The Oregon Department of Education, which blamed Vantage Learning for the catastrophic failure of computerized statewide testing in spring 2007, is itself the guilty party, an Oregon jury decided. As a result, reports The Oregonian, Oregon must pay Vantage Learning $3.52 million, because the state education agency operated in bad faith and violated its contract with Vantage. Leaders of the Pennsylvania-based company were jubilant that a panel of Oregonians cleared the firm of wrongdoing and placed blame for the dispute squarely with the state education department. "We’ve been vindicated," said Vantage President Bob Patrylak, one of several company officials who testified during last week’s five-day trial in Salem. The jury verdict told a starkly different story than the one the state education department put forth in spring 2007, when a high-profile stoppage in computer testing forced schools to switch to paper-and-pencil tests. Oregon officials excoriated the company, saying poor service and unprofessional attitudes at Vantage caused the problem. Schools scrambled to reschedule tests, students couldn’t do retakes, and thousands more pupils failed the state math exam than when the tests were offered online. Vantage Vice President Harry Barfoot said the way his firm was treated, along with Oregon’s decision to hire a new online testing firm that charges more than twice what Vantage did, raises questions about how well the Oregon Department of Education manages taxpayer money. Oregon was the first state to have all students take reading and math tests via computer. Vantage pioneered the technology that allowed Oregon to test that way. Since fall 2007, the state has relied on Washington, D.C., -based American Institutes for Research to conduct the tests online…

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