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Last month I wrote about how the huge education company Pearson won a huge contract with one of the two multi-state consortia designing new Common Core-aligned tests. Pearson was the only bidder for the contract — to develop test items and forms, deliver paper and online versions, etc. — but as it turns out, an education corporation is contesting the contract, contending that the bidding was biased and that it would have tried to win the contract if it had been fair. A judge has ordered that the contract be put on hold while this is investigated.

A protest of the contract was made by the nonprofit corporation American Institutes for Research, which alleged that that the bidding process conducted by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) was biased in favor of Pearson and that is why AIR did not submit a bid which it otherwise would have done, Education Week reported. The protest was made to officials in New Mexico who were serving as a representative of PARCC in making the call for proposals from companies to win the contract.

Judge Sarah M. Singleton of the Santa Fe First Judicial District issued a ruling last week putting the Pearson contract on hold while officials reviewed the contract bidding process. 

It isn’t clear exactly how much the contract is worth but  James Mason,  a PARCC state leader who helped negotiate it, told Education Week that it has “unprecedented scale” because multiple states will be using the exams.