February 18, 2004 1 min read

Switching Contractors

Massachusetts has awarded a five-year, $118 million contract to Measured Progress of Dover, N.H., to develop, administer, score, and report results of its state testing program.

In addition to the current slate of tests, Measured Progress will produce reading and math tests required under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, as well as exams in history and social science.

Pearson Educational Measurement, of Iowa City, Iowa, and Harcourt Assessment, of San Antonio, also bid on the contract.

Harcourt holds the current five-year, $82 million contract, which expires Dec. 31 of this year. The overlap in the two contracts will ensure a smooth transition, state education officials said. Harcourt will still be responsible for the tests given this spring, as well as retesting through November.

In a review of the three proposals, Measured Progress received the highest ratings. Harcourt’s proposal was rated second, but at $168 million was the most expensive.

“Honestly, what it came down to was money,” said Heidi B. Perlman, a spokeswoman for the Massachusetts education department. “Measured Progress was offering us the best product for the best price.”

This is not the first time Measured Progress has worked with the state. The company, then known as Advanced Systems in Measurement and Evaluation, helped launch the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System, or MCAS. And it currently has contracts for tests for some students with disabilities and English-language learners.

Cellphone Tutorials

Too busy to enroll in that SAT-prep class? Now, two companies have teamed up to offer tools for the college-entrance exam that students can download to their cellphones.

For $5 to $6 per application, students can learn new vocabulary, take quizzes, and work through tutorials that provide practice questions with customized feedback. Using the screens on their cellphones, they can scroll down until the right answer is highlighted, then click on an icon to record their response.

The test-preparation applications were produced by Mobile- Mind Inc., a developer of wireless and smart-card systems based in Watertown, Mass., and, a division of the Los-Angeles-based Xap Corp. that is a provider of Web-based test-preparation services.

Lynn Olson