No bid contracts seem to be the norm instead of the exception in Mississippi. The Wall Street Journal gave Mississippi some nice publicity yesterday. It seems our Department of Education awarded a no-bid contract for Common Core testing after it was rejected by the contract review board.
As states race to implement the Common Core academic standards, companies are fighting for a slice of the accompanying testing market, expected to be worth billions of dollars in coming years.More information about the no bid contract in this September Clarion-Ledger story. MDE had lawyers who are familiar with the state purchasing laws. MDE tried to save money by cooperating with other states but didn't bother to check the laws first- or get an AG opinion as was its right to do so. Oh well, at least the Dr. Wright is not wearing gold Rolex watches. Yet.
That jockeying has brought allegations of bid-rigging in one large pricing agreement involving 11 states—the latest hiccup as the math and reading standards are rolled out—while in roughly three dozen others, education companies are battling for contracts state by state.
Mississippi’s education board in September approved an emergency $8 million contract to Pearson PLC for tests aligned with Common Core, sidestepping the state’s contract-review board, which had found the transaction illegal because it failed to meet state rules regarding a single-source bid....
Mississippi and Maryland are two of the states that banded together in 2010, intending to look for a testing-service provider together. The coalition of 11 states plus the District of Columbia hoped joining forces would result in a better product at a lower price, but observers elsewhere shared some of Mr. Franchot’s concerns.
The bidding process, which both states borrowed from a similar New Mexico contract, is now the subject of a lawsuit in that state by a Pearson competitor.
For decades, states essentially set their own academic standards, wrote their own curricula and designed their own tests. In a bid partly to help the U.S. education system keep up with overseas rivals, state leaders began working on shared benchmarks.
With financial and policy incentives from the Obama administration, 45 states and D.C. initially adopted Common Core. But the standards have faced pushback from some parents and conservatives who say they represent federal overreach. Two states have pulled out and are writing their own standards....
The $2.46 billion-a-year U.S. testing market is seeing more competition beyond the three traditional powers of Pearson, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Co. and McGraw-Hill Education CTB, according to Simba Information, a market-research firm. While McGraw-Hill recently got a $72 million contract for assessment services with several states, meanwhile, midsize vendors such as AIR Assessment and Educational Testing Service are winning big states like Florida and California..... Rest of article.