Pearson, the testing contractor for Minnesota, has reached a settlement with the state worth more than $5 million after students and educators faced a plague of testing issues this past spring.
State officials had to cancel two days of the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments after the company's system faced a cyberattack. There were also complaints of students being booted off during the exam, issues with calculators and long lag times. This year's testing season marked the first time the state has issued the reading and math assessment tests completely online.
"The disruptions experienced by students and teachers this spring were simply unacceptable," Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius said in a statement. "Pearson has been working with us in good faith to arrive at this significant settlement that provides us with assurances, and recognizes the magnitude of the impacts that the failures had on the state."
As part of the settlement, Pearson will give the state a $1 million credit from its contract, which valued at $33 million over three years. The company also will provide additional services, such as testing preparation programs, training and support to districts, valued at nearly $4.7 million.
Education Minnesota, the union representing the state's public teachers, told parents last week that they should not trust this year's MCA results, despite an audit that said the glitches had no statistical impact on test scores.
"While we don't think the settlement is high enough, given the widespread frustrations and anxiety caused by the technical glitches, at least Pearson is willing to take some responsibility for the disruptions," said Education Minnesota President Denise Specht.
Sen. Chuck Wiger, Education Finance Division chairman, said he was pleased with the agreement. Wiger and other legislators included language in the education finance bill requiring the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) to compensate districts for interruptions during this year's testing season. Cassellius also will have to report test suspensions to the Legislature.
"MDE and the Legislature should be diligent in making sure there are no further test disruptions," said Wiger, DFL-Maplewood, in a statement. "We will hold Pearson accountable if there are further problems."
Education department officials said Pearson will move MCA testing to a newer testing platform that is more secure.
Doug Kubach, Pearson's president of school, said the company is pleased they were able to "bring a positive resolution to this issue."