Education business is booming with more federal money to pay for quick-turnaround diagnostic tests, books, tutoring and teacher training.
Harcourt Educational Measurement, a unit of publisher Harcourt Inc., says it has rewritten its key standardized test, renamed the Stanford 10, to tap the No Child Left Behind market. The new test is aligned with state curricula — that is, questions come from what’s taught in most classrooms rather than from general knowledge — and states can add their own questions. Ten states have already bought the new test, whose costs vary by grade but are about $7 for a third grader . . .
Hundreds of “supplemental service providers” have already lined up to offer tutoring, including Sylvan, Kaplan Inc. and Princeton Review Inc. — companies best known for offering college test-prep courses or homework help.
. . . No Child Left Behind also has created demand among schools for tools to help them track student progress and interpret the new data the law requires them to generate. Princeton Review is selling a Web-based product called Homeroom that lets teachers give frequent minitests to see whether their students are on track to pass the state exam. Test results come back immediately, identifying which youngsters are weak in, say, measurement or fractions, and providing exercises to help them improve their skills. The product costs $3,500 a school per year and is already in 3,000 schools, Princeton Review says.
Similarly, Kaplan offers the Kaplan Achievement Planner that, for about $20 a student per year, analyzes each student, then gives teachers different lesson plans for their fast, slow and average learners. It also supplies instantly scored minitests that look and read like the state exam.
Those diagnostic tests are proving very useful and, thanks to technology, inexpensive.