesteryear. No questions probing what to do if your colleague has been coming to work late or if he’s sleeping on the job. No questions about performance reviews, teamwork, difficult direct reports or even identifying parameters of daily reporting metrics. No one’s asking about stolen pencils anymore. Instead, Pearson’s TalentLens removes all archaic workplace related matters from that online questionnaire and replaces it with far more critical thinking questions that matter in today’s workforce. 

Breitbart Texas obtained a few of these questions from a 2013 administered diagnostic that posed interesting situations to a job seeker.  For example, Test 5: Evaluate Arguments, question # 29 asked   “Should the government take over the major industries in the country?”

In #29, the supporting inference statement is “Yes, the government already operates or controls highways, parks, military forces, and public health services.” This same question was asked again in #30 with a different  supporting statement: “Yes, the government would then be able to control inflation, which now seriously threatens to bring about a severe national econonic depression.”

Interesting questions for a middle management desk job in the private sector. In fact, the arguments an applicant must evaluate in this assessment are on a far more global economic scale than just asking about someone’s experience balancing a company’s profit and loss. They include questions like #35,   

“Should our country’s government, and the state and local governments, be limited to spending no more than their income from various sources during any given year?”

The declarative assumption provided to evaluate the argument from is, “Yes, it would be good for the country’s people to learn to make sacrifices and stop the needless waste brought about by our mode of living.”

While the country’s people make those sacrifices to stop that needless waste, according to #35, they can also ponder other Test 5 question, #37 which tasks the poor, sacrificing individual to dig deep into his environmental soul and ponder, “Should high standards of purity for the nation’s air and water be maintained even though the result is higher prices to the consumer for electricity and manufactured good?” 

Here the supporting inference statement given is “No, a slight lowering of air and water purity standards will have few ill effects, but further inflation of prices for electricity and manufactured products will prove disastrous.” Begin inferring.

Test 5 repeatedly and provocatively reached into an applicant’s belief system on the role of the federal government. Other examples included #31 which asked, “Should the government permit imports from unfriendly nations with which there is a significant risk of military conflict?” The supporting argument was “Yes, trade gives unfriendly nations an incentive to maintain peaceful relations with our country.” 

Another example, #39 asked, “Should the government continue to pay farmers the cost of soil conservation practices on their own land?” Here, the underlying assumption directing the line of logic was “No; farmers have historically been a powerful pressure group on Congress, but today most of the population lives in cities.” 

On their webpage, TalentLens claims to be backed by eight decades of science and they also provide sample Watson-Glaser II questions laced with themes of race relations, world peace and the weather.  Also included is a testimonial from Inc. Magazine that reads: “This test has legions of fans, including JC Penney, Coors, and government intelligence agencies.”

Perhaps the two most alarming of the questions discovered on the TalentLens’ prospective job assessment were found in Test 3: Deduction. Questions #20 and #21 offer up a supposition that “All radicals are members of small political parties. Therefore…”  

The assumptive argument in #20 is that “no member of a small minor political party is a patriotic citizen” followed by #21 which states “no patriotic citizen is a member of a small minor political party.”  Of what small political party might they mean?  The Tea Party?

These may not be the average new hire personality tests anyone remembers. In fairness, job personality tests have always had a goal–who gets weeded out.  Was this intended to thin out that human capital herd with questions that delve into personally-held convictions and belief systems? If so, than TalentLens certainly provided us with a better glimpse of what all this education is for.

TalentLens is listed as a Pearson business, although the copyright is held by Pearson Education and it is part of their Assessment & information group. According to the website, TalentLens publishes “scientific assessments that are used globally to hire and develop the 21st century workforce.” They also maintain they measure the kind of critical thinking, problem solving and range of job skills to “deliver data-driven insights that inform and clarify an organization’s human capital decisions.”

Job placement firms listed as using TalentLens these assessments include DecisionWise, and Adecco. both whose clients include Fortune 500 companies. WrightOne Consulting is headed up by an adjunct professor of Industrial/Organizational Psychology (IO), Social Psychology, Positive Psychology, and Introductory Psychology, according to its website. IO is a recognized brand of workforce psychology that studies workforce behavior. 

The Society for Industrial-Organizational Psychology (SIOP), Inc. defines IO as the “scientific study” of the workplace, they give out psychologically healthy workplace awards through the American Psychological Association (APA), whose own imprint on K-12 education reaches deeply into the classroom. One can barely walk around a child’s desk and not stumble on an emotional or behavioral disorder these days while diagnostics like Quotient by Pearson, the latest and greatest tool that claims beyond a shadow of a doubt to prove ADHD (Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder). ADHD’s spectrum is quite unique and ranges from lack-of-focus to hyper-focus. Quotient is not just a checklist, it’s BioBehavioral diagnostics, a lot like the proposed Clockwork Orange-like classroom measurement metrics on page 62 of the U.S. Department of Education’s macabre masterpiece “Promoting Grit, Tenacity, and Perseverance: Critical Factors for Success in the 21st Century.”

Other TalentLens clients listed on the website are Macy’s Inc., Southern California Edison, University of Iowa, Mutual of Omaha, University of Hawaii, Community Medical Center, Leviton, Bike Friday, and Hercules Tires. In 2006, TalentLens was featured at SIOP’s 21st annual conference held in Dallas. They addressed the topic “Understanding the Relationship between Critical Thinking and Job Performance.”  Last year, Pearson’s TalentLens was among SIOP’s Houston-held sustaining conference partner sponsors.

Follow Merrill Hope on Twitter @OutOfTheBoxMom


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