Eighth-Grader to Common Core Test: Stop the Product Placement!

This article is cross-posted from edtechtimes.com, where I currently serve as editor-in-chief.

Taking a TestThe Washington Post ran a piece by 8th-grader Isaiah Schrader, in which he discusses what bothered him most about the Pearson provided Common Core-aligned tests that he and other New York state students just took: excessive product placement.

Brands that could be found within the passages in the test included Mug™ Root Beer, IBM™, Lego®, FIFA® and Mindstorms™, each accompanied by a footnote informing test-takers of the respective companies that had registered each trademark.

Schrader interviewed the New York State Department of Education, who claimed no one was paid for these product placements and that the brand names occurring within the texts were “incidental and were cited according to publishing conventions.”

He also spoke to Barbara Kolson, an intellectual property lawyer for Stuart Weitzman Shoes, who said, “The fact that the brands did not pay Pearson for the ‘product placement’ does not mean that the use is not product placement.”

Schrader goes on to discuss the following concerns regarding this product placement:

  • The effects of advertising on children
  • Pearson, the world’s largest for-profit education business, including gratuitous references to trademarked products in its tests.
  • New York State permitting these tests to create a captive market for products that are also debatably appropriate for children and the role that New York State taxpayers have.
  • The students’ requirement to being subjected them to hidden advertising through required standardized testing.

After discussing other factors unrelated to the product placement issue, Schrader concludes that “Taken together, the subjective and even nonsensical nature of questions and answers, product placement, and more time-consuming test format made the state assessments the most frustrating and unpleasant standardized test I have ever taken.”

Anyone who’s ever been a teacher should know that students will see through inauthenticity.  Bravo to 14-year old Isaiah Schrader for his eloquence and attentiveness.

Read Schrader’s full article as well as a response from test-maker Pearson at the original article on the Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/05/08/eighth-grader-what-bothered-me-most-about-new-common-core-test/

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