A judge in New Mexico has ordered state officials to review a protest filed by a research and testing organization that alleges an unfair and biased bidding process before going forward with a potentially lucrative, multistate contract for online common-core-testing work.
The major contract was awarded to London-based Pearson to provide a broad scope of services, including test delivery and item development, to states belonging to PARCC, one of the two main consortia designing assessments linked to the Common Core State Standards.
But the ruling issued last week by Judge Sarah M. Singleton raises questions about how that work will be carried out, unless the protest and related legal action are resolved in favor of New Mexico officials, who oversaw the bidding process on behalf of PARCC states.
The judge decided that the protest of the bidding process, filed by the American Institutes for Research, based in Washington, was submitted in an appropriate and timely fashion. She overruled the objections of New Mexico officials, who had argued that the protest was turned in too late.
New Mexico, a member of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, put forward an initial request for proposals for testing work in November.
The AIR’s protest listed several objections to the state’s proposal request. A central complaint was that the solicitation improperly tied assessment services to be provided in the first year of the tests with work in subsequent years, essentially creating a “bundling of work” that unfairly restricted competition.
A spokesman for the state education department called the process for issuing the contract to Pearson “fair and open.”
A version of this article appeared in the June 04, 2014 edition of Education Week as N.M. Court Orders Halt to Contract for Common-Core Testing