Yasmeen Khan is a reporter covering education. You can find her stories on the air and on SchoolBook.org, WNYC’s education website.
Pearson, the testing company, says it stands behind the math and reading tests the company developed for New York this year and, in a letter to the State Education Department, defended its decision to include a now-notorious passage about a pineapple and a hare on the eighth-grade English language arts exam.
Pearson has not spoken publicly about the controversy over the reading passage, or about other test errors. But Time.com obtained the letter with their defense of the test passage, and posted it in its online "School of Thought" column Friday. A spokesman for the State Education Department confirmed the letter's validity.
The letter, from Jon S. Twing, Pearson's executive vice president and chief measurement officer, states that the story was field-tested in New York, and that Pearson was not aware of any controversy associated with the passage in other states.
In fact, "The Pineapple and the Hare" was used in at least six statewide assessments going back to 2004. The story "performed reasonably well" according to Pearson's assessments, said Mr. Twing, because it provided students with a range of easy to challenging questions.
"The Pineapple and the Hare" passage and test questions can be found here.