Oklahoma education department OKs $8.9 million testing contract, again
BY ANDREA EGER World Staff Writer
Friday, December 07, 2012
12/07/12 at 8:57 AM
The Oklahoma State Department of Education has a new testing contract for the second time this fall because of an earlier oversight.
The state Board of Education on Thursday approved a one-year, $8.9 million contract with CTB/McGraw Hill for tests administered statewide to public school students in grades 3-8.
The contract includes the option of four annual renewals, which if approved, would add up to a total price of $28 million over five years. It was the second time in a matter of months that the Monterey, Calif.-based CTB/McGraw Hill was chosen in a competitive bidding process for that portion of Oklahoma's school testing program.
"Why are we voting on this now when we didn't vote the first time?" asked board member Joy Hofmeister.
Steve Hagar, deputy director for central purchasing in the state Office of Management and Enterprise, told the state board members that the first contract had to be canceled and reopened for bidding because it had not been put before them for a vote.
He and other state officials explained that the board's approval of such a contract is no longer a legal requirement but it was included in the initial request for proposals that was part of the bidding process. They indicated that another bidder in the process could have protested the validity of the contract on those grounds.
"Because we didn't follow through with that, that's why we had a problem," Hagar told the Tulsa World after the meeting. "I don't know that we couldn't have defended it, but we just decided to cancel (the first contract) and rebid."
Maridyth McBee, assistant superintendent for accountability and assessment for the Education Department, told the board that CTB/McGraw Hill was ultimately selected through a blind evaluation of the bids.
Board member Lee Baxter asked how their cost compared with the other bidders, and McBee said it was the highest but most responsive bid to the state's testing program needs. She said the host of services the contract covers includes the development, administration, scoring, analysis of results and ongoing checks for accuracy and effectiveness of the exams.
That particular contract covers all of the various subject tests administered to students in grades 3-8, as well as optional benchmark assessments that schools can use to track student progress throughout the academic year.
Last year, the state Education Department selected CTB/McGraw-Hill as its new vendor for end-of-instruction exams administered to students at the end of seven secondary school subjects after significant delays and data errors by its previous EOI contractor, Pearson.
Original Print Headline: State Ed board OKs $8.9 million contract
Andrea Eger 918-581-8470