The story of Common Core and data mining begins as most stories do, with a huge, unmet need.

Self-appointed “stakeholder” know-it-alls at the federal level (also at state, corporate, and even university levels) determined that they had the right, and the need, for open access to personal student data– more so than they already had.

They needed state school systems to voluntarily agree to common data core standards AND to common learning standards to make data comparisons easy. They didn’t care what the standards were, as teachers and parents and students do; they only cared that the standards would be the same across the nation.

So, without waiting around for a proper vote, they did it. The CEDS (Common Education Data Standards) were created by the same people who created and copyrighted Common Core: the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). No surprise.

CEDS common elements

Because the federal “need” to control schools and data was and is illegal and unconstitutional –the federal government “needed” to do (and did) at least six sneaky things.


1. Sneaky Thing Number One: It bribed the states with ARRA Stimulus monies to build 50 linkable, twinlike State Longitudinal Database Systems (SLDS). This act created a virtual national database.

These SLDS’s had to be interoperable within states and outside states with a State Interoperability Framework. Utah, for example, accepted $9.6 million to create Utah’s SLDS. Think about it. All states have an SLDS, and they are built to be interoperable. How is this not a de facto national database?

2. Sneaky Thing Number Two: It altered the (previously privacy-protective) federal FERPA (Family Educational Rights Privacy Act) law to make access to personally identifiable student data –including biological and behavioral data– “legal”.

So now, the act of requiring parental consent (to share personally identifiable information) has been reduced from a requirement to just a “best practice” according to the altered federal FERPA regulations.

Best practice FERPA

For more information on this, study the lawsuit against the Department of Education by the Electronic Information Privacy Center (EPIC).

The Department of Ed also altered FERPA’s definitions of terms, including what would be defined as “personally identifiable information”.

Biometric Definition FEDERAL

So personally identifiable, shareable information now includes biometric information, (which is behavioral and biological information) collected via testing, palm scanning or iris scanning, or any other means. Schools have not been told that the information they submit to the state SLDS systems are vulnerable to federal and corporate perusal. Legislators write bills that call for the testing of behavioral indicators— but have they considered how this can damage a student’s lifelong need for, and right to, privacy?

The Department of Education openly promotes schools collecting data about students’ personalities and beliefs in the report called “Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perserverance.” This document promotes the use of facial expression cameras, posture analysis seats, wireless skin conductance sensors and other measures of students’ beliefs and emotions. See page 44.

3. Sneaky Thing Number Three: The US Department of Education partnered with private groups, including the CCSSO (that’s the Council of Chief State School Officers —copyright holders on Common Core–) to collect student data nationally.

The CCSSO, or “Superintendents’ Club” as I like to call it, is a private group with no accountability to voters. This makes it in-valid and un-American, as far as governance goes. The CCSSO has a stated mission: to disaggregate student data. Disaggregate means to take away anonymity.

CCSSO disaggregation

The CCSSO states that it has a mission to collect data nationally in partnership with the US Dept of Ed: “The Education Information Management Advisory Consortium (EIMAC) is CCSSO’s network of state education agency officials tasked with data collection and reporting; information system management and design; and assessment coordination. EIMAC advocates on behalf of states to reduce data collection burden and improve the overall quality of the data collected at the national level.

The CCSSO site states that its data collection effort is a USDOE partnership: “The Common Education Data Standards Initiative is a joint effort by CCSSO and the State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO) in partnership with the United Staes Department of Education.”

(Do you recall voting for this arrangement, anyone? Anyone? –Me neither! )

4. Sneaky Thing Number Four: It used private-public partnerships to promote data linking among agencies. The Data Quality Campaign is one example. The National Data Collection Model is another example. The Common Educational Data Standards is another example.

What do these “models” really model?

Example one: from the Data Quality Campaign: “as states build and enhance K12 longitudinal data systems they continue building linkages to exchange and use information across early childhood, postsecondary and the workforce and with other critical agencies such as health, social services and criminal justice systems.”

Let that sink in: linking data from schools, medical clinics, and criminal justice systems is the goal of the Federal-to-CCSSO partnership. So nothing will be kept from any governmental agency; nothing is to be sacred or private if it is known by an SLDS serving entity (any state-funded, state-accountable school).

Example two: from the National Data Collection Model:

your child’s name
religious affiliation
ability grouping
physical characteristics
telephone number
bus stop times
languages and dialects spoken
number of attempts at a given assignment
delinquent status
referral date
nonschool activity involvement
meal type
screen name
maternal last name
voting status
martial status
– and even cause of death.

