River Forest school officials were expected to begin administering the Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT) to students Tuesday morning after scrambling last week to deal with a printing error on one section of test, then waiting through the weekend for the remainder of tardy ISAT materials.

Those test materials, which were more than a week late, arrived Monday morning.

Harcourt Assessment, Inc. of San Antonio, Texas, had not gotten complete sets of testing materials to school districts throughout the state, including the three River Forest schools, as of Friday. Originally, the two River Forest elementary schools were scheduled to begin testing Monday, while middle school testing was set for Tuesday and was expected to start on time.

Parents of affected children were notified Friday afternoon by the district’s automated telephone notification system that testing would be delayed until at least Tuesday.

“I’ve been calling Harcourt repeatedly,” Bonnie Boyer, Dist. 90’s director of teaching and learning, said last week. Boyer said she was told early Friday afternoon that the missing materials had in fact been shipped, and should arrive by Monday morning.

In addition to missing materials, some of the materials that had arrived in time were incorrect.

“Somehow the company misprinted a section of the test,” said Superintendent Marlene Kamm. One two-part test section, Kamm said, had identical questions in the first and second parts.

“We have to go through every fourth- and seventh-grade test packet,” Kamm said.

To do so, temporary office help was brought in at each school Thursday to allow regular staff to go through each fourth-grade test packet to weed out mistakes. That expense will be part of a list of related expenses Kamm will submit to the state education officials for eventual reimbursement by Harcourt.

According to state board of education spokesman Meta Minton, Harcourt, an 85-year-old Texas firm, received a four-year, $44.5 million contract from the Illinois State Board of Education in 2004 to develop the ISAT tests, print and deliver them to schools, then pick up and score them. The contract pays the firm $16.6 million this year.

Harcourt Assessment is the test-publishing unit of Harcourt Education. It develops assessments and testing programs used by various educators and education professionals, including the widely used Stanford Achievement Test.

“The stakes don’t get any higher than this,” said Illinois State Superintendent Randy Dunn by press release Thursday. “Every school and every district’s measure of ‘Adequate yearly progress’ under the Federal No Child Left Behind Act hinges on student performance on these state tests.”

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