MDE: Testing company's mistake didn't hurt MS students - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

MDE: Testing company's mistake didn't hurt MS students

JACKSON, MS (WLOX) -

Mississippi students will not be punished for errors made by the testing company NCS Pearson. 

Last week, the Mississippi Department of Education fired the company after representatives admitted they used the wrong table to score U.S. history exams for students on track to graduate this spring.

Wednesday, the MDE announced that after looking at the test results for 951 seniors, no students were negatively impacted by the scoring error. 

"Based on the data we currently have available at MDE, we have confirmed that no student was prevented from receiving a diploma as a result of the error by NCS Pearson," said Dr. Paula Vanderford, MDE’s chief of accountability.

Analysis of scores for the 951 students showed the following:

  • Of the 951 seniors, 197 passed the test and 754 failed. 
  • Of the 197 students who passed, 36 students benefitted from the score report error because the error awarded them one additional point. 
  • The MDE identified 10 students who graduated that should not have graduated because of the one additional point received on the assessment as a result of the score reporting error.
  • The state will not revoke any diplomas issued as a result of the NCS Pearson’s error.
  • Of the 36 students who benefitted from the error, 26 needed to meet additional graduation requirements to earn a diploma. Passage of the U.S. History assessment alone was not enough for them to graduate.

School districts will receive preliminary assessment results for their students on Friday, which will include the U.S. History results. MDE will provide guidance to district administrators on next steps should they have any questions about any particular student’s data.

Overall, 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.

The Mississippi State Board of Education voted Friday to rescind the renewal of its contract with NCS Pearson Inc., for 2017-18 and terminate the remainder of its 10-year contract. 
The SBE also 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 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. 

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. 

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