Proponents point out that this is not mandatory federal data collection. True; not yet. But it’s a federally partnered data model and many states are following it.

5. Sneaky Thing Number Five: The Department of Ed created grants for Common Core testing and then mandated that those testing groups synchronize their tests, report fully and often to the U.S. Department of Education, share student-level data, and produce “all student-level data in a manner consistent with an industry-recognized open-licensed interoperability standard that is approved by the Department”.

So federally funded Common Core tests require Common data interoperability standards.

Check out that Cooperative Agreement document here.

But, do you think this “Agreement” information does not apply to you because your state dropped its SBAC or PARCC membership –as several states have? Think again. There is an incestuous, horrific pool of private and public organizations, all of which are VOLUNTARILY agreeing to Common Core based, technological interoperability and data collection standards!

The Data Quality Campaign lists as its partners dozens of groups– not only the CCSSO and NGA (Common Core creators), not only the College Board –which is now run by the lead architect of Common Core, David Coleman; –not only Achieve, Inc., the group that contracted with CCSSO/NGO to write the Common Core, but even the School Interoperability Framework Association, the Pell Institute (Pell Grants), Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education, American Institutes for Research (Utah’s Common Core testing provider) and many other Common Core product-providing organizations.

So virtually everyone’s doing data the same way whether they’re privately or publically funded. This should freak anybody out. It really should. We the People, individuals, are losing personal power to these public-private partnerships that cannot be un-elected and that are not subject to the transparency laws of elected offices.

6. Sneaky Thing Number Six: The Department of Education directly lied to the American Society of News Editors. In a June 2013 speech given to the American Society of News Editors, Secretary Duncan mocked the concerns of parents and educators who are fighting Common Core and its related student data mining:

A new set of standards — rigorous, high-quality learning standards, developed and led by a group of governors and state education chiefs — are under attack as a federal takeover of the schools. And your role in sorting out truth from nonsense is really important… They make.. outlandish claims. They say that the Common Core calls for federal collection of student data. For the record, we are not allowed to, and we won’t. And let’s not even get into the really wacky stuff: mind control, robots, and biometric brain mapping. This work is interesting, but frankly, not that interesting.”

Despite what the state school board and the federal Department of Education claim, corporations do know that Common Core and student data mining are interdependent.

CEO of Escholar Shawn Bay spoke at a recent White House event called “Datapalooza.” He said (see his speech on this video, at about minute 9:15) that Common Core “is the glue that actually ties everything together” for student data collection.

And President Obama himself has called his educational and data related reforms so huge that they are cradle to career” -affecting reforms. Secretary Duncan now refers to the reforms not as “K-12” but as “p-12” meaning preschool/prenatal. These reforms affect the most vulnerable, but not in a positive way, and certainly not with voters’ knowledge and consent.

The sneakiness and the privacy invasion isn’t just a federal wrong; there’s state-level invasion of local control, too: to be specific, our state’s robbing parents of the right to fully govern their own children.

When I asked my state school board how to opt out of having my children tracked by the State Longitudinal Database System, I was told that the answer was no. There was no way to opt out, they said: all children registered in any state school system (charters, online schools, homeschool-state hybrid programs) are tracked by the SLDS. Here’s that letter.

The Answer is No

Despite Constitutional and G.E.P.A.-law prohibitions, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan admitted that “The Obama administration has sought to fundamentally shift the federal role, so that the Department is doing much more”. Duncan also said, “America is now in the midst of a “quiet revolution” in school reform.” (Yes, it’s been so quiet that the people governed by it weren’t asked about this revolution.)

Yet, federal speeches, and scholarly research conferences and corporate marketers now openly push for common standards and common data systems. From the official White House website to federal educational grant applications to federally partnered corporate sites, to Secretary Duncan’s speeches, there are countless examples to show that the priorities of the federal government are these four things: 1) standards 2) staff 3) “robust” national data systems 4) labeling certain schools as low-achieving.

And the data product sales companies couldn’t agree more.

Common Core proponents insist that Common Core has nothing to do with data mining. But the federal government always bundles the common standards and the data systems, always. This federal push for common data standards and common education standards ought to be household knowledge. That is step number one, seeing the federal patterns and federal pushes for what they are.


