Nevada to Recoup $1.8M From Common-Core Group Over Testing Mishaps

Managing Editor

Nevada officials announced Tuesday that a common-core assessment consortium will credit the state $1.8 million as compensation for problems that derailed a spate of its assessments last year.

The state’s attorney general, Adam Paul Laxalt, said the accord is part of a pre-litigation settlement with the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, which Nevada joined in 2010 to work together on developing tests.

The state’s department of education–which said last year’s problems have been fixed–also had relied on the testing vendor Measured Progress to deliver the exams, known as criterion referenced tests.

But in March of last year, a number of those exams were disrupted when students struggled to log on and stay on the system, resulting in students failing to complete the exams, the AG’s office said. Federal officials said earlier this year that they would not penalize the state for not producing required test results during the 2014-15 academic year, because of the mishaps.

Last year, Laxalt, an elected Republican, announced that the state had reached a settlement with Measured Progress for $1.3 million.

As part of the settlement with Smarter Balanced, Nevada will receive credit of $996,895 against its 2015-16 membership fees to Smarter Balanced, which is now affiliated with the University of California, Los Angeles.

It will also receive about $800,000 to pay for various services and studies, which include a $250,000 to review whether an open-source testing system is capable of meeting Nevada’s statewide testing needs; $450,000 worth of improvements to the test-delivery system so that it can meet “appropriate standards of quality and performance”; and $5,000 in support and training, including video training for teachers, in Clark County, home to Las Vegas.

Numerous states have been beset by problems delivering online tests in recent years. Some of those problems lingered for days, while others were resolved quickly. Regardless of their duration, they have infuriated elected officials and parents and fed anti-testing agitation across the country.

Vendor reimbursements to states in the face of legal and political pressure have also become common.

“My office is committed to ensuring that all vendors hired by the state deliver their promised  goods and services,” Laxalt said in a statement laying out the settlement.

Nevada state schools superintendent Steve Canavero, in a statement paired with Laxalt’s, called the accord a “fair settlement” that will help the state improve its testing system. He said Nevada had just finished a “very successful testing period” in which 200,000 students completed Smarter Balanced online tests.

“The issue was resolved amicably and we’re pleased that Nevada’s  students and teachers were able to successfully complete testing this year,” said Tony Alpert, Smarter Balanced’s executive director, in an email.

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