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Harcourt Assessment Launches Versant(TM) as Global Brand for Its Line of Spoken Language Tests Powered by Ordinate(R) Technology.

SAN ANTONIO -- Leading test developer and publisher Harcourt Assessment, Inc. has launched Versant(TM) as the new global brand name for its line of spoken language tests powered by Ordinate(R) technology.

Originally developed by Ordinate Corp., a wholly owned subsidiary that Harcourt acquired in September 2004, the Versant spoken language tests are standardized, fully-automated evaluations of speaking and listening proficiency based on Ordinate's advanced speech processing technology.

Versant for English and Versant for Spanish are delivered over the telephone in just five to 15 minutes, so they can be administered anytime and anywhere. Valid and reliable results are provided online, typically within minutes after an examinee completes the test.

"The brand name Versant reflects both the versatility of the Ordinate technology and the functionality of the Versant products," said Gail Ribalta, vice president of marketing for Harcourt Assessment. "Ordinate technology is versatile, because it can be applied to virtually any language to develop a fast and reliable test of speaking and listening skills; and the technology can accurately measure how well a non-native speaker converses in English, Spanish or other languages."

Ordinate's patented technology analyzes the linguistic content of spoken utterances and the manner of speaking to determine language proficiency and other speaker characteristics. Ordinate technology has set a new standard in language testing for speed, accuracy, cost and convenience.

Ordinate's first commercial product was the Spoken English Test -- previously marketed as the PhonePass SET-10 -- which is used to assess the listening and speaking skills of non-native English speakers. The 10-minute test measures language proficiency using five tasks: reading sentences aloud; repeating sentences; answering short questions; building sentences; and answering open-ended questions. Scores reflect spoken English skill levels in sentence mastery, fluency, vocabulary and pronunciation.

The company later developed spoken language tests for Spanish and Dutch and is currently developing spoken tests for other languages that Harcourt will also market under the new Versant brand.

The Versant spoken language tests are used worldwide by educational institutions, businesses and government agencies, and applications include student placement and evaluation, as well as employment screening to determine fluency in English and other languages. Versant for English is especially well suited to help domestic and overseas call center managers determine if potential service representatives have sufficient English language skills to perform well on the job.

Customers using the Versant spoken language tests include the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Canadian Foreign Service, the University of Connecticut and Cold Stone Creamery.

Based in San Antonio, Harcourt Assessment is a leading provider of high-quality assessment instruments and testing programs used by educators, psychologists, speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists, human resource professionals, admissions and credentialing professionals, and businesses. Through the development of custom statewide educational testing programs, Harcourt is helping more than 20 states meet the accountability requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

The company is a unit of Harcourt Education, which is the global education brand of Reed Elsevier Group plc (NYSE:RUK) (NYSE:ENL). Reed Elsevier is a world-leading publisher and information provider operating in the science and medical, legal, education and business-to-business industry sectors.

Visit Harcourt Assessment on the Web at www.HarcourtAssessment.com.
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Publication:Business Wire
Date:Sep 29, 2005
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