Minnesota: Nearly 8,000 Students Wrongly Told They Failed

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ST. PAUL (AP) - As many as 336 high school
seniors were not allowed to graduate because
a private scoring company incorrectly
graded the mathematics portion of a state
test, officials said Friday.

In all, 7,989 students who took the test in
February and April this year were mistakenly
told they failed when they actually passed.

Tampa Bay Online

-- spider (spider0@usa.net), July 29, 2000


David Smith, president of National Computer Systems'
division of assessment and testing, said an employee
changed the order of the questions on the math test
without changing the order of the corresponding

The Chicago Tribune

-- spider (spider0@usa.net), July 30, 2000.

Testing errors excluded 6 or 7 seniors from graduation ceremonies, officials say By Ashley H. Grant Associated Press

ST. PAUL -- A testing error on thousands of Minnesota basic-skills math tests kept six or seven high school seniors from participating in graduating ceremonies, state education officials testified Tuesday.

The number is considerably smaller than the 336 seniors originally thought to be seriously affected by the error. However, at least 50 seniors who were wrongly failed were required to go to summer school to get their diploma, even though they were allowed to participate in graduation ceremonies.

``Most districts that grappled with this question allowed their students to graduate anyway,'' said Tammy Pust, assistant commissioner of the Department of Children, Families and Learning.

Commissioner Christine Jax told the House Education Policy Committee that regrading the tests lowered the scores of 912 students. But none of those students had passed the test anyway, Jax said.

The department was trying to locate four wrongly failed seniors who may have been required to go to summer school to get their diploma. It could not account for 10 to 15 people who may have dropped out because they were told they failed the test.

About 47,000 students who took the test in February and April this year received the wrong scores because of errors made by National Computer Systems Inc., a private, Eden Prairie-based company hired by the state to score the tests.

NCS announced Tuesday that it would reimburse the families of students who paid for math tutoring because they were incorrectly told they failed the test.

NCS already had offered $1,000 tuition vouchers to high school seniors who did not receive a diploma because of the error. But that was just a fraction of the 8,000 students who were told they failed when they actually passed. The test is given starting in eighth grade.

Minnesota school districts are prohibited from providing confidential student information to any outside organization. That means NCS can only identify the families who are eligible for the tuition reimbursement if they contact the company.

NCS is running advertisements in newspapers throughout Minnesota to alert affected families.

The offer covers families of students who paid for math tutoring or other math training between March and July 2000 as a result of being incorrectly told they failed the exam. Seniors who are eligible for the $1,000 tuition voucher also qualify for the expanded offer.

So far, at least two lawsuits have been filed seeking class-action status.

One lists nine counts, ranging from breach of contract and negligence to defamation and unjust enrichment.

Attorney Richard Fuller, who filed the lawsuit in Hennepin County District Court on behalf of two families, said NCS didn't earn the money it was paid by the state and should compensate the children and families inconvenienced by its mistakes.

Greg and Frankie Kurvers, the parents of Danielle Kurvers of Burnsville, were the first to file against NCS. The Kurvers spent about $3,000 for private tutoring at Sylvan Learning Centers. Danielle will be a junior in high school this year.


-- Doris (reaper1@mindspring.com), August 15, 2000.

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