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After glitches, Minnesota parts ways with testing company

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Minnesota is in the market for a new standardized testing vendor for its schools after state education officials agreed to drop the company that oversaw glitch-plagued assessments.

Documents made public late Wednesday state that the testing contractor American Institutes for Research won't seek the renewal of its three-year, $61 million contract, which expires in 2014, the Associated Press reported. The state and AIR have one more round of testing together, in the spring.

It was time to part ways, state officials agreed. “Quite simply, what happened last spring is not acceptable,” department chief of staff Charlene Briner, told the Star Tribune.

State officials have grown increasingly impatient with the Washington, D.C.-based company for a number of problems, including technical troubles experienced by 15,000 students at 400 schools during a two-day test session in April. A The glitches meant students could not take the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments online on the designated test day. The assessment measures whether students meet state academic standards.

Jon Cohen, executive vice president of American Institutes for Research, at the time said the company had identified the cause of a slowdown and did not expect any more problems, but about 50 Minnesota school districts experienced trouble the following week.

An analysis later determined that the glitches likely did not affect student scores.

Other problems included issues with the way test questions were designed, scoring methods, the company's poor communication and the fact that the company missed deadlines, state officials have said. However, they do not plan to push for penalties against the contractor, the AP reports.

Cohen has blamed state officials, citing unreasonable demands.

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