ST. PAUL (AP) -- The testing company that wrongly scored thousands of Minnesota high school exams required for graduation has agreed to pay up to $7 million to students as part of a settlement, attorneys announced Monday.
Students will be eligible for up to $16,000 and additional money if they incurred out-of-pocket expenses. The compensation depends on the harm done by the error.
Those who experienced only some adverse consequences may receive only $362.50. The larger sum will go to students who didn't graduate on time. Students who had to take summer school classes will get $275 on top of the other money unless they're already getting the maximum.
"We think the results were outstanding. We're thrilled," said Joe Snodgrass, an attorney for the students.
Snodgrass said the settlement is worth up to $12 million because NCS Pearson will pay attorneys fees and try to reach students who may be eligible for part of the class-action settlement.
NCS Pearson's attorney, Lindsay Arthur, did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.
The settlement comes almost 2 1/2 years after state education officials disclosed that the company used the wrong answer key on 47,000 tests given in February and April of 2000. About 8,000 students were told they failed when they had actually passed, and dozens temporarily missed out on their diplomas because of it.
Jake Plumley, 21, of St. Paul, who now paints houses for a living, couldn't participate in his graduation ceremony at Harding High School because of the error. He'll be eligible for $16,000.
He said the settlement helps ease the pain but can't put everything right.
"It's a big gap in my life that I wish I wouldn't have gone through," Plumley said. "Nothing can pay back what was taken from me."
Plumley said he hopes the settlement teaches the testing company and others a lesson. He said he'll probably reward himself with some of the money and put the rest away for his 2-year-old daughter. The state has since switched testing companies to Maple Grove-based Data Recognition Corp.
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