Nevada Hires Data Recognition Corp. as New Test Vendor

Managing Editor

The state of Nevada has officially agreed to hire Data Recognition Corporation as its testing vendor for a suite of high-stakes assessments, a decision that comes as the state attempts to move past a flurry of trouble with its exams earlier this year.

Education Week initially reported last month that Nevada was poised to hire DRC, though the decision still had yet to be officially approved by the state’s board of examiners. On Tuesday, the board gave its blessing to the DRC contract at a meeting.

The new contract with DRC is worth $51 million over four years. The contract was officially awarded to McGraw-Hill Education/CTB, but that company has announced its plans to get out of the state testing business, and is transferring its work in that area to DRC. Given that changeover, Nevada officials say that once a few procedural steps are cleared, they expect DRC, which is based in Minnesota, to perform the state’s assessment work.

Data Recognition Corp. beat out 10 bidders for the Nevada contract. According to the state, the other contenders were: Measured Progress (the state’s most recent vendor); ACT; EDU2000 America Inc.; Link-Systems International, Inc.; NCS Pearson; Public Consulting Group; Questar Assessment Inc.; the College Entrance Examination Board (the College Board); Vantage Learning, USA; and WestEd.

Nevada this spring joined a list of states that were plagued by testing breakdowns. A series of delays and interruptions derailed state testing in Nevada, including exams being given in Clark County, home to Las Vegas, and the nation’s 5th largest school district.

The state’s testing vendor at the time, Measured Progress, came under a barrage of criticism for not anticipating those problems. Measured Progress said after the breakdowns that at least some of the responsibility belonged to another vendor, the American Institutes for Research. Measured Progress officials said that the AIR was late in delivering software vital to making sure the exams could be delivered without glitches. (At the time, the AIR told Education Week that there were only “minimal delays” with the software, and that the company had been quick to fix problems.)

DRC officials told Education Week last month that it plans to use its own online testing engine, DRC Insight, to deliver the state’s exams, rather than the AIR test engine platform.

The board of examiners includes Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval. On Tuesday, the Republican officeholder pressed DRC officials about their record in other states conducting state testing, in search of assurances that Nevada would not have a recurrence of the disruptions, according to a report in the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

A DRC official told the board that the organization had a record of smooth management of online testing in other states, and was confident that it would do the job in Nevada, the newspaper reported.

Not long after testing problems erupted earlier this year, Nevada state officials told Measured Progress and the Smarter Balanced state testing consortium, of which Nevada is a part, that the state considered them to be in breach of contract, because of the test delays and disruptions.

This week, Nevada officials said the state, as represented by the state attorney general’s office, has not yet reached a settlement with Measured Progress and Smarter Balanced in that matter.

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