Oklahoma Attorney General Investigating School Testing Disruptions

Tuesday, August 5th 2014, 2:23 pm
By: News On 6

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt is building a case against the company he says is responsible for Oklahoma's widespread state testing failures. He wants to know how it affected students - and how much it cost taxpayers.

Nobody's forgotten the computer failures that disrupted testing for more than 8,000 students this spring, as well as similar glitches the year before. In April, schools suspended testing after a computer glitch occurred with the servers at CTB/McGraw-Hill, the testing vendor.

Pruitt is going after McGraw-Hill - asking superintendents just how disruptive those failures were.

As teachers go door-to-door Tuesday night passing out backpacks to students before the first day of school, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt isn't letting last year's state testing failures slide by.

4/13/2014 Related Story: State Testing Suspended In Oklahoma Schools Due To Computer Glitch

"We've had two, two years of what I would call broken promises to the kids and parents and school districts of the state of Oklahoma," he said.

Pruitt is sending letters to Oklahoma superintendents, asking questions like:

  • "Was there only a single disruption in online testing or did multiple disruptions occur?"
  • "Did any students incur adverse consequences because of testing failure?"
"These are very important tests. and we need to make sure that as they're conducted by these vendors that the state retains, that they do their job," Pruitt said. "And when they fail to do their job, they need to be held accountable."

While superintendents, principals and teachers are focused on getting back to school, it's up to them whether to participate in Pruitt's inquiry.

Briarglen Elementary Principal Tracy Weese says during this tumultuous time in Oklahoma education, her teachers are focusing on what they can do -- themselves -- to help their students.

"What can we provide for our students? This is something we can provide for our students to help level that playing field because we know that, yes, there is an achievement gap," said Principal Tracy Weese.

But Pruitt is looking for someone to hold accountable: in this case, McGraw Hill. That's the testing company fired two years into a 5-year, $14 million state testing contract.

"Our office is involved in making sure that the obligations promised under that contract are upheld and they were not here, and someone needs to obtain accountability," said Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt.

Pruitt says he knows there was a breach of contract. He knows there were damages, but now he's trying to learn the extent of the harm. Based on that, he says there could be a lawsuit.

Read Scott Pruitt’s letter to the school districts.