JACKSON — Minnesota-based Questar Assessment will provide most of the standardized tests for Mississippi beginning next year.

The state Board of Education voted Thursday to award a one-year contract worth $12.3 million to Questar. Mississippi has options to continue the contract for nine more years after that, with a total 10-year cost of at least $111 million.

The company will provide English and math tests for grades 3-8, as well as algebra I and English II exams to be taken by high school students. The plan also includes options, which would cost more money, for geometry and algebra II tests for high-schoolers.

Other bidders included Pearson PLC and Data Recognition Corp.

The Department of Education said it followed a recommendation by an eight-person team that evaluated the proposals. Questar’s plan was the most expensive initially, but scored higher in other ways. Mississippi negotiated to cut the price by more than $1 million a year after the evaluators recommended Questar.

Walt Drane, Mississippi’s testing director, said Questar committed to have teachers help write questions for the exams, saying they would be “fully customized.”

“They’re actually here to deliver Mississippi’s needs,” he said.




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