Skip to content

PARCC’s Lately-Published “Test Fairness and Security” Statement

March 20, 2015

Under the heading, “Latest News,” the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) has posted a message entitled, Test Fairness and Security. Here is the document:

PARCC monitoring

Here is the text:

Test Fairness and Security 
The PARCC states are committed to secure testing because we believe fair tests are essential to better preparing the next generation for success. The states contract with a test vendor to search public social media and websites for images or words from live tests, which are copyright infringements and jeopardize the fairness of the test for all students. 
Sharing images of test items via Twitter, Instagram, or other public social media sites – or posting basic information about test items – is today’s equivalent of photocopying a test and passing it out on the schoolhouse steps.  Cell phones are not allowed in the testing session and test administrators are instructed to tell all students before the test that sharing any test question online is prohibited. 
The PARCC states’ policy follows the best practices outlined by the Council of Chief State School Officers, which recommends that there should be “procedures to monitor the internet and social websites before, during and after test administration for any evidence the items and/or answers have been shared” online.  In order to maintain test security, each PARCC state contracted with its test vendor, Pearson, to search for any live PARCC test questions that are shared through public social media sites. This is standard practice for large-scale tests including ACT and SAT. 

PARCC now openly admits its “contracting with a test vendor to search public social media.” They note that they are looking for evidence of “copyright infringement.”

PARCC has contracted with Pearson to monitor social media. Pearson’s monitoring of social media is only implied in the 2014-18 Pearson-PARCC contract. According to page 50, the PARCC consortium has specifically authorized Pearson to hire several subcontractors, including Caveon Test Security. However, the contract terms are clear that Pearson is responsible for its subcontractors.

At any rate, in releasing its “testing fairness and security” statement, it seems that PARCC is trying to take the heat off of Pearson.

I do not believe that the public should let either one off of the hook. All of this testing is a black hole for school funding, and a slice of that funding is paying for “before, during, and after” social media monitoring.

Never forget: testing is a business, and the more “embedded” (Pearson’s word) testing becomes into the American public education experience, the bigger the business will become, and the more control the business will exercise not only in test prep prior to testing and actual administration, but also in monitoring the public “before, during and following” testing.

As for those CCSSO “best practices” for monitoring social media, the public must dish out $30 in order to read them. Apparently CCSSO does not consider it a “best practice” to make its suggestion to monitor social media readily available to the very public it proposes to monitor. And neither does PARCC or Pearson, until they are cornered on the very social media they are monitoring.

One way that the public can guarantee PARCC and Pearson that their unprecedented testing will be secure is to not take the tests in the first place.

I’m for that.

Image result for monitoring social media


Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of the ed reform whistle blower, A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education.


  1. So what is so sacred about their test that they don’t want the questions leaked? The real reason is they don’t want the public to know their tests evaluate values, attitudes and beliefs rather than knowledge obtained. REFUSE to take these tests and REFUSE to take the prep tests. REFUSE ALL SURVEYS. STARVE THE BEAST.

  2. Eric Brandon permalink

    I completely agree with the last idea about ending much of this testing. We are testing way too much, and the tests are neither necessary nor beneficial. The best way to stop companies like Pearson from monitoring your children is to simply stop them from getting testing contracts. The opt out movement and a general resistance to testing, in my mind, is the best strategy to stop all this abuse of our children.

  3. So does Pearson have some super powerful copyright that not only copyrights their materials (the actual wording of a question) but also mention of the general idea of the question? That’s what it sounds like.

  4. Laura H. Chapman permalink

    Not a lawyer. In the olden days individual items on a test could not be copyrighted. If these items were attached to copyrighted images or texts, then that information had to be in whisper type with that item, not put into a master list somewhere else. I cannot imagine how many contracts and clearances are now required for graphic interfaces, plus digital content, in addition to the scoring algorithms and the reports.
    I do know that the so-called “best practices” document from the CCSSO that is behind a paywall can be purchased on Amazon, and that the following free pdf shows that the document was originally produced as a joint publication of the CCSSO and the test publishers lobby.
    You can see the intended audience and a chapter outline here, evidently with chapers 8, 9, and 15 treating test security. I think part of the aim is to by-pass the practices published by the APA/AERA, at one time THE authority on testing, including ethical uses, although that publication also strikes me as favoring the intellectual property of the test makers and protecting “test integrity” over the rampant misuse of tests, especially for purposes that they are not designed for and for survelliance.

