September 24, 2014

Dilemma for State: What to Do About Winter Testing?

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Update, Sept 25:

The Oklahoma State Board of Education delayed voting on a new $2.8 million contract for test vendor CTB/McGraw-Hill Thursday, deciding instead to look for other options.

 Department of Education spokesman Phil Bacharach said a special meeting will take place sometime within the next two weeks. He didn’t know what other choices the board would have, but said not doing winter testing could be one.

“It’s definitely an option, but I will not speculate on what the board will do,” Bacharach said.


Oklahoma may ask beleaguered test vendor CTB/McGraw-Hill to come back months after firing the company for a second consecutive year of testing troubles.

State Department of Education spokesman Phil Bacharach said the state Board of Education will be asked Thursday to approve a $2.8 million contract with CTB/McGraw-Hill to handle winter testing because no other company is willing to do it.

CTB/McGraw-Hill received $7.3 million to administer online testing for middle school students, and $6.2 million to administer end-of-instruction tests for high school students last school year before its contract was canceled.

The short time frame to create a new test, coupled with the changes made to the state’s academic standards, scared potential vendors away, Bacharach said.

That meant the only choices were to ask CTB/McGraw-Hill to return or to skip the required winter testing.

“It was definitely awkward going back to them,” Bacharach said. “I’ve heard they’ve been fairly easy to work with. I think they want to leave on a high note.”

If the contract is approved, CTB/McGraw-Hill would only handle winter testing, and a new vendor should be in place by spring, Bacharach said.

The state gave about 51,000 end-of-instruction tests last winter.

It was not immediately known if CTB/McGraw-Hill made any assurances that there would be no more testing problems if it were rehired. The company’s contract wasn’t renewed in June after a hardware failure prevented nearly 8,100 students from finishing their exams during one day of testing in April.

That  was not the first time the state had encountered problems with CTB/McGraw-Hill.

Server problems disrupted testing in April 2013 as students in both Indiana and Oklahoma tried to get online for their exams.

  • Laura Stevens

    Mr. Robson, I just called the State Ed Dept as a concerned parent, and the first person I talked to in the assessment office said it’s not that they’r rehiring McGraw-Hill, but rather that the original contract goes through the winter of this year. She then said she’d pass me to Lisa Chandler. I got Connie Hill’s voicemail, left a message, and haven’t heard back. Does this reply make any sense to you? Thanks, Laura Stevens