tracking pearson
The role of public schools today. Behavioral observation and tracking.


Anne previously wrote about permission requested from parents for their children to be subjects of a Pearson Research Project for Behavior Assessments.  Read about it here: Is Pearson Using Your Child For Research?

This letter came home to a parent in Saline County this week. It seeks parental permission to have their children be the subjects of a Pearson research project for their Behavior Assessment System for Children (BASC). The letter says that this survey is looking at “student behavior,” that teachers will be using the “Teacher Rating Scale” survey to observe the child, and the big win for the school is that they will have the “opportunity” to earn iPads for “some” classrooms.

Let’s break this down.

1. Teachers and students are being asked to be free labor for an international for profit company. Sure they say they will give the school “some” iPads, but as far as the parents know that could be 1 or 2 that will not necessarily benefit their child directly. In fact, from the Pearson letter to parents, the only educational benefit to their child is that the school can get mentioned in the manual for this for profit product and that the school as a whole could get included in the “national norms.”  Hardly a measurable benefit for a child’s education. The teacher’s time is purely gratis.

And what is this product for which your school’s name could be in the manual? The BASC is, according to one website, “a useful tool that teachers or parents may choose to implement to monitor the progress and behavior patterns of young minds.”

2.  Ok, but what are those behavior patterns they are looking for? They include your child’s focus, intellectual and interest levels, how your child relates to others in a social setting. Teachers are looking for emotional triggers such as anxiety, anger and hyper-activity to see if they play a role in any learning difficulties. They also look at positive traits such as leadership, social skills and his adaptability to new environments.  This is some pretty deep stuff, the kind of thorough analysis typically left to highly trained professionals. Another website said, “The BASC system is generally used by professional psychologists, and may also be used by school psychologists, psychiatrists and other medical practitioners. It was originally designed to help health practitioners differentiate, diagnose and treat problems that young people experience.”

So now we think teachers, who need the heavy prompting of common core to teach basic skills, are qualified to do complex psychological analysis of a child’s behaviors with a simple survey that ” does not require your student to do anything.” They can make this assessment just by watching. That is an incredibly high bar to set for teachers, one that borders on professional misconduct.

And that other benefit, of being included in the national norm (as defined now by Pearson) means that they are developing the tools to determine if your specific child is “not in the norm.” We know that schools are very interested in your child’s academic performance. Since they have begun to identify “emotional triggers” that are causing  learning problems we can pretty much count on the school to make it their responsibility to apply an intervention to address those triggers. Can you see how this tool gives them yet another access point into your family’s private life? But hey its worth it because somewhere out there a little kid has an iPad.

3.  I would have liked to give more specific information about the BASC but Pearson does not make that public. You can read about their BASC here on their clinical page and see that it is guided by an education professional Randy W. Kamphaus, PhD, who is Dean of the College of Education and Distinguished Research Professor at Georgia State University and Cecil R. Reynolds, PhD a Emeritus Professor of Educational Psychology, Professor of Neuroscience, and Distinguished Research Scholar at Texas A&M University, who is known for his work in psychological testing and assessment. So at least someone in this process has some special training in evaluating child behavior.

Alas, we cannot know more about this survey, as one mother found out when she called Pearson at the direction of her district, because it is “copyrighted.” She was told she could not look at the survey and that if she is found guilty of viewing any testing materials, in any form, not only she, but those responsible for that material – will be subject to penalties for copyright violations.
Apparently, in Pearson’s world, copyright has the same impervious protection of a Hogwarts spell. Understandable as Pearson is a primarily British multi-billion dollar international company.


There is some published information about this Pearson BASC-2 test that parents may want to know about before giving permission for their children to participate in these assessments.  Read the following from THE PSYCHOLOGICAL TESTING IN COMMON CORE STANDARDS:

Common Core schools in various parts of the U. S. have begun to require students (without parental knowledge) to take the Pearson Clinical Tests. The questions on these tests contain very personal questions. Teachers (as seen on the BASC-2 link below) enter personal, subjective observations about their students into the Pearson database. Pearson’s privacy policy says they will share the information with their contractors and that the policy can change without notice.  However, the contractors have no privacy policy. It is not a stretch to imagine that students’ personally identifiable information could indeed be used against them for college admissions and/or future employment. ( MEW note: It should be noted that several Missouri parents have received letters requesting permission for this Pearson test.  You will need to contact your school to determine if your school is using the Pearson or some other behavioral assessment without your permission.)




Here is an example of behaviors noted on your child by Pearson behavioral assessments from the above link:

(click on graphics to enlarge)

test pearson 2

test pearson


Is this what you send your child to school for?  To undergo behavior assessments?  What happened to academic teaching for children?  Will this be coded into your child’s data set?  Here’s more from Susan Ohanian on how Pearson is the now the company that will determine through testing, whether or not your child is ADHD.

Below is an example of how your child can be rated while in a non-academic portion of his/her day.  Can you even imagine how a Jim Carey, Robin Williams or other creative spirit would fare in such an assessment?  From The BOSS manual (click on the graphic on the lower left that says “click here for the BOSS manual”):


pearson behavior

pearson behavior 2

So is this enough to get your child out of public school yet?  Ask your school in writing if the school is using ANY Pearson behavioral assessments on students.  Ask your school in writing if it is using ANY behavioral assessments from any other company.  If these assessments concern you, do not give permission for any behavioral assessments in which your child is a subject.  

If your child is quietly reading an assigned book or passively listing to other students talk about the assigned work in a cooperative learning group, he/she is golden.  If your child is active, absent minded, a leader and/or individual who likes to push the envelope, that data set isn’t going to be so shiny.


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