Pearson gets contract to handle TNReady test scoring this year

Pearson Education has landed an $18.5 million contract with the state to score TNReady assessments this year, reports The Tennessean. The previous vendor company had been fired and state officials took advantage of a law that says the state can enter into non-competitive bidding in cases of emergencies arising from any unforeseen cause.

“After we terminated the contract with Measurement Inc. on April 27, we began quickly collaborating with state central procurement in securing an emergency vendor,” said Education Commissioner Candice McQueen. “It is usually done with someone that has prior experience in the state.”

Pearson previously administered the state’s standardized tests from 2003-14 and is used in Tennessee for an optional test in kindergarten through second grade.

“Pearson, known for scoring NAEP (The National Assessment of Educational Progress) for three decades, is currently partnering with 25 states across the country, including Kentucky, Virginia, and Indiana,” McQueen said in a letter to schools directors.

The company was also set to be the state’s test vendor through the PARCC Consortium, which administers a Common Core State Standards-aligned test, before lawmaker backlash led to the five-year, $108 million contract with Measurement Inc.

But that move didn’t work out for the state after Measurement Inc.’s online testing platform in February couldn’t meet the testing demand. The state switched to paper tests, but the company then couldn’t deliver all of the materials needed.

The state canceled its contract with the company in April and has paid about $1.6 million of the contract for the company to develop the tests. The state was expected to pay about $30 million of the $108 million contract with Measurement Inc. to score tests.

“The state budgeted a total of $30 million for Measurement Inc. this year; therefore at this point, we anticipate being well under budget on assessment (costs),” Department of Education spokeswoman Ashley Ball said in an email.

Note: A Department of Education handout on Pearson’s scoring process is HERE. An email sent by Education Commissioner Candice McQueen to school directors across the state, as provided to media by her office, is below.

Text of Candice McQueen email
Date: Monday, May 16, 2016 at 10:35 AM
Subject: Vendor for scoring

Directors,

Thank you for your patience as we have worked to finalize a partner for scoring TNReady this year. We have now executed our contract for scoring and reporting 2015-16 assessments and have information to share with you regarding returning both used and unused testing materials. Your testing coordinator should receive shipping labels today. As you are busy wrapping up the academic school year, thank you in advance for incorporating the return of testing materials to your already incredibly full days.

After terminating the contract with Measurement Inc. on April 27, the department, in collaboration with the state’s Central Procurement Office (CPO), immediately began the process of securing an emergency contract with a vendor with which the department already has an existing relationship. Pursuant to T.C.A. § 12-3-505 state agencies can purchase, in the open market, services for immediate delivery to meet emergencies arising from any unforeseen cause. In collaboration with CPO, the department has selected Pearson to score assessments from the 2015-16 school year. Pearson is the Tennessee’s current vendor for the SAT-10 test, an optional test districts can administer in kindergarten through second grade. Also, Pearson, known for scoring NAEP for three decades (better known as the “Nation’s Report Card”), is currently partnering with 25 states across the country, including Kentucky, Virginia, and Indiana. In fact, Pearson developed, administered, and scored grades 3–8 tests and/or high school End of Course exams in Tennessee from 2003 through 2014. Our emergency contract with Pearson is only for scoring and reporting of 2015-16 assessments. This will include scoring high school End of Course exams, Part I grade 3–8 tests, and any completed Part II grade 3–8 exams. High school score reports, as well as grade 3–8 raw data, will be shared in fall 2016 as we have previously communicated.

Attached is an FAQ designed to answer questions about the selection of the scoring vendor.

The department is currently working on a separate procurement process in collaboration with CPO to select a vendor to develop and administer next year’s assessment. We will communicate information related to next year’s test as we move through the procurement process.

Finally, thank you for your leadership throughout this school year. My hope is that you are closing out the year proud of the tremendous work your students and teachers have accomplished. I look forward to staying in close touch over the summer as we have additional updates to share.

Best,

Candice