- Associated Press - Saturday, March 4, 2017

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Nebraska officials are looking for an innovative approach to student assessment from six bidders that want the job.

The officials are poring over the six proposals for a contract to be awarded in May. The bids range from almost $3.6 million to $7.7 million for the first year.

State tests measure whether students are meeting Nebraska’s academic standards. The officials want assessments that test for a “higher depth of knowledge” and include rigorous questions. They’re also seeking adaptive tests in which a computer selects questions in response to a student’s answers. A correct answer means the next question is tougher. Experts view adaptive testing as a more accurate gauge of knowledge.

Officials intend to award a one-year contract with options to renew for up to four years, according to the Omaha World-Herald (https://bit.ly/2lqp6rs ). The contractor would start July 1 and must have the new tests in English language arts, mathematics and science ready to go by March 2018.

The Nebraska Department of Education could stick with its current contractor, Data Recognition Corp., which submitted a proposal. Or the state could try commercially available products from other bidders.

Nebraska is putting a premium on reliability in the next contract.

“I don’t want one where I’m sending an email out to everyone, going, ‘Sorry, the technology didn’t work again,’” Nebraska Education Commissioner Matt Blomstedt said. The state also wants flexibility to set up testing the way it wants, he said.

The state already made a major change in testing for this year: All 11th-graders in public schools will take the ACT exam this spring at the state’s expense. The exam replaces the Nebraska State Accountability tests for the high school juniors.

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Information from: Omaha World-Herald, https://www.omaha.com


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