Columbia, S.C. – February 22, 2007 – The same company that currently reaps millions of dollars to grade South Carolina’s controversial Palmetto Achievement Challenge Test (PACT) has now been awarded a contract to oversee reforms to the test. Minnesota-based Data Recognition Corporation, which is represented in South Carolina by political heavyweight Warren Tompkins’ lobbying firm, Tompkins, Kinard & Associates, won a $54 million contract in 2003 to grade the PACT.
Now, that same company has been awarded an $825,000 contract to recommend PACT reforms, an arrangement some consider a conflict of interest.
“Now that’s the fox guarding the henhouse,” said former State Board of Education member Terrye Seckinger.
“I would be more interested in hearing a fresh perspective on PACT than hearing from someone who has been providing PACT services for years,” said State Rep. Phillip Shoopman, a former member of the State Board of Education. “I have yet to meet a teacher who is thrilled with PACT, so going back to that well doesn’t make sense to me.”
If it's done for those seeking professional certifications and entry into graduate programs, then I have two questions:
- Why does the PACT test have to be done the way it is?
- Who stands to benefit/profit from the way it is presently being done?
About five years ago, when a friend of mine who was then on the State Board of Education was one of those who tried to stop local school districts from continuing to creep their start dates back to early August. Why the need for a change? They need more time to teach the PACT test ... to get the desired scores ... to rig the system.
Anyone who has been through college will remember those required general ed classes, where the professor was an adjunct or new on faculty who got stuck with the class. They had to be there, and so did we. To let each other off the hook, we agreed to show up for class, they'd "teach the test", we'd pass it and go on to real classes.
Well, that's the PACT test
Maybe it's no big deal that we graduate kids who show up my office unable to fill out a job application or pass a drug test, but when the PACT test has become such an obsession that it's now considered a higher priority than football season or condom distribution ... you know it's a real problem.
I'll bet THAT last sentence got your attention! I'm not sure about footballs and condoms, but if Mr. Rex would like to see the job application skills of high school graduates, I'd be more than happy to let him see what they turn in.
... I'll have more discussion about how we assess our state's student population next week, so please stay tuned.