I stand corrected: the love of money is the root of all evil. And oh, how the testing companies and curriculum providers love them some money! By the way, if you haven’t noticed, they are one and the same.
Yep, when a school system is looking to adopt a new curriculum in a tested subject, they should look no further than the company that provides their state’s test. Does your state use PARCC? Then Pearson is the one for you.
Others are using a version of Smarter Balanced, for example, American Institutes of Research. Then the choice is McGraw-Hill.
Money! the fascination it holds on the human psyche. “Money is how we keep score,” said Betsy Devos.
How much money is involved? One estimate for New Jersey is $25.50 per child. In Washington state, it’s $30 per student. Other estimates run around $12 per test and students usually take two or more. Given an estimate of 50 million school-age children in the United States, the pot antes to $1.5 billion.
Wait a minute, you cry! Not all children take these tests. Depending upon the state, it’s grades 3 through 8, plus additional high school tests. True, but then there are AP exams, SAT, PSAT, ACT, exams that colleges are in increasing numbers deciding irrelevant to their admission process, but are marketed heavily to school systems. Millions for the College Board
Florida ditches low cost alternatives for pricey exams: Goodbye, PERT; Hello, PSAT.
How to run all the numbers down? Maybe you can figure how to Google it; I haven’t had any luck. But millions here, billions there, it has to add up to a very lucrative market.
Let’s go with a couple billion. What does that mean for a company like Pearson? Their sales ran roughly $4 billion dollars in 2017 from the North American Market. So the U.S. public school testing market represents 50% of revenue, although it must be said that they don’t have a monopoly and did not get the entire amount of testing dollars states are spending.
In 2017, American Institute of Research garnered $474 million in revenue. So the U.S. testing market, at 400% of that number, represents a huge market opportunity.
What happens when a testing company fails to live up to its contract? Pbbt, no, they don’t lose the contract. They pay fines. This is known as ‘a cost of doing business.’
And what a business indeed! Tests that don’t align with state standards (only 65%, less than two-thirds), unreliable testing platforms, and incomprehensible questions … none of that matters because the ‘cost of doing business’ is minuscule next to the profits being gathered.
And for the children frustrated by these tests? Those who think it means they are stupid? https://www.additudemag.com/school-testing-makes-my-daughter-feel-stupid/, https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/what-it-can-mean-when-your-child-says-im-stupid-125747098.html
Money! You know, I’m going to disagree with those quibblers who told me I didn’t get the quote right. In education, it’s not the love of money, it’s the money itself, that huge, sweet pot of taxpayer dollars that attracts the worst sort of profiteers … money itself that brings out the greed that would grind children’s lives into dust … because, well, money!
I see you, test companies, and I name you … LOCUSTS.