BPS Will Go Ahead with Choosing New Exam School Test

Supt. Brenda Cassellius said Boston Public Schools (BPS) will go forward with choosing a new exam school test provider for next fall, with several companies considering bids and a bid due date of May 15.

During a call with the media, Cassellius affirmed there is an open Request for Proposals (RFP) still out there that has a deadline of May 15, and that there have been several interested parties.

“There is an open RFP and we expect that to close on the date that is set,” she said. “We’re had a number of interested parties who have pulled down the RFP for that.”

Previously, the ISEE test, which is from the ERB Company, had been administered for entrance into the City’s three exam schools – Boston Latin School, O’Bryant School of Math and Science and Boston Latin Academy. That had been given for many years at the sixth grade level – for entrance into 7th grade – and at the 8th grade level – for entrance into 9th grade. After some issues arose following Cassellius coming into the new job last year, the test was re-evaluated and she put it out to bid earlier this year to get a new test, and also to reconsider the way exam school entrance is evaluated.

Many companies have shown interest in the new test, though it isn’t certain which companies will bid on providing the new test. It also isn’t certain how much weight the new test will carry in a potentially revamped entrance process to exam schools – which Cassellius has explored already with an appointed Task Force. The companies that have taken out copies of the RFP include:

•Achieve3000, Inc.

•Achievement Network, LTD.

•Act, Incorporated

•American Institutes for Research

•American Reading Company

•Amplify Education Inc

•Assessment Technology, Inc.

•Carnegie Learning, Inc.

•Cognia, Inc

•College Board

•Curriculum Associates, LLC

•Data Recognition Corporation

•Ernst & Young LLP

•Heinemann Educational Books

•Heinemann-Raintree/Capstone Global Lib.

•Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Co

•Illuminate Education

•edmentum Inc

• NWEA

• Osiris Family Institute LLC

• SchoolCity Inc.

The former ISEE test company, ERB Company, did not take out an RFP for the test by Tuesday, and had previously said it didn’t plan to bid on the work in Boston Public Schools.

The exam school test has become a major stress agent for parents in Boston hoping to get their children into the best middle schools and high schools in the City. Routinely, all three exam schools are in the top 15 high schools statewide and are also nationally acclaimed. In this year’s annual U.S. News & World Report ranking of high schools, Boston Latin School and O’Bryant School of Math & Science were in the top 10 of all schools in the state, with Boston Latin Academy in the top 15. Getting in has always meant doing well on the test, and tons of companies, private tutors and after-school programs invest a great deal of time preparing for the test.

Since the RFP went out, many of those programs have been on hold and watching closely what will happen. That should have more clarity after May 15. Cassellius has said they plan on choosing a testing company by June.

One thing she told reporters last week is that the test will not be performed remotely or online in the fall – as that could be complicated.

“A high stakes test like that is probably not a test that could be performed in a remote environment,” she said.

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