UPDATE: Vendor wins $43M contract for Indiana’s ISTEP replacement

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Indiana education officials plan to pay a company $43 million to create, implement and grade the new test that will replace the much-maligned ISTEP standardized exams.

State officials have approved a three-year contract with the Washington, D.C.-based American Institutes for Research. They chose it over four other bidders, though it wasn't the lowest cost offered.

Test preparation will cost $3 million. The first year of the test's use will cost $20.6 million, and the second year will cost $21.6 million, according to the contract proposal.

The company will design a new Indiana test named ILEARN, or Indiana's Learning Evaluation Readiness Network. It's planned for implementation in the spring of 2019.

The current ISTEP exam, which nearly 500,000 students take, has faced years of complaints about the number of days students spend taking the test and months-long waits for exam results from other testing companies.

The new test is planned to be given in a shorter testing window. Results are also expected to be released faster.

ILEARN will be a computer adaptive test, with questions that change depending on whether a student answers a previous question correctly. State officials said it will assess a student's abilities better.

The tests will be administered completely online to grades three through eight and test students' abilities in English language arts and mathematics.

The Indiana Department of Administration led the evaluation team that chose the company. It included educators, state Department of Education representatives and several members of the state Board of Education.

"We are excited for what the future holds for education here in Indiana," said Charity Flores, director of assessment for the Indiana Department of Education. "We will continue to move forward with the procurement process."

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