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Pearson Gets Bad Press for Its “Unaligned” Common Core ELA Materials

September 2, 2016

Where there is Common Core, there will be publishers marketing “Common Core aligned” materials.

And, as one might expect, there will be organizations ready to grade the alignment of those marketed, Common-Core-aligned materials.

Turns out that Pearson, a company that counted on profits generated by America’s Common Core situation, did not fare well at all when it came to an review of Pearson’s Reading Street Common Core materials, as EdWeek reports:

The first round of ELA ratings, released today, were generally more positive than the math ratings have been—however, they were mixed overall. Of the seven instructional series analyzed, three completely met the benchmarks for being considered aligned to the Common Core State Standards for reading and three partially met them. Just one textbook series—Pearson’s Reading Street Common Core for grades 3-6—was deemed fully unaligned.

Pearson, which had one curriculum that met expectations and one that failed altogether, did not return requests for comment by deadline.

There’s no precise way to determine how much of an impact is having on local curriculum decisions. But the website, which is free for all users, is approaching 1 million page views, according to Hirsch. And about 150 districts have reached out to the group for help using the reviews.  [Emphasis added.]

Now, when it comes to, Common Core material reviewer, funding sources should be taken into account. As noted on the website: is funded by Broadcom Corporation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Helmsley Charitable Trust, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Samueli Foundation, the Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation, and the Stuart Foundation.

It seems that the Gates funding of EdReports comes through Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors:

Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, Inc.

Date: August 2015
Purpose: to provide operating support for EdReports to enable them to build their core priorities of publishing reviews of instructional materials, and to grow their operations and capacity to include teacher feedback of such materials
Amount: $1,499,988
Term: 19
Topic: K-12, K-12 Education
Program: United States
Grantee Location: New York, New York
Grantee Website:

As one might expect, not all are pleased with EdReports’ reviews of so-termed “Common-Core-aligned” materials; however, what is interesting is that companies positioned to make a buck (or millions of bucks) peddling Common Core materials are themselves being subjected to the end-all grading and rating that is a cornerstone of corporate reform.

Of course, a principal irony is that Common Core itself was not even graded as being superior to all state standards it replaced, even though such grading (and shady grading it was, indeed) was accomplished by one of the principal Common Core cheerleader orgs, the Fordham Institute. Add to that irony the fact that Fordham Institute published its Common-Core-promoting grading just one month after Common Core was officially adopted (CC adopted June 2010, Fordham Institute grading published July 2010). However, the icing on the Common Core cake is that 46 state governors and those of three US territories signed their states over to Common Core by June 2009— one year before there was even an official, Common Core final product to examine.

So, aligning materials to Common Core is one issue. Whether or not such alignment should be desired, well, no one with the authority to do so bothered with that question before making the Common Core bandwagon jump.

However, no one behind Common Core need question The Core Itself; those “unaligned” materials are there to bear the brunt of any perceived lack of success, which ties in nicely with placing any Common Core fault in the category of “faulty implementation.”

As for Pearson and its terrible Common-Core-alignment press from EdReports: I can’t imagine it is happy with the negative press, given that Pearson shares are down and that it has resorted to “restructuring” (i.e., notable layoffs) to try to recover.

No statement from Pearson just yet on the matter. However, by way of some lovely elevator music in the interim, I leave you with this September 2015 Washington Post article featuring my chapter on Pearson from my book, Common Core Dilemma– Who Owns Our schools?, complete with response from Don Kilburn, president of Pearson North America, and counter-response from me.

pearson common core


Released July 2016– Book Three:

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of both A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

  1. Pearson appears to be now so greedy in its approach to educational “reform” that it is willing to minimally produce and protect its own materials. IMMEDIATE SHORT-TERM cash in place of company integrity: the new modern-day educational policy?

  2. Jill Reifschneider permalink

    I could have told you this awhile back. The Common Core Aligned Math Curriculum had some lessons and questions that were the exact same as the previous curriculum, but the names (and titles) were changed. Love it. It is about time that ” companies positioned to make a buck (or millions of bucks) peddling Common Core materials are themselves being subjected to the end-all grading and rating that is a cornerstone of corporate reform.” Now if we could only make the politicians take the standardized tests and publish the results.

  3. Were the K-2 editions of Pearson’s Common Core Reading Street series not checked for alignment or were they found to be in alignment? I teach first grade and that is what I have been stuck using since Alabama put the CCSS ELA Standards into use. The pre-Common Core edition was decent; the Common Core edition seems to have been slapped together because Pearson was in a hurry to sell.

  4. Laura H. Chapman permalink

    The Gates Foundation is convinced that the CCSS are the ticket to everything in education.

    The EdReports evaluation system began with some “drop-dead criteria” later renamed as “gateway criteria” for curriculum materials submitted for evaluation.

    Materials could be submitted only if they already had at least 10% of the market. Gateway 1 criteria were for focus and coherence. The publisher’s submissions were excluded for further review if they (a) included any content/skills that were covered in a prior grade or intended for the next grade, lack of focus; and (b) included lessons that were not clearly part of a learning progression, lack of coherence. In 2013, reviewers were trained to use criteria arranged as a decision tree and paid $1000 for a review. The intent of the EdReports process was to afford branding rights to compliant publishers, and to totally by-pass groups of teachers as reviewers of materials at the local and state levels. Standardizing on this intended national scale would also make test development much more efficient and lucrative, and also favor digital delivery systems for instructional materials.

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