Nevada awards contract to schools testing company despite past problems

CARSON CITY — The state Board of Examiners approved a $511,000 contract expansion Tuesday with a vendor that Nevada is in dispute with over timely reporting of student testing.

Gov. Brian Sandoval expressed his “discomfort” with the contract for Data Recognition Corp. given the state is at odds with the company, which failed to meet deadlines for reporting student proficiency results to schools and parents.

“We’re paying these folks $51 million,” Sandoval said.

Steve Canavero, state superintendent of public instruction, said the Department of Education is in discussions to resolve the dispute, but added the latest contract involves developing a new math end-of-course exam and scoring standards to determine proficiency.

The issue of result reporting is “largely unrelated to this particular amendment,” Canavero said.

The company performed well in administering tests in 2015, Canavero assured the board that also includes Attorney General Adam Laxalt and Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske.

“The assessment went incredibly smooth,” he said. “The results are there.”

The breach involves when test results were to be delivered. In mid-August, the attorney general’s office sent the company a letter citing four expected delivery dates in July and August that were missed.

Canavero said his office is “working with them productively in conversation to cure the breach right now.”

Data Recognition is the second vendor hired by the state to administer student proficiency tests.

In 2015, Measured Progress Inc. handled testing services for the state, but more than two-thirds of students couldn’t complete the tests when they were unable to log into the online system.

Sandoval wanted assurances the new contract with Data Recognition would include performance safeguards.

“Once we get over this hump, will there be certainty as to the timeline?” Sandoval asked. Test results are of little use, he said, if not received before the school year to help parents and teachers decide what grade level a student should be placed.

The governor suggested more contracts include penalty clauses, common in construction agreements, imposing fines if deadlines aren’t met.

Contact Sandra Chereb at schereb@reviewjournal.com or 775-461-3821. Follow @SandraChereb on Twitter.

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