In America’s schools, the barrage of standardized testing kids have come under is overwhelming. From the Iowa Test of Basic Standards (ITBS) to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), the alphabet soup of bubble-in tests that fill our schools is provoking a backlash from educators and parents who think kids are over-tested and denied the opportunities for more meaningful projects, essays, and group learning.

Increasingly, school districts themselves are revolting against the testing obsession. As of last month, “232 Texas school districts have adopted resolutions” calling for a re-evaluationĀ of the test-centered education provided to their students.

This backlash threatens an increasingly powerful special interest: the companies that make the tests and other electronic software used in classrooms. One of the largest of these corporations is Pearson Education, Inc.

Education researcher Ken Libby dug through the records and found that Pearson is spending big on lobbying in four critical states — New York, California, Texas, and Florida. Here’s a small table he made laying out the millions Pearson is spending:

As America confronts its addiction to high-stakes testing, it appears that the companies benefiting from it are willing to spend generously in order to keep taxpayer dollars flowing their way.

UPDATE: An original version of this post had the totals for Florida twice as high as they actually are, because of a reporting requirement in the state that requires totals to be delivered to both executive and legislative branches. A lobbyist for Pearson in Florida, Steve Ulhfelder, pointed this out to us. We apologize for the earlier error.

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  • Robin F.

    Not only do we need to know what Pearson is spending, we need to know how much Pearson is MAKING from beating down our children and deleting the richness of their education.

  • Earl Callahan

    As a former teacher (28 years experience in Middle School) I felt like a hypocrit as I unsmilingly made the tests important. That was not my personality the rest of the year. The educational testing service, that money-making entity, must be symbolically castrated as it is lying to children to make these tests important.

  • Moteachme

    They’re also making a fortune on their Springboard workbooks, which are of very poor quality. Someone must be getting some sort of kickback. That is the only reason why any school system would make their teachers and students use such horrible texts. I am curious to see if test scores improved after switching to springboard. I seriously doubt it.

  • Rjmendlein1

    Remember that success in tests is tied to teacher and administrative pay raises, and often the passage of school levies, so most schools are reluctant to toss them out, even though this type of testing is in direct conflict with actual learning. The Montessori method is decimated in these testing environments. Instead of integrated teaching of concepts like “weather”; geography, math, nature, language, you divide everything out into single subjects that can be tested by “reading” the output with scanners. The schools will never be able to create and sustain a love of learning with standardized testing, but it will, possibly, be able to generate a docile electorate that won’t get too bent out of shape as their rights are removed.

  • veteran in the trenches

    Not only are we spending hundreds of millions NOW, but how much did the tax payers spend on the WASL which has now been thrown out.
    Standardized tests may improve teaching because they force all teachers to intentionally teach to certain targets, but they need to be only one factor in several to consider the ability of each student.

  • CatKinNY

    When I took NYS Regents biology a million years ago, we had a great teacher who made the class challenging, engaging and fun for all of the intellectually unchallenged in the class, and I credit him with cementing my love of science; I went on to earn a Bachelor’s of Science degree with honors. He had the highest pass rate for the Regents exam in our large, suburban blue collar high school, and one of the highest in the state. I wish I could say that it was all the great work he did with us in class, but it wasn’t. His secret? The pace of the spring semester was fast, to allow plenty of time at the end for test prep. We took old regents every day for three solid weeks, at the end of which kids like me got 100, and even our resident Jeff Spicoli character got a 74. If you teach for the test you can get anyone to pass, but that’s not learning. I doubt Spicoli is able to apply anything he ‘learned’ in bio to an article on endangered species in a newspaper, despite having passed the regents exam. That we are spending so much money to produce such pointless results will be the end of us. We used to graduate enough smart, creative thinkers to move the country forward; I doubt that’s true anymore. Where will we be 20 years from now?

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  • Becky B

    In Texas, Pearson has a $468 million 5 year contract currently.

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