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Company Pays $14.7 million to State Over Testing Delays

We've written our share of stories about costly state testing foul-ups that resulted in delays, botched scores, and headaches all around. One of the more recent high-profile setbacks occurred in Florida, where a company responsible for delays in reporting on the state's standardized tests has reportedly agreed to pay more than $14.7 million in damages to the state.

Pearson, a major testing company, will pay the state that amount for the late delivery of FCAT scores this past spring, according to the Orlando Sentinel. It will also reimburse individual school districts for their costs, the newspaper reported.

In a Sept. 13 memo to the Florida Department of Education, Pearson official Douglas Kubach said the company was taking steps to not repeat the errors that occurred during the 2009-2010 testing cycle.

"Pearson is committed to improving the quality of the assessment services we provide to
Florida and to regaining the trust of Florida stakeholders in our services," Kubach wrote. "To that end, we have implemented a number of changes to improve the delivery of assessment services to address the issues that occurred in the 2009-10 administration cycle."

Kubach describes a series of improvements Pearson is making to its data management, its process for checking its data systems prior to the test being given, and its secure online testing platform.

Florida is hardly alone in its testing troubles. To offer just a few examples, serious problems have occurred in Illinois, and at the national level, and even internationally, such as when officials in the United Kingdom terminated a contract with a subsidiary of the U.S.-based Educational Testing Service, after a series of testing problems.

Are these sorts of mishaps inevitable, given the challenges and complexity of administering standardized tests, and the continual desire to improve them? How can states prevent them?

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