Monday's House Appropriations Committee meeting included a very interesting report regarding an error that was made in regard to the reporting of scores for the Virginia Alternative Assessment Program (VAAP). The VAAP is the "SOL aligned" test taken by students with significant cognitive disabilities who cannot take the SOL tests even with accommodations. Eight thousand students take the VAAP, and scores were erroneously calculated for 4,300 of these students. On June 27, 2013, the Board of Education (BOE) set new cut scores for the VAAP. These cut scores determine what score is needed to pass, to be considered proficient, and to be considered advanced. On July 22, a staff member in a local school division identified "discrepancies" in the performance levels. On July 29, the Virginia Department of Education contacted Pearson, the testing company that receives $28 million per year to "partner" with Virginia in running the assessment program, seeking an investigation. It turned out that Pearson had created a place-holder "look up" table to do test runs of the program. When the BOE set the new cut scores, the actual "look up" table was to be put in place. Pearson personnel did not do this. The consequence was that scores for 4,354 students were reported incorrectly, 1,656 who were said to have passed actually failed, and 2,698 who were reported as advanced were proficient. Of the 4,354 errors, only 1001 were actually reported to students and parents. Of these 1001, 369 were said to have passed, but actually failed; and 632 were said to have been advanced, but were actually proficient. Pearson is taking a number of steps to ensure that such an error does not take place again. They have contracted with PricewaterhouseCoopers to conduct a 3rd party quality review of all software systems for VAAP. This is interesting, as the problem was a personnel problem – not a software problem. They did fire the fellow who made the error. Pearson is providing VDOE $300,000 in services as compensation. What was interesting to me was how the members of the House Appropriations Committee reacted to the error. I wonder if school personnel had made this error rather than a corporate entity, would the General Assembly have been as forgiving? There was no mention of the impact of this error on students and families. In a sign of the incredible shrinking press corps, no press attended the meeting. I doubt you'll ever see a story about this in the papers.