Pearson Statement on Test Security
The security of a test is critical to ensure fairness for all students and teachers and to ensure that the results of any assessment are trustworthy and valid.
We welcome debate and a variety of opinions in the education space. But when test questions or elements of a test are posted publicly to the Internet, including social media, we are obligated to alert PARCC states. Any contact with students or decisions about student consequences are handled at the local level.
We believe that a secure test maintains fairness for every student and upholds the validity and integrity of the test results.
Frequently Asked Questions
So what is Pearson’s role with PARCC exactly?
Pearson is the lead testing contractor for PARCC. We were successful in winning a multi-year bid to develop and administer the PARCC tests to students in a group of states. That group of states sets all policy for PARCC, and owns all aspects of the program – including the actual test questions. Pearson’s contract with the PARCC states clearly stipulates the scope of our work and responsibilities.
For more information on PARCC, you can visit www.parcconline.org to register for a weekly newsletter and even take a practice PARCC test yourself. You can follow PARCC on Twitter (@PARCCPlace) to learn the latest news and information.
Does Pearson monitor conversations about the test administration process and individual test questions on social media, and how does that work?
Part of Pearson’s role in developing the PARCC tests is to ensure all students have a fair and equal opportunity to take each exam. The PARCC states contractually require Pearson to help ensure test questions and other sensitive information is not shared publicly.
Test booklets have bar codes and are delivered in shrink-wrapped packages. Principals train their teachers and staff on how to properly handle test booklets prior to, during, and after testing. Anything that compromises this secure process from beginning to end could jeopardize the integrity of the tests and call into question the validity and accuracy of students’ results.
A breach includes any time someone shares information about a test outside of the classroom – from casual conversations to posts on social media. Again, our goal is to ensure a fair test for all students. Every student deserves his or her chance to take the test on a level playing field.
What happens if a test security breach occurs?
If Pearson is made aware of any potential breach in test security, we are required to immediately notify the state department(s) of education with whom we have a contract to provide the tests. We will then work closely with the state(s) to verify the authenticity of the breach.
Does Pearson spy on the conversations that students have on social media?
Absolutely not. Pearson is contractually required by states to monitor public conversations on social media to ensure that no assessment information (text, photos, etc.) that is secure and not public is improperly disclosed. Students’ social media pages are public and often include information that indicates their name and/or where they go to school. Only when it is confirmed that a test question has been exposed or compromised does Pearson work with states to address the breach.
Test questions are owned by the PARCC states, which must protect their investment and the integrity and validity of their tests. Security breaches are unfair to the many hundreds of teachers, principals, curriculum leaders, superintendents and others from each of the PARCC states that have invested thousands of hours providing input and helping to develop and review test questions.
Does Pearson punish a student who violates test security by talking about a test question from a “live” test on Facebook or Twitter?
Absolutely not. It is important to note in the event of a security breach that any contact with or decisions about consequences for the individuals involved are handled by the state(s) and local school district (s).