College Accuses Testing Company of Negligence

     QUEENS, N.Y. (CN) – Saying the repayment of financial aid will cost it more than $1 million, a college says in court that outdated software for standardized-test grading caused the false-passing scores that tainted its student admissions.
     The dispute stems from a 2006 change to the federal guidelines regarding new passing scores for a test called the Combined English Language Skills Assessment, or CELSA.
     Since the results of this test determine a student’s qualifications for state and federal Tuition Assistance Programs and Pell Grants, a Forest Hills technical school called Bramson ORT College says it accepted financial aid on behalf students based on their supposed passing CELSA scores.
     Bramson says a 2009 state audit found that six of the students it accepted actually failed the CELSA, however, and thus were ineligible for the New York Tuition Assistance Program money they received.
     This state audit led to a federal audit that revealed 105 students whom Bramson admitted between 2006 and 2009 received grant money to which they were not actually entitled, according to the June 8 complaint in Queens County Supreme Court.
     Repaying the federal government will allegedly cost Bramson another $662,000.
     Bramson says the Association of Classroom Teacher Testers (ACTT) sold it a machine to read CELSA test scores in 2005 and failed to update that software so that Bramson could correctly score students when the federal guidelines changed in 2006.
     An ACTT representative allegedly brought Bramson’s scoring system in line with the federal guidelines on Aug. 17, 2009, after the state audit prompted the school to lodge a complaint.
     Bramson wants more than $1 million in damages from ACTT for breach of contract, negligence and other claims.
     It is represented by Andrew Cooper with Davidoff Hutcher & Citron in Garden City.
     ACTT is based in Montecito, Calif.

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