Education Board OKs Talks to Replace Troubled Testing Firm

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The Nevada Board of Education has approved the start of contract negotiations with a New Hampshire-based testing company, signaling what may be the end of a troubled relationship with the state's current firm.

Measured Progress was one of eight companies that submitted bids to handle the state's system of criterion-referenced tests and high school proficiency tests.

The East Coast company was recommended by Nevada Department of Education staff after a review of all bids, and the board approved the beginning of negotiations during a meeting Friday.

Texas-based Harcourt Education Measurement has had a $18 million contract with the state, but its performance has been marred by errors in the past two years.

In 2002, Harcourt miscalculations led 736 Nevada students who had passed the mandated high school proficiency exam to believe they had failed the test. As a result of this error, the company was fined $425,000.

In 2003, the company incorrectly scored mandatory basic skills tests for thousands of Nevada students in third and fifth grades. Harcourt agreed to provide $454,750 in restitution and services to Nevada over the next four school years.

Any agreement with Measured Progress would have to be approved by the board.

Also Friday, the board did not grant approval for dual credit courses at Nevada State High School, a proposed charter school that would partner with Nevada State College at Henderson and would allow about 70 students to earn both high school and college credits.

The charter is sponsored by state board member John Hawk, who did not participate in the vote.

The school had been scheduled to open in the fall.