Oklahoma AG Contemplates Lawsuit vs McGraw-Hill Over Testing Glitches

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt is investigating CTB/McGraw-Hill, the testing vendor he believes is responsible for the state’s recent testing failures.

For the past two years, computer glitches have caused issues in testing for more than 8,000 students in the state.  This year, schools went so far as to suspend testing due to the glitches.

“We’ve had two, two years of what I would call broken promises to the kids and parents and school districts of the state of Oklahoma,” Pruitt said.

In order to discover just how deep the glitches ran, Pruitt is sending a letter to superintendents, asking for more details, such as how many issues occurred and how many students’ test scores were affected by the glitches, including specifics about the types of problems that occurred.

“These are very important tests, and we need to make sure that as they’re conducted by these vendors that the state retains, that they do their job,” Pruitt said. “And when they fail to do their job, they need to be held accountable.

Participation in the inquiry is voluntary.  It is unclear how many will participate while schools are busy getting things ready for the start of the school year.  Many principals state teachers are more concerned about what they can do themselves to help their students.

Despite this, Pruitt is looking to place the blame on McGraw-Hill, which may result in a lawsuit.  The company currently holds a five-year, $14 million contract with the state to provide testing materials, reports Allison Harris for News On 6.

“Our office is involved in making sure that the obligations promised under that contract are upheld and they were not here, and someone needs to obtain accountability,” said Pruitt.

McGraw-Hill was involved in a similar lawsuit last October with Indiana state schools, in which the company was accused of testing glitches.  The lawsuit was settled for $3 million.

An investigation into the company occurred after two consecutive years of testing issues.  While thousands of students were found to have been kicked offline during testing in the spring of 2013, an independent reviewer stated that overall performance was not effected much.

Meanwhile, others are blaming the rush to implement “high-stakes” testing, stating outdated computers and limited Internet service are to blame for the computer glitches.

“Like many other policies, politicians imposed new requirements without allowing enough time for thorough development and trial-testing,” public education director for the National Center for Fair and Open Testing Bob Schaeffer wrote in an email.

While Indiana is extending the contract with McGraw-Hill for another year due to a federal request for new testing in direct relation with the state’s waiver for the No Child Left Behind Act, the Oklahoma State Board of Education decided to dissolve the contract with McGraw-Hill this year on the advice of Oklahoma Schools Superintendent Janet Barresi.

Other online testing issues are occurring across the country.  Florida, Kansas and Washington have all reported problems.