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Florida Department of Education grant dispute resolved this week

Compromise can describe how a contract dispute was resolved by the Florida Department of Education this week. With the resolution, two companies will benefit from work tied to the state's Race to the Top grant program.

The dispute came to light in April when the Florida Department of Education awarded the lucrative contract for a computer-based testing system to NCS Pearson. The other competing company, CTB/McGraw-Hill, challenged the decision and asked an administrative law judge to give the department a chance to resolve the dispute.

CTB's argument was that they missed out on the contract by a fraction of a point and were penalized for not fully understanding the proposal question. They also argued that Pearson had not responded to all of the requirements set for in the request for proposal.

The two competitors and the department of education worked out a solution where CTB would supply some of the test questions and in turn, Pearson will pay them $4.6 million. Pearson was still awarded the contract, but this stipulation essentially resolved the dispute.

The federal Race to the Top grant program that Florida was awarded in 2010 will help to improve standardized testing. It has a budget of $36.8 million and states compete for this grant because it focuses on policy changes within schools.

The new proposed testing system is set to roll out during the upcoming school year and be fully running by 2013-2014. The contract will be for two years and the state has the option to renew the contract for up to three more years.

Source: The Florida Current, "Department of Education Settles Race to the Top contract dispute," Travis Pillow, May 15, 2012

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