So, what difference does it make? I hear people say that since they have nothing to hide, they’re unconcerned about who’s tracking their children or their families without consent.

I say our founding fathers didn’t write the Constitution without inspiration.

The Constitution describes the God-given right to privacy:

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

How easy will it be for those with access to the national databases to label a person as behaviorally unstable and therefore, unworthy of passing a background check for a job or for a gun purchase? How easy will it be for those with access to the databases to search and seize anything at all that they deem inappropriate, that they deem threatening, that they deem theirs?

Privacy is not properly protected by our state school systems and those who ought to know this, don’t. It’s not their fault; the truth has been carefully, quietly hidden. But widespread knowledge of the facts can –and must-– alter these facts.

Please share.


Postscript: About Control

State school boards tell citizens to give them feedback on the Common Core Standards, and not to discuss anything else related to Common Core or its governance structures.

But citizens have the right to determine what will be discussed; this is America. And any discussion of the standards themselves can only be very temporarily relevant.

Why is academic argument about Common Core only temporarily relevant?

Because two private D.C. trade groups, the NGA (Governors’ club) and the CCSSO (Superintendents’ club) own the standards and have copyrighted them. They alone control the standards. The states do not; nor do the voters in the states.

Inside the state: We can alter the standards only by 15%, according to federal mandates and the writings of the private trade groups that created the standards.

Outside the state: We have no voice in future alterations to the standards. There is no written amendment process outlined for states to have a voice in “their” standards. There is no representative process. That’s why Common Core is unAmerican.

This is why we call Common Core education without representation. It is also accurate to call the education reform package citizen surveillance without warrant, as detailed above.


For a 15-minute crash-course on the connection between Common Core and student data mining, watch this video by Jane Robbins of the American Principles Project:


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  1. How can I share a letter I received from my state regarding the data warehouse? I would like to share it via email and not a public forum. Thanks.

  2. I would love for someone to enlighten me about the MAP testing by NWEA. My kids attend a Catholic School and they have common core written on their English and math books. I being told that the MAP test my kids took doesn’t collect data on my kids, but when I got to who is the one the MAP test is through it has common core written all over it? I’m just trying to figure this whole date mining thing out and find out if it’s something in my children’s school. thanks Andrea

  3. Pingback: #stopcommoncore #Agenda21- SIX THINGS THE US DEPT OF EDUCATION DID TO DEPRIVE YOUR CHILD OF PRIVACY | COMMON CORE | Defendressofsanity81's Blog

  4. Wed 10-16-13 Joy Pullmann joins Tamara Scott Live at 10 am/cst to discuss DATA MINING AND COLLECTION, text and assignments verses test and assessments. Join us live at Watch / Listen / Chat on-line / or call in at 855-244-0077. Please help me get the word to others.

  5. Pingback: Multiple States Deny Parents the Right to Opt a Child Out of SLDS Tracking | COMMON CORE

  6. For the education you were never meant to receive go to — your eyes will be opened.
    And as a small taste of what’s really behind all this so-called “federal” takeover of U.S. education, you may want to start with this U.N. (W.H.O.) document and make some basic conclusions:

  7. All my friends say is, the Government can get this info anyway what’s the big deal? Any words of wisdom I can give them or just give up?

    • Elizabeth, they cannot get ALL of it unless we hand it to them. If you opt your child out of school surveys and standardized testing (which you can do) they get less. If you opt out of government-funded schools completely, they get zero. If we pressure our legislators to get rid of our SLDS –State Longitudinal Database System– which tracks kids without parental consent, they’ll get zero. There’s no reason to have an SLDS that is technologically interoperable with every other state’s SLDS. We need to scrap it. Just stop! Educate your legislators on this. We are not powerless unless we believe that lie and foolishly give away our rights.

      • YES! OPT OUT OF THE TESTING!!!!!!!!!!! All it takes in Utah is a letter to the school’s testing coordinator. If enough parents OPT OUT, then the tests cannot even be given because they won’t be worth the time and expense. We should be controlled what our children learn. Not the US Department of Education.

