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Learning Curve

British publisher cashes in on American education

Kai Ryssdal Feb 10, 2015
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Learning Curve

British publisher cashes in on American education

Kai Ryssdal Feb 10, 2015
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Yesterday we told you about the economics of the testing regime in the modern American education system. Today we present an interview about the British company that has an outsized influence in that industry.

British publishing giant Pearson produces textbooks, standardized tests, student data systems, online classes and a whole lot more. It has the profits to match.

Stephanie Simon has a long investigative piece about Pearson in Politico. It’s called “No Profit Left Behind.” Simon finds “that public contracts and public subsidies — including at least $98.5 million in tax credits from six states — have flowed to Pearson even when the company can’t show its products and services are producing academic gains.”

Simon writes in Politico:

The state of Virginia recertified Pearson as an approved “school turnaround” consultant in 2013 even though the company had, at best, mixed results with that line of work: Just one of the five Virginia schools that Pearson cited as references improved both its math and reading proficiency rates against the state averages. Two schools lost ground in both math and reading and the other two had mixed results. State officials said Pearson met all the criteria they required of consultants.

Simon says Pearson has benefited from the American obsession with academic achievement and standardized testing. And the company has amassed a serious trove of student data.

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