Under Pressure, Okla. Hires Measured Progress to Oversee Winter Tests

Managing Editor

Weeks after the abrupt withdrawl of a potential testing vendor, Oklahoma officials have steered past a potential crisis by reaching a deal with another company to deliver winter exams used to fulfill high school graduation requirements.

The state’s board of education on Friday entered into a sole-source contract worth $3.4 million with Measured Progress, a well-known company in the industry that does other assessment work with the state.

The contract comes less than a month after McGraw-Hill Education CTB, a company originally set to deliver the winter tests, told state officials they were withdrawing from consideration, in response to the state board of education delaying approval of its proposed contract to carry out the work.

Oklahoma officials had a difficult recent history with CTB, which the state blamed for not helping it avert a series of mishaps in its online assessments over the past two years. Those problems apparently weighed on the minds of board members, in putting off action on giving contract for the winter exams to CTB, based in Monterey, Calif.

As we reported recently, CTB’s withdrawl left Oklahoma officials in a precarious spot. The state needed to find a vendor to give a series of assessments known as “end-of-instruction” tests, scheduled to begin in December.

Passing those tests—which are also given at other points during the year—is a primary way for students to meet requirements for a high school diploma (though there are also backup options).

The question was whether Oklahoma officials would be able to convince any other companies to take on the winter testing work. Ultimately, the job was awarded to Measured Progress without a request for proposals having been issued, because there was no time for one, Tricia Pemberton, a spokeswoman for the state’s department of education, told Education Week.

Measured Progress has a separate contract with the state worth $34.5 million, and the state has received strong reviews from districts about the company’s services, response time when problems arise, and overall lack of disruption, she said. 

In a statement, Oklahoma’s office of management and enterprise services also backed the credentials of Measured Progress and its subcontractor, eMetric.

The organization are ready to “support the capacity, technical performance, and system availability required…for the approximate number of identified students in online testing,” the office concluded.

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