On January 31, 2012, Pearson announced a contract from Smarter Balanced and PARCC to develop a “Technology Readiness Tool”:
The SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) today announced they have awarded a contract to Pearson to develop a new Technology Readiness Tool to support states as they transition to next-generation assessments.
According to Pearson’s press release, this tool is open source:
This new open source tool, with the assistance of the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA), will support state education agencies as they work with local education agencies to evaluate and determine needed technology and infrastructure upgrades for the new online assessments to be launched by the two consortia in the 2014-15 school year.
And, this contract was paid for out of Race to the Top money initially awarded to Smarter Balanced and PARCC:
SMARTER Balanced and PARCC both received grants from the federal Race to the Top Assessment Program to work with states to create next-generation, comprehensive assessment systems. The development of the Technology Readiness Tool is one component of their initiatives to establish infrastructure and content for common online assessments. Intended to launch in spring 2012, the tool will be developed using open source technology, allowing the consortia free access to the source code.
If I understand this correctly, the consortia paid Pearson to develop a diagnostic tool using open source code so that the consortia could have access to the source code that they were paying Pearson to develop?
On second thought, I don’t know if it’s possible to understand this correctly.
As the dust settles, it looks like Smarter Balanced and PARCC – two consortia who won grants to develop tests aligned to the Common Core – handed over federal funds to Pearson – who is also developing assessments and services aligned to the Common Core. This is what corporate welfare looks like.
I would love to be surprised, but I also suspect that the codebase from the “open source tool” will never see the light of day. If anyone can point me to more information, please add a comment with more information.