Monday, January 4, 2021

Schools Matter: Curriculum Associates, "Learning Loss," and Corporate Gain

Schools Matter: Curriculum Associates, "Learning Loss," and Corporate Gain
Curriculum Associates, "Learning Loss," and Corporate Gain

Curriculum Associates (CA) started in a garage in 1969 with four employees, and for twenty years the company marketed supplementary basic curriculum materials to K-12 school systems.  In 1989, the original head of the company, Frank Ferguson, saw the testing accountability writing on the wall, and he expanded the focus of the company into the assessment market with the creation of TEST READY®  Mathematics.  

In 2008, Ferguson stepped down as CEO and hired Rob Waldron, who had previously run Kaplan's after-school tutoring division, which was funded in the early 2000s by billions of NCLB federal education dollars that ended up in corporate coffers.  This is a clip from a 2008 Harper's article by a former Kaplan employee:

In New York City, Kaplan provides NCLB- mandated tutoring for the high school Regents exams and the subject exams administered to students in the third through eighth grades.) Many educators argue that the gains from prep courses are negligible and the programs themselves ultimately harmful, since they drain precious funds and class time. A recent Chicago Public Schools study examining student performance on the Iowa Test of Basic Skills found “little difference between tutored students and those who were eligible but did not receive tutoring.” The price tag for supplemental tutoring in Chicago, which 60,000 students received in the 2004–2005 school year: $50 million.

In Waldron's first year as CEO at Curriculum Associates, CA did $26 million in business. By 2020, CA was doing $260 million a year and was in the top 10 education publishers in the world. 

You see, CA was one of the first companies to see the gargantuan profit potential in Common Core.  In 2008, the company aggressively created and marketed print materials aligned with Common Core. 

Then in 2011, CA entered the computer based assessment and personalized learning market with i-Ready, a CONTINUE READING: Schools Matter: Curriculum Associates, "Learning Loss," and Corporate Gain