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Ruling slows process for new student exams

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — New Mexico must review the process used to award the contract for administering a new standardized test the state plans to give students next year, a Santa Fe judged ordered Tuesday.

New Mexico and 14 other states and the District of Columbia are members of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC. The consortium has worked to create a new standardized test aligned with the Common Core Standards. New Mexico plans to replace its Standards Based Assessment with the PARCC exam next spring.

Earlier this month, PARCC awarded the contract to Pearson, an international education company, to administer the new exam, which will be taken online, and to create new test questions in future years. The consortium had previously tapped Pearson to help develop the test.

The Washington D.C.-based American Institute for Research protested, saying the bid process unfairly benefited Pearson because of its prior work with PARCC.

District Court Judge Sarah Singleton this week ordered the state to review the institute’s protest. New Mexico officials had argued the protest was filed incorrectly, but Singleton disagreed.

Now, the contract is on hold until the review is complete.

The matter was argued in Santa Fe because New Mexico officials accepted and reviewed the bids, even though all the states in the consortium helped write a request for the proposal.

“We’re pleased the judge sent (the protest) back to the (state’s purchasing agent) to be reviewed on its merits,” said Jon Cohen, executive vice president of the American Institute for Research.

In a statement, PED spokesman Larry Behrens said, “This procedural ruling does not affect our core arguments about this open and fair award process. The next step will involve a decision from the State Purchasing Agent who has already heard our position. We are confident in our arguments and believe we will prevail on the merits.”

David Connerty-Marin, communications director for PARCC, said he doesn’t expect the review will end up hampering states as they switch to the PARCC exam next year.

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