        Louisiana Purchase
  8. Christel, I discovered this blog and was wondering if it added anything new to the conversation about federal data collecting.
    I had not seen these links before: (P20W Education Standards Council) and the PESC State Core Standards Model ( At about page 70 there is a diagram that appears to show the ultimate goal of data sharing will be global. We recently had a Louisiana state school board meeting (Board of Elementary and Secondary Education) and the Secretary of Education, John White, absolutely denied that the Federal Government was collecting data. We are having a battle here in the Bayou State. Would appreciate your comment on these links. I really appreciate all the work you have done here. It has been invaluable. Thank you so much. Carol Dufrene


  10. Hi Christel and team. I cannot find an email for you on your site, so will share details here. New Zealand is several years down the track of Common Core and if you want to see examples of indoctrination in national exams look no further than these exam papers:

    I’ve written a new book with extensive coverage of Common Core and its links to a much more sinister agenda. Youtube clip on the book is below:

    Ian Wishart

  11. “There is nothing inherently evil in the process of making money,
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  12. RE: MAPP testing.

    1. New.
    2. No valid studies of validity.

  13. Great post and content on this privacy issue, thank you. Would you consider signing our petition to the President on and encouraging your readers and followers to sign as well? Thank you!



  16. Pingback: Child and Family privacy: Common Core Raises Serious Concerns | Concerned Palos Verdes Parents

  17. hSecretary of Education Arne Duncan has insulted the Moms of America and our children! This MAD group is intended to be a gathering place where America’s Moms can show him that he picked the WRONG group to mess with!

    We are hoping to mobilize an ARMY OF MOMS across our nation to send a message to Secretary Duncan and to take back local control of our schools! We are MAD: Mom’s Against Duncan!

    MAD is non-partisan and apolitical.

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  19. Pingback: Common Core Lies: Enron Revisited | Conversations in Boulder County


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  27. This article is so clear and well-cited that I shared the link with the Superintendent of our school district, the Board and dozens of parents. Feedback has been very good!

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  40. Thanks for your post.

  41. I am in Orangeburg, SC and would love any info pertaining to opting out of standardized testing. I sent an email to the SCDOE inquiring about the opt out process and a return email was sent to me stating that there was no waiver for opting out. I know that parents in other cities in South Carolina have successfully opted their children out. I don’t know where to begin. Thank you in advance for your help.

    • If you are on facebook, try looking up “Stop Common Core in” and insert your state… most states have a similar site/page. There is also one for National (not sure off the top of my head what it is). They generally have the best information about opting out of testing. In AL, we are always told that we do not have a waiver or the option to opt out by the Dept of Education, but this is a falsehood here. Our statutes do not address opting in OR out, and since it is not addressed at all, then the option is available. All that was required was a letter citing the regulations and statutes and stating that I was opting my boys out. I did this last year for both of them and will do so again this year, and the next, and the next.

  42. In Kansas, I was told that I cannot opt out. Local school superintendent says I cannot opt my kids out of map testing. The Kansas commissioner of education says I cannot opt my kids out of Common Core. If you are enrolled in public school, you are to participate in all aspects of it. How do I get out of it? Any suggestions?

  43. Shannon, you’re lucky because your governor and several of your legislators in South Carolina are on your side. Opting out of testing can be as simple as writing a letter to the school saying you are refusing the test, and/or not having your child attend school that day if necessary. It’s that way in Utah. You need to find out what the laws in your state say. Opting out of the SLDS tracking system is not yet possible. Talk to your legislator about getting a bill written that defines data as belonging to the individual, not the state. A bill like that would be in harmony with the U.S. Constitution, which promises that we are free from “unreasonable search and seizure… of papers… and private effects.”

    Crystal, if there isn’t yet a Kansas Against Common Core website, facebook page or twitter account, start one. That’s how you get the help and the connections you need to fight this monster. As the parent, you are the primary authority over your child so the school cannot say you “must” participate unless there is a specific law that says that very thing. In Utah, there is such a thing as “dual enrollment” so you can do part public school and part home school –if you don’t want to choose private school or do 100% home school. There’s also a law in Utah, SB 122, that says the school may not punish the student’s grade if he/she opts out of the tests. We still don’t have a law that allows Utahns to opt out of the SLDS tracking. Hope to soon.

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  52. February 14, 2015

    Mr. Jeffery W. Rodamar

    Protection of Human Subjects Coordinator

    U.S. Department of Education

    LBJ Basement Level 1

    400 Maryland Avenue, SW

    Washington, D.C. 20202

    Dear Mr. Rodamar,

    I am writing to you as a concerned parent. First and foremost, I am obligated to protect and nurture my children. To that end, I have recently undertaken the whirlwind process of determining whether the current educational reform in this country is truly one that will benefit my children. The RTTT competition and the 4.03 billion dollar grant package associated with it, ensured that most states in this country would accept the CCSS, sight unseen and lacking any evidence, that they would in fact improve education for the 49.8 million students who attend public school (1). Even more troubling, are the exams that are “aligned to the CCSS”. One of the companies responsible for their development, suggest that they “will allow parents and educators to see how children are progressing in school and whether they are on track for postsecondary success”. This statement taken from the PARCC website is completely baseless, as there is no empirical evidence to support it!

