Hawaii to look for new testing company for schools
Hawaii superintendent of schools says Harcourt errors has thrown state testing into chaos and placed it under NCLB risk.
The state Department of Education said it will seek a new test development company after several recent testing mix-ups.
The state is dropping San Antonio-based Harcourt Assessment Inc., which has contracted with the state for the past 30 years.
The decision not to extend Harcourt's contract comes after errors were discovered in the testing materials for the second year in a row. Some testing materials also were sent to the wrong schools and others received incomplete materials.
"This series of errors has thrown our testing program into virtual chaos and places the department at risk under the federal No Child Left Behind Act," schools Superintendent Pat Hamamoto said in a letter to Harcourt. "It is difficult for schools to see Harcourt as a credible provider, and therefore, the department is unable to justify using Harcourt's services."
Harcourt had been under a four-year $22.1 million contract with the state to provide and score standardized tests. The company will develop, administer and score next year's Hawaii State Assessment and a new science assessment. The deal will be terminated after that, Hamamoto said.
"Any flaw is one flaw too many, however, and we recognize that we're not perfect," Harcourt spokesman Mark Slitt said. "We're striving for perfection. Through all the hard work that we've put in improving our quality-control processes and putting in additional checks and cross-checks, we've reduced substantially the number of defects from last year."
Slitt said this year's materials contained a single error. Last year, Harcourt acknowledged at least 45 flaws on reading and math tests taken by thousands of Hawaii students.
"This year that was one live test item that was flawed," he said. "There was a seventh-grade math item that had a flaw, despite our best efforts of checking and rechecking."
That particular item will not be counted, and no students will be adversely affected, he said.
Harcourt provides standardized testing materials in about 20 states, and intends to bid on Hawaii's new contract when it is made available.
Information from: The Honolulu Advertiser, http://www.thehonoluluadvertiser.com
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