$18 Million OK'd For Student Testing

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A national educational testing company criticized for mistakes in grading proficiency exams of more than 700 Nevada high school students has been given an $18 million extension on its contracts.

The state Board of Examiners, chaired by Gov. Kenny Guinn, voted Tuesday to approve contracts for Harcourt Educational Measurement to continue developing and grading tests for Nevada's elementary and high school students.

The Harcourt contracts are with the state Board of Education, which levied a $425,000 fine against the company that mistakenly informed 736 high school sophomores and juniors they had failed the high school proficiency math test given in April 2002.

Jack McLaughlin, state superintendent of public instruction, said Harcourt had performed satisfactorily since the foul-up last year.

The contract extension includes $13.2 million for developing and administering examinations in grades 3-8 and at the high school level to comply with the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Sixty percent of the money comes from the federal government and 40 percent from the state.

Another contract for up to $5.2 million is for other examinations required by the state and the federal act, all paid by the state.

State law requires the state Department of Education to contract with a nationally recognized company for the testing activities.