INDIANAPOLIS — The superintendent of Indiana’s public schools announced Friday she would seek more than $614,000 in damages from CTB/McGraw-Hill, the same day company President Ellen Haley apologized to lawmakers for failures in online standardized tests that caused chaos at the end of the school year.
Superintendent Glenda Ritz said the money she’s seeking would cover fines laid out in the state’s $95 million contract with the testing company and pay for an independent review of the test’s validity and improved reporting data. Department of Education staff said the fines could easily grow to millions of dollars.
Indiana’s troubles have punctuated a nationwide shift from pencil-and-paper tests to online exams. Troubles earlier this year disrupted high-stakes testing in Indiana, Kentucky, Minnesota and Oklahoma. A bank of “overwhelmed” servers in New Jersey caused students in Oklahoma and Indiana to be consistently booted from the online test over two days at the end of April, McGraw-Hill executives said Friday.
“The consequences of CTB’s server failures were real and significant for Indiana schools,” Ritz said in a news release issued before McGraw Hill executives spoke to lawmakers.
Here in NYC, McGraw-Hill, aided and abetted by the geniuses at the NYCDOE, made a similar mess of things on the state tests:
Hundreds of seniors graduating this week across New York City have yet to receive their high school diplomas because of problems in the city’s new high-tech system of grading state Regents exams.In the past, teachers graded their own students’ tests, spending days poring over questions about “King Lear” and the French Revolution.But the state, concerned that some teachers might be grading too easily, recently ended that practice, and city officials turned to a modern solution: scanning the finished exams and sending them randomly to teachers throughout the city to grade.The computer system, created by McGraw-Hill Education as part of a $9.6 million contract over three years, broke down this week, leaving students and teachers anxiously awaiting results. Passing grades on Regents exams in English, science, math and history are required for graduation in most public high schools. Students can retake an exam even after the school year ends in order to get a diploma; the next round of tests is given in August....The problem occurred as teachers began grading essay questions for a science exam known as Living Environment and two social studies tests, Global History and Geography and U.S. History and Government. (Not every Regents exam is required for graduation.)The exams were shipped to Connecticut to be scanned, where a computer system experienced “intermittent slowdowns,” a spokesman for McGraw-Hill, Brian Belardi, said. He said the company had been working “around the clock” to remedy the issues.The city comptroller, John C. Liu, said he was considering an audit. Mr. Liu, who is running for mayor, said that the city should recoup the $3.5 million it had already paid McGraw-Hill this year and that the exams should be invalidated.“It is unconscionable that students, families and schools should suffer through fake graduations because their Regents grades are unknown,” Mr. Liu said in a statement.Ernest A. Logan, president of the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators, the city’s principals’ union, said the city needed to improve its oversight of outside contracts.“Once again, they’ve messed up, and now we’re left to clean it up,” Mr. Logan said. “This should be a time of celebration for our students.”
Mayor Bloomberg, an oligarch who never met an outside consultant contract he didn't like and never met a government employee he trusted, will never sue McGraw-Hill to recoup the money the city paid for the company's testing system and scanning services.
And to be fair to McGraw-Hill here for a moment, the incompetence of the Tweedies who signed off on this contract must be taken into account as well.
They okayed the system McGraw-Hill proposed to use for the grading, including the company's driving exams to Connecticut to be scanned and uploaded to its computer servers.
There's plenty of blame to go around in this mess, from McGraw-Hill to Tweed to Chancellor Walcott to Mayor Bloomberg himself, but there will be no accountability for any of these players - not here in NYC, where the only accountability measures we get in education are the ones Bloomberg and his minions use against teachers and schools.