International testing contractor Pearson will compensate the Minnesota Department of Education with nearly $6 million in fee reductions and services following glitches that led to statewide testing suspension twice last spring.

Pearson will reduce the state’s fees by $1 million, and give $4.69 million in additional services and support for districts and schools. The state has a three-year, $38 million contract with Pearson for the administration of reading, math and science tests.

Schools giving the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments experienced several days of technical disruptions resulting from server delays and third-party attacks that overloaded and slowed the testing system.

“The disruptions experienced by students and teachers this spring were simply unacceptable,” said education commissioner Brenda Cassellius in a news release.

She said the “significant” settlement provides the state with assurances and shows the company recognizes the magnitude of the impact the problems had on the state.

As part of the agreement, money will go toward ACT exam support; online tools meant to help teachers and students improve performance in the areas of career and college readiness standards and literacy; staff training; and a study meant for a new writing exam required by the state. Money will also go toward improvements to technical support and reporting.

The Duluth school district hasn’t yet been notified of specific impacts.

Doug Kubach, a Pearson representative, said he was “pleased we could bring a positive resolution to this issue” and the company looks forward “to a strong working relationship” with the state.

Education Minnesota president Denise Specht said in a news release that while Pearson is willing to take some responsibility for testing disruptions, “We don’t think the settlement is high enough given the widespread frustrations and anxiety caused by the technical glitches.”

She advocated for scaling back the “obsession with testing” and advised skepticism of the results as an accurate measurement of academic progress.

Next year, Pearson will move MCA testing to a cloud-based testing platform, which has more security.

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