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Online Test Results in Mont., Nev., N.D., to Be Reviewed

Cross-posted from the Marketplace K-12 blog

We recently reported on the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium moving forward with plans to review its open-source test delivery platform, which some state officials believe may have contributed to assessment breakdowns this spring.

But there's also a related inquiry that's in the works by the multi-state consortium. Smarter Balanced is paying to have an outside organization examine the test results in three states that experienced disruptions this spring: Nevada, Montana, and North Dakota.

The review of the test results is being undertaken by the National Center for the Improvement of Educational Assessment, a nonprofit in Dover, N.H., that works on a bevy of testing issues.

In all three states, the 2015 tests were administered by Measured Progress, but they also used a test-delivery platform created for Smarter Balanced by the American Institutes for Research.

After Nevada schools ran into problems giving their online tests, Measured Progress said the AIR was late in delivering elements of the platform, which was partly to blame for testing breakdowns in the state. The AIR said those complaints are off-base.

In a letter sent to the state schools chiefs in all three states last week, Smarter Balanced's deputy executive director, Luci Willits, said the center was collecting data from Measured Progress that it needs to conduct the review.

Smarter Balanced, in a subsequent e-mail to Education Week, said that the review will focus on making sure the three states' test scores are valid and can be reported accurately.

The maximum cost of the review will be $100,000, and funding will come from the membership fees states pay to the organization, the consortium said.

In addition to the review of test scores, Willits said that Smarter Balanced has, based on feedback from those three states, created a statement of work and RFP for plans to make additional "enhancements to the test-delivery system."

Smarter Balanced is an independent operating unit of the University of California, Los Angeles, and through that university's purchasing process, the consortium says it is negotiating a contract with a vendor to begin work on those test-delivery improvements.

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