Common Core test creator Pearson is spying on the social media accounts of New Jersey students

Testing giant Pearson Corporation is cyberstalking the Twitter accounts of New Jersey students during the administration of standardised tests.  Source :  Photo Illustration CC 2.0 by Mike Licht/Flickr

Testing giant Pearson Corporation is cyberstalking the Twitter accounts of New Jersey students during the administration of standardised tests.  Source :  Photo Illustration CC 2.0 by Mike Licht/Flickr

By LOUIS FLORES

Pearson, the global testing and online surveillance company, confirmed last week that it was monitoring the social media accounts of New Jersey students taking Common Core tests, according to a bombshell report published by Bob Braun on his Web site, Bob Braun's Ledger.

In New Jersey, the Common Core tests are known by the acronym, PARCC.

After Mr. Braun's report was published, the article became intermittently unavailable after his Web site became the target of a denial of service attack, according to Mr. Braun's web hosting company.

According to Mr. Braun's report, the implications of what Mr. Braun deemed to be "spying" could spread to students across the nation.

"Pearson, the multinational testing and publishing company, is spying on the social media posts of students–including those from New Jersey–while the children are taking their PARCC, statewide tests, this site has learned exclusively. The state education department is cooperating with this spying and has asked at least one school district to discipline students who may have said something inappropriate about the tests. This website discovered the unauthorized and hidden spying thanks to educators who informed it of the practice–a practice happening throughout the state and apparently throughout the country."

On Saturday, Progress Queens reached out to a representative of Pearson, but no response was received from the company's media relations department.

However, Pearson had issued a statement for an article published by The Washington Post, indicating that the testing giant was defending its social media monitoring of minors, stating, in part, that, "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."

Contacted on Saturday, the offices of Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-New York) and State Assembly Education Committee Chair Catherine Nolan (D-Ridgewood) made no responses to requests for comment about either the reports of Pearson's surveillance of New Jersey students, whether such cyberstalking should be a concern for New York students taking Common Core tests created by Pearson, or whether New York state officials would call for an investigation of Pearson's cyberstalking.

Last week it was reported that Assemblymember Nolan had said that the State Assembly education committee was contemplating legislation that would allow parents of students to opt-out of the controversial Common Core standardised tests, according to a report written by Liz Benjamin and published by the State of Politics blog.

The Common Core tests have attracted the scorn of parents and teachers over complaints, including, that school districts are now forcing curriculum on students in order to teach to the test.

The next round of Common Core tests in New York is slated to be administered in April.

In the recent past, Pearson has retained the services of the Albany law firm Whiteman Osterman & Hanna LLP to lobbying state government on its behalf, according to online records of the New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics, or JCOPE.