Vendor takes $1M pay cut in settlement over Minnesota spring student testing glitches

Published 10:23 am Tuesday, August 4, 2015

ST. PAUL — Minnesota’s student testing contractor will take $1 million off its new three-year contract to settle with the Minnesota Department of Education over spring testing glitches, under an agreement announced Monday.

Pearson, the vendor, also will add up to nearly $4.7 million in services to settle with the state.

Brenda Cassellius

Brenda Cassellius

In addition, Pearson said it will move Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments testing next year to a new platform the company says will guard against online attacks and other server problems that disrupted the system this spring.

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Those problems included several days of technical disruptions and malicious, third-party “denial of service” attacks intended to overload and slow Pearson’s system, the state Education Department said in a statement announcing the settlement.

The problems angered school district officials, who were frustrated by the technical woes during the testing season.

The $1 million off what was a new, three-year $40.8 million contract comes in the form of a credit to the department.

“The disruptions experienced by students and teachers this spring were simply unacceptable,” Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius said in the statement. “Pearson has been working with us in good faith to arrive at this significant settlement that provides us with assurances, and recognizes the magnitude of the impacts that the failures had on the state.”

Pearson officials said in the announcement they were “pleased that we could bring a positive resolution to this issue” and happy to continue as the state’s testing vendor.

But the head of the statewide teachers union said Pearson’s problems should leave parents skeptical of test results.