More bucks for brains

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.

About Joanne


  1. Wacky Hermit says:

    As long as the test questions are not watered-down easy, I think this is a great idea.

  2. I am no Bush-basher, but couldn’t one take away from your quotes the inference that the policy of the Bush administration once again parlays into profit for a corporate entity? Said profit that will no doubt increase with each passing year?

  3. Andy Freeman says:

    > the policy of the Bush administration once again parlays into profit for a corporate entity?

    Is profit for a corporate entity a bad thing?

    I don’t care whether a corp makes money. I want more effective spending on education.

    If the thought that someone might make a buck bothers you, feel free to start a non-profit service that provides the same benefits. (I’ll bet that you pay yourself and other staff, so the only real difference is that the folks who provide capital don’t get return, but I’m not going to tell you how to run your biz.)

  4. Well, the Harcourt firm has a former state of Nevada superintendent for education associated with it by the name of Dr Eugene Paslov.

    Unfortunately, this is the same idiot who mandated that the school day be increased 5 minutes per class period over two weeks to
    compensate for 2 days that the schools were closed in 1979 due to snow in Las Vegas (yeah, I know, but it does snow here once in a while).

    The same guy also got rid of the ‘seniors’ get out 2 weeks early (though he did it the year after I had graduated), and I pointed out to him many years ago that “if they haven’t learned the material in 12 years, an extra two weeks isn’t gonna matter”.

    Harcourt should be ashamed to have hired this mental pygmy 🙂