BURLINGTON, Vt., Sept. 19 – U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and the Vermont congressional delegation on Monday asked a testing organization to lower the cost of testing students who have significant cognitive disabilities.
The organization, Dynamic Learning Maps, chose to adopt a pricing structure that will shift the cost of rising prices onto small states like Vermont. Without a change to the pricing structure, Vermont will face a dramatic increase of the costs of these tests from $39 to an estimated $459 per test – a price hike of more than 1,000 percent.
“At a time when state and local budgets are very constrained, it is fiscally unattainable to allocate scarce resources to this inexplicable price increase on tests,” Sanders, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) wrote. “Furthermore, our communities should not be forced to make an impossible choice between securing a high-quality test and providing more support to students.”
The fees are being increased on assessments for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities for whom, even with accommodations, general state assessments are not appropriate.
The congressional delegation asked Dynamic Learning Maps to replace the misguided payment structure with an equitable solution, and called for a transparent and fair process during consideration of new pricing options.
Dynamic Learning Maps’ new pricing significantly changes how states are charged. Currently, states share the burden through a flat test fee of $39 per test. The company chose to institute a high, flat fee for all states – regardless of size in addition to a per test fee.
Under the new pricing scheme, small states like Vermont will see the highest costs. The change will increase the per test costs from $39 to an estimated $459 per test in the Green Mountain state – a price hike of more than 1,000 percent. The rapid increase will leave Vermont with hundreds of thousands of dollars in fewer resources to spend on educating our students. Meanwhile, a large state like New York will see a much smaller proportional increase of just 67 percent.
Dynamic Learning Maps is comprised of 16 state education departments, including Vermont, and led by the Center for Educational Testing and Evaluation at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas.
To read the letter, click here