OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ With results from state-mandated student tests a month-and-a-half overdue, the state Board of Education on Thursday fired the company handling them.
``It is the first time that has happened in the state of Oklahoma,'' State Superintendent of Schools Sandy Garrett said. ``It is really a big deal in the education world when you fire your testing vendor. We are sorry we had to do it.''
The state Education Board has paid less than half of its $2.1 million contract to Illinois-based Riverside Publishing, and is refusing to make any more payments until it gets all the results from customized state exams taken by Oklahoma's fifth- and eighth-graders, and a customized test taken by third-graders.
The results were due May 1.
John Laramy, Riverside's president, said on Thursday he hopes to have the scores shipped by the end of August.
In the meantime, the company is being fined $1,800 a day _ $600 for each set of tests.
Garrett said Riverside won the contract with Oklahoma last year after it underbid its competitors by about $2 million.
``They came in with a low bid, and we got low service,'' board member Luke Corbett said.
Laramy said he was surprised and disappointed by the board's action.
``I thought we were communicating clearly in terms of the work we were doing, and I went down in March to meet with them long before the May 1 deadline to let them know we were not going to meet the contractual deadline,'' he said.
``I told them we were going to make every effort to make sure the work we did for them was right and accurate and that was our first priority.''
Tim Vansickle, vice president of custom assessments for Riverside, said the delay had to do with differences in this year's tests.
``This is a transition year for us since we took these tests over from a previous contractor,'' Vansickle said.
When finished, the reports will be distributed to parents and the state will start identifying low-performing and high-challenge schools.