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SD Department of Education
June 2019  
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State assessment vendor selected

The current contract to administer state assessments in English language arts, math, science and alternate science is ending. State law requires a bid process, and the Department of Education received three proposals from potential vendors during this process. American Institutes for Research and Questar submitted bids for all needed assessments, while the University of Kansas submitted a bid just for the alternate science assessment.

AIR has been selected as the vendor to administer South Dakota’s state assessments beginning spring 2020 for grades 3-8 and 11 in ELA and math and grades 5, 8, and 11 in science and science alternate. AIR is the state’s current vendor for ELA and math (since 2014-15), but the science and science alternate will be a new assessment that AIR will deliver. The contract is a six-year contract with an option to renew for three additional one-year terms. The contract amount is roughly $2 million annually. AIR will continue to use ELA and math assessment items from the Smarter Balanced Consortium.

Vendor proposals were reviewed by a small group of K-12 administrators, department staff, and state BIT (technology) staff. Several factors were considered in the selection process. AIR was selected based on the availability of high-quality test items aligned to our state standards; consistency in providing a single platform for all three tests; ability to provide continuous reporting results, including the ability to seamlessly continue student growth calculations; accessibility features; and access to interim assessment and instructional resources.

Finally, you may recall that the department sponsored a bill this past legislative session that would have allowed for an end-of-course model for state assessment at the high school level. That bill failed, so the state will continue with the current comprehensive exam at the high school level.


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