    Although my concerns are broader than the scope of this letter, my main concern is the use of my children as participants in a research study that I did not consent to. There is absolutely no empirical evidence to suggest that the PARCC high-stake exams will benefit our children’s education. I can personally tell you, the opposite is true. I have seen the impact first hand, when my daughter, who is a straight A student, cries as a result of anxiety due to the high-sake pressures associated with this assessment. Children across the country are experiencing anxiety and depression as a result of the exams. Further evidence of the negative impact associated with high stakes testing can readily be found throughout educational journals that are substantiated because they are subject to peer review.

    The required implementation of a Statewide Longitudinal Data System (SLDS), for those states accepting the RTTT funds, is even more concerning. Two testing companies were contracted with the federal government for 330 million dollars to develop the PARRC (Partnership for assessment of readiness of college and Careers) Assessment and the Smarter Balanced Assessment (2). These test are mandated to be given to children from 3rd grade through high school, two times per year. The results of which would comprise some of the data found in the SLDS.

    My children will be taking the PARRC Assessment and as a result, it has been the focus of my research. According the US Department of Education, the goal of this partnership is to produce data that will determine school effectiveness, teacher and principal effectiveness for the purpose of evaluation and student achievement, for the purpose to evaluate (3). The PARCC assessment is a longitudinal research project and will continue to be until the foreseeable future (4).

    The Institutional Review Board, an agency responsible to “approve, monitor, and review biomedical and behavioral research involving humans (5), should have been involved in monitoring compliance issues with the PARCC exam. The assessment is a longitudinal research study, with children as its subjects. Although research conducted in educational setting is typically exempt from IRB oversight, this exemption is invalidated if such research causes greater than “minimal risk” (6).

    §46.404 Research not involving greater than minimal risk.

    HS will conduct or fund research in which the IRB finds that no greater than minimal risk to children is presented, only if the IRB finds that adequate provisions are made for soliciting the assent of the children and the permission of their parents or guardians, as set forth in (§46.408).

    §46.405 Research involving greater than minimal risk but presenting the prospect of direct benefit to the individual subjects.

    HHS will conduct or fund research in which the IRB finds that more than minimal risk to children is presented by an intervention or procedure that holds out the prospect of direct benefit for the individual subject, or by a monitoring procedure that is likely to contribute to the subject’s well-being, only if the IRB finds that:

    (a) The risk is justified by the anticipated benefit to the subjects;

    (b) The relation of the anticipated benefit to the risk is at least as favorable to the subjects as that presented by available alternative approaches; and

    (c) Adequate provisions are made for soliciting the assent of the children and permission of their parents or guardians, as set forth in (§46.408).

    From research cited below, I argue that children who take the high-stakes PARCC assessment will be exposed to more than “minimal risk”. Due to the high-stakes associated with the exam, I do not believe that the PARCC assessment will “benefit the individual subject” as there in no empirical evidence to suggest that they will; by Pearson’s own admission, the PARCC assessment is nothing more than a “longitudinal study” whose “benefits” are not proven.

    Many agree that Common Core standards, for which the PARCC exams are aligned, are developmentally inappropriate. Russ Walsh, a literacy expert with 45 years experience in the profession, conducted an analysis of PARCC reading passages for each grade level of exams (3-8). In an attempt to validate his findings, Walsh ran sample questions through three different readability measures. He concluded that PARRCC passages are approximately two grade levels above readability of the grade they are testing (7). This is a significant finding especially when considering the results of NYC test scores from last year. Since implementing the Common Core 74% of NYC students failed their English exam and 70 % failed their math exam (a 21 point drop in math and a 30 point drop in ELA from the ear before) (8) (9 ).

