- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 21, 2015

LAS VEGAS (AP) - Nevada is ending ties with the test-maker it blames for a debacle in the handling of Common Core assessments that halted the mandatory online exams this year.

For the last decade, the state had used New Hampshire-based Measured Progress to implement federally mandated standardized testing.

But the relationship soured this spring, as a widespread computer system outage crippled testing and derailed what was supposed to be a major shift in standardized testing. This was the first year for Nevada and many other states to move into an online test that allowed for questions to adapt in difficulty based on a student’s answers, with questions aligned across states to the hotly contested Common Core standards.

A logistical nightmare ensued in classrooms in Nevada, Montana and North Dakota when students were unable to log in. It prompted all the states to offer schools a pass from testing. But it raised an unprecedented issue with student participation, as a federal mandate tied to millions of dollars in funding requires at least 95 percent of all students to test.

The outage hit Nevada the hardest with only a third of all students able to complete the exam. The state has since filed a breach-of-contract notice with Measured Progress. Montana and North Dakota officials also said they have discussed possible legal action against the company.

Now, Nevada’s education officials say they are endorsing a new four-year contract with California-based CTB/McGraw-Hill, which could not immediately be reached for comment. The $51 million deal is expected to be approved by the state Board of Examiners at its next meeting.

The state said the bidding process for a new testing contract began before any issues escalated because the current contract with Measured Progress was due to expire.

Judy Osgood, a state education department spokesman, said Measured Progress wasn’t chosen based on its latest bid, although those who evaluated the proposals were aware of the complications with the outgoing vendor.

Measured Progress said in a statement that it was sorry to lose its partnership with Nevada. “We’ve enjoyed a longstanding collaboration with the Nevada Department of Education and with Nevada educators. Our partnership resulted in groundbreaking assessment programs that provided meaningful information to improve student learning,” said Martin Borg, company president.

Montana and North Dakota said they remain in their current contracts with the company.

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