Get sick, get well
Hang around a ink well
Ring bell, hard to tell
If anything is goin' to sell
-- Bob Dylan

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Princeton Review busted for fraud

No Child Left Behind has been a cash cow for test publishers and private tutoring companies.Now one of the biggest of this small group of powerful and politically-connected companies has been busted for fraud.

On Tuesday, the United States attorney’s office in Manhattan announced the indictment of one of the largest and most well-known private test-prep and tutoring companies, the Princeton Review, for falsifying records and accepting millions of dollars in reimbursements for testing services it never provided to New York City schoolchildren. -- The New York Times.

Mary Ann Giordano, writes at the NYT School Book blog:
The public education system these days is rife with ways that private enterprises can make money. Under the federal No Child Left Behind law, student testing has increased, creating opportunities for test-making companies. New technology has opened the door to online educational services, causing an explosion of virtual classrooms. And federally mandated tutoring services for under-performing students has proven to be a cash cow for tutoring companies..
According to the Huffington Post:
Alleged dishonesty associated with Princeton Review's bonus incentives is reminiscent of widespread cheating among Atlanta Public School educators, in which teachers and school administrators said they were pressured to maintain high scores under No Child Left Behind, as student performance on standardized exams is tied to school funding and teacher performance assessments.
One interesting side note: In 2007, Princeton Review was taken over by Mitt Romney's company, Bain Capital.  Recently the company sold off its test prep operations. It's chief competitor Kaplan offers up its analysis of why TPR failed in the testing business, leading to its focus on getting tutoring contracts with large school districts.
After receiving a $60 million infusion from Bain Capital Ventures and another private equity firm in 2007, the company embarked on an ambitious makeover plan, including buying up its regional franchises. While bringing the franchises in-house made sense in a lot of ways, in some ways TPR’s timing couldn’t be worse: The company was doubling-down on its brick-and-mortar business just as more and more test preparation moved to an online delivery format. The proliferation of lower-priced online test prep options made it hard for the company to maintain its large footprint and keep investing in its core businesses at the same time.

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