The East Baton Rouge Parish School Board renewed its annual contract Thursday with a Chicago-area standardized testing company that for the past eight years has supplied most of the content for the school system’s in-house testing system known as Edusoft.
The board also authorized a second audit to see how many active and retired employees have spouses and children improperly participating in the employees’ medical insurance.
An audit conducted this summer of more than 1,000 such employees ended up with the removal of 318 dependents, saving an estimated $900,000 a year in the process.
This second audit will target the rest of the active and retired employees who have dependents, 2,076 in all, at a cost of about $50,000, plus postage, or about twice cost of the first audit.
If the second audit finds similar numbers of improper dependents, the total savings from both audits could be more than $2.5 million a year.
The school system’s original contract for Edusoft, struck with Riverside Publishing in 2004, is automatically renewed every year unless one or both parties object.
The contract renewed Thursday night has a $359,000 price tag to it for the 2012-13 school year.
This year, though, that renewal was delayed because a handful of local charter schools expressed interest and eventually agreed to buy into the testing program, said Lizabeth Frischhertz, chief accountability officer, to the School Board. Riverside gave the school system a contract extension until the end of October, she said.
Frischhertz also said the matter was brought to the board to familiarize board members with the contract and the testing program; only two of the current 11 members were on the board in 2004.
After some early problems, Frischhertz said teachers have grown accustomed to the in-house testing process, known as benchmark assessment. The idea is to measure how students are learning what’s taught as the students learn it, then reteach if necessary, rather than waiting until the end of the year to measure learning, as better known standardized tests like the LEAP test do.
Edusoft, unlike other popular testing systems, allows the school system access to big bags of test questions, to include its own test questions when needed, and to trade questions with other districts using the same system, she said.