The Indiana Department of Education is right to go after CTB/McGraw Hill for more than $600,000 following test interruptions that potentially invalidated the results of this year's ISTEP+ tests.
The company's president seemed contrite while repeatedly apologizing to Indiana lawmakers June 21.
"Let me begin first, before I say anything else, by apologizing to you on behalf of myself and all of the employees at CTB," Ellen Haley said.
The company's inadequate server capacity meant long delays between questions on the online exams, which rattled children who were worried about finishing the test on time.
Indiana isn't the only state that saw testing problems the past spring.
Haley said her company plans to look at the entire system again this summer, with an eye toward adding sufficient capacity for the demand seen last spring.
That's essential, but it's not enough. The company needs to compensate Indiana for the complications this failure caused.
Because of those testing interruptions, the results from this year might have to be disregarded as statistically invalid, which has many downstream implications.
As much as Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz has said she dislikes high-stakes testing, that's what the ISTEP+ is. It is used not only as an indicator of how much students have learned but also to evaluate the effectiveness of teachers, schools and entire districts.
The Indiana Department of Education plans to seek at least $613,600 in damages from CTB/McGraw Hill. The company should pay up before seeing attorney fees add to the penalty.
The company also should work with the state to make certain students are not inconvenienced next year.
Ritz's agency must also revise the standards so future bidders will be able to show they have the robust capacity in place to handle all that demand on their servers during testing.
This must not happen again.