This story was updated at at 2:20 p.m. to reflect a correction. The $483 rate reflects the payment to Pearson for recruiting, training and managing the testing monitors. Pearson would not disclose how much individual monitors earned.
The former Fox schools superintendent, who left the district sorting through allegations of libel and credit card misuse, had a new, temporary job this spring — checking for test integrity at schools.
Dianne Critchlow was hired by Pearson, a company that holds a contract with the state to monitor administration of exams.
During Missouri’s required standardized testing for public school students in April, she went to Oakville Elementary in the Mehlville School District as part of the state’s quality assurance visits, according to documents outlining the monitoring. She conducted the same type of visit at three other area schools. Pearson would not disclose how much Critchlow earned.
At least one School Board member was furious when he found out about Critchlow's hiring.
“Are you kidding me? Quality assurance?” said Mehlville School Board member Jamey Murphy. “It is of great concern to me to know that this individual, with her track record, was brought into Mehlville schools. The lack of discretion used by Pearson and the lack of oversight by DESE is troubling. We hold our district employees up to high standards and ask that others do the same.”
Critchlow was involved in controversy last year in the Fox School District after nasty comments about district critics posted on a Topix website were traced to her home, as well as to the homes of several other administrators.
Last June, she agreed to retire but denied she had made the comments. Her husband was fired from his job as director of the Fox district’s Bridges Alternative School; other administrators were reprimanded.
State auditors are probing district records, and the district is doing its own review of credit card records.
The state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education hired Pearson to find current or former educators to observe Missouri Assessment Program exams at 40 schools across the state — 11 were in the St. Louis area. The observers had to meet all of the background check and fingerprint requirements for educator quality.
Critchlow was at Oakville Elementary from 9 to 11 a.m. April 24. She watched a test session and interviewed a test examiner afterward. She visited Parkway Southwest Middle for an hour, Fairway Elementary in the Rockwood School District for 1.5 hours and Lonedell Elementary in Franklin County for the entire day, administrators said.
The state is paying Pearson $483 per observer, per day. That rate includes the recruiting, training, managing and travel of testing monitors.
Monitors are paid for training and are required to file reports after their visits. An invoice from Pearson to state education officials shows that Critchlow worked five days. In total, a dozen monitors cost the state $30,454.
The summary provided to the state from Pearson showed no issues with test security or cheating. It noted “some questions regarding a particular monitor were directed to DESE and Pearson by media and other individuals. As a result, DESE and Pearson will add this topic to a post-project meeting agenda and discuss any relevance to future monitor assignment or procedures,” according to the report.
Murphy said he wrote to the commissioner about the issue.
“Under the current circumstances surrounding this individual, I want to know what makes her qualified to perform quality assurance inspections when her performance as Fox C-6 superintendent is questionable, at best?” Murphy said.
A spokeswoman for Pearson said Critchlow successfully completed the duties of the short-term assignment.