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OSSE Terminates Contract with Statewide Science Assessment Developer

Friday, January 19, 2018
The Office of the State Superintendent of Education discovered significant errors in the 2016 and 2017 DC science assessment scoring by the developer, impacting students’ 2016 and 2017 results.

Media Contacts: Patience Peabody (OSSE) – (202) 702-3234; [email protected]  |  Fred Lewis (OSSE) – (202) 412-2167; [email protected]

Today, State Superintendent of Education Hanseul Kang announced the termination of the District’s $370,712 contract with WestEd, developer of the statewide science assessment, effective immediately. The decision was made after the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE), which oversees statewide assessments in the District, discovered errors in the 2017 test scores. Upon further investigation, OSSE found broader inconsistencies in both the 2016 and 2017 DC Science data.

“The District of Columbia is terminating the WestEd contract because of our strong commitment to doing what’s right for DC’s students,” said State Superintendent of Education Hanseul Kang. “Assessments are an important part of understanding how well our students are doing and we, our educators, and our students devote significant time and resources to taking them seriously. Any action by a vendor that contradicts that commitment is unacceptable. OSSE is moving forward to secure a new vendor to build a new test and will take every step necessary to ensure our students have a test that meets the standards we set for them.”

OSSE’s internal checks of scores are meant to ensure that assessments used across the city are high-quality, valid, and reliable measures of student learning. In reviewing the WestEd science assessment scores, OSSE staff discovered significant errors. As a result of WestEd’s errors, 2016 and 2017 scores on the science assessment will be invalidated and schools will not administer the scheduled 2018 assessment. OSSE is currently working with the District’s Office of Contracting and Procurement (OCP) to pursue any and all legal remedies, including seeking damages from the contractor for a failure to fulfill its duties.

The federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act requires statewide assessments in Science three times in the course of a student’s K-12 education as a measure of student learning. The District adopted statewide science standards to help inform what students should know and be able to do in each grade and testing occurs in grades, 5 and 8 as well as when a student takes biology in high school. Due to the errors by WestEd, the District has been working amiably with the US Department of Education to meet its reporting requirements.

OSSE will move swiftly to identify a new vendor and has already issued a request for proposals for the development of a new assessment, which is expected to be ready for the 2018-19 school year. Local education agencies were notified today, and students and families should expect to learn more from their school leaders.

For additional information and updates about the future of the District’s science assessments, visit https://osse.dc.gov/strengtheningdcscience.