In Partnership with 74

Just in: LAUSD seeking refund for iPads with Pearson software

Craig Clough | April 15, 2015

Your donation will help us produce journalism like this. Please give today.

Istudents use ipadsn the latest chapter of the bungled  iPads-for-all program, LA Unified has informed Apple, Inc. that it will not pay for any future deliveries of iPads that have Pearson educational software on them and will also be looking to recoup the cost of any devices that did not work properly.

In a memo to Apple, LA Unified General Counsel David Holmquist said under the direction of Superintendent Ramon Cortines, the district “will not accept or compensate” Apple for any future deliveries of iPads that have Pearson software on them, and that the district is looking to “recoup the costs of Pearson licenses that we paid for but have been unable to use.”

He also said the district is “extremely dissatisfied” with the Pearson content.

The memo, dated April 13, suggests the district was still scheduled to purchase iPads with Pearson software despite Cortines’ canceling the $1.3 billion iPad program in December. It is unclear how many Pearson-loaded iPads the district was still set to purchase under old contracts, and Holmquist’s office and LA Unified’s communications office did not return phone calls seeking comment.

It’s also unclear how much money LA Unified will be looking to recover. The cost of each Pearson-loaded iPad was $768 per device, and the district has purchased roughly 35,000 of them but estimates that only 5 percent of its students have been able to consistently access the Pearson software, making the potential dollar amount in the tens of millions.

The cancellation of the program came in the wake of an FBI probe into possible bid rigging during its procurement process. The ambitious program had been set to rollout in phases and eventually get an iPad — loaded with Pearson educational software — into the hands of every student and teacher in the district. Pearson is one of the county’s biggest suppliers of educational materials.

The program was still in its early phases when Cortines cancelled it, and there are an estimated 35,000 devices loaded with Pearson curriculum currently in use in 69 schools, according to a district memo from LAUSD’s Deputy Superintendent of Instruction Ruth Perez. 

During one of the first big studies of the iPad pilot program, major problems and glitches with the Pearson software were uncovered when it was found that only one teacher out of 245 classrooms visited was using the Pearson curriculum.

In her memo, Perez outlined the numerous problems the district has encountered with the Pearson curriculum. According to Perez:

  • There are only two schools out of 69 that have the Pearson software that are still trying to use it.
  • Pearson System of Courses have resulted in less than five percent of the students within Instructional Technology Initiative — formerly the Common Core Technology Project — schools having consistent access to the content.
  • Students cannot consistently access content.
  • Pearson System of Courses only partially meets OCISS standards for universal access.
  • Pearson has not delivered data related to the Pearson System of Courses.
  • Attempts to make the Pearson System of Courses usable have required extraordinary, unsustainable, and un-scalable resources.


Read Next