Settlement with public school testing provider approved

The Board of Examiners on Tuesday approved a settlement with the company providing electronic student proficiency testing.

The Criterion Referenced Testing was a disaster a year ago with thousands of students unable to complete the assessment. But, this year, the testing went off smoothly, according to Department of Education spokesman Greg Bortolin.

“We all know that what happened in 2015 was a disaster and almost put some federal funding at risk,” said Gov. Brian Sandoval who chairs the board. “This frankly did not happen at any fault of the department or any fault of the school districts.”

The deal with Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, an arm of UCLA provides the state a total package of benefits worth $1.8 million.

Of that, $996,895 is in a credit against the costs of this year’s testing fees.

In addition, the provider has agreed to conduct a study of the system and provide those results to the state as well as study the Nevada data and evaluate the validity of the student scores, provide training in Clark County which experienced significant testing challenges and develop performance enhancements to ensure the system is capable of testing up to 50,000 Nevada students next year.

Those parts of the settlement are worth up to $805,000.

The tests are administered at all Nevada public school students from grade 3 through high school to evaluate how much they are learning.

Deputy Superintendent of Education Roger Rahming said the department’s relationship with Smarter Balanced is now excellent and the state is seeing the benefits of the settlement already.

Sandoval, however, questioned why the results of 11th grade ACT scores were below those of most other states.

Bortolin pointed out all Nevada 11th graders must take the ACT while in most other states it’s optional.

In the past, like in those optional states, he said those taking the ACT were college bound and motivated.

“When the ACT moved to a requirement for graduation, now you have this issue of many unmotivated test takers,” he said.

Bortolin said the districts are working to make sure all students understand the importance of the ACT in coming years.

The board also approved transferring $414,377 to the Washoe County sheriff’s office.

The money will be used to do testing on a backlog of 1,100 sexual assault kits that have accumulated over the past few years.

The money in this case as part of a settlement received by the state from Chase Manhattan Bank. The board was told the bank approved the use of the money for that purpose.

The state has already approved funding for Clark County to reduce the backlog of sexual assault test kits in southern Nevada. Statewide, the backlog is more than 7,500 kits.

Those kits are used to identify the assailant through his DNA and some of the untested kits are years old.

Finally, the board approved a consent decree between the federal Environmental Protection Agency and the Nevada Department of Transportation acknowledging violations in stormwater management involving water flows from the numerous road projects around the state. As part of the decree, the state will provide $60,000 apiece from the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection and the federal EPA.

The state agreed to have NDOT add 59 positions and $13 million to its stormwater program, creating a division to improve management of stormwater on every construction project.


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