Pearson scores nearly $470M deal to run TAKS testing program in Texas

Pearson’s Assessment and Information Group has secured a $468.4 million, five-year extension of its contract to operate the TAKS testing program for the State of Texas.

The contract renewal, awarded by the Texas Education Agency, takes effect Sept. 1.

Two other companies, Nashville, Tenn.-based RANDA Solutions Inc. and San Antonio-based eMetric LLC, bid on all or parts of the TAKS contract.

TAKS is the largest statewide educational testing program in the country.

In 1999, the Texas Legislature enacted Senate Bill 103, mandating a new statewide testing program for third- through 11th-graders. The new testing requirements, subsequently named the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS), were launched in 2003. TAKS evaluates students’ achievement of reading, writing, math, science, and social studies skills mandated by the State of Texas; it replaced the original Texas Assessment of Academic Skills (TAAS).

“There will be extensive changes to the assessment program over the new contract period,” Texas Education Agency spokeswoman Debbie Ratcliffe says of the new five-year pact with Pearson. “All requirements of Senate Bill 1031 and House Bill 3 that affect assessment will be reflected in the work of the contract.”

Senate Bill 1031, passed in 2007, and House Bill 3, passed in 2009, made changes to the TAKS program. For instance, HB 3 requires that a Texas school district provide additional instruction to any student who fails the TAKS test in any grade.

It’s unclear whether the renewed TAKS contract will mean more jobs or more office space for Pearson’s Austin site. Pearson’s local offices are at 400 Center Ridge Drive, near I-35 and Howard Lane in North Austin. Representatives of Pearson couldn’t be reached for comment.

During the current fiscal year alone, Pearson is being paid nearly $88 million by the Texas Education Agency.

In 2005, Pearson was awarded a $279 million, five-year contract to provide student assessment and testing services to the Texas Education Agency.

Five years ago, Pearson said its operations in Austin and Iowa would support the TAKS program. In 2005, Pearson Educational Measurement employed more than 300 people full-time workers and 1,500 seasonal workers in Texas.

In 2008, a San Antonio newspaper reported that Pearson had 1,600 employees in Texas, including 650 in Austin.

In announcing the 2005 contract, Douglas Kubach, president and CEO of Pearson’s Assessment and Information Group, said: “We bring to our relationship with TEA two decades of familiarity and experience with the Texas program, and plan to continue to maintain our high level of quality and service while working with the agency to expand and modify the program to meet the evolving needs of education in the state.”

Pearson’s Assessment and Information Group, based in Bloomington, Minn., is a division of Pearson Education Inc., the world’s biggest provider of textbooks and education materials, technology and services. Pearson Education is part of London-based media conglomerate Pearson PLC.

In May, Pearson PLC CEO Marjorie Scardino came to Austin to deliver the keynote address at the opening session of the 32nd annual National Institute for Staff & Organizational Development’s International Conference on Teaching & Leadership Excellence.

2 Comments on “Pearson scores nearly $470M deal to run TAKS testing program in Texas

  1. I think it is a crime that the TEA is paying so much money for a test that is not effective. I would much rather see that money go to education funding and the hiring/keeping of well qualified teachers. Even my 7th grader has figured out the TAKS scam. He sees kids who do no work during the school year, making F’s, but they pass the TAKS so they pass the grade. What Texas is going to end up with is not an educated youth, but seasoned test takers not equipped to function in the real world.

  2. Anybody there want to see this novel about the insanity of standardized testing?

    (From the jacket cover)
    TAAS by Joe Reese
    TAAS stands for Texas Assessment of Academic Skills. If you’re easily offended by vulgar language—don’t get this book. If you have some 1950’s vision in your mind of what your kids are doing every day in the public school system—don’t get this book. If you’re allergic to laughter—don’t get this book. If on the other hand you need to laugh until your stomach hurts and you have no “Leave it to Beaver” illusions about the modern day public school system and you are maybe a bit of a cynic about “Standardized Testing” and all things “politically correct”—oh you GOT to have it! Joe Reese starts the book with a blanket apology instead of a Prologue or Forward. You’ll see why when you read it. This thing is a laugh riot—destined to become a cult classic—especially among teachers who have been around the block a few times.
    Rick Baber

    If so, just send me an email and I’ll send you a free digital copy.
    Joe Reese

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