Tag Archives: Pearson

More News on Critchlow/DESE/Pearson

3 Jun

Update: KMOV did a story, too.

Local media is on my report about Pearson Education hiring disgraced Fox superintendent Dianne Critchlow as a MAP testing observer as part of a contract with the state education department, DESE, like white on rice. Both the Post-Dispatch and the Oakville Call published articles about it on Tuesday. I provided the results of my research to both reporters, upon their requests, but alas, this blog received no acknowledgement in the articles. Such is blog life, I guess.

Both articles added news and reaction to the story. Here are the highlights:


The P-D provided the names of the other schools that Critchlow graced with her presence as a Pearson MAP observer. They were:

  • Parkway Southwest Middle School (Parkway District)
  • Fairway Elementary (Rockwood District)
  • Lonedell Elementary (Lonedell District, not Fox)

Then there’s this tidbit:

The summary provided to the state from Pearson showed no issues with test security or cheating. It noted “some questions regarding a particular monitor were directed to DESE and Pearson by media and other individuals. As a result, DESE and Pearson will add this topic to a post-project meeting agenda and discuss any relevance to future monitor assignment or procedures,” according to the report.

That’s you, guys. Those of you who wrote to the Commissioner of DESE and Pearson’s Missouri Manager made that happen. If you didn’t email them, I don’t think it’s too late. These articles should provoke another round of angst. If we can cause DESE and Pearson some consternation, maybe they will do their due diligence next time. Here are the people to contact:

– The Commissioner of DESE, Dr. Margie Vandeven, at commissioner@dese.mo.gov

– Pearson’s DESE point of contact at nancy.foerstel@pearson.com

I also think it was worthwhile to contact the Mehlville superintendent, despite that district telling me they can’t do anything. I think DESE would listen more to a superintendent or school board member who calls them to complain, compared to some random Joe Schmoe. Here’s what one Mehlville board member, who also contacted DESE, had to say:

“Are you kidding me? Quality assurance?” said Mehlville School Board member Jamey Murphy. “It is of great concern to me to know that this individual, with her track record, was brought into Mehlville schools. The lack of discretion used by Pearson and the lack of oversight by DESE is troubling. We hold our district employees up to high standards and ask that others do the same.”

Oakville Call

The Call revealed that DESE should have known about Critchlow’s hire before the site visits took place:

[Mehlville Director of Communications and Public Relations John] Wolff said DESE “disavowed” Critchlow’s employment when Mehlville officials contacted the state agency. But if the contract was followed, DESE would have known Critchlow was going to Oakville Elementary since Pearson agreed to send DESE a list of the names of its quality-assurance inspectors and their qualifications at least a week before monitoring, along with a list of specific monitoring assignments for each building.

Here’s a quote from Wolff:

“Why would they send her to our school? There’s no one else but Critchlow? It’s like a joke,” Wolff said. “You hire her as a quality inspector, but she’s accused of misusing money, she’s accused of mislaying things, of slander, of libel. Seriously, that’s the lady you want to be in charge of quality? I’m speechless, I still am — it makes no sense.”

This article also revealed that “Longtime Oakville Middle School Principal Mike Salsman is Critchlow’s brother.” Since Dianne did a site visit Oakville Elementary, it’s not a total conflict of interest, but it might be considered a bit sketchy.


Disgraced Former Fox Superintendent Hired by Pearson Education

20 May

One would think that allegations of defamatory online comments directed at parents, misuse of district credit cards, securing overpaid, unsupervised jobs and scholarships for one’s own children, hiring cronies, misuse of district property, and more would disqualify someone from employment at most reputable businesses. However, such actions apparently do not matter to international education conglomerate Pearson, which hired disgraced former Fox C-6 superintendent Dianne Critchlow for a short-term assignment to do Quality Assurance site visits during last month’s Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) testing as part of a contract with the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), according to information from DESE and the Mehlville School District.

I received a tip that Critchlow was spotted at Oakville Elementary during MAP testing in April. I was able to determine through Sunshine Law requests that Critchlow is working for Pearson, which was contracted by DESE to do MAP site visits. During these visits, assessors interview district personnel who administer the tests, document training, review documents, and visit classrooms. Here is a form that Critchlow would have filled out after her visit to Oakville Elementary. It is interesting that Critchlow, who ignored and flouted policies as Fox superintendent, is now charged with assessing schools’ adherence to testing policies.

DESE was unable to identify at what other schools Critchlow performed site visits.

In Pearson’s contract with DESE, the company states that it asks the Missouri State Teachers Association (MSTA) for recommendations for retired teachers to hire to do these site visits. However, the JeffCo MSTA representative tells me that they did not recommend Critchlow.

Pearson Education is a British company known for its involvement in Common Core and standardized testing. This is from a Politico profile of the company:

A POLITICO investigation has found that Pearson stands to make tens of millions in taxpayer dollars and cuts in student tuition from deals arranged without competitive bids in states from Florida to Texas. The review also found Pearson’s contracts set forth specific performance targets — but don’t penalize the company when it fails to meet those standards. And in the higher ed realm, the contracts give Pearson extensive access to personal student data, with few constraints on how it is used.

Pearson also gained notoriety for a perplexing pineapple question on a New York standardized test.

I wondered if Critchlow inked any deals with Pearson while she was superintendent? I couldn’t find any evidence that this occurred.

Action Items

Does this revelation about Critchow’s new gig bother you? If so, here are some actions you can take:

– Contact the Commissioner of DESE, Dr. Margie Vandeven, at commissioner@dese.mo.gov. Ask her if she approves of DESE contractors hiring disgraced former superintendents to work in Missouri schools performing contracted DESE duties.

– Contact Pearson’s DESE point of contact at nancy.foerstel@pearson.com and ask if Pearson makes a habit of hiring disgraced former superintendents.

– Forward this to your friends in the Mehlville district. If you live in the Mehlville, e-mail your superintendent at riddern@mehlvilleschooldistrict.net and ask him to tell DESE to stop sending Dianne Critchlow into your schools. [Update: the district tells me that they have no say in this matter.]

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