Controversial testing vendor pulls out of Oklahoma schools; State scrambling for replacement

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OKLAHOMA CITY -  Just a week after the Oklahoma State Board of Education decided to delay taking action on choosing a vendor for winter assessments,   CTB/McGraw-Hill says it will withdraw from the bidding process.

The board voted Sept. 25 to table a would-be sole-source contract with CTB for the winter assessments.

The Oklahoma State Department of Education said an estimated 51,000 tests are expected to be given during that period, the bulk of them being end-of-instruction (EOI) exams necessary to meet high school graduation requirements.

OSDE staff had recommended CTB/McGraw-Hill for the $2.8 million contract because there wasn't enough time to implement a new testing platform before the winter testing begins in mid-November.

The OSDE voted in June to end the state contract with CTB/McGraw-Hill, after testing failures over two years.

Meanwhile, CTB/McGraw-Hill is being investigated by the Attorney General’s office for those testing failures.

State School Superintendent Janet Barresi was asked to resign twice last week after being criticized for wanting to rehire CTB/McGraw-Hill for winter testing.

But Barresi said three other testing companies who were contacted showed no interest in taking the job.

"I don't like doing this," Barresi said of her suggestion to rehire the company. "Students pursuing graduation requirements, that had failed previously, should have an opportunity to retake again."

She said the law requires students to be offered testing three times a year.

Not having testing till the spring, she believes, would hurt students wanting to graduate high school.

"My fear is we'll get the same splendid performance from McGraw Hill that we've gotten the last two go-arounds," Board Member Lee Baxter said last week. "I'm not going to vote to give another three million dollars to a failed vendor."

Since several testing companies showed no interest in taking the Oklahoma job, State Department of Education Chief of Staff Joel Robison says they are reaching back out to all of them again, this time offering them some flexibility.

Robison believes moving the winter testing window from November to December, or even January, might convince a company to take the job.

"If you give them a very short time window to implement these things, it increases their chance of failure, which they do not want and we do not want either," Robison said.

Now the board is expected to hold a special meeting within the next several weeks to find another vendor for testing assessments.

Click here to read more on CTB/McGraw-Hill and state school testing.




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