  5. Cindy permalink

    We just finished the first round of parcc. The kids were not required to sign a security oath. Also, when I went to the online survey, Louisiana is not listed as a parcc state. So confusing! Test was horrible. Directions were vague and misleading. When scores come back, they will represent recording issues not true knowledge.

  6. Donna permalink

    The whole point of these tests is to fail schools and fire teachers and close schools and replace them with “high performing” charters, right? These tests further suck funds that states don’t have, and dominate weeks and weeks of testing that could otherwise be used for teaching and learning. This is a farce from the federal government in cahoots with a UK/Libyan company, funneling out our taxpayer dollars. What a sham and what a shame. Then on top of it to find out they are spying on our kids? Yikes. What is next? Jail time for test takers? Teachers?

  7. NoReformNeeded permalink

    Who owns the copyright? PARCC, Pearson, or the states. Pearson says the states own it. If that’s true then Pearson should let the states monitor their own copyrights. Not sure why if Pearson does not own the Copyright they want to sign up for all the bad publicity of policing the copyright.

  8. CCSSO is the problem…

  9. There is no security on the internet. If a hacker can break into the CIA, the DOD, and the NSA’s computer systems, no one is safe.

    “The PARCC states are committed to secure testing because we believe fair tests are essential to better preparing the next generation for success.”

    How is this different from—“The Nazis frequently used euphemistic language to disguise the true nature of their crimes. They used the term ‘Final Solution’ to refer to their plan to annihilate the Jewish people. It is not known when the leaders of Nazi Germany definitively decided to implement the ‘Final Solution.’ The genocide, or mass destruction, of the Jews was the culmination of a decade of increasingly severe discriminatory measures.”

    The question we might not want to have an answer to is if PARCC ends up as another Final Solution of some kind, because the more I read, the more PARCC seems to be walking down the same path.

    We already know that the corporate reform movement that includes PARCC, vouchers and corporate Charter schools promotes segregation. Once the transparent, democratic, non profit public schools where parents have a voice are gone to be replaced by opaque, profit-driven corporate Charters that use harsh methods to punish students in addition to extremely high suspension and expulsion rates and all the children are segregated, what will be the ‘Final solution’ for PARCC to make sure all living, breathing children are college and career ready?

  10. Galton permalink

    Mercedes ,
    New Jersey is aflutter with PARC/Pearson “security breech”, privacy, monitoring, spying, and actual “copyright” ownership issues.
    I ask a simple question: Do students have the right to converse and post online about their experiences and recollections taking the PARCC? I say they do, EVEN IF THEY DISCUSS?POST SPECIFIC ITEM DETAILS>

    Free Speech can be a real bother sometimes but…

    Curious to hear your take.

  11. Testing has gone too far! Anything in moderation is more likely to be appropriate. I am curious if the children of Pearson employees 1) take the tests or opt out, 2) have the technical opportunity to see anything on their computers that could enable them to have “insider information”, 3) have their dinner table discussions recorded for “security purposes”, 4) have parents who feel less than favorable toward the tests and testing……….
    There is something essentially de-humanizing about data mining, selling, and using private information about children. How long does that information follow them? Into college application processes, into job applications, into financial decisions??????? When does it end? Who has access and what is there to stop anyone from mis-using the informati….on, altering it for personal goal or profit, extorting people with it, etc…..?
    Our children are precious, innocent, and deserving of the dignity, respect, and privacy that everyone desires.
    Stop the madness!!

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. The Common Core Weekend Reads – 3-22-15 | Lady Liberty 1885
  2. Schneider Explains PARCC’s Security Policy | Diane Ravitch's blog
  3. Ed News, Tuesday, March 24, 2015 Edition | tigersteach

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s