Illinois State Board of Education 100 North First Street • Springfield, Illinois 62777-0001 www.isbe.net James T. Meeks Chairman Tony Smith, Ph.D. State Superintendent of Education FAQ Procurement Process for a New College Entrance Exam for Illinois February 2016, ISBE Division of Public Information 1. Q. Why did the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) seek bids for a new college entrance exam? A. Illinois is committed to providing a college entrance exam at no cost to all 11th-grade students, a practice that has afforded opportunities and provided access to higher education to students for whom this otherwise would not have been a reality. ISBE’s previous contract with ACT to provide such an exam to all 11th-graders expired on June 30, 2015. 2. Q. When did ISBE begin the process to select a new college entrance exam? A. In July 2015, the Board released a request for sealed proposals for a new college entrance exam, with proposals due in August. 3. Q. What criteria were used to evaluate the sealed proposals? A. Multiple factors were considered in the evaluation. Most importantly, the Board wanted to ensure that all Illinois students, particularly our low-income students, continue to be provided with a high-quality college entrance exam that is accepted by all higher education institutions in Illinois. Specific criteria included: • alignment to the Illinois Learning Standards; • validity and reliability; • readiness of training for educators and parents for the administration of the assessment; • preparation and practice opportunities for students; • integration with ISBE’s Student Information System for ease of registration and reporting; • reporting options, including timeliness of reporting, data available to schools and districts, and reporting of individual student scores to institutes of higher education; and • a call center and customer support for schools, districts, and families. • The highest concentration of points was associated with accommodations, alignment to standards, and ease of administration and reporting for districts. 4. Q. Who evaluated the proposals? A. Evaluators conducted an intensive, multi-month process to review sealed proposals from vendors. The majority of reviewers were external evaluators, with some ISBE staff members assisting. ISBE intentionally selected evaluators with experience in diverse districts, including urban districts with high concentrations of low-income students. Special education and English learner experts were also part of the review process. 5. Q. How many proposals did ISBE receive? A. ISBE received proposals from the College Board, which administers the SAT, and ACT. 6. Q. What vendor did the board select and why? A. ISBE released a Notice of Award to the College Board, posting it as the successful bidder on Nov. 23. It was determined that the SAT is more aligned with the Illinois Learning Standards, a priority for ISBE. The assessment is a better tool to measure what students are learning and determine their level of readiness after graduation. The SAT is also aligned with the goals of the agency, particularly item No. 5 of Goal No. 1 that calls for 90 percent or more of students graduating from high school ready for college and career. The SAT will also provide a cost savings to the state. Included in the evaluation of the College Board proposal was an estimated three-year cost that was $1,372,800 less than the ACT proposal based upon an estimated, but not guaranteed, total of 143,000 11th-grade students taking the exam annually. 7. Q. Why did the procurement remain open after ISBE selected SAT as the successful bidder? A. As required by the Illinois Procurement Code, after a Notice of Award is posted, a 14-day protest period begins. In the case of this specific procurement, the 14-day protest period was extended until Dec. 16, 2015. During this time, ACT filed a protest with the Chief Procurement Officer for General Services. As a result, the process remained open while the Chief Procurement Officer looked into the merits of the basis of the protest. 8. Q. What was the outcome of ACT’s protest? A. On Feb. 10, ISBE received the Chief Procurement Officer’s decision to deny the protest filed by ACT. The procurement process for a new college entrance exam is now formally closed. 9. Q. What happens now? A. The State Board has started the process of negotiating a contract with the College Board for spring 2016. However, ISBE does not have an appropriation for administering assessments due to the budget impasse. ISBE remains committed to ensuring that our highest-need students continue to have free access to a college entrance exam. *Please note: This document will be updated as additional information becomes available.