Online Assessments

Company Fails to Return Test Scores for 200,000 Nevada Students

For the second year in a row, Nevada is experiencing serious problems with the online standardized tests given to thousands of public school students.

The state is again threatening legal action against the company it paid millions of dollars to administer the tests and return the scores, according to the Reno Gazette-Journal.

Minnesota-based Data Recognition Corporation (DRC) hasn’t provided Nevada with the individual test scores for its 200,000 tested students, who completed their exams in spring 2016, and DRC won’t explain why.

“The Nevada Department of Education in good faith has reached out to DRC to maintain a good existing relationship, but DRC has stonewalled the Nevada Department of Education,” Nevada Deputy Attorney General Gregory Ott wrote in a letter to DRC this week.

In the letter, obtained by the Reno Gazette-Journal, Ott informs DRC of a breach in contract by failing to meet deadlines without explanation. Nevada is paying $51.5 million to DRC to test all students annually in third through eighth grade in English language arts and math, as required by federal law. Testing occurs each spring, according to the Gazette-Journal.

DRC replaced another testing company that Nevada dumped after last year’s testing fiasco. The previous company, Measured Progress, had different problems: Its computer servers kept crashing, preventing two-thirds of Nevada students from being tested in 2015.

Testing servers did not crash this year. All students were successfully tested, the Gazette-Journal said.

“We know the scores are there,” State Superintendent of Public Instruction Steve Canavero told the Gazette-Journal.

But DRC is having its own difficulties. DRC did not return calls for comment made by the Gazette-Journal, nor are they actively talking to state officials. In a statement provided to THE Journal on Aug. 24, Susan Engeleiter, CEO and president of DRC, said: "We respectfully disagree with the complaints in the letter and have sent a formal response to the department."

Ott said the state is “troubled by DRC’s utter failure to communicate why” test scores haven’t been returned to Nevada.

Canavero said he doesn’t want a protracted legal battle. He just wants Nevada’s families and public schools to receive the students’ individual test scores. It would be their first opportunity to see if students are meeting Nevada’s new Common Core academic standards.

DRC was supposed to provide the test scores by Aug. 1, before the start of the 2016-17 school year, according to the contract and the Gazette-Journal. The results would have been used to help place students in classrooms and identify the children’s needs.

State officials estimated that families and schools probably won’t know the student scores until Nov. 1, the Gazette-Journal reported.

About the Author

Richard Chang is associate editor of THE Journal. He can be reached at [email protected].