MinnPost's education reporting is made possible by a grant from the Bush Foundation.

On computerized testing, ed-tech spending and laid-off teachers

Random Musings of a Cynical Education Reporter — Harper’s Index-style:

Number of computerized or computer-scored assessments each of my two school-aged kids takes each year, not counting routine assessments like spelling tests and end-of-unit exams: Seven; three to comply with state and federal regulations; four to track their actual academic growth.

Amount Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. paid Nov. 22 to acquire 90 percent of K-12 technology concern Wireless Generation: $360 million.

Total 2009 revenue for Washington Post Co.’s for-profit subsidiary Kaplan, Inc., which sells a host of educational products, including “virtual high school instruction” and “test readiness solutions,” among other things: $2.6 billion.

The Post Co.’s total 2009 revenue: $4.6 billion.

Estimated worth of U.S. ed-tech sector: $500 billion.

Educational assessment powerhouse Pearson’s stock price at close-of-market Dec. 17: Up more than 200 points on the NASDAQ over last year, from 851.50 to 1,069.00.

What I’d be doing this afternoon if MinnPost had page after page of big, full-color ed-tech and assessment vendor ads like the print edition of Education Week and other publications aimed at school administrators: Planning spring break in Maui.

Amount the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will award in a first wave of grants to organizations working on ed-tech innovations: Up to $20 million.

Amount the philanthropist could eventually spend: $80 million.

Number of software programs my older son and I are expected to use to track his middle-school coursework: Three; one to keep track of work in progress; another to track missing or substandard work and — not making this up — one to “listen” to him practice the viola and transmit a digital evaluation to his part-time music teacher.

Number of people employed by Scantron, an Eagan-based company that provides “scanning solutions” for educational assessments: 1,100.

Number of ed-tech companies Scantron has acquired in the last two years: 3.

Estimated cost of administering a simple assessment to an individual student: $2.52 in 2001.

Estimated cost of scoring an essay or other open-ended, subjective assessment that might measure, say, critical thinking skills: Unknown, but way too high.

Bipartisan consensus about the high-stakes standardized tests that form the core of George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind education reform: An expensive failure.

President Barack Obama’s plan for fixing the situation: Divert federal schools dollars to devising new, better “value-added” tests that most educators agree are better, but are no substitute for equipping teachers to continually assess gaps in individual students’ learning.

Number of Minnesota teachers laid off in the last two years — many of whom presumably were able to assess kids on the fly and plug gaps in proficiency: 2,000.

Anticipated “funding cliff” Anoka-Hennepin schools will confront over the next three years: $100 million.

Number of teachers that district, Minnesota’s largest, will have to layoff as a result: Up to 700.

Number it already laid off over the last two years: 500.

Number whose jobs will be saved by Obama’s “EduJobs” stimulus dollars: 0

Comments (2)

  1. Submitted by dan buechler on 12/20/2010 - 07:34 pm.

    I dunno too scattershot for me.

  2. Submitted by John Norman on 12/21/2010 - 08:51 pm.

    Nice post, but every statistic in here should have a link to an authoritative source . . .

Leave a Reply