Pearson's History of Testing Problems


compiled by Bob Schaeffer, Public Education Director

FairTest: National Center for Fair & Open Testing

Updated February 20, 2018


1998 California – test score delivery delayed


1999-2000 Arizona – 12,000 tests misgraded due to flawed answer key


2000 Florida – test score delivery delayed resulting in $4 million fine


2000 Minnesota – misgraded 45,739  graduation tests leads to lawsuit with $11 million settlement – judge found "years of quality control problems" and a "culture emphasizing profitability and cost-cutting." (FairTest consulted with plaintiffs’ attorneys)


2000 Washington – 204,000 writing WASL exams rescored


2002 Florida -- dozens of school districts received no state grades for their 2002 scores because of a “programming error” at the DOE. One Montessori school never received scores because NCS Pearson claimed not to have received the tests.


2005 Michigan -- scores delayed and fines levied per contract


2005 Virginia   --  computerized test misgraded – five students awarded $5,000 scholarships


2005-2006 SAT college admissions test – 4400 tests wrongly scored; $3 million settlement after lawsuit (note FairTest was an expert witness for plaintiffs)


2007-2011 Mississippi – subcontractor programs correct answer as incorrect resulting in erroneous results for almost four years during which time 126 students flunked the exam due to that wrongly scored item. Auditors criticized Pearson’s quality control checks, and the firm offered $600,000 in scholarships as compensation


2008 South Carolina --“Scoring Error Delays School Report Cards” The State, November 14, 2008


2008-2009 Arkansas -- first graders forced to retake exam because real test used for practice


2009-2010 Wyoming – Pearson’s new computer adaptive PAWS flops; state declares company in “complete default of the contract;” $5.1 million fine accepted after negotiations but not pursued by state governor


2010 Florida – test score delivery delayed by more than a month – nearly $15 million in fines imposed and paid.


2010 Minnesota--   results from online science tests taken by 180,000 students delayed due to scoring error


2011 Florida – some writing exams delivered to districts without cover sheets, revealing subject students would be asked to write about


2011 Florida – new computerized algebra end-of-course exam delivery system crashes on first day of administration


2011 Oklahoma– “data quality issues” cause “unacceptable” delay in score delivery --

Pearson ultimately replaced by CTB/McGraw Hill


2011 Guam – score release delayed because results based on flawed comparison data; government seeks reimbursement --


2011 Illinois – 144 student in five Chicago schools wrongly received zeroes due to scoring error. The state sought nearly $1.7 million from Pearson, which could not explain how the errors occurred.


2011 Iowa – State Ethics and Campaign Finance Disclosure Board opens investigation of Iowa Education Department director Jason Glass for participating in all-expenses-paid trip to Brazil sponsored by Pearson Foundation --


2011 New York – Attorney General Eric Schneiderman subpoenas financial records from Pearson Education and Pearson Foundation concerning their sponsorship of global junkets for dozens of state education leaders --


2011 Oklahoma – State identifies 18 significant problems with Pearson’s tests leading to $8 million penalty settlement.


2011 Wyoming – Board of Education replaces Pearson as state’s test vendor after widespread technical problems with online exam (


2012 New York – “Pineapple and the Hare” nonsense test question removed from exams after bloggers demonstrate that it was previously administered in at least half a dozen other states –


2012 New York – More than two dozen additional errors found in New York State tests developed by Pearson --


2012 Florida – After percentage of fourth grades found “proficient” plunges from 81% to 27% in one year, state Board of Education emergency meeting “fixes” scores on FCAT Writing Test by changing definition of proficiency.


