Pearson Is Everywhere: Silencing Edition

PearsonWelcome back to Pearson Is Everywhere!

Last time we looked at Pearson’s involvement with the GED: 2014 GED Results Show 90% Drop In Passage Rate

Today, we’re looking at how Pearson silences opposing viewpoints.


A reader sent me this tweet:

This article is a long read, but well worth it.  In a nutshell, Pearson went behind the scenes to dismantle and discredit a critic. From the article, “Pearson’s real counterattack took place largely out of public view.


Pearson wasn’t going to let Stroup’s findings go unchallenged. The company’s pushback against Stroup glossed over his most compelling findings and focused instead on what the company perceived as a mislabeled column in one of Stroup’s spreadsheets. In a public statement posted on the Pearson website, Dr. Walter “Denny” Way, senior vice president for measurement services at Pearson, said the 72 percent number was “not supported through valid research and will not stand up to a rigorous review by qualified experts.” After correcting what Pearson interpreted as the mislabeled column, Way wrote, the tests were “only 50 percent” insensitive to instruction. This alone was a startling admission. Even if you accepted Pearson’s argument that Stroup had erred, here was the company selling Texas millions of dollars’ worth of tests admitting that its product couldn’t measure half of what happens in a classroom.

Further down:

Most of what UT’s Pearson Center does seems more promotional than productive. The Pearson Center invites pro-assessment scientists to give lectures at UT. The center’s website has long lists of research presentations it has funded, indicating that the center is less a think-tank for groundbreaking research and more a mouthpiece in the marketplace of ideas.

And this at the end:

Bomer’s cover letter indicates that the subject of Pearson came up with the review committee when Stroup requested a meeting after receiving the original unsatisfactory rating. “At that meeting, Dr. Stroup asked whether any member of the review committee or I had any relationship to Pearson publishing,” Bomer wrote. “None of us has any such relationship.”

Maybe Stroup’s “emperor has no clothes” rebellion against UT’s generous benefactor has nothing to do with his post-tenure review. For its part, Pearson Education said through a spokesperson that the company had no contact with UT about Stroup.

Maybe Stroup and his cloud computing and networked calculators don’t fit neatly into an academic world, so his colleagues think he’s slacking off. Maybe there’s another explanation for why the UT College of Education is seemingly trying to get rid of a tenured professor.

But if Pearson were trying to strike back against a researcher who told legislators that they were paying $100 million a year for tests that mostly measure test-taking ability, it would look an awful lot like what is happening to Walter Stroup.

About A.P. Dillon

A.P. Dillon is a reporter currently writing at The North State Journal. She resides in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_ Tips:
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