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Not content with profiting off of standardized tests for students, curricula to prepare students for those standardized tests, and test-based measures of teacher performance, Pearson Education (AKA Pearson of the pineapple) is developing a standardized teacher licensing program, in collaboration with Stanford University. And just as testing of students is facing revolts by students, parents, and school boards around the country, teachers in training at the University of Massachusetts are saying no to Pearson's licensing program.

The 67 (out of 68) student teachers training to be middle school and high school teachers are refusing to send Pearson a take-home test and edited videos of themselves teaching, citing their opposition to trying to boil down what happens in the classroom to such a shallow, standardized form and concerns about the privacy of their students who would appear in the videos. In fact, "Four local school districts that train student teachers declined to participate when they learned how the video would be used."

Aside from concerns about privacy, the quality of the licensing process, and the likelihood that student teachers will learn to manipulate the test, as well as the $300 cost each student teacher would pay in order to be assessed by a grader being paid $75 per assessment by Pearson, the New York Times' Michael Winerip points to the basic futility of the entire enterprise:

How much impact any of this will have on teacher quality is debatable. California has had a performance assessment program in place for 10 years. According to Mr. Pecheone, 10 to 15 percent fail to get their license on the first try. When students retake the test, he said, only 1 to 2 percent fail to get a license. [...]

As for the idea that having an independent licensing test like California’s will improve the public’s opinion of teachers — no way. Politicians and businesspeople bash teachers in sunny California as much as they do in cloudy states. There is a whole education industry that is flourishing because it is built on the denigration of public schoolteachers.

Once again we have a politicized rush to impose an unproven standard that just happens to create a new profit center for Pearson and other testing and education companies—and once again we have the seeds of a rebellion needing to be nurtured.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Mon May 07, 2012 at 10:45 AM PDT.

Also republished by Teachers Lounge.

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