This Is Disturbing: Pearson Monitors Student Social Media

Look at this…  Disturbing may be too kind a word for it.  Creepy comes to mind.  A school in New Jersey is notified  by the New Jersey Department of Education that one of their students has tweeted about a test question.  How would they know this?  Because Pearson is monitoring student social media.


You can catch the full story here.   Needless to say, Pearson has a lot of explaining to do, as does the New Jersey Department of Education if they think this is even remotely ok.

Update: Elizabeth C. Jewett, Superintendent of Watchung Hills Regional High School District, issued a statement yesterday about the release of her email:

On Friday, March 13, 2015, published a story referencing an email I had sent to other superintendents about issues regarding PARCC testing and Pearson’s monitoring of social media. The email shown in his article is authentic. It was an email I sent on March 10, 2015 at approximately 10:00AM to a group of superintendents to share my concerns and to see if other schools had a similar experience. I did not authorize the release of this email nor am I aware of who did release it. I am also not aware of the motives they may have had behind the release. That said, I completely stand behind my comments as they represent not only my views and concerns; they also represent the views and concerns of our Board of Education.
The article references instances involving students during PARCC testing and any related disciplinary action. For student privacy issues, we cannot comment on any of the specific students or discipline referred to in the article. What I am able to share is that all issues have been dealt with in accordance with our Code of Conduct, Academic Integrity and Acceptable Use of Technology Policies.
Our main concern is, and will always remain, supporting the educational, social and emotional needs of our students. The privacy and security of student information remains the utmost priority for our district.
The district will have no further comment on this matter at this time.
Elizabeth C. Jewett

6 thoughts on “This Is Disturbing: Pearson Monitors Student Social Media

  1. Easy. Just scan all social media for key words, not individual students’ tweets/posts. If “PARCC” is tweeted, well, that would be a clue. Not hard and, frankly, it should be done. Everything on the net IS public, remember!

    1. Why should it be done? I understand how its done (I do social media consulting). Scanning for customer service and scanning for the purposes that Pearson is doing is entirely different IMHO.

      1. Exactly. Scanning social media to monitor how people are responding to a product or branding is one thing. If thousands of people are saying that Dunkin Donuts’ cookie-dough filled donut tastes like garbage, they’re going to make changes.

        But to be able to identify an individual behind a tweet with 100% confidence means that after they found the tweet, they then clicked over to that individual’s profile to figure out who dared to say such a thing. That’s where it crosses the line from “good business practice” to “things a creeper might do.”

        1. Here’s the rub: if you don’t like your CHILD’s publicly published comments/thoughts to be monitored, take away their twitter account. Otherwise, you have no reasonable expectation of privacy from any individual or organization.

  2. I’m sorry, but this is truly laughable. These people are actually shocked that their kids’ social media posts are being “monitored?” When you tweet or post on Facebook, you are PUBLISHING your thoughts for the world to see. Twitter content is public, period. Facebook postings can be made private, so unless you specifically make an effort to limit your posts to your friends or a specific person you should EXPECT that your information can be read by ANYONE. Neither the NJDOE nor Pearson violated anyone’s rights here, people. Parents, teachers (including superintendents), and kids, are all IGNORANT of what Facebook and Twitter are all about. So if you want to express your outrage, first LEARN about the Internet, and how social media sites work and make money. Then, direct your energy to educating people about whether it’s even APPROPRIATE for kids to be on Twitter and Facebook.

  3. I’m curious to know the exact content of the tweet. Was it a disparaging remark about the test? Based on accounts of the PARCC tests from my child and fellow students the tests are filled with questions with no answers (math), system errors (on-line calculator malfunction), and incomprehensible narrative on the English tests. The students think the tests are a joke and a waste of time. My child had to miss a study session in AP Government to take a practice PARCC. REALLY?! It seems Pearson delivered a faulty product and is now trying to put the focus on students who dare to speak out against this test. The initial reaction claiming the tweet was an instance of cheating because it happened during testing strikes me as a very paranoid reaction. Mmmmm, when will everyone realize the emperor has no clothes?

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