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What Teachers Want to Know: When Will Testing Company Employees Get Laid Off?

Everyone has to feel the pain of budget cuts—except the companies being paid millions to make standardized tests.


This spring, school districts across the nation sent record numbers of layoff notices to teachers, all in the name of balancing education budgets. But, there's one area that most states and districts aren't cutting—the cost of standardized tests. States and local school districts pay testing companies millions of dollars annually, and with calls to evaluate teachers according to tests results and expand the number of subjects tested coming from the White House and Department of Education, the amount of cash being shelled out to testing companies is sure to skyrocket.

Here's how it works: In order to be compliant with the federal No Child Left Behind Act—which requires student testing—states first pay consultants and testing companies to write multiple choice tests aligned with individual state standards. Once kids take the tests, the states then pay those same companies to score them. The federal government does kicks in some cash to help cover the costs, but thanks to cutbacks, that money doesn't defray the whole expense or pay for the people districts and states hire to manage the entire process.

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Thanks to a Corrupt Bureaucracy, California's Schools Would Crumble During an Earthquake

The Field Act is a good piece of legislation that requires California school buildings to meet high inspection standards. Too bad it isn't enforced.


When it comes to earthquakes in California, the question is not if but when the state will be hit by another big one. But just how prepared the state's schools? I wondered that after last month's 9.0 temblor in Japan, and wrote about statewide efforts through The Great California ShakeOut to teach kids what to do during a quake. I even wrote that California's schools are generally structurally sound thanks to "the 1933 Long Beach Earthquake, which resulted in the Field Act being passed, requiring 'schools to be built to higher inspection standards and construction standards.'"

Except, thanks to a major series launched this morning by California Watch, we now know that's not true. Officials in the Division of the State Architect, the chief regulator of construction standards for public schools actually haven't enforced the Field Act. Thousands of schools across the state have serious seismic issues—structural flaws and safety hazards that were reported during construction—and they could put student's lives in danger during a quake.

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