Louisiana Common Core testing contracts steered to closed-door review

Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration is scrutinizing the state education department’s testing contract plans, giving them a closed-door review today as the two sides remain in a dispute over the Common Core standards.

The Associated Press reports the education department is planning to hire new contractors to handle Common Core-related standardized testing for public school students. The Jindal administration steered the agency’s proposals to seek contract bids to an arcane review process, called a Procurement Support Team, which is not always used for state contract proposals.

The AP says its reporters, as well as those from The Advocate, who sought to sit in on the review were asked to leave the meeting by Pamela Rice, assistant director of state procurement for Jindal’s Division of Administration.

“We don’t consider this a public meeting,” Rice reportedly said. “This is not a public body.”

Jindal and Education Superintendent John White have clashed repeatedly over the Common Core education standards over the last year. The governor wants to end Louisiana’s use of the multistate math and English standards and unsuccessfully tried to stymie contracts that White used to administer Common Core tests this year.

Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols says the contracts going out for bid will total tens of millions of dollars and may last as long as 12 years. She says the added review is “used for the intent to make sure that contracts follow the state procurement law and offer the fairest competition for all vendors.”

Nichols says because of the high level of attention to the testing contracts, the contracting process will be closely analyzed.

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