    If what occurred in New York is a reflection of what is expected to happen across the country, the total number of children who fail the PARCC will be staggering and unprecedented. What does this mean for our children, who are well aware of the ramifications of doing poorly. High stakes testing is causing children to be stressed, angry, frustrated and disillusioned (Amerlin & Berliner) (10). Yet another study found that children who take high-stakes tests were anxious, pessimistic and withdrawn (Wheelock, Bebell & Haney)(11). In 2004 researchers at Stanford University published a study that surveyed 911 students who were wrongly informed that they had failed the Minnesota Basic Standards Test in Mathematics. Students reported a wide range of adverse emotional reactions, with over 80% reporting that they felt depressed, worried, or embarrassed. About half of the students said that they felt “stupid” and “less proud” of themselves (Cornell, Krosnick & Chang) (12). The research suggests that high-stakes exams, like the PARCC exam, do impact children psychologically and the risk to children participating are greater than “minimal”. Pearson did not obtain parental consent to carry out this study but should have been required to do so.

    Each state that accepted RTTT funds had to agree to implement a Statewide Longitudinal Data System. According the to the National Center for Education Statistics, “the program provides grants to states to design, develop, and implement statewide P-20 longitudinal data systems to capture, analyze, and use student data from preschool to high school, college, and the workforce”; 265 million dollars in grants were awarded to achieve this goal (13). Although states have been keeping data on students, the SLDS seeks to make this data base a national one that along with recent changes to FERPA excludes parental consent, allows third party access and changes regulations on personal identification information.

    Over reaching their authority, The US Department of Education circumvented US Congress and changed FERPA regulations in 2011. Many of the changes involve personal identifying information (PII) and parental consent (14):

    Provisions § 99.31: Stipulates that parental consent in NOT required to disclose student information “to authorized representatives of Federal, State, and local educational authorities conducting an audit, evaluation, or enforcement of education programs or to organizations conducting studies for specific purposes on behalf of schools. The definition of “authorized representative,” this change gives almost any entity, public or private (or even an individual) access to PII so long as one program that it runs is “principally engaged in the provision of education.”

    Section 99.33(b) states that a party that receives PII from an educational agency or institution may make further disclosures on behalf of the agency or institution if the disclosures meet requirements of § 99.31 and the recordation requirements in § 99.32(b) Limited Directory Information Policy – School may now adopt a limited directory information policy that allows for the disclosure of directory information to specific parties, for specific purposes, for both.

    The SLDS is projected to contain up to 400 data points including, standardized test scores, health care plan, insurance coverage, family income range, religious affiliation and voting status, substance abuse, extracurricular actives, free lunch participation, IEP information, etc. (15).

    According to Jonathan Harber – CEO of Pearson Technology K-12 Division, “Pearson is the largest trustee of student data anywhere” (16). With contracts in place with the US Department of Education the amounts of data stored on children will grow exponentially. Because of the changes to FERPA, there are few constraints to how this information will be used. With half of Pearson’s’ 8 billion dollars in global sales coming from the North American education region (17), the amount of controversy surrounding the company is particularly alarming. Pearson has been involved in litigation with states across the country for over a decade. Some of the most significant, involve scoring errors (see attachment A). In one instance almost 5000 children were refused entry into NYC Gifted and Talented Program. In yet another 7000 students were blocked from graduation or promotion. Recent charges filed against the Pearson Foundation, by the Attorney General of New York, were settled and resulted in a 7.7 million dollar fine against the foundation. It was alleged that Pearson Foundation, a nonprofit agency, used funds to solicit supporters for Pearson Inc. and paid for expensive trips for education officials and corporate executives to advance their sales (18 )(19). The amount of Pearson’s scoring errors in conjunction with fact that the measured readability of the questions are two grade levels above of the grade they are testing, ensures that the psychological impact of high stakes assessments will only escalate.

    I believe the children in public schools across the United States are unwilling participants in one of the largest educational research studies to date. I believe an IRB should have been issued in order for Pearson and the US Department of Education to develop the PARCC Assessment and require public school student’s participation. I believe the exam poses more than minimal risk to its participants. I also believe that changes in FERPA occurred for the benefit of creating the national SLDS, while circumventing regulations requiring parental consent. Considering the number of lawsuits lodged against Pearson and the billions of dollars of contracts awarded to them why are they the most influential gatekeepers to our children’s data. I look forward to hearing from you and would greatly appreciate your insight on the matter.


    Heather Ericksen


    Pearson’s History of Testing Problems (20)

    Submitted by fairtest on August 19, 2014

    Compiled by Bob Schaeffer, Public Education Director

    FairTest: National Center for Fair & Open Testing

    Updated August 14, 2014

    (Click here to download a PDF of this list)

    Information found below reflects issues with scoring errors. For a complete list of testing issues click link above.

