Montana also struggling with SBAC testing

Idaho isn’t the only state struggling with the first year of SBAC testing.

In neighboring Montana, the state is sticking with its test vendor despite a troubled rollout that will leave the state falling well below the feds’ 95 percent testing requirement.

SBACMontana, a fellow member of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, made the online tests optional in April, after a series of testing glitches statewide. About 82 percent of students took the SBAC exam, the Associated Press reported last week.

Montana blamed its problems on SBAC and American Institutes for Research, the company that administered the test in Idaho and other states. Montana contracted with another vendor, Measured Progress, to administer the tests.

“I can honestly say that (Measured Progress officials) did their best at addressing all the problems that were laid out for them as a part of the process and platform that was given to them,” Montana state superintendent Denise Juneau said, according to the AP.

Measured Progress was among five bidders for the Idaho contract, ultimately awarded to AIR and a subcontractor, Measurement Inc. But the AIR-Measurement Inc. rollout has also been fraught with delays; a month after the Idaho testing period closed, the state and districts are still waiting for some test results.

Like Montana, Idaho is standing behind its SBAC testing vendor. Idaho officials say they are seeking no penalties due to the delays, and say AIR-Measurement Inc. offered Idaho a much better rate than its competitors.

Idaho is paying about $3 million to AIR and Measurement Inc. for 2014-15, to deliver tests to more than 155,000 students. Montana’s contract with Measured Progress came to $1.33 million this year, based on the 62,100 students who at least started an SBAC exam, Emilie Ritter Saunders, a spokeswoman for Juneau, told the AP.

Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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