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State Board Ends Assessment Contract with NCS Pearson Due to Score Reporting Error

June 16, 2017

JACKSON, Miss – The Mississippi State Board of Education (SBE) today voted to rescind the renewal of its contract with NCS Pearson Inc., for 2017-18 and terminate the remainder of its 10-year contract.

Also, the SBE voted to secure a one-year, emergency procurement to contract with Questar to administer the 2017-18 U.S. History assessment, as well as assessments for Biology I and 5th and 8th grade science. NCS Pearson has administered those assessments for Mississippi since 2000.

The emergency procurement is necessary to have the required tests in place for students who need to be tested in December. Questar has a multiyear contract with the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) to administer the Mississippi Assessment Program (MAP) English language arts and Mathematics assessments for grades 3-8 and high school.

“The decisions made today are in keeping with the Board’s duty to act in the best interest of students. Continued errors that directly impact students are unacceptable,” said Rosemary Aultman, Board chair.

The score reporting error on the spring 2017 U.S. History test is the third time that NCS Pearson discovered an error that impacted students. The first error occurred in 2012, when the answer choices for one question on the Biology I test were transposed, which caused 126 students to receive failing scores. The second error took place in 2015, when online testing was interrupted for grades 5 and 8 science.

NCS Pearson’s U.S. History error affected 951 assessments that were scored early to provide results to seniors before graduation.

Approximately 27,000 high school students took the spring 2017 U.S. History assessment. To date, scale scores have been reported only for the 951 seniors who needed their results to determine whether they met graduation requirements.

Because emergency procurements are limited to one year and the MDE will require similar services to continue beyond any emergency contract, the SBE will issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) by Aug. 1 to seek multiyear bids for the administration of assessments for U.S. History, Biology I and 5th and 8th grade science starting in the 2018-19 school year. State law requires testing in U.S. History, and federal and state laws require Biology I and the other science assessments.

Media Contact: 
Patrice Guilfoyle, APR
Director of Communications

Jean Cook, APR
Communications Specialist