Minnesota gets compensation for computer glitches during MCA testing

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The state has come to a resolution with its testing contractor following disruptions that forced education officials to suspend standardized testing this spring, the Minnesota Department of Education announced Monday.

Students and districts throughout the state experienced various technical glitches and other issues over several days of Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCAs) online testing, which Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellious called "unacceptable."

As part of the agreement, Pearson – the testing contractor – will credit the Department of Education $1 million in fees and provide up to $4.68 million worth of additional services and support at no additional cost to the state, the department notes.

Also included in the agreement, Pearson will:

  • Provide funding to support ACT exam testing and augment funding provided by the state so all eligible students are given the chance to take the test.
  • Provide the use of various online tools to help students and teachers improve their performance and improve college readiness.
  • Pay for a study to determine testing options for a new 10th-grade writing exam that was required by the 2015 education bill.
  • Provide additional training and support for staff and districts, as well as implement improvements to technical support and reporting.
  • Will move MCA testing to a newer "cloud-based testing platform" – the platform had no reported disruptions during the 2014-15 school year.

The disruptions during the testing days are said to have had no effect on student test scores, the Department of Education said last week.

Sen. Charles Wiger, DFL-Maplewood, chair of the Senate Education Finance Division, released a statement Monday following the department's settlement announcement, saying he was happy the state reached an agreement with Pearson so quickly.

But he said he is still concerned the glitches could have affected test scores, saying he plans to hold hearings and visit schools to get administrators' accounts of the disruptions.

"I consider it my responsibility to investigate this often-frustrating testing environment and hope to come to the legislature with ideas to make this process less stressful for students and more effective at showing us what still needs to be done in our schools," Wiger said.

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