The Mississippi Department of Education says local school districts are receiving student tests scores later than expected because the testing vendor didn’t submit them on time.

On Friday, executive director of the office of student assessment Walt Drane emailed superintendents, district coordinators and principals and said Questar Assessment Inc. — the testing vendor Mississippi uses to administer state tests — was supposed to provide third grade scores and scores for students who need them before graduation by the department of Education’s close of business, but the vendor “failed to deliver on their promise to provide these data files at the agreed upon time.”

The email stated districts should expect to receive the results by 8 p.m. Friday, but the department ultimately received the results and shared them with districts on Saturday morning.

“The 24-hour delay in receiving results did not impact a student’s ability to graduate. We regret that this issue affected school personnel, and the Mississippi Department of Education will further address this issue with Questar Assessment,” a department spokesperson said via email on May 14.

Last year the department learned of an error with the state’s former testing vendor, NCS Pearson Inc. that affected 951 students and allowed some to accidentally graduate. As a result, the State Board of Education terminated their roughly $28 million contract with Pearson and approved a one-year emergency contract with Questar to administer the texts for the next school year.

This is not the first issue with Questar for the department — in January, 663 students in Tupelo and Jefferson County school districts were affected by a data breach involving the company. Those students make up less than one percent of all students who took the assessment, but the Mississippi Department of Education said in a release at the time that an “unauthorized user” viewed student records from students at some of those district middle schools.


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Kayleigh Skinner joined the Mississippi Today team in January 2017 as an education and legislative reporter and advanced to a senior staff member in her four years with the company. Skinner most recently served as deputy managing editor before assuming the role of managing editor. Kayleigh has a bachelor’s in journalism from the School of Journalism and New Media from the University of Mississippi. Before joining Mississippi Today, Kayleigh worked at The Hechinger Report, Chalkbeat Tennessee, and The Commercial Appeal. She has appeared on MSNBC, NPR, and BBC Newsday Radio to discuss her reporting.