Education, Testing

Test Makers and Oil Companies: Business Model Bedfellows?

“It has often struck me that a conflict of interest exists across education systems, state or private, where the awarding bodies of high stakes examinations are also owned by the very same companies who sell the content, that must be learned, to pass the test….

“Imagine if automotive companies were owned by the oil industry. We would still be driving around in cars that did 5 miles to the gallon with no sign of a real commitment to clean, sustainable energy in sight. End to end business models, cartels and monopolies tend to be bad for innovation and progress.”

Thus begins a thought-provoking article on “The Education Economy,” posted by Graham Brown-Martin for Learning {Re}imagined. It includes this video interview with Sir Ken Robinson (who once delivered the most viewed TED talk in history) discussing resemblances between “Big Education” and “Big Pharma/Tobacco.”


What do you think? Is there a “conflict of interest” at work here? Is Robinson on to something about the dangers of an ever-growing “Education Economy?”


Feel free to comment below or on the blog’s Facebook Page.

2 thoughts on “Test Makers and Oil Companies: Business Model Bedfellows?”

  1. Of course! I had a friend working for a testing company and she said that teachers were required to take horrible licensure tests because the company (and the state) needed to make money.

    It also questions the point of education, doesn’t it? If we give that much value for test scores, then that’s our philosophy of education. We shouldn’t be surprised that that’s what students value in their education. I’m not entirely against it. There’s definitely something we can learn from test scores…I just see it more as a part of the whole than the sum of all its parts.

    1. Agreed. Someone in my study group the other day said that as soon as you release a test meant to measure intelligence/achievement, it gets invalidated, because we start to teach with the test in mind. Now the test no longer measures what it’s intended to measure (intelligence/achievement) but how well one can take the test itself.

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