2012 Virginia – Error on computerized 3rd and 6th grade SOL tests causes state to offer free retakes.


2012 New York – Parents have their children boycott “field test” of new exam questions because of concerns about Pearson’s process


2012 Oklahoma – After major test delivery delays, state replaces Pearson as its testing contractor


2012 New York – More than 7,000 New York City elementary and middle school students wrongly blocked from graduation by inaccurate “preliminary scores” on Pearson tests


2012 New York – State officials warn Pearson about potential fines if tests have more errors


2012 Mississippi – Pearson pays $623,000 for scoring error repeated over four years that blocked graduation for five students and wrongly lowered scores for 121 others


2012 Texas – Pearson computer failure blocks thousands of students from taking state-mandated exam by displaying error message at log on


2013 New York – Passages from Pearson textbooks appear in Pearson-designed statewide test, giving unfair advantage to students who used those materials


2013 New York – three Pearson test scoring mistakes block nearly 5,000 students from gifted-and-talented program eligibility


2013 Worldwide – Pearson VUE testing centers around the globe experience major technical problems,  leaving thousands unable to take scheduled exams or register for new ones


2013 New York – Second error found in New York City gifted-and-talented test scoring makes 300 more students eligible for special programs


2013 England, Wales and Northern Ireland – General Certificate of Secondary Education exam in math leaves out questions and duplicates some others


2013 Texas – State Auditor finds inadequate monitoring of Pearson’s contract: vendor determined costs of assessment changes without sufficient oversight and failed to disclose hiring nearly a dozen former state testing agency staff


2013 Virginia – 4,000 parents receive inaccurate test scorecards due to Pearson error in converting scores to proficiency levels


2013 New York – New Pearson Common Core textbooks are “full of errors,” including in sample test items


2013 New York – Pearson fined $7.7 million by New York State for using its non-profit foundation arm to steer business to the firm


2014 National – Pearson notifies students who took the Miller Analogies Test (MAT) in 2011 that their exams had been miscored


2014 Florida – State education commissioner seeks penalties after schools in 26 counties suspend Pearson’s new computerized tests because server problems prevent students from logging on and freeze screens


2014 New York – Printing errors result in missing questions and blank pages in Pearson-designed statewide math assessment


2014  Texas – Pearson emails out two test questions to teachers days before the exam is administered


2014 Texas – STAAR test answer sheets shipped to Pearson are lost, requiring students to retake the exam in the middle of summer


2014 Virginia – Error in scoring Pearson’s SOL Civics & Economics test question results in 500 changed scores, including 224 students moving from failing to passing


2014 Texas – Pearson goes after University of Texas–Austin education professor who testified that the company’s products do not measure what they claim to measure


2014 Colorado – Pearson test-scoring error delays release of Colorado Measures of Academic Success scores


2014 Minnesota – State expresses concern that Pearson computer testing technology is outmoded and cannot support new online exams


2014 New Mexico – American Institutes of Research claims “bid-rigging” in Common Core award to Pearson


2015 Colorado – Pearson’s glitches slow social studies and science tests



2015 New York – Quality of Pearson-designed questions on state exam challenged


2015 California – Pearson battles over award of state testing contract to rival firm


2015 Minnesota – Statewide testing suspended due to Pearson computerized administration system collapse


2015 Florida – State end-of-course testing suspended due to PearsonAccess log-in problems


2015 Virginia – State testing interrupted three times because of Pearson testing system problems


2015Indiana – Cyber-attack on Pearson computerized exams raises security concerns,


2015 New York – State ditches controversial test-maker


2015 Texas – Pearson loses bulk of state testing contract after repeated problems


2015 Minnesota – Pearson Pays $5.7 million in fines and services for testing screw ups


2016 New York – Missing and unlabeled pages in English exam cause confusion


2016 New Jersey – Statewide testing cancelled due to computer problems


2016 Indiana – Online testing encounters glitches


2016 Great Britain – Answers published online day before test administration


2016 Indiana – Test score reporting delayed again


2017 Mississippi – Nearly 1000 tests misgraded; graduation may have been affected


2017 Mississippi – Testing company fired after exams misscored


2017 Indiana – Test-maker goof invalidates scores at 21 schools


2018 Australia – Failure of online medical licensing exams forces hundreds of retakes

PearsonTestErrorChronology.pdf258.25 KB