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News release - Pearson selected as contractor for state assessments

June 14, 2017

Pearson selected as contractor for state assessments

Colorado will continue working with Pearson to Develop and Administer CMAS

DENVER - Pearson, the company that has administered Colorado statewide tests for four years, was selected by a committee of educators from throughout the state and CDE staff to remain as the state’s assessment contractor for Colorado Measures of Academic Success tests.  Students take CMAS tests in math and English language arts (ELA) in grades three through eight and in science and social studies once each in elementary, middle, and high school.

“Because Pearson has been already providing the testing services for CMAS for a number of years, the transition to the new contract should be seamless for educators and students,” said Katy Anthes, Colorado’s education commissioner.  “Educators and students are familiar with Pearson’s systems, so this will allow them to continue to concentrate on teaching and learning the Colorado Academic Standards, which is the content assessed by the tests.”

The results from the 2018 CMAS assessments are expected to be comparable to prior years’ results, creating little disruption to the accountability system in 2018.

A new request for proposals (RFP) was required by state law because the current contract for the state’s CMAS science and social studies assessments is expiring.  In addition, at its December meeting, the State Board of Education directed the department to issue a RFP for math and ELA assessments that would result in reduced operational testing time for students and faster turnaround of results. The board also required that CDE have decision-making authority over math and ELA test design, form development and test administration policies. The department in March issued a RFP for all of the CMAS assessments, and both Pearson and Questar submitted proposals.  

“After a thorough review of the proposals, demonstrations and interviews, Pearson was selected as the successful offeror for a variety of reasons,” said Colorado Department of Education Assessment Executive Director Joyce Zurkowski. “The committee determined that Pearson’s online test management and test administration systems better met Colorado’s assessment requirements and district expectations. The committee also emphasized that of the two proposed potential contractors, only Pearson’s systems are currently capable of protecting student demographic data and personally identifiable information in accordance with Colorado’s requirements.”  

The contract will also require a review of all of the CMAS assessments following the adoption of the revised standards in summer 2018. The new contract may be renewed annually through 2023-2024.

The administration of the CMAS assessments in science and social studies will fall under the new contract starting in spring 2018. The math and English language arts assessments remain under the existing contract with Pearson for one more year and transition to the new contract in the 2018-19 school year.  However, the department has already begun the planning necessary to implement the board’s directives for shorter tests and faster turnaround of results.

The evaluation committee was made up of Colorado educators and CDE staff with experience in the areas of assessment development, administration, psychometrics, scoring, reporting, and technology. Two non-voting subcommittees were also established to help review proposals -- one for reviewing test questions and one for evaluating technology.

The department is negotiating the contract with Pearson and expects to release key information to districts, such as 2018 testing windows, by September. 

2018 State Assessments at a Glance
Assessment Grade
CMAS Mat and ELA Grades 3-8
CMAS: Science Grades 5,8 and 11
CMAS: Social Studies

Grades 4 and 7 (sampling basis with approximately 1/3 of schools participating)

Grade 11 (all schools currently scheduled to participate)

PSAT Grades 9 and 10
SAT Grade 11
ACCESS for ELLs Grades K-12