    •1999-2000 Arizona – 12,000 tests misgraded due to flawed answer key

    •2000 Minnesota – misgraded 45,739 graduation tests leads to lawsuit with $11 million settlement – judge found “years of quality control problems” and a “culture emphasizing profitability and cost-cutting.”… (FairTest consulted with plaintiffs’ attorneys)

    •2005 Virginia — computerized test misgraded – five students awarded $5,000 scholarships

    •2005-2006 SAT college admissions test – 4400 tests wrongly scored; $3 million settlement after lawsuit (note FairTest was an expert witness for plaintiffs)

    •2007-2011 Mississippi – subcontractor programs correct answer as incorrect resulting in erroneous results for almost four years during which time 126 students flunked the exam due to that wrongly scored item. Auditors criticized Pearson’s quality control checks, and the firm offered $600,000 in scholarships as compensation

    •2009-2010 Wyoming – Pearson’s new computer adaptive PAWS flops; state declares company in “complete default of the contract;” $5.1 million fine accepted after negotiations but not pursued by state governor


    •2010 Minnesota — results from online science tests taken by 180,000 students delayed due to scoring error

    •2011 Oklahoma – “data quality issues” cause “unacceptable” delay in score delivery —

    •Pearson ultimately replaced by CTB/McGraw Hill

    •2011 Illinois – 144 student in five Chicago schools wrongly received zeroes due to scoring error. The state sought nearly $1.7 million from Pearson, which could not explain how the errors occurred.

    •2011 Oklahoma – State identifies 18 significant problems with Pearson’s tests leading to $8 million penalty settlement.

    •2012 New York – “Pineapple and the Hare” nonsense test question removed from exams after bloggers demonstrate that it was previously administered in at least half a dozen other states –


    •2012 New York – More than two dozen additional errors found in New York State tests developed by Pearson —

    •2012 Florida – After percentage of fourth grades found “proficient” plunges from 81% to 27% in one year, state Board of Education emergency meeting “fixes” scores on FCAT Writing Test by changing definition of proficiency.

    •2012 Virginia – Error on computerized 3rd and 6th grade SOL tests causes state to offer free retakes.

    •2012 New York – More than 7,000 New York City elementary and middle school students wrongly blocked from graduation by inaccurate “preliminary scores” on Pearson tests


    •2012 Mississippi – Pearson pays $623,000 for scoring error repeated over four years that blocked graduation for five students and wrongly lowered scores for 121 others

    •2013 New York – Passages from Pearson textbooks appear in Pearson-designed statewide test, giving unfair advantage to students who used those materials

    •2013 New York – three Pearson test scoring mistakes block nearly 5,000 students from gifted-and-talented program eligibility

    •2013 New York – Second error found in New York City gifted-and-talented test scoring makes 300 more students eligible for special programs

    •2013 Virginia – 4,000 parents receive inaccurate test scorecards due to Pearson error in converting scores to proficiency levels

    •2014 National – Pearson notifies students who took the Miller Analogies Test (MAT) in 2011 that their exams had been miscored

    •2014 Virginia – Error in scoring Pearson’s SOL Civics & Economics test question results in 500 changed scores, including 224 students moving from failing to passing

    •2014 Texas – Pearson goes after University of Texas–Austin education professor who testified that the company’s products do not measure what they claim to measure


    1.National Center for Education Statistics;

    2.US Department of Education;

    3.US Department of Education;

    4.PARCC Web Page


    6.US Department of Health and Human Services Code of Federal Regulations

    7.Diane Ravitch Blog

    8.New York Times:

    9.Business Insider:

    10.Amrein, A.T., & Berliner, D.C. (2003) The effects of high-stakes testing on student motivation and learning. Educational Leadership 60 (5), 32.

    11.Wheelock, A., Bebell, D.J., & Haney, W. (2000) What can student drawings tell us about high-stakes testing in Massachusetts? Teachers College Record.

    12. Cornell, D., krosnick J., & Chankg L (2004) Student reactions to being wrongly informed of failing a high-stakes test: The case of the Minnesota Basic Standards Test

    13.US Department of Education

    14.US Department of Education

    15.National Center for Educational Statistics

    16.Pearson Executive on Youtube


    18.New York Times;

    19.New York Times

    20.Fair Test Org

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