Students in New Jersey are in the middle PARCC testing right now. This is a new standardized test which is administered by Pearson. It's not without its detractors; many parents are opting their kids out of the test, and after what Pearson just did I'm sure the number will grow.
A blogger by the name of Bob Braun got his hands on an email one NJ school district superintendent sent out to a mailing list. Said email discusses a dire "security breach" in which a student tweeted a mention of the recent PARCC test.
As you can see in the photo below, we found out about the security breach because Pearson is spying on students:
So one kid mentions a test question to another kid online, and Pearson calls down the wrath of the New Jersey state Dept of Education as well as the full weight of the school district administration upon that student.
Luckily for the kid, it was only a single tweet. Had several students gotten together to form a study group, they might have been prosecuted for felony interference with a business model and gotten the death penalty.
Do you suppose Pearson has hidden microphones set up around the schools so they can also listen in and see if students discuss the tests during lunch? I ask because that is basically the offline version of the student's infraction.
This is not the first time that states or other entities have monitored social media during standardized tests, but due to the bungling on the part of the NJDOE it is the most appalling.
This student was accused of tweeting an image during a test, when in fact they didn't. Luckily the school district investigated before responding, otherwise this would have turned out so much worse.
Had the school district simply taken the "security breach" notice at face value, they would have suspended or expelled the student. Instead, the student was merely frightened to learn that his school went Big Brother bsed on nothing more than the complaint of a publisher.
So rather than come out of this with a tarnished record, the student learned a couple valuable life lessons: you can't trust those in power, and there is no such thing as privacy any more.
Those are lessons we all need to learn at some point, and thanks to Pearson it has been driven home.
image by laverrue