Pearson subcontracts their test-writing out to other companies who hire people on what's barely above minimum wage to write their tests questions.
What I don't understand is, if Common Core is a federal thing, why doesn't the Federal Government put together a panel of educators to write the curriculum and test questions? Why leave it to a contractor and subcontractors? How are they more qualified?
Actually, I do understand, though I don't understand why Gates thinks it's a good idea and is backing it if he's serious about philanthropy. The answer, obviously, is money. Common Core isn't about teaching or standardizing education. It's about giving Pearson and other test-writing and test-prep businesses their handouts. The car companies got theirs. Airlines get it all the time. Testing companies want their cut of the taxpayer jackpot too.
But a Federal panel would fail. The reasons why is simple: to be put on the panel is an increased burden on the educators who partake in the panel, with no reward. So nobody will want to be a part of it except people who have something else to gain. Mainly, those who cannot actually effectively teach would want to bolster their career by being a part of this. Or those who want an in into industry or perhaps even politics. And the reason there's no reward is because teachers have no prestige in this country. Teaching, education, these are not highly-valued professions and activities. Most adults (save for certain cultures and levels of affluence) don't value education, and pass this onto their children. They'd rather have that fancy 60" TV or new car than send their kids to afterschool test prep. They treat teachers as government-paid babysitters or worse, substitute parents, expecting teachers to do things that they themselves are supposed to be doing for their children.
How do we change this attitude? Birth control is a start. That eliminates a whole class of would-be parents who are both unqualified and ambivalent on parenting. But popular media is the real key, the goal to this. Only they can affect people's perception of education, both fictional media (yes, we know it's all fake Hollywood B.S., but there are subconscious effects) and non-fiction like the news. And popular media is not going to do anything about this because there's no money in it (Look at the latest Muppet series and compare with the original, which funny enough, media considers a "children's show"; Jim Henson is rolling in his grave right now).
If Bill Gates is serious about fixing education, he needs to first fix culture. Maybe buy Disney, whose holding the keys to American culture right now (which is sitting both in and outside their vault). Good luck with that one.