Goodbye Harcourt, Hello Pearson -- Again

ISBE announced a few minutes ago that it would switch back to Pearson after its unhappy and largely unsuccesful experience with Harcourt.  Some will say it's a political move, and perhaps it is, but it's also a much-needed substantial change of course that was probably much easier for Ruiz than Dunn to implement:

"The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) today awarded a contract to Pearson Educational Measurement (PEM) for administrative services for the Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT) beginning in spring 2007. The boards vote follows problems that arose in the spring 2006 testing cycle when Harcourt Assessment, Inc. (HAI) did not deliver tests and answer documents to schools on time, and produced tests that included printing and collation errors.

UPDATE:  Here's some news coverage from the Trib and WBEZ about the changeover, which may not be as complete as it initially appeared:

Education Officials to Choose a new Test Provider Today
Illinois education officials today are set to announce the company that will administer next year's state achievement test for elementary school students. The State Board of Education is changing test providers, after this
year's problems with Harcourt Assesment.

New vendor gets school tests contract Tribune
A new company was awarded a nearly $33 million contract Wednesday to handle the printing and delivery of standardized tests in Illinois schools, but the company blamed for major delays this year will still be a part of the process.

More from the press release:

With todays action we are taking an important step to move past this
years problems with delivery of tests to our schools, said ISBE
Chairman Jesse Ruiz. While the test itself received high praise, there
were major problems in the delivery process. We had to take action to
make sure that didnt happen again. We look forward to working hand in
hand with Pearson so that Illinois schools get next years tests on
time and that the whole process goes smoothly.

"In a special meeting, the board unanimously voted to award the contract to PEM for the following services connected with ISAT:

    * ISAT printing;
    * test distribution;
    * test retrieval;
    * providing raw scores from multiple choice and open response test questions to Harcourt Assessment Inc. for final scoring;
    * providing on-line services for review for demographic data and score review;
    * preparing printed reports of assessment results for students and schools;
    * and providing data disks of report results to school districts.


Were delighted to be working with Illinois again. We were involved
with the states first statewide assessment in 1988, and we have worked
with Illinois schools for over fifty years, said Douglas Kubach,
president and CEO of Pearson Educational Measurement. Were looking
forward to applying our resources and quality processes to the ISAT in
2007 and beyond.

"ISBE and PEM will begin work immediately for the 2007 testing cycle.
The initial term of agreement between ISBE and PEM is through September
2009 for a maximum amount of $32.9 million. The ISAT measures
individual student achievement relative to the Illinois Learning
Standards. The results give parents, teachers, and schools one measure
of student learning and school performance. Last month ISBE awarded the
contract for administrative services for the Prairie State Achievement
Exam (PSAE) to ACT beginning in the 2007 testing cycle. The PSAE
measures the achievement of grade 11 students relative to the Illinois
Learning Standards for reading, mathematics, and science."

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