Three New Test Companies Bid for Exam School Test

Three high-level testing companies have submitted bids to Boston Public Schools to be the next Exam School Test provider – potentially administering their first test for entrance into the City’s three elite 7-12 schools this fall.

Supt. Brenda Cassellius said they are happy with the bids and believe it will result in a much fairer test that opens up exam schools to a more diverse student body – something that has come under criticism over the last several years.

District officials had put out a Request for Proposals (RFP) earlier this year amidst some controversy with the old test, the ISEE. However, there were no responses, so they re-bid it and opened up the three bids on Friday, May 15.

The three bidders included:

•Strategic Measurement and Evaluation, of Illinois/Indiana.

•NWEA, of Portland, OR.

•Riverside Assessments, of Chicago.

“Boston Public Schools (BPS) is committed to expanding access to our nation-leading exam schools for more of our students, especially our Black and Latinx students who have historically been under-represented,” said Cassellius in a statement. “A new test is the next best step to removing barriers by providing a fairer test that is aligned to the Massachusetts state standards, and to ensure the test has been reviewed and validated for bias. Our goal is for students to have a better chance at demonstrating their abilities with a test that reflects what they will be taught in school. 

We will carefully review these bids to ensure they meet the criteria we set forth,” she continued. “We understand the urgency families feel and we will continue to keep them informed as we move forward.”

The first RFP was released on Feb. 17 after much controversy over concerns of bias and unfairness in the past regarding the ISEE. Supt. Cassellius pledged to revamp the test, but when bids were due on March 19 – COVID-19 had struck and there had been no bids. The second RFP went out, and this time there was a great deal of interest and three bids submitted.

Cassellius has said in the past she would like to have a decision made on the provider by mid-June, and has said students should prepare for the test as they would have prepared for the ISEE.

Strategic Measurement was founded in 2006, and is led by Denis Jarvinen. The company is based out of Lafayette, Indiana.

NWEA is a non-profit organization that administers assessments worldwide, and started doing so in 1973 when educators from Oregon and Washington state school districts formed an association to build a new kind of testing system. The company is based in Portland, OR.

Riverside Insights is a company that split off from the Houghton Mifflin Company in 2018.  Now a separate company, “We are moving forward with a focus that is sharper than ever on providing actionable insights derived from accurate, reliable, and consistent data that create opportunities to help people thrive,” read the website.

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