Right now—7AM EST on April 25th—the AFT’s chief of staff and one of our researchers are in London working to change the culture of high-stakes standardized testing here in America.
They’re attending the annual shareholders meeting of Pearson Education, the largest for-profit education, testing and book publishing company in the world, demanding that the company remove contractual “gag orders” that prevent educators from talking about Pearson’s tests, and asking Pearson to sit down with parents, teachers, principals and students to address legitimate concerns about these tests.
In New York, teachers and principals who administered Pearson’s Common Core-related assessments have raised red flags about test content that isn’t age-appropriate and doesn’t align with student learning. But, because of a gag order written into the contract, educators are forbidden from discussing the content or quality of the tests—they can’t even tell parents what’s on the test their children are taking.
There are many other examples like this across the country.
The gag orders don’t help students learn or help schools improve—their only obvious purpose is to protect the corporation’s interests. That’s not right. Pearson’s secretive tests have huge consequences for students and their families, teachers, schools and communities. The tests need to assess what students have learned—they need to be accurate, properly aligned and fair. That’s why transparency is so important and this gag order is so wrong.
Our children are not test scores, and our teachers are not algorithms. We need to stop this testing fixation, change the culture of high-stakes testing and hold the corporations that are profiting from these tests accountable. The Pearson shareholders meeting is a perfect time to demand that Pearson be accountable to our schools and communities. Pearson’s gag order is not in the best interests of children, teachers or schools.
Educators know what our children need in the classroom. Their voices should be respected by the companies paid by public dollars to create and score tests, not silenced by gag orders.
I hope you’ll stand with us,
P.S. You can read the full letter we delivered to Pearson’s board here.<http://afl.salsalabs.