Detroit, Education — June 3, 2014 at 7:00 am

Maybe it’s time EAA students send a bill to the corporation that is using them as guinea pigs


In Ipswich, Massachusetts, a group of sixth graders, led by their teacher, had a novel idea: send a bill to the corporation who used them as guinea pigs to test their newest standardized test.

Two sixth grade math classes lost an entire week’s worth of instruction taking a trial run of a new test and now they want payment for their time.

The state randomly selected Ipswich Middle School teacher Alan Laroche’s A and B period math classes to take the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers test drive. […]

During class last Monday, May 19, a teacher jokingly mentioned that the students should get paid for taking the test since their participation helps the PARCC and at the end of class the students pressed Laroche further on the idea.

“The kids proceeded to tell me that PARCC is going to be making money from the test, so they should get paid as guinea pigs for helping them out in creating this test,” said Laroche. “So I said, ‘OK, if that’s the case and you guys feel strongly then there are venues and things you can do to voice your opinion, and one would be to write a letter and have some support behind that letter with petition.”

At 8 p.m. that night Laroche received a shared Google document with an attached letter from A-period student Brett Beaulieu, who asked that he and his peers be compensated for their assistance.

“I thought it was unfair that we weren’t paid for anything and we didn’t volunteer for anything,” said Beaulieu. “It was as if we said, ‘Oh we can do it for free.’”

Beaulieu used his math skills in the letter, determining that the two classes would collectively earn $1,628 at minimum wage for their 330 minutes of work.

For the past two years, students in the schools run by the Education Achievement Authority – Governor Snyder’s failed education-on-the-cheap model – has been using EAA students as guinea pigs to test out BUZZ, the computer platform that is used both for education services and to track kids’ progress. The school district hasn’t paid a dime for the software because it’s never been used anywhere else. EAA students are literally the beta testers.

Given that the students didn’t volunteer to be test subjects and given that their education achievement has not improved, it seems fair to me for them to ask to be compensated. After all, the EAA gets paid for each one of them to go to school and the company who makes BUZZ, Agilix, is getting free testing saving them incredible amounts of money and time.

If I were an astute attorney, I think I’d get right on that. It’s the least we could do for students who continue to be failed by our state under the guise of “doing something”.