While the United States and a few other countries have allowed UK’s Pearson—the largest private-sector, for profit education publisher and test generator in the world—greater influence in their countries, Finland is going in the opposite direction.
“Finland making drastic changes to an already successful education system. Why now? And will this model change the way other countries go about educating their children?” The Christian Science Monitor asks.
Despite having an education system that doesn’t rely on standardized test scores, Finnish students perform extremely well on exams that are given to students all over the developed world.
But now Finland is looking to overhaul its education system and will now focus more on “topics” and less on subjects, according to Alexander LaCasse for The Christian Science Monitor.
The Finns are calling this “phenomena” teaching while in the United States, teaching is called “TESTING”.
I ran into trouble embedding this vimeo video in the post so here’s the link or click Watch on Vimeo above:
Alexander LaCasse, who wrote the piece for The Christian Science Monitor said, “Finland’s deviation on educational standards may come as a surprise to some – because Finland trails only Singapore and China in performance on the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), a standardized test given to 15 year olds in 65 of the world’s most developed countries.”
What the corporate reformers don’t want anyone to know is that poverty is the problem—a challenge totally ignored by the rank and punish Common Core Standardized Testing culture promoted heavily by the Bill and Melinda Gates and Walton Family Foundations (in addition to a few other billionaires)—and not teachers or public schools.
If you watch the video that comes with this post, starting at 30:00, you will discover that when we compare U.S. Schools internationally, U.S. schools with less than 10% student poverty are ranked #1 in the world on the PISA test.
For instance, Finland has less than 4% childhood poverty compared to the U.S. that has at least 24% of its children living in poverty. In fact, high achieving countries that score high on international tests all have less than 10% of their children living in poverty.
Even U.S. schools with 25% childhood poverty rates rank #3 in the world on international tests and even schools that have 50% student poverty levels rank above international averages in reading. In addition, 1 in 5 schools in the United States have 75% of children, or more, living in poverty.
The schools I taught in for 27 years of the 30 I spent in classrooms as a teacher had 70% – 80% childhood poverty rates.
More information on this issue:
Pearson is expanding its brand into the United Kingdom, Australia, Italy, South Africa, Brazil, India and Saudi Arabia. Pearson earns over $8 billion in annual global sales, with much more to come if countries continue to use standardized tests to rate students, teachers and schools.
Among the likely benefactors of the extra funds were the four companies that dominate the testing market — three test publishers and one scoring firm.
Those four companies are Harcourt Educational Measurement, CTB McGraw-Hill, Riverside Publishing (a Houghton Mifflin company), and NCS Pearson. According to an October 2001 report in the industry newsletter Educational Marketer, Harcourt, CTB McGraw-Hill, and Riverside Publishing write 96 percent of the exams administered at the state level. NCS Pearson, meanwhile, is the leading scorer of standardized tests.
Even without the impetus of the No Child Left Behind Act, testing is a burgeoning industry. The National Board on Educational Testing and Public Policy at Boston College compiled data from The Bowker Annual, a compendium of the dollar-volume in test sales each year, and reported that while test sales in 1955 were $7 million (adjusted to 1998 dollars), that figure was $263 million in 1997, an increase of more than 3,000 percent. Today, press reports put the value of the testing market anywhere from $400 million to $700 million.
The British publishing giant Pearson had made few inroads in the United States — aside from distributing the TV game show “Family Feud” — when it announced plans in the summer of 2000 to spend $2.5 billion on an American testing company.
The controversy over Common Core hasn’t stopped companies from cashing in on the education standards program.
States have already awarded hundreds of millions of dollars in Common Core-related contracts to businesses including Pearson, McGraw-Hill Education CTB, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Apple since 2012. And, despite some legal challenges and boycotts, more contracts potentially worth billions of dollars for testing, instructional materials and teacher training are on the way.
What can we do? The answer is to refuse high stakes testing
The National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest) works to end the misuses and flaws of standardized testing and to ensure that evaluation of students, teachers and schools is fair, open, valid and educationally beneficial.
Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).
Lofthouse’s first novel was the award winning historical fiction My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. His second novel was the award winning thriller Running with the Enemy. His short story A Night at the “Well of Purity” was named a finalist of the 2007 Chicago Literary Awards. His wife is Anchee Min, the international, best-selling, award winning author of Red Azalea, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year (1992).
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