Oklahoma State Board: Signing McGraw Hill Testing May Be 'Unavoidable'

Thursday, September 25th 2014, 8:01 pm

The state school board delayed a decision to rehire a testing company blamed with repeated failures, but the delay may not change the outcome to give CTB-McGraw Hill a new state contract.

The state has fired both of the nation's two big testing companies, Pearson and McGraw, but CTB McGraw was the last one out of the door.

Now the state wants to get one more test out of them, for 50,000 students, and almost $3 million.

Several members of the state school board objected to a new contract for CTB-McGraw Hill, just months after the company lost their testing contract with the state.

9/25/2014 Related Story: Oklahoma Education Board Tables Decision On Testing Contract

“I'm not voting for $3 million for McGraw Hill for anything. To do it's irresponsible for the board,” said Lee Baxter with the State Board of Education.

It was CTB-McGraw testing that left thousands of students unable to complete exams over the last two years.

While the Board of Education considers a new contract, the company's failures remain under investigation by State Attorney General, Scott Pruitt.

“Whether they do or don't do that is not a legal question, that's a policy question, and a question that they must answer. I am very concerned about a testing company that has failed to perform for two consecutive years. Obviously the confidence that I have in their ability to do that prospectively is not very strong,” Pruitt said.

Tulsa's superintendent Keith Ballard said he didn't believe it when told CTB might get a new contract.

"Well I'm not in favor of CTB-McGraw Hill doing the testing because they certainly have a record of bungling it,” he said.

"I'm pretty upset with CTB as well as you are, and a I share your anger, but I also have an obligation to make sure that we're compliant with state law,” said State Superintendent Janet Barresi.

She and her staff said state mandates require the testing and giving the old company a new contract is unavoidable.

They said no other company could produce a test in time for students to take it this winter.

“To tell them that they have to wait until the spring assessment means those students would move on to another class then have to come back and review material and perhaps wouldn't have the best opportunity to succeed,” Barresi said.