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March 24, 2021
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JP O'Hare

(518) 474-1201



State Education Department Selects Contractor for the NYS Grades 3-8 Assessment Program

After following the rigorous competitive bidding process required by State law, Questar Assessment, Inc. will be awarded the contract to continue the development of the NYS Grades 3-8 English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics Tests, the State Education Department announced today.

Key requirements included in the new contract are that the vendor must: continue NYS teacher-led test development, including writing all test questions; increase the number of languages in which the Mathematics exams will be available to English language learners (ELLs); and implement additional procedures and safeguards to ensure dependable computer-based testing (CBT) administration, among other benefits.

“The Board of Regents and I are committed to providing equity, access and opportunities for all of New York’s students, especially in this ongoing period of uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Board of Regents Chancellor Lester W. Young, Jr. said. “While the Board has approved administering a shortened assessment for this unique pandemic-affected year if the U.S. Department of Education denies our waiver request, we must be prepared to continue the development of consistently fair, high-quality assessments for the future. Through the requirements of this new contract, we will ensure that the people who know our students best—teachers who are instructing students every day—will remain at the forefront of the test development process.”

“Every question on the future grades 3-8 assessments will continue to be created, reviewed and selected by New York State educators to ensure that we are giving our children equitable opportunities to demonstrate what they have learned,” State Education Commissioner Betty A. Rosa said. “This new contract will also require stringent measures to hold the vendor accountable, so parents and students can be reassured that the assessments are backed by integrity and security.”

NYSED strictly adhered to New York State’s competitive bidding procurement rules for the selection of contractors and determined that Questar will provide the best value for New York State. NYSED received a total five bids which ranked as follows:

  1. Questar Assessment, Inc.
  2. NCS Pearson Inc.
  3. Cognia, Inc.
  4. Data Recognition Corporation
  5. Cambium Assessment Inc.

The new contract has a total value of approximately $72 million over five school years and consolidates the test development as well as the printing, shipping, collection and return of paper-based ELA and Mathematics tests into one contract.

The new contract requires the vendor to:

  • increase equity by expanding, from six to nine, the number of languages in which the Mathematics Tests will be available to ELLs;
  • ensure seamless development and administration of assessments measuring New York State’s Learning Standards;
  • continue the requirement that teachers develop the tests, maintaining the critically important provision that all test questions are written by NYS educators;
  • require the contractor to attend and help inform NYSED-hosted regional engagements with New York State teachers, administrators and other stakeholders at which the feasibility of implementing computer adaptive tests will be explored;
  • complete a feasibility study into the implementation of computer-adaptive testing;
  • make the new NYSED-developed Grades 5 and 8 Science Tests available to students and schools on computer using the same CBT platform as will be available for the ELA and Mathematics tests;
  • implement additional procedures and safeguards designed to ensure dependable CBT administration;
  • better specify technology requirements for CBT software and expectations around performance of the testing platform; and
  • require the contractor to provide third party validation and reporting of all load testing of the contractor’s CBT delivery system.

It is anticipated that the contract will begin on July 1, 2021 and end on November 30, 2026, subject to approval by the Office of the New York State Attorney General and the Office of the State Comptroller.

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