Pearson VP Compares Common Core Scorer Training to McDonald’s

Amy Sancetta/AP
Amy Sancetta/AP

The vice president of content and scoring management at Pearson North America agreed to a comparison of the training for scorers of the Common Core tests to how a restaurant chain monitors its employees’ work.

“From the standpoint of comparing us to a Starbucks or McDonald’s, where you go into those places you know exactly what you’re going to get,” Bob Sanders said.

“McDonald’s has a process in place to make sure they put two patties on that Big Mac,” he added. “We do that exact same thing. We have processes to oversee our processes, and to make sure they are being followed.”

At least 42,000 test scorers are grading 109 million free-response answers from students in states that are part of the two federally funded Common Core consortia–PARCC and Smarter Balanced–and many of the test scorers have never had teaching experience.

Proponents of the Common Core have justified their support of the standards and their aligned tests with attestations of their “rigor” and education in advanced “critical thinking” skills. Yet, according to The New York Times, many of the people hired to grade the Common Core tests are not educators who have experience in teaching the so-called “rigorous” standards.

The Times reports on a test scoring center in San Antonio where about 100 temporary staff of Common Core industry giant Pearson worked. They scored the Common Core-aligned test essays of students from around the nation:

There was a onetime wedding planner, a retired medical technologist and a former Pearson saleswoman with a master’s degree in marital counseling. To get the job, like other scorers nationwide, they needed a four-year college degree with relevant coursework, but no teaching experience. They earned $12 to $14 an hour, with the possibility of small bonuses if they hit daily quality and volume targets.

Pearson, reports the Times, operates 21 scoring centers throughout the nation and has hired 14,500 temporary employees to score free-response questions. Scorers are recruited through websites such as CraigsList,, and Facebook.

As Breitbart News reported last week, The Washington Post education columnist Jay Mathews referred to the Common Core test scorers as the “nation’s largest human scoring experiment ever,” and believes with so many humans involved in the scoring process, “unsettling things happen–as they do in any large enterprise–some of those scorers are going to go public with what they know.”

“[I]f graders around the country complain publicly that the new tests are not being handled fairly or competently,” Mathews warns, “the debate will become more serious, and one of America’s most ambitious school reforms will be in jeopardy.”


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.