Published Online: April 14, 2004
Published in Print: April 14, 2004, as State Journal

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No Grudge

Apparently, the state board of education in Arizona has decided to let bygones be bygones. Even if the by isn’t quite gone yet.

The nine-member board recently voted to grant a new testing contract to CTB McGraw-Hill, even though the Monterey, Calif., company is suing the state.

According to the lawsuit, which was filed last year, the Arizona education department improperly released 13 test questions the company devised.

In 1998, when the CTB McGraw-Hill questions were made public, the state had just switched testing contractors, and was working with Harcourt Assessment Inc., based in San Antonio.

The state released the questions in the interest of providing information to the public, says Donna W. Lewis, the state’s associate superintendent for research, standards, and accountability. "There was nothing in the contract [with CTB McGraw-Hill] talking about the proprietary nature" of the questions, she maintained in an interview last week.

The amount of money the company is seeking for the alleged infraction is not significant, Ms. Lewis said. It amounts to less than $200,000 for the Arizona Instrument for Measuring Standards, or AIMS, test questions.

Representatives for CTB McGraw-Hill declined to comment on the case because it is still pending.

The state is working to resolve the legal matter, but that did not stop the aggrieved test-maker from responding to a request for proposals put out by the Arizona education department in search of a test publisher for a new version of the AIMS test.

The new assessment will be a combination of criterion-referenced questions, which measure students’ mastery of a specified body of knowledge, and norm-referenced items, which compare students’ performance with that of test-takers across the country.

CTB McGraw-Hill won the contract because it scored 901 points, out of a possible 1,000, on the evaluation criteria the state set to select an assessment company. The company beat out both Harcourt Assessment and Riverside Publishing, based in Itasca, Ill.

The state will spend $45 million over the course of the five-year contract, Ms. Lewis said.

Students in Arizona will start taking the new tests next spring.

—Michelle Galley

Vol. 23, Issue 31, Page 28

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