Pearson’s Education System

Novia Wetzel

If you’ve attended an American public school, you’ve probably heard of Pearson Education. Maybe your teachers use their textbooks or you noticed their name on the bottom of your science test. The point is, Pearson is everywhere. Their corporate claws are in pretty much everything education related from textbooks to standardized tests to even testing teachers for their qualifications. Pearson is so much of an educational superpower that by 2012, they owned around 40% of the testing market. However, you’ll hear outrage and resentment from parents, students, and teachers alike about Pearson’s methods.

In 2012, eighth graders in New York took a statewide standardized test for reading. Both students and educators have critiqued the test for a question that left everyone perplexed: the talking pineapple question. Students read a text about how a talking pineapple challenged a hare to a race (much like the tale of the tortoise and the hare). The other animals thought that the pineapple had a trick up his sleeve, but their suspicions were proven false. The hare won while the pineapple hadn’t moved an inch. The animals then all joined in feasting on the pineapple and the story ends with the moral that pineapples don’t have sleeves. The students were expected to answer questions such as “Why did the animals eat the pineapple?” and “What would have happened if the animals had decided to cheer for the hare?” Several students have expressed that they were disappointed in the test and that the question was incredibly absurd. According to the NY Times, a New York Principal, Michael McDermott of Scarsdale Middle School, commented that the question was used in other state wide standardized tests and confused students in other states as well. The organization FairTest, who advocates the end of misuse and flaws of standardized tests, keeps a log of the company’s flaws within their tests. It’s reported that said flaws include printing errors and frozen screens during testing time in 26 different Florida counties. The outrage of students, educator, and parents are quite understandable. Pearson, a worldwide corporation that focuses on education, recycles their state wide standard test questions. Parents are depending on Pearson to give their kids fair standard tests that don’t involve an outrageous text and a series of questions about some cheap knock off of an old fable.

Pearson Education has grown a lot since their days as a textbook printing company. They practically own the testing market, especially in North America, and they are involved in everything having to do with education. However we must question ourselves. Why do we allow one company to have so much control over something as critical as education even after they’ve made so many ridiculous mistakes? Can we really trust Pearson to give our children and